Monday, March 20, 2006

Election Review

"The biggest litmus test in the Democratic Party seems to be not how much you hate Arnold but how long you have hated him," said Dan Schnur, a Republican political analyst. (from Sacramento Bee).

Though the article that this quote comes from is referring to the upcoming California Gubernatorial race between Arnold and whomever the Calfornia Dems choose (either the moderate Westly or the more liberal Angelides) it brings up an interesting point. Mr. Schnur has not only pointed out how this race is being accessed, he has also stumbled upon the entire democratic platform; not "what do we stand for" but "who do we hate." When looking for a presidential candidate, the Democrats seem to only be interested in who hates Bush the most. According to various polls (that as I have said before I never trust), Hilary seems to be the front runner everywhere. But look at the names that they used to test her against; John Kerry, John Edwards, Al Gore, Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, Barack Obama, these are all recycled names, save Obama, every single one of these men has thrown thier hats in the ring. What the Democrats need is a unifying figure that they can all rally behind. Someone new and impressive who can inspire all the Democrats to forget their difference and fight for a cause.

According to USA Today;
Other Democratic possibilities include Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa and Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana.

Let us look at these possibilities, first, Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Now, while he has been doing well with Health, Women's and Education issues, he has been apparently dissapointing the Democratic Party in Ill to the extent that his name has been left off the Get Out the Vote (GOtV) mailer. And let us not forget the Daily Show deboggle.

Gov. Janet Napolitano has done well with budget cuts that are not sweeping, and seems to be tough on immigration but has been a little confusing on both. She has stayed fairly under the radar but seems to have enough spitfire to impress some of the more crotchity members of the party.

(This was taken from Wikkipedia)
William Blaine "Bill" Richardson (born November 15, 1947) is an American politician and a member of the Democratic Party. He has served as a Congressman, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and U.S. Secretary of Energy; he is presently the Governor of New Mexico. He was also chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention that nominated John Kerry for the presidency.

His being a Congressman and a Governor, he has experience both in the legislative and executive branch. This means that he is not really an insider or an outsider but is still impressive. Mixed with this is the fact that he ought be very knowledgable on foreign issue (UN Ambassador). One thing that he has done that I am concerned with with is that he is the first governor to veto eminent domain reform legislation. Which is legislation surrounding the ability for the government to sieze people lands. An article is here.

Gov. Tom Vilsack was the founder of Heartland PAC which is a PAC trying to elect Dem. Governors and was named chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council in 2005. This possition was also held by Bill Clinton just prior to his election, but this seems more like insider rung climbing to me; nothing to really rally behind.

Sen. Evan Bayh is very impressive based solely on the fact that in a Red state, he recieved more votes than Bush, as in, more people voted for him than for the President, something almost unheard of esp. in a Red state. He was considered a running mate for Gore in 2000 and has been a big oppose of Bush and his appointments for a while. But, he is a Senator, and rarely have Senators become President.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Levies and races oh my

In my last entry I noted that the race between Juan Vargas and Bob Filner was the only one in California that had a viable Democrat trying to unseat annother Democrat, this was wrong. Lynn Woolsey, the representative of the 6th District of California, is being given a run by Joe Nation, the State Assemblyman, you may remember Representative Woolsey from Sheehan being let into the State of the Union with the controversial shirt.

Anyway, to day is going to be a short rant. I don't know if anyone else has noticed the recent news about Bush being warned August 28th, 2005, it is not only on the main news but also discussed on the Daily Show, about how Bush knew that the levies were going to be a problem, promised to aid in every way possible (including praying) and then, denied the fact that this problem was addressed, but it seems to me that maybe we are being too hard on Bush. He may have lied, gone against the US interestes with the port interests and attempted to use that and other economic insentives to "bribe" foriegn countries to help us out on our "war on terror", may be a bit incompetent, may have sent many of our soldiers to die for a cause no one is truelly sure of, but at least he didn't have an affair. That could get him impeached.

Why was Clinton impeached again?

According to the brilliant people over at Wikipedia (as in anyone who cares to edit it)

President Bill Clinton was impeached on December 19, 1998 by the House of Representatives on grounds of perjury to a grand jury (by a 228-206 vote) and obstruction of justice (by a 221-212 vote). Two other articles of impeachment failed — a second count of perjury in the Jones case (by a 205-229 vote), and one accusing Clinton of abuse of power (by a 148-285 vote) was acquitted by the Senate.

This brings up the question of why a president can be impeached.

(Also From Wikipedia)
For the executive branch, only those who have allegedly committed "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" may be impeached. Although treason and bribery are obvious, the Constitution is silent on what constitutes a "high crime." Several commentators have suggested that Congress alone may decide for itself what constitutes an impeachable offense.

It is my personal belief that the current President has commited gross violations that could be considered high crimes against our civil liberties and the liberties of others, including their very lives. While lieing to the press is hardly perjury, it is my belief that the American people ought put together a grand jury, and have the President subpoenaed and testify so that any more lies that are thrown out there he will be accountable for.

There are others out there who already have put together articles of impeachment, but I doubt they will get very far.

