Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wealth Redistribution, Socialism, Hypocrisy and Campaign Bull

I have been writing commentary and responses to the negative YouTube videos I have been sent about Obama's tax plans. Most of the videos out on this have the comments either cut off or moderated pending approval. This is kind of funny when the videos are going off about someone (Biden) being asked and supposedly tough questions and supposedly dodging them.

I thought Biden's answers were good. I suspect that most people were not even listening to the answers- instead simply enjoying seeing the "tough" questions that they are hung up on being asked and then Biden being miffed about it. They don't seem to realize that Biden was the victor and beneficiary of that exchange. I realize that this is a highly subjective issue. People see what they want to see.

Here is what I see.

First, when Bush wanted to implement his tax cuts for the wealthier American citizens and businesses, McCain opposed it and voted NO (neaux).
McCain said it would hurt the middle class and the less fortunate. Go check the voting records.

Now that Obama seeks to essentially roll those tax cuts back and instead give them to the middle class and less fortunate (ironically, like Joe the plumber) suddenly Obama is a commie according to the incoherent, inconsistent, irrational, insult to the intelligence McCain- Palin campaign and right wing America. Whatever. It doesn't wash.



Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever sources derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration. The income tax is collected yearly on a percentage basis. The higher the earnings, the higher the percentage collected from them. This changes article 1 section 2.

So, we have had a progressive income tax in America for many years. That's the way its been done for a couple of lifetimes- so this charge of socialism and the evils of wealth redistribution and revolutionary radicalism against Obama regarding taxation doesn't really sound so apocalyptic after all. Anybody that believes Obama is a total communist obviously has not really read the Communist Manifesto. The best one can come up with is a few quotes by Karl Marx that seem to parallel some quotes by Obama. I can produce quotes from any American leader in the last 200 plus years that parallel ideas by any other notorious dictator from Saddam to Stalin to Hitler. So what.

For the record... communism, capitalism.... whatever... they are both worldly systems flawed by fallible humanity and self interests and vested interests and neither really more or less evil than the other. I have seen no convincing evidence that God is a capitalist. In fact, as C.S. Lewis observes, one may find within the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, concepts that in todays world would absolutely be considered Utopian, overly idealistic, unrealistic, leftist and possibly even communist. Now get this straight, I am neither capitalist or communist- both systems are worldly and ultimately doomed to failure by human factors... not to mention the natural cycles of history and/or God's intervention and plan for human history. So, ultimately this whole subject is something that I am scarcely interested in and only commenting on to challenge others to think outside the box.

Now, as far as all this hullabaloo about wealth redistribution people seem to have forgotten what Sarah Palin did in Alaska:

Palin’s criticisms of Obama’s “spread the wealth” remarks are ironic to put it nicely and plain old campaign Bull in the street vernacular. She recently characterized Alaska’s tax code in a very similar way. Just last month, in an interview with Philip Gourevitch of the New Yorker, Palin explained the windfall profits tax that she imposed on the oil industry in Alaska as a mechanism for ensuring that Alaskans “share in the wealth” generated by oil companies:

And Alaska—we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs. … It’s to maximize benefits for Alaskans, not an individual company, not some multinational somewhere, but for Alaskans.

In fact, Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES) program, which manages the redistribution of oil wealth in Alaska, brings in so much money that the state needs no income or sales tax. In addition, this year ACES will provide every Alaskan with a check for an estimated $3,200.

Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it

Perhaps the McCain- Palin ticket sees some important distinction between what Obama is talking about and what Palin has done to redistribute wealth in Alaska that I am missing it and I need a far greater intellect to tell the difference. However, I submit that it is at least possible that McCain and Palin are simply trying to win a campaign and are in fact self contradictory- and that seeing that only requires the analytic skills of say... a sincere fifth grader with a speck of curiosity, objectivity or self critical analysis.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Michael Scheuer: Obama and McCain Are Both Clueless On Terrorism

Michael Scheuer - "Both front-runner Candidates need to tell the
American people the truth about what motivates terrorism against

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Michael F. Scheuer is a former CIA employee. In his 22-year career, he served as the Chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station (aka "Alec Station"), from 1996 to 1999, the Osama bin Laden tracking unit at the Counterterrorist Center. He then worked again as Special Advisor to the Chief of the bin Laden unit from September 2001 to November 2004.

Scheuer resigned in 2004. He is currently a news analyst for CBS News and a terrorism analyst for The Jamestown Foundation's online publication Global Terrorism Analysis.[1] He also makes radio and television appearances and teaches a graduate-level course on Al-Qaeda at Georgetown University. He also participates in conferences on terrorism and national security issues, such as the New America Foundation's December 2004 conference, "Al Qaeda 2.0: Transnational Terrorism After 9/11." [3]

Scheuer is now known to be the anonymous author of both Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror and the earlier anonymous work, Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America.[2]

Osama bin Laden stated in his September 7, 2007 message:

"If you want to understand what's going on and if you would like to get to know some of the reasons for your losing the war against us, then read the book of Michael Scheuer." [4][5]

Scheuer's latest book, Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq was released on February 12, 2008.

Not much is known about his personal history, though Scheuer was an analyst at the CIA and not a covert field operations officer. During a recent C-SPAN interview, he mentioned that he is a graduate of Canisius College. He also received a Ph.D. in British Empire-U.S.-Canada-U.K. relations from the University of Manitoba.[3] Scheuer a 1974 graduate from Canisius university master’s degrees from Niagara University (1976) and Carleton University (1981).[4]

In the 9/11 Commission Report, Scheuer is featured in Chapter 4, where his name is given only as "Mike". He is portrayed as being occasionally frustrated with his superiors' failure to aggressively target bin Laden.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Michael F. Scheuer is a former CIA employee. In his 22-year career, he served as the Chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station (aka "Alec Station"), from 1996 to 1999, the Osama bin Laden tracking unit at the Counterterrorist Center. He then worked again as Special Advisor to the Chief of the bin Laden unit from September 2001 to November 2004.

