Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Abramoff Pleads Guilty

Today discredited Washington super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff pled guilty on charges of conspiracy and fraud regarding his dealings with Indian tribes and his relations with the United States Congress, and agreed to cooperate with federal investigators to give evidence against all the members of the US House of Representatives who accepted his bribes and acted in accord with him. (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=1466496)

Also having already pled guilty to criminal charges are Abramoff partners Michael Scanlon and Adam Kidan, who have alike agreed to provide evidence in the ongoing criminal investigations. Abramoff and Kidan, in addition to their charges of fraud and money laundering, are also under investigation for the apparent organized-crime murder of their business associate, Gus Boulis. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/15/AR2005121501716.html)

The fact that Abramoff and his co-conspirators have now agreed to give evidence against each other and the congressional legislators they influenced with bribes makes it very likely that this is the largest political scandal since the Watergate affair.

I hate to say that I told you so, but I did, in my "Without DeLay" post, which you can review in my Archives, "October 2005"

January 3, 2006

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Bush and NSA Domestic Spies

“Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”

– Benjamin Franklin


As Franklin discerned over 200 years ago, issues of freedom and security are deeply intertwined. Liberty and security exist in a state of tension; liberty demands that a free people have privacy and the freedom to speak plainly, on any topic including the criticism of authority and even to call for revolution. Security, on the other hand, demands that the authority of the state (king, emperor, the government, etc.) have the mandate to monitor and control dissent and to control dissenters in order to protect the citizens of the state and the state itself, even if to do so means the authorities must intervene to arrest and incarcerate “subversives.”

The tension between liberty and security in the United States is very long-standing, from the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 (which restricted the rights of foreign aliens and attempted to curtail the speech of dissident American citizens, Library of Congress) to the Smith Act of 1940 (criminalizing the advocacy of the overthrow of the US government, Boston College), and the McCarran-Wood Act of 1950 (which illegalized communism and forced the finger-printing of suspected subversives, Pennsylvania University). Today’s USA PATRIOT Act (“Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism,” 2001, here presented on the site of the Electronic Privacy Information Center) is only yet another law in the old tradition of seeking a balance between security and freedom.

The key term here is “law.” Each of these are acts, passed by the Legislature of the United States and duly signed into law by the President, as the Constitution of the United States provides. Each are, therefore, subject to review by the courts, and may be interpreted under the Constitution. Even if we disagree with the nature of such laws, we can remain assured that the rule of law has been preserved. No matter how odious such laws may seem to freedom, the bulwark of a constitution and a (presumably) independent Judiciary can permit us faith that we exist under a system of lawfulness, and that if we, the people, disagree we can elect new legislators who will repeal the laws to which we object.

What are we to make of it, then, when by fiat of an executive order, the President of the United States claims the authority to violate the law? This is what has seemed to have occurred when, sometime in 2002, President Bush unilaterally ordered the National Security Agency (NSA) to begin spying on US citizens within the borders of the United States. (Time Magazine, January 9, 2006 edition) Mr. Bush’s action seems to be in direct violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which derived from a previous scandal involving the NSA and other intelligence and security organs of the United States.

US Senator Frank Church and others in the House and Senate convened an investigation, the Church Committee, which heard hearings in the mid-70s, finally concluding that President Richard M. Nixon had illegally used the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, and the NSA to spy on his political enemies and to provide him with dossiers of them which could (and would be) used to discredit or harass them. The Church Committee published its report in 1976 (the Church report, here presented on the site of Third World Traveler). The revelations of the Church Committee report led directly to Congress passing FISA, which subjected all the intelligence organs of the United States to review by a Top Secret court, the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which would meet in camera, in a secure room at the offices of the Department of Justice, and hear arguments for issuing warrants for the surveillance of US citizens. Only by way of the FISC could the intelligence agencies of the government legally be able to spy on citizens within the borders of the United States (Cornell University).

