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Friday, December 12, 2008

PROP 2: Like the Obama Campaign, But Smaller

This article was originally published on on Friday, December 12, 2008:

Barack Obama's campaign, as many commentators have often stated, has been brilliantly run. There's another campaign which, in a different way and by a different yardstick, has done a superb job: the Yes on Prop 2 campaign in California. This proposition, under the rubric "Prevention of Farm Cruelty to Animals Act" initially but now officially titled "Standards for Confining Farm Animals", seeks to codify minimum humane standards for farm animals. These standards are absolutely basic: "that they be allowed, for the majority of every day, to fully extend their limbs or wings, lie down, stand up and turn around," the measure reads.

Anyone who has ever taken pets on an airplane will know that airlines have strict regulations about the size of their carriers. We accept that pets should not travel - even for a few hours - if they do not have enough room to be comfortable. Yet what was perhaps not well-known before Prop 2 was that in factory farms in this country, millions of pigs, cows, veal calves, and chickens are confined to spaces which do not give them room to even stretch their limbs, and they are kept that way for their entire lives.

HSUS, the Humane Society of the United States -- which the No on Prop 2 side refers to, ominously, as a "well-funded, Washington, DC-based special interest group" -- has been urging California legislators to institute humane farming standards for 20 years. ('Humaneness' being the "special interest", I guess, which nefarious animal lovers' $20 and $30 donations have funded.) On several occasions, California state legislators have even stood up for livestock's lying down and rolling over, but the bills that would require factory farms to make that much room have been killed in committee. Big Agribusiness has of course, been considered the culprit behind the bills' demise.

Yet in spite of the formidable foe, the ad hoc Californians for Humane Farms got this initiative on the ballot through months of hard work by volunteer signature-gatherers. If the No on 2 side doesn't  believe it was volunteer, I'll send them the old emails I received requesting I attend planning sessions, take petitioning shifts, follow careful directions on ensuring the validity of signatures, make deadlines, etc. (I expressed interest and never took the time to help out - so PLEASE vote Yes on  2. I'll feel really guilty if it fails!)

Since making the ballot, the energetic Yes on 2 activists have gone for it, if you will, whole hog. Knowing the fight that Big Agribusiness would put up, Yes on 2 volunteers have secured endorsements from 700 veterinarians in the state, 90 veterinary clinics and hospitals, 150 veterinary students, and the California Veterinary Medical Association; and also from 70 doctors who treat human animals. The Center for Food Safety, the Consumer Federation of America, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest are on board. The simple decency and the common sense of the proposition moved celebrities... do testimonies for Prop 2 - even the cynic Bill Maher endorsed it - and Ellen and Oprah spread the word about the ballot initiative on their shows. Supporters have pounded the pavement and very sagely reached out to a wide swath of Californians, garnering even more endorsements from 400 California business, over 100 religious leaders, and just as many small farmers and organizations for farmers and farm workers' rights like Family Farm Defenders, National Black Farmers Association, United Farm Workers, and the Cesar Chavez Foundation. And, what I think is a really wonderful coup: the California Democratic Party. Animal welfare concerns weren't always part of the Democratic Party platform. But now Prop 2 materials are at Obama campaign offices, and a slew of City Councils, Mayors, Assembly Members, State Senators, U.S. Representatives, and both Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein back the measure. Various newspapers have been impressed by Prop 2's arguments as well.

I think this is incredible. Campaign manager Jennifer Fearing, who says she witnessed the cruel conditions of factory farming first-hand...

...has created a grassroots effort that has caught fire and, like Obama's, attests to what passion and conviction can inspire and achieve.

As for the No on Prop 2 side, well, they did come up with a lovely name for their coalition -  "Californians for SAFE Food." They boast that they have small farmers on their side, too, but when Green reporter Cameron Scott checked, those claims turned out to be deceptive.

Meanwhile, coalition members who are definitely in good standing include: Alliance of Western Milk Producers, Broiler & Egg Association, California Cattlemen's Association, California Dairy Campaign, California Egg Marketing Association, California Pork Producers Association, National Pork Producers Council, Texas Egg Council, Western United Dairymen and other purely-good-samaritan folk. One of their gambits is to claim that suddenly your food will be less safe if, for instance, hens are not confined in wire-floor battery cages stacked on top of each other so that the ones on top defecate all over the ones below. Mmmm. Yumm. Let's watch that on the Food Network.

Actually, the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production reports that restriction of natural motion in farm animals creates a great deal of stress. (I'd like to see the No on Prop 2 people prove this isn't so by confining themselves to a space with no elbow room or head space. Let's say for a month or two.) Of course, when animals experience that much stress, they tend to chew, bite, scratch, scrape - develop festering wounds, in short, and inflict them on their cell-block mates. Their overcrowding also spreads diseases quickly. On the other hand, the Pew Commission finds, when the animals are reared with humane standards and have at least minimal living space, they are safer for the food chain.

It isn't just liberal bastions like California who care about this issue. In the last six years, four states have banned gestation crates for pregnant sows: Oregon and Colorado via their legislatures, and Florida and Arizona via ballot initiatives. These states did not try to address as many species at one time as California's Proposition 2 does, but that's why Prop 2 is historic in an election year of firsts. Still, Prop 2 isn't out to turn factory farming on its head, it just asks that specific species of animals be given a modicum of space; and it gives these companies 7 years to comply.

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, an author who explores animal emotions, writes in his book The Pig Who Sang to the Moon:
  • that for "farm animals subjected to factory is impossible to perform any meaningful natural behavior." Yet "domesticated animals who live on our farms are very little removed from their wild ancestors and therefore have all the emotions that belong to those wild animals who live under conditions of freedom. This means that confinement is going to be all the more painful for farm animals, conflicting as it does with emotions that evolved under far different conditions."
Prop 2 simply offers a recognition that animals in factory farms are living beings. Yes, please!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

L.A. Protest Against the Siege of Gaza

This article was originally published on on Wednesday, December 10, 2008:

On Thurs., Dec. 4th, a rally was held outside the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles to protest the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip, which has cut off supplies to the impoverished population of 1.5 million Palestinians who live there. On the same day as the protest, the Arab League called on the UN Security Council to try to end the siege.

