Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Secret Identity of Deep Throat is Finally Revealed.

Well, the secret is out. The 30-year mystery identity of who was Deep Throat--the highly placed anonymous source who provided key information to Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward in the Watergate scandal which brought down Richard Nixon's presidency--is now identified as W. Mark Felt.

Who the heck is W. Mark Felt?

According to an article released by Vanity Fair today, Felt was second-in-command at the FBI in the early 70s. As of 5:27pm ET, the Washington Post, Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward and their former top editor Benjamin C. Bradlee have confirmed that Felt was Deep Throat. Deep Throat was responsible for providing guidance and politically explosive information which propelled the two young reporters to unravel the Watergate break-in of the Democratic National committee headquarters and subsequent cover-up by the Nixon White House. As a result of the exposure of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon was forced to resign from the presidency. Felt was called Deep Throat for both the quality of his deep background of information and as a nickname for a popular porn movie star of the 1970s.

This is an incredibly fascinating news story. The rumors and mystery surrounding Deep Throat are so widely varied and somewhat off-the-wall. Deep Throat was rumored to be Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, deputy White House counsel Fred Fielding, former speechwriter Patrick Buchanan, and even ABC newswoman Diane Sawyer who was working in the White House press office. Deep Throat was also considered to be a composite figure of several sources rather than a single source. What is even more amazing is that the identity of Felt as Deep Throat has remained secret for over 30 years--even amid all the speculation and rumors.

This revelation is going to rewrite the history books on the Nixon presidency. What is really interesting is that the source of Deep Throat did not come from the White House, but rather from the FBI. So the big question is why did Felt help Woodward and Bernstein? What was his motives and politics behind this scandal? The Washington Post article alludes to some conflicts between the White House and the FBI, who was investigating the Watergate break-in. The Watergate break-in came shortly after the death of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover was Felt's mentor, and Felt probably had hoped that he would become the next FBI director. Nixon instead appointed a political insider, assistant attorney general L. Patrick Gray, to the post. Was Nixon's appointment of a political insider a means for the White House to deflect the Watergate investigation by the FBI away from Richard Nixon? Was Felt betrayed by Nixon when he wasn't offered the director's job at the FBI? What did Gray and Felt know of the investigation or of the cover-up and when did they know it? What were their responsibilities during the FBI's investigation of Watergate? The entire Watergate scandal has taken a new turn with a fascinating story of the conflicts between the Nixon White House and the FBI. It is a story which has yet to be written.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Bush Pays Tribute to Nation's War Dead

This is from Pete Yost of the Associated Press:

"ARLINGTON, Va. (May 30) - President Bush honored America's ''brave defenders'' Monday in a dual Memorial Day salute to the dead and missing in action from wars of yesteryear and those on the front lines of today's war against terrorism.

''We must honor their sacrifice by defeating the terrorists, advancing the cause of liberty,'' Bush told a large crowd of military leaders, rank-and-file troops and their families gathered under a brilliant sun at the nation's most revered military burial ground.

Standing in front of two large American flags draped over a marbled wall, Bush cited letters from some service members who subsequently died in action in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. ''We resolve that their sacrifice will always be remembered by a grateful nation,'' the president said."

This is a perfect example of a manufactured news event by the White House PR machine to be published by a complacent media. The president goes out, lays a wreath, then gives a speech linking U.S. soldiers killed in previous wars with current soldiers fighting in Iraq. And again, the president and the neoconservative continue to link Iraq with terrorism, saying how the American people must continue to fight and sacrifice their children and untold billions in treasure to a nation currently degenerating into a full-blown civil war. The press and TV cameras will gobble up this staged event without any constructive criticism or analysis. Finally, the American public will continue to remain either sickened or dumb on the serious problems that this war has caused for the country.

This is politics in its most disgusting and degenerative form.

The War in Iraq

I'm not sure where to start this post regarding the war in Iraq. It has been going on for the past four years now, with 1,600 American soldiers dead and 30,000 wounded. Of course, that does not take into account the countless hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead or wounded.

