Saturday, January 13, 2007

If this Guy Looks Scared....

We really must have something to be scared of....


So the Question is If a Mature Democracy has Such Inept Leadership, Really, What Hope is there for Iraq?

In all seriousness, this is f*cking pathetic, and inexcusable. Leaders who make you proud -- if, literally, you're a turd. Wasn't anything necessary to an informed decision known now that wasn't known then. These guys are absolute embarrassments, walking crimes against humanity, surpassed only by the current administration.
Iraq Vote: What the Senators Said
28 of 77 Told ABC News They Would Vote Differently

Jan. 5, 2007 — - Of the 77 Senators who voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq in October 2002:

28 indicated they would vote differently knowing then what they know now:

1. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
2. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.
3. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.
4. Former Sen. John Breaux, D-La.
5. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
6. Former Sen. Jean Carnahan, D-Mo.
7. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.
8. Former Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga.
9. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
10. Former Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.
11. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.
12. Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.
13. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
14. Former Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill.
15. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa
16. Former Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-S.C.
17. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas
18. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
19. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis.
20. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
21. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
22. Former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo.
23. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
24. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
25. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore.
26. Former Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H.
27. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine
28. Former Sen. Bob Torricelli, D-N.J.

5 said the intelligence in retrospect was so wrong the matter would never even have been voted on:
1. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
2. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine
3. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa
4. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.
5. Former Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio

1 said the intelligence in retrospect was so wrong Congress never would have passed it:

1. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

15 stood by their vote:

1. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo.
2. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.
3. Sen. Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn.
4. Former Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.
5. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah
6. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
7. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.
8. Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind.
9. Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo.
10. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.
11. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
12. former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.
13. former Sen. George Allen, R-Va.
14. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho
15. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho

9 refused to answer the hypothetical question:

1. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.
2. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio
3. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.
4. Sen. John Warner, R-Va.
5. Sen. Dick Shelby, R-Ala.
6. former Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark.
7. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.
8. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Ala.
9. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

16 refused to respond despite repeated requests:

1. Sen Wayne Allard, R-Colo.
2. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah
3. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky.
4. Former Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont.
5. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.
6. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.
7. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.
8. Former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas
9. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H.
10. Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz.
11. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss.
12. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
13. Former Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga.
14. Former Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Ala.
15. Former Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla.
16. Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.

3 could not answer:

1. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., Died
2. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., Sick
3. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Sick


Olbermann on Our Leader's Great Plan Forward

Only this President, only in this time, only with this dangerous, even Messianic certitude, could answer a country demanding an exit strategy from Iraq, by offering an entrance strategy for Iran.

Only this President, could look out over a vista of 3,008 dead and 22,834 wounded in Iraq, and finally say "where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me" — only to follow that, by proposing to repeat the identical mistake in Iran.

Only this President could extol the "thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group," and then take its most far-sighted recommendation — "engage Syria and Iran" - and transform it into "threaten Syria and Iran" — when Al-Qaeda would like nothing better than for us to threaten Syria, and when President Ahmmadinejad would like nothing better than to be threatened by us.

This is diplomacy by skimming; it is internationalism by drawing pictures of Superman in the margins of the text books; it is a presidency of Cliff Notes.

And to Iran and Syria — and, yes, also to the insurgents in Iraq — we must look like a country, run by the equivalent of the drunken pest, who gets battered to the floor of the saloon by one punch, then staggers to his feet, and shouts at the other guy's friends, "ok, which one of you is next?"

Mr. Bush, the question is no longer "what are you thinking?," but rather "are you thinking at all?"

"I have made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended," you said last night.

And yet — without any authorization from the public who spoke so loudly and clearly to you in November's elections; without any consultation with a Congress (in which key members of your own party like Senator Brownback and Senator Coleman and Senator Hagel are fleeing for higher ground); without any awareness that you are doing exactly the opposite of what Baker-Hamilton urged you to do, you seem to be ready to make an open-ended commitment (on America's behalf) to do whatever you want, in Iran.

Our military, Mr. Bush, is already stretched so thin by this bogus adventure in Iraq, that even a majority of serving personnel are willing to tell pollsters that they are dissatisfied with your prosecution of the war.

It is so weary, that many of the troops you have just consigned to Iraq, will be on their second tours, or their third tours, or their fourth tours — and now you're going to make them take on Iran and Syria as well?

Who is left to go and fight, sir?

Who are you going to send to "interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria"? Laura and Barney?

The line is from the movie "Chinatown" and I quote it often. "Middle of a drought," the mortician chuckles, "and the water commissioner drowns. Only in L.A.!"

'Middle of a debate over the lives and deaths of another 21,500 of our citizens in Iraq… and the President wants to saddle up against Iran and Syria.'

Maybe that's the point: to shift the attention away from just how absurd and childish, is this latest war strategy (strategy, that is, for the war already under way, and not the one, on deck).

We are to put 17,500 more troops into Baghdad and 4,000 more into Anbar Province to give the Iraqi government "breathing space."

In and of itself, that is an awful and insulting term.

The lives of 21,500 more Americans endangered, to give "breathing space" to a government that just turned the first and perhaps the most sober act of any Democracy — the capitol punishment of an ousted dictator — into a vengeance lynching so barbaric, and so lacking in the solemnities necessary for credible authority, that it might have offended the Ku Klux Klan of the 19th Century.

And what will our men and women in Iraq do?

The ones who will truly live — and die — during what Mr. Bush said last night will be a "year ahead" which "will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve"?

They will try to seal up Sadr City and other parts of Baghdad, in which the civil war is worst.

Mr. Bush did not mention that while our people are trying to do that, the factions in the civil war will no longer have to focus on killing each other but rather, they can focus anew on killing our people.

Because last night the President foolishly all but announced that we will be sending these 21,500 poor souls over — but, no more after that — and if the whole thing fizzles out, we're going home.

The plan fails militarily.

The plan fails symbolically.

The plan fails politically.

Most importantly, perhaps, Mr. Bush, the plan fails because it still depends on your credibility.

You speak of mistakes, and of the responsibility "resting" with you. But you do not admit to making those mistakes.

And you offer us nothing to justify this clenched fist towards Iran and Syria.

In fact, when you briefed news correspondents off-the-record before the speech, they were told, once again, "if you knew what we knew… if you saw what we saw…"

"If you knew what we knew," was how we got into this morass in Iraq, in the first place.

The problem arose, when it turned out that the question wasn't whether or not we knew what you knew but whether you knew what you knew.

You, sir, have become the President who cried wolf.

All that you say about Iraq now, could be gospel. All that you say about Iran and Syria now, could be prescient and essential.

We no longer have a clue, sir. We have heard too many stories.

Many of us are as inclined to believe you just shuffled the Director of National Intelligence over to the State Department, because he thought you were wrong about Iran.

Many of us are as inclined to believe you just put a pilot in charge of ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because he would be truly useful in an air war next door in Iran.

Your assurances, sir, and your demands that we trust you, have lost all shape and texture.

They are now merely fertilizer for conspiracy theories.

They are now fertilizer indeed.

The pile has been built slowly and with seeming care.

I read this list last night, before the President's speech, and it bears repetition, because its shape and texture are perceptible only in such a context.

Before Mr. Bush was elected, he said nation-building was wrong for America. Now he says it is vital.

He said he would never put U.S. troops under foreign control. Last night he promised to embed them, in Iraqi units.

He told us about WMD. Mobile labs. Secret sources. Aluminum tubes. Yellow-cake.

He has told us the war is necessary because Saddam was a material threat. Because of 9/11. Because of Osama Bin Laden. Al-Qaeda. Terrorism in General. To liberate Iraq. To spread freedom. To spread Democracy. To prevent terrorism by gas price increases. Because this was a guy who tried to kill his Dad.

Because 439 words in to the speech last night, he trotted out 9/11 again.