Although Israel’s siege of Gaza had eased under a five-month truce, on Nov. 4th 
Israel re-instated a severe blockade, putting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who depend on humanitarian aid at risk of starvation. Not even UN agencies have been allowed through, despite entreaties from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Israel has also barred European Union diplomats and foreign journalists from Gaza, over the objections of Reuters, the BBC, the Associated Press, and CNN.

Even Israeli journalist Amira Hass, correspondent for Israel’s oldest paper, Haaretz, has had trouble reporting on the situation in Gaza, and was detained by Israeli police upon her return. Hass had previously written, among other pieces, an oped about the siege of Gaza which asked: "Is Israel deliberately strengthening Hamas?"

So at noon on Thurs., on the one month anniversary of the renewal of the siege, dozens of activists gathered on the sidewalk on the main Los Angeles thoroughfare, Wilshire Blvd., to protest the siege and the ongoing Israeli Occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

The rally was organized by ANSWER-LA and Al-Awda (which means "Return" and advocates for a Right of Return for all Palestinian refugees), working closely with local groups such as the International Action Center. The protest lasted two and a half hours outside the Israeli Consulate.

Some of the participants came from outside of L.A. to participate, such as Richard Herman, a member of the Cousins Club of Orange County, which he explained is made up of Palestinian Arabs, Israeli Gews, and "Gentiles like myself" working for peace in the Middle East. Herman says he has studied the Arab-Israeli conflict for 40 years, and since retirement, has made "justice for Palestinians [his] main hobby." He lived in the Middle East from 1968 to 1984 and is amazed that he did "not find much animosity towards Jews in Palestine," considering the injustices that have been going on. As an American, he is very concerned that: "The U.S. is party to the crimes of Israel. We support Israel militarily, monetarily, and diplomatically. I’m part of a regime that is supporting horrible crime."

Other protesters who drove up from Orange County included Chuck Anderson, a KPFK-Radio volunteer, who came "because I’m a great-grandfather and I want Palestine to be free" and brought five car-loads of people from Anaheim, and Reza Pour, with the Union of Progressive Iranians, who said "we are here in solidarity with the Palestinian people because their land is being stolen and occupied by Israelis with the help of the U.S." He added that "the majority of people in the Middle East have a common struggle to defeat all these reactionary governments and build a unity for the common interest of the people there", citing Syria and Egypt as examples of other oppressive governments in the region. Pour believed the task of those who seek justice in the Middle East is to "unite the many to defeat the few."

Carlos Hernandez, an organizer with 
ANSWER-LA (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), called the protest "particularly important because of the siege, but also because little victories are important: a 100-person demo in front of the Israeli consulate is a little victory in the longer struggle". One of the longer-term goals of that struggle, he said, is "to stop U.S. aid to Israel. Without that aid, they would not be able to continue the Occupation."

He also defined ANSWER’s objectives as "not just a struggle to free Palestine, but a struggle against U.S. Imperialism." Hernandez pointed out that "the U.S. uses Israel as a watchdog state against the Arab nations", especially Lebanon and Syria. "The U.S. uses Israel to bring down any kind of movement to help the needs of working people."

Hernandez also gave a brief speech to the assembly from the street corner:

One of the initiators of the Dec. 4th event, Mazen Almoukdad, said the organization he represents, Al-Awda, felt a street protest was "the least we could do to inform the public" that "the siege in Gaza has gone too long". He deplored the privations Palestinians are going through as a result of the siege: no electricity in cold weather, no suitable drinking water, and so on. He described their plight as "so serious right now". Al-Awda issued a 
press release in Nov., during the siege’s second week. The grassroots coalition’s release calls on the public to write to the media and to their congressional representatives, and to get involved in street demonstrations, to end the siege.

Almoukdad wants to see "this immoral, illegal occupation" end, but he believes "Americans are really busy right now worrying about the economy", and have also been overwhelmed by the recent election, "which cost 5 billion dollars while people are hungry all over the world."

Although Almoukdad thinks the American public does know about the siege, a Press TV news report found that much of the public is actuallyunaware of the extremity of the crisis going on. However, some do know. L.A. Jews for Peace was among the groups at the Dec. 4th rally protesting the siege of Gaza. One of its members, B.J. Jordan, said "we all abhor terrorism, but we need to stop these discriminatory, hostile attacks" against Palestinians. She is a fan of the writings of anthropologist Jeff Halper, Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. However, she says "many Jews are afraid to speak up because everybody slaps them down."

On the opposite side of Wilshire, facing the Israeli Consulate, 
smaller counter-demonstration of supporters of Israel's policies held up flags and signs.

One of a handful of counter-demonstrators who stuck it out until the initiating protest had left, Shai Abi, a recent UCLA graduate in History and Communications, brought a sign which said:"Enough – Heaven ran out of 72 virgins".

Abi said he always comes out for events like these and believes "the Israeli government is doing everything it can." His view of a solution for the Middle East is: "When the Arabs love their children more than they hate us there’ll be peace." His female friend told him "that’s beautiful." Abi claimed "the Palestinian cause is a mask", since it brings in money for groups like Hamas from "rich sheiks"; though he simultaneously argued that "Palestinians have no support from other Arab states."

He didn’t want to talk much about Israel’s siege of Gaza, though he finally said he was "not in favor of any siege because a siege without purpose has no meaning". Abi was more intent on relaying that "Palestinians are the most educated Arabs in the region yet their schoolbooks teach them: ‘kill one Zionist plus five Americans, and how many do you get?’". A couple of his peers backed up his claim that Palestinians teach their children to add up to six with this example.

Allegations that Palestinian textbooks incite students to hate Israel have been made by those as high up as Israel’s former Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. A main voice critical of content in those schoolbooks is the Center_for_Monitoring_the_Impact_of_Peace.

But according to
 a 2004 overview published by the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education Curriculum Development Center, the European Union, Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (in a report for the U.S. Congress), and various studies by academics at George Washington University, Hebrew University, and University of Rostock do not find these allegations to be true of new Palestinian Authority textbooks.

Another 2004 report, this time by CNN, gave a more complex overview of the cultural bias in both Israeli and Palestinian textbooks – but still didn’t report any instances of arithmetic instruction that involved indoctrination to murder.