This war has been a failure. Created by a Bush Administration controlled by neoconservatives with their own imperialist ambitions, and marketed to the American public using lies, deceit, and terrorism fears, the Bush White House has dragged this country into a wasteful war which has killed some of our best young citizens and wasted so many countless billions of dollars. We did not need to invade Iraq. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Iraq was not a hotbed of terrorism--it is now after the invasion. Saddam was never a global threat--he may have been a regional threat in the Middle East, but he was also contained by a U.S. military in the region and the no-fly zone. There have been so many lies out of the White House, that the American public seems almost de-sensitized to it. The White House continues to link terrorism to Saddam Hussein while bludgeoning the American public with terrorism fears and warnings. The American media doesn't challenge any of the statements from the Bush Administration, but rather they follow along complaisantly reporting the lies. It is a never-ending story.

Let's face it. We have been suckered into this war by some of the most reprehensible men to occupy the highest positions of government. We are to be blamed for allowing these individuals to take us down this awful path of war and destruction. We elected them into office. We sit complaisantly by as they spoon-feed us with more lies and fearmongered warnings on how terrorists are infiltrating our country. So we give up our government. We give up any sense of social safety when Bush cuts more social services from the budget while still increasing spending for the war. We give up our civil liberties where we can be detained as enemy combatants without due process. We give up our citizenship when we do not demand accountability from our government--when we do not demand that those who were responsible for lying to us are punished for their transgressions, but rather those who have lied to the American people are rewarded with greater power and greater perks.

We no longer deserve to live in a democracy.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

France Rejects European Union's First Constitution

France rejected the European Union's constitution in a referendum, Sunday, creating a potential crisis for the EU as the organization attempts to enlarge the block with East European nations. President Jacques Chirac swiftly conceded defeat after polling groups showed about 55 percent of the voters opposed the EU's first constitution.

This is a big, complicated story in Europe. The European Union is basically a large trading block of nations which have opened their borders to trade, developed a new currency for all member nations--the euro--while the member nations have nullified their own currency, and have tried to integrate their economies into a large free trade zone. It is almost economically akin to the United States of Europe--but without a joint military policy, foreign policy, or a single political government. The EU member countries include France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Great Britain. The EU was first born out of the old European Coal and Steel Community which established an economic treaty between France and Germany, then later expanded to six countries under the European Economic Community. The Maastricht Treaty of 1992 established the euro as a common currency for the EU, and integrated monetary and budgetary policies among the member states. The EU constitution would allow the EU to streamline some of its parliamentary and government procedures, as well as attempt to develop a common defense and foreign policy for the EU as a whole.

So why did France reject the EU? The most likely reason is that France wanted to have a greater say in EU affairs. France has always had a need for both a greater say in political affairs, and to reiterate its independence as a means of security. France originally joined in an economic alliance with Germany with the European Coal and Steel Community as a means to both check the rising economic power of West Germany, and to influence West Germany in policy matters reflecting French interests. In regards to its independence and need for security, France first became one of the original members of NATO until French President Charles De Gaulle took France out of the NATO military command in 1967 and expelled all foreign-controlled troops from the country. You have to wonder if De Gaulle was worried that France would become another occupied country, similar to her occupation under Nazi Germany, but under the benign influence of the U.S. and Great Britain. When the Maastricht Treaty was signed, French leaders probably saw themselves as a counterweight to an expanded Germany who could dominate the European economy. As the EU was expanded to include the East European countries, the French would have realized that their power and influence in EU affairs would be diluted as the new constitution was established. And so France reverts itself back to an independent streak, though not completely out of the EU.