In advocating and prosecuting this war he passed on a chance to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. To get Muqtada Al-Sadr.
To get Bin Laden.

He sent in fewer troops than the Generals told him to.

He ordered the Iraqi army disbanded and the Iraqi government "De-Baathified."

He short-changed Iraqi training. He neglected to plan for widespread looting. He did not anticipate sectarian violence.

He sent in troops without life-saving equipment. Gave jobs to foreign contractors, and not Iraqis. He staffed U.S. positions there, based on partisanship, not professionalism.

He and his government told us "America had prevailed", "Mission Accomplished", the resistance was in its "last throes".

He has insisted more troops were not necessary. He has now insisted more troops are necessary.

He has insisted it's up to the generals, and then removed some of the generals who said more troops would not be necessary.

He has trumpeted the turning points: The fall of Baghdad; the death of Uday and Qusay; the capture of Saddam; A provisional government; a charter; a constitution; the trial of Saddam; elections; purple fingers; another government; the death of Saddam.

He has assured us: we would be greeted as liberators with flowers; as they stood up, we would stand down. We would stay the course; we were never about "stay the course." We would never have to go door-to-door in Baghdad. And last night, that to gain Iraqis' trust, we would go door-to-door in Baghdad.

He told us the enemy was Al-Qaeda, foreign fighters, terrorists, Baathists, and now Iran and Syria.

The war would pay for itself. It would cost 1.7 billion dollars. 100 billion. 400 billion. Half a trillion. Last night's speech alone cost another six billion.

And after all of that, now it is his credibility versus that of generals, diplomats, allies, Democrats, Republicans, the Iraq Study Group, past presidents, voters last November, and the majority of the American people.

Oh, and one more to add, tonight: Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

Mr. Bush, this is madness.

You have lost the military.

You have lost the Congress to the Democrats.

You have lost most of the Iraqis.

You have lost many of the Republicans.

You have lost our Allies.

You are losing the credibility, not just of your Presidency, but more importantly of the office itself.

And most imperatively, you are guaranteeing that more American troops will be losing their lives, and more families their loved ones. You are guaranteeing it!

This becomes your legacy, sir: How many of those you addressed last night as your "fellow citizens" you just sent to their deaths?

And for what, Mr. Bush?

So the next President has to pull the survivors out of Iraq instead of you?

True Leadership from Our Leaders

But in what direction? When you're lost, you don't stop to figure out where you are and how to get back to where you should be? Four years in and Our Leaders are still figuring out where they should be going? Of course, when you start with a really, really stupid, pointless idea, it's tough to correct....
Joe Lieberman said today that people who oppose the president's escalation of the war in Iraq "have an obligation to offer a plan that moves toward the goal of maximizing the chances of success in Iraq." It's a standard line of argument now for pro-escalation politicians like Lieberman and John McCain. But what the escalationists don't acknowledge is that the opponents of the president's plan have already done what they're asking of them.

True, some who have called for an immediate or a phased withdrawal from Iraq have done so based on a fatalistic -- but not necessarily faulty -- view that Iraq is going to hell no matter what happens, and that there's no reason for any more American troops to die in the process. But most escalation opponents in Congress have argued that drawing down American troops isn't just a matter of giving up on Iraq; rather, they say, it is the best way to "maximize the chance for success" there.

As Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi argued in their letter to Bush last week, a phased withdrawal would "make the Iraqi political leadership aware that our commitment is not open ended, that we cannot resolve their sectarian problems, and that only they can find the political resolution required to stabilize Iraq." Sending more troops, they said, would do exactly the opposite: It would "undermine our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future."

It's not exactly a new argument. It's the same one George W. Bush used to make for not sending more troops to Iraq. ("Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight.") And it's the same one Gen. John Abizaid gave the Senate back in November when McCain asked about sending more troops to Iraq. ("We want the Iraqis to do more. It's easy for the Iraqis to rely upon to us do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future.")
Link (emphasis added).

Friday, January 12, 2007

Presidential Portraits -- Respect for Our Leader!

Idiocy from Future Leaders Rudy and Newt

Iraqis need to establish a civil society. Without the support of mediating civic and social associations -- the informal ties that bind us together -- no government can long remain stable and no cohesive nation can be maintained. To establish a civil society, Iraqis must rebuild their basic infrastructure. Iraqis must take control of their destiny by rebuilding houses, stores, schools, roads, highways, mosques and churches.

But the constant threat of violence, combined with a high unemployment rate estimated between 30% and 50%, fundamentally undermines that effort. This not only sustains the fertile breeding ground for terrorist recruiters but has the same corrosive effect as it would in any city -- raising the likelihood of further violence, civic decay and a crippling sense of powerlessness.

A massive effort must be made to engage in a well organized plan to rebuild Iraq. The goal: an infrastructure to support and encourage a strong, stable civil society.

The week before Christmas, the Pentagon asked Congress to approve a supplemental $100 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, on top of the estimated $500 billion spent to date. The administration should direct a small percent of that amount to create an Iraqi Citizen Job Corps, along the lines of FDR's civilian conservation corps during the Great Depression. The Job Corps can operate under the supervision of our military and with its protection. The Army Corps of Engineers might be particularly helpful in directing this effort. It will place our military in a constructive relationship with the Iraqis -- both literally and figuratively.

Today, Iraq has almost 200 state-owned factories that have been abandoned by the governing authorities since the outbreak of war in 2003. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Paul A. Brinkley has led a team to 26 of those facilities, traveling far beyond the Green Zone to idled plants from Fallujah to Ramadi. Mr. Brinkley believes that under Department of Defense leadership, at least 10 of these facilities could be re-opened almost immediately, putting more than 10,000 Iraqis to work within weeks. This should be done without delay -- and it is only the beginning.

The wages that these thousands of gainfully employed workers receive will be used to purchase goods and services that will employ other Iraqis. Those goods and services must be produced by still other Iraqis. These are the first steps in creating the requisite conditions of a stable functioning economy and the best hope of displacing retribution and violence with hope and opportunity.

We must try to achieve constructive and compassionate goals through conservative means -- jump starting civic improvement and the individual work ethic in Iraq, without creating permanent subsidies. The goal is to get more Iraqis working, especially young males, who are most susceptible to the terrorist and warlord recruiters.

There are many lessons from the successful welfare reforms in New York City that can be readily applied in Iraq. In the early 1990s, New York City suffered an average of 2,000 murders a year while more than 1.1 million people -- one out of every seven New Yorkers -- were unemployed and on welfare. Too many neighborhoods were pervaded by a sense of hopelessness that came from a combination of high crime, high unemployment and despair. "Workfare" proved an excellent method to change this destructive decades-long paradigm. It required able-bodied welfare recipients to work 20 hours a week in exchange for their benefits. In the process, we reasserted the value of the social contract, which says that for every right there is a responsibility, for every benefit an obligation.

As many as 37,000 people participated at a single time, working in the neighborhoods that most needed their help, cleaning up streets with the Sanitation Department, removing graffiti from schools and government buildings, or helping to beautify public spaces in the Parks Department.

More than 250,000 individuals went through our Workfare program between 1994 and 2001, and their effort helped to visibly improve the quality of life in New York City. Many of them moved on to permanent employment. This change from welfare to work did as much as the New York Police Department Compstat program to keep reducing crime. A similar model can work in Iraq.

There is an opportunity not only to increase employment by rebuilding roads, houses, schools and government buildings, but also to engage the Iraqi people to participate in laying the foundation for a civil and prosperous society.

The population of Iraq is roughly 30 million with a pre-war median annual income equivalent to $700. Subsidizing unemployed Iraqis with a meaningful wage in exchange for meaningful work rebuilding their society is well within the means of the U.S. and its allies.

The entire effort will help stabilize and grow the Iraqi economy. It should be open to all willing Iraqis -- Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds -- as a means of helping to create a common culture through shared participation in work projects to rebuild and take ownership of their nation.

