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Topics - Religious Dick

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3DHS / Are Cops Constitutional?
« on: January 31, 2007, 10:37:45 PM »

Police work is often lionized by jurists and scholars who claim to employ "textualist" and "originalist" methods of constitutional interpretation. Yet professional police were unknown to the United States in 1789, and first appeared in America almost a half-century after the Constitution's ratification. The Framers contemplated law enforcement as the duty of mostly private citizens, along with a few constables and sheriffs who could be called upon when necessary. This article marshals extensive historical and legal evidence to show that modern policing is in many ways inconsistent with the original intent of America's founding documents. The author argues that the growth of modern policing has substantially empowered the state in a way the Framers would regard as abhorrent to their foremost principles.

3DHS / Columnist Molly Ivins dies
« on: January 31, 2007, 08:00:01 PM »

   Posted on Wed, Jan. 31, 2007   

Columnist Molly Ivins dies


AUSTIN — Molly Ivins, whose biting columns mixed liberal populism with an irreverent Texas wit, died at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at her home in Austin after an up-and-down battle with breast cancer she had waged for seven years. She was 62.

Ms. Ivins, the Star-Telegram’s political columnist for nine years ending in 2001, had written for the New York Times, the Dallas Times-Herald and Time magazine and had long been a sought-after pundit on the television talk-show circuit to provide a Texas slant on issues ranging from President Bush’s pedigree to the culture wars rooted in the 1960s.

"She was magical in her writing," said Mike Blackman, a former Star-Telegram executive editor who hired Ms. Ivins at the newspaper’s Austin bureau in 1992, a few months after the Times-Herald ceased publication. "She could turn a phrase in such a way that a pretty hard-hitting point didn’t hurt so bad."

A California native who moved to Houston as a young child with her family, Ms. Ivins was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. Two years later after enduring a radical mastectomy and rounds of chemotherapy, Ms. Ivins was given a 70 percent chance of remaining cancer-free for five years. At the time, she said she liked the odds.

But the cancer recurred in 2003, and again last year. In recent weeks, she had suspended her twice-weekly syndicated column, allowing guest writers to use the space while she underwent further treatment. She made a brief return to writing in mid-January, urging readers to resist President Bush’s plan to increase the number of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq. She likened her call to an old-fashioned "newspaper crusade."

"We are the people who run this country," Ms Ivins said in the column published in the Jan. 14 edition of the Star-Telegram. "We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war.

"Raise hell," she continued. "Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we’re for them and are trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge."

She ended the piece by endorsing the peace march in Washington scheduled for Saturday. 01-27 "We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!' " she wrote.

The spice of Texas

Born Mary Tyler Ivins on Aug. 30, 1944, in Monterey, Calif., Ms. Ivins was raised in the upscale River Oaks section of Houston. She earned her journalism degree at elite Smith College in Massachusetts in 1965. From there she ventured to Minnesota, taking a job as a police reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune.

Growing weary of the winters in the Upper Great Lakes and missing the spice of Texas food and its politics, Ms. Ivins moved to Austin to become co-editor of the Texas Observer, long considered the state’s liberal conscience.

Nadine Eckhardt, the former wife of the late Texas novelist Billy Lee Bramer and who later married former U.S. Rep. Bob Eckhardt of Houston, said Ivins soon made herself a fixture in the Austin political and cocktail party scene in the early 1970s.

"That’s where she became the Molly Ivins as we’ve come to know her," said Eckhardt, an Ivins friend for nearly four decades. "The Observer had such wonderful writers doing such wonderful stories at the time, and Molly was always right in the middle of everything."

Her writing flair caught the attention of the New York Times, which hired her to cover city hall, then later moved her to the statehouse bureau in Albany. Later, she was assigned to the Times’ Rocky Mountain bureau in Denver.

Even though she wrote the Times’ obituary for Elvis Presley in 1977, Ms. Ivins said later that she and the sometimes stodgy Times proved to be a mismatch. In a 2002 interview with the Star-Telegram, Ms. Ivins recalled that she would write about something that "squawked like a $2 fiddle" only to have a Times editor rewrite it to say "as an inexpensive instrument." Ms Ivins said she would mention a "beer belly" and The Times would substitute "a protuberant abdomen.”

So Ms. Ivins returned to Austin in 1982 to become a columnist for the Dallas Times-Herald and reconnecting with such political figures as Ann Richards, who would later become governor, and Bob Bullock, then the hard-drinking state comptroller who later wielded great power as lieutenant governor.

Trademark language

The column provided Ms. Ivins the freedom to express her views with the colorful language that would become her trademark. She called such figures as Ross Perot, former U.S. Sen. John Tower and ex-Gov. Bill Clements "runts with attitudes." As a candidate for governor, George W. Bush became "Shrub," a nicknamed she never tired of using.

Surprised became "womperjawed." A visibly angry person would "throw a walleyed fit."

Ms. Ivins, who was single and had no children, told readers about her first bout with cancer in a matter-of-fact afterword in an otherwise ordinary column.

"I have contracted an outstanding case of breast cancer, from which I fully intend to recover," she wrote on Dec. 14, 1999. "I don’t need get-well cards, but I would like the beloved women readers to do something for me: Go. Get. The. Damn. Mammogram. Done."

Ms. Ivins authored three books and co-authored a fourth. She was a three-time finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and had served on Amnesty International’s Journalism Network, but the iconoclastic writer often said that her two highest honors were being banned from the conservative campus of Texas A&M University and having the Minneapolis police name their mascot pig after her when she covered the department as a reporter during one of her first jobs in the newspaper business.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

John Moritz, 512-476-4294

© 2007 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

3DHS / Return of Patriarchy
« on: January 30, 2007, 01:12:18 PM »
Return of Patriarchy
by Philip Longman

Across the globe, people are choosing to have fewer children or none at all. Governments are desperate to halt the trend, but their influence seems to stop at the bedroom door. Are some societies destined to become extinct? Hardly. It’s more likely that conservatives will inherit the Earth. Like it or not, a growing proportion of the next generation will be born into families who believe that father knows best.

“If we could survive without a wife, citizens of Rome, all of us would do without that nuisance.” So proclaimed the Roman general, statesman, and censor Quintus Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus, in 131 B.C. Still, he went on to plead, falling birthrates required that Roman men fulfill their duty to reproduce, no matter how irritating Roman women might have become. “Since nature has so decreed that we cannot manage comfortably with them, nor live in any way without them, we must plan for our lasting preservation rather than for our temporary pleasure.”

With the number of human beings having increased more than six-fold in the past 200 years, the modern mind simply assumes that men and women, no matter how estranged, will always breed enough children to grow the population—at least until plague or starvation sets in. It is an assumption that not only conforms to our long experience of a world growing ever more crowded, but which also enjoys the endorsement of such influential thinkers as Thomas Malthus and his many modern acolytes.

Yet, for more than a generation now, well-fed, healthy, peaceful populations around the world have been producing too few children to avoid population decline. That is true even though dramatic improvements in infant and child mortality mean that far fewer children are needed today (only about 2.1 per woman in modern societies) to avoid population loss. Birthrates are falling far below replacement levels in one country after the next—from China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, to Canada, the Caribbean, all of Europe, Russia, and even parts of the Middle East.

Fearful of a future in which the elderly outnumber the young, many governments are doing whatever they can to encourage people to have children. Singapore has sponsored “speed dating” events, in hopes of bringing busy professionals together to marry and procreate. France offers generous tax incentives for those willing to start a family. In Sweden, the state finances day care to ease the tension between work and family life. Yet, though such explicitly pronatal policies may encourage people to have children at a younger age, there is little evidence they cause people to have more children than they otherwise would. As governments going as far back as imperial Rome have discovered, when cultural and economic conditions discourage parenthood, not even a dictator can force people to go forth and multiply.

Throughout the broad sweep of human history, there are many examples of people, or classes of people, who chose to avoid the costs of parenthood. Indeed, falling fertility is a recurring tendency of human civilization. Why then did humans not become extinct long ago? The short answer is patriarchy.

3DHS / Ethics theory often misunderstood
« on: January 29, 2007, 04:35:20 PM »
Ethics theory often misunderstood

January 29, 2007


Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman died on Nov. 16, and this week at the University of Chicago, where he taught for 30 years, friends, colleagues and admirers will gather to honor his positive contributions to the world in which we live.

And there are many.

We owe our escape from the stagflation of the 1970s to the embrace of Friedman's monetary policy ideas. We owe the creation of our highly professional, all-volunteer military in part to his vigorous efforts to end the draft.