President Bush and his Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, argue otherwise. They say that the Joint Resolution of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives passed shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. authorized the President’s secret order to begin spying on United States citizens. Specifically, they cite Section 2(a) of the resolution, which reads “IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.” (Library of Congress) Bush and Gonzales construe this to mean that the President has all authority, in the prevention of future acts of terrorism, to disregard even statutes such as FISA at his own discretion, though this is clearly not what Congress intended. Note that in Section 3 of the resolution that they specifically predicate further actions by the President to reference to the War Powers Act. Congress clearly intended the President to be bound by law.

Nevertheless, sometime early in 2002, President Bush signed an executive order (still classified: the exact date remains unknown) authorizing the NSA to begin surveillance of US citizens inside the United States without a warrant from the FISC. This was an extremely radical act, given the powers and potential of the NSA, which are not widely understood by the public, and largely unknown even to experts. What is known of the NSA is sufficiently frightening to contemplate.

Officially chartered in 1951, the National Security Agency (NSA) is tasked with collecting all of the electronic intelligence (ELINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT) for the United States and its allies. As time and technology have progressed ELINT and SIGINT have come to mean not only radar and radio emissions by enemy ships and troop bodies or radio communications and codes transmitted by an enemy headquarters, but also all telephone, telegram, facsimile, e-mail, and Internet communications (The National Security Agency Declassified, George Washington University). It is the avowed purpose of the NSA to monitor all such communications all of the time.

Toward this end, and to coordinate all of the ELINT and SIGINT of the English-speaking world (the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), perhaps as early as 1947, but certainly since 1964, the NSA established Project ECHELON along with its allies. At first with only listening posts on land and at sea, ECHELON gradually expanded to include “taps” placed on undersea cables by ultra-secret submarines, even in territorial waters of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact nations, “bugs” placed in telephone switching stations, and, ultimately, a network of global “listening” satellites that are capable of monitoring virtually every electronic communication anywhere in the world. (ECHELON, the Federation of American Scientists)

ECHELON is widely regarded in the press and public as an unworkable project, since the billions of information transactions sent everyday would seem simply impossible to read or analyze. However, the rise of information processing technology has now made ECHELON an entirely viable program. The NSA is known to possess the world’s largest bank of supercomputers, consisting of a combination of at least 11 Cray XMP, Cray 2, and Thinking Machine Corporation Connection Machines, thought to be wired in parallel to work in tandem to achieve a processing speed well in excess of the terabyte per second range. And nobody really knows what the NSA has actually accomplished: it’s all classified very much above “Top Secret.” All that is really known is that in the 1990s the NSA hired most of the scientists and engineers from the defunct Cray and Thinking Machine companies to build secret supercomputers exclusively for the US government.(James Bamford writing for the New York Times, here from the Salt Lake Tribune; see also books by James Bamford, The Puzzle Palace (Houghton-Mifflin, 1982) and James Bamford Body of Secrets (Anchor, 2001).

Given such formidable information processing power, it is completely possible for ECHELON to not only monitor but to analyze every electronic communication and then sort, prioritize, and present it to analyst agents. This is done through a complex array of keywords, language recognition and interpretation software, and the capabilities of “artificial intelligence” (AI). In essence, the NSA can spy on everybody, anywhere, all the time.

The one thing the NSA has never been allowed to do is to deploy that very intimidating capability against US citizens within the borders of the United States. Called “US persons,” whenever such subjects turned-up on foreign surveillance intercepts, the NSA was obliged to conceal the identity of such persons and to immediately seek counsel and to present the intercept to the FISC. President Bush’s executive order of 2002 relieved the NSA of any such obligation and further empowered the Agency to actively begin monitoring “US persons,” at home and abroad alike.

For instance, we should presume that the NSA has already read this blog post, and that it has already been reviewed by an analyst agent. Soon they will know that you have read this post! Does this make you feel uncomfortable at all?

President Bush’s order raises serious troubles of statute (FISA) and the Constitution itself (Amendment 4, as interpreted in multiple decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States), and it strikes at the very heart of what Americans have always believed to be their privacy and their liberties.

Has the President actually authorized a purposeful and systematic violation of the law and even the very Constitution? And if he has, can or will he be impeached for such a thing? These are serious questions we must now contemplate, sadly enough. If even the law or the very Constitution is beneath the power of the Presidency, then we truly are living in an age when a new dictator might well emerge. Much more serious than the perjuries of Bill Clinton, the actions of President George W. Bush bring concerns about the rule of law, no matter how much you might trust Mr. Bush himself to “do the right thing.” The next president may not be as benevolent as you may think President Bush is, and without the rule of law, we become a nation governed by the whims of only a few human beings.