 Speaking of indoctrination, a "news" story on the Dec. 4th protest against the siege of Gaza is up on a site called Democast. Readers of that piece would be pretty clear that the theme of the pro-Israel counter-demonstration was opposition to terrorism, but they’d have to take the anonymous author’s word for it that the rally organized by ANSWER and Al-Awda called for a "phased-destruction of Israel", that it was "culturally-insensitive", and that it consisted of "an unholy alliance of Islamist and Far-Left groups," since the reporter provided not one photo or video of the main protest, no quotes from any of the protesters against the siege, and no information as to why the protest at the consulate was actually called, except for speculation by the counter-protesters.

Incidentally, one of the counter-demonstrators chosen by the reporter for the edited-down video called himself a Christian, urged the nuking of Iran, and claimed that "God says ‘take ‘em out’". (The author’s byline does not appear with the piece, but an interviewer on the counter-demo side of the street on Dec. 4th told me he was Scott Jenkins from Democast.)

Interestingly, the full page of reportage on Democast padded its visuals on the counter-demonstration with a photo of a bustling crowd of pro-Israel demonstrators which a reader would probably assume is from the Dec. 4th, 2008 counter-protest in L.A.. However, since both it and a borrowed photo of the late Daniel J. Kliman appeared on the San Francisco Voice for Israel site in late Nov. 2008, it is clear that the photo in Democast’s piece on the L.A. event is from a different protest altogether – one that took place, in fact, on July 13th, 2006. 

Which explains why it doesn’t look anything like my photo of the 16 or so counter-demonstrators on Thurs.:

Another reason it doesn’t look anything like the counter-protest outside the Israeli Consulate in L.A. is that it was in San Francisco -- as this YouTube video of both the strong, vocal protest against Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon, and the pro-Israel counter-protest shows.

Perhaps would not mind their photo being used to illustrate the Democast piece. Zombietime’s most recent – and anonymous – report at our time of publication was a photo essay on the Nov. 28th Iraq Veterans Against the War street action in San Francisco. It called IVAW members "anti-American" and alleged they were not really veterans, then claimed that the Iraq War is over.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Mess that Pelosi Left for Obama

This article was originally published on on Tuesday, November 4, 2008:

If we are so lucky as to have a fair election despite the voter suppression, hackable voting machines, and intimidation, Obama is going to inherit a hell of a mess. He might have to be almost as superhuman as many of his swooning fans think he is to straighten it out, and I blame Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that the task has remained so gigantic.

She was handed her mission in Nov. 2006 and chose not to accept it. Despite her frequent claim that legislative “priorities” left no time for impeachment, under her leadership Congress did not stop the war, repeal the Patriot Act, curb global warming, protect our privacy, ensure the integrity of elections or pass other important legislation. I believe that is precisely because she refused to impeach. Her weakness emboldened Republicans and certainly encouraged the White House to thumb its nose at the legislative branch.

Since she hasn’t been impeaching and she hasn’t been passing much-needed laws, what has she been up to? It seems she has been principally devoted to posturing with superficial outrage at the Republicans, while letting things get as bad as possible so a Democrat can win the White House.

But electing Obama isn’t enough. Trusting that he won’t be like Bush and send troops off to war on outrageous lies, or spy on his own people, or censor government science, or fire U.S. attorneys resistant to voter suppression, or rebuff pleas for federal resources during an epic natural disaster, or defy the Geneva Conventions, habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights, or hundreds of new laws with ‘signing statements’ – isn’t enough. These crimes that have happened to the American people have to be answered. We deserve it and democracy requires it. Otherwise it can happen again.

Though millions of people certainly want to shake off the shackles that the radical right-wing coup inflicted on the country in 2000, there are others who actually have no idea what’s been going on for eight years. Even Oliver Stone, emerging from some sort of coma, is under the impression that Bush is just an incompetent dum-dum. A portion of the populace actually still maintains that Bush was fantastic, because they still believe Iraq was in league with al-Qaeda and involved in 9/11; they heard Bush speak many times of a link, but missed it when he finally admitted there was none. There are people who have no idea that the whole propaganda operation on the American people to authorize the Iraq War was a deliberate deception; they haven’t read the books by former prosecutors Vincent Bugliosi and Elizabeth de la Vega, and they don’t know that the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded the intelligence had been manipulated to gain support for the war – that’s manipulated, not misunderstood. The culture has settled into a kind of mythology that the war was just a mistake. Again, even Oliver Stone and his W. screenwriter Stanley Weiser believe that Bush had good intentions. This is very dangerous to leave uncorrected.

A sizeable number of crazies, hyped into a slavering frenzy by the McCain/Palin campaign, are going to raise a ruckus -- possibly on Nov. 5th – but almost certainly as soon as Obama tries to bring the troops home, close Guantanamo, halt global warming, tax the rich, or various other big changes. If he decides on talks with Iran, for instance, imagine the fuss there’ll be.

Oh, how much easier it would be for Obama if Congress first cleared the way by setting the record straight on how different the world and America really are from what Bush and Cheney have made us believe. America frequently does undergo mass delusions -- it used to believe slavery was justified, for instance, and communist witch hunts – and when these delusions are not firmly corrected on a national level, they persist for generations and lead to other delusions.

If Congress doesn’t get it on the record that so many dozens of things the Administration did were completely illegal, then there’ll be more trouble the next election and on down the line, and there’ll also be a very bad precedent that will just encourage repeats. The fact that LBJ got booed out of office but not booted out of office for leading the nation into Vietnam on the false Gulf of Tonkin incident laid the way for Reagan’s phony MIGs crisis in Nicaragua, his fabrication of a weapons cache in Grenada, and Bush Sr.’s fake claims of satellite photos showing Iraqi troops along Saudi Arabia.

Obama is very unlikely to lead any charge against the Bush criminal gang, having run on a platform of co-operation. But Rep. Dennis Kucinich has recommended a truth and reconciliation commission, and there’s still a big movement that wants to see prosecutions. Bugliosi says any state prosecutor could prosecute Bush.

I just hope that enough people in California’s 8th district vote for Cindy Sheehan to let Pelosi know that they are pissed at her. Her last opponent, running for the Greens, got 8% of the vote. If Sheehan can get more than that so Pelosi doesn’t think it’s just par for the course, if it’s a noticeable number, maybe a crack will appear in that bubble she has encased herself in so determinedly. If Pelosi would just stop standing so firmly in the way of those in Congress who want to see justice done, maybe something could happen.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thanks for Changing the Climate, Here's Your Reward

This article was originally published on on Monday, November 3, 2008:

Congress, worried that the war on Iraq might actually end one day, has turned its attention to funding the war on the environment. This week the House acquiescently passed the auto companies' bailout -- or as we are supposed to call it, "bridge loan" - memories already dimmed of the auto execs' flying to D.C. in private jets last month.  The only reason the auto giants are not getting a check on Monday is that the Republicans in the Senate have since voted against the bill.