One word of caution: The program should be overseen by the U.S. military, not private contractors, to avoid unnecessary delays in deployment or accusations of cronyism in the bidding process. Our military will still be devoted to its primary role of hunting down terrorists and patrolling the streets, but administering a jobs program would be a direct extension of their effort to secure law and order. After the program has been started and becomes successful, it can be transferred to a civilian authority within the Iraqi government.

Of course, the environment in NYC was identical to Baghdad at present. And NYC had a destroyed bureaucracy just like Iraq, as Rudy Knows, there was absolutely no competents in the NYC bureaucracy just like in Baghdad now. And the military is full of people qualified to execute these boys' plans.

No, what this article proves is that Rudy and Newt are as full of shit as any neo-con or anyone else now leading the nation.

Obey Our Leader!


Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Leaders of Tomorrow Lead

800,000 Privileged Youths Enlist To Fight In Iraq
January 10, 2007 | Issue 43•02

WASHINGTON, DC—Citing a desire to finally make a difference in Iraq, in the past two weeks, more than 800,000 young people from upper-middle- and upper-class families have put aside their education, careers, and physical well-being to enlist in the military, new data from the Department Of Defense shows.

Young Manhattanites line up outside the Times Square recruitment office.

"I don't know if it was the safety and comfort of the holidays or what, but I realized that my affluence and ease of living comes at a cost," said Private Jonathan Grace, 18, who was to commence studies at Dartmouth College next fall, but will instead attend 12 weeks of basic training before being deployed to Fallujah with the 1st Army Battalion. "I just looked at my parents in their cashmere sweaters and thought, 'Who am I to go to an elite liberal arts college and spend all my time reading while, in the real world, thousands of kids my age are sacrificing their lives for our country?' It's not right."

Added Grace: "Whether I agree with the war or not, our president needs us, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let our least advantaged citizens bear the brunt of this awesome burden."

At the on-campus temporary recruitment table at Reed College in Portland, OR, the line of students eager to sign up for active duty stretched around the block Monday. Recruiters across the country reported a similar trend, with scores of young people asking how soon they could be ready to go to battle in Iraq.

"They don't have these recruitment centers where I live," said Daniel Feldman, 26, who resides in the affluent neighborhood of Brookline, MA and recently passed his bar exam. "I didn't realize you could just sign up, but now that I do, all of my friends from law school, yoga class, and temple are going to join, too. And not the Reserves either. We're talking down and dirty, right on the front lines."

Drill sergeants at boot camps in South Carolina and San Diego, though at first skeptical of the recent crop of potential Marines, said they have been impressed by their work ethic, claiming the wealthy youngsters' desire to "do their part" is undeniable.

"They haven't complained once since getting here," Sergeant Greg Forenczek said of the new upper-crust recruits. "Usually, after the first two hours, you know who's going to get dismissed early, but not with these kids. There's a fire in their eyes—a fearless passion to become U.S. soldiers"

"They inspire me," Forenczek added.

New Marine Sierra Pettingill, a 22-year-old sociology major who left Duke University before her final semester, said she felt compelled to serve after realizing she did not have a single acquaintance who had died, or even served, in Iraq.

"I was sending out invitations to my champagne-brunch birthday get-together when I heard that U.S. military casualties in Iraq had reached 2,900," Pettingill said. "I decided then and there that I would not allow this inherently unequal system to perpetuate any longer, no matter how much I want to go have martini night at the Oak Room."

Though most of the privileged enlistee youths said they were motivated by a newfound concern that America's reputation could be permanently damaged with a loss in Iraq, others have cited the examples set by their relatives as instrumental in their decision to join.

"My great-great-great-great grandfather would not have been able to make a fortune in the fur trade and real-estate business had it not been for the brave people who fought in the Revolutionary War," said 24-year-old John Jacob Astor VIII, who has put all of his business ventures on hold indefinitely. "My children are going to know the importance of stepping up to the plate when their nation needs them."

"From this day forth, the Astor name will be synonymous with sacrifice," he added.

U.S. Gen. John Abizaid, who has in the past argued against a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, now says that with the influx of nearly a million troops expected to be on the ground Feb. 1, the region should be stabilized within six weeks.
Oh, damn, this is from The Onion. One can dream....

An Open Letter from Michael Moore to Our Leader Urging Him to Lead as He has been Doing

Dear Mr. President: Send Even MORE Troops (and you go, too!) ...from Michael Moore


Dear Mr. President,

Thanks for your address to the nation. It's good to know you still want to talk to us after how we behaved in November.

Listen, can I be frank? Sending in 20,000 more troops just ain't gonna do the job. That will only bring the troop level back up to what it was last year. And we were losing the war last year! We've already had over a million troops serve some time in Iraq since 2003. Another few thousand is simply not enough to find those weapons of mass destruction! Er, I mean... bringing those responsible for 9/11 to justice! Um, scratch that. Try this -- BRING DEMOCRACY TO THE MIDDLE EAST! YES!!!

You've got to show some courage, dude! You've got to win this one! C'mon, you got Saddam! You hung 'im high! I loved watching the video of that -- just like the old wild west! The bad guy wore black! The hangmen were as crazy as the hangee! Lynch mobs rule!!!

Look, I have to admit I feel very sorry for the predicament you're in. As Ricky Bobby said, "If you're not first, you're last." And you being humiliated in front of the whole world does NONE of us Americans any good.

Sir, listen to me. You have to send in MILLIONS of troops to Iraq, not thousands! The only way to lick this thing now is to flood Iraq with millions of us! I know that you're out of combat-ready soldiers -- so you have to look elsewhere! The only way you are going to beat a nation of 27 million -- Iraq -- is to send in at least 28 million! Here's how it would work:

The first 27 million Americans go in and kill one Iraqi each. That will quickly take care of any insurgency. The other one million of us will stay and rebuild the country. Simple.

Now, I know you're saying, where will I find 28 million Americans to go to Iraq? Here are some suggestions:

1. More than 62,000,000 Americans voted for you in the last election (the one that took place a year and half into a war we already knew we were losing). I am confident that at least a third of them would want to put their body where there vote was and sign up to volunteer. I know many of these people and, while we may disagree politically, I know that they don't believe someone else should have to go and fight their fight for them -- while they hide here in America.

2. Start a "Kill an Iraqi" Meet-Up group in cities across the country. I know this idea is so early-21st century, but I once went to a Lou Dobbs Meet-Up and, I swear, some of the best ideas happen after the third mojito. I'm sure you'll get another five million or so enlistees from this effort.

3. Send over all members of the mainstream media. After all, they were your collaborators in bringing us this war -- and many of them are already trained from having been "embedded!" If that doesn't bring the total to 28 million, then draft all viewers of the FOX News channel.

Mr. Bush, do not give up! Now is not the time to pull your punch! Don't be a weenie by sending in a few over-tired troops. Get your people behind you and YOU lead them in like a true commander in chief! Leave no conservative behind! Full speed ahead!

We promise to write. Go get 'em W!


Michael Moore

Gift for W


Hero of the Day: Blast-from-the-Past Ollie North

How Ollie North Helped Ortega Win

By Robert Parry
January 11, 2007

As Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega takes over as Nicaragua’s new president, some U.S. diplomats are privately blaming Iran-Contra figure Oliver North for unwittingly helping his longtime enemy split the anti-Sandinista vote and win last November’s election.

The bitter irony for some Bush administration officials is that North is a hero to many on the Right because, as a National Security Council aide in the 1980s, he spearheaded Ronald Reagan’s contra war seeking to oust Ortega and the leftist Sandinistas.

But now North is coming under criticism for making a last-minute trip to Nicaragua and throwing his weight behind a right-wing candidate who undercut another conservative favored by the U.S. Embassy.