Is this the sort of nation and world we want? Do we really wish to live in an age of a supreme executive who can authorize anything, anytime, regardless of any law in the name of security? Or shall we, instead, choose to live in a world where we live in freedom, and deserve that liberty?

January 1, 2006

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Return

For any it concerns, I'm making a steady recovery, though it's been slow and painful. I was well enough last week to be with my family, and now it's time to try to get back to work. Though I am not necessarily a Christian, I celebrate Christmas with my loved ones, so I will not wish you "happy holidays," only that whatever mid-winter festival you celebrate was as nice as mine.

Right now the "hot" issue that everyone seems to have forgot over the course of the "holiday" season is the revelation by the New York Times and the subsequent admission by President Bush and his administration (following early denials) that the government has used the National Security Agency to spy on US citizens within the boundaries of the United States.

This is a matter of the utmost seriousness, and it is the clearest threat yet against the very nature of all that we have previously thought of as "The American Way." Expect to hear much more soon about this case, Project ECHELON, and the implications of a new electronic secret police for a free and open society of laws and not of the whims of human beings.

I hope any of you still reading this blog will revisit it again soon, because I have a true "blockbuster" article on these topics in store! Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Apologies

Pardon my absence, again. I've been down with a nasty case of shingles, varicella zoster, something anyone who's ever had chickenpox can be vulnerable to getting. Trust me when I agree with physicians that this is one of the most painful and debilitating conditions anyone can ever get!

So, when and if I ever recover, I'll be back to posting more on this blog.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Merry Fitzmas

I have been absent for a while, and I apologize. Here is something I wrote about the Patrick Fitzgerald indictment of I. Lewis Libby on October 28 in the form of an email to my readers.

***

Well, it’s Fitzmas day, and the execrable I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby (Chief of Staff to the Vice-President of the United States and National Security Assistant to the President of the United States) has been indicted on five counts of lying to Federal Agents and lying under oath before a Grand Jury. Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor for the Department of Justice, seems to be such a straight-arrow (ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos even opined that Tom Hanks is one who should play him in the movie!) that we didn’t receive much information outside that disclosed in the published indictment. Hence, it was a rather unsatisfying Fitzmas. But I have a feeling this is the right way to do this investigation.

Fitzgerald said that the investigation will continue, but was silent on the way it would proceed, and played his cards, as has been his way, very close to the vest. So, it’s perhaps the case that we’ll have one or two more “Fitzmas Eves” over the course of next year. I still expect at least Karl Rove and Ari Fleischer will eventually face charges, and the mysterious “Official A” [now named as Karl Rove] is clearly going to be a target of the investigation as it goes forward; he or she is the one alleged in the indictment to have communicated the identity of “Wilson’s wife,” the covert CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson, to Robert Novak, the arch-conservative newspaper columnist who first published the identity of Valerie Wilson, and disclosed her “cover name” as Valerie Plame.

So, it was a mixed-bag for those of us who hoped to see justice advance swiftly in this remarkable case of a breach of national security; Fitzgerald made it abundantly clear in his nationally televised 1:00 PM (EDT) press conference that this case is critical to the security of the United States.

The President, on the other hand, read a brief speech to cameras and assembled reporters, taking no questions, saying that he had accepted the resignation of Scooter Libby, but he also said he was “saddened” by the indictment, right before boarding Marine 1 to fly off to Camp David for the weekend. He should have been furious! He should not have allowed Scooter to resign, but instead fired him for cause. He should have declared that corruption and breaches of the very security of the nation that he claims to defend would never be tolerated, and that he hoped that Fizgerald’s investigation would exhaustively reveal if anyone else in his administration had been involved with Libby’s alleged improprieties. He should have taken a stand.