But, like the unpleasant memories in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Democrats' memories seem to have been erased, and we heard nary a peep about all the times the car companies have sued and testified and spent a lot of energy to defeat any government limits on their planetary destruction. California has been especially affected by their litigiousness, as the state has tried to lead the way with progressive standards to curb auto emissions. In fact, the auto companies are in litigation against California right now. State Attorney General Jerry Brown asked Congress to place a very reasonable restriction on the bridge loan: that California and other states be ensured the authority to set auto emissions standards at the California level, which would make the lawsuit against the California government groundless.

This is not a minor lawsuit that the attorney general's office doesn't have to devote many resources to -- it's a monster lawsuit in which 21 car companies have joined forces, and that definitely includes the Big Three who have had their hands out: GM, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler. (And don't rest too easy on the Prius good vibes; Toyota is part of it, too.) It sure seems that if car companies are going broke  after years of Machiavellian scheming to stave off fuel efficiency -- as depicted in the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? -- then the very least their sugar daddy should require is that they don't waste millions on a lawsuit to avoid having to follow the law. If the bailout is altruistic and intended to help the 'little people', then the California government should not be having to spend money to defend the right to enforce its own laws when clinics and schools are hurting for funds and people are losing their homes.

GM is one of the companies claiming to be on the verge of bankruptcy right now, and they figure prominently in Who Killed the Electric Car, as they aggressively remove their own electric cars from the road, hide them, and then physically crush the vehicles for fear that people might actually buy them. After finalizing auto bailout legislation for the Senate on Weds., Senator Chris Dodd (the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs) issued a public statement: "I wish that these companies had not gotten themselves into this situation." Yes, and we also wish that they had not gotten us and the planet into this situation, Senator.  Is that the best you can do? Reward them for it?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can never remember that she herself actually is a California representative, under the impression instead that she's Head Chauffeur at the ranch in Crawford, so maybe it shouldn't be surprising that she came out in the forefront announcing the need for this particular handout. It wasn't Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Bush didn't have to pre-empt prime time; she was the mouthpiece. Since the White House has threatened to nix the auto bailout if there's any tough love in it, and Pelosi seems to think the White House is doing us a favor, she decided not to rock the boat. Now that the Republicans in the Senate have refused to fall in line, she's whining to about the Senate vote: "To have just 32 Republicans, you think, 'Why don't we write our own bill?'" In short, she's disappointed that Democrats' sacrifices weren't appreciated.

I think we're all scratching our heads wondering why you didn't write your own bill, Congresswoman, instead of passing a bill for the White House's tastes. This is the White House which, amidst so many other offences it's almost impossible to keep track, directed the EPA to oppose California's emissions law in the first place. Because California was proposing tougher restrictions than the feds, the state needed a waiver to bypass the federal law, and the EPA refused, even though 17 other states wanted to follow the same standards. The Bush White House's environmental policy, in short, is to actively violate states' rights in order to aid the oil and auto companies in their quest to pollute. (One would think the purpose of the waiver requirement was to grant some allowances to states having trouble meeting strict environmental standards, not to stop them from protecting the environment.) Bush's EPA has strenuously fought to do everything possible to enhance global warming, even against a Supreme Court ruling that put the P back in EPA. With all of this back and forth motored, if you will, by the auto companies, you would think Pelosi would be concerned, especially since fellow Northern Californian Barbara Boxer, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, publicly demanded that EPA head Stephen Johnson resign back in July, and also requested U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey begin a Dept. of Justice perjury investigation against him.

Instead, Pelosi's complaint to Politico about the Republicans' obstruction of the auto bailout bill highlighted how she tried to accommodate the White House. It's Dec. 12, 2008, and she's still under the impression that bending over backwards for the least popular president anyone can recall is a virtue! Will somebody please tell her there's a Democratic majority in both houses? About to be replaced after the holidays by an even larger Democratic majority in both houses? Oh yes, and I think the new president is a Democrat, too?

But it gets better. The other anti-environment White House proviso to which Pelosi buckled under is that the auto company rescue be paid for from a fund to build greener cars.

I'm not kidding.

Not only was Pelosi fine with giving money to an industry that considers one of its business expenses a protracted lawsuit against California taxpayers, but she is actually letting the White House plead poverty now (though they never did when demanding that Congress fund the war, reward reckless Wall Street operatives, or cut rich people's taxes). But now all of a sudden it's necessary to raid the fund set aside to produce cars that are more environmentally friendly. Granted, Pelosi initially "resisted using" the green fund, ABC News reports, and I'm sure she'll be the first to mention that when asked about it (unless she's able to avoid answering the question.)

However, afraid that she wouldn't get the job as Silverware Burnisher at Bush's new home in "whites-only" Dallas suburb Preston Hollow, she "changed her mind under White House pressure."

Not to criticize ABC News (not about this story, anyway), but they could have just borrowed their reporting from any report filed about Congress during the last two years: Isn't "Pelosi resisted but changed her mind under White House pressure" always the theme? I think we could add a word to the dictionary: PELOSI, v.: "to initially resist and then change one's mind under White House pressure." We could install a Commemorative Barometer at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and name it "the Pelosi", so its reading can change with White House pressure in perpetuity. In years to come, any political history scholar who is able to find a single instance during the Bush Administration when Pelosi did not "change her mind under White House pressure" will automatically become famous.

By contrast, Jerry Brown showed what bold, creative leadership actually looks like shortly after being elected state attorney general by launching a lawsuit against the car companies for contributing to global warming. A judge dismissed the suit, but you don't have to win every struggle to make the attempt worthwhile. The pro-war crowd certainly believes in the nobility of fighting to the finish on the battlefield. (The Democratic 'leaders' in Congress, whose arguments against the Iraq War were based on what they thought would make the smoothest sound bites, argued only that we were losing, not that the war is immoral or illegal, thus allowing the 'fighting against the odds' mentality to perpetuate the war.) And now the Republicans in the Senate have just shown an astonishing ability to make a stand -- only 10 of them voting for the auto bailout - even against their own President.

