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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion
Fri Nov 11th 2011, 11:11 PM
A rare combination of bad stomach, Veterans Day and unscheduled holdover weekend in El Paso has sentenced me to a Motel 6 with no MSNBC. Normally don’t have time to keep up with DU except for a couple minutes a day so offer this observation on the Republican Debate as a slender tether to sanity in a week with multiple calamities including losing a smart phone that wasn’t smart enough not to get misplaced.

The Three Debate Gaffes that dwarf Perry’s ‘mind freeze’ gaffe.

Since (Half Governor) Palin lifted the already high ‘Gaffe Ceiling’ of the Republican Party taking it from the already celestial levels of GWB outward past the rings of Saturn the current clown car Republican presidential field has blown through that ceiling lifting it to heights that can only be observed with assistance of the Hubble telescope.

No longer able to experience the mind numbing idiocy of the Republican Gaffe Cornucopia (Gaffecopia?), I wait for the excerpts afterward.

This time I saw three short clips plus Perry’s ‘mind freeze’ which seems an odd characterization because it suggest that the famous 53 seconds is somehow distinguished from the rest of the time that Perry’s mind/mouth are in operation. That is a highly debatable assumption.

Any discussion of Republican Gaffes must be strictly limited.

Without time and context restrictions a limitless discussion would absorb all our time not spent sleeping.

For example GOP Joe “crazy man” Walsh’s rant was such a wild event that it spread throughout the English speaking world. . While his behavior and comments about banks were universally noted as major gaffes the central talking point that the GOP uses on a daily basis is even more absurd.

Walsh was repeating the daily mantra of the GOP that ‘government regulation’ creates inefficiency and distortions and eliminating government regulation will increase productivity, jobs and wealth.

This is a kind of daily Republican Gaffe that is said so often that many believe that if not completely true then it has an element of truth to it.

There is no truth to it.

If the premise that government is the main problem and that unfettered natural markets are the solution then would the GOP please explain why countries like Somalia that have no regulation and are governed by local religiously pious elders are excruciatingly poor and countries that have massive regulation, like Switzerland and Germany, are among the richest countries in the world?

Smart regulation begets prosperity. Sometimes there are outdated or poorly considered regulations. If the regulations are no longer optimum change them.

The logic of the GOP Gaffecopia runs like this:
Sometimes there is botulism in food, therefore we should eliminate food in order to eliminate botulism.

Ironically Hong Kong, the ultimate example of no government restriction, no taxes, free markets declared that today they officially have entered the recession.

So ubiquitous is the cacophony of GOP Gaffes that we have to narrow the discussion or it will never end.

This discussion will be limited to the three brief clips I saw from the debate, all of which demonstrated much greater Gaffes in their scope, span, depth, and damage to public thinking than Perry’s ‘mind freeze’.

1) Gingrich’s Gaffe

We start with Gingrich because he is the “smart one”, “the college professor”, “the expert in history”.

Here is the 35 word clip of the “smart college history professor”. /

“Historically, this is the richest country in the history of the world because corporations succeed in creating both profits and jobs, and it's sad that the news media doesn't report accurately how the economy works.”

This isn’t just stupidity. This is an aggressive no holds World Wide Wrestling Federation scripted assault on history and intelligence. Nothing he said had any relationship with the truth. It is much more damaging than Perry’s mind fart because it fits with a fanciful mythology of America that feeds people like Tea Party supporters.

For the record here are the actual facts of corporations and wealth creation in America.

1) America was not founded on capitalism. The existing economic system up until the 19th century was Mercantilism. By the end of the 18th century there were only 8 manufacturing corporations in the US. The New York Stock Exchange was founded in 1817. Up until 1830 corporations were so unusual and infrequent that they required state legislation on an individual process.

2) More to the point capitalism didn’t create wealth it created chaos. It went through multiple boom to bust cycles until the federal government asserted more control in the 1930s.

3) Europe and America’s wealth creation prior to capitalism was an imperialistic strategy called mercantilism that concentrating on using national forces to create free land through occupation and free labor through slavery (12 million taken from Africa and millions more born in slavery), indentured servitude (2/3rds of English settlers) and other forced European labor. It’s pretty easy to create wealth with both free labor and land.

4) If you exclude the slave economy the vast, vast amount of wealth creation was not with large corporations but in small and medium sized businesses, including family owned farms. The shift to an all corporate domination model is a relative recent invention and Gingrich’s Gaffe shows how far the Republican Party has gone in abandoning its traditional constituency of small and medium sized business owners to become full time lackeys of major corporations.