Scheuer resigned in 2004. He is currently a news analyst for CBS News and a terrorism analyst for The Jamestown Foundation's online publication Global Terrorism Analysis.[1] He also makes radio and television appearances and teaches a graduate-level course on Al-Qaeda at Georgetown University. He also participates in conferences on terrorism and national security issues, such as the New America Foundation's December 2004 conference, "Al Qaeda 2.0: Transnational Terrorism After 9/11." [3]

Scheuer is now known to be the anonymous author of both Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror and the earlier anonymous work, Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America.[2]

Osama bin Laden stated in his September 7, 2007 message:

"If you want to understand what's going on and if you would like to get to know some of the reasons for your losing the war against us, then read the book of Michael Scheuer." [4][5]

Scheuer's latest book, Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq was released on February 12, 2008.

Not much is known about his personal history, though Scheuer was an analyst at the CIA and not a covert field operations officer. During a recent C-SPAN interview, he mentioned that he is a graduate of Canisius College. He also received a Ph.D. in British Empire-U.S.-Canada-U.K. relations from the University of Manitoba.[3] Scheuer a 1974 graduate from Canisius university master’s degrees from Niagara University (1976) and Carleton University (1981).[4]

In the 9/11 Commission Report, Scheuer is featured in Chapter 4, where his name is given only as "Mike". He is portrayed as being occasionally frustrated with his superiors' failure to aggressively target bin Laden.

Israel and the Lobby

Michael Scheuer entered into the controversy surrounding the Mearsheimer and Walt paper on the "Israel Lobby". He said to NPR that Mearsheimer and Walt are basically right. Israel, according to Scheuer, has engaged in one of the most successful campaigns to influence public opinion in the United States ever conducted by a foreign government. Scheuer said to NPR that "They [Mearsheimer and Walt] should be credited for the courage they have had to actually present a paper on the subject. I hope they move on and do the Saudi lobby, which is probably more dangerous to the United States than the Israeli lobby."[6]

In February, 2005, Scheuer gave an interview in which he discussed, among other things, Israeli lobbying in the United States.[7] In the interview, the following exchange took place:

"QUESTIONER: I'm curious — Gary Rosen from Commentary magazine. If you could just elaborate a little bit on the clandestine ways in which Israel and presumably Jews have managed to so control debate over this fundamental foreign policy question.
SCHEUER: Well, the clandestine aspect is that, clearly, the ability to influence the Congress — that's a clandestine activity, a covert activity. You know to some extent, the idea that the Holocaust Museum here in our country is another great ability to somehow make people feel guilty about being the people who did the most to try to end the Holocaust. I find — I just find the whole debate in the United States unbearably restricted with the inability to factually discuss what goes on between our two countries."

Ron Paul

In the Republican Presidential Debate on May 15, 2007, presidential candidate Ron Paul stated that American foreign policy was a "contributing factor" in anti-Americanism in the Middle East. Rudy Giuliani denounced this as "absurd" and that he'd never heard such a thing before. In an interview on May 18, Michael Scheuer defended Paul, stating: "I thought Mr. Paul captured it the other night exactly correctly. This war is dangerous to America because it's based, not on gender equality, as Mr. Giuliani suggested, or any other kind of freedom, but simply because of what we do in the Islamic World – because "we're over there," basically, as Mr. Paul said in the debate."[10]

On May 24, 2007, Ron Paul and Scheuer held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. about the causes that led up to 9/11, American foreign policy and its implications on terrorism, security and Iraq.[11] Paul and Scheuer argued that Rudy Giuliani is wrong on security and foreign policy and provided documentation about the unintended consequences of interventionism - known to many in the intelligence world as blowback - and assigned Giuliani a reading list of foreign policy books, including Dying to Win, Blowback, Imperial Hubris and the 9/11 Commission Report.[12]

On Larry King Live, September 7, 2007, Scheuer alluded to the Fox News Republican Debate of September 5, 2007, where a Fox News moderator accused Ron Paul of taking "marching orders" from Al Qaeda. Scheuer said, "The truth of the matter is that it is all of the Democrats and the Republicans, except perhaps for Mr. Paul and Mr. Kucinich, who are marching to Osama Bin Laden's drum." Larry King Live Transcript

[edit] Iraq and al-Qaeda

Thomas Joscelyn of Weekly Standard wrote a highly critical piece on Scheuer and an interview Scheuer did on Chris Matthews Hardball. [11] Joscelyn wrote:

"When Michael Scheuer, the first head of the CIA's bin Laden unit, first emerged into public view almost a year ago, it was a curiosity how he could appear in the media--time after time--claiming that there was no evidence of a relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda. It was curious because, in 2002, Scheuer wrote the book Through Our Enemies' Eyes, in which he cited numerous pieces of evidence showing that there was, in fact, a working relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda. That evidence directly contradicted his criticism of the intelligence that led this nation into the Iraq war, which he called a 'Christmas present' for bin Laden."