It seems as if, were it not for the Republicans, the next thing we'll see is Big Tobacco asking for a handout, complaining that the cost of damaging public health has really put a crimp in their style.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Originally published on OpEdNews on September 4, 2008.

On July 28th, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was asked on ABC’s The View why she insists on “not impeaching” Bush and Cheney. She responded: “If somebody had a crime that the President had committed, that would be a different story.” She finished her rationalization by implying that no-one yet had “the goods”, as she put it, on the President. However, Pelosi has yet to address the substance of – and perhaps even to read, if her off-hand comment is to be believed (, the 35 Articles of Impeachment against Bush which Rep. Dennis Kucinich proposed to the House on June 9th. Yet Kucinich isn’t giving up. His speech at the DNC was so rousing, the amazed crowd cheered incessantly through most of it and continued for some time after: And he wants 1 million signatures for impeachment by Sept. 10th. Sign his petition to Congress at:
Since “the goods” on Bush are already there, in the documentation Kucinich gave Congress (as well as many other places), much more attention should be paid to these 35 Articles. 

"But isn’t it too late? The 110th Congress is almost over..."

Congress reconvenes Sept. 8 for a mere 3 weeks with a “target adjournment” date of Sept. 26. Then they will likely focus on campaigning; 1/3rd of the Senate and the entire House are up for re-election. However, even if they do adjourn on schedule, that break may not have to be the final story. Some members did return to Capitol Hill over the summer – Republicans with their sudden election-year concern for gas prices, and, more importantly, the House Judiciary Committee, which Chairman John Conyers, Jr. called back to investigate the allegations by reporter Ron Suskind that Cheney’s office, with the CIA, forged a pre-invasion letter implying a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. I think this shows the Judiciary Committee could begin impeachment even if Congress is not in full session. And in that case Pelosi’s canard, that impeachment is too distracting from the work of law-making, would be completely inapplicable.
Moreover, the investigations have already happened. We’ve been at it for years. Bush’s crimes are public record. You don’t need FBI agents snooping around for months; you just need the word ‘impeachment’ and the website ‘Amazon’ and the whole case could be made. Impeachment movement leaders keep trying to tell people: it could take only a few days.

Recent House Judiciary Committee events have energized the impeachment movement: the testimony of Scott McClellan, the HJC vote to hold no-show Karl Rove in contempt of Congress, the July 25th hearing on the limits of executive power at which the word “impeachment” came up countless times, (watch over a dozen of the speakers at:  and also   and, the July 31st ruling by District Court Judge John Bates that the White House cannot ignore congressional subpoenas, and the subsequent Aug. 26th refusal of Bates to grant the White House a stay on that decision Re-invigorated, Veterans for Peace,, and National Impeachment Network activists will lobby in D.C. for 2-3 weeks this month. Kucinich’s champion Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL, 19th) and other pro-impeachment HJC members, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA, 35th) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN, 5th), have told activists not to quit. Also, at the July 25th proceeding, HJC member Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI, 2nd) gave a clarion call for impeachment hearings as the next step.

There is another point. As Jon Ponder remarks in The Pensito Review, Pelosi took impeachment “off the table” for the 110th Congress, not the 111th.

“But there isn’t enough time to impeach Bush before he leaves office…”

Tobi Dragert of the L.A. Area Impeachment Center told me that impeachment historian John Nichols (also Washington Correspondent for The Nation) informed the Progressive Democrats of America forum in Denver last week that post-term impeachment is possible, and that it would follow the same path as the regular kind: from the House Judiciary Committee to the Senate. This surprised me, so I did some research.

Ironically, it’s the Republicans who argued for post-term impeachment last. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), who voted ‘not proven’ during Clinton’s impeachment trial, told FOX in early 2001 that Clinton could still be impeached even though he had left office--this time for allegedly taking bribes to grant pardons. "President Clinton avoided a conviction on impeachment the last time around because he had not lost the confidence of the American people, and we didn't want to shake up the government,” Specter said. He added, “but he's not in office anymore"; as if conviction is easier – and justified -- after a term is up. Around the same time, Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN) also called for an investigation of Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich. And then-Senator Don Nickles wanted to see Clinton's pension and other benefits cut.

More significantly, Detroit College of Law professor Brian Kalt argues in a March 1st, 2001 column how a Clinton post-term impeachment could be justified by constitutional history Kalt makes a fascinating point that English practice, which was the Founders’ starting point, included it. If they had intended to outlaw it, Kalt writes, they would have codified that, since they did explicitly correct several other facets of English impeachment practice for our constitution. Kalt also unearths debate from the Constitutional Convention over impeachment: did congress deserve to remove a president or veep even though terms of office would be limited? The Convention decided Yes--in other words, I think, they seem to have felt all civil officers need to be accountable even if their high crimes or misdemeanors end within 8 years. They placed the urgency of justice in the fore. And if they didn’t think justice should wait for 8 years, how could they possibly have wanted it to wait for a lifetime?

Those who assume, as I had, that only a sitting president can be impeached may recall that Article I, Sec. 3 of the Constitution states “Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office.” But that phrase ends with a comma, not a period. The original quote is: “not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States”. (It also goes on to make clear that any civil officer who is impeached could still be “subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment” – criminal prosecution. Probably few people who’ve called for Bush’s impeachment would oppose that! But criminal prosecution will be a lot harder to instigate if Congress continues to pretend that everything Bush has done is legal. Prosecutors would be unlikely to feel they have as much power as Congress.)

Disqualifying Bush from post-term perks – like the honorific “President” in front of his name, maybe? – is not revenge, it’s justice. And it’s taking precautions against One Who Cannot Be Trusted. I personally don’t want Bush going abroad as any kind of ex-presidential ambassador; he wouldn’t have Jimmy Carter’s altruistic intentions. It would probably be too hard for Bush to give up scheming like he did with the Brits to lure Hussein into shooting at aircraft painted in fake UN colors. And if he gives speeches in the U.S., I don’t want the Secret Service to enforce ‘free speech zones’ (i.e. perimeters of non-free speech) for him. Since he’s never had much of a work ethic, he’s probably not going to want another federal office like William Taft did—Taft was Chief Justice after the presidency—but we should never underestimate what lucrative or influential job title he and his buddies might finagle, nor overestimate how much work he would believe any post would entail. Besides, it would just be a tremendous boost for how America is perceived if we formally recognized that he is not fit to hold federal office. And after he’s swindled Americans out of trillions for the war and trashed the economy, does he deserve a pension?