5) Does Gingrich really want to drag up the early history of Standard Oil, the Railroad monopolies and so on? Consider the two most successful early capitalist enterprises; Lloyds of London and the East India Company. Working together these two companies pioneered the perfection of Imperialist Capitalism. After securing monopoly rights in India East India perfected the marketing of tea to the masses in England. Unfortunately there was nothing that the Indians wanted so there was a depletion of gold in England to pay the Indians for the tea. By introducing opium from India to China they opened a steady supply of silver. When the growing number of addicts and the depletion moved the Chinese to ban the trade the English used their navy to lob cannon balls up and down the Yangtze until the Chinese conceded, gave them rights to sell opium and the territory known as Hong Kong to develop a harbor for their trade.

(Ironic exclamation point to the whole discussion; Hong Kong was established as a center of unrestricted capitalism with no interference in such socialist tools like ‘minimum wage’ and so on. Today Honk Kong announced that they officially had entered into a ‘recession’. Note how this not only counters Gingrich’s idiotic point but Walsh’s idiotic point discussed above)

We could go on.

Let’s not.

Let’s just pause and realize that this idiotic claptrap comes from what they consider their leading light of intelligent discourse of political history.

Gingrich is considered brilliant because he doesn’t suffer from ‘mind freezes’. Rather he inflicts on the listening public a constant flow of diarrheic nonsense that is manufactured wishful fantasy that seeks to whitewash America’s historical beginnings and invent an economic history that never existed.

2) Romney’s Gaffe

Here is what this genius said;

“What happens with profit is that you can grow the business. You can expand it. You have working capital and you hire people. The right thing for America is to have profitable enterprises that can hire people. I want to make American businesses successful and thrive.”

The short answer is – he is 100% wrong.

Here are the details;
1) The ONLY factor that determines the hiring of people is an increase in demand in goods or services. Think about it. You’re a CEO. Profits have increased 20% but there is no demand for additional goods or services. No additional workers would be hired. Now consider a second scenario; profits are down but demand is up – would you hire additional workers to meet demand and increase profits. Of course you would.

2) It is quite possible to have very little capital, no profit and hire lots of workers. I know because I did it. In 1989 I started a furniture company and because I showed up to the bank with over a $ 1 million in letters of credits for future orders I could get the working capital I needed from the bank and it grew to 450 employees. This is known as “packing orders” and is common to get the financing you need for working capital to pay for raw material and direct labor. The basic formula the banks are looking for is that your paid up capital covers your capital costs (land, machinery, and so on). With a good business plan and controls it is relatively easy to raise working capital needed to hire workers if they can hold title on your capital assets. And the bigger reality is that if you have the orders then it is also easy to raise the capital you need. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and hundreds of other entrepreneurs have used this same model.

3) Additionally profit can only be used to grow the business IF big IF it is kept in the company. If it is paid out in dividends then it isn’t in the company and can’t be used to grow the company.

4) It is true that if you have increased demand or want to expand demand it is easier to do so if you have existing profits to expand your capital base, but if you don’t its easy to find. The critical point is demand not profits.

5) If you put aside points 1-4 then Romney’s point would only make sense IF the direct labor involved was domestic. If the direct labor involved is in China then the expanded business that Romney is dreaming of would mean that there would be increased labor demand in China, not here.

6) Romney fails to disclose that INCREASED PROFITS COULD ALSO LEAD TO A DECLINE OF JOBS. He knows this very well because this was the model at Bain and Co. Make more profit – buy companies – consolidate operations – reduce direct labor – make more profits – buy more companies, and so on. And in a less malicious example, increased profit could well lead to increased investment in advanced production facilities that would lead to a decline of jobs. The move to increased robotics is an example.

Again folks these were excerpts that the media put out not of ‘Gaffes’ but highlights of Republican leaders doing a good job putting forth their talking points. Romney and Gingrich were both understood to have performed great and these were the excerpts offered as proof.

Has anyone in the media actually studied history or actually started a business?

Gotten that off my chest makes my stomach feel better. Tomorrow off to Yuma, Calexico, Brawley and other outposts deep in the red underbelly of the Southwest.

Oh and the third Gaffe that was actually worse than Perry’s?

That would be ahhhh, damn oh what was it? Something about His Royal Highness Prince . . . .

What was his name again?


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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Nov 19th 2010, 09:15 AM
As I end my active posting at DU, I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude to the administrators, the moderators, and all who passionately participate here with a view to electing Democratic office-holders and promote the progressive agenda.

