Archive for July, 2008

Nuclear India, or Uncle Sam tries chutney

July 23, 2008

Another day, another democracy almost down the tube. So it goes with India, that after their ruling coalition survives a vote of confidence, the country is still torn apart as alleged bribery fills the headlines. And why, might one wonder, would the largest democracy on Earth find itself on the brink of collapse, or at least on the edge of a grand re-alignment? Because we here in the US really, really want to sell them nuclear technology.

But why is that a bad thing you ask? Well it’s like this; India hasn’t signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and I can’t find anything saying they will. India does not have a split between its civilian and military nuclear programs. Therefore, no matter what the ruling Indian coalition may say, there are no guarantees that what we sell them for civilian reactors won’t end up being used for military use.

Oh, and there’s this other thing called the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The SCO is this little group consisting of Russia, China and the Stans of Asia Minor. India happens to have observer status with the SCO at the moment, as does Iran and Pakistan. The SCO lifts it’s two year ban on taking in new members this month, and Russia has already declared that it’s relationship with India, and China, to be for the first time a strategic one of the utmost importance.

Now let that sink in for a minute. An organization who’s main purpose is to counter Western power expansion, one which already contains at least a quarter of the human population and stands to expand that to over half, is seeking to change the geopolitical landscape by drawing into it’s sphere a country we are trying to give nuclear technology. Am I the only one who sees this as bad?

But you might argue that we will gain influence with India through this deal. Three thousand years of treachery will smack that youthful glimmer right out of your eyes. India has been playing both sides for some time, and will continue to do so as long as it benefits them. India has deep ties to Russia that include military weapons development, and though it may feel all Western friendly today, events in Pakistan (or Afghanistan for that matter) could put India in a defensive position. With our image so tarnished and our military stuck in Iraq, this would leave a giant hole for the SCO to fill, playing the role of peace keeper. But even without such an incident both India and Pakistan may fall under the SCO umbrella.

Even though the current regime in Delhi may be fighting to get our nuclear technology now, which has caused their opponents to cry that India will fall under US control, (remember India was very friendly with the former USSR) none of this means India will bind itself to us. India is a nation trying to find it’s identity, and that means they will side with who ever they see bringing the most benefit to their desire to be a global player. Nuclear technology is a big deal now, and even though India already has nukes, a big influx of new knowledge never hurts.

What I find particularly interesting about this is that Russia is the source of Iran’s nuclear technology. Nuclear is the the new bargaining chip. The US is desperate to keep a foothold in the east. The SCO is gaining ground, and we will give up the goose if it means India let’s us in the door. Russia could sell India nuclear technology as well, so this is not over at all. If the India government decides that it would serve them better to align with their neighbors, then the West had better accept that fact that a new world power has emerged.

What India did in this vote was not so much solidify it’s relationship with the US, but instead declare it’s desire to become a true global player. India may not join the SCO, but that doesn’t mean it won’t shift in that direction. Selling them nukes to buy their loyalty is a big gamble, and we haven’t been on a winning streak lately. Governments change, ideologies shift, and unfortunately if the technology doesn’t come from us it comes from somewhere else, like Russia.

That last point is what keeps me up at night. Personally I think we should be working with the Russians to curb all nuclear technology, because spreading even civilian reactors around only increases the chances of weapon development. But instead we find ourselves in a world where we pass around what could be the greatest threat to our survival to buy temporary partnerships.

The biggest loss in India over this vote wasn’t even a sovereignty issue. Had the current folks been voted out, a woman of the lower caste was set to become prime minister, effectively shattering Indian politics. Had she become prime minister something good might be said to have come from all this. Instead we have business as usual, with the US doing it’s best to start another cold war.

Or maybe that is really the point. One has to wonder.

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Panel on Roadmap to Accountability

July 19, 2008

Vince Warren

Jameel Jaffer

Dahlia Lithwick

Jeremy Scahill

Moderator Jen Nessel

V — Fighting for Gitmo detainees rights. Working with netroots community. Move national opinion from the idea that the detainees are the worst terrorists in the world to reality. President has overstepped his authority, that he can do what he wants because of his office. Went to SCOTUS won on idea the laws apply to everyone, even Gitmo. Then Congress passed legislation that undermined this. Again to SCOTUS, and they agreed torture is a war crime. We now face idea US politicians can be, and are, war criminals, according to Geneva Convention. But now we must face prosecuting these crimes. Now Congress has covered up crimes by ensuring no one can sue over conduct that led to torture. Courts agree this is illegal suspension of Habeas Corpus. What do we do now with those who are innocent and how do we free them?