Alan Hirsch, a constitutional scholar and J.D. from Yale Law School, per the website for his book A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment, also believes that a president’s departure from office does not mean he can no longer be impeached. He and law professor Kalt both separately cite the precedent of the 1876 impeachment of General William Belknap, the only Cabinet member to be impeached by the House. (So far. Hear that, Rummy and Condi? So far.) Belknap was Secretary of War until he resigned a few hours before the House was to debate articles of impeachment. He was accused of accepting a bribe. (Ah, how innocent the crimes of yesteryear seem.) He was impeached by the House anyway. Unanimously. Note the absence of the partisanship those blocking Bush’s impeachment keep warning against -- it’s amazing what happens when you actually air the evidence. The impeachment (which equals an indictment) moved onto the Senate for trial. The majority of the Senate did not think the Secretary’s resignation got him off scot-free: they voted 37-29 to hear the case. Then came the trial. He was acquitted - by my math, to get the 2/3rds required to convict, they would have needed 44 votes. But to an entire House and 56% of the Senate, leaving office was not a get-out-of-jail-free card.

And why should it be? Kalt notes that scholars during the Nixon era believed he could have been tried even after he resigned. And Jon Ponder argues if he had been, that might have deterred Bush and Cheney. (After all, deterrence is one of the reasons we have a criminal justice system.) Imagine if the Enron principals had left to head up Halliburton, and that erased all responsibility for previous fraud. Or to use an analogy even Bill O’Reilly should like: imagine if a camp counselor molested a child but, because camp was only two weeks, the authorities just said in Sept., “well, what’s done is done.”

Now, there’s always the risk that Bush could be tried and then acquitted. Well, he’s a free man right now – and the country is not – so it wouldn’t be a step backward. It would at least revive a little public faith in Congress. And the Republicans, if they are to teach us anything, should teach us that the odds don’t need to stop anyone. They didn’t care about the odds or even the polls when they impeached Clinton. This time, the polls are on the other side: Bush is so unpopular he was even a liability at the RNC. Moreover, the case against Bush is completely different. The proof is overwhelming - if only the Democrats would stop fleeing it.

The trial itself would be a huge event. The media would carry the proceedings live. People who’ve been out of the loop (because they don’t follow alternative media) would hear the damning facts for the first time. As Joy Behar said to Pelosi on The View: impeachment would meanthat the world and America can really see the crimes that [Bush and Cheney] committed.” And that, regardless of prosecutorial outcome, would be a victory for Truth. After 8 years of being trampled, Truth deserves a hand up.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

HEALTH ADVISORY: Invasion of the Impeachophobes

This article was originally published on on Saturday, June 21, 2008:

Malignant disease, fiercely contagious. Destroys congressional Democrats' natural defenses against tyranny. Begins as a weakening of the spine. Soon clear vision is lost, followed by coherent speech, rational thought, and, eventually, all ability to stand up. The virulent Pelosi Pathogen seems to be the root.WARNINGImpeachophobia can be extremely fatal for those impacted by the patient's decision-making. The patient's illness may lead to death of U.S. active-duty forces, Iraqis, Lebanese, Iranians, as well as New Orleanians, Midwesterners, Chinese, and polar bears. Traditional forms of treatment, which consist of appealing to the heart, have proven completely ineffective. Some experimental remedies involve administering shocks to the gluteus maximus, known in laymen's terms as "campaign pocketbooks", but this approach requires broad public awareness and support. Meanwhile, research into antidotes has uncovered a promising substance, sanfranciscomide cindysheehanide, which tests show, if injected directly into the 8th district of California, could eradicate the Pelosi Pathogen at its source. However, the vaccine will not be ready until November.

Epidemiology of the disease:
The first noticeable signs of the Pelosi Pathogen appeared in 2006, when the original sufferer was heard to murmur "Impeachment is off the table." Since this was akin to a police officer vowing "We do not arrest criminals", or a bank manager declaring "Come on in, the safe is open", a loss of oxygen supply to the brain may have been involved. After all, medical detectives attest, at that time it was well known that the White House had committed crimes against humanity, violations of the constitution, betrayals of oaths of office, and acts of tyranny. Some Republicans, such as Rep. Ron Paul and Sen. Chuck Hagel, even expected the Dems to put impeachment on the table.

And the Dems have been repeatedly handed Republican critiques of Bush/Cheney's conduct on a platter. Ronald Reagan's associate deputy attorney general, Bruce Fein, came out many months ago in favor of impeachment and even co-wrote a play on it, which ran in Nancy Pelosi's district. John Dean, former counsel to Nixon, wrote back in 2004 that Bush Admin. offences were Worse than Watergate. Paul O'Neill, Bush's former Treasury Secretary, opposed Bush's failure to halt al-Qaeda funders, objected to the White House's economic recklessness and its blackout on Treasury's findings, and also exposed, in his 2004 book, Bush's predetermination to attack Iraq despite its irrelevance to 9/11. Counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke exposed the same predetermination in his own memoir that year.

In 2006, the Homeland Security Dept. cut anti-terrorism funding by 40 % for New York City because of a lack of  "national monuments or icons". Republican congressman John Sweeney charged that the Admin. had "declared war on New York", and GOP colleague Peter King called for Secretary Michael Chertoff's resignation. The same year, the all-GOP House Select Committee on Katrina (boycotted by Dems for fear of whitewashing) issued a report which called Katrina "a national failure, an abdication of the most solemn obligation to provide for the common welfare," and which member Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) summarized as "very tough on the president, ... very tough on the Department...a blistering report." Though Dems won both houses in Nov., Chertoff retained his post, and Bush was never charged with any crime for his delays in releasing federal disaster resources, or for pretending not to have been warned about the levees.