President George W. Bush will not do this: he seems almost pathologically unable to confess ever making any mistakes. Until this ends, the administration will only weaken and be less able to do the job of leading the country. This president says that he is strong and the only one suited to lead America in the war against terrorism, and now is the time for him to be angry that members of his administration have compromised our security. Now is the time for him to demonstrate his strength, and not just to boast of it.

October 28, 2005

***

My somewhat bold predictions of multiple indictments to be handed down was not correct. However, so long as Fitzgerald's investigation into this most scandalous affair continues, I will hope that my forecasts will eventually be vindicated, as I write this on November 8, 2005.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Plame/Wilson Scandal

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's Federal Grand Jury is meeting today in Washington D.C., and the story is so fast-breaking that I thought I'd post a brief update.

It now seems unlikely that the Jury will hand-down indictments, reports, or even a statement today, but the cognoscenti are all predicting that such will come next week, perhaps as early as Monday. Who can tell?

However, it's clear that the investigation of the "leak" of a covert CIA operative's identity, Valerie Wilson, the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was operating under her "unmarried" name, Valerie Plame, has now reached deep into the heart of of the office of the Vice President of the United States.

Apparently, the Special Prosecutor and the Federal Grand Jury have at least two "cooperating witnesses," one of which is widely believed to be John Hannah, who came to work for Dick Cheney from John Bolton's office in the Department of State. In that capacity, Hannah participated in the "public relations" effort to justify the invasion of Iraq on grounds that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr., Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff and noted member of the Project for a New American Century is already a target of this investigation. He was specifically named by the very odd New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, when she finally agreed to testify before the Federal Grand Jury. But if other staff from the office of the Vice President, less personally loyal to Cheney, are cooperating with Fitzgerald and the Jury, then the investigation may reach to the Vice President himself.

I offer this prediction for the record: sometime next week indictments will be issued against Karl Rove, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and Ari Fleischer, former White House Press Secretary. Named as an "unindicted co-conspirator" will be Vice President Richard Cheney. Others, including Hannah, may well be indicted on lesser charges.

Please see my "Why Iraq?" post to this blog and today's article in the Los Angeles Times at http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-libby21oct21,0,7741636.story?coll=la-home-headlines

October 21, 2005

A Good Comment on "Without DeLay"

A lot of my readership does not belong to Blogger and is reluctant to join. I get most of my feedback via email. The author of the following, whom I will identify as "Dr. P," is an assistant professor of history at a very prestigious American university and a friend since we were both young adults. Dr. P is hard on the "tenure track," and his first book (apart from his PhD dissertation) will be published on or about October 31.

By his request, I have edited his comments for spelling and punctuation, etc., but not for content, since email is quite informal. I thank my friend for agreeing to the use of his comments. If he affirms to me that he wishes to be identified in more detail I will do so later.

I begin with his second paragraph, the first containing mainly personal details.

***

The question I have about your piece, though, is whether this case (Delay et. al.) isn't symptomatic of a broader, more systemic problem with the American political system. One could short-hand this with the "they all do it" claim. Not that this would or should be an excuse, but, if more or less true, would indicate that personal character (greed, ambition, ruthlessness) are not the root of the problem. Rather, I would argue that the centrality of money to American politics is the problem. (There is a great book on this subject: Thomas Ferguson, Golden Rule:The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995)).

So long as money is, pardon the pun, the currency of politics, then corruption cannot lag far behind. Campaign finance reform can only serve as a "bandaid" for this problem, especially given the Supreme Court's rulings on money as a form of free speech. (And they may not even be wrong on this issue, though it is a difficult one. Freedom of the press, as the saying goes, belongs to the guy who owns one). Still, some kind of radical public financing scheme for political campaigns would go a long way to improving the situation.

But this reveals the central problem, which is that sitting politicians never have an incentive to radically reform the political system. After all, the fact that they are "sitting" means they have succeeded within the existing parameters. Why would they want to change it?

I suppose that one could argue that the kind of radical gerrymandering that occured in Texas is a kind of radical reform, but it is by its nature, designed to make the system less open, not more. This of course points to another dimension of the problem, one perhaps even more deeply rooted than the money problem, namely the logic of a "winner take all" system. This form of electoral politics is clearly structured so as to more or less necessarily disenfranchise up to 49.9%of the population (or more, in the case of presidential elections). And it creates a competative dynamic in politics--itself perforce an inherent feature of any political system, I suppose, that makes questions of policy and questions of consensus less likely to become central.

