Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Comment for the Diane Rehm Show, April 30, 2008, on the Voter ID Requirements


In April 2005, five months after Congressman John Conyers, Jr. and the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff held hearings in Ohio which provided evidence of the deliberate "disenfranchisement of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of voters, predominantly minority and Democratic voters" in the state that finally gave Mr. Bush the Presidency. . .

Congressman Conyers reported on the new voter ID requirements proposed at the first meeting of the Baker Carter election commission:

"At the outset, Mr. Fund laid bare the nasty, racial underbelly of these proposals. The right-wing has been long engaged in tactics to suppress minority votes, but rarely lets slip about such tactics, as Fund did today. In a discussion about provisional ballots, Mr. Fund said that Congress should allow precinct workers to determine whether a provisional ballot should count because they would know who 'looks as if they belong in the neighborhood.' Wonder what he meant by that?. . .

"The pattern of the hearing was clear: Republican political operatives, with little or no track record of involvement in voting rights issues, facing non-partisan advocates for civil rights. Predictably, this hardly was a fair fight. The deck was stacked from the beginning."
And now, Diane, there you sit with this same John Fund.

When we need to hear from such people as Brad Friedman from Bradblog, NYU professor and author Mark Crispin Miller, Greg Palast, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Please dig further for guests and continue on this subject.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Note to NPR, Which Should Do Better

For Nina Totenberg, in response to today’s Morning Edition story:

Thor Hearne should be understood in context, which, despite trickery, is not difficult -- because of one my heroes, Brad Friedman (see my own article, "Purging the Purgers".

Mr. Hearne is the former General Counsel for Bush/Cheney2004 who appeared out of nowwhere as the spokesman for the brand new American Center for Voting Rights just in time to testify for now-jailed Congressman Bob Ney in March 2005 about problems with the November 2004 election and then to turn around and be an invited panelist at the Baker Carter Election Commission.

It has been his job, as an RNC operative, to promote fear of "voter fraud" to distract from the real issues found by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. in the hearings in Ohio in late 2004 that found evidence of the "disenfranchisement of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of voters, predominantly minority and Democratic voters" in the state that finally gave Mr. Bush the Presidency.

Read the coverage of Mr. Hearne by Brad Friedman at Please note the recent interweaving of Mr. Hearne with the mysteries of the U.S. Attorney Scandal.

Now this is a story worth telling your NPR listeners.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Clinton's Blind Eye to Voters

So, Hillary claims a victory in Pennsylvania. Who could have predicted that?

Maybe Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

"I’m not saying anything bad about my candidate but I– it is funny at New Hampshire that all the ones that were hand-counted went for Obama and all the ones that were machine counted went for Hillary."

That was Bobby talking to Bill McKibben on the March 8, 2008 broadcast of Ring of Fire Radio (approximately half way in).

Dear Bobby, he couldn’t keep down the ironic chuckles as his endorsee’s primary successes and his knowledge of methods of election theft were irrefutably dancing in front of him.

I’ve been paying attention to RFK Jr. ever since I read his Crimes Against Nature in 2004. With approximately 20 books on Bush under my belt leading up to that election, it was Bobby’s book that was the answer to NPR’s question, "What is the most important book to read before the 2004 Presidential Election?"

Bobby is a brilliant, funny, fearless and passionate speaker. Did you see him at Live Earth last year?

He would be one hell of a great endorser.

If his heart was in it.

But Hillary’s silence on the real voting issues that have been rampant in every state’s primary must give Bobby pause.

The fact that the world has suffered great consequences from the illegitimate certifications of the last two Presidential elections for George W. Bush and his psychologically unhealthy teammates – should be inspiration for legitimate candidates seeking election to demand that voters get to vote and get to have their votes counted.

In each and every primary.

Not just the ones where Senator Clinton won delegates by dishonorably campaigning after an agreement was made that the candidates would not do so.

Senator Clinton’s pretense to care for the voters who deserve to have their votes counted is revealed as rather selective by her silence on the continuous problems that have occurred in every state primary.

Starting with New Hampshire, problems with confusing new voter ID laws irregularly and sometimes illegally enforced, improperly trained poll workers, registered voters missing from lists, shortages of staff and machines and ballots, long lines, voter intimidation, and the stubborn clinging to voting machines that have long since proven to be hackable, unreliable, and unverifiable have resulted in people not voting, votes not counted at all, and incorrect and unverifiable vote tallies across the nation.

But Hillary Clinton has said nothing about any of that.

Perhaps it is, as Bobby suggests, that often the results of the these problems seem to help her get delegates.

Nor does she mention Rush Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos – his urging Republicans to vote in Democratic primaries, even if it means they have to switch affiliation, and vote strongly for Senator Clinton.

Is this how she wants to win? Doesn’t she realize that the Republican have a reason to want Hillary to win?

