Today, we remember, the 2,979 killed in both the terror attacks of 9/11 and in the oft-overlooked anthrax bio-terror attacks on American soil which occurred in the following weeks, along with all of those who have given their lives in defense of this nation and its Constitution, including the 5,679 U.S. troops who have been sacrificed so far in George W. Bush's (and now Barack Obama's) wars in Iraq and Afghanistan --- a number which does not include the countless U.S. contractors who have also perished in those conflicts.
As a veteran of Vietnam, my friend and colleague John Gideon, whom we tragically lost late last month, was a champion not just of voters' rights, but of all the causes of his fellow veterans and active-duty brothers and sisters.
Today, The BRAD BLOG's first Memorial Day without his valued presence, we dedicate this day to his memory, his undying fight, and his soaring spirit.
I thought it would be appropriate today, then, to offer the recent Part 2 of Talk Nation Radio's moving audio tribute to the legacy of our friend John. As in Part 1 of Dori Smith's radio special, I appear once again, along with VotersUnite.org's Ellen Theisen and John himself, in both voice and memory. Also, good friend and longtime election integrity advocate Pokey Anderson, of Houston Pacifica's KPFT, speaks about John and his legacy in this part as well. All four of us are seen in the photo below, taken by Desi Doyen, last summer during a few hours of wonderful retreat up in Washington state. It would be the last time all five of us would be together in person.
Post-Script: I just noticed that this article's permalink happens to be BRAD BLOG item number '7176' --- an oddly appropriate 'anagramatical' coincidence for you numerologists out there. Make of that as you will...
Texas ratified the 45-year old constitutional amendment to eliminate the poll tax and continues its voter ID debate. The Internet and phone election in Hawaii came to a close on Friday; Warren Stewart of Verified Voting Foundation points out that "Web voting cannot be used in city council or state elections because state law bars voting systems that do not include a vote verification process."...
The faux Republican outrage over Nancy Pelosi's perceived slight, in charging that CIA briefers directly misled Congress, has been amusing to watch. Even as the Democrats' seeming inability to either defend her, or fear of sinking into the same phony political sandtrap, is disappointing. But Democrats seem to excel at disappointment these days, so that part of the ginned-up story is hardly surprising.
The GOP hypocrisy in charging that Pelosi has somehow hurt the morale of The Agency in the bargain (and, as bonus, that Obama's release of the Bush Torture Memos has endangered CIA operatives) has been all the more amusing to witness, in their complete and entire selective amnesia of their party's own 100%, unqualified support of a White House which, for the first time in the history of this nation, had publicly outed the identity of a covert CIA operative. In unapologetically exposing Valerie Plame-Wilson, and completely destroying her entire, crucial network monitoring the trafficking of WMD in the Middle East along with it, untold damage was brought not only to CIA operatives risking their lives in the defense of this nation, but also to the national security of the nation itself, which was significantly blinded in the Middle East --- and on the issue of WMDs, of all things --- at a time when we were theoretically going to war there, over that very issue. Yet, the Republicans chose to side with the criminals in treason, over the "morale" or "effectiveness" of The Agency in their shortsighted and inexcusable politicization of the matter.
It doesn't get much more absurd than all of that...unless you add to it the Democrats' near-complete incapacity to take on, and tear down, the opportunistic Republicans on their own, absurdist argument in phony defense of the CIA of late.
Ernie Canning, here at The BRAD BLOG, has been documenting the CIA's rich, and often ugly, 50-year history in the use of torture, and other illegalities, as a direct tactic to control foreign populations in the march towards the growth of U.S. Empire in the twentieth, and now twenty-first, century, well-prior to the Bush Administration's claims of the necessity for so-called "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" in the post-9/11 era. Canning's third, and latest chapter in his exclusive four-part series was published here last week.
But more germane, for the moment, to the continuing, cynical, and disingenuous Republican "outrage" over Pelosi's charges that the CIA misled Congress during classified briefings --- as happily amplified by the corporate broadcast media on all of the Sunday News Shows today --- is 42-year CIA veteran Melvin A. Goodman's brief summary of the CIA's rich history in bamboozling Congress published over at The Public Record. As with the use of torture by the CIA, no, The Agency's lies to Congress did not begin in the post-9/11 period, but they certainly reached a high-point (or low-point, depending on your perspective) during that period which the GOP has now chosen for their fully-politicized, hoped-for distraction, in targeting the current Democratic Speaker of the House.
Goodman's summary is worth a quick review --- particularly by Democrats who seem to be caught flat-footed, yet again, in having a clue about how to dismantle, and defang this latest absurd strawman argument mustered by a party with no tools left in their toolbox, other than a fully-compliant corporate media, and a startlingly-inept opposition party.