J — BushCo can end torture anytime they want to through many avenues. The next president can do this quickly and easily as well. The big human rights failures of the past years are not tied to Bush alone. It’s dangerous to assume this. The media has helped, as has Congress. To the extent we have had the chance to roll back these policies, it’s the courts who are drawing the lines Congress refuses to draw. It’s been a mixed record. More bad then good. Courts let State Secrets argument shut down many cases. It will take more then just changing administration to fix these issues. The next one must set up mechanism to address these issues in first 100 days.

Jeremy — Talking about now, not new roads for the future. Democrats must be loyal opposition party. Nancy Pelosi has failed and drove the Congress down in the popular opinion. Dems in Congress imped fixing issues and enforcement of laws. The reality is that we are being privatized, Iraq and Blackwater, Obama is currently being guarded by these people. Progressives are being sidelined, and old guard being brought back in. Many things we hate started under Clinton administration. Obama rhetoric is disturbing, he may continue contractor policy. This includes the War on Drugs. Obama’s people are not good with accountability. We must hold their feet to the fire on these issues and not let him become wedded to this old guard. Is Obama going to enforce the war crimes act? Will he take the law seriously? Funding should be cut off by Pelosi, and this will lead to an end of the war. After the election Obama doesn’t need us so we must stand up now and make him address these issues.

D — Address Unitary Executive and immunity of law breaking. The problem is sidelining the courts and our rights to ensure no accountability. These predated Bush in the Republican mindset. It’s an easy trick for the president to say the law is really complicated, from FISA to torture. They find lawyers to make this argument. There is a refrain that what it says is not what it says. Signing statements to avoid the laws. Bush uses them regularly to skip past the will of the law. The other part of this problem is that it’s all done in secret. We don’t know what Bush will and won’t abide by because we can’t see his memos. Immunity should make us all really angry. From torture to spying, we are denying accountability. States Secrets not a real rule, but an idea that you can hold some things back in trial. Bush uses this to stop entire trials. Immunity sidelines the courts. Packing the courts is also the problem. Bush has filed the courts with his followers and the like-minded. We must care about who serves on these courts because they are the key to all of this.

Mod — How can we ensure accountability and hold people accountable? How important is this versus truth and reconsiliation?

V — We think legal accountability is the only type, this type has been limited. The other side is international law. Donald Rumsfeld charged in Germany for instance, because US law is broken. The answer is a special prosecutor to hold hearings with teeth. Through people in jail if they refuse to testify. Truth hearings are very important. (South Africa) How do you hold truth heaing when most we need to hear from are not aloud in the country? We have war criminals in office now.

J — Truth is also important. Don’t skip over truth to get to accountability. There is a lot of info still covered up. The CIA will not release info needed to review Gitmo detainees torture. BushCo has exploited this. They use false narratives to justify this stance on knowledge control.

D — When we use the word accountability we get accused of witch hunts. They are good people in tough times. What matters is they broke the law. The world is watching to see if we act on this and show that our laws matter. The word gets twisted into a bad thing. Lawlessness is what we are facing.

J — The skill of this government is how they are able to cover up so much.

V — Jeremy, do you see your work in the accountability context?

Jeremy — i am not alone in this. Independent media has driven, pushed this long before the MSM addressed it. Blackwater is not the problem, they are poison fruit on a very bad tree. Congress funds them. There are laws that could be applied today. The Real issue is this is an enforcement free zone. The courts must review the lawsuits already out there to see what can be prosecuted. Obama must not let bygones be bygones. If the democrats walk away form this after Nov. 4, we stop fighting for democracy. We must force them to continue this fight. The party will not do it on their own.

D, Mod — Jameel, what if McCain wins?

J — I hope Obama admin better on these issues. But, record not so good with Dem Congress. But they have done opposite. They expanded FISA. Less convinced Obama admin will address these issues.