Scheuer wrote about the relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda in his 2002 book (see above, 2002). Yet when interviewed in 2004 he stated that he had found no evidence of a Saddam/al-Qaeda connection. Tim Russert asked Scheuer to explain the seeming contradiction on Meet the Press (30 November 2004):

MR. SCHEUER: I certainly saw a link when I was writing the books in terms of the open-source literature, unclassified literature, but I had nothing to do with Iraq during my professional career until the run-up to the war. What I was talking about on "Hardball" was, I was assigned the duty of going back about nine or 10 years in the classified archives of the CIA. I went through roughly 19,000 documents, probably totaling 50,000 to 60,000 pages, and within that corpus of material, there was absolutely no connection in the terms of a--in the terms of a relationship.
MR. RUSSERT: But your [2002] book did point out some contacts?
MR. SCHEUER: Certainly it was available in the open-source material, yes, sir.[12]

Scheuer explains more fully in the revised edition of his 2002 book the exhaustive study of the evidence of Iraq-al-Qaeda cooperation that eventually led him to the conclusion that there was no relationship between the two forces:

For a number of reasons, I was available to perform the review of Agency files on Iraq and al Qaeda, and the chief of the bin Laden unit handed me the assignment. I was delighted with the task, eager to begin, and sure that my research would support the analysis I had presented in Through Our Enemies' Eyes. For about four weeks in late 2002 and early 2003, I and several others were engaged full time in searching CIA files -- seven days a week, often far more than eight hours a day. At the end of the effort, we had gone back ten years in the files and had reviewed nearly twenty thousand documents that amounted to well over fifty thousand pages of materials. I was both pleased and embarrassed by the results of the research. I was pleased because CIA's position was reaffirmed and the analysis of Mr. Feith's unit was discredited. There was no information that remotely supported the analysis that claimed there was a strong working relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. I was embarrassed because this reality invalidated the analysis I had presented on the subject in my book.[13]


[edit] Books

[edit] Articles

[edit] External links

[edit] Other

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:

[edit] Notes and references

  1. ^ Global Terrorism Analysis.
  2. ^ The authorship of these books is now widely known, and advertised as such. See [1] Council on Foreign Relations, Transcript of Interview Winning or Losing? An Inside Look at the War on Terror by Nicholas Lemann Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, February 3, 2005. Also see: The Phoenix
  3. ^ Georgetown Bio
  4. ^ Canisius school News Story
  5. ^ Foreign Policy: Seven Questions: Fixing U.S. Intelligence - May 16, 2006 (free registration needed to view the article)
  6. ^ Paper on Israel Lobby Sparks Heated Debate, Deborah Amos, National Public Radio, April 21, 2006
  7. ^ Council on Foreign Relations,[2], February 3, 2005
  8. ^ Michael F. Scheuer, "Bill and Dick, Osama and Sandy," Washington Times (5 July 2006).
  9. ^ "Transcript: Counterterror Experts Debate Clinton Claims on 'FNS'", Fox News (October 1, 2006).
  10. ^ Antiwar.com Blog · Michael Scheuer
  11. ^ Venue: National Press Club - Upcoming
  12. ^ Reuters: N24342743.htm U.S. candidate Paul assigns reading to Giuliani. May 24, 2007.
  13. ^ Michael Scheuer, Through Our Enemies' Eyes (revised edition). Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2006) p. 136.

The War on Voting

Using the Department of Justice, friendly governors, and its usual propaganda outlets, the GOP has propagated the myth of voter fraud to purge the rolls of non-Republicans.