-Antisthenes out

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Blogs and Races

First of all, before I get started I would like to tip my hat to Glenn Reynolds, for those of you who don't know who that is, there is a link to his site on the right here. He is the creator of Instapundit and recently, it has been decided, been awarded the status of "expert" in his field by the New York Times. And I would like to say SHAME to Walmart, not because they have strange dealings with China for cheap goods or even that they do not provide healthcare for their workers. The reason I am upset with Walmart is because they actually trust bloggers and have started what could turn into a horrible trend of "sponsored" bloggs where the freedom that this internet dealy gave individuals, like myself, to freely express what they feel will be hindered by where the money is coming from. When individuals start getting paid to mouth off their minds here from specific companies, that destroys the blogg's and the blogger's impartiality. Can you imagine a world where the net is filled with sponsored bloggers? Just cramming the information superhighway with Starbucks bloggs or McDonalds bloggs?

Anyway, I need to point out how disappointed I am with one of our California Congressmen. To begin, there have been a lot of interesting facts coming out about him already in this campaign in the 51st district. Mr. Filner has given over half a million dollars to his wife as a "campaign strategist, though it isn't a registered business and apparently a lot of this was when he was running unopposed. As part of California's community property law, half of what Filner's wife makes will technically also be his, so in a way he is paying himself $250,000. Some of Congressman Filner's responses as to why this is "totally ok" make some sense but others, like she "only has to answer to the candidate" are preposterous.

There have also been an article or two talking about his opponent for the congressional seat, California Assemblyman Juan Vargas, and his paying of a family member and keeping him at his house. But Vargas only paid his brother-in-law 1k a month. If he worked, let's say 8 hours, 5 days a week (which anyone who has ever worked on a campaign is a ridiculously low amount of time) that would be 1k dollars for 160 hours, equaling $6.25 an hour, and this is not taking into account the fact that he probably worked weekends and nights as well as any full time staffer on a political campaign can tell you. So it is not just a monetary difference, it is common practice to have campaign workers stay at the house of the candidate to save money on expenses and to get the most out of the work day because the candidates' house is sometimes the campaign center as well. Some of the campaigns I have seen have had upwards around 10-15 people living in one house as an almost campaign factory.

What is really interesting is the fact that negative adds have already come out. In most statewide and local campaigns, negative adds come out about 10-15 days before the election based on the fact that there is little money to keep up that type of campaign for too long. Presidential Campaigns traditionally start about 20 days before the primary and 40 days before the election for partially similar reasons, but also because they do not want the candidate to look like too much of a bully too early. Filner ran a TV add against Vargas about 100 days before the election. This is unheard of. The short segment was listing off three reasons why not to vote for vargas and had a decent picture of him scrolling across the screen. It was a sucky negative add; completely uneffective. But it is still amazing that Filner started this early. Even if you take into account that for the last election, 2004, Filner was able to raise $812,402 unapposed (besides a libertarian candidate, but they don't really count yet) and Vargas was only able to raise $90,202.12 for his Assembly race while being apposed (this information can be found on the CalAccess site) which is about 9% of Filner's total, it is still rediculious to start with this type of campaign this early just based on how the public could react to it.

Even the race between State Sen. Richard Mountjoy, who was previously retired, and Dianne Feinstein, who is California's most popular elected official according to most polls, hasn't started too much mudslinging, but then again, the primary hasn't even ended yet. What makes the Filner-Vargas campaign so interesting is that, so far as I have seen, it is the only campaign where a legitimate democratic candidate is looking to unseat annother democrat.

Vargas has made two previous attempts at this seat, once as a "wet behind the ears" lawyer who, after losing to Filner the first time won a city council seat and then, then next voting cycle, Vargas again made a vie for it, and, once losing again, gained a State Assembly seat. This is the third time Vargas is going for it and the timing of it centers arround California State Assembly term limits.

Both times that he went against Filner, Filner went dirty and quick, but not this quick. There has been a long standing rivalry between them because of the politics. This race is one to keep your eye on because it will definately get interesting.

Other issues to keep in mind with this race; the word "bajagua" will be coming up a lot; it is regarding a sewage project in Tijuana, Mexico where many shady practices have been noticed involving many public officials including Filner.

If Assemblyman Vargas won he would be the first Latino and the first man who was born in the district to represent it in the 100 years that it has been in existance. Just, FYI.

(ok, so you know, when I wrote this I was working on Juan Vargas' campaign.)

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Honduras - Negroponte - Iraq

It seems silly, I know, to point at the current administration and try and point out the similarities to the past and the ways that they have failed, continuously, to learn from the mistakes of the past. In this situation I point to the decision to appoint Mr. John Negroponte the head of all of our intelligence organizations as the Director of National Intelligence. To begin, such an organization in itself rings a little to close to any centralized intelligence agency that handles all foreign and domestic issues on terror, counter-terror and espionage seen in totalitarian states, but I (as usual) am going to skim over that issue and move onto my points about the man.