V — I agree. What does Obama’s vote for immunity mean? With FISA vote, Congress refused accountability stance. We have hope, but we must be realistic. We just lost a very real opportunity.

Q — Why are dems rolling over? Glen Greenwald says dems also complicate so they voted for immunity. What do you say?

J — that is true for immunity, but for wiretapping, the requirements for a minimum reason are gone, thanks to Dem Congress. Why? What led to that?

D — With torture, complicity is an issue. Pelosi knew, but not same as supporting it.

Q — Expected pardons of Bush, how does that affect accountability?

V — Short answer, we must not think about this, we must still file lawsuits.

Q — Widening states secrets, have we set a precedent for future administrations? Is the gene out of the bottle? Can we stop this?

J — The SCOTUS, hasn’t weighed in on this yet. This is still hotin the courts. But it all depends on who is on the court. As for legislation, the executive branch can be overridden by Congressional bills. They can force the courts to address this issue.

Q — We only hold people to what they did in the past. The past changes the future, so if we hold them accountable then in the future others may think twice.

Jere — Obama’s bill endorsed by Blackwater. FBI will investigate crimes. This is a fairy tale. Who will do all the ground work for the FBI? Most likely the very contractors they are supposed to investigate. This goes beyond BushCo, our congress does nothing to defend democracy.

Q — The next president could resend presidential orders, but what stops the next person after them from doing it again?

J — This is true. We must continue the fight.

Q — What can bloggers do to help this fight independantly?

Mod — One big advantage of blogging is that you have liberties others don’t. We can link and list and cross-reference.

D — It was the bloggers who kept FISA in the news. The blogs have had more influence then they know.

V — One difficaulty is that the MSM won’t carry all the facts. Bloggers can create a real news cycle beyond the MSM. Bloggers must push the issues. But how does this conflict with getting candidates elected?

Q — Adding to last question, beyond bloggers, we are activists. We want to help, but we don’t know what to do. We march, we blog, we research, but we are close to pitch fork stage. What can we do, how can we fight back? How can we help you?

jere — One point you bring up, people spend too much time on computer and less time in the streets. How much time and resources are wasted on Obama love fests?

Q — We need to hold his feet to the fire. We can’t wait till he is elected.

Mod — There is back and forth with grassroots, we support them and they support us. We are all trying to figure this out.

D — When looking at why Dems suck, remember they are terrified. They are on the hook if something happens. We have failed to make the case that we will not be scared even if something happens. We will not flip on them.

Jam — We must point out that Bush makes us less safe right now. Our freedoms make us safe. Without debate and free speech, policy suffers. That bloggers have an audience, we must let people know this.

Q — The international community wants to know when we start respecting their sovereignty.

Jer –obama will shift this idea, but much will remain the same in Iraq and Afghanistan. there is concern in Europe of increased use of international forces in Afghanistan. There will be a honeymoon with the world, like Bill Clinton. US policy won’t change enough.

V — Europe is also complicate in this. They let us do much of the this in the first place.

Q — Pelosi bashing bad. How can we say this won’t change? Why aren’t we bashing McCain?

Jere — Dems haven’t fought this fight the way they should have. Nancy has failed to uphold her role, and have funded this war, passed Bush will. People of conscious must rise above party politics and criticize everyone responsible.

Q — What exposure would senior admins would have will traveling in Europe?

V — They should be held, they will not go to those countries. Right now they can do what ever they want. We must make them sleep with one eye open when overseas. We must work at home to address this.

Mod — Pinochi took years.

Q — Do you all feel veteran testimony could be furthered?

Jere — Winter soldier was treated as show, not really important in MSM. The fact is veterans who are courageous, are not given support they deserve from anti-war effort. We need more open testimony avenues for them. And it needs to be public.

Panel on America’s Global Role After Bush

July 19, 2008

Michael Moynihan

Simon Rosenberg

Andrei Cherny

Progressive policy not where we are but where we want it to be.

Not threats but opportunity should be our focus.

Post American World — book to read — about more equal distribution of the nations of the world. Speaks to the moment we are in.

The Second Chance — book — rise of the rest through the awakening of the world’s people. like the netroots at its best. seeing something similar globally. If we don’t get on the right side of this emerging global consciousness, we will end up on the wrong side of history.