But there's one contribution that will likely go unnoticed: his contribution to the field of business ethics.

Perhaps the most reprinted article ever published on corporate social responsibility -- the belief that corporations have a responsibility to address social concerns -- is Friedman's 1970 New York Times Magazine piece, "The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits."

It is also the most maligned and misunderstood.

A staple of business ethics textbooks preaching corporate social responsibility, Friedman is generally presented as a foil, a what-not-to-believe.
Friedman's view is simple, straightforward and largely contained in his title.

Business firms are purpose-built entities, well-suited to creating wealth through market exchanges, and ill-suited to other purposes -- like solving the myriad social and environmental problems that corporate social responsibility advocates demand.

Friedman said there is a place to address those problems, and that place is the political arena.

The social responsibility of business is to increase profits -- not to boost the stock price by what-ever means are convenient, or to ensure that stock analysts are duped or co-opted into giving a healthy "buy" recommendation. Consistent profit-making is virtually impossible without disciplined, ethical conduct.

Many of the longstanding aphorisms of business support this: "Make the customer, not the sale" and "Don't sell a man one car -- sell him five cars over 15 years." They reflect the importance of making good on promises to customers. Profitability -- like that coming from repeat business -- is a rough but reliable barometer of ethical conduct because the cheated rarely come back for seconds.

However, because he does not pay obeisance to the enthusiasms of business ethicists, Friedman is often cast by them as inspiration for the worst excesses of corporate America -- his views characterized as leading invariably to the scandals the corporate world has so recently suffered.

And yet, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Friedman's views provide a much clearer, more straightforward and more intuitive critique of wrongdoers like Enron than the corporate social responsibility crowd can muster.

Before its fall, Enron was Wall Street's darling. But it was also much celebrated by the social responsibility crowd. Named repeatedly to lists of the best places to work and the best-run companies, Enron was also the winner of several social responsibility awards.

It issued regular reports on its social and environmental performance, and even embraced the so-called "triple bottom line" (social, environmental, financial) much adored by advocates.

Why would Enron executives concern themselves with social and environmental performance? Because they recognized that corporate social responsibility initiatives bring freedom from accountability. Complex, multifaceted mandates to achieve social, environmental and financial goals are the self-serving executive's best friend.

Charged with a complex mandate, the manager will have to trade off some goals against others. Because some goal is almost invariably aligned with the self-serving manager's interests, that manager is essentially free to do as he or she pleases.

Belatedly, some business ethicists are starting to see service to shareholders' interests in profitability as a solution to problems of managerial accountability.

A recent article by University of Montreal business ethicist Wayne Norman captures the problem with multifaceted mandates: "How could the board of directors judge whether the CEO was doing a good job of managing the firm effectively?

"If the firm's profit margins were lower than its competitors', the CEO could claim that this is because he or she was trying to improve, say, benefits to employees or relations with local communities."

Much has been made of the harmful effects Enron's collapse had on its employees. But as employees they lost only their jobs. However, as Enron shareholders, the employees lost much of their net worth. Why?

Because Enron wasn't profitable. The shares they were urged to buy and hold were worthless.

Excessive allegiance to shareholders didn't bring Enron down. Instead, it was management's willful disregard of their bedrock responsibility to increase its profits.

In business ethics, as in so much else, we owe Milton Friedman a word of thanks.

Alexei Marcoux is an associate professor at Loyola University Chicago's Graduate School of Business and a policy adviser to the Heartland Institute. He can be reached at

3DHS / End of a Dream
« on: January 28, 2007, 12:18:27 AM »
January 11, 2007    
As I watched President Bush Tuesday night, for the first time I felt pity for him, in the same way you can’t help feeling sorry for any man at the end of his rope, even if he has brought it on himself. It isn’t a matter of desert; it’s beyond that.

I felt a similar emotion when Saddam Hussein was hanged: A man was finally being crushed by the natural result of his own acts. He was cornered at last, with no way out. It was painful to witness.

For once Bush spoke without conviction. He was trying to salvage a desperate position. The message was no longer that we are winning in Iraq; it was that all is not quite lost.

Which way is the wind blowing? In controversies like the debate over this war, I have a simple rule of thumb: I step back and ask which way the conversions are going. The war has been losing supporters; it has ceased acquiring them. You might expect the Democrats to solidify against it, but the really telling fact is that the Republicans who used to back it are scattering.

After the severe shock of the 9/11 attacks, our natural impulse was to strike back. But at what? At the killers who had killed themselves along with their thousands of victims? That was obviously impossible, but we were so outraged that we were disposed, like a lynch mob, to take revenge on the first plausible suspect presented to us.

And while we were in that mood — after all, the lynch mob may be sincerely indignant about a crime — some men around Bush and in the media saw their opportunity. They had been waiting and planning for years for a new war on Iraq, one that would “finish the job” they felt Bush’s father had left incomplete in 1991. All that remained was to connect Iraq, in the public mind, to 9/11.

Over the next few months, a concerted effort was made to shift public attention from Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein and Iraq. For a while the War Party tried to find, or at least posit, ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq, as if the terrorism of the one had something to do with the tyranny of the latter. The hypothetical nexus was Saddam’s supposed “weapons of mass destruction,” which, we were told, he might hand off to al-Qaeda, which actually regarded him as an apostate, a traitor to Islam.

Many Americans, mostly Bush voters, couldn’t distinguish clearly between bin Laden and Saddam; some thought the two were the same man. This made them receptive to the administration’s warnings that an even greater shock than 9/11 might be forthcoming, in the form of “a mushroom cloud.”

Bush made another false connection when he asserted an “axis of evil” comprising not only Iraq and Iran — which, in truth, were bitter enemies — but also, absurdly, North Korea. Far from being a working alliance, this was a mad miscellany. More recently Bush has been blaming the chaos in Iraq on Iran and Syria. Now Iran is said to be the great threat to American security.

Meanwhile, of course, the United States has become almost isolated in the world. Our traditional friends in Europe have resisted Bush’s attempt to rope them into backing his war. He has indeed spent the political capital he boasted of having after the 2004 election. His most reliable ally, Britain’s Tony Blair, is finished, along with Bush’s own Republican majority at home. Has any president ever gone so swiftly from seeming invincibility to near-disgrace?

And does anyone still think our freedom depends on military victory in Iraq? Bush got the “regime change” he coveted, but what has it gained us? Those who doggedly support the war are now reduced to vain recriminations against the liberal media who have been skeptical of it, though many conservatives are (at last!) just as skeptical.

Bush’s dream of a peaceful, democratic Middle East now seems as insane a misreading of history as the old Marxist dream of a Workers’ Paradise. He sounds like an arsonist trying to convince us that the blazing city can still be saved. Has he forgotten who lit the match?

Joseph Sobran

3DHS / Jimmy Carter Redux
« on: January 23, 2007, 02:25:36 PM »
Bush to Seek Cutback in Gas Consumption
Email this Story

Jan 23, 1:17 PM (ET)


WASHINGTON (AP) - In his first State of the Union address to a Democratic-controlled Congress, President Bush is calling for Americans to slash gasoline consumption by up to 20 percent by 2017.

Bush envisions the goal being achieved primarily through a sharp escalation in the amount of ethanol and other alternative fuels that the federal government mandates must be produced. The rest of the fuel use reduction is to come from raising fuel economy standards for passenger cars, Joel Kaplan, White House deputy chief of staff, told reporters in a briefing before Bush's Tuesday night speech to a joint session of Congress.

3DHS / How low can he go?
« on: January 12, 2007, 06:51:11 PM »
Just 35% of Americans now approve of the way that George W. Bush is performing his role as President. That’s down sharply in recent days and is the lowest level of Approval ever measured by Rasmussen Reports (see comments on comparing Approval Ratings from different polling firms). Sixty-one percent (61%) disapprove of his performance.

3DHS / Blue-ing the West
« on: January 07, 2007, 01:38:33 PM »
Blue-ing the West


[from the January 22, 2007 issue]

A quarter-century ago, an up-and-coming senator from Colorado by the name of Gary Hart began outlining a Western strategy for the Democratic Party. His dream was to offset the national influence of an increasingly Republican South by building Democratic power in the Western states, which he saw as ripe terrain for such an effort. In 1984 Hart tried to bring this strategy to life by running for his party's presidential nomination. After a strong early showing, Hart lost the middle rounds of the caucus and primary season before winning almost all the Western states toward the end of the monthslong process. In the end, however, he couldn't gain quite enough delegates to beat frontrunner Walter Mondale. Mondale, whose core base was the old industrial Midwest, went on to be thoroughly humbled by Reagan in the presidential election that November. Three years later, Hart entered the 1988 campaign as a charismatic frontrunner, only to self-destruct with the now-infamous sex scandal aboard the aptly named boat Monkey Business. Had that campaign not imploded, it's possible that two decades of rightward Southern drift in US politics would have been avoided.