Ortega prevailed in Nicaragua’s Nov. 5 election by winning a plurality of the vote (38 percent) while two conservative candidates – Eduardo Montealegre (28 percent) and Jose Rizo (27 percent) – divided up the anti-Sandinista vote.

The U.S. Embassy was behind Montealegre, a Harvard-educated economist and banker from the reformist Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance or ALN. But North was persuaded by former contra leader Adolfo Calero that Rizo, the candidate of the Liberal Constitutional Party or PLC, had the better shot to beat Ortega, according to sources familiar with the inside workings of Nicaragua’s politics.

Calero sold North on Rizo by citing a poll from a little-known company that put Rizo in second place behind Ortega and Montealegre trailing badly in third. However, other surveys from better-known polling companies indicated that Montealegre was the stronger conservative candidate.

Some U.S. diplomats considered the pro-Rizo poll to have been “bogus,” produced on behalf of PLC leader and ex-President Arnoldo Aleman, who was convicted in 2003 of embezzlement and money-laundering.

Calero, “the old contra hero (who many observers believe had sold out to the convicted Aleman in return for a PLC seat in the National Assembly), took this fake poll to a gullible Ollie,” said a report summarizing the U.S. Embassy’s concerns, which was forwarded to me by a well-placed American conservative.

After receiving the pro-Rizo poll results from Calero, North wrote articles in right-wing U.S. publications disparaging Montealegre as “Foggy Bottom’s anointed aspirant” and suggesting that Montealegre had no chance of winning.

“Then to compound the confusion, Ollie flew into Managua in a private jet in what amounted to a high-profile, high-publicity endorsement of Aleman’s hand-picked PLC candidate Jose Rizo,” said the report reflecting the Embassy’s views.

“This publicity stunt had the effect of thoroughly confusing the ‘undecided’ vote in Nicaragua about which side the U.S. was on. The PLC ran TV ads with the U.S. flag and Oliver North to further the confusion,” the report said, adding:

“As a result of Ollie’s interventions, the undecided anti-Ortega vote stay confused and never swing as a block to Montealegre which resulted in exactly what Ortega needed – a right-wing split almost exactly down the middle.”

Under Nicaraguan election law, because Ortega’s total topped 35 percent and no opponent was within five percentage points of him, he avoided a run-off election and completed his return to power 16 years after he lost the presidency to another U.S.-supported candidate, Violeta Chamorro.

Ortega’s Twisted Trail

Ortega, now 61, began his political career as a revolutionary leader battling the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza. In 1979, Somoza fled and the Sandinistas took power, with Ortega emerging as the nation’s leader.

In those early days, the Sandinistas enjoyed broad popular support as they initiated social reforms, such as literacy programs and expanded medical care.

However, the Reagan administration viewed the Sandinista regime as a “Soviet beachhead” on the American mainland and authorized covert CIA assistance given to remnants of Somoza’s National Guard who organized a rebel force known as the contras.

As the CIA-backed contras stepped up attacks on Nicaraguan towns from bases in Honduras, the contras developed a reputation for brutality, corruption and ineffectiveness. In 1984, Congress cut off the CIA's contra funding. That same year, Ortega won an election that most international observers judged fair but which President Reagan denounced as a “sham.”

Rather than accept the Sandinista victory and the congressional contra cut-off, Reagan turned to an NSC aide, Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, to keep the contra force together by arranging outside funding and weapons shipments.

In June 1985, while working for the Associated Press, I wrote the first article mentioning North’s secret contra-support operation. By June 1986, a follow-up story that I co-wrote with Brian Barger cited 24 sources describing North’s not-so-covert activities.

That story prompted the House Intelligence Committee under Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Indiana, to question North and his White House superiors in August 1986. When North and his bosses denied the AP story, Hamilton and other committee members, including then-Rep. Dick Cheney, R-Wyoming, agreed to drop the investigation.

But one of North’s supply planes was shot down inside Nicaragua in October 1986 and surviving crew member Eugene Hasenfus began describing the inner workings of the operation. The White House cover-up unraveled.

In November 1986, an internal White House investigation also discovered that North had diverted profits from secret arms sales to Iran to help finance the contras. As this Iran-Contra scandal exploded, Reagan fired North and the White House sought to put the blame on him and other “men of zeal.”

But North emerged in 1987 as the star of the congressional Iran-Contra hearings, a beloved figure to many conservatives. Though found guilty of criminal offenses stemming from the scandal, North had his convictions overturned by two right-wing judges on the federal appeals court in Washington – Laurence Silberman and David Sentelle.

North went on to a successful career as an author, talk-show host and Fox News correspondent.

Meanwhile, in the late 1980s, the Sandinista government continued to struggle against a tough U.S.-led economic embargo and the continuing violence from the contras who were again receiving financial aid from the U.S. government.

When Ortega stood for election in 1990, Washington supported his chief opponent, Violeta Chamorro. Besides funneling millions of dollars into Chamorro's campaign, George H.W. Bush’s administration made clear that the embargo and other pressures would end only if Nicaragua’s voters rejected the Sandinistas.

Exhausted by a decade of violence and worsening poverty, the voters did just that, acquiescing to American demands and electing Chamorro as president. Ortega accepted the election results and stepped down.

After Chamorro’s presidency ended, other conservative candidates managed to keep control of Nicaragua’s presidency, regularly defeating Ortega and the Sandinistas who could claim the support of only about one-third of the voters.

In 2006, however, Ortega exploited the divisions among Nicaragua’s rightists to regain Nicaragua’s presidency.

The report summarizing the concerns of some U.S. diplomats lamented that second-place candidate Montealegre didn’t get a larger share of the undecided vote, which might have forced Ortega into a run-off.

“Montealegre needed only three to four percentage points more to have prevented Ortega from winning in the first round,” the report said. “Ollie helped ensure he [Montealegre] did not get those points and that Ortega is president of Nicaragua.”

After an inaugural celebration on Jan. 10, 2007, the Sandinistas are back in charge, arguably with the helping hand of old nemesis Oliver North.