But there's a greater, underlying problem regarding the EU's constitution. There is only so much that a nation-state can give up for integration, before it starts to give up its sovereignty and its right of existence as a nation-state. When the European Union was formed, the member nations had to give up their right to print their own currency for a common European currency known as the euro. The member nations also had to give up some monetary powers in their economies such as setting interest rates, and maintaining low budget deficit and inflation rates. Giving these powers up to a greater political organization means giving up your sovereignty. And since the EU's constitution also alludes to the idea of developing both a common foreign policy and a security policy, the member nations would have to someday give up the greatest power a nation-state has: The power to make war. France is certainly not ready to give that power up.

I'm not sure where the EU's constitution will go from here.

White House "Winnowing" for Rehnquist's Successor

Associated Press Reporter Deb Riechmann wrote that "The White House has laid the groundwork to place more conservatives on the Supreme Court, scrutinizing the backgrounds and legal views of a shrinking list of candidates amid speculation that ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist soon will step down."

This compromise has stood for no more than a week, and already it is being destroyed. There is a good chance that Rehnquist will leave at the end of June, when the current court session concludes. "The vacancy could come anytime after this Memorial Day weekend, we think, said Sean reaction, director of the conservative Committee for Justice. Conservative and liberal groups are already gearing up for a fight. And of course, the Bush White House is drawing up a list of nominees to fill any open slots on the court.

Bush will choose a hard-lined conservative. It is no secret that he wants to tilt the court from its moderate stance to a far more conservative stance. It is also no surprise that Bush will select such hard-lined conservatives as a means of appeasing and paying back the Christian evangelists that have taken control of the Republican Party leadership. For thirty years, the Christian fundamentalists have wanted to reverse the court's decision on abortion. They've wanted to reinstate school prayer, outlaw gay marriages, and effectively destroy the separation of church and state. Bush is happy to oblige them. It is also no secret that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will also oblige the Christian fundamentalists. Frist wants to succeed to the presidency after Bush steps down in 2008. And in order for Frist to do so, he is going to have to placate the Religious Right. If Rehnquist steps down, Bush will elevate Antonin Scalia as Chief Justice. I think Clarence Thomas will be a little too controversial, considering the allegations of sexual harassment and Anita Hill will probably resurface in the confirmation hearings. Then again, Thomas could become the first black Chief Justice on the Supreme Court, allowing Bush a political victory which the Republicans can use to court the black vote in 2008. Bush would then nominate a hard-lined conservative. The Democrats would filibuster the nomination, and Bill Frist would pull the nuclear option out again to stop the filibuster.

This time, there will be no compromise. There is no way that the seven Republicans and seven Democrats can find a common ground for a Supreme Court nominee. Bush will certainly not accept a centrist judge--the religious Right would condemn him and Frist for tactually accepting this compromise. The Religious Right condemned Frist for allowing the compromise to go through for the appellate judges. They are not going to allow this for a Supreme Court judge--not if Frist wants to court their votes for 2008. And Bush has never given in to compromise on selecting federal judges--even when Senate Democrats have been able to block his selections. Bush just keeps renominating them to the court. While Bush may be hoping that the Senate would be a rubber stamp for his selections, it will not happen in this case--the stakes are way too high. Selecting a hard-lined conservative to the Supreme Court could ignite a firestorm in this country--something we've probably haven't seen since the late 60s or early 70s. The Democrats have nothing to lose here. If the Republicans and Bush try to force a hard-lined nominee down the Senate's throat, the Democrats can claim the Republicans are abusing their power in the government. The Democrats can accuse the Republicans of 'packing the Supreme Court,' while holding the line until the 2006 elections. The Republicans could try to claim that the Democrats are being obstructionist, however, that charge is diluted since the Republicans control both the Congress and the Presidency. The filibuster will take place. And the government will effectively shut down as both sides throw insults and mud at each other, forcing the political parties and the government to even lower levels of spite, insults, hatred, and rancor.

Oh, if you thought the 2004 elections were bad, just wait until 2006.