Five presidential election cycles on, and the Western Strategy is back at the fore of Democratic strategic thinking, with talk of several early Western primaries, and Denver making a serious bid to host the 2008 Democratic convention (the Democratic National Committee will decide early this year). This time around there's a better-than-even chance that the West will fundamentally alter the regional balance of power within the party. After all, with the exception of Bill Clinton's triumphs--helped, at least in part, by the third-party presence of Ross Perot--and Jimmy Carter's victorious 1976 campaign, in presidential elections since 1968 Democrats have failed to break away Southern states from the Republican fold, leaving them grasping for a new source of Electoral College votes.

"We want to hit different regions of the country as well as different populations," Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Stacie Paxton explained last summer, before the Democrats scored big in the West in the November elections. "There's already an effort under way, through the '50 state strategy,' to ask for votes in every state. In Western states more people are coming our way, but we need to put in the resources to take it over the top and win in these states. You'll see a lot more interest in Western states: resources, candidates stopping in those states. We're making investments now so we can be successful in '06, in '08 and beyond."

November's election results vindicated this strategy. Building on gains in 2004, Democrats picked up four Congressional and Senate seats in the interior West, bolstered by one the number of governorships they control in the region and increased their presence in statehouses. In fact, the results may ultimately presage a political realignment as far-reaching as that following passage of the Voting Rights Act, which saw the decampment of a critical mass of conservative white voters in the South into the GOP and, in turn, the GOP's remaking of itself increasingly as a party of Southern values. In both the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, the margin between George Bush and Gore/Kerry was within five points in New Mexico (which went narrowly for Gore in 2000) and Nevada and within five points in Colorado in 2004. Many strategists, who tout more than thirty Electoral College permutations that would allow a Democratic victory based primarily on inroads in the West, believe every Western state but Idaho, Utah and Wyoming could fall to a strong progressive-leaning presidential candidate in 2008.

"National candidates really haven't invested in trying to pick up Electoral College votes in the Mountain West, with the possible exception of New Mexico," explains Arizona's Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano. "You need to be there, have a campaign structure, buy media time, have a real serious get-out-the-vote effort. The Democratic Party has to multitask. We have to deal with the South, but we have to win another area of the country; and this is an area where we're winning elections." In 2000 all eight of the interior Western states had Republican governors; today, with Bill Ritter's recent win in Colorado--springing from Senator Ken Salazar's victory in the state in 2004--five of the eight are run by Democrats.

Napolitano, long one of the leading boosters for opening up what might be termed a Western Front for nationally minded Democrats, argues that her party "has to broaden its base geographically and in terms of issues. For the party, it means a new, or a renewed, emphasis on issues predominating in the interior West. Part of that is people want a good quality of life, do not want government to dictate to them how they live their lives. They want good government but not big government. They're looking for pragmatic folks who produce results. How do you move goods and services and people, and preserve open space, and preserve economic opportunity for a growing number of people? You have to make your economies more diverse, be very entrepreneurial, rewarding those who will take a chance--and your public policies need to align with that." Napolitano cites Arizona's investment in high-tech university laboratories, the crafting of tax credits for research and development, the creation of state-backed research funds designed to leverage increased private-sector investment and an emphasis on conservation that protects the treasured open spaces of the West.

Western politicians also believe immigration politics could play to the Democratic Party's advantage, not least because, despite Bush's efforts to moderate his party's stance, during the last year of the outgoing Congress hard-line Republicans hijacked the debate about border security and undocumented workers. "Democrats can come in and say, 'Yes, we want to secure our borders, but we want an immigration policy that works,'" Napolitano avers, explaining why she believes that an increasing number of Hispanic voters in the Southwest will turn to the Democrats as their party in the post-Bush years.

For New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a much-talked-about potential 2008 presidential candidate, immigration is part of a panoply of issues that should, he says, make his region "fertile territory" for national Democrats. "I've long been an advocate that the Democratic Party should emphasize and gravitate to the West," the Governor argues. Capturing states within his region would, he says, "give us a beachhead. It would make us a national party. Now we're an East Coast and a West Coast party."

November's election suggests that the shift he envisions may already be happening: Such states as Montana are now electing Democratic populists. Moreover, even before November's election, most of the big cities throughout the region, including Denver, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Boise and Missoula, were already run by Democratic mayors, or by mayors elected in nonpartisan races who openly identify with their state Democratic parties. These politicians have supported a dramatically increased minimum wage, and most have made economic populism a key part of their platform. They have stepped back from coastal Democrats' rhetoric on gun control--Richardson, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association in his re-election campaign, is adamant that a candidate's position on gun control "should never be a litmus test again." Many have pushed energy conservation and alternative energy proposals as part of a larger Western environmental vision that has created unlikely alliances among hunters, fishermen, ranchers and Sierra Club-type environmentalists. And they have advocated large-scale investments in high-tech public transit systems in an attempt to curb runaway suburban sprawl.

"If you had the right kind of Democrat and took guns off the table," argues Governor Richardson's re-election campaign chief, Dave Contarino, "you could even win Montana."

While Richardson is the most obvious potential beneficiary of a Western tilt in '08, someone like John Edwards could also reap the fruits of this shift. In much the same way that a Californian, Ronald Reagan, rode to power atop the early Southern GOP wave, a Southern populist untainted by religious fundamentalism could ride the growing Western wave for the Democrats, creating alliances hinted at in Bill Clinton's two presidential election victories but subsequently lost. "Although a Southerner, he [Edwards] could connect," argues Boise Mayor David Bieter. For Bieter, winning the West is at least in part an exercise in linguistics rather than a matter of simply fielding regional candidates. "You need to learn to speak to the values of Westerners--it's a different political language, less ideological and more to people in their homes. The national party can be sort of elitist. The Republicans have been real skilled in taking somebody like Bush, with an absolute silver spoon upbringing, and making him appeal to the common man. And the Democrats have lost that touch."

In early 2005 Gary Hart--now a professor at the University of Colorado in Denver and described by local political consultant Mike Stratton as the "John the Baptist" of the Western movement--was asked by the chair of the state Democrats to write a memo that could be forwarded to incoming DNC chair Howard Dean, outlining the importance of the interior West to Democratic presidential prospects. Sitting down in his home in Kittredge, Hart typed out two and a half pages, broken down into ten crucial bullet points.

The party, he wrote, needed to pay more attention to Western environmental issues, with locally based environmental policies that didn't appear to be imposed from afar; it had to look toward a managed growth approach that would allow booming Western economies, increasingly based around high-tech companies in place of traditional resource-extraction industries, to grow while not undermining the high quality of life drawing so many to the region--and that would involve a commitment to invest heavily in public transit, clean-energy initiatives and anti-sprawl housing policies, all initiatives embraced by local Democratic politicians in recent years; it needed to promote a strong national security agenda that would appeal to Westerners long involved, from the earliest days of the cold war, in the country's military and defense infrastructure; and, finally, its leaders had to do more than pay lip service to the values of Western individualism.

"The religious right," Hart opined, "preaches values. Democrats, regionally and nationally, should espouse principles, for ourselves and for our country. 'Values' have religious overtones. Principles are humanistic and secular."

Hart's analysis borrowed significantly from Christopher Caldwell's influential 1998 article in The Atlantic Monthly, titled "The Southern Captivity of the GOP," in which Caldwell argued that the Southern flavor of the Republican Party, while providing it with short-term electoral success, was in the long run an Achilles' heel, with the conservative values espoused by the party faithful ultimately alienating middle-of-the-road suburbanites and Westerners.

The onetime senator's memo concluded with a prophecy: "The national Democratic Party should look Westward. The South will return to the Democratic Party only when economic downturn requires it. Meanwhile, the West provides the Democratic Party's greatest opportunity and represents its greatest future. National Party leaders must develop a plan to win the West in the early twenty-first century or risk settling into minority status for many years to come."