News You Should Know

Creationism in Our National Parks
by Donald Prothero

If you thought that censoring talk about global warming and suppressing the free speech of government scientists was bad enough, last December the government reached a new low. According to documents released on Dec. 28, 2006 by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Bush administration appointees will not allow rangers at Grand Canyon National Park to mention that the earth is more than a few thousand years old. “In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,” said PEER Director Jeff Ruch. “It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’” I have been unable to confirm this report in my own enquiries among rangers and on the NPS website, but perhaps the order is still being considered at the NPS and has not yet been forced on the rangers.
This is just the latest step in a creeping introduction of religious fundamentalism to our National Parks. Under the “faith-based” initiatives of the Bush Administration, the National Park Service (NPS) is now creating “faith-based” parks by placing crosses in numerous places, and Biblical verses on the plaques overlooking the Grand Canyon. These plaques were reinstated by Bush appointees after the NPS director had them removed on advice of lawyers in the Department of the Interior. In August 2003, the creationist book Grand Canyon: A Different View, by Tom Vail, was introduced to the Grand Canyon bookstore. It promotes the absurd idea of young-earth creationists that every layer in the Grand Canyon (PLUS its subsequent carving) can be explained by Noah’s flood. There were national protests from geologists, all the relevant scientific organizations, and NPS personnel (including the entire NPS geologic staff), and Park Service Superintendent Joe Alston blocked its sale. But Bush appointees at the NPS headquarters intervened and overruled Alston. NPS Chief of Communications David Barna then told Congress and reporters that there would be a review of the issue, but no such review was even requested, even after 3 years — and the creationist book is still on sale in the Grand Canyon! And it is clear that the Bush appointees in the NPS are pandering to the religious right. According to an NPS spokesperson Elaine Sevy, speaking to a Baptist news agency, “Now that the book has become quite popular, we don’t want to remove it.”
The political bias of the process is even more starkly revealed by the way in which the NPS policy approves books for sale in its parks. The policy clearly states that the books are supposed to reflect only the highest quality of science and support approved interpretive themes. According to records, Grand Canyon officials rejected 22 other books for placement on the shelves in 2003, and approved only one — the creationist book. In 2005, the NPS approved Director’s Order #6, section 8.4.2, which states that “history of the Earth must be based on the best scientific evidence available, as found in scholarly sources that have stood the test of scientific peer review and criticism [and] Interpretive and educational programs must refrain from appearing to endorse religious beliefs explaining natural processes.”
This raises even larger, more troubling issues. It’s already bad enough that only a minority of Americans have even a limited understanding of evolution, and a majority still believe the creation story is literally true. It’s worse that creationists have effectively destroyed the teaching of evolution in science classes around the country by pressure on school boards and textbook publishers, even though the courts have ruled against them every time. Now their attack is focused on geology and the age of the earth, making one of our most essential sciences highly vulnerable. If creationists managed to put their bizarre notions of geology into place, do you think that we would have another new oil discovery, or find any more precious minerals or groundwater? Not likely! Their first attack is naturally in a place like Grand Canyon, which is so popular and so clearly shows the immense span of earth’s history, but who’s to say where they’ll strike next? Many of the national parks, such as Petrified Forest and Dinosaur and Badlands and John Day Fossil Beds, also display an impressive record of fossils changing through time in way that cannot be explained by the Bible. According to PEER Director Ruch, “As one park geologist said, this is equivalent of Yellowstone National Park selling a book entitled Geysers of Old Faithful: Nostrils of Satan.”
For further details…,9565,783829,00.html
Take action on the issue
For those of you who wish to take action on this issue, we recommend contacting:
Ms. Mary Bomar, Director
National Park Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
202-208-3818 US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
354 Dirksen Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510
202-224-4971 (phone)
202-224-6163 (fax) US Senate Subcommittee on National Parks
(a subcommittee of the above)
354 Dirksen Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510
202-224-4103 (phone)
202-224-4340 (fax)
Express your concern to a committee member and request that hearings be held to discuss this unconstitutional practice. Contact your local representative using the following list of Democratic members of the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Jeff Bingaman (NM)
* Ranking Member *
Daniel K. Akaka (HI)
Byron Dorgan (ND)
Bob Graham (FL)
Ron Wyden (OR)
Tim Johnson (SD)
Mary L. Landrieu (LA)
Evan Bayh (IN)
Dianne Feinstein (CA)
Charles Schumer (NY)
Maria Cantwell (WA)
SEE LIST of Republican members

It is Just Like Vietnam, with the Same Missed Lessons

Here's one Our Leaders missed. Of course, W is a certified moron but his advisers? Or does he just overrule them? (Does he work that hard?)
Obama said that, by sending more troops now, Bush is giving up the only real source of leverage America has with Iraqis without forcing any actual concessions from them first.

Exactly. If we send in our guys to die for the Iraqis that will really inspire the Iraqis to take a more active role. Just like the South Vietnamese. Not.

This time it's different. In the wingnuts' imaginations, dreams, delusions and prayers. And they're our leaders.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Doing Something Right in Iraq!!!

Or maybe not... minds can differ....
Saddam Hussein’s rushed execution looks even more suspicious now that the trial of his co-defendants has resumed with prosecutors playing an incriminating tape recording of the dead Iraqi dictator discussing chemical weapons – but now without any possibility of him fingering U.S. officials and others who may have helped him get the poisons.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

King of the Pandering Flip-Floppers

Our next president, John McCain. (If we can elect Reagan and Bush, clearly the American electorate has no standards. It can even elect Rudy!)
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, reading a Think Progress post nearly word for word last night, reminded me that it’s time to update the list of John McCain’s flip-flops. From last night’s Countdown:

The winner [of the daily Worst Person in the World] is Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona, [who] told us today that he knew that the war in Iraq war was “probably going to be long and hard and tough,” and that he was “sorry” for anybody who voted it thinking it would be “some kind of an easy task.”

Sen. McCain on CNN on Sept. 24, 2002: “I believe that the success will be fairly easy.”

Sen. McCain on CNN on Sept. 29, 2002: “We’re not going to have a bloodletting of trading American bodies for Iraqi bodies.”

Sen. McCain on this network on Jan. 22, 2003: “We will win this conflict. We will win it easily.”

What’s that’s called again? Flip-flopping? Senator, we keep all the tapes of these interviews. C’mon!

Of course, you know what this means — it’s time to update the list of McCain’s biggest flip-flops as he transforms himself from maverick hero to right-wing hack. We’re up to 13 now.

* McCain went from saying he would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade to saying the exact opposite.

* McCain criticized TV preacher Jerry Falwell as “an agent of intolerance” in 2002, but has since decided to cozy up to the man who said Americans “deserved” the 9/11 attacks. (Indeed, McCain has now hired Falwell’s debate coach.)

* McCain used to oppose Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy, but he reversed course in February.

* In 2000, McCain accused Texas businessmen Sam and Charles Wyly of being corrupt, spending “dirty money” to help finance Bush’s presidential campaign. McCain not only filed a complaint against the Wylys for allegedly violating campaign finance law, he also lashed out at them publicly. In April, McCain reached out to the Wylys for support.

* McCain supported a major campaign-finance reform measure that bore his name. In June, he abandoned his own legislation.

* McCain used to think that Grover Norquist was a crook and a corrupt shill for dictators. Then McCain got serious about running for president and began to reconcile with Norquist.

* McCain took a firm line in opposition to torture, and then caved to White House demands.

* McCain gave up on his signature policy issue, campaign-finance reform, and won’t back the same provision he sponsored just a couple of years ago.

* McCain was against presidential candidates campaigning at Bob Jones University before he was for it.

* McCain was anti-ethanol. Now he’s pro-ethanol.

* McCain was both for and against state promotion of the Confederate flag.

* McCain decided in 2000 that he didn’t want anything to do with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, believing he “would taint the image of the ‘Straight Talk Express.’” Kissinger is now the Honorary Co-Chair for his presidential campaign in New York.

And now McCain has gone from insisting that the war in Iraq would be easy to insisting that he’s always said the war in Iraq would be hard. And yet, you’ll still find most of the political establishment arguing that McCain’s strength as a candidate is his credibility.

Like, in Case There's Any Doubt We're Lead by Crazies... It's Not the World that Makes No Sense, it's Our Leaders....

I was about to say "But We're Okay". But of course with leaders like ours, we're not, no one is (vid Iraq, of course, for one).

But here goes....
Remember how the outing of Valerie Plame was no big thing because everybody knew that she was an undercover CIA operative? A CIA panel has declared that Plame can't even mention in her upcoming book that she worked for the CIA because she had "nonofficial cover" while there.


One opportunistic scumbag with no idea what he's doing:
Think Progress finds one more American opposed to sending more troops to Iraq: George W. Bush, circa June 2005:

"Some Americans ask me, if completing the mission is so important, why don't you send more troops? If our commanders on the ground say we need more troops, I will send them. But our commanders tell me they have the number of troops they need to do their job. Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight. And sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever, when we are, in fact, working for the day when Iraq can defend itself and we can leave. As we determine the right force level, our troops can know that I will continue to be guided by the advice that matters: the sober judgment of our military leaders."
Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the new day-to-day commander of U.S. forces in Iraq[,] told reporters that, even after the U.S. sends a "surge" of additional troops into Baghdad, it's going to take "two or three years" for the United States to accomplish even its limited goals for Iraq. "The mission now is to defeat the ... insurgency and to train Iraqi security forces," Odierno said. "Over time, we can accomplish the mission. That time I put two or three years from now. The issue becomes, are we willing to wait two or three years or do we want to speed it up?"

From the context of his remarks, it's pretty clear that what Odierno meant by "speed it up" was not "send more troops" but "bring them home." "Unfortunately what we're starting to show some lack of is patience," he said. "I think it's too important not to have patience."