One week before the close of voter registration in Kentucky last fall, in an election that culminated with the victory of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear, Johanna Sharrard, a fresh-faced 26-year-old national organizer for the low-income advocacy group ACORN, gathered her canvassers in a run-down Louisville office and told them some good news: "We got 396 people yesterday -- that's really great!" Then she added what could have seemed a jarringly discordant note: "We know it's getting harder to reach people with the cards in this area. It's really important that you guys are not slipping up and turning to filling out your own applications or other fraudulent activity. Just yesterday we had to let another person go because she did not follow protocols." Sharrard continued sternly, "What's important is that we get 15,000 new voters. We're not out there to get 10,000 new voters and 5,000 false applications."
Indeed, the voter registration waged by ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) in Kentucky was also an effort to test the group's new system for rooting out any fraud. The organization is readying itself for the challenges to voter participation that the poor and minorities -- and Democrats -- are sure to face in 2008.
Sharrard's cautionary tone was a response to the Republican Party's ongoing nationwide campaign to suppress the low-income minority vote by propagating the myth of voter fraud. Using various tactics -- including media smears, bogus lawsuits, restrictive new voting laws and policies, and flimsy prosecutions -- Republican operatives, election officials, and the GOP-controlled Justice Department have limited voting access and gone after voter-registration groups such as ACORN. Which should come as no surprise: In building support for initiatives raising the minimum wage and kindred ballot measures, ACORN has registered, in partnership with Project Vote, 1.6 million largely Democratic-leaning voters since 2004. All told, non-profit groups registered over three million new voters in 2004, about the same time that Republican and Justice Department efforts to publicize ?voter fraud? and limit voting access became more widespread. And attacking ACORN has been a central element of a systematic GOP disenfranchisement agenda to undermine Democratic prospects before each Election Day.
Revelations that U.S. attorneys were fired for their failure to successfully prosecute voter fraud have revealed how fictitious the allegations of widespread fraud actually were -- but the allegations haven't gone away. They live on in all the vote-suppressing laws and regulations that will likely affect this year's election, in GOP rhetoric and, most recently, in the arguments presented by champions of Indiana's restrictive voter-identification law in a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Unfortunately, progressives have tended to pay more attention to Election Day dirty tricks and to electronic voting machines than to a more systemic threat: the Republican campaign to suppress the votes of low-income, young, and minority voters through restrictive legislation and rulings, all based on the mythic specter of voter fraud. Those relatively transient voters, drawn to the polls this year by the Obama and Clinton campaigns, could find themselves thwarted in November and thereafter by the GOP-driven regime of voting restrictions -- particularly if, as many observers believe, the Court upholds Indiana's restrictive law before it adjourns this June.
Voter fraud is actually less likely to occur than lightning striking a person, according to data compiled by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice. As Lorraine Minnite, a Columbia University professor, observed in the Project Vote report, The Politics of Voter Fraud, "The claim that voter fraud threatens the integrity of American elections is itself a fraud." In October 2002, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft launched an intensive "Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative" that required all U.S. attorney offices to coordinate with local officials in combating voter fraud. Yet even after the Justice Department declared the war against voter fraud a "high priority," only 24 people were convicted of illegal voting in federal elections between 2002 and 2005 -- and nobody was even charged by Justice with impersonating another voter. (The Justice Department declined to answer questions about more recent fraud prosecutions.) And despite the anti-immigrant frenzy fueling photo-ID laws, only 14 noncitizens were convicted of illegally voting in federal elections from 2002 through 2005 -- mostly because of their ignorance of election law.
Unfortunately, the public hasn't heard just how nonexistent the voter fraud epidemic actually is. While progressives have successfully challenged some of the most restrictive laws in court, they're still playing catch-up when it comes to combating the glib sound bites of voter-fraud alarmists. Republicans and the Bush Justice Department have cloaked their schemes under such noble-sounding concepts as "ballot integrity." The GOP's vote-suppression playbook features everything from phony lawsuits to questionable investigations to authoritative-seeming reports, all with the aim of promoting restrictive laws. These tactics were first perfected in the hotly contested swing state of Missouri.
The roots of John Ashcroft's passion on this issue go back to the chaos of Election Day 2000 in St. Louis, when hundreds, if not thousands, of mostly inner-city voters were turned away from polling places because their names were not on voting rolls. The resulting last-minute court battle kept some polling places open for 45 minutes after their scheduled closing time of 7 P.M. Ashcroft, then the Republican U.S. Senate nominee, lost his race to the dead Democratic governor, Mel Carnahan, whose name stayed on the ballot weeks after he died in a plane crash. At an election-night party, an infuriated Republican Sen. Kit Bond pounded the podium and screamed, "This is an outrage!" -- and subsequently charged that Republican losses were due in part to dogs and dead people voting. As one local government official observed, "In St. Louis, 'dogs and dead people' is code for black people [voting fraudulently]."
That election night gave birth to the new right-wing voter-fraud movement, while Missouri became a proving ground for the vote-suppression campaigns that later spread to other key states. Missouri's then-Secretary of State Matt Blunt, now governor, launched a trumped-up investigation that concluded that more than 1,000 fraudulent ballots had been cast in an organized scheme. A Justice Department Civil Rights Division investigation, started before Ashcroft shifted the department's priorities, found no fraudulent ballots, however. Instead, it discovered that the St. Louis election board had improperly purged 50,000 voters from the rolls.
Nonetheless, the template for smear campaigns, groundless lawsuits, and politicized prosecutions used across the country had been set in Missouri. Key roles were played by many of the same GOP zealots who later made their mark on the national drive to fight voter fraud, among them St. Louis attorney Thor Hearne, the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign election counsel who later launched the GOP front group, the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR). And as early as 2002, the executive director of the Missouri Republican Party pioneered a new dirty trick: publicly "filing" with the Federal Election Commission a 26-page complaint against the state's leading registration group, known as Pro Vote, that charged it with secretly conspiring with Democrats in the Senate race -- but then failing to sign the document so the agency never considered it.
The goal of such complaints and allegations was to create a barrage of negative publicity about voter-registration groups and the voter-fraud menace that could pave the way for restrictive laws. In Missouri, the Republicans' cries for a new state photo-ID law began in 2002, before the GOP blitz in most other states. The legislature passed such a bill in early 2006, before it was struck down that September by a Missouri state court as unconstitutional.
The GOP in Missouri also turned to prosecutions and lawsuits, most either overblown or groundless. In November 2005, Bradley Schlozman, then the Justice Department's acting civil-rights chief, insisted on filing a lawsuit that accused Missouri's secretary of state, Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, of failing to purge supposedly ineligible voters under federal law. (U.S. Attorney Todd Graves was forced out in March 2006 for having balked at filing the suit.) A federal judge, who found that the Justice Department did not produce any evidence showing fraud justifying the purges, dismissed the lawsuit in April 2007. The department continues to appeal the ruling.
The fraud-obsessed Schlozman was then moved into Graves' old post without Senate confirmation, through a loophole in the Patriot Act. In an apparent effort to discredit both Democrats and ACORN, just five days before the tight Senate election in 2006 between incumbent Republican Jim Talent and Democrat Claire McCaskill, Schlozman announced, in violation of the department's own standards, the indictment of four former ACORN workers who had been fired by ACORN for filling out false voter-registration forms. The indictments were part of a broader effort to tilt the campaign against Democrats by bashing ACORN and limiting voter access. St. Louis' Republican election director, Scott Leiendecker, sent out a chilling letter shortly before the election to 5,000 mostly African Americans registered by ACORN, asking them to verify to the election board that they were eligible to vote. Leiendecker backed off after he faced the threat of a voting-rights lawsuit and received a warning letter from Secretary of State Carnahan.
What began in Missouri soon went nationwide. Starting in 2003, the Justice Department's civil-rights division issued a flurry of advisory letters, rulings, and lawsuits under the guise of fighting fraud that appear designed to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters. Federal and state courts have struck down some of the laws shaped by policies promoted by the Justice Department, such as strict database-matching laws limiting new voters in Washington state and Florida. Even so, Justice Department-backed secretive purging policies have targeted voter-registration applicants and current voters in several key states: In Ohio in 2006, 303,000 voters were purged in three major urban counties, while the Brennan Center reported that Pennsylvania's rigid database rules, later loosened, had excluded up to 30 percent of eligible registrants. Karl Rove aide Tim Griffin played a major role in state GOP voter "caging" operations (that is, challenging the eligibility of registered voters) in such states as Ohio and Florida. These schemes, Project Vote reports, challenged the right of 77,000 mostly minority voters to cast ballots between 2004 and 2006, under the pretext that non-forwardable letters sent by GOP activists to their addresses were returned as undelivered. Thor Hearne's now-vanished ACVR lobbied for strict voter-ID laws in nine states, according to McClatchy and other news organizations. Voter-ID laws in states such as Georgia, Arizona, and Indiana have, for now, been allowed to stand.