Westerners generally oppose government legislation on sexual morality, are tolerant of medical marijuana (on November 7, in an underreported sideshow to the main election, 44 percent of Nevadans voted in favor of an initiative that proposed legalizing marijuana across the board), dislike the more intrusive aspects of legislation such as the Patriot Act and tend to be less influenced by fundamentalist Baptist churches than are voters in the South. When Gallup conducted a poll last June on what noneconomic issues were of most importance to voters, 7 percent of Southerners said ethical/moral/religious decline worried them most, whereas only 3 percent of those in the coastal and interior Western states responded that way. Westerners were more preoccupied with the emerging energy crisis. In general, they are responding more to issues Democrats have made their own in recent years and are less receptive to the religious issues Republicans have hyped so effectively elsewhere in the country.

"I'm very prochoice," says Napolitano, recalling her election campaign. "I said, 'I'm not going to support any laws limiting a woman's right to choose. End of story. Move on.' We should be fighting on new ground--like healthcare. There are initiatives like the minimum wage where the Republicans have to fight on our terms rather than the other way around."

Not too long ago, it would have been hard to imagine the Republicans being successfully painted as big-government advocates by progressive Democrats touting their small-government credentials. But, as a mark of how the Bush presidency has turned things upside down, that is precisely what Western Democratic strategists are now doing.

Whereas Washington, DC, used to intervene against reactionary state policies like the poll tax and educational segregation, these days it is Washington that is proving reactionary on issues ranging from its failure to rein in carbon dioxide emissions to Congress's repeated rejection of an increase in the minimum wage, from the legislation GOP lawmakers rushed through during the morbid Terri Schiavo spectacle to vast tax giveaways to Big Oil. As important, a Republican administration that touts its conservative credentials has, over the past six years, been busily spending hundreds of billions of dollars more than it brings in each year in tax revenues, running up the largest budget deficit in American history. And increasingly, it is aggrieved politicians and voters in the states who are forming a backlash against this irresponsibility.

In a way, on social issues, Western Democrats, represented by figures like organic-farmer-cum-Senator Jon Tester, are more the party of that iconic Westerner Barry Goldwater than is the big-business- and religious-right-dominated GOP. To an increasing number of desert and mountain Westerners--including socially liberal, economically conservative Californians who have been moving inland in pursuit of cheaper land and open space--it is GOP hard-liners who threaten their way of life most, by imposing policies crafted by rigidly conservative lobbyists and kingmakers inside the Beltway or by equally uncompromising local party apparatchiks.

"The attitude to livability, attention to riverfront trails and parks, and downtown revitalization is clearly something associated with Democratic leadership," asserts Daniel Kemmis, a senior fellow at the University of Montana's Center for the Rocky Mountain West, as well as a coordinator for the organization Democrats for the West, dedicated to boosting the party's fortunes in the region, and a onetime mayor of Missoula. "Over time, the people who are moving to the West and who stay here because they like the feel of these communities, it's starting to sink in that Democrats seem to deliver more effectively on these issues than Republicans."

Hoping to capitalize on the new Electoral College calculations, Western Democrats are flexing their muscle as never before. To boost Denver's chances at hosting the party's '08 convention, the city's convention bid team, as well as Mayor John Hickenlooper--himself a transplant, with a petroleum-exploration and small-business background, from the environs of Philadelphia and then Connecticut--has proposed something unprecedented: that while the convention itself would be held in the Mile High City, the entire Rocky Mountain West would sponsor it. The convention would be billed not as a Denver affair but as a Rocky Mountain West Convention.

"I've talked to Napolitano in Arizona, Governor Richardson, [Wyoming] Governor [Dave] Freudenthal and [Montana Governor Brian] Schweitzer. Each has been very enthusiastic," says Hickenlooper, who recently made a splash by working with the thirty-two mayors who govern the cities of the greater Denver metropolitan area to kickstart the nation's largest public-transit expansion, 119 miles of light-rail lines throughout the urban region. "A Western convention says something. Democrats in the West have a strong sense of self-responsibility. A Western Democrat is more cautious about ceding power to Washington over our environment. We believe in local control, in the inherent value of open space. We are in many ways pro-business, trying to create opportunity for people, cutting red tape, cutting bureaucracy, making government more efficient."

Democratic politicians throughout the region have similarly come together to urge the DNC to move Western caucuses and primaries forward. Nevada will now hold a caucus sandwiched between the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, and momentum is growing in Western policy circles for the creation of a regional super-primary, to be held early in the candidate-selection process.

Daniel Kemmis believes that as many as six or seven Western states will sign up for early primaries. "There's an increased interest in the idea of a Western presidential primary, trying to coordinate many Western states and have them hold their caucuses and primaries on the same day," he says. Others are slightly more cautious. "You'd now have four Western states in play at the very start of the nominating schedule," estimates consultant Mike Stratton. "If the candidates have to come out West early and through '07 and into the nominating process of '08; if you have them traipsing out West, they're going to have to start talking Western issues: water, land, energy, conservation, quality of life. Then the balance of Western independent voters here have a reason to start looking to the Democratic Party and its nominee."

How would Gary Hart advise Howard Dean on this, as the Western strategy the Coloradan advocated as a young man finally comes of age? "Be very strong on environmental issues," he argues. "That doesn't mean give over the agenda to the Sierra Club, but to say on climate change, transportation, urban pollution issues, you've got to be very strong and lay out an agenda." Above all, he says, start speaking with Westerners and not at them. "We're still a nation of regions and mannerisms. You have to be able to put people at ease, speak in a way they understand and accept."

3DHS / Pelosi, Reid Urge Bush To Begin Iraq Pullout
« on: January 06, 2007, 11:06:35 AM »
Pelosi, Reid Urge Bush To Begin Iraq Pullout
President Considering Three 'Surge' Options

By Peter Baker and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, January 6, 2007; A01

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid declared yesterday that "it is time to bring the war to a close" and warned President Bush that sending more U.S. troops to Iraq would be unacceptable to the Democratic majorities that have just taken over Congress.

Directly challenging Bush's wartime leadership on their second day in charge on Capitol Hill, Democrats Pelosi (Calif.) and Reid (Nev.) sent Bush a letter suggesting that, instead of starting a short-term escalation, he begin a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces in the next four to six months. The mission of remaining troops, they said, should be shifted away from combat toward more training, logistics and counterterrorism.

The newly ascendant Democrats are trying to preempt the president before he announces his new strategy. As he prepares for a nationally televised address next week, officials said, Bush is considering three main options to bolster U.S. forces in Iraq: a relatively modest deployment of fewer than 4,000 additional troops, a middle-ground alternative involving about 9,000 and, the most aggressive idea, flowing 20,000 more troops into the country.

In a speech today unveiling his own revised security plan, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is expected to publicly welcome additional U.S. troops, a condition requested by the Bush administration. Maliki's cooperation is pivotal to Bush's own efforts. Bush told Maliki in a videoconference Thursday that the United States is willing to help but that Maliki has to deliver along the way, U.S. officials said.

In preparation for the shift in strategy, Bush reshuffled his national security leadership team yesterday. He replaced the top two generals running the Iraq war, named a new Army chief of staff, moved his intelligence director over to the State Department and put a veteran officer in charge of intelligence. Officials have said he also plans to move his ambassador in Baghdad to the United Nations and replace him with a veteran diplomat.

Over the next few days before his speech, Bush is conducting intensive consultations with lawmakers, foreign allies and advisers. He met with lawmakers from both parties yesterday and plans to talk with leaders of Britain, Australia and possibly Denmark, countries that still have major military contingents in Iraq, according to U.S. officials and diplomats. The White House said he will talk with both Pelosi and Reid before announcing his new strategy.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said the sessions with lawmakers have featured "some vigorous exchanges" and have been useful. "The fact is that these meetings may not be happy-face 'Kumbaya,' but they have been very constructive in the sense that people are talking respectfully about important issues and expressing their ideas," he said. "And some of them are quite interesting. And we're taking them into account."

But some lawmakers have left the meetings unsatisfied. Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), a conservative Democrat needed by Bush if he hopes to have any support across the aisle, said he pressed the president yesterday to provide a clear and specific mission before ordering additional forces to Iraq. "The White House has to make the case for sending in more troops before they send the troops," he said. "We need a new direction, not just a new slogan."