One could argue that the American people have shown a good deal of patience with the president and his war already. As the war began, Dick Cheney was telling folks that he expected it to last "weeks rather than months." Nearly four years and what seems like a lifetime of "critical next six months" later, it's a lot to ask anyone for another two or three years....

Which brings us back to the president's predicament. If his "surge" were really a "surge" -- a plan to send a force to Iraq so huge that victory would be inevitable and quick -- there's a chance that the American people might get behind it as some kind of last best hope. But that's not what Bush has in mind. Instead, the president is reportedly looking at sending something like 20,000 more troops. That's more than most Democrats -- or more Americans -- are interested in supporting, and it's probably not enough for a surge supporter like John McCain. Writing in the Washington Post over the weekend, McCain said: "The worst of all worlds would be a small, short surge of U.S. forces. We have tried small surges, and they have been ineffective because our commanders lacked the forces necessary to hold territory after it was cleared. Violence, which fell dramatically while U.S. forces were present, spiked as soon as they were gone. Any new surge needs to provide enough American troops to hold the areas on their own."
Thank God George W. Bush is president.
(I guess Rudy will be running on a platform solely on a continuation of "W's" policies....)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Building Democracy in America -- Part of a Continuing Series

That nutjob judge, Richard Posner, thinks flashing photo IDs to vote is OK.

Think about it for a moment.

Now: If it's OK, let's ponder the scope of disenfranchisement that's going to result.

Thanks to your tax dollars at work....
Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317