All these campaigns have created a kind of GOP vote-suppression playbook that aims to limit voting rights in the states and attack registration groups such as ACORN. In most states where ACORN wages ballot-initiative and voter-registration campaigns, Republican lawyers, officials, and some prosecutors routinely file dubious lawsuits and complaints to generate bad press for the voter-registration drives. The lawsuits seldom if ever succeed, but the bad press they engender creates a climate to pass restrictive voting laws.
In New Mexico by the summer of 2004, ACORN's effort to register voters in advance of the closely fought presidential election was a stunning success: The organization registered 35,000 voters, mostly in the Albuquerque area. "Republicans were freaking out," recalls John Boyd, an attorney for the state Democratic Party. Republicans accused ACORN of "manufacturing voters," conflating error-plagued cards with fraud while trumpeting one registration card filled out in the name of a 13-year-old boy. The boy's card became the centerpiece of the lawsuit Rep. Joe Thompson, an Albuquerque Republican, filed in August 2004 demanding that the state government require photo ID for voters registered by ACORN and other nonprofits. The lawsuit claimed that the Republican plaintiffs' votes were "diluted" by supposedly false registrations.
Their case fell apart in court, and by September, a judge dismissed the lawsuit. But Republicans were not deterred by their loss in civil court and pressed for a criminal investigation, a probe which U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias started on the same day that the court ruled against the GOP. Iglesias was a true believer in the menace of voter fraud. As one of just two U.S. attorneys in the nation to form such task forces, he was invited to lecture other U.S. attorneys in 2005 as part of the annual Justice Department ballot-integrity conference.
Iglesias' efforts weren't enough for Patrick Rogers, the Republican National Lawyers Association point person in the state, who mounted a campaign to pressure Iglesias to bring criminal charges before the election, rather than form a task force. Indeed, even before Iglesias concluded in 2006 that there wasn't enough evidence to indict on voter fraud, major Republicans in the state had started asking the Bush administration for his removal. In early December 2006, Iglesias was one of seven U.S. attorneys whom the Justice Department fired.
Today, Iglesias says of voter fraud: "It's like the boogeymen parents use to scare their children. It's very frightening, and it doesn't exist. U.S. attorneys have better things to do with their time than chasing voter-fraud phantoms."
But the damage of chasing phantoms proved more substantial. In 2005, the state legislature, with the blessing of its Democratic governor, Bill Richardson, passed legislation that essentially crippled the ability of groups like ACORN to do mass voter registration. In 2006, ACORN had only 10 certified canvassers in the whole state, and registration plunged to 2,000 new applicants from 35,000 two years before, according to ACORN's top New Mexico organizer, Matt Henderson.
In Florida in 2004, ACORN's initiative to raise the state's minimum wage looked to be cruising to victory (it won with 71 percent of the vote), and brought in over 200,000 newly registered voters. That led business lobbies and the GOP to find a poster boy for fraud in a fired ACORN employee and ex-con named Mac Stuart, who spun elaborate tales of ACORN squirreling away hundreds of GOP voter applications it gathered but did not turn over to election officials. Republican attorneys filed two lawsuits featuring Stuart's claims. After the election, Stuart ultimately conceded that he made false statements about ACORN. In December 2005, federal judges dismissed both lawsuits.
But in the same month, the legislature passed one of the most restrictive voting-registration laws in the country. The new law fined every registration worker $5,000 for any lost application, potentially wiping out the entire budget of the state League of Women Voters if just 14 forms were lost and forcing the group to stop registering voters for the first time in over 70 years. It was not until August 2006 that a federal judge blocked enforcement of the law. However, a slightly revised version passed last year.
Responding to the GOP-generated hysteria over voter fraud, criminal investigations were launched in 2004 and 2005 in Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida, and Ohio, with ACORN often a target. But by the end of 2005, the investigations ended after finding either no evidence of wrongdoing by ACORN or any pervasive voter fraud. Nationally, only six former ACORN employees were charged with registration fraud or other election-related crimes in the 2004 election, offenses involving fewer than 20 forms. That's out of 1 million new voters registered by ACORN during that cycle.
Yet Thor Hearne, among others, took advantage of these assorted investigations and news accounts about fraud to create the fictional appearance of an epidemic, then added some fabrications of his own. Perhaps the wildest ACVR whopper -- seized on by The Wall Street Journal as late as November 2006 -- was the charge that ACORN and an affiliated group were under criminal investigation for "paying crack cocaine for fraudulent registration forms." Actually, the tale originated with the arrest of a Toledo-area man who may have received drugs while working for another volunteer for a now-defunct organization, not ACORN. Without substantiation, ACVR identified Democratic-leaning cities as hotspots for fraud. They were generally the same locations where U.S. attorneys later faced pressure over prosecutions, including Seattle, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. (The one exception to overblown investigations targeting ACORN was the indictment last year by a local Seattle prosecutor, welcomed by ACORN, of seven rogue ex-employees who had fabricated nearly 2,000 registration forms.)
The hyped reports, indictments, and hearings had their intended effect after the 2004 elections. Nearly 30 states considered bills to require photo ID or proof of citizenship to register or vote. While most of these measures haven't yet passed, those that have can be severe: An Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship to register has disenfranchised up to 60 percent of applicants in some counties.
Over the past few years, what began as local phony lawsuits and investigations escalated into a concerted drive by the Civil Rights Division to restrict voting. Since 2004, the goal of the state GOP vote-caging initiatives has become official Justice Department policy. The department has also promoted the equivalent of caging by pressuring 16 states and cities to speed up their purging of hundreds of thousands of voters through letters and lawsuits, as first reported by Alternet.
Alarmingly, the insubstantiality of the claims of pervasive voter fraud may not deter the U.S. Supreme Court from upholding Indiana's restrictive voter-ID law -- which, according to a new University of Washington study, could disenfranchise the more than 20 percent of the state's African American voters who lack the ID required by Indiana's law. Amazingly, Indiana has admitted that there hasn't been a single alleged case of in-person voter fraud in the state's history. Instead, Indiana's attorneys and legal allies, including the federal government, have submitted virtually nothing but unverified newspaper clippings and right-wing claims about fraud allegations in other states.
Indeed, the Supreme Court, in a little-noticed comment in an earlier ruling on Arizona's ID law, has already granted government the leeway to enact laws denying the vote based merely on fears of fraud, regardless of evidence. But outside of the world of voting experts, little attention has been paid to the lack of evidence in the federal court rulings leading up to the Indiana case. As Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center observes, "The way this case has been decided so far [in lower courts] is that a state doesn't have to justify measures to suppress the vote."
The Supreme Court is expected to issue its Indiana ruling in the next few months, and it's considered unlikely that the Court will strike down the law.
These days, weakened by the publicity over the U.S. attorneys scandal, the savvier voter-fraud propagandists are shifting their now-discredited arguments about massive voting by illegal immigrants to yet another "menace": "double voting." Republicans and some newspapers point to lists of the same names in different states to claim there has been large-scale double voting. Yet such sweeping double-voting claims are almost always due to administrative errors and the statistical probability that people with the same name and birth date will show up in large pools of voters.
Regardless of the facts, the drive for new voter-ID restrictions will likely be strengthened in the wake of the upcoming Supreme Court decision. There's little sign that progressives or Democrats are going to launch what the Brennan Center's Deborah Goldberg has called the "huge public education effort" needed to raise awareness about the problems with voter-ID laws. Democrats seemingly haven't yet grasped the political importance of fighting these restrictive policies, though they could prove a major impediment to minority voting (and if minorities voted at the same rate as whites, there would be 7.5 million more voters on Election Day).
But Johanna Sharrard and other ACORN leaders aren't going to be deterred by Republican obstacles and smears as they gear up for new registration drives this year that could be their most successful yet. Sharrard's campaign in Kentucky last year brought in over 14,000 new voters, a state record. And after seeing all the attacks against ACORN in Missouri and elsewhere, she realizes, "It's a good motivator; it showed us that that things we were doing are important." It's an open question, though, whether progressives will realize that it's worth fighting to make sure that the voters ACORN is trying to reach will actually have their votes count.
Research assistance for this article was provided bvy the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute.