Even many Republicans appear unenthusiastic about troop increases. Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said Thursday night on MSNBC's "Hardball" that he might say no to the surge. "I want to know what it all is," Lott said of Bush's overall plan. "But here's my main point: We've got to change the status quo. At some point we've got to say to the Iraqis, 'Congratulations. Saddam is dead. We've given you an opportunity for peace and freedom. It's yours.' "

The letter by Pelosi and Reid sent a signal that the new congressional leadership intends to be aggressive in voicing opposition to Bush's handling of the war. With their new majorities, they have a bigger political megaphone and more ability to bring pressure to bear. At the same time, Pelosi and Reid have eschewed using the main legislative mechanism to change policy, namely cutting off funding for the war.

"Surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed," Pelosi and Reid wrote. "Like many current and former military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a serious mistake. . . . Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain."

By releasing the sternly worded letter, Democratic leaders hoped to jump ahead of Bush and set the agenda for the weekend talk shows. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said the party wants to address even the terminology of the White House plan, defining it not as a "surge" but as an "escalation." "People are going to know [the president] has a very critical audience in the Democratic Congress on this proposal," he said.

The prospect of increasing troop levels has been greeted with so much hostility that some lawmakers are questioning whether Bush is serious. "A surge is not a new strategy. A surge is a new tactic that does nothing to change the underlying strategy that has so clearly failed," said Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

"I don't know if Mr. Bush even believes in this so-called surge," scoffed Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), another member of the committee. "The neocons are trying to test the new Congress to see how we respond."

While the din of opposition has risen, the administration has not made a public case for why more troops would be the answer. Even senior military officers have expressed deep skepticism in public and outright opposition in private. Aside from some neoconservative scholars, virtually the only prominent voices advocating the troop increase are Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

Bush is looking at three broad options involving one to five additional brigades, according to U.S. officials. The smallest increase would basically be limited to the brigade from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, comprising fewer than 4,000 troops, which has already departed for Kuwait. It would eventually be deployed in Baghdad.

The second option would involve deploying another Army brigade to Baghdad and two battalions of Marines to Anbar, the volatile province that has been a battlefield for the Sunni insurgency and foreign fighters associated with al-Qaeda. The Marines could not be deployed until February, U.S. officials said. The joint Army and Marine deployment would bring the increase to between 9,000 and 10,000 troops.

The third option would supplement the first and second with additional Army brigades, bringing the total to about 20,000, largely deployed in the Iraqi capital. But U.S. officials said this would take considerable time -- possibly three or four months, with a complete deployment as late as May -- because of the difficulty of assembling additional troops through accelerating planned deployments and remobilizing reserves, U.S. officials said.

The Bush administration is also considering a troop increase that would play out in phases and in response to the performance of the Iraqi government in following through on its promises to go after illegal militias and crack down on sectarian violence. Maliki has in turn requested more operational control over Iraqi troops, which Washington is tentatively prepared to give him, U.S. officials said.

Bush installed new U.S. figures yesterday to manage efforts in Iraq. As expected, he replaced Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command overseeing Middle East operations, with Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, and replaced Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Iraq commander, with Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who would be given a fourth star. Bush also confirmed that John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence, will become deputy secretary of state and be replaced by Navy Adm. John M. McConnell.

Snow said the generals are not being replaced because of their resistance to increasing troop levels, calling Casey "magnificent" and Abizaid "an extraordinary officer." Casey will become Army chief of staff, and Abizaid is retiring.

Democrats signaled that they will start closely examining administration decisions on Iraq next week. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced a schedule for four weeks of hearings on Iraq featuring witnesses such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; members of the Iraq Study Group, which recommended a new course in Iraq; a slew of former secretaries of state and defense; current and retired generals; and Middle East scholars.

"Our purpose is not to revisit the past," said Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), "but to help build a consensus behind a new course for America in Iraq."

Staff writer Jonathan Weisman contributed to this report.

3DHS / Bush says feds can open mail without warrant
« on: January 04, 2007, 02:15:42 PM »
Bush says feds can open mail without warrant

By James Gordon Meek
New York Daily News

WASHINGTON — President Bush quietly has claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant.

Bush asserted the new authority Dec. 20 after signing legislation that overhauls some postal regulations. He then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open mail under emergency conditions, contrary to existing law and contradicting the bill he had just signed, according to experts who have reviewed it.

A White House spokeswoman disputed claims that the move gives Bush any new powers, saying the Constitution allows such searches.

Still, the move, one year after The New York Times' disclosure of a secret program that allowed warrantless monitoring of Americans' phone calls and e-mail, caught Capitol Hill by surprise.

"Despite the president's statement that he may be able to circumvent a basic privacy protection, the new postal law continues to prohibit the government from snooping into people's mail without a warrant," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the incoming House Government Reform Committee chairman, who co-sponsored the bill.

Experts said the new powers could be easily abused and used to vacuum up large amounts of mail.

"The [Bush] signing statement claims authority to open domestic mail without a warrant, and that would be new and quite alarming," said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington.

"You have to be concerned," a senior U.S. official agreed. "It takes executive-branch authority beyond anything we've ever known."

A top Senate Intelligence Committee aide promised a review of Bush's move.

"It's something we're going to look into," the aide said.

Most of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act deals with mundane changes. But the legislation also explicitly reinforces protections of first-class mail from searches without a court's approval.

Yet, in his statement, Bush said he will "construe" an exception, "which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection in a manner consistent ... with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances."

Bush cited as examples the need to "protect human life and safety against hazardous materials and the need for physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection."

White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore denied Bush was claiming new authority.

"In certain circumstances — such as with the proverbial 'ticking bomb' — the Constitution does not require warrants for reasonable searches," she said.

Bush, however, cited "exigent circumstances" that could refer to an imminent danger or a long-standing state of emergency.

Critics noted the administration could obtain a warrant quickly from a court or a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge, and the Postal Service could block delivery.

But the Bush White House appears to be taking no chances, national-security experts agreed.

Martin said Bush is "using the same legal reasoning" as he did with warrantless eavesdropping.

3DHS / Glorious War!
« on: December 29, 2006, 01:32:22 AM »
Glorious War!

August 31, 2006    
Most observers are predicting a rout of the Republicans in this fall’s elections. Some think the Democrats can even recapture both houses of Congress.

I hope so. Oh, how I hope so. May the Republicans perish forever. May vultures gobble their entrails. May their name be blotted out. In short, may they lose their shirts in November.

Yes, I’m disillusioned with the GOP. It was bad enough when I thought they were unprincipled. Now, however, it’s worse, because they do have a principle after all: war.

Two Bush administrations have proved that. War on Panama, war on Iraq, war on “terror,” war on Afghanistan, war on Iraq again, and war on Iran, comin’ up. And of course the recent Israeli war on Lebanon was waged with George W. Bush’s complicity. Am I leaving anything out? Oh yes, his father’s war on “drugs”; but let’s not even count that one.

Next to the violence of war, I hate the philosophical fallout. This Bush administration has managed to pervert the meaning of conservatism: in most Americans’ minds, for the next generation, the word will mean, above all, militarism.

Not that this is wholly new. Goldwater conservatives supported the Vietnam war, originally a liberal project, even complaining that it wasn’t being waged with enough force. They began sneering at “peaceniks,” then equating peace with liberalism (and war with patriotism) and automatically favoring huge military budgets. Lyndon Johnson’s war soon became “Nixon’s war,” and the anti-war George McGovern redefined the Democratic Party.

By the Reagan years the old lines were redrawn. Quite a change from the days when Democrats wanted war on fascism and Republicans were accused of “isolationism” for preferring peace. Does anyone remember Robert Taft?

By identifying the conservative cause with war, the Republicans have given liberalism the finest gift they could possibly have bestowed on it. The popularity of war is intense but brief. Americans will support quick and victorious wars, but after a few months the thrill tends to wear off.

As late as 1976 grouchy Bob Dole, a bitter World War II vet, could still take a swat at “Democrat wars,” but the phrase sounded quaint. The amnesiac American public thought it was a contradiction in terms. When had the Democrats ever wanted war?

Today’s blowhard conservatives have no reservations about it. They suspect, and openly accuse, the “liberal media” of sympathy for the enemy so freely that you wonder why they don’t just call them the “Islamic media.” For these right-wingers, the Iraq war — not the Constitution, government spending, or abortion — is the defining issue dividing liberals and conservatives.

They even pardon liberal Republicans like Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger (as well as the liberal Democrat Joe Lieberman) for supporting abortion and homosexual rights, as long as they support the war. That is, they count a liberal as a conservative, provided only that he’s for this war.

Being the most devastating of human activities, war would seem to be at the opposite pole from conserving anything. It’s a grotesque accident of history that it should have acquired even a verbal association with the philosophy of conservatism.