Consider this: Remember that U.S. Attorney firing scandal? Remember that one of the replacements for U.S. Attorneys who weren’t cooperating with the Bush/Cheney/Rove agenda was a "friend of Karl Rove’s" (always a dangerous sign)? A little man named Tim Griffin was put in place as U.S. Attorney – where?

In Arkansas. Why Arkansas? Because that’s where he can research the history of Hillary Clinton.

Would he have done such a thing? Oh, yeah. As Greg Palast points out, it was Mr. Griffin who was behind the emails of caging lists sent out in 2004 - a detestable method of purging registration lists of tens of thousands of voters, voters who appeared to live in low-income, urban areas, homeless shelters, and military bases.

Griffin was sent to Arkansas for a reason. Republicans want Hillary for a reason. And those reasons are slimy – and do not bode well for, uh, democracy, America, the world, etc.

And Bobby knows this. I can’t imagine his endorsement is sitting well for him. It’s certainly not the subject of any of those impassioned speeches he’s so good at.

As Bobby said to Bill McKibben back in March, when Bill noted that in his town in Vermont where paper ballots were used Obama was popular, winning 175 to 68:

"He’s popular any place where they count the votes by hand."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Questions for Diane, April 25, 2008

Is the mainstream media under pressure to squelch stories on voting problems in the primaries?

Are we being set up for another shocking and illegitimate Presidential election result?

85% of Pennsylvania's primary results are based on the most notorious of hackable, vote-switching, vote-losing, UNVERIFIABLE e-voting machines.

In addition, problems with voter registration lists (made worse by Rush Limbaugh), polls that were closed, voter intimation, poorly trained poll workers -- all resulting in votes not counted -- abound -- in each and every state's primaries.

These are important stories, and there are people like Brad Friedman, Mark Crispin Miller, Bob Fitrakis, and more, who are extremely well-informed and eager to help Americans retain our democracy.

Why is the broadcast media keeping our eyes shut?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Questions for Diane, April 18, 2008

Somehow I believe Mr. Bush significantly demonstrated his comprehension of Christianity by welcoming the leader of the original Christian religion (as in the Prince of PEACE) with a 21-GUN SALUTE!!

Then, as if to put a cherry on this bloody sundae, the Supreme Court finds that we can move forward on executions.

What timing.


I'm grateful that Tom Shales nailed Gibson and Stephanopolous for their "shoddy, despicable performances."

Apparently, the two fail to grasp the principles that only two nights earlier were passionately defined by actor/director/writer Tim Robbins, the keynote speaker at the National Association of Broadcasters gathering in Las Vegas:

"Imagine a new broadcasting industry aesthetic, that respecting the better nature of the American people, produces shows that promote strength instead of fear. That does not divide, but inspires, that does not promote hate, but unity, that will not tear the weak down, but build up their strength. Imagine a world of broadcasting where the American people are encouraged to reject despair & distrust. And when they turn their TVs and radios off at night and go to sleep they possess strength, and unity and compassion for those they disagree with."

When the media fails us, the repercussions are horrific -- across the world. This election is too important for such behavior to be tolerated.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Questions for Diane, April 11, 2008

This week we learned that the Bush/Cheney Justice Department has again given preferential treatment to corporations that should have been indicted for criminal activities. So much compassion is demonstrated for industry, wanting to help the corporate world avoid “catastrophic collateral consequences and costs” that can be a “corporate death sentence”.

Yet, we have seen extremely little of that compassion for human beings, either here or abroad.

I am not usually one to use inflammatory words, because they tend to turn people off. However, given this complete deference to industry over the law of the land, I can’t help but think of Benito Mussolini’s own definition of Fascism: the merger of State and corporate power.

What are we to think?!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Ask Petraeus

On Friday, April 4th, Congressman Robert Wexler sent out a email asking what questions we, the people, would like asked of General Petraeus when he delivers his assessment of the Iraq War to Congress next week, and appears before such committees as the Armed Services Committee and Foreign Relations Committee, beginning next Tuesday, April 8th.

Wexler asks that we submit "short and focused" questions to him at along with a first name, city and state. He will ask two questions that have been sent by the public.

I received the email on the same day I discovered a report released on April 1, 2008 entitled: "U.S. War Crimes in Iraq 2007-2008", written by Karen Parker, President of the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers and Chief Delegate to the United Nations for the International Education Development/Humanitarian Law Project, along with author/policy analyst Bill Rau, produced by Consumers for Peace.

The only news article available to date on the release of this report is titled: "Report Recommends Petraeus Be Quizzed by Congress on Iraq War Crimes".

The report is the third in a series, with the original being, "War Crimes Committed by the United States in Iraq and Mechanisms for Accountability", published in October 2006, and revised in December 2006.

This original report is endorsed by such honorable scholars and journalists as Howard Zinn, Dahr Jamail, Kathy Kelly, and retired Colonel Ann Wright.

