December 03, 2006

Keith Olbermann: MCA guts Bill of Rights

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 sends U.S. democracy straight back to the Dark Ages. In A.D. 1215 habeas corpus was incorporated in the Magna Carta. Keith Olbermann explains why the Military Commissions Act of 2006 destroys the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution. Video courtesy of

September 21, 2006

RFK Jr. re the November elections

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. asks, "Will the next election be hacked? Fresh disasters at the polls--and new evidence from an industry insider--prove that electronic voting machines can't be trusted" in Rolling Stone, 5 October 2006.

August 29, 2006

Bringing on "World War III"

From the Inter Press Service News Agency:

Bringing On "World War III"

Analysis by Bill Berkowitz*

OAKLAND, California, Jul 20 (IPS) - If you thought that a global conflagration on the order of a World War was more the stuff of Biblical prophecy, science fiction and apocalyptic end-times novels, think again.

For years, U.S. neoconservatives have been ratcheting up the rhetoric--mostly in small gatherings and on partisan web sites--claiming that terrorist activities around the world constituted the initial stages of a new world war.

But during the past week or so, with the Israeli/Hezbollah crisis in full swing, Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the United States House of Representatives, is using any platform available to him to convince the public that the U.S. is engaged in World War III. [continued]

*Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His WorkingForChange column "Conservative Watch" documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the U.S. Right.

August 22, 2006

From Joshua Frank Democrats Stifle Antiwar Voices, Again

A Pakistani perspective

From & WHYY:

Kureishi on Changes in British Immigrant Life

Morning Edition, August 22, 2006 · Renee Montagne speaks with award-winning author Hanif Kureishi [author of Intimacy and My Son the Fanatic]. Kureishi became popular in the 1980s for his depiction of life in London as a Muslim, and the divided loyalties of leading a modern life within an immigrant community. We ask him how relations in London have changed over the years since he first began writing about the issue.

August 21, 2006

Letter to the Editor of the Intelligencer

To the Editor:

In the first campaign debate with Iraq War veteran Patrick Murphy, Michael Fitzpatrick "said he would support Israel in a pre-emptive strike against Iran, [while] Murphy criticized the freshman congressman for trying to 'spread war' in the Middle East."

This administration's barely suppressed urge for war against Iran, possibly with Israel acting as proxy, was the most alarming threat described by former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter and CIA veteran Ray McGovern at a Middle East war forum on July 22. Ritter denied that Iran's nuclear program poses an imminent danger that needs to be addressed militarily and warned that if Iran is attacked the price of oil will triple and our economy will be destroyed. Yet so far it is the military—not Congress—that is holding Bush back, while 21 former generals, diplomats, and national security officials charge in an open letter that "the administration's 'hard line' has actually undermined U.S. security." (LA Times, 8/16)

Beltway hawks like Fitzpatrick must be replaced in November. This administration's foreign policy is an unmitigated disaster. Believing you can win the war on terror primarily by military means is the surest way to lose it and much, much more. A veteran like Patrick Murphy understands that.

August 20, 2006

James Fallows: "Declaring Victory"


Declaring Victory against Al-Qaeda

Weekend Edition Sunday, August 20, 2006 · Weekend Edition's Liane Hansen talks with journalist James Fallows about his article in the September issue of the Atlantic Monthly. Fallows' article "Declaring Victory" calls for the U.S. to change the way the it responds to terrorist acts.

From Atlantic Unbound:

Follow-up: "Can we still declare victory?" (August 11, 2006) [Accessible to nonsubscribers]
Yes. James Fallows explains why the foiled airline bombing plot actually strengthens the argument for declaring victory in the war on terror.

August 18, 2006

Robert F. Kennedy's words still resonate

From Robert F. Kennedy's extemporaneous speech in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 4, 1968, revealing the news of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.:

"Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and to make gentle the life of this world."

Group Says Iran Is 'Not a Crisis'

Former generals and officials seek to prevent an attack on suspected nuclear sites and to overhaul policies toward Tehran and Baghdad.

By Peter Spiegel, Los Angles Times Staff Writer
August 16, 2006

WASHINGTON — Seeking to counter the White House's depiction of its Middle East policies as crucial to the prevention of terrorist attacks at home, 21 former generals, diplomats and national security officials will release an open letter tomorrow arguing that the administration's "hard line" has actually undermined U.S. security.

