Saturday, February 26, 2005
Powell admits rifts with Rumsfeld to UK Telegraph
Powell criticises Iraq troop levels and rift with Europe
By Robin Gedye
(Filed: 26/02/2005)(Feb. 26, 2005)
Colin Powell, the former US secretary of state, has for the first time publicly criticised troops levels in Iraq and spoken of the rifts between himself and Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, that undermined his role as architect of American foreign policy.
Mr Powell, in his first interview since resigning last November, also told The Telegraph of his "dismay" at the deterioration in relations between America and Europe and of his "disappointment" with France.
While holding back from blaming Mr Rumsfeld by name for the problems that eventually persuaded him to resign, Mr Powell showed that much of the innuendo and leaks surrounding his volatile relationship with the defence secretary had been well-founded.
Admitting that Mr Rumsfeld's controversial plan to fight the war with limited troop numbers had been an outstanding success, Mr Powell said the "nation building" that followed had been deeply flawed.
There had been "enough troops for war but not for peace, for establishing order. My own preference would have been for more forces after the conflict."
Mr Powell said he had warned President George W Bush over dinner in August 2002 that the problem with Iraq was not going to be the invasion but what followed.
He told him: "This place will crack like a goblet and it will be a problem to pick up the bits. It was on this basis that he decided to let me see if we could find a United Nations solution to this."
Mr Powell told Charles Moore, the former editor of The Telegraph who conducted the interview outside Washington, that he regretted the fall-out with Europe over the Iraq war.
He also found Mr Rumsfeld's reference to "New Europe" and "Old Europe" unfortunate.
"I never used the phrase," he said. "It just wasn't a useful construct. I don't think the president ever used it.
"We've got a lot more work to do with European public opinion."
21 November 2004: Powell 'pushed out' by Bush for seeking to rein in Israel
We may be in Iraq 50 years--SC Republican senator
Dateline Alabama | APN
Sen. Graham offers sobering assessment on Iraq
By BRUCE SMITH
Associated Press Writer
February 25, 2005
South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, back from a weeklong journey overseas, offered the sobering assessment Friday that American troops will be in Iraq for years and casualties are likely for some time to come.
Graham vowed to push to increase the size of the military, attracting recruits through bonuses and benefits. But, he said, there is no need for a draft.
He also said the United Nations and NATO should assume a larger role in Iraq.
"Saddam Hussein literally raped his country," the Republican lawmaker said. "Americans have to understand that, just as in Japan and Germany, it will take years to go from a dictatorship to a democratic government."
Graham returned from his third trip to Iraq on Thursday. He told reporters in a conference call that he is encouraged by the recent elections there.
Read the rest of this article at:
Friday, February 25, 2005
Dean spells trouble for Republicans
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Why triple-talented Dean spells trouble for Republicans
By Reed Davis
Special to The Times
NOW that Howard Dean has ascended to the chairmanship of the Democrat National Committee, Republicans are high-fiving one another with such mad glee that you'd think Democrats had just nominated Dennis Kucinich to run in 2008. The GOP needs to sit back down, recork the champagne and get back to work. Whether they know it or not, Republicans need to understand that Dean spells trouble for the Republican Party. Big trouble.
Republicans may think that the nomination of Dean is hysterically funny — a scream, in fact, as George Will recently put it — but they are deluding themselves if they think Dean is nothing more than a wild-eyed ideologue with a temper and a cult following.
Dean brings three talents to the chairmanship that can potentially sink not just a GOP presidential candidate in 2008 but the Republican-controlled House and maybe even the Senate well before then.
First, he's a fund-raiser par excellence. Lest we Republicans forget, not only did Howard Dean set records for fund raising, he set them in one of the most imaginative, difficult and unorthodox ways imaginable — namely, through the Internet. And remember, he set those records not by initially tapping the big-money crowd but by combing through the grass roots for nickels and dimes.
Second, and more important, Dean knows not only how to raise money but what to do with it once he gets it. He has repeatedly declared that he's going to rebuild the Democratic Party from the bottom up, blade by blade, volunteer by volunteer, state by state, because he understands that face-to-face get-out-the-vote programs, not slick advertising or direct-mail merchandizing, are what win elections.
Not only does he have a mountain of scholarly evidence confirming this — Yale, of all places, has a group of scholars insisting that the only get-out-the-vote effort that works at all is face-to-face contact — but he also has the elections of 2004 to go on. After all, virtually every commentator and analyst in politics is claiming that the Bush victory is owed largely to its monumental grass-roots get-out-the-vote effort. And if Dean stands for anything, it's the importance of grass-roots politics.
Third, he is charismatic. And this is where Republicans make their biggest mistake in judging him. They believe his allegedly vegan, bohemian liberalism will appeal only to lefties from New England and Seattle.
Well, maybe so, but that's not the secret to Dean's charisma or his recent DNC election. Dean's appeal doesn't lie primarily in the fact that he's a great speaker (although he is) but in the fact that he's a great listener.
Grass-roots activists in both parties have been so starved for attention and support during the past 20 years that they will flock to the first person who promises to listen and do what he can to support them.
And that, more than anything else, was the message that Dean took to the party faithful in his campaign for the party chairmanship: He's there for them, not for the insiders, not for the professionals, and certainly not for the consultants. Dean will be there for the hardworking activists who make up the rank and file.
Contrast this to the state of the Republican base right now. No less a figure than Rush Limbaugh is warning the president that he faces a mutiny if he and the Republican Congress don't control spending and protect the borders, the two top concerns of the GOP rank and file.
In fact, if Republican leadership fails here, the GOP will have bigger problems than Howard Dean.
Now more than ever, the Republican Party needs to toss its heavy-handed, top-down management style overboard and rejuvenate its grass-roots parties. Howard Dean already has.
Reed Davis is an associate professor of political science at Seattle Pacific University. He ran for the GOP nomination to the U.S. Senate last year, and is a former chairman of the King County Republican Party.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Greg Palast column on tort reform
Bush Tort Reform
Executive Clemency For Executive Killers
Friday, February 18, 2005
By Greg Palast
It's a great day for the Eichmanns of corporate America. President Bush minutes ago signed the ill-named 'tort reform' bill into law, limiting class action suits. Doubtless, Ken Lay, former Enron CEO, is grinning as are the corporate suite killers at drug maker Merck who are now safer from the widows and orphans of Vioxx victims.
Closing the doors of justice to the ruined and wrecked families of boardroom bad guys is nothing less than executive clemency for executive executioners.
You think my accusation is over the top? Well, please talk with Elaine Levenson.
Levenson, a Cincinnati housewife, has been waiting for her heart to explode. In 1981, surgeons implanted a mechanical valve in her heart, the Bjork-Shiley, "the Rolls-Royce of valves," her doctor told her. What neither she nor her doctor knew was that several Bjork-Shiley valves had fractured during testing, years before her implant. The company that made the valve, a unit of the New York-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, never told the government.
At Pfizer's factory in the Caribbean, company inspectors found inferior equipment, which made poor welds. Rather than toss out bad valves, Pfizer management ordered the defects ground down, weakening the valves further but making them look smooth and perfect. Then Pfizer sold them worldwide.
When the valve's struts break and the heart contracts, it explodes. Two-thirds of the victims die, usually in minutes. In 1980, Dr. Viking Bjork, whose respected name helped sell the products, wrote to Pfizer demanding corrective action. He threatened to publish cases of valve strut failures.
A panicked Pfizer executive telexed, "ATTN PROF BJORK, WE WOULD PREFER THAT YOU DID NOT PUBLISH THE DATA RELATIVE TO STRUT FRACTURE." The company man gave this reason for holding off public exposure of the deadly valve failures: "WE EXPECT A FEW MORE." His expectations were realized. The count has reached eight hundred fractures, five hundred dead-so far.
Dr. Bjork called it murder, but kept his public silence.
Eight months after the "don't publish" letter, a valve was implanted in Mrs. Levenson. In 1994, the U.S. Justice Department nabbed Pfizer. To avoid criminal charges, the company paid civil penalties-and about $200 million in restitution to victims. Without the damning evidence prized from Pfizer by a squadron of lawyers, the Justice Department would never have brought its case.
Pfizer moans that lawyers still hound the company with more demands. But that is partly because Pfizer recalled only the unused valves. The company refused to pay to replace valves of fearful recipients.
As we've all learned from watching episodes of LA Law, in America's courtrooms the rich get away with murder. Yet no matter the odds for the Average Joe, easy access to the courts is a right far more valuable than the quadrennial privilege of voting for the Philanderer-in-Chief. This wee bit of justice, when victim David can demand to face corporate Goliath, makes America feel like a democracy until today, when our President blocked the courtroom door with his 'tort-reform' laws.
We can even vent our fury on the führer. I have in my book a copy of a letter from Adolf Hitler. In it he's agreeing to Volkswagen's request for more slave laborers from concentration camps. This evidence would never have come to light were it not for lawsuits filed by bloodsucking lawyer leeches, as the corporate lobby would like to characterize class-action plaintiffs' attorneys. In this case, the firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, Washington, DC, outed this document in a suit on behalf of slave workers whose children died in deadly "nurseries" run by the automakers VW, Ford, Daimler and others. (If Hitler had been captured, he might have used the defense, "I was only taking orders . . . from Volkswagen.")
But the Nazi profiteers have their friends in the corporate lobby. Victims' rights are under attack. Waving the banner of "Tort Reform," corporate America has funded an ad campaign portraying entrepreneurs held hostage by frivolous lawsuits. But proposed remedies stink of special exemptions from justice. One would give Pfizer a free ride for its deadly heart-attack machines. A ban on all lawsuits against makers of parts for body implants, even those with deadly defects, was slipped into patients' rights legislation by the Republican Senate leader. The clause, killed by exposure, was lobbied by the Health Industries Manufacturers Association, which is supported by-you guessed it-Pfizer.
At their best, tort lawyers are cops who police civil crime. Just as a wave of burglaries leads to demand for more policemen, the massive increase in litigation has a single cause: a corporate civil crime wave.
And today, the corporate killer gang received executive clemency from our President. They don't call him the 'Chief Executive' for nothing.
A decade ago, after eighteen buildings blew up in Chicago and killed four people, I searched through the records of the local private gas company on behalf of survivors. What I found would make you sick. I saw engineers' reports, from years earlier, with maps marking where explosions would be likely to take place. The company, People's Gas, could have bought the coffins in advance.
Management had rejected costly repairs as "not in the strategic plan." It's not planned evil at work here, but the enormity of corporate structures in which human consequences of financial acts are distant and unimaginable.
I admit, of the nearly one million lawyers in the United States, you could probably drown 90 percent and only their mothers would grieve. But as Mrs. Levenson told me, without her lawyer and the threat of a class action tort, Pfizer would not have paid her a dime of compensation.
The tort reformers' line is that fee-hungry lawyers are hawking bogus fears, poisoning Americans' faith in the basic decency of the business community, turning us into a nation of people who no longer trust each other. But whose fault is that? The lawyers? Elaine Levenson put her trust in Pfizer Pharmaceutical. Then they broke her heart.
Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, from which this is taken. For more information go to http://www.gregpalast.com/
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Tuesday, February 22, 2005
As for Bush not lying because he just believed faulty intelligence, that is not what the commission found. The intelligence community did not say there were WMD, they said they could not completely rule out WMD, even after UN inspectors had found none, and Bush decided to charge ahead in ignorance, with Condi Rice claiming that Saddam had not proved to her satisfaction that he did not have WMD. If intelligence were faulty, why did GWB give George Tenet the Medal of Freedom?
We've had at least two former cabinet members write their memoirs saying GWB came into office looking for an excuse to get rid of Saddam, regardless of the justification.
And, again, Bush appeared on national TV on Dec. 14, 2003, saying it didn't matter whether he actually had WMD or just wanted to have them, he was a bad guy and deserved to be removed.
GWB is the greatest threat to world peace in at least 100 years. This unprecedented doctrine of preemption has every nation like N. Korea and Iran wanting nukes so they can protect themselves form Bush.
I was a conservative republican for 24 years and switched because of the lies over tort reform, abortion and Iraq. No one can fault me for blindly believing something because of personal loyalty. My positions are based on facts.
The only faulty intelligence causing Bush to make a bad decision on Iraq was in his own head.
The malpractice insurance companies are making more money than the personal injury lawyers.
Plus, their lawyers get paid when they lose, whereas the plaintiff's lawyers only get paid when a jury says they're right.
What tort reform wants to do is keep the truth away from juries, to deny injured persons access to the courthouse. They want to transfer the cost of injuries onto the backs of injured workers, who then will be a burden on the welfare system and the emergency rooms. That is, there will still be a cost of doing business, it's just that the wrongdoers of malpractice won't pay for their negligence.
Lies & Crimes by Bush
I think the lies and crimes that Bush has committed far exceed anything any president in recent memory. :(
He lied about Iraq. he appeared on TV Dec. 14, 2003 and said it didn't matter wht the truth was about WMD in Iraq, because Saddam was a bad guy, so trust my judgment. I don't, sorry. :eek:
He lies about tort reform, saying suits against malpractice are driving up the costs of medical care. No, doctors' greed is. Insurance company profits are. :o
He lies about moral reform. He says he's "pro life," but his party has been "opposed to abortion" for 24 years and Roe v. Wade is still the law after 32 years, and he says the "country is not ready to reverse it." Take a hint -- he is doing nothing. He says he wants a constitutional amendment against gay marriage, but admits privately it will not pass. Translation, a bone to the dogs of the religious right to stay faithful to the Repuglicon party. He also protested long and hard internally that he was not comfortable "kicking the gays," but gave in to the pandering. And Cheney's gay daughter worked as a paid staffer for the re-election effort, so you know she was not threatened by their "commitment." :rolleyes:
He is responsible for the prison brutality and deaths in Abu Ghraib, which are war crimes according to the Geneva Convention. He could be tried at Nuremburg II if things go badly in Iraq. And the guy who approved the memos allowing that is now our new US Attorney General, the former Texas Supreme Court justice appointed by Bush as governor who got Bush off jury duty in 1996 and lied about it -- Alberto Gonzales. American success story -- do criminal things for the powerful and advance yourself to the highest levels. :eek:
I was a loyal Republican for over 24 years, but ia saw the light, folks. :mad:
Sunday, February 20, 2005
Secretary of State's County Chairs Election Law Training
For your information the seminar to kick off the 2006 elections. This is advance notice so hotel etc not available yet.
SOS has set the dates for the County Chairs Election Law Seminar - October 14th &15th in Austin.
The future for abortion legislation?
Even if Bush could get one more vote and get a 5/4 decision reversing Roe, which I doubt, and certainly not by replacing Rehnquist, all it would do is put it back in the 50 state legislatures to see how restrictive they wanna be.
Take a hint, when the Supremes overturned the Texas sodomy law, I think only 9 states had similar laws. So what, if you have 9 states outlawing abortion fully after a Roe reversal, which again, I doubt? It would take them years and years to get to that point, and our choice forces would be fighting them all the way.
What i really see happening down the pike, is options and incentives for women, who cannot for one reason or another carry the baby to term, to donate the fetus to test-tube baby services, who would provide them for adoption.
At that point, laws against abortion would be moot.
Republican Platform, Texas 2004, and a few questions (in italics)
(like, where do they find all this in their Bibles?)
By Dave Haigler – February 2005
our Party Platform expresses fundamental beliefs and truths that were recognized by our country’s founders.
The Founders owned slaves and didn’t let women vote either, right?
We believe that Republican officeholders of our representative republic do not truly represent their electorate unless this platform is the basis for their decision-making.
And you’re going to get rid of those Republican office holders who don’t support it, right?
to restrict the power of the federal government over the states and the people.
What about the Patriot Act’s invasion of Granny’s library & banking records?
to restrict the power of the federal government….
Like with the law passed in Feb. 2005 allowing the Dep’t of Homeland Security to invalidate laws at will?
All innocent human life must be protected.
What about in Iraq? And you’re going to send your daughters to prison for getting an abortion, right?
We believe equal opportunity is a right and a privilege but equal outcome is not.
So a discriminatory outcome is irrelevant as long as you say you’re not discriminating? And what about discrimination in employment & housing for gays?
We commend President George W. Bush’s principled stand to reduce taxes and stimulate the economy.
And run up a half-trillion more deficits every year?
We recognize that the family is the foundational unit of a healthy society and consists of those related by blood, marriage, or adoption.
What about 2 old maids living together, wanting to share insurance policies, make medical decisions for each other, & inherit from each other?
And if you really believe in limited government, why would you allow the feds to regulate family life like this?
We believe that a well-educated population is fundamental to the continued success of our Republic….
Then why are the courts repeatedly invalidating your funding formula for public schools?
We believe that the future of our country depends upon a strong and vibrant private sector unencumbered by excessive government regulation.
So let’s throw out labor- & environmental-protection laws, right?
we must also vigorously protect the sovereignty of the United States.
So get us out of the UN, & no war-crime prosecutions against Americans, right?
to preemptively defend the citizens of the United States against all foes, foreign or domestic….
And 70% of you still believe Saddam had WMD & something to do with 9/11, right?
respecting the rights of law-abiding citizens, while opposing judicial activism.
Denying access to courts by injured parties, and going back to the Founders’ “original intent,” regardless of newer constitutional amendments, right?
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