Yesterday Jessie Jane Duff, Retired Gunnery Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps and spokesperson for Military Voting Rights USA, testified before Congress on the issue of military and overseas voting. Her testimony told what it is like in the field – that the military does more to assist soldiers to pay taxes and give to charity than it does to help them get their ballots cast. She pointed out that the Internet is not readily available in the field (contrary to what many proponents of Internet voting say). She proposed a well-thought out solution and explained the many benefits. The federal government should provide an Express Mail program for the return of ballots, more training for people who assist during the election cycle, and accessible voter registration and absentee ballot request locations. We hope Congress acts on her wise recommendations.
The Voter ID bill is scheduled to come to the floor in Texas tomorrow....
"In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill...we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one." --- Plato
During the campaign, amid their state of elation, many disregarded Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama's past record and took any criticism of these past actions as partisan attacks deserving equally partisan counterattacks. Some continued their reluctant support after candidate Obama became grand finalist and prayed for the best. And a few still continue their rationalizing and defense, with illogical excuses such as 'He's been in office for only 20 days, give the man a break!' and 'He's had only 50 days in office, give him a chance!' and currently, 'be reasonable - how much can a man do in 120 days?!' I am going to give this logic, or lack of, a slight spicing of reason, then, turn it around, and present it as: If 'the man' can do this much astounding damage, whether to our civil liberties, or to our notion of democracy, or to government integrity, in 'only' 120 days, may God help us with the next [(4 X 365) - 120] days.
I know there are those who have been tackling President Obama's changes on change; they have been challenging his flipping, or rather flopping, on issues central to getting him elected. While some have been covering the changes comprehensively, others have been running right and left like headless chickens in the field - pick one hypocrisy, scream a bit, then move on to the next outrageous flop, the same, and then to the next, basically, looking and treating this entire mosaic one piece at a time.
Despite all the promises Mr. Obama made during his campaign, especially on those issues that were absolutely central to those whose support he garnered, so far the President of Change has followed in the footsteps of his predecessor. Not only that, his administration has made it clear that they intend to continue this trend. Some call it a major betrayal. Can we go so far as to call it a 'swindling of the voters'?
On the State Secrets Privilege
Yes, I am going to begin with the issue of State Secrets Privilege; because I was the first recipient of this 'privilege' during the now gone Administration;
Chicago radio host Erich "Mancow" Muller decided he'd get himself waterboarded to prove the technique wasn't torture.
It didn't turn out that way. "Mancow," in fact, lasted just six or seven seconds before crying foul. Apparently, the experience went pretty badly --- "Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop," according to NBC Chicago.
"I wanted to prove it wasn't torture," Mancow said. "They cut off our heads, we put water on their face...I got voted to do this but I really thought 'I'm going to laugh this off.' "
The upshot? "It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke," Mancow told listeners. "It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back...It was instantaneous...and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."
So far, it's been almost a full month since Fox "News"/ABC Radio propagandist Sean Hannity volunteered to be waterboarded for charity, claiming it was not torture. Despite MSNBC's Keith Olbermann offering $1000 for the troops, for every second Hannity lasts, the cowardly wingnut torture apologists has failed to revisit the topic since his original act of phony bravado.
See "Mancow" being waterboarded, and then commenting on it, in the two very short videos below. And remember, unlike the detainees that we tortured, he was not being waterboarded by hostile folks, and was able to call it off at any time, on his own...
* * *
On a related topic... I was on San Francisco's usually very rightwing radio station KGO last night, with the progressive Christine Craft sitting in as late-night host. Lots of similarly cowardly wingnuts called in to inform us that waterboarding isn't torture at all. Here's the audio. Enjoy.
Last night on Countdown, Olbermann announced that he was rescinding the offer to Hannity, and instead giving $10,000 to charity following radio host Erich “Mancow” Muller’s waterboarding attempt. Olbermann promised to donate to the charity Veterans of Valor, founded by Sgt. Klay South, who administered the waterboarding to Muller. Olbermann revealed that Mancow’s publicist had contacted Olbermann’s show yesterday to see whether Olbermann would make a similar offer to Mancow as he did for Hannity:
OLBERMANN: Mancow Muller had the guts to put his mouth where his mouth was, and the guts to admit he was dead wrong. As you saw, he not only said it is torture, but that he had nearly drowned as a boy, and it is drowning, and that he would have admitted to anything to make it stop.
So the offer to the coward Hannity — a thousand dollars a second he lasted on the waterboard — is withdrawn.
And to Mr. Muller, whose station’s publicity person contacted us yesterday saying she’d heard I’d offered ten thousand dollars to anybody who would do what he did –
You got it. Ten thousand dollars to the military-families charity of the man who did the waterboarding, Veterans Of Valor. [...]
As to Hannity, you are now unnecessary.