Hence, in part, the kind of radically divisive politics that seem to characterize the US today. For all of the talk of a moderate center, that moderate center is structurally impossible to sustain. It is not a winning position, in effect.

***

I agree with Dr. P's conclusions, and I'm glad to include the little bit that he said (he could say much more!) on this matter. I, for the sake of "brevity," do not often delve this deeply; my posts here are already long enough!

Still, I hope you will find Dr. P's comments sufficiently provocative to make you think of the entire DeLay matter in a different way.

October 21, 2005

Friday, October 14, 2005

Howard and Hillary

By request, I’m writing about the leadership of the Democratic Party in America…I don’t think I’ll ever get around to writing about the hurricanes and their horrific costs!

***

Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton are two of the most important leaders of the Democratic Party in the United States. Both are widely named as potential candidates for the presidency in 2008, but each also has their own troubles. Both Dean and Clinton carry a certain “baggage,” and I believe the Democrats would be ill-advised to assume their liabilities.

Howard Dean, governor of the state of Vermont from 1991-2003, was also a contender in the Democratic primary elections of 2004, hoping to win the presidency. He attended Yale University, taking his degree in 1971, and graduated from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in 1978. He practiced as a physician in Vermont, and also served in the State Legislature from 1982-1986, when he was elected to the post of Lieutenant Governor of Vermont. He then served as Governor until, in 2002, he declined to run for re-election in order to pursue national office. By all accounts, Dean was a highly-effective and popular Governor in Vermont. (See this brief biography at Answers.com)

Dean came to early prominence in the 2004 primaries, largely due to his unprecedented ability to rally “grassroots” voters (individual “ordinary” people personally dedicated to a particular cause or candidate), in part because of his out-spoken opposition to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but more probably beause of his ingenious and innovative use of local organizing and national fundraising via the Internet. Web-based groups such as MoveOn and MeetUp were instrumental in organizing early support for Howard Dean, raising funds through e-mail and organizing “grassroots” house parties and “flash mobs” (see this definition from Whatis.com). By the summer of 2003, Dean had become a viable contender amongst a pool of eleven prospective Democratic candidates. (See also this report from CBS/Associated Press, May 23, 2003; this from Wired Magazine, January 2004: MoveOn is here, and MeetUp is here)

But following his early promise, the Howard Dean campaign eventually imploded after a disappointing showing in the Iowa caucuses of 2004. On the evening when his third-place result in Iowa was evident even to his supporters, Dean gave a speech (on all of days, the Martin Luther King holiday) to rally the faithful, at the abortive “victory party,” which has been dubbed the “I Have a Scream” speech. Dean concluded with a yelp, a scream, a demented cry, which, of course, was recorded by a plethora of television cameras, and broadcast and re-broadcast almost instantly and then for several days afterward. The “Dean Scream” haunts him to this very day in the right-wing media and radio culture, and its effects have only been exacerbated by the fact that it has been adapted as an “audio mix” by some contemporary DJ’s and electronic artists. (See this blog article on Right Wing News, February 23, 2005; Dick Meyer’s column for CBSNews.com, January 23, 2004; CNN.com, February 19, 2004; and this from USA Today, January 22, 2004, where you can also hear two brief clips of the “Scream” remixes)

Despite his failed presidential campaign, Howard Dean was elected to the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on February 12, 2005, making him the top-leader of the Democratic Party nationwide. (CNN.com, February 12, 2005) Since then, though, his leadership has been anything but inspirational, and he continues to make embarrassing gaffes in his statements to the press. This past spring and summer, Dean said, amongst other things, that Republicans “all behave the same, and they all look the same…it’s pretty much a white Christian party,” and that Republicans have “never made and an honest living in their lives.” (Please see The San Francisco Chronicle on its Web portal, SFGate.com, June 8, 2005) Dr. Dean may yet have a plan for the Democratic Party (see this article from the Washington Post/Associated Press, October 9, 2005), but I remain skeptical of his potential to effectively lead the Democrats in the mid-term elections of 2006, which are crucial if they wish to gain back a majority in the United States Senate and close the gap in the House of Representatives.