NASCAR Driver Says Female Phenom Has Unfair Edge

In this AOL news story, Nascar driver Robby Gordon accused Danica Patrick of having an unfair advantage in the Indianapolis 500 due to her small stature and weight. Gordon says that he will not compete in the race again unless the field has been equalized. Gordon says that because Patrick weighs only 100 pounds, she has an advantage in the race due to "the lighter the car, the faster it goes." Patrick is one of the fastest rookie drivers in the qualifying trials. A bobble on the first lap of her qualifying effort kept her from winning the pole, however she will start from the fourth position. This is the best starting position for a woman at Indy. The Indy Racing League estimates that Patrick will gain an advantage of close to 1 mile per hour in speed because of her weight. The Indy Racing League does not consider the weight of the driver in its race specifications, saying the car has to weigh at least 1,525 pounds before fuel and driver are added.

Gordon, that has got to be one of the most sexist and chauvinistic remarks that any sports figure have said. To claim that Patrick has gotten to where she is because of her weight, and not because of her driving skill and aggressiveness is outrageous. It is the most egregious example of reverse discrimination against a woman by a white man. Here is a woman with beauty, brains, and some serious aggressive toughness to have a serious chance of winning the Indy 500--a woman who can beat you due to her skill as a driver--and you don't like it. It is not about her skill as a driver, but it is about her weight. We can't have a woman beat a man in one of the world's most famous auto races. Oh, there have been women racing at Indy, but they've never come this close to taking the title--Janet Guthrie came the closest by finishing ninth in 1978. But no one has burst upon the Indy field as Danica Patrick.

So Gordon, if you want to stay out of the race because of your chauvinistic attitude, then stay out. You don't deserve to race in the Indy 500. I'll certainly be watching the Indy 500 and rooting for Danica Patrick to win.

Danica Patrick almost won the Indy 500. She was able to get into first place with 28 laps to go, but then Dan Wheldon passed her with seven laps to go to win the 500. She finished in fourth place. Either way, she proved that a woman could win the race. Let's hope she comes back to the Brickyard next year to win.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Myers Praises West Point 'Sept 11' Grads

In an Associated Press news article, General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the West Point graduating Class of 2005 "one of the few since the early days of the Vietnam War who came to West Point in peace time, saw the nation transition to war and chose to stay, knowing you would raise your right hand and take an oath and swear to defend the constitution of a nation that was still at war."

The Class of 2005 had started their studies just weeks before the September 11 terrorist attacks and for the past four years have been drilling and studying under what West Point Superintendent Lt. General William Lennox called "the shadow of war." About 7 in 10 of the new second lieutenants who have graduated are expected to be in Iraq or Afghanistan within the year.

In some ways, Myers is right. This graduating class--nicknamed the "Class of 9-11,' and whose number of graduates are at 911--have certainly started their studies before the terrorist attacks and have graduated during a time when the U.S. military is fighting an insurgency in Iraq. And yes, this class does somewhat mirror to that of the previous West Point classes graduating during the early days of Vietnam. But I would have to ask Myers if this is the right analogy to give to those young soldiers who are about to fight and die for their country in a wasteful war. You can not fight in a war, in a distant country, where the population of that country views you as an occupying force. Vietnam was a civil war between a communist North Vietnam and a corrupted authoritarian government of South Vietnam. America was suckered into the war by the Johnson Administration determined to fight against communism with a flawed containment policy emphasizing a domino theory. Iraq was an authoritarian dictatorship under Saddam Hussein, which had successfully suppressed ethnic and religious tensions between Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. After the American invasion of Iraq and subsequent overthrow of Saddam's regime, the suppression of those tensions have been released where Iraq is cascading into a full-blown civil war against both the American occupiers and between the three ethnic groups. The American public was suckered into this war by a Bush Administration determined to take over Iraq using a flawed policy of American imperialism as developed by the P.N.A.C doctrine, marketed and sold to the American public under the guise of fears of Iraqi terrorism and development of nuclear weapons for Saddam.

