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Monthly Archives: February, 2004

Oh my God! Terrorists everywhere!
BOSTON (Reuters) – The chairman of American International Group Inc., the world’s largest insurer by market value, on Tuesday called lawyers opposed to tort reform “terrorists” and said class-action lawsuits are a “blight” on the United States.

AIG Chairman Maurice “Hank” Greenberg’s remarks came a day after U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige sparked an uproar when he called the nation’s largest teachers’ union a “terrorist organization” during a meeting with U.S. governors. The White House said he later apologized.

In remarks to business executives in Boston, Greenberg likened the battle over reforming class-action litigation to the White House’s “war on terror.” AIG insures corporations against multibillion-dollar claims of damages in asbestos lawsuits, for example.

“It’s almost like fighting the war on terrorists,” Greenberg told Boston College’s Chief Executives’ Club. “I call the plaintiff’s bar terrorists.”

And I thought it was only the teachers.

Ray McGovern:

No Skunks Allowed


Not all of the pre-war intelligence on Iraq was wrong. In fact, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) did a pretty good job at figuring out which claims didn’t make the grade. So why were they disinvited from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s worldwide threat assessment briefing (Tuesday, Feb. 24) for the first time since those briefings began? Ray McGovern, co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, points to Committee Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan):

Roberts and his Republican colleagues decided to preclude the possibility that some recalcitrant senator might ask why INR was able to get it right on Iraq when everyone else was wrong.

In other words, the INR might actually say something at the briefing that might embarass the administration.

This is actually pretty astonishing when you think about it. This is an annual briefing, presumably to provide background needed to guide this committee’s work in the coming year. One would think then that the committee would want as thorough a briefing as possible, and that would require the inclusion of the INR. What Chairman Roberts has effectively done then is to place national security concerns second behind protecting the President’s backside.

And this is the party that claims to be tough on defense? Tough on defending Bush’s image perhaps, but the rest of us? We’re only second.

This is dynamite! You MUST see it.

This is 28 minutes of Karen Kwiatkowski laying it all bare. To clip a few words would not do it justice. There would have to be too many. Lots of name-dropping.

Just one clip: “Reality has never been a constraint” to Neoconservatives. “They are not the kind of people that America as a nation are proud of.”

[NOTE: My link above is high bandwidth. If you are on dial-up, you might want this link instead.]

San Francisco Chronicle:

Why can’t they vote?


Disenfranchisement by any name is disenfranchisement:

Few people realize that voting rights are left up to the states — a legacy of the South’s post-Civil War effort to prohibit newly freed slaves from voting.

California’s voting laws, however, are relatively liberal compared to the 14 states that permanently bar ex-felons from voting and the 29 states that prevent criminals from voting while on probation. Only two states — Maine and Vermont — follow the European pattern of allowing all inmates and ex-convicts to vote.

You’re probably thinking this has nothing to do with you. But you would be wrong. It could affect your troubled teenager. As New York defense attorney Andrew Shapiro has noted, “An 18-year-old first-time offender who trades a guilty plea for a nonprison sentence may unwittingly sacrifice forever his right to vote.”

Felony disenfranchisement is an abomination. Racist in its roots, its supporters today, afraid to state that motivation, resort to agruments that border on (“It’s part of the punishment.”) and often cross the line of absurdity (“Well, murderers might vote to legalize murder!”).

  • “It’s part of the punishment.” ~ But isn’t the threat of punishment supposed to be the deterrent? Has anyone ever not committed a crime because they feared losing their right to vote?
  • “Well, murderers might vote to legalize murder!” ~ So what? How can anyone entertain the sillyness that murders will ever have enough votes to elect a pro-murder candidate?

The fact of the matter is that felony convictions rates among blacks are far higher than among whites. And yes, blacks do commit more crimes per capita than whites, but that is because on a per capita basis, they are simply poorer. When race is removed as a factor, income level proves to be a far greater predictor of felony conviction rates. And poor people tend to vote Democratic.

The bottom line on felony disenfranchisement is that it is a tool being used by the Republican Party to lower opposition voting. Let’s call a spade a spade.

[From Black Box Notes.]