Art Levine is a contributing editor of U.S. News and World Report and of The Washington Monthly and has written for The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, and many other publications.

By Liza Porteus Viana
Oct 17th 2008 5:52PM

Barack Obama's campaign fought back hard today against the ongoing accusations that the Illinois senator is connected to voter fraud.

Obama general counsel Robert Bauer wrote to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, asking that a special prosecutor look into what role, if any, Justice Department and White House officials have had in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign and the Republican National Committee's "systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud."

The Republican White House ticket has been hammering Obama on his connection to ACORN, a voter-registration group being investigated by the FBI for voter fraud.

The special prosecutor on the case is Nora Dannehy, the same one investigating the removal of U.S. attorneys by the Bush administration.

Obama's camp says the same exact type of improper behavior that led to the firing of some of those U.S. attorneys several years ago - removals based on "improper political factors, including to affect the way they handled certain voter fraud or public corruption investigations and prosecutions" in 2006 - is being acted out now by Republican Party officials around the country.

"It has become clear, in these remaining weeks of the Presidential campaign, that 'the fact and law require' the Special Prosecutor's urgent attention to recent partisan Republican activities throughout the country," Bauer writes. "These activities seek both to suppress the vote and to unduly influence investigations and prosecutions through baseless allegations of vote fraud - exactly as in the 2006 election cycle."