The letter comes as President Bush has made a series of appearances and statements, including a visit Tuesday to the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Va., seeking to promote the administration's record on security issues in advance of November's midterm congressional elections.

The rhetoric has increased since last week's Democratic primary in Connecticut, in which antiwar political newcomer Ned Lamont defeated three-term Sen. Joe Lieberman to become the party's Senate candidate — a victory that senior administration officials are describing as a sign that Democrats are embracing their party's extreme left.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard, one of the letter's signers and a former military assistant to Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara in the 1960s, said the group was particularly concerned about administration policies toward Iran, believing them to be a possible prelude to a military attack on suspected nuclear sites in that country.

Gard said the signatories — who included retired Marine Corps Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, head of U.S. Central Command from 1991 to 1994, and Morton H. Halperin, a senior State Department and National Security Council official during the Clinton administration — did not believe that Iran had the wherewithal to build a nuclear weapon in the immediate future and would push the administration to open negotiations with Tehran on the issue.

"It's not a crisis," Gard said in a telephone interview. "To call the Iranian situation a 'crisis' connotes you have to do something right now, like bomb them."

He noted that Iran had sought to open negotiations with the U.S. through Swiss intermediaries, efforts that the letter-signers said were worth exploring as a means of defusing tensions in the region.

But Gard said the administration appeared to be going in the opposite direction, adding that he was particularly concerned by recent warnings from former Israeli military officials that a strike against Iran may be needed to disable that country's nuclear program.

He noted that the Bush administration's unabashedly pro-Israel stance during the recent conflict with Hezbollah was an indication that the White House may accede to such assessments.

"This administration is clearly so beholden to Israel that it raises the concern we might go along" with a military strike, Gard said.

Organizers of the letter said the White House's recent efforts to belittle Democrats for seeking a timetable for withdrawing troops in Iraq may lead the signers to include criticism of the administration's Iraq policy.

The letter is expected to call for a complete overhaul of U.S. policy toward both Iran and Iraq.

August 02, 2006

CARE Act needs to be passed

From the letter to the editor of the Intelligencer, 8/2/06, from the director of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape on behalf of the CARE Coalition:

Now is the time for Pennsylvania's General Assembly to pass the CARE Act--Senate Bill 990 and House Bill 2159--introduced by Sen. Joe Conti, Sen. Connie Williams and Rep. Bill DeWeese.

The CARE Act is critical legislation that would protect the rights of rape victims by ensuring that they receive comprehensive medical care, including emergency contraception, when they go to the emergency room. A recent poll indicated that 84 percent of Pennsylvanians support rape victims having access to emergency contraception in the emergency room.

EC is a time-sensitive, FDA-approved medication that works just like birth control. It is proven to be at least 89 percent effective in preventing pregnancy when taken up to 120 hours following a rape. EC prevents pregnancy and is not abortion (it is not the French abortion pill RU-486); it will not disrupt or harm an existing pregnancy.

According to a survey, more than 50 percent of Pennsylvania's hospitals do not inform or provide emergency contraception when a rape victim goes to the emergency room.

It is estimated that one in 10 Pennsylvania women has been the victim of forcible rape in her lifetime. Please support the CARE Act and help assure that these women receive the support and CARE they need to begin the road to recovery.

War Crimes Act of 1996

"Will Bush and Gonzales get away with it?" asks Michael Scherer in Salon, 8/2/06. Mike Cronin, retired Navy "pilot and Vietnam POW--a staunch Republican--who pushed through the War Crimes Act of 1996 is appalled that the Bush administration, facing possible prosecution for war crimes, is devising a legal escape hatch."

July 18, 2006


American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century by Kevin Phillips

Armed Madhouse: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War by Greg Palast

Conservatives without Conscience by John Dean

Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner, reviewed in Salon

The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War without End by Peter W. Galbraith

Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas Ricks

Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them) by Mark Crispin Miller

Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Syriana, film/DVD based on See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism by Robert Baer, author of Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude.

Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction by David Kuo

Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count by Steve Freeman

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. files lawsuit

See "Blowing the Whistle on Diebold" by John Ireland, In These Times, July 17, 2006.