The second report, titled "U.S. War Crimes in the 'Surge' -- 2007: Petraeus Manual and Tactics Flout International Law" is an analysis by Karen Parker of the "Counterinsurgency Field Manual" co-authored by General Petraeus and released in 2007, followed by documentation by Bill Rau of the effects of the policies and tactics of the U.S. military on the Iraqi population.

Both the above reports are notably concise, with lengths of merely 38 pages and 26 pages, respectively, and present significant information we, the people, need to know.

The third report, the one just released, a mere 20 pages, is the one you should read immediately.

Even if you only have a few minutes to glean information, ">this piece is revelatory.

From the first report onward, Parker and Bau have shown that the U.S. military, in its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has turned its back on international humanitarian law, as well defined by the Geneva and Hague Conventions.

In this third report, the "surge" that has been "successful", according Mr. Bush, Mr. Gates, General Petraeus and others who either have ulterior motives or are drinking the Koolaid, is completely based on statistics that indicate a decrease of Iraqis killing other Iraqis.

However, what they are not reporting is the severe increase in civilian fatalities, a figure that was already too large to report without public outrage.

This notable increase has been caused by the increase of "air power" in place of troops on the ground. Rather than going door to door searching for "insurgents" (otherwise known as 'Iraqis-with-a-legal-right-to-resist-the-tyranny-of-an-occupying-force), more often the U.S. is finding it easier to use helicopters and bombers to blast away at "assumed targets".

This does make for less American casualties, to be sure, but the slaughter is also conveniently less noticeable to the America public, since the Pentagon has made it clear from the beginning that it is not in charge of body count.

Of course, the Iraqis can't help but notice it.

In addition, the report reviews the continuing increase of detention of innocent Iraqis, up from 17,000 in March 2007 to approximately 50,000 at this time. This includes approximately 1000 children as of December 2007. They are picked up arbitrarily, often for being male, held without charge, for a year or more, in filthy, disease-ridden prisons that were meant to hold 30-40% of their current occupancy – with the apparent intention of intimidating Iraqi citizens into submission.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate is over 60%, making the promise of money for terrorist/resistance acts even more tempting for the most moderate Iraqis.

Two thirds of medical professionals have left the country, and those who remain have inadequate facilities and supplies, so needless deaths are a constant.

Few schools remain open, many educators have also left, and few students regularly attend, leaving a large population who will not have the skills necessary as adults to improve their lives.

Other services, such as water and electricity, are worse than ever. While living without electricity may be mostly survivable, drinking contaminated water is not. Last fall, a major cholera epidemic struck 45 Iraqi districts.

So, the actual result of this "successful" surge is an increase in hatred for the U.S. and its troops. . .

Which naturally results in more "insurgents".

Which, as I see it, gives those-who-profit-from-war more reason to keep it going.

Hence, just last month, as McCain called for a 100 year war, Mr. Bush found military service to be "exciting" and "romantic", Mr. Cheney uttered his infamous "So?" regarding the opinions of Americans, and Iraq and Afghanistan War Vets testified about atrocities at "The Winter Soldier" conference, the Pentagon called for a delay in troop withdrawal in Iraq.

Sickening, eh?

That is why now is the time to take action and ask questions.You, too, can contact Congressman Wexler (

And any other Congressman, Senator, journalist, and/or Presidential candidate you want.

Read the reports -- and/or tell them you know about them. And demand accountability -- from both the General -- and those who should be asking questions.

As for me, these are the questions I have sent:

1. What has been the effect of the increased use of aerial attack helicopters and aerial bombing on the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians?

2. Why does the U.S. military not provide the numbers on Iraqis killed by U.S. troops?

3. In terms of the international law established by the Geneva and Hague Conventions, what do you understand to be the responsibility of the United States military in Iraq regarding its civilians?

You, too, have a right -- no, now that you know more, you have a responsibility to ASK.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Friday Questions for Diane, April 4, 2008

The John Yoo torture memo is noteworthy, as further hard evidence of the cold mentality and legal manipulations of the Bush/Cheney administration, but there is little new information there.

It would serve the public so much better if the media would cover the release this week of the “U.S. War Crimes in Iraq 2007-2008”, a report by Karen Parker, President of the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers and Chief Delegate to the United Nations for the International Education Development/Humanitarian Law Project, along with author/policy analyst Bill Rau, produced by Consumers For Peace.

In this update to their 2006 report, Ms. Parker and Mr. Rau shine a light on the increase of civilian fatalities, with great detail, as the U.S. has increased the use of “air power” in place of ground troops. This strategy continues to result in massive, indiscriminate killing and maiming of the civilian population, and completely goes against international humanitarian rights law as defined by the United Nations.

They point out that reports on the success of the surge are based on the decrease in Iraqis killing other Iraqis. However, the number of Iraqis killed by the U.S. is not counted when claiming the surge has been a success.

The report calls for Congress to question General Petraeus about these missing statistics that would show the impact of U.S. military actions and policies on the Iraqi people.

Do your fine journalists there today think this a worthy area of investigation?