Twenty five years ago, I was in a very high-pressure situation, the issue being a lack of refugee resettlement numbers forcing first-asylum countries to forcibly repatriate refugees to where tens of thousands died. I found that even though I was carrying the operational load of the office, the Chief of Mission was spending his time scrutinizing and critiquing my work during the morning meeting, while others that were making no contribution remained untouched. In private, I asked him why he did this. “Because I respect you, I am going to engage you and challenge you. The others aren't worth the effort”.

I hope that everyone I engaged at DU, in agreement or combat, understand that for me engagement is a sign of respect.

I doubt anyone will be too surprised that I am part of the obvious migration from DU. In my previous effort to contribute to the discussion of factions here, I included this statement:

“You cannot expect Solidarity Democrats to come here and see a President, who they like and support to keep getting bashed in thread after thread after thread as a corporate sell out”. Even if you feel that is the truth you certainly can understand why people who support the President wouldn't want to continue to come to a site that promotes attacks against the President that, in many cases, approach the venom of the right wing.”

There is no need to re-litigate the issue. The DU community has come to a fork in the road and, with the new rules now expanding criticism of Democrats (without having to reach the very low bar of “constructive criticism”), the chosen path has been determined and set upon.

What you cannot understand (and that which I cannot hope to communicate to each of you) is how grateful I was to be here.

To understand what a great value DU has been to me, I have to take you back to 1978, when I left the US, and compare it with my return in 1995.

When I left the US, G. Gordon Liddy was easily the most despised man in the country; when I returned, he was given a First Amendment award for his statements about the most effective way to kill a federal officer being to shoot him in the throat, because it was not protected.

When I left the US, the Church I grew up in was a bastion for peace, an advocate for the poor that celebrated diversity. When I returned, they preached about angels, taught that God blessed good people with big salaries, and led a fight to keep gays out of the ministry.

When I left Spokane, it was a city with two percent AA population that had an AA City Councilman that would become mayor. When I got back, people outside the region established an Aryan compound – and I worried about security for my mixed race family. I noticed that a police car was now parked in front of the Jewish synagogue every Saturday.

When I left the US 'mother' was not a hyphenated word.

In those decades, I had gone ‘native’ so to speak. Having left the UN community, I started a factory in Bangkok, where I would only see a few expatriates during my last two years.

When I returned to the US, it was like a Twilight Zone episode.

Someone had stolen my country.

We arrived lived out of sleeping bags in a relative’s basement. I worked my way up to a partner in a large management consultant company, but I was stuck watching a lot of people arguing about things that I thought were long settled.

I had become a refugee in a strange land – and yet it was the land of my birth.

A minor medical catastrophe wiped us out again, and our little family returned to sleeping bag survival – but we enjoyed working together to survive in what was now a strange country.

It wasn’t until I found DU that I could reconnect with my earlier life. I found people who felt passionately about the same things I did, and DU became an existential lifeline.

I have no doubt that DUers share a similar agenda – a single-payer health care system, elimination of nuclear arms, reduction of the military, full employment, responsible corporate citizenship, equal rights for all – the list goes on and on. And although we may be taking separate paths toward common goals, we will inevitably be meeting down the road.

I leave with the clear awareness that I have taken from DU much more than I contributed, a debt that I cannot repay.

I will, however, take credit for be the leading light on exposing the dangers of those “Goddamned Flemish”.
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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Oct 13th 2010, 06:42 PM

Nan Hunter was the first recepient of The Dan Bradley Award in 1990

The Dan Bradley Award is the National LGBT Bar Association's highest honor. It recognizes the efforts of a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender legal community whose work, like Attorney Dan Bradley's, has led the way in our struggle for equality under the law

Professor Hunter's professional resume show that the issue of DADT fall within the area of her peer review level of legal expertise:

Professor Hunter teaches and writes in three areas: health law; state regulation of sexuality and gender; and procedure. Her most recent health law scholarship focuses on the intersection of that field with democratic theory and mechanisms of new governance. Professor Hunter’s work in the area of sexuality and gender law has been published in many law journals, including the Michigan Law Review, the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, and the Georgetown Law Journal; and several of her articles have been selected for reprinting in anthologies. With William Eskridge, she wrote first casebook to conceptualize the field as embodying a dynamic relationship between state regulation, sexual practices, and gender norms. In the field of procedure, Professor Hunter is the author of The Power of Procedure, which has been widely adopted for law school use throughout the United States.