Some of those activities cited included GOP claims of "fraud" by John McCain and Sarah Palin surrounding ACORN, and Republican lawmakers calling on the DOJ to launch an investigation into "these manufactured allegations of 'fraud'" involving ACORN. Bauer said those McCain-Pain surrogates who have sent such letters include: Sens. George Voinovich of Ohio, John Cornyn of Texas, and Reps. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

"Of course, the timing of the opening of this investigation and leaking of this information is damning, 19 days before the general election - and less than 24 hours after the Republican Presidential nominee announced the advent of fraud so pervasive that it threatened the very 'fabric of democracy,'" Bauer writes.

But the McCain-Palin attack against ACORN marches on.

Palin today said Obama hasn't been forthcoming about his ties to the Association of Community Activists for Reform Now, even though Obama has said he doesn't have any significant links to the group.

"You deserve to know," Palin told thousands surrounding her stage in a suburban community park in Ohio. "This group needs to learn that you here in Ohio won't let them turn the Buckeye State into the Acorn State."

In a press call today, Bauer said ACORN is not "an agent of this campaign, they did not perform registration services for this campaign."

McCain-Palin campaign manager Rick Davis told reporters Friday that he sent a letter to Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, encouraging them to join a group called "The Honest and Open Election Committee" organized by the McCain campaign.

"We've gotten little to no response back from the Obama campaign on this issue," Davis said, adding that you can't just "blow off" these allegations as a "cynical ploy to reduce voter turnout," "like David Plouffe did."

The ACORN allegations are "not anything less than disturbing," Davis added.

To add to the ACORN debacle, AP reports that the group has another nasty issue on its agenda when its board of directors meets in New Orleans this weekend: missing money.

ACORN leaders are locked in a legal dispute stemming from allegations that the brother of the group's founder misappropriated nearly $1 million of the nonprofit's money several years ago. The embezzlement case has spawned a lawsuit and set off a power struggle inside ACORN.

Bertha Lewis, ACORN's interim chief organizer, called the lawsuit "a distraction from us marshaling our forces to deal with the Republican right-wing attacks" over ACORN's voter registration.

This all came on the heels of the High court rejecting the GOP in Ohio voting dispute.
Republicans had won an order that the state do more to check eligibility but were overturned by the USSC.

Iglesias: "I'm Astounded" By DOJ's ACORN Probe

David Iglesias says he's shocked by the news, leaked today to the Associated Press, that the FBI is pursuing a voter-fraud investigation into ACORN just weeks before the election.
"I'm astounded that this issue is being trotted out again," Iglesias told TPMmuckraker. "Based on what I saw in 2004 and 2006, it's a scare tactic." In 2006, Iglesias was fired as U.S. attorney thanks partly to his reluctance to pursue voter-fraud cases as aggressively as DOJ wanted -- one of several U.S. attorneys fired for inappropriate political reasons, according to a recently released report by DOJ's Office of the Inspector General.
Iglesias, who has been the most outspoken of the fired U.S. attorneys, went on to say that the FBI's investigation seemed designed to inappropriately create a "boogeyman" out of voter fraud.
And he added that it "stands to reason" that the investigation was launched in response to GOP complaints. In recent weeks, national Republican figures -- including John McCain at last night's debate -- have sought to make an issue out of ACORN's voter-registration activities.
As we noted earlier, last year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein publicly highlighted changes made to DOJ's election crimes manual, which lowered the bar for voter-fraud prosecutions, and made it easier to bring vote-fraud cases close to the election.
Speaking today to TPMmuckraker, Iglesias called such changes "extremely problematic."
The way in which the news was revealed today -- Associated Press sourced its report to two "senior law enforcement officials" who "spoke on condition of anonymity because Justice Department regulations forbid discussing ongoing investigations particularly so close to an election" -- is also raising eyebrows.
Both Iglesias and Bud Cummins -- another of the U.S. attorneys who, according to the IG report, was also fired for political reasons -- told TPMmuckraker that DOJ guidelines do allow US attorneys to speak publicly about an investigation, even before bringing an indictment, if it's to allay public concern over an issue.
But that certainly wouldn't cover anonymous leaks. "If you can't say it with your name on it, it's fair to say you should not be saying it," Cummins told TPMmuckraker.
Earlier this afternoon, House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI) released a letter he sent to Attorney General Michael Mukasey and FBI director Robert Mueller, which connected today's news to the U.S. attorney firings, and to recent GOP efforts to stoke fears over voter fraud.

My Priorites for the 2008 Election

I recently read an article by Jim Wallis of Sojourners magazine entitled "My Personal 'Faith Priorities' for this Election". I agree with his priorities as listed which are as follows.

"I am in no position to tell anyone what is "non-negotiable," and neither is any bishop or megachurch pastor, but let me tell you the "faith priorities" and values I will be voting on this year:

  1. With more than 2,000 verses in the Bible about how we treat the poor and oppressed, I will examine the record, plans, policies, and promises made by the candidates on what they will do to overcome the scandal of extreme global poverty and the shame of such unnecessary domestic poverty in the richest nation in the world. Such a central theme of the Bible simply cannot be ignored at election time, as too many Christians have done for years. And any solution to the economic crisis that simply bails out the rich, and even the middle class, but ignores those at the bottom should simply be unacceptable to people of faith.

  2. From the biblical prophets to Jesus, there is, at least, a biblical presumption against war and the hope of beating our swords into instruments of peace. So I will choose the candidates who will be least likely to lead us into more disastrous wars and find better ways to resolve the inevitable conflicts in the world and make us all safer. I will choose the candidates who seem to best understand that our security depends upon other people’s security (everyone having "their own vine and fig tree, so no one can make them afraid," as the prophets say) more than upon how high we can build walls or a stockpile of weapons. Christians should never expect a pacifist president, but we can insist on one who views military force only as a very last resort, when all other diplomatic and economic measures have failed, and never as a preferred or habitual response to conflict.