As the Vietnam War continued on, both the average American soldier, and the public slowly realized that this war was a lost cause. American troops were going through a meat grinder there. How long will it be, before the American troops in Iraq, and the American public realize that this war is also a lost cause? That American troops are also going through a meat grinder in Iraq? Perhaps Myers should have also mentioned the negative similarities between Vietnam and Iraq so that these kids would realize when it is right to fight a war, and when it is not. Unfortunately, these young soldiers will have to learn these lessons the hard way.

They--like their brother's before them in Vietnam--will have to go through the meat grinder.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Poll Shows Americans More Likely to Vote for Clinton

I found this article on the AOL website, which is from USA Today. The title is Majority Say They'd Be Likely to Vote for Clinton. Here is the link:


It is a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll where a majority of Americans say they are more likely to vote for New York Senator Hillary Clinton if she were to run for president in 2008. In the poll, 29% were "very likely" to vote for Clinton for president, 24% were "somewhat likely," while seven percent were "not very likely," and 39% were "not at all likely" to vote for her.

This is an interesting situation for the Democrats. Hillary Clinton is the strongest front-runner in the field with the greatest name recognition--not only on the Democratic side, but also the Republican side as well. This name recognition is a powerful asset for her if she chooses to run. It is also a powerful rallying cry for opposition groups and hard-lined conservatives. But as the Clinton years fade into the past, people will either start to forget some of the issues of the Clinton Presidency, or they will remember them with some fondness. The USA Today story certainly notes this.

If there is to ever be a woman president for this country, then Hillary Clinton is certainly the best chance for it. She has the name recognition. She has the experience--not only as the former first lady, but also as the senator from New York. She has the education as a lawyer. And she's still young enough to make a difference in the race. If Clinton runs, she will completely energize the Democratic Party--a qualified woman running for president. The Democratic Party has been in a complete shambles since Bill Clinton had finished his term in office. The party has not proposed any bold, sweeping ideas or vision of where to lead the country. The last two presidential candidates of Gore and Kerry have been dull and uninspiring--not the kind of people you would want to go up against Karl Rove's political machine. The 2008 race is now wide open. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist--who's possibly Karl Rove's new apprentice for the post-Bush White House--is currently aligning himself with the Religious Right on the issue of judicial selection. The Republican Party itself has tilted further to the right as a result of the intense lobbying by the religious conservatives. This is alienating the moderate and independent elements of the Republican Party. Could Hillary Clinton steal away those votes from the Republican Party in 2008? It could be a possibility if there is continued rancor in Congress where Republicans try to push their own agenda on the Democrats without any real bipartisan compromise. And if a Supreme Court position opens up in the next three years, it could really turn ugly in the political arena.

It will be fun to watch and see.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Judicial Filibusters

Judicial filibusters. Talk about another monster of a political issue. A judicial filibuster is a parliamentary procedure where the minority party will endlessly debate the qualifications of a judicial nominee within the Senate. In order to end a judicial filibuster, you will need 60 votes rather than a simple majority vote. In the simplest political sense, a judicial filibuster is a parliamentary procedure used by the minority party to block or oppose judicial nominees that a majority party will try to push through the Senate.

But today, we are not in the simplest terms for this filibuster.

The issue surrounding the judicial filibuster of the federal judiciary has become a high stakes poker game between the Republicans in the Senate and White House, and the Democrats in the Senate. And the prize is none other than stacking the Supreme Court with activist judges to legislate their particular political ideology. This is especially true for the Republicans rather than the Democrats, since the Republicans have gained control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency.

Stacking the court with activist judges to legislate from the bench. If you listened to the Republican Party over the last couple of weeks, they’ve attempted to tar the Democrats with this charge of judges forcing legislation reflecting elitist liberal views. Unfortunately the Republicans are also to blame for placing their own activist judges on the bench. The only difference is what type of ideology is either party trying to legislate. If the Republicans are able to push through their own hard-line conservative judges, then those judges would more than likely overturn some of the individual rights and freedoms that have been granted by the Supreme Court over the years. You could certainly kiss Roe verses Wade goodbye if the Republicans can put two hard line conservatives on the Supreme Court. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and President Bush are both under intense pressure by the hard-line Religious Right and the Christian evangelists to certainly stack the Supreme Court for the purpose of overturning abortion—the Religious Right have been pushing this goal for the last 30 years, and now with control of Congress, the Presidency, and an aging Supreme Court, they can almost taste it. It is all about control of all three branches of the government by hard-lined conservatives. That’s what it is all about. As an opposition party, the Democrats don’t have much of anything left to oppose this Republican takeover of the government. The judicial filibuster is one of those weapons the Democrats can wield.