Just what is that philosophy? Is it a philosophy at all, or just a natural disposition to reject radical change? These questions have been debated for centuries, and I can only suggest an answer.

Briefly, conservatism is a more or less articulate sense of normality, whereas liberalism has been described (by G.K. Chesterton) as “the modern and morbid habit of always sacrificing the normal to the abnormal.” Conservatism can tolerate many abnormal things that can’t be eliminated from human society, but it doesn’t call them “rights” or confuse them with normal things. And, after all, few things are more abnormal than war.

So today’s alleged conservatives (and especially the misnamed “neoconservatives”) are aberrations. They delight in destruction; they are full of enthusiasm for violent and radical action; they lack the ironic and skeptical attitude of real conservatives, the prudent sense that precipitate acts bring “unintended consequences.”

The presidency of George W. Bush has been one long object lesson in unintended consequences. It’s amusing to recall that his father was kidded for using the phrase wouldn’t be prudent, an expression the son could profitably adopt.

Until the Republicans learn that peace is normal, they will deserve defeat and infamy.

Joseph Sobran

3DHS / "Support Our Troops"
« on: December 29, 2006, 01:12:28 AM »
Would You “Support the Troops” in Bolivia?
by Jacob G. Hornberger, December 27, 2006
Soldiers who join the military voluntarily sign a very unusual contract with the federal government. It is a contract that effectively obligates the soldier to go anywhere in the world on orders of the president and kill people as part of an invasion force against other countries. It doesn’t matter whether the intended victims deserve to die or not. That issue is irrelevant as far as the soldier is concerned. His job is not to question why people he is ordered to kill should be killed; his job is simply to invade and carry out the killing, no questions asked.

For example, let’s say that President Bush orders U.S. troops to invade and occupy Bolivia. The order would reach the Pentagon, which then would pass the order downward to generals, colonels, majors, captains, sergeants, and privates in America’s standing army. With perhaps one or two exceptions, no soldier would challenge the president’s decision to invade Bolivia, because that’s not part of the employment contract he has signed with the military. The soldier’s duty would simply be to carry out the president’s order to invade Bolivia.

Suppose a soldier says, “Mr. President, I can’t carry out this order because it would involve killing innocent people wrongfully, including the people who are going to defend their nation from this attack. You have no moral right to order an invasion of Bolivia because neither the Bolivian people nor their government has attacked the United States. Moreover, the invasion would be illegal under our form of government because you haven’t secured the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war. My conscience will not permit me to kill any Bolivians as part of this operation, including Bolivian soldiers defending their nation from this attack. Therefore, I simply cannot participate in this invasion. ”

That soldier would be taken aside by a few superior officers for a very candid and direct conversation. His superiors would explain to him that it is not within his job description to second-guess the president’s decision to attack Bolivia. The soldier’s job, he would have carefully explained to him, is to trust that his commander in chief is making the right decision and to carry out his order. The soldier’s superiors would also explain to him that if he persists in his refusal to participate in the operation, he will be court-martialed and severely punished.

What about conscientious-objector status? Wouldn’t that relieve the soldier from participating in the attack on Bolivia?

No, because under military rules conscientious-objector status applies only if a soldier objects on moral or religious grounds to all war. A soldier is not permitted to gain conscientious-objector status if he happens to object to a particular war as being illegal, unjust, or immoral.

Back to our Bolivia example. To make it easy on U.S. soldiers who might feel a bit squeamish about killing Bolivians, the president could announce that they were invading Bolivia in order to oust the recently elected socialist president, a man who has close ties to Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, who is another socialist and who has close ties to Fidel Castro, who is both a socialist and a communist and who had close ties to the communist Soviet Union, which had once promised to bury America.

Thus, by invading Bolivia, the president would argue, the troops would be helping bring freedom and stability to Latin America and also be protecting the United States from the threat of communism. Moreover, U.S. troops occupying Bolivia would be serving as a magnet for attracting Latin American communists and terrorists that U.S. troops could then exterminate. Finally, the president could provide another rationale for the invasion: that by invading Bolivia, U.S. troops would actually be defending the United States from an invasion by undocumented Bolivian immigrants.

It would be all the troops would need to go forward with a clear conscience. Undoubtedly, 99 percent of U.S. troops would obey the orders of the president to invade Bolivia, even if they felt a bit uneasy about killing people in the process. They would faithfully fulfill the terms of their employment contract.

How do we know that this is true — that U.S. troops would faithfully do their duty by carrying out the orders of their commander in chief to invade Bolivia? Easy — because we know that they followed the president’s order to invade Iraq, a country that never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. And on invasion day, they would dutifully drop 500-pound bombs on Bolivia, fire missiles into cars and buildings, and shoot Bolivian soldiers who resisted the invasion. Women and children who would be killed as part of the operation would be considered the unfortunate collateral damage of war. And the more the Bolivian military resisted the invasion, the more it would be held morally responsible for Bolivian casualties.

Throughout the operation, the troops would be reporting back on how they’re killing the “bad guys.” American reporters, donning military helmets and embedding themselves with the troops, would dutifully attend Pentagon briefings, after which the U.S. press would breathlessly exalt the heroic exploits of the troops. Bronze and silver stars would be awarded soldiers who fought courageously against Bolivian soldiers and insurgents.

No one would keep count of how many Bolivians were killed in the operation because no one would want to know and no one would care. Only the deaths of American soldiers would count and be counted.

The American people would be infected with war fever. Dissidents would be challenged with “Now is not the time to debate whether we should have gone to war against Bolivia. The fact is that we are at war and so we’ve got to support the troops.” The FBI would monitor anti-war protests for threats to national security from socialists, communists, and terrorists. The country would be rife with anti-immigrant hysteria, and there would be raids, round-ups, and deportations of Hispanic immigrants.

Protestant ministers and Catholic priests would exhort their parishioners to support the troops in harm’s way. Those ministers and priests serving in military reserve units as chaplains would accompany the troops to Bolivia and explain to them that war is in the Old Testament, that as soldiers they could trust the judgment of the president, and that they could kill Bolivians with clear consciences. Church newspapers and bulletins would wax eloquent on how this was a “just” war, especially given that it would be protecting the national security of the United States from communism and also liberating the Bolivian people from the horrors of socialism and the threat of communism. The American flag would be displayed proudly in church altars, especially during Sunday service or mass (except, of course, in churches in Bolivia, where Protestant ministers and Catholic priests would be proudly displaying the Bolivian flag.)

People who came to the assistance of the Bolivians from Colombia, Ecuador, and other Latin American countries would be considered “terrorists” or “bad guys.” Those who came from Cuba would be called “communist terrorists.” And U.S. troops would kill them all, especially if they were trying to kill U.S. troops.

But what about the morality of the entire operation? Where is the morality of killing people who have never attacked the United States and who have done nothing worse than try to defend their country from a wrongful invader? Where is the morality in killing in “self-defense” when you don’t have a right to be there killing people in the first place? Does a burglar who has entered someone’s home in the middle of the night have the moral (or legal) right to claim self-defense if he kills the homeowner who shot at him while he was burglarizing the homeowner’s home in the middle of the night?

Indeed, where is the morality in signing a contract that obligates a person to go kill people who haven’t attacked his country?

“But we signed the employment contract thinking that we were defending America,” soldiers say. “We’re just trying to be patriots.”

But everyone knows that presidents don’t use their standing army to defend America. They use it to attack countries that haven’t attacked the United States. After all, how many times has America been invaded by a foreign army in the last 50 years? (Answer: None!) What country in the world today has the military capability of invading the United States? (Answer: None!)

By signing a contract that obligates the soldier to kill people in the process of obeying the president’s order to invade other nations, the soldier effectively agrees to surrender his conscience to the will of the president. After killing people pursuant to that contract, he effectively says to himself and to God, “I’m not responsible for killing that person I just shot or bombed because I signed a contract with my employer that obligates me to kill people on his command and that relieves me of having to decide whether my employer’s order was right or wrong.”

But the troops aren’t the only ones who surrender their consciences. As soon as the troops are committed to battle, many citizens also surrender their consciences, rallying to support the troops and cheering them to victory, praying that God bring an end to the violence and the “terrorism” in the country that the troops have invaded, without heed to whether the troops have the moral right to be in the invaded nation killing people.

How wise is the surrender of conscience, both among the troops and the citizenry, in both the short term and long term, especially in a country that prides itself on Judeo-Christian principles?