A — talks about his new book. Post WWII; Truman and Germany (West Berlin airlift). Compares this time to today, a time of war and threat of war. America had to improvise it’s place in the world, like we face now. We are in a moment where it’s not another nation state we are facing, it’s the whole world facing the challenges we all face. A world where most people live in democracies. A lot of solving will come from the bottom up. And it’s global. We have the power now as a leading force in the world for good.

M — We are living in a new era of possibility. It began with fall of USSR. With 9/11, it went on hold. We entered a new period of fear. The beginning of fear is the end of freedom. The administration fed this fear. The re-assersion of democracy in this election is lifting us out of the fear and into great possibility. We still have to deal with our war, but now we have the chance to change our image in the world. A homecoming in the world as a force of good through Obama. America unique position to lead on global warming issue. Al Gore leading the way to organize the US, but imagine a netroots organization that reaches across borders that could reach everyone. From poverty to security, we should be leading the world in a positive way that brings people together to solve problems.

S — We are not starting from a position where we are under threat, no USSR like bear out there, we are facing threats today not on the scale of earlier threats. If we are to go forwards, it should be in bringing countries together for good. We are not under siege, the world is not out to get us (Bush doctrine) The rest of the world sees it’s self lifting it’s people up, while we are not. The rest of the world moving in a way we should be proud of. After Bush, we need to see a world moving in the way America is supposed to represent. The world we will wake up to is a ultra modern world and all the challenges it takes to get ahead in this world (pollution for example).

Q — How do we frame the issue of global warming? Threat or opportunity? Poverty and global warming connected.

S — Gore spoke in terms of opportunity this morning. We can do this, we solve this. So when we frame things, we must have accurate view of what we are looking at, and what can be done to solve this. We must have the ” Can do” attitude right now. Belief it can be done is key to it succeeding.

M — Examples exist of leaders being optimistic. Bush failed by being negative, not providing solutions, but fear.

A — Gore was ignored for years in the 90’s. He was told to stop talking about GW because it would hurt the party. The question we face is how to motivate people without immediate threat? Now we must show threat and balance it with inspiration to go out and solve the problem. Threat turned into action.

Q — Our form of government sticks us with President for 4 years. Most democracies have parliament, easier to change leaders. As Obama searches for center to find votes, he will not reach across the seas enough to do what the speakers are recommending.

A — Gore not in politics so he can reach more people. We all must do the same. We need a fundamental re-thinking, We must push for change. Think in creative, broad ways beyond today’s elections.

M — Just by way of enthusiasm, Obama has encouraged others across the globe to face issues through the people. The changes we seek now are modest and need to expand to really face our issues.

S — President is impossible position. American people want their president to “come home” and deal with domestic issues. Obama as president will have to balance home and abroad issues. This makes his people very important, and he will have to manage a massive amount of challenges. Bush brought us tax cuts and war, that’s it. Obama must push a lazy populace back into action. Bush broke DC and now it is a challenge to get things moving again. Obama building grassroots to push legislation with the people.

Q — In specific terms, what are three things Obama must focus on in global foreign policy?

A — One, a successor regime to Kyoto. Tow, real commitment to democratization across the globe. Third, redefine war on terror to address what people really face everyday that leads them to terrorism

M — Nuclear non-proliferation. Climate change. Third, commitment to re-engagement in the international arena.

S — One, Obama must manage Iraq well or it will destroy his presidency. Second, democratization is very important, helping fragile states become successful with tools we must develop. Third, climate change, we must show the world we are serious about it. Energy security is wrong way to think of climate change. We need to focus on the positive.

Q — Iran becoming a threat is due to Bush sable rattling. Given his former rhetoric, how important are our words to fixing our standing in the wordl?

M — Obama has the tools to do this. Non-proliferation is the key to a non-nuclear Iran. We need a real re-vitalized proliferation policy.

S — The inability of the administration to understand that Shite Iraq would be pro-Iranian is their biggest mistake. However, we are starting to see a new approach, but Israel is a wild card. Iran will be in our conversation for years. A new non-proliferation regime is the key to solving this and future nuclear issues.

Netroots Nation

July 17, 2008

Having fun at Netroots Nation in Austin. Went to the Texas Bloggers Caucus this morning. Melissa Noriega, wife of Rick, gave a great speech. She rocks.