July 10, 2006

Middle East War Forum with Scott Ritter and Ray McGovern on July 22

The Middle East War: How We Got into Iraq,
How We Get Out, and How We Stay Out of Iran
Video of Forum $12 plus postage
Guest Speakers: Scott Ritter and Ray McGovern
Saturday, July 22, 7 p.m.
BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
2040 Street Road, Warrington, PA (just east of Rt. 611)

Scott Ritter: As a U.S. Marine intelligence officer and the United Nations' top weapons inspector, Scott led 14 inspection missions in Iraq between 1991 and 1998. Ritter also spent several months of the Gulf War serving under General Norman Schwarzkopf with Marine Central Command headquarters in Saudi Arabia. Scott is the author of Iraq Confidential (, published in October 2005 by Nation Books. "The important thing to know about Scott Ritter is that he was right." --Seymour Hersh

Ray McGovern: A senior CIA analyst for 27 years, Ray's duties included chairing National Intelligence Estimates and preparing the President' Daily Brief (PDB). These, the most authoritative genres of intelligence reporting, have been the focus of press reporting on "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq and on what the president was told before 9/11. During the mid-eighties, Ray was one of the senior analysts conducting early morning briefings of the PDB one-on-one with the Vice President and other senior administration officials. Ray is in the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
This event is co-sponsored by the BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Peace Initiative, the Coalition for Peace Action, Hunterdon for Democracy, and Upper Bucks for Democracy.
$10 Admission--but no one will be turned away.
For more information, email

Watch this movie: Why We Fight

The award-winning documentary Why We Fight by Eugene Jarecki will have a free screening on July 13 at 7:00 PM at the Langhorne Public Library, 301 S. Pine St., Langhorne, PA, sponsored by Lower Bucks for Democracy.

Salon and the 2004 election

In response to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Rolling Stone article "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" Farhad Manjoo wrote this rebuttal in Salon, which then posted RFK's answer coupled with FM's subsequent rejoinder along with a defense by Salon editor Joan Walsh. Salon next posted a response to FM by Steven F. Freeman, coauthor with Joel Bleifuss of Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count, which relied on many of the same sources cited by RFK. Salon, however, denied the courtesy to Mark Crispin Miller, author of Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them), "to reply, both to Manjoo's piece (which . . . had wrongly used my own work on election fraud to further slander Kennedy's) and to Joan Walsh's apologia." Thanks to the Huffington Post for posting MCM's open letter to Salon.

Recommended summer reading

Being Right Is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn from Conservative Success by Paul Waldman

Hostile Takeover by David Sirota

How Would a Patriot Act? by Glenn Greenwald

More on the 2004 election

Presidential election 2004: What really happened on November 2, 2004?

June 25, 2006

League of Women Voters supports voter-verified paper ballot/record, routine audits

The League of Women Voters, at their national gathering in Minneapolis, June 9-13, voted to adopt a resolution offered by the LWV of Minnesota to support "only voting systems that are designed so that:
1. they employ a voter-verifiable paper ballot or other paper record, said paper being the official record of the voter's intent; and
2. the voter can verify, either by eye or with the aid of suitable devices for those who have impaired vision, that the paper ballot/record accurately reflects his or her intent; and
3. such verification takes place while the voter is still in the process of voting; and
4. the paper ballot/record is used for audits and recounts; and
5. the vote totals can be verified by an independent hand count of the paper ballot/record; and
6. routine audits of the paper ballot/record in randomly selected precincts can be conducted in every election, and the results published by the jurisdiction."

RFK Jr. re the 2004 election--stolen?

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. asks, Did Bush Steal the 2004 Election? How 350,000 Votes Disappeared in Ohio in Rolling Stone, June 15, 2006. For commentary and key excerpts, see the indispensable

June 23, 2006

Election Reform Report by Common Cause

Common Cause published Malfunction and Malfeasance: A Report on the Electronic Voting Machine Debacle on June 22, 2006. Pennsylvania is among the states whose voter risk assessment is rated high (page 19).

Clean Money Day

June 27 is Clean Money Day, sponsored by Common Cause, which has joined with Public Citizen, Public Campaign Action Fund, and U.S. PIRG to ask that every candidate for Congress sign the Voters First Pledge, committing to real reform. House parties will be screening Robert Greenwald's The Big Buy: Tom Delay's Stolen Congress.