The other person mentioned as most-likely to be a viable leader of the Democrats is Hillary Clinton, First Lady of the United States when Bill Clinton was president. Like Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton also brings with her a certain “taint.”

Born Hillary Diane Rodham, Ms. Clinton excelled at Wellesley College, both in academics and student government. She graduated at the top of her class, and spoke at her commencement ceremony, saying, "The challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible." In 1969 she was admitted to Yale Law School, where she met William J. (Bill) Clinton, eventually married him, and moved with him to his home state of Arkansas, where they practiced law. Bill Clinton soon entered politics in Arkansas, and was elected Governor of the State of Arkansas in 1978, where he continued to serve until 1990, when he chose to run for president against George H.W. Bush in the elections of 1992. During the time of Mr. Clinton’s governorship, Ms. Clinton was deemed a very active and most effective First Lady of the state, and was perhaps the most engaged First Lady of the United States since Eleanor Roosevelt. On November 7, 2000 she was elected United States Senator from the State of New York, making her the first former-First Lady ever to be elected to such high office and the first woman ever to win a state-wide election in New York. (Please see these biographies from whitehouse.gov, the official site of Presidents and First Ladies: Hillary Clinton; and Bill Clinton)

However, many scandals surrounded the Clintons, from the presidential campaign and all through the two terms of the Clinton administration. From her dealings while she was with the Rose Law Firm of Little Rock, Arkansas (the state capitol), to the alleged “White Water” land deal, (even the suicide of top-White House aide Vince Foster, critics calling it an “assassination”), to the various infidelities of Bill Clinton, most notoriously the Monica Lewinsky affair (for which Mr. Clinton was impeached by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives on charges of lying under oath in a sworn deposition and eventually acquitted of in the Senate), Ms. Clinton has been painted by the right-wing as a corrupt ally of her husband, and a politically-motivated schemer, right to the point of suggesting that she leads a conspiracy of women to overthrow traditional “moral values" in the United States. (Please see this from the PBS television program Frontline, 1998; this "Special Report" by the Washington Post, 2000; an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune, July 14, 2005; this from the BBC News, January 28, 1998; an article from Al Ahram Worldwide, Cairo, Egypt, January 18-24, 2001, and Midwest Today magazine, Jun 4, 1994 issue)

Clearly, if I can find so much “dirt” and defense of Hillary Clinton in just 90 minutes of Internet research, the right-wing media and RNC political machines can find much more with which to defame her. Personally, I like Ms. Clinton, and I think she’d make a fine Democratic leader or even President of the US. The problem is, could she be a viable candidate for the presidency?

I do not think so. Sadly to say, even many Democrats are afraid of her for the way she’s been described in the media and all the allegations against her and her husband, whether true or not. And the “average American,” again sad to say, is not quite ready to trust a female president. The conservatives of all stripes are universally unified against her and anything more than her role as a US Senator would only give them a “focus” to further alienate the independents, Green Party members, and others, and the crucial 20 percent of “undecided” Americans from the Democrats.

Like Dr. Dean, Ms. Clinton comes before us with too much of a negative history, mostly unjustified, but which nevertheless has neutralized them as effective leaders or candidates. I know that my opinion here is highly unpopular with most Liberals and Progressives, but it’s time we began to “get real” and understand that the Republicans are extremely well-organized, and that they always find a candidate for office who can be viewed as both effective and without any obvious “baggage” to haul into whatever elective role. The Republicans will do what it takes to win, and they will relentlessly attack the opposition in their pet media and very organized network of talk radio shows, which still hold the vast majority of radio listeners in their thrall.

This is no time to stand upon principle; this is not a time to nominate the “good” person; this is the time to find, recruit and nominate the best person, be it Barak Obama or someone else. With the 2006 mid-term elections in the House and Senate looming, Democrats, Progressives, and Liberals can not afford to monkey-about with deserving but tainted leaders of yore, but to find someone who can truly unite the opposition and lead an effective campaign against the present vile and corrupt regime in America.

October 14, 2005