E. J. Dionne Jr. is …

Grateful to Greenspan

… but I’m not.
Leave it to Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan to stir the political pot. Theoretically above politics, Greenspan has more influence on the political class than almost any human being, presidents — perhaps — excepted. This week Greenspan did something no Democrat could do: He made Social Security an issue in the 2004 election.

Sure, Social Security needs to be looked at, but is this really a good thing to draw into this election? To my mind, I simply don’t want George Bush anywhere near this issue, and I certainly don’t want him bringing a $100+ million war chest to the issue.

Dionne well places the issues on this: If we are going to keep these outrageous tax cuts, Social Security as we know it is out the door. The problem is that this is not what Greenspan said. Greenspan acted as if the two were separate issues, and the Bush campaign will use its money to promote that quite rediculous spin.

Dionne sees this as a good wedge issue for the Democrats and it well should be. Are we willing to trade the retirements of the poor and middle class for the benefit of the rich? Classic class warfare.

And that’s the problem. Today’s Democratic Party hasn’t figured out how to fight the class warfare fight yet. And if they fight it poorly here, we might as well just carve the tombstone for our social safety net.


... the higher hustlers, in search of easy money ...Chris Floyd:

Why did George W. Bush insist — with such fanatical certainty, despite the well-established, clearly-stated doubts of his own intelligence services — that Saddam Hussein was hoarding a vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction? Why the insistence on this pathological disassociation from reality, which led directly to the death of thousands of innocent people? Why did he tell such lies, such cynical lies, such horrible lies, lies dripping blood, lies breeding more lies like rats on a plague ship?

That’s easy — his family was making money from it.

“The nature of the customer doesn’t matter — king, communist, nazi, sheikh, warlord, poobah — it all comes down to this: Are they open for business?”

Anarchy Illegal?

You could get ten years in prison just for reading this.

I have on my desk right now a copy of the new Rhode Island “homeland security” bill proposed by Governor Carcieri. It’s an 18 page document, and right on the first page, before talking about weapons of mass destruction or poisoning the water system or anything else that a rational person might consider “terrorism”, it says “any person who shall teach or advocate anarchy” will go to prison for ten years.

Let me make this clear. I am an anarchist. I write an anarchist blog. Don’t be fooled by the pop-culture references and the fact that I maybe don’t fit whatever rock-throwing stereotype is the current popular view of anarchism. I am facing ten years in prison for writing if this bill passes, because I am not going to stop being an anarchist just because some dumbass politician wants to tell me what I’m allowed to believe. [more]

. . . via FMH.

So says a “political pit bull” and “a foot soldier” for
Attorney General John Ashcroft     . . . of course
Viet Dinh has been called a “political pit bull” and “a foot soldier” for Attorney General John Ashcroft. But the 36-year-old author of the Patriot Act prefers to be called an “attendant of freedom.”

In May 2001, the professor of law at Georgetown University was tapped by the Justice Department to work for two years as an assistant attorney general, working primarily on judicial nominations for the department. But three months later the World Trade Center towers collapsed, and Dinh was drafted to work on the USA Patriot Act, a bill that would give the government some of its most controversial surveillance powers. The bill, coupled with the government’s subsequent treatment of immigrants and native-born citizens, prompted critics to charge the administration with overthrowing “800 years of democratic tradition.”

Now, Viet Dinh is hardly a dumb man. Obviously from Vietnam, he got his law degree from Harvard, but I think he’s kind of stuck on some sort of Southeast Asian concept of “freedom”, a concept quite different from mine. This one best characterizes Dinh’s denial:

  • To the claim that 5,000 people have been detained using the Patriot Act with only five being actually charged under it and only one conviction, he responds that the number is probably closer to 500. Wonderful. Apparently it is OK to arrest 100 people for each person actually charged. Viet Dinh justifies all of the rest of these as anticipatory fishing expeditions.

Shiite Leader Sistani Threatens Intifada Against U.S.

Iraqi Shiite Leader Seyyid Ali Al-Sistani yesterday warned that he would call for an intifada (uprising) if American soldiers stayed in Iraq after the handover of power on June 30, 2004.


Sostani’s comments come in the wake of Commander of the Coalition Ground Forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez’s statement on Wednesday that American troops might continue their deployment in Iraq for years to come and U.S.-Appointed Administrator to Iraq Paul Bremer’s request yesterday that coalition members to maintain a presence in Iraq until the end of December 2005.

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