  3. "Choosing life" is a constant biblical theme, so I will choose candidates who have the most consistent ethic of life, addressing all the threats to human life and dignity that we face — not just one. Thirty-thousand children dying globally each day of preventable hunger and disease is a life issue. The genocide in Darfur is a life issue. Health care is a life issue. War is a life issue. The death penalty is a life issue. And on abortion, I will choose candidates who have the best chance to pursue the practical and proven policies which could dramatically reduce the number of abortions in America and therefore save precious unborn lives, rather than those who simply repeat the polarized legal debates and "pro-choice" and "pro-life" mantras from either side.

  4. God’s fragile creation is clearly under assault, and I will choose the candidates who will likely be most faithful in our care of the environment. In particular, I will choose the candidates who will most clearly take on the growing threat of climate change, and who have the strongest commitment to the conversion of our economy and way of life to a cleaner, safer, and more renewable energy future. And that choice could accomplish other key moral priorities like the redemption of a dangerous foreign policy built on Middle East oil dependence, and the great prospects of job creation and economic renewal from a new "green" economy built on more spiritual values of conservation, stewardship, sustainability, respect, responsibility, co-dependence, modesty, and even humility.

  5. Every human being is made in the image of God, so I will choose the candidates who are most likely to protect human rights and human dignity. Sexual and economic slavery is on the rise around the world, and an end to human trafficking must become a top priority. As many religious leaders have now said, torture is completely morally unacceptable, under any circumstances, and I will choose the candidates who are most committed to reversing American policy on the treatment of prisoners. And I will choose the candidates who understand that the immigration system is totally broken and needs comprehensive reform, but must be changed in ways that are compassionate, fair, just, and consistent with the biblical command to "welcome the stranger."

  6. Healthy families are the foundation of our community life, and nothing is more important than how we are raising up the next generation. As the father of two young boys, I am deeply concerned about the values our leaders model in the midst of the cultural degeneracy assaulting our children. Which candidates will best exemplify and articulate strong family values, using the White House and other offices as bully pulpits to speak of sexual restraint and integrity, marital fidelity, strong parenting, and putting family values over economic values? And I will choose the candidates who promise to really deal with the enormous economic and cultural pressures that have made parenting such a "countercultural activity" in America today, rather than those who merely scapegoat gay people for the serious problems of heterosexual family breakdown.

That is my list of personal "faith priorities" for the election year of 2008, but they are not "non-negotiables" for anyone else. It’s time for each of us to make up our own list in these next 12 days. Make your list and send this on to your friends and family members, inviting them to do the same thing."

Sarah Palin Refuses To Answer Whether Or Not Abortion Clinic Bombers Are Terrorists

In her interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said that Bill Ayers is “no question” a terrorist because he sought to destroy the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon. Palin, however, refused to apply the same label to abortion clinic bombers:

Q: Is an abortion clinic bomber a terrorist, under this definition, governor?
PALIN: (Sigh). There’s no question that Bill Ayers via his own admittance was one who sought to destroy our U.S. Capitol and our Pentagon. That is a domestic terrorist. There’s no question there. Now, others who would want to engage in harming innocent Americans or facilities that uh, it would be unacceptable. I don’t know if you’re going to use the word terrorist there.

The FBI and other government security institutions may differ with Ms. Palin on this one. It is just about intellectually impossible to back a candidate with this kind of logic problems... at least for me. -SS

Abortion clinic bombers not terrorists? WASHINGTON (AFP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who has accused Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists," has refused to call people who bomb abortion clinics by the same name.When asked Thursday night by NBC television presenter Brian Williams whether an abortion clinic bomber was a terrorist, Palin heaved a sigh and, at first, circumvented the question.
"There's no question that Bill Ayers by his own admittance was one who sought to destroy our US Capitol and our Pentagon. That is a domestic terrorist," Palin said, referring to a 1960s leftist who founded a radical violent gang dubbed the "Weathermen" -- and who years later supported Obama's first run for public office in the state of Illinois.
"Now, others who would want to engage in harming innocent Americans or facilities that it would be unacceptable to... I don't know if you're gonna use the word 'terrorist' there," the ardently pro-life running mate of John McCain said.
Early this month, after the New York Times ran an article highlighting the ties between Obama and Ayers, Palin told a campaign rally in Colorado that Obama "sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."
Attacks on doctors who practice abortion and on family planning clinics in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s left several people dead and scores wounded.
Eric Rudolph, the extreme right winger who planted a bomb at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, which killed one person, was sentenced three years ago to two life terms in jail for an abortion clinic bombing in Alabama in which a policeman was killed.

I am wondering what is so difficult about the question. How could a person not just say, "Of course they are, anytime a person or political interest group resorts to planting bombs to inflict violence and/or damage and intimidation to promote any political agenda they are essentially operating with the same philosophy of jihadists like Osama bin Laden."

I can tell you why she didn't say that. Its because she is not morally grounded or intelligent enough to figure that out.

When she didn't say something like that she implied as much- that she was either ignorant and/or morally stunted or that she condoned the practice. It was she that put those words in her own mouth as implied by her lack of willingness to state what should be obvious. It is my personal belief that she probably thinks of abortion clinic bombers as noble warriors of God or at least that she has some kind of sympathy for such TERRORIST acts. Then again I suppose such a definition would raise several valid questions about American foreign and domestic policy...
like what makes an atomic bomb moral and a carbomb immoral?

Now, check this out: McCain’s Terror Connection: G. Gordon Liddy