In my opinion, not wise at all.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He is one of 23 speakers at The Future of Freedom Foundation's upcoming June 1-4 conference “Restoring the Republic: Foreign Policy and Civil Liberties” in Reston, Virginia. Send him email.

3DHS / The Giving Gap
« on: December 22, 2006, 02:36:34 PM »
The Giving Gap

Is the right more generous than the left?

Katherine Mangu-Ward | December 19, 2006
'Tis the season for giving—and it turns out that conservatives and like-minded welfare skeptics more than hold their own when it comes to charity. So says Arthur C. Brooks in his new book Who Really Cares?: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism. Brooks, a public policy professor at Syracuse University, sums up his own results thusly: Giving is dictated by "strong families, church attendance, earned income (as opposed to state-subsidized income), and the belief that individuals, not government, offer the best solution to social ills--all of these factors determine how likely one is to give."

Brooks shows that those who say they strongly oppose redistribution by government to remedy income inequality give over 10 times more to charity than those who strongly support government intervention, with a difference of $1,627 annually versus $140 to all causes. The average donation to educational causes among redistributionists was eight dollars per year, compared with $140 from their ideological opposites, and $96 annually to health care causes from free marketeers versus $11 from egalitarians.

A 2002 poll found that those who thought government "was spending too much money on welfare" were significantly more likely than those who wanted increased spending on welfare to give directions to someone on the street, return extra change to a cashier, or give food and/or money to a homeless person.

Brooks finds that households with a conservative at the helm gave an average of 30 percent more money to charity in 2000 than liberal households (a difference of $1,600 to $1,227). The difference isn't explained by income differential—in fact, liberal households make about 6 percent more per year. Poor, rich, and middle class conservatives all gave more than their liberal counterparts. And while religion is a major factor, the figures don't just show tithing to churches. Religious donors give significantly more to non-religious causes than do their secular counterparts.

But far more striking than conservatives outbidding their liberal pals for charity points is what Brooks finds about class distinctions. Brooks finds that in families with incomes of less than $14,000 annually, working poor families gives more than three times as much as families on welfare. They also are twice as likely to give, and twice as likely to volunteer. "It is not poverty per se that makes people uncharitable—but rather the government's policy for eradicating it," says Brooks.

    There is an appropriate intuition that American people are really generous, and they are. But you'd think that people give away a higher percentage of their income because they can afford to, and that's not true. It turns out that the people who give the biggest percentage of their income away are the working poor in American today. Now the "working" part is key, because the non-working poor who have the same incomes give the least. But the working poor who have low incomes but employment, particularly stable employment give like crazy and we should all take a giving lesson from them. They're also very income mobile and so there's this virtuous cycle of giving and success. These people are also hugely interested in issues of freedom and pretty hostile to government income redistribution. We are told that the poor are a homogenous group in America and they neither homogenous behaviorally, nor attitudinally.

Asked about the relationship of the belief in freedom to the levels of giving, Brooks responds quickly: "Freedom and opportunity are the sister virtues to charity," he says. "People who do not value freedom and opportunity simply don't value individual solutions to social problems very much. It creates a culture of not giving."

Of course, conservatives have a stake in proving that private charity works, and liberals have stake in proving that government solutions work. So there may be two sides to this coin. Sure, liberals don't give to charity, but when conservatives are put in charge of social services, they tend to do a pretty awful job. No one needs to be acting in bad faith for this to be true. It's simply human nature not to focus your energies where you think they will not be best rewarded.

The people who give the least are the young, especially young liberals. Brooks writes that "young liberals—perhaps the most vocally dissatisfied political constituency in America today—are one of the least generous demographic groups out there. In 2004, self-described liberals younger than thirty belonged to one-third fewer organizations in their communities than young conservatives. In 2002, they were 12 percent less likely to give money to charities, and one-third less likely to give blood." Liberals, he says, give less than conservatives because of religion, attitudes about government, structure of families, and earned income. The families point is driven home by other results from Brooks. He writes that young liberals are less likely do nice things for their nearest and dearest, too. Compared with young conservatives, "a lower percentage said they would prefer to suffer than let a loved one suffer, that they are not happy unless the loved one is happy, or that they would sacrifice their own wishes for those they love."

Not to worry, though. The problem is one of age, not generation: "When people age," says Brooks, "they get better. I don't know exactly why that is, but one of the ways that they do so is they figure out what makes them feel good and what is good for other people and most pursue more of those activities. Giving is healthy and pro-social and so you see more of it as people get wiser."

There's something fundamental about the urge to give. Brooks explains the "helper's high" occurs when our brains reward us with pleasure-producing opiods when we help someone out—this factor, he says, promotes a virtuous cycle: "Tangible evidence suggests that charitable giving makes people prosperous, healthy, and happy. And that on its own is a huge argument to protect institutions of giving in this country, as individuals, in communities, and as a nation. We simply do best, as a nation, when people are free and they freely give."

"There's something incredibly satisfying, inherently, about voluntary giving," says Brooks. "And nobody has ever reported any brain science suggesting that you get an endorphin rush when you pay your tax bill."

Katherine Mangu-Ward is an associate editor for reason.

3DHS / For those who said "It won't happen here."
« on: December 18, 2006, 10:58:24 AM »
Former U.S. Detainee in Iraq Recalls Torment

One night in mid-April, the steel door clanked shut on detainee No. 200343 at Camp Cropper, the United States military’s maximum-security detention site in Baghdad.

American guards arrived at the man’s cell periodically over the next several days, shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation, the detainee said. After an hour or two, he was returned to his cell, fatigued but unable to sleep.

The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.

Detainee 200343 was among thousands of people who have been held and released by the American military in Iraq, and his account of his ordeal has provided one of the few detailed views of the Pentagon’s detention operations since the abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib. Yet in many respects his case is unusual.

The detainee was Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the F.B.I. about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading.

But when American soldiers raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there were detained as suspects by the military, which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer, according to officials and military documents.

At Camp Cropper, he took notes on his imprisonment and smuggled them out in a Bible.

“Sick, very. Vomited,” he wrote July 3. The next day: “Told no more phone calls til leave.”

Nathan Ertel, the American held with Mr. Vance, brought away military records that shed further light on the detention camp and its secretive tribunals. Those records include a legal memorandum explicitly denying detainees the right to a lawyer at detention hearings to determine whether they should be released or held indefinitely, perhaps for prosecution.

The story told through those records and interviews illuminates the haphazard system of detention and prosecution that has evolved in Iraq, where detainees are often held for long periods without charges or legal representation, and where the authorities struggle to sort through the endless stream of detainees to identify those who pose real threats.

“Even Saddam Hussein had more legal counsel than I ever had,” said Mr. Vance, who said he planned to sue the former defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, on grounds that his constitutional rights had been violated. “While we were detained, we wrote a letter to the camp commandant stating that the same democratic ideals we are trying to instill in the fledgling democratic country of Iraq, from simple due process to the Magna Carta, we are absolutely, positively refusing to follow ourselves.”

A spokeswoman for the Pentagon’s detention operations in Iraq, First Lt. Lea Ann Fracasso, said in written answers to questions that the men had been “treated fair and humanely,” and that there was no record of either man complaining about their treatment.

Held as ‘a Threat’

She said officials did not reach Mr. Vance’s contact at the F.B.I. until he had been in custody for three weeks. Even so, she said, officials determined that he “posed a threat” and decided to continue holding him. He was released two months later, Lieutenant Fracasso said, based on a “subsequent re-examination of his case,” and his stated plans to leave Iraq.

Mr. Ertel, 30, a contract manager who knew Mr. Vance from an earlier job in Iraq, was released more quickly.

Mr. Vance went to Iraq in 2004, first to work for a Washington-based company. He later joined a small Baghdad-based security company where, he said, “things started looking weird to me.” He said that the company, which was protecting American reconstruction organizations, had hired guards from a sheik in Basra and that many of them turned out to be members of militias whom the clients did not want around.

Mr. Vance said the company had a growing cache of weapons it was selling to suspicious customers, including a steady flow of officials from the Iraqi Interior Ministry. The ministry had ties to violent militias and death squads. He said he had also witnessed another employee giving American soldiers liquor in exchange for bullets and weapon repairs.

On a visit to Chicago in October 2005, Mr. Vance met twice with an F.B.I. agent who set up a reporting system. Weekly, Mr. Vance phoned the agent from Iraq and sent him e-mail messages. “It was like, ‘Hey, I heard this and I saw this.’ I wanted to help,” Mr. Vance said. A government official familiar with the arrangement confirmed Mr. Vance’s account.