Federal court cases on DADT and DoMA move onward and upward

In a three-page order that the NY Times called "a significant new milestone for gay rights in the United States," Judge Virginia Phillips has enjoined the Department of Defense from "enforcing or applying the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' Act and implementing regulations, against any person under their jurisdiction or command." The ruling, entered in Log Cabin Republicans v. U.S., also orders the Department to suspend any investigation or discharge proceeding already begun under DADT.

The Justice Department will almost certainly seek and obtain a stay of this injunction pending appeal.

Back on the other coast, Justice filed its notice of appeal in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, the constitutional challenge brought by GLAD to DoMA in federal court in Boston. The Gill case is now before the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

Some voices in the community have castigated the Obama administration for defending the constitutionality of these statutes; I take a somewhat different view.

Now to the substance of Professor Hunter's research on DOJ previous practice of not appealing on behalf of existing law she referred to her previous writing when the same issue came up on DOMA:

Much of the flamethrowing in the blogosphere about the arguments filed by the Justice Department defending the constitutionality of DoMA concerns the extent to which Justice has the discretion not to defend a federal statute. Everyone agrees that taking such a step is extremely rare, but not unknown. I have been unable to find any DoJ document that sets out the criteria for making an exception to the rule that statutes will be defended.

. . .

In short, while it is not impossible for DoJ to refuse to defend DoMA, it would be an extraordinary act for them to do so. I continue to believe that defending the statute while simultaneously contributing real muscle to a repeal effort is an understandable course for the administration to follow, even though my own belief is that DoMA fails even a Romer v. Evans rational basis test.

Now it is possible to argue strategy.

To call arguments for appealing "propganda" and "anti-gay" is simply not factually true.

Atleast some national LGBT leading legal authorities think that it is necessary and in the long term helpful.
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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Oct 09th 2010, 12:47 PM
If there was only some small piece of evidence that we could look at that would give tangible evidence that actions by the Federal Government actually results in positive economic activity that creates jobs.

It seems so theoretical, such a difficult concept to grasp on. If only there were concrete visible examples.

Our Democratic representatives seem so handicapped about finding a concrete example.

How about the largest concrete structure in the United States (at the time of construction the world), the Grand Coulee Dam?

Its construction created tens of thousands of jobs and it continues to stimulate an entire region that would be a barren wasteland without it.

So for the historically challenged lets go step by step:

Tens of Thousands of Jobs to Build it

Thousands of jobs to run it, support the community next to it and the recreation area behind it.

Tens of thousands of jobs for the conservative independent farmers who have
'succeeded without ANY' government help but can only survive with the water from
it to irrigate their farms.

Tens of thousands of more jobs for the small and large size businesses run by very
conservative businesspeople who are committed to a 'smaller' and 'leaner' government


That come from an entire region that would be lifeless without the Dam
but nevertheless elects the most right wing nuts in every possible election.

Thousands of jobs like Kaiser Aluminum's Trentwood plant that was brought to Eastern Washington on the
basis of a special contract for cheap power specifically from the dam.

Lombardi would start every football season with an opening lecture on the basics of football.

His first line is "This is a football".

We should not presume that people understand anything about how government works.

We should go back to the basics.

"This is Small Pox. It has killed more Homo Sapiens than any other disease in history. The US government led the effort to eliminate it. It is a US Government success story on what the Government can do on health care."

"This is the Grand Coulee Dam. Despite what you may think it was not a relic left by ancient primitive tribes. It was in fact built on the basis of legislation by Rep. C. C. Dill, a Democratic Congressman from Spokane and supported by President Franklin Delanor Roosevelt whose name adorns the 125 square mile lake behind the dam".

I have spent many afternoons sitting in beautiful boats by residents of that area in that lake discussing politics with them.

Inevitably they will tell me that the government has never done anything good.

I start with Lombardi and his football.

Then they will say that was the past.

Now the government doesn't do anything good and doesn't help with anything and all they do is waste money on 'earmarks'.

The problem with the dam is that visitors will come and take the tour and leave but there isn't anything to keep the visitors over night. So Congressman Foley used an earmark to designate that a few thousand dollars of the Interior Budget would be used for a laser light show to keep visitors in the area over night.

Speaker of the House Foley lost his reelection when conservative farmers on the Eastern side of this region voted against him because Foley, a lifelong supporter of the NRA, voted for assault weapon ban after an Airman who was discharged for mental instability returned to Fairchild Airforce base with a civilian assault rifle and killed numerous doctors and nurses.

Since that time the