In the
United States Court of Appeals
For the Seventh Circuit
Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317
Appeals from the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division.
No. 1:05-cv-00634-SEB-VES—Sarah Evans Barker, Judge.
Before POSNER, EVANS, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.
POSNER, Circuit Judge. A number of candidates for
public office, and voters, along with organizations such as
the Democratic Party that are active in electoral politics,
challenge a new Indiana voting law as an undue burden
on the right to vote, a right that the Supreme Court has
found latent in the Constitution. E.g., Illinois State Board of
Elections v. Socialist Workers Party, 440 U.S. 173, 184 (1979),
and cases cited in Igartua-De La Rosa v. United States, 417
F.3d 145, 169-70 (1st Cir. 2005). The law requires, with
certain exceptions, that persons wanting to vote in person
2 Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317
in either a primary or a general election must present at
the polling place a government-issued photo ID (see Ind.
Code § 3-5-2-40.5), Ind. Code §§ 3-10-1-7.2, 3-11-8-25.1),
unless the person either wants to vote by absentee ballot
(and is eligible to do so) or lives in a nursing home. Ind.
Code §§ 3-11-8-25.1(e), 3-11-10-1.2. The district court
granted summary judgment for the defendants. Indiana
Democratic Party v. Rokita, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20321 (N.D.
Ind. Apr. 14, 2006).
Until the new law went into effect, someone who
wanted to vote in person and was not voting for the first
time just had to sign the poll book at the polling place;
“there would generally be a photographic copy of the
signature [on file] that would be compared” by the staff
with the signature in the poll book. Id. at *18-*19. The new
law’s requirement that the would-be voter present a
government-issued photo ID, such as a passport or a
driver’s license, is no problem for people who have such
a document, as most people do. Nor is it a problem for
people who vote by absentee ballot or who live in nurs-
ing homes—and anyone 65 or over can vote by absentee
ballot. But what about people who do not have photo IDs
and must vote in person, if they vote at all, because they
don’t live in nursing homes and are ineligible to cast
absentee ballots, though the eligibility requirements are
not stringent (see Ind. Code § 3-11-10-24, and compare
Griffin v. Roupas, 385 F.3d 1128, 1129 (7th Cir. 2004),
discussing the Illinois requirements)? They can get a
photo ID from the Indiana motor vehicle bureau by
presenting their birth certificate (or certificate of naturaliza-
tion if they were born outside the United States) or a
certified copy, plus a document that has their name and
address on it, such as a utility bill. Both the indigent and
Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317 3
the nonindigent who does not have (or have with him) a
photo ID can, if challenged, cast a provisional ballot and
then has 10 days either to file an indigency affidavit or to
procure a photo ID. Ind. Code §§ 3-11.7-5-2.5, 3-11-8-23, 3-
Even though it is exceedingly difficult to maneuver in
today’s America without a photo ID (try flying, or even
entering a tall building such as the courthouse in which
we sit, without one; see United States v. Smith, 426 F.3d
567 (2d Cir. 2005)), and as a consequence the vast majority
of adults have such identification, the Indiana law will
deter some people from voting. A great many people
who are eligible to vote don’t bother to do so. Many do not
register, and many who do register still don’t vote, or
vote infrequently. The benefits of voting to the individual
voter are elusive (a vote in a political election rarely
has any instrumental value, since elections for political
office at the state or federal level are never decided by
just one vote), and even very slight costs in time or bother
or out-of-pocket expense deter many people from voting,
or at least from voting in elections they’re not much
interested in. So some people who have not bothered to
obtain a photo ID will not bother to do so just to be al-
lowed to vote, and a few who have a photo ID but forget
to bring it to the polling place will say what the hell and
not vote, rather than go home and get the ID and return to
the polling place.
No doubt most people who don’t have photo ID are low
on the economic ladder and thus, if they do vote, are more
likely to vote for Democratic than Republican candidates.
Exit polls in the recent midterm elections show a strong
negative correlation between income and voting Demo-
cratic, with the percentage voting Democratic rising
4 Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317
from 45 percent for voters with an income of at least
$200,000 to 67 percent for voters having an income below
$15,000. “Exit Polls,”
2006/pages/results/states/US/H/00/epolls.0.html; see
also Jeffrey M. Stonecash, Class and Party in American
Politics 114 (2000) (tab. 5.7). Thus the new law injures
the Democratic Party by compelling the party to devote
resources to getting to the polls those of its supporters
who would otherwise be discouraged by the new law
from bothering to vote. See Havens Realty Corp v. Coleman,
455 U.S. 363, 378 (1982); Smith v. Boyle, 144 F.3d 1060, 1061-
63 (7th Cir. 1998). The fact that the added cost has not
been estimated and may be slight does not affect stand-
ing, which requires only a minimal showing of injury.
Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services
(TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 180-84 (2000); United States v.
Students Challenging Regulatory Agency Procedures (SCRAP),
412 U.S. 669, 690 n. 14 (1973); 520 Michigan Avenue Associ-
ates, Ltd. v. Devine, 433 F.3d 961, 962-63 (7th Cir. 2006); Baur
v. Veneman, 352 F.3d 625, 633-34 (2d Cir. 2003). The Demo-
cratic Party also has standing to assert the rights of those
of its members who will be prevented from voting by the
new law. Sandusky County Democratic Party v. Blackwell, 387
F.3d 565, 573-74 (6th Cir. 2004); see also Hunt v. Washington
State Apple Advertising Comm’n, 432 U.S. 333, 343 (1977).
The standing of the many other plaintiffs in these consoli-
dated suits—candidates, voters, organizations—is less
certain, but need not be addressed. Only injunctive relief
is sought, and for that only one plaintiff with standing
is required; and the Democratic Party has standing. Texas
Democratic Party v. Benkiser, 459 F.3d 582, 585-86 (5th Cir.
2006); Schulz v. Williams, 44 F.3d 48, 50-53 (2d Cir. 1994);
Owen v. Mulligan, 640 F.2d 1130, 1131-33 (9th Cir. 1981); see
Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317 5
Libertarian Party v. Rednour, 108 F.3d 768, 770 (7th Cir.
But there is something remarkable about the plaintiffs
considered as a whole, which will provide the transition to
our consideration of the merits. There is not a single
plaintiff who intends not to vote because of the new
law—that is, who would vote were it not for the law. There
are plaintiffs who have photo IDs and so are not affected
by the law at all and plaintiffs who have no photo IDs but
have not said they would vote if they did and so who
also are, as far as we can tell, unaffected by the law. There
thus are no plaintiffs whom the law will deter from vot-
ing. No doubt there are at least a few such people in
Indiana, but the inability of the sponsors of this litiga-
tion to find any such person to join as a plaintiff suggests
that the motivation for the suit is simply that the law may
require the Democratic Party and the other organizational
plaintiffs to work harder to get every last one of their
supporters to the polls.
The fewer the people who will actually disfranchise
themselves rather than go to the bother and, if they are not
indigent and don’t have their birth certificate and so must
order a copy and pay a fee, the expense of obtaining a
photo ID, the less of a showing the state need make to
justify the law. The fewer people harmed by a law, the
less total harm there is to balance against whatever bene-
fits the law might confer. The argument pressed by the
plaintiffs that any burden on the right to vote, however
slight it is or however meager the number of voters af-
fected by it, cannot pass constitutional muster unless it is
shown to serve a compelling state interest was rejected in
Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428, 433-34 (1992). The Court
said that “election laws will invariably impose some
6 Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317
burden upon individual voters. . . . [T]o subject every
voting regulation to strict scrutiny and to require that the
regulation be narrowly tailored to advance a compelling
state interest, as petitioner suggests, would tie the hands
of States seeking to assure that elections are operated
equitably and efficiently.” See also Anderson v. Celebrezze,
460 U.S. 780, 788-90 (1983), where the Court pointed to the
need to “consider the character and magnitude of the
asserted injury” (emphasis added); Timmons v. Twin Cities
Area New Party, 520 U.S. 351, 358 (1997); Storer v. Brown, 415
U.S. 724, 730 (1974); Schulz v. Williams, 44 F.3d 48, 56 (2d
Cir. 1994).
A strict standard would be especially inappropriate in
a case such as this, in which the right to vote is on both
sides of the ledger. See Purcell v. Gonzalez, 127 S. Ct. 5, 7
(2006) (per curiam); cf. Burson v. Freeman, 504 U.S. 191, 198,
206, 211 (1992). The Indiana law is not like a poll tax,
where on one side is the right to vote and on the other
side the state’s interest in defraying the cost of elections or
in limiting the franchise to people who really care about
voting or in excluding poor people or in discouraging
people who are black. The purpose of the Indiana law is
to reduce voting fraud, and voting fraud impairs the right
of legitimate voters to vote by diluting their votes—
dilution being recognized to be an impairment of the right
to vote. Purcell v. Gonzalez, supra, 127 S. Ct. at 7; Reynolds
v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 555 (1964); Siegel v. LePore, 234 F.3d
1163, 1199 (11th Cir. 2000). On one side of the balance in
this case is the effect of requiring a photo ID in inducing
eligible voters to disfranchise themselves. That effect, so
far as the record reveals, is slight. The principal evidence
on which the plaintiffs relied to show that many voters
would be disfranchised was declared by the district judge
Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317 7
to be “totally unreliable” because of a number of method-
ological flaws; and we accept her finding.
On the other side of the balance is voting fraud, specifi-
cally the form of voting fraud in which a person shows up
at the polls claiming to be someone else—someone who
has left the district, or died, too recently to have been
removed from the list of registered voters, or someone
who has not voted yet on election day. Without requiring
a photo ID, there is little if any chance of preventing this
kind of fraud because busy poll workers are unlikely to
scrutinize signatures carefully and argue with people
who deny having forged someone else’s signature. The
plaintiffs point out that voting fraud is a crime, see, e.g.,
Ind. Code 3-14-2-12, and they argue that the penalty (six
months to three years in prison plus a fine of up to $10,000,
Ind. Code § 35-50-2-7) should suffice to deter the crime.
They further note that as far as anyone knows, no one in
Indiana, and not many people elsewhere, are known to
have been prosecuted for impersonating a registered voter.
But the absence of prosecutions is explained by the
endemic underenforcement of minor criminal laws (minor
as they appear to the public and prosecutors, at all events)
and by the extreme difficulty of apprehending a voter
impersonator. He enters the polling place, gives a name
that is not his own, votes, and leaves. If later it is discov-
ered that the name he gave is that of a dead person, no
one at the polling place will remember the face of the
person who gave that name, and if someone did remember
it, what would he do with the information? The imperson-
ator and the person impersonated (if living) might show
up at the polls at the same time and a confrontation might
ensue that might lead to a citizen arrest or a call to the
police who would arrive before the impersonator had
8 Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317
fled, and arrest him. A more likely sequence would be for
the impersonated person to have voted already when the
impersonator arrived and tried to vote in his name. But
in either case an arrest would be most unlikely (and
likewise if the impersonation were discovered or sus-
pected by comparing signatures, when that is done), as the
resulting commotion would disrupt the voting. And
anyway the impersonated voter is likely to be dead or
in another district or precinct or to be acting in cahoots
with the impersonator, rather than to be a neighbor
(precincts are small, sometimes a single apartment house).
One response, which has a parallel to littering, another
crime the perpetrators of which are almost impossible to
catch, would be to impose a very severe criminal penalty