This year, after the story broke of the CIA's destruction of interrogation tapes, former GOP governor Thomas Kean, Chair of the 9/11 Commission, co-wrote a Jan. New York Timesop-ed with his Democratic Vice-Chair Lee Hamilton complaining that "no one in the administration ever told the commission of the existence of videotapes of detainee interrogations". Kean and Hamilton baldly concluded: "We call that obstruction." In Nixon's era, obstruction of justice was considered impeachable. But the Pelosi Pathogen seems to destroy former standards, like justice. On June 20th, former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan testified to the House Judiciary Committee that Cheney, Karl Rove, and others are withholding information from the public on who leaked CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity. Another case of obstruction. McClellan also accused the White House of "packaging" intelligence and misleading the public on the war. Deception to lead the country to war would seem to be the very crux of what the Framers had in mind by "High Crimes"; but it doesn't seem that way to Impeachophobes.

Once infected, patients become increasingly listless, unable to lift their arms to vote to stop funding a war ¾ of the U.S. opposes. Nor can they close Guantanamo. Nor can they say the four words: "No War on Iran". They even lose the self-preserving ability to ensure that voting machines be hacker-proof.           

The infected become cavalier about whistleblowers' sacrifices. For example, the decorated Major General Antonio Taguba, former Deputy Commanding General, submitted a damning report on Abu Ghraib abuses in May 2004, and was subsequently reassigned to the Pentagon, then later instructed to retire. Though this year it was established that Abu Ghraib-type methods were approved by Bush and Cheney, and though Taguba's preface to D.C.-based Physicians for Human Rights' new report affirms "there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes," yet the Impeachophobes leave Taguba hang out to dry, and refuse to allow Dennis Kucinich's articles of impeachment against either Bush or Cheney to be debated.           

Meanwhile whistleblower Babak Pasdar, a computer security expert who worked for a wireless giant, revealed this spring that the system he saw allowed a third party to access all phone calls, emails, textings, and website viewings of any client. Instead of following that up, the House just gave telecoms retroactive immunity from lawsuits. Thereby demonstrating a will to actively stand in the way of legal redress by citizens stepping up to do the work Congress has shunned (defending the 4th Amendment). In this trampling on citizen attempts to bring to light White House law-breaking, we see a marked progression from the disease's passive phase to an active, malicious stage.

The Center for Disease Control should screen Invasion of the Body-Snatchers (forget 2007's "Invasion") for clues to the spread of contagion. Before Pelosi became Speaker, experienced Rep. John Conyers, Jr. authored a resolution for an inquiry into grounds for Bush's impeachment. A few dozen congresspersons co-sponsored. Conyers also published "The Constitution in Crisis," a 302-page book of Admin. violations with an unwavering sub-title: "The High Crimes of the Bush Administration and a Blueprint for Impeachment". Yet when Conyers became Judiciary Committee chair, suddenly he started talking about "other priorities".

In Invasion of the Body-Snatchers (1978), a Chinese launderer desperately asks Donald Sutherland for help because his wife seems "wrong", "not right", "different". But a few scenes later, the man asserts creepily: "She much better now". When people start talking about "other priorities", or how Bush is just "an unpopular president who can't do much more damage"...this may be a sign they've already succumbed to the disease.

Watch out for the pod people.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


This article was originally published on on Saturday, April 19, 2008:

For once, the abysmal quality of the mainstream media has been noticed by the mainstream media itself. April 16th’s Democratic debate met with such public outcry – an open letter to ABC signed by 41 journalists and media analysts, thousands of furious emails on, 200,000 signatures on MoveOn’s petition - that The Washington Post, The L.A. Times, Associated Press, Reuters, USA, NPR online, and even ABC World News actually covered the firestorm. This may be some kind of wake-up call, at least to ABC. They had certainly been oblivious to their responsibility to the public before this furor. Not even the shouts and groans from the live audience at the debate (captured in a videoclip on Huffington Post) had clued them in by the next morning: George Stephanopoulos cheerily recapped the debate on Good Morning America as if his pointless questions had been very informative, and on The View, Barbara Walters praised Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson’s “strong questions” and suggested that not a lot of people had heard such questions before. (Both shows are on ABC.)

In typical Hillary Clinton campaign fashion, both the campaign’s first statements and her own public ones after the debate ignored the true nature of the complaints about ABC. On Friday she tried to paint the moderators’ questions, so widely perceived as sensationalistic and trivial, as simply “hard questions”, and warned: “If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." This after the first 45 minutes of the debate were conducted in such a way that the moderators peppered Barack Obama with Fox News-style questions using lowest-common-denominator, inflammatory terms like “the flag”, “loves America” and “patriotic” – and then considered they were being ‘fair’ because they gave Clinton equal time to ‘respond’…to the charges against Obama! Stephanopoulos even seemed to want to make up for the fact that the Democratic Party had rebuffed FOX’s 2007 offer to host a debate (a rebuff based on FOX’s smear campaign against Obama). He asked a question on Ayers that, though uncredited, was literally straight from the mouth of FOX’s Sean Hannity, who had fed it to him on air the day before. (

But in truth it might have set some kind of precedent if ABC had actually askedgenuinely ‘hard questions’. In ABC’s Democratic debate of Aug. 2007, Stephanopoulos, after repeatedly by-passing lower-ranking candidates, made sure all candidates on stage (8 of them then) answered a pressing question sent in from Utah: “Do they believe that, through the power of prayer, disasters like Hurricane Katrina or the Minnesota bridge collapse could have been prevented or lessened?” Unsurprisingly, they all replied something about the importance to them of spiritual values. And having taken up so much time with that vital question, there was no time to ask a question about how to verifiably lessen or prevent disasters like Katrina by actually fighting global warming!

Nothing has changed in Stephanopoulos’ world since then, although an Antarctic ice shelf the size of Northern Ireland has broken off in our own. There were still no questions about global warming on April 16th. Not even a question on how the candidates might heed the Pentagon study (from 2004) on the vast climate change threat. Not even when the candidates were pressed on Pentagon leaders’ authority re. national security.

The networks are in lock-step in their silence, though: the League of Conservation Voters monitors the questions the top 5 political reporters have asked presidential candidates in debates and interviews since Jan. 2007, and out of over 3,200 questions, Stephanopoulos, Tim Russert (NBC), Bob Schieffer (CBS), Wolf Blitzer (CNN), and Chris Wallace (FOX) have asked only a total of 8 questions between them mentioning climate change (

Instead of the silly questions “do you think he can win?” and ‘can she win?’, which it was easy to predict the answers to, a question with actual substance could have been: “what integrity do the coming elections have when Diebold and other voting machines used in much of the country can be hacked into to change the national counts?” (

And on the subject so belabored Wednesday, ‘fighting the Republicans’, could they not have moved the candidates away from the rhetorical to the practical with: “Considering the fact John Kerry told author Mark Crispin Miller he thinks the 2004 election was stolen, and many, many others contend the 2000 election was stolen, would you fight for a recount if you lose? If the public elects you, will you make sure their wish is honored?”