But the Republicans don’t want the Democrats to use the filibuster. So for the past couple of months, Frist has been talking about doing away with the judicial filibuster on appellate court nominees so the Democrats would not be able to use it on a Supreme Court nominee. The Democrats under Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid have responded by claiming they would oppose all legislation in Congress—the so-called ‘nuclear option.’ Frist started the countdown this week by opening the debate on judicial nominee Priscilla Owen. However, on Tuesday, moderate Senators from both the Republican and Democratic side were able to fashion a compromise, where the Senate would confirm a majority of Bush’s nominees, while the Democrats could still use the judicial filibuster under extraordinary circumstances.
This is still a hollow compromise. Chief Justice William Rehnquist is battling cancer and may step down from the Court. Rehnquist is 80 years old. This opens the door to one court nominee and there are three others over the age of 65; Sandra Day O’Conner is 74, John Paul Stevens is 84, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 71. All three are also battling cancer. Even more important is that Stevens and Ginsburg represent a moderate-to-liberal wing of the Court, while O’Conner represents a moderate wing. A replacement of any one of these three justices with a hard-lined conservative would tilt the Court further right from its moderate stance. The Religious Right and evangelists are salivating over the replacement of any of these justices. And when an opening on the Court does occur, the Religious Right will lobby hard for a conservative justice who would overturn abortion. Both President Bush and Bill Frist would be very receptive to this lobbying group—Bush for his personal views and his presidential legacy, while Frist would be receptive as a way for the evangelists to support him for his 2008 presidential run. The Democrats under Harry Reid would not want to see abortion overturned, so they would use the judicial filibuster against any hard-lined conservative Supreme Court nominee selected by Bush. Frist would claim that these justices would deserve an up-or-down vote in the Senate of which the nominee would certainly be approved (Considering the Republicans control the Senate 55-44 with one independent). Frist would threaten to rewrite the parliamentary rules on filibusters to take out judicial filibustering. Reid would oppose all legislation moving through the Senate, effectively shutting down the Senate’s business. We would have another nuclear option.

With regards to my own opinion, I want the filibuster to occur when a Supreme Court nominee opens up. I will admit, I was a little concerned over the nuclear option during the last couple of weeks since I do not want the Republicans to pack the federal courts with hard-lined conservatives. I do not want abortion to be overturned, or to have the Religious Right legislate this country based on their moral viewpoints. I want a moderate federal and Supreme Court to tackle these tough issues, which have far reaching political and social repercussions. So in a way, I did want the Democrats to filibuster the federal judges. I knew this battle was about the Supreme Court. What I don’t think I realized is that the American public was ignorant of the views that this filibuster was about the fight for the Supreme Court. So perhaps this compromise was a blessing in disguise. Once the Supreme Court battle opens up with the filibuster and nuclear option surfacing, the American public would certainly be watching this battle with a greater interest. If Frist pushes for the elimination of the judicial filibuster, the American public could see this as a Republican abuse of power and possibly under the influence of the evangelists. This could cause problems in the 2006-midterm elections, and possibly derail Frist’s presidential ambitions by alienating moderates and independents. As for the Democrats, they don’t have anything to lose. They are the minority party in a Republican-controlled government. If the Republicans label Democrats as being obstructionists, the Democrats can label Republicans as being abusive with their power. Also with the Supreme Court fight, the Democrats can continue to reiterate that this is all about control of the Supreme Court and the fight by the Religious Right to overturn abortion. This battle is not over.

It has just begun.

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