for voting fraud. Another, however, is to take preventive
action, as Indiana has done by requiring a photo ID.
The plaintiffs argue that while vote fraud by imperson-
ation may be a problem in other states, it is not in Indi-
ana, because there are no reports of such fraud in that state.
But that lacuna may reflect nothing more than the vagaries
of journalists’ and other investigators’ choice of scandals
to investigate. Some voter impersonation has been found
(though not much, for remember that it is difficult to
detect) in the states that have been studied, and those
states do not appear to be on average more “dishonest”
than Indiana; for besides the notorious examples of Florida
and Illinois, they include Michigan, Missouri, and Wash-
ington (state). Indirect evidence of such fraud, or at least of
an acute danger of such fraud, in Indiana is provided by
the discrepancy between the number of people listed on the
registered-voter rolls in the state and the substantially
smaller number of people actually eligible to vote. The
defendants’ expert estimated that the registration rolls
Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317 9
contained 1.3 million more names than the eligible voters
in Indiana. This seems too high, but the plaintiffs’ expert
acknowledged that the rolls are inflated. How many
impersonations there are we do not know, but the plain-
tiffs have not shown that there are fewer impersonations
than there are eligible voters whom the new law will
prevent from voting.
The plaintiffs point out that the National Voter Registra-
tion Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-6(a)(4), requires all
states to purge their registration rolls of ineligible voters.
See also the Help American Vote Act, 42 U.S.C. § 15301,
particularly § 15483(a)(4)(B). The purge has not yet been
completed in Indiana. One thing that is slowing it down
is that removing a name from the voter registration roll
requires notice to a registered voter whose address ap-
pears from postal records to have changed, and only if a
voter fails to respond to the notice and fails to vote in two
successive federal elections can the state remove him from
the rolls. 42 U.S.C. §§ U.S.C. §1973gg-6(c), (d). And when
the purge is completed, it is likely to eliminate many
more eligible voters than the new Indiana law will do, cf.
Jeffrey A. Blomberg, “Note: Protecting the Right Not to
Vote From Voter Purge Statutes,” 64 Fordham L. Rev. 1015,
1016-17 (1995), yet provide only a short-term solution,
since as soon as the purge is complete the inflation of the
registration rolls will recommence.
The plaintiffs complain that the new Indiana law is
underinclusive because it fails to require absentee voters
to present photo IDs. But how would that work? The
voter could make a photocopy of his driver’s license or
passport or other government-issued identification and
include it with his absentee ballot, but there would be no
way for the state election officials to determine whether
10 Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317
the photo ID actually belonged to the absentee voter,
since he wouldn’t be presenting his face at the polling
place for comparison with the photo. Cf. Griffin v.
Roupas, supra, 385 F.3d at 1130-31.
Perhaps the Indiana law can be improved—what can’t
be?—but the details for regulating elections must be left to
the states, pursuant to Article I, section 4, of the Con-
stitution, which provides that “the times, places and
manner of holding elections for Senators and Representa-
tives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature
thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make
or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choos-
ing Senators.” “To deem ordinary and widespread bur-
dens like these severe would subject virtually every
electoral regulation to strict scrutiny, hamper the ability
of States to run efficient and equitable elections, and
compel federal courts to rewrite state electoral codes. The
Constitution does not require that result, for it is beyond
question ‘that States may, and inevitably must, enact
reasonable regulations of parties, elections, and ballots
to reduce election- and campaign-related disorder.’”
Clingman v. Beaver, 544 U.S. 581, 593 (2005), quoting the
Timmons case cited earlier; see also Anderson v. Celebrezze,
supra, 460 U.S. at 788; Griffin v. Roupas, supra, 385 F.3d at
Regarding the plaintiffs’ other arguments, we have
nothing to add to the discussion by the district judge. The
judgment for the defendants is
Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317 11
EVANS, Circuit Judge, dissenting. Let’s not beat around
the bush: The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-
thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout
by certain folks believed to skew Democratic. We should
subject this law to strict scrutiny—or at least, in the wake
of Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428 (1992), something akin
to “strict scrutiny light”—and strike it down as an undue
burden on the fundamental right to vote.
The percentage of eligible voters participating in elec-
tions has, for many years, been on a downward trajectory.
With that being the case, one would think states should
be looking for creative ways (like allowing people to vote
at places they frequent and are familiar with, like
shopping malls rather than basements of fire stations) to
increase voter participation. Yet, the Indiana law we
sanction today does just the opposite. Constricting the
franchise in a democratic society, when efforts should
be instead undertaken to expand it, is not the way to go.
The fig leaf of respectability providing the motive behind
this law is that it is necessary to prevent voter fraud—a
person showing up at the polls pretending to be some-
one else. But where is the evidence of that kind of voter
fraud in this record? Voting fraud is a crime (punishable
by up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 in
Indiana) and, at oral argument, the defenders of this law
candidly acknowledged that no one—in the history of
Indiana—had ever been charged with violating that law.
Nationwide, a preliminary report to the U.S. Election
Assistance Commission has found little evidence of the
type of polling-place fraud that photo ID laws seek to stop.
If that’s the case, where is the justification for this law? Is
it wise to use a sledgehammer to hit either a real or imagi-
nary fly on a glass coffee table? I think not.
12 Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317
Indiana law provides that a voter shall be challenged at
the poll and required to vote only by provisional ballot
if: (1) “the voter is unable or declines to present the Proof
of Identification or (2) a member of the precinct election
board determines that the Proof of Identification provided
by the voter does not qualify as Proof of Identification
under the law. “Proof of Identification” is defined as a
document that satisfies all the following:
(1) The document shows the name of the individual
to whom the document was issued, and the name
conforms to the name in the individual’s voter
registration record.
(2) The document shows a photograph of the individ-
ual to whom the document was issued.
(3) The document includes an expiration date, and the
(A)is not expired; or
(B) expired after the date of the most recent gen-
eral election.
(4) The document was issued by the United States or
the State of Indiana.
The potential for mischief with this law is obvious. Does
the name on the ID “conform” to the name on the voter
registration list? If the last name of a newly married
woman is on the ID but her maiden name is on the reg-
istration list, does it conform? If a name is misspelled
on one—Schmit versus Schmitt—does it conform? If a
“Terence” appears on one and a shortened “Terry” on the
other, does it conform?
But these are perhaps minor concerns. The real problem
is that this law will make it significantly more difficult for
Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317 13
Ultimately, Carson, a Democrat, won her seat with a 54-46
advantage over her Republican opponent. Although it was
not in the Hoosier state, Mark Sanford, the Republican gov-
ernor of South Carolina, was prevented from voting last month
when he showed up at his polling station without the correct ID
to vote.
some eligible voters—I have no idea how many, but
4 percent is a number that has been bandied about—to
vote. And this group is mostly comprised of people who
are poor, elderly, minorities, disabled, or some combina-
tion thereof. I would suspect that few, if any, in this class
have passports (which cost in the neighborhood of $100),
and most don’t have drivers licenses (who needs a drivers
license if you don’t drive a car?) or state-issued ID cards
which require valid (certified) birth certificates. And it’s
not particularly easy for a poor, elderly person who lives
in South Bend, but was born in Arkansas, to get a certi-
fied copy of his birth certificate.
Now I certainly agree with my brother Posner that “it is
exceedingly difficult to maneuver in today’s America
without a photo ID.” But Indiana’s law mostly affects
those who, for various reasons, lack any real maneuver-
ability at all. And lest one thinks that those who have
maneuverability are immune from running into trouble
with this law, consider this anecdotal tidbit.
The Washington Post (Nov. 3, 2006) reported that on
Indiana’s primary election day, Rep. Julia Carson1 shoved
her congressional identification card in a pocket, ran out
of her house and raced down the street to be at her polling
site when it opened at 6 a.m. Carson, seeking to represent
an Indianapolis district for a sixth term, showed the card
to a poll worker, who said it was unacceptable under a
14 Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317
new state law that requires every voter to show proof of
identity with a certain type of photo ID. But Carson, after
being turned away, went home and later returned to their
polling places to cast her vote. Would most people, espe-
cially those without a vested interest in the system, do the
same thing? I doubt it.
I believe that most of the problems with our voting
system—like deceased persons or felons on registration
rolls, machines that malfunction, and confusing ballots
(think butterfly)—are suggestive of mismanagement, not
electoral wrongdoing. And I recognize that there is, and
perhaps there may always be, a fundamental tension
between claims of voter fraud and fears of disenfranchise-
ment. But Indiana’s law, because it allows nothing except
a passport or an Indiana ID card to prove that a poten-
tial voter is who he says he is, tips far too far in the
wrong direction.
Burdick, which concerned a challenge to a Hawaii law
that did not require the counting of write-in votes, put to
rest the notion that strict scrutiny applies to every law
that imposes a burden on the right to vote. As the Court
[T]o subject every voting regulation to strict scrutiny
and to require that the regulation be narrowly tailored
to advance a compelling state interest . . . would tie the
hands of States seeking to assure that elections are
operated equitably and efficiently . . . .
Instead, . . . [a] court considering a challenge to a
state election law must weigh “the character and
magnitude of the asserted injury to the rights protected
by the First and Fourteenth Amendments that the
plaintiff seeks to vindicate” against “the precise inter-
Nos. 06-2218, 06-2317 15
ests put forward by the State as justifications for the
burden imposed by its rule,” taking into considera-
tion “the extent to which those interests make it neces-
sary to burden the plaintiff’s rights.”
Burdick, 504 U.S. at 433-34 (quoting Anderson v. Celebrezze,
460 U.S. 780, 789 (1983)); Tashjian v. Republican Party of
Conn., 479 U.S. 208, 213-14 (1986).
So Burdick adopts a flexible standard, and as I read it,
strict scrutiny may still be appropriate in cases where the
burden, as it is here, is great and the state’s justification
for it, again as it is here, is hollow. At the very least,
I would apply a standard here that would at least be
something close to “strict scrutiny light.” Applying that
standard, I would conclude that Indiana’s law imposes
an undue burden on a recognizable segment of potential
eligible voters and that it therefore violates those voters’
rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to
the Constitution.
A true Copy:
Clerk of the United States Court of
Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

In Posner's defense, it seems the decision is pretty much based on procedural grounds but I'm not sure that in view of the circumstances, the law couldn't have just been shot down. The kind of person actually disenfranchised ain't the kind of person likely to go to the ACLU or a constitutional lawyer to fight the issue.

But of course Posner isn't just a Richard but a Dick as well.... (And a public figure as well....)

Quote for the Fundamentalists

"We need not worry so much about what man descends from -- it's what he descends to that shames the human race." -- Mark Twain

Look and Learn