How about a question on holding the Bush Administration accountable for its 935 lies on Iraq, and its current lies on Iran? Instead, Stephanopoulos told his own lie, that Iran was continuing its “nuclear program” (by which he meant weaponry, not civilian power, though the National Intelligence Estimate says he’s wrong). Then he grafted this to another false assumption, that Iran has ever expressed any desire to attack Israel.

Likewise, Gibson used false conservative talking points about the effectiveness of capital gains tax cuts to badger Clinton and Obama on taxes, while neglecting other questions on the economy such as: unemployment, the deficit, the privatization of natural resources, the specter of a depression, and how about that gap between the rich and poor?

And why no mention of recent revelations that Cheney, Rice, Tenet, Ashcroft, and even Powell sat in on meetings to plan torture? Gibson had, after all, introduced the debate with: “Much has happened in [the last] six weeks, and there is much to discuss”. But apparently he was just referring to things like Obama’s “bitter” remarks.

Yet despite their intense concentration on such supposed scandals, neither moderator asked Clinton how she could claim both that Obama’s remarks on people clinging to religion trivialize faith, and that she’s outraged by Obama’s loyalty to and respect for his church. I guess that might have been a ‘hard question’ for ABC and the media itself.

The media was the message on April 16th, and it was loud enough for many people hitherto unaware to hear the distress call.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Gender Card

Originally published on OpEdNews on April 18, 2008.         

Earlier this year, Clinton supporters like Geraldine Ferraro, Gloria Steinem, Saturday Night Live alumnae, contributors to a Newsweek special issue, and some email petitions decried a sexist bias against Hillary in the media. Ferraro went on Fox several weeks after she supposedly left the campaign and used the occasion of Randi Rhodes’ comedy routine to again defend her own statement that had gotten her into hot water; she defended herself by accusing the Obama campaign of “playing the race card”. But in the process of lamenting the inequity between the way the two campaigns are received she herself was playing the gender card.

It’s true that after Hillary got teary in New Hampshire the ludicrous question of her emotionality saturated the media. But what that news cycle showed was that she is savvier about the media than some feminists fear. She did win that primary.

Clinton’s sniper fire gaffe is not something she can blame the media for; unless rising from its usual lethargy and actually researching something a politician said is an example of bias. But it does show that she thought it was sound media strategy to align herself with an image of war. It also underlines how the junior senator from New York wants liberals to see her as against the Iraq war while she tries to be militaristic for the right-wing.

As we all know, Clinton voted in 2002 for the war on Iraq while Obama went on public record opposing it. She has tried very hard to claim Obama’s stand against the war doesn’t count. It may have surprised her that the war became so unpopular that this difference between them actually seemed to mean something, especially to the young. She has repeatedly undermined Obama’s early anti-war position by unsmilingly joking that it’s her “lifetime of experience” and McCain’s “lifetime of experience” versus Obama’s “speech he made in 2002.”

In so doing, she undermines the stand any of us who opposed the war took in 2002 – or 2003, or since – whether it was a speech, a protest sign, a letter to Congress, or more. She has never explained why she couldn’t tell that the Bush Administration was lying even though millions of us worldwide could. She has not explained why she, supposedly so tough and so savvy in D.C. ways, saw nothing fishy in any of the administration’s 935 false statements about Iraq in the two years after 9/11. Perhaps we ordinary citizens, armed with internet access to public information, had greater resources than she did and knew things she couldn’t: that Bush made claims about an IAEA report on Iraq that were publicly contradicted by the IAEA the next day; that intelligence officials expressed disagreement on various of the Administration’s allegations before the war; that former UN inspector and ex-marine Scott Ritter was sure he and his team had thoroughly and permanently destroyed Hussein’s biological and chemical weapons after the Gulf War.

Even if we give her the benefit of the doubt and accept her argument that Bush tricked Congress into thinking they were just supporting a resolution to give him power to force U.N. inspections—and he did try that ruse—the truth is she also voted against the Oct. 2002 Levin Amendment, which contained a clause for “a new resolution of the United Nations Security Council” before a move to disarm Iraq. That would have kept Congress in charge of authorizing war. But it seems this ‘tested’, ‘ready’ candidate who says she’s the best to stand up to Republicans didn’t care to stand up during that test. (Her presidential campaign statement on this vote blames "the language of the Levin Amendment” as if it “would have made it the law of the land that the President could not act without Security Council approval.” Yet the amendment clearly stated the opposite by reiterating the U.S.’ right to self-defense. As does international law anyway.)

She has spent years trying to distance herself from her vote to authorize military force, but without going as far as Obama has in condemning the war. In Dec. 2006 she told ABC News “if we knew then what we know now there wouldn’t have been a vote”—implying that it was all a mistake, and perhaps that Bush would never have sought the authorization if he’d known there were no WMDs in Iraq.

Yet she made this excuse over a year and a half after “the Downing Street memos” were published in The Sunday Times (U.K.) on May 1, 2005. It’s very unlikely that Hillary was still unaware so long after their publication that memos of secret meetings between the Brits and the White House, several months before Congress’ vote on Iraq, revealed that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” to invade. She certainly should have understood the significance of the July 23, 2002 memo which briefed the Prime Minister on the U.S. plan: “Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.” And she should have grasped that the lines in the memo which read “But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran” were clear evidence that Bush already ‘knew then what we know now’.

She tried to stress once again, in the April 16th debate in Philadelphia, that she thinks she can fight the Republicans better than Obama can. Oh, when will she start? The DNC’s own website catalogues numerous allegations of improper relations between McCain and a variety of lobbyists – potentially powerful financial and political scandals – but does Clinton care? She praised McCain again at the debate on ABC, calling him ‘formidable’; while critiquing Obama’s associations with Rev. Wright and William Ayers under the cover that this is what “the Republicans will be raising.” When will she raise Democratic objections against them instead of Republican objections against a Democrat?