UPDATE 5/29/09: Olbermann interviews Mancow after his waterboarding. Video follows below. Here's a bit of the transcript...
The debate on photo voter ID in Texas continues to slow cook, and the particular question of Asian names and voter ID may have nationwide implications. Also in today’s news are two government actions (in IL and HI) that show the necessity of citizens’ persistence in demanding that the law be upheld. Andrew Appel writes about the testimony of the plaintiff’s witnesses in the NJ lawsuit, and plans to follow up with testimony of the defendant’s witnesses....
Good news! "Hawaii's illegal use of electronic voting machines and the illegal transmission of vote results over the Internet" has been halted, following a decision from Judge Joseph E. Cardoza, who issued an injunction last night, according to Disappeared News. As Larry Gellar reports from our 50th state...
On Tuesday, Illinois Ballot Integrity Project (IBIP)/DuPage Chapter celebrated a crucial legislative victory, which will finally force the DuPage County Election Commission to comply with the law before shredding OUR election records.
HB 4051 passed unanimously [PDF] in the Illinois Senate 57-0, finally ending a three-year power struggle regarding the Election Commission's destruction of OUR public records. Last month, the bill also passed unanimously [PDF] in the Illinois House 117-0. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign the bill into law shortly.
This short, but significant one-page bill, sponsored by IL Rep. Paul Froehlich (D-56th), amends the Illinois Election Code to specify that the destruction of OUR election-related public records must follow the procedures mandated by the Local Records Act. The bill also amends the Local Records Act to specifically include that local election authorities must comply with the provisions of the Act when disposing OUR public records.
HB4051's provisions have just one county board in mind: the inveterate scofflaws of the DuPage County Election Commission...
IN TODAY'S AUDIO REPORT: Clean Energy & National Security; CAFE standards & coffee cups; PLUS: Sausage-making & Congress! .... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail, retired military generals or used coffee cups? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (links below): Everything you wanted to know about the American Climate Energy & Security Act but were afraid to ask; Google wants to help you monitor your home energy use; the U.K's plan for smart meters in every British home; Swine flu outbreak caused by a lab accident?; When is it better to idle, vs. shutting off your car's engine?; Sea level rise may only be half as bad as previously predicted...See below for more!
Info/links on stuff we talked about on today's episode, plus MORE green news, all follows below...
"The widespread abuse of prisoners is a virtually foolproof indication that politicians are trying to impose a system --- whether political, religious or economic --- that is rejected by large numbers of people they are ruling. Just as ecologists define ecosystems by the presence of certain 'indicator species'..., torture is an indicator species of a regime that is engaged in a deeply anti-democratic project, even if that regime happens to have come to power through elections." - Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine (2007)
In Part I of this five-part series, I took care to distinguish the post-9/11 application of torture techniques by the U.S. military from the role played by the CIA and demonstrated how the Bush/Cheney decision to torture predated the quasi-legal Justice Department memos. In Part II, I covered the CIA's dark beginnings, including links not only to former Nazi war criminals but to those Americans who provided financial support to Hitler's Germany, including the late Senator Prescott Bush, George W's paternal grandfather. I also demonstrated how academic studies, performed as part of the CIA's maniacal quest to crack the code of human consciousness, culminated in KUBARK, the CIA's 1963 torture manual.
Here, we will explore how those KUBARK torture techniques became an essential component of the covert dimension of a US-led corporate Empire --- a means for exerting control over populations resistant to the injustice of a system that values the obscene wealth of a few over the needs of the many...
Three interesting personal accounts: one from a voter in CA who found that the state-certified InkaVote Plus won't accept write-in votes; another from a candidate in PA who tried three times to vote and didn't get to cast a ballot; and the third from an activist in Brazil who tells about vote-selling, biometric voter IDs, spy pens, and e-voting machines....
Readers of The BRAD BLOG may remember my disturbing experience last June, while voting in the California state primary election on the audio balloting system here in Los Angeles County, as 4 out of 12 of my votes were misprinted by the lousy electronic voting system. As the ES&S InkaVote Plus system is generally meant for blind voters, it was doubly troubling that the only way I was able to discover the misprinted votes was by closely studying my computer-marked paper ballot before dropping it into the optical-scanner, where it would have disappeared, incorrectly voted, forever.
Well, it was Election Day again today in CA. And, after skipping the "opportunity" to use the audio ballot system to vote in last November's General Election (it takes too damn long, and I had very little time to vote that day), I thought I'd take it out for another spin during today's special election...
The 15-week NJ trial challenging the use e-voting machines concluded today; a ruling is expected by the end of the year. Low turnout in today's CA and PA elections. CO and IN are making good use of the Internet for voters, unlike the IL legislature. More NY counties resist the move from levers to optical scanners. Last, but not least, RI joins the photo voter ID debate....