June 11, 2006

More re proposed changes to BCDC bylaws

Here's my response to a suggestion at BucksforChange that the solution to the objection to being required to support an endorsed candidate would be to resign--"What's the big deal?"
Please let me explain why I feel this is a big deal. As the bylaws currently stand, we have the freedom to choose which candidates to support in the primaries. If the proposed change is adopted, we will lose that freedom. And if I have to resign to follow my conscience, I will lose my vote in party meetings like today's [June 10]. And since I just got elected, I'm not sure when my next chance for election would come around, or how soon I might have to resign again. And then my Plumstead precinct would have only one committeeperson, like a couple of other Plumstead precincts, because there aren't enough Democrats in the township who want to volunteer for this job. And I'm not sure how many other committeepersons would feel just as alienated from the party as I would. So how much would the party gain by adopting this change? Would it be worth the pain and damage it would cause?

June 08, 2006

Proposed changes to BCDC bylaws

Re some of the proposed changes to Bucks County Democratic Committee bylaws:

I've come to view the fight for endorsements as a blood sport that leaves us wounded and weakened. Primary battles are bruising enough; adding endorsement contests is like shooting ourselves in both feet.

Maybe the rationale used to be that we in the inner circle were better acquainted with the candidates and so more qualified to judge who would have the best chance with the voters at large, but I can't say I buy that at this point. Wouldn't voters be more engaged if we used our website to provide detailed information about all the candidates and let them decide?

If we must have endorsements, some of the damage could be minimized if all the candidates' names were on the goldenrod with an asterisk after the endorsed candidate's name. And let's allow all the candidates to distribute their signs, literature, etc. from party headquarters. And if we must have endorsements, by all means increase the threshold from 50 percent + 1.

The proposed change to the bylaws that would require committeepersons to support endorsed candidates would be intolerable to the hardworking, engaged individuals who do these jobs, and would discourage others from ever volunteering to take them on. Not a good idea.

May 26, 2006

June Is Torture Awareness Month

June is Torture Awareness Month. Larry Cox, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, commented that "it is difficult to believe that the United States government, which once considered itself as an exemplar of human rights, has sacrificed its most fundamental principle by abusing prisoners as a matter of policy, by 'disappearing' detainees into a network of secret prisons, and by abducting and sending people for interrogation to countries that practice torture." [New York Times, 24 May 2006]

How could our elected representatives have allowed this to happen? Has there ever been a Congress more incapable of exercising its responsibility to check an executive who arguably has done more damage to this country--to name just one--than any other president in our history? The human and economic cost of his mistakes and mismanagement is incalculable.

We need lawmakers who will not give a pass to a president who has "claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office," according to the Boston Globe. With too few exceptions, this Congress deserves a clean sweep (out) in November. Meanwhile, visit to see what you can do to help restore our government to its traditional value of respect for human rights.

May 24, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth opens in theaters this week.
"Intellectually exhilarating . . . could hardly be more urgent. An Inconvenient Truth is a necessary film." A. O. Scott, New York Times
"In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see An Inconvenient Truth. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to." Roger Ebert
Al Gore is back! Move aside, Hillary!

March 16, 2006

Two commissioners betray Bucks voters

Returning from the March 15 meeting where, despite the dissent of Commissioner Miller, Commissioners Cawley and Martin discounted the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Pennsylvania voters (85 percent in the OpEdNews/Zogby People's Poll) who want paper ballots, I wrote this letter to the editor:

To the Editor:

In choosing paperless voting machines, Commissioners Cawley and Martin refused to take seriously the concerns of the many Bucks County voters who want paper ballots as proof that their votes count as intended. They say we can trust the manufacturers' secret proprietary programming despite all the contrary evidence of computer experts and our own Government Accountability Office, as documented at Mr. Cawley and Mr. Martin are ignoring the fact that there is no way to know when there are inaccuracies with paperless electronic voting machines unless the tallies are so wildly improbable that someone happens to notice. Even then, there is no way to audit or recount elections with paperless electronic voting machines, no matter what the vendors say.

Thank you, Commissioner Miller, for supporting the voters' need for paper proof that their votes count. If only your fellow commissioners understood that.
. . . . . . . . . .

Rob Kall of had a really interesting take on their capitulation--and Governor Rendell's.