Anna was drafted into speaking, and several other Texas bloggers spoke as well. I heart all of them. Here is a link to the pictures.

I will be uploading pics as the weekend continues, so check back for updates.

Update- This is turning out to be one hell of a weekend. We’ve had the chance to hear so any folks speak; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, President Al Gore (he did win the popular vote ya know), General Wes Clark, Chairman Howard Dean, and so many others. I’ve spoken with several great candidates (like John Boccieri, who is running for US Congress representing my home town’s district! And Sherri Matula, Texas House District 129, a great lady trying to save science education in Texas.)

Coming here and being around these people has had an energizing effect on me. I haven’t been active for a while now, but with the general election only 107 days away, it’s time to be proactive.

Anyhow, I should at least try to listen to the speakers in this panel. Oh and another great candidate just sat down on my row, Sam Bennett, Pennsylvania’s 15th District.

Please go flip through the pics if you want to see what we have seen so far. And check out the Netroots Nation site for video and much more.

This was a no brainer

July 9, 2008

Here are the reasons why Senator Obama’s vote FOR the final FISA bill is wrong:

1. Senator Clinton voted NO. This means she gets to hang it over Obama’s head just like he hangs the Iraq vote over hers. Giving her more leverage is never a good idea, especially when her top contributors are holding out, demanding she be declared Obama’s VP choice. Her hands are clean of this one.

2. Senator McCain didn’t vote for it. Actually, he didn’t vote at all, but to the Straight Up Lying Out His Ass Express facts are meaningless, what really matters is that now, if the media and/or public ever do decide to make FISA an issue, McSame can honestly say he didn’t vote for it. His supporting it is not relevant, there are countless examples of him talking out his ass already documented, but none of it phases the guy. And this time he won’t have to lie. He didn’t vote for FISA on the record. His hands are clean as well.

3. Remember all the talk about how Obama taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago? Well, Professor, care to comment on how voting against the Constitution, while simultaneously making it ok to break FISA law, is a change from the past? Haven’t we experienced this type of governing for the past 7 years? Here he is, this man with amazing oratory skills, someone who I have personally watched mesmerize 18,000 people, yet he can’t go out and explain to people why this is wrong? Why this hurts our nation? With McInsane pulling the “I got tortured, if you vote against me you hate America” card, this was an issue Obama could have fought back on. For fucks sake, he taught this shit! McFucksicle can’t remember what he is saying while he is saying it half the time, beating him down over this should be a snap. And don’t start with the “Republicans will call him a terrorist lover” argument, because they are already calling him a terrorist. With his skills he should have been showing real leadership and stood with Senator Dodd and filibustered the hell out of this. He could have argued this on television, controlling the debate. Major missed opportunity.

4. Only 40 votes were needed for a filibuster. The last amendment received 42 votes. If Obama hadn’t waffled he could have made a real fight of this. And after the news of his shifting to the center more, this would have re-energized his base.This would have shown him to be a man of his word, and it would have proven that he will not back down, that he will fight the good fight. But instead we now have him saying he would never vote for this back when it was politically easy and flipping when it matters. How are we supposed to believe him now? How are we supposed to believe in change? Does the Constitution only matter in off years? He has just shot himself in the foot with a lot of people, and I honestly don’t know how he will, or if he will even bother, to repair this, much less explain himself. And yes he needs to explain himself.

And 5. Does he really want to be the next Colin Powell? If I can think of that, a lot of other people can too. The people that want to bring him down can and very much may use this line of attack. Obama did after all just cave to Bush and do his dirty work for him. Just like Powell. And to make matters worse, I bet this comes from the center-left (Clinton, Bill). Not exactly the way we want this to go down.

So yes, this was the wrong vote. I don’t know if Obama has lost his way, if he was always a tool, or if he has become surrounded by, and influenced by, some typical insider idiots. Whatever the reason for the catastrophe, Obama has been tarnished pretty bad. I can hear his minions saying this is about winning elections, that the spin on the bill will make him look good anyways. Well good for him, I’m glad he is working so hard to appease everyone. Because that’s different how?

Oh well, it’s not like Obama took an oath to uphold the Constitution. Oh shit, he did:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.