In April, Mr. Ertel and Mr. Vance said, they felt increasingly uncomfortable at the company. Mr. Ertel resigned and company officials seized the identification cards that both men needed to move around Iraq or leave the country.

On April 15, feeling threatened, Mr. Vance phoned the United States Embassy in Baghdad. A military rescue team rushed to the security company. Again, Mr. Vance described its operations, according to military records.

“Internee Vance indicated a large weapons cache was in the compound in the house next door,” Capt. Plymouth D. Nelson, a military detention official, wrote in a memorandum dated April 22, after the men were detained. “A search of the house and grounds revealed two large weapons caches.”

On the evening of April 15, they met with American officials at the embassy and stayed overnight. But just before dawn, they were awakened, handcuffed with zip ties and made to wear goggles with lenses covered by duct tape. Put into a Humvee, Mr. Vance said he asked for a vest and helmet, and was refused.

They were driven through dangerous Baghdad roads and eventually to Camp Cropper. They were placed in cells at Compound 5, the high-security unit where Saddam Hussein has been held.

Only days later did they receive an explanation: They had become suspects for having associated with the people Mr. Vance tried to expose.

“You have been detained for the following reasons: You work for a business entity that possessed one or more large weapons caches on its premises and may be involved in the possible distribution of these weapons to insurgent/terrorist groups,” Mr. Ertel’s detention notice said.

Mr. Vance said he began seeking help even before his cell door closed for the first time. “They took off my blindfold and earmuffs and told me to stand in a corner, where they cut off the zip ties, and told me to continue looking straight forward and as I’m doing this, I’m asking for an attorney,” he said. “ ‘I want an attorney now,’ I said, and they said, ‘Someone will be here to see you.’ ”

Instead, they were given six-digit ID numbers. The guards shortened Mr. Vance’s into something of a nickname: “343.” And the routine began.

Bread and powdered drink for breakfast and sometimes a piece of fruit. Rice and chicken for lunch and dinner. Their cells had no sinks. The showers were irregular. They got 60 minutes in the recreation yard at night, without other detainees.

Five times in the first week, guards shackled the prisoners’ hands and feet, covered their eyes, placed towels over their heads and put them in wheelchairs to be pushed to a room with a carpeted ceiling and walls. There they were questioned by an array of officials who, they said they were told, represented the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“It’s like boom, boom, boom,” Mr. Ertel said. “They are drilling you. ‘We know you did this, you are part of this gun smuggling thing.’ And I’m saying you have it absolutely way off.”

The two men slept in their 9-by-9-foot cells on concrete slabs, with worn three-inch foam mats. With the fluorescent lights on and the temperature in the 50s, Mr. Vance said, “I paced myself to sleep, walking until I couldn’t anymore. I broke the straps on two pair of flip-flops.”

Asked about the lights, the detainee operations spokeswoman said that the camp’s policy was to turn off cell lights at night “to allow detainees to sleep.”

A Psychological Game

One day, Mr. Vance met with a camp psychologist. “He realized I was having difficulties,” Mr. Vance said. “He said to turn it into a game. He said: ‘I want you to pretend you are a soldier who has been kidnapped, and that you still have a duty to do. Memorize everything you can about everything that happens to you. Make it like you are a spy on the inside.’ I think he called it rational emotive behavioral therapy, and I started doing that.”

Camp Rule 31 barred detainees from writing on the white cell walls, which were bare except for a black crescent moon painted on one wall to indicate the direction of Mecca for prayers. But Mr. Vance began keeping track of the days by making hash marks on the wall, and he also began writing brief notes that he hid in the Bible given to him by guards.

“Turned in request for dentist + phone + embassy letter + request for clothes,” he wrote one day.

“Boards,” he wrote April 24, the day he and Mr. Ertel went before Camp Cropper’s Detainee Status Board.

Their legal rights, laid out in a letter from Lt. Col. Bradley J. Huestis of the Army, the president of the status board, allowed them to attend the hearing and testify. However, under Rule 3, the letter said, “You do not have the right to legal counsel, but you may have a personal representative assist you at the hearing if the personal representative is reasonably available.”

Mr. Vance and Mr. Ertel were permitted at their hearings only because they were Americans, Lieutenant Fracasso said. The cases of all other detainees are reviewed without the detainees present, she said. In both types of cases, defense lawyers are not allowed to attend because the hearings are not criminal proceedings, she said.

Lieutenant Fracasso said that currently there were three Americans in military custody in Iraq. The military does not identify detainees.

Mr. Vance and Mr. Ertel had separate hearings. They said their requests to be each other’s personal representative had been denied.

At the hearings, a woman and two men wearing Army uniforms but no name tags or rank designations sat a table with two stacks of documents. One was about an inch thick, and the men were allowed to see some papers from that stack. The other pile was much thicker, but they were told that this pile was evidence only the board could see.

The men pleaded with the board. “I’m telling them there has been a major mix-up,” Mr. Ertel said. “Please, I’m out of my mind. I haven’t slept. I’m not eating. I’m terrified.”

Mr. Vance said he implored the board to delve into his laptop computer and cellphone for his communications with the F.B.I. agent in Chicago.

Each of the hearings lasted about two hours, and the men said they never saw the board again.

“At the end, my first question was, ‘Does my family know I’m alive?’ and the lead man said, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Mr. Vance recounted. “And then I asked when will we have an answer, and they said on average it takes three to four weeks.”

Help From the Outside

About a week later, two weeks into his detention, Mr. Vance was allowed to make his first call, to Chicago. He called his fiancée, Diane Schwarz, who told him she had thought he might have died.

“It was very overwhelming,” Ms. Schwarz recalls of the 12-minute conversation. “He wasn’t quite sure what was going on, and was kind of turning to me for answers and I was turning to him for the same.”

She had already been calling members of Congress, alarmed by his disappearance. So was Mr. Ertel’s mother, and some officials began pressing for answers. “I would appreciate your looking into this matter,” Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois wrote to a State Department official in early May.

On May 7, the Camp Cropper detention board met again, without either man present, and determined that Mr. Ertel was “an innocent civilian,” according to the spokeswoman for detention operations. It took authorities 18 more days to release him.

Mr. Vance’s situation was more complicated. On June 17, Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for the American military’s detention unit, Task Force 134, wrote to tell Ms. Schwarz that Mr. Vance was still being held. “The detainee board reviewed his case and recommended he remain interned,” he wrote. “Multi-National Force-Iraq approved the board’s recommendation to continue internment. Therefore, Mr. Vance continues to be a security detainee. We are not processing him for release. His case remains under investigation and there is no set timetable for completion.” Over the following weeks, Mr. Vance said he made numerous written requests — for a lawyer, for blankets, for paper to write letters home. Mr. Vance said that he wrote 10 letters to Ms. Schwarz, but that only one made it to Chicago. Dated July 17, it was delivered late last month by the Red Cross.

“Diana, start talking, sending e-mail and letters and faxes to the alderman, mayor, governor, congressman, senators, Red Cross, Amnesty International, A.C.L.U., Vatican, and other Christian-based organizations. Everyone!” he wrote. “I am missing you so much, and am so depressed it’s a daily struggle here. My life is in your hands. Please don’t get discouraged. Don’t take ‘No’ for answers. Keep working. I have to tell myself these things every day, but I can’t do anything from a cell.”

The military has never explained why it continued to consider Mr. Vance a security threat, except to say that officials decided to release him after further review of his case.

“Treating an American citizen in this fashion would have been unimaginable before 9/11,” said Mike Kanovitz, a Chicago lawyer representing Mr. Vance.

On July 20, Mr. Vance wrote in his notes: “Told ‘Leaving Today.’ Took shower and shaved, saw doctor, got civ clothes back and passport.”

On his way out, Mr. Vance said: “They asked me if I was intending to write a book, would I talk to the press, would I be thinking of getting an attorney. I took it as, ‘Shut up, don’t talk about this place,’ and I kept saying, ‘No sir, I want to go home.’ ”

Mr. Ertel has returned to Baghdad, again working as a contracts manager. Mr. Vance is back in Chicago, still feeling the effects of having been a prisoner of the war in Iraq.

“It’s really hard,” he says. “I don’t really talk about this stuff with my family. I feel ashamed, depressed, still have nightmares, and I’d even say I suffer from some paranoia.”

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