Negroponte was the U.S. ambassador to Honduras during the Regan administration. The previous Ambassador, Jack Binns, was appointed by Jimmy Carter and had made innumerable complaints regarding the Human Rights violations that occurred in that nation perpetrated by the Honduran military. Not only did Negroponte deny being told of such violations, or observing them, he was accused by the Honduras Commission on Human Right of human right violations and he oversaw the growth of military aid to Honduras from $4 million to $77.4 million a year. An article published in 1995, went over the various accusations that were thrown towards Negroponte. It states that Mr. Negroponte was informed that; "GOH [Government of Honduras] security forces have begun to resort to extralegal tactics -- disappearances and, apparently, physical eliminations ` to control a perceived subversive threat," and that “a Honduran army intelligence unit, trained by the CIA, was stalking, kidnapping, torturing and killing suspected subversives.” A long list of abuses was apparently shown to Mr. Negroponte, and he apparently ignored by the ambassador and to order a cover up; ”Rick Chidester, then a junior political officer in the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, told The Sun that he compiled substantial evidence of abuses by the Honduran military in 1982, but was ordered to delete most of it from the annual human rights report prepared for the State Department to deliver to Congress.” Why was this happening? Well, had Congress known of the actual occurrences in Honduras, they would have stopped payment of the aide to Honduras under the Foreign Assistance Act which prohibits military aid to a government engaging, “in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights."

Why would Mr. Negroponte not want funding to stop to Honduras? Because of Nicaragua. During the Reagan administration, Negroponte was a U.S. ambassador involved in helping rebels in Nicaragua; the words “Iran-Contra Scandal” come to mind. Honduras was the staging ground and base camp for Regan’s attempt to battle south and central American Communism. The problem with Nicaragua, was similar to many countries in the area. They were communist. So the Regan administration decided to start a “war” against them by funding rebels. This was against the Leftist Marxist political group known as the Sandinistas, the rebels were from the remaining from the Somoza family government known as the Contras (meaning against in Spanish). The Sandinista movement was the main opposition group against the dictatorship of the Somoza government that won power in a civil war in 1979. Somoza, popularly known as "Tacho," amended the Constitution to centralize all power in his hands. Was the country communist? Not really. They created a “Junta” (Council) of National Reconstruction, to begin the task of establishing a new government, which was made up of five members and while the majority were Marxist, there were different ideologies represented; no one wanted annother dictatorship like the Somoza family had instituted. Also, in contrast to the Cuban revolution, the Sandinista government practised political pluralism throughout its time in power. A broad range of new political parties emerged that had not been allowed under Somoza. According to someone at wikipedia;

“One of the most notable successes of the revolution was the literacy campaign, which saw teachers flood the countryside. Within six months, half a million people had been taught to read, bringing the national illiteracy rate down from over 50 per cent to just under 13 per cent.”

They also held free and open, national elections where the FSLN won 61 out of 90 seats not including president and vice president.

So why did Regan hate Nicaragua? In 1981, U.S. President Ronald Reagan condemned the FSLN for joining with Cuba in supporting Marxist revolutionary movements in other Latin American countries. I am not going to say that it was Regan who authorised the CIA to begin financing, arming and traing the Contra’s, but somehow it happened and there are ties to America, and to the military of Honduras while Mr. Negroponte was the Ambassador there.
This was brought up at the hearing for his appointment to the position of Ambassador to the UN in 2001, in fact some of the comments are rather hilarious such as the following from Senator Christopher Dodd ;

“I know there will be those who say, that it isn't terribly important that the Honduran military committed human rights abuses more than fifteen years ago in some cases. Moreover, in relative terms those abuses in Honduras paled in comparison to what to else where in Central America. My response to that is that the Senate has a duty and responsibility to be a partner in the fashioning of U.S. foreign policy, and the only way it can be a full partner is if we in this body are kept fully informed. When it came to our ability to be full partners with respect to U.S. toward Honduras or elsewhere in Central America, I would tell you that we were unable to do that because we were flying blind. It gives me great pause as I ponder how to vote on this nomination to think that someone as intelligent and capable as Ambassador Negroponte would treat this committee and this body so cavalierly in his responses to my questions. I wonder who he thinks he works for?”

And if you want to know more, there are various news articles that talk about his involvement (alledged) in the Nicaraguan revolts.

What happened to Nicaragua? The US backed Contras and the Sandinistas both are accused of atrocities through the struggle from 1981 to 1990 but I have no right to claim which is valid and which not. The full on war was so bad towards the later years that the only option was a cease fire. There were new elections and the Sandinistas peacefully stepped down. The results of this election have always been suspect but the nation seems peaceful enough now.

From Honduras, Mr. Negroponte moved to being the Ambassador for the UN in 2001 which met with a little controversy and then to Iraq for one year in 2004. Currently he is head of all intelligence agencies and now he claims that the port deal has low threat potential.

I am usually for forgiveness and forgetting, but something about his past makes me question his honesty or his intelligence. If he was “unaware” of what was going on in Honduras and Nicaragua while he was there then he is a moron, and should not be given this power. If he was aware and did nothing then he is a man without compassion and should not be in this position. If he not only knew of it but also participated in it, he should be tried for war crimes and breaking the law (giving/providing aide under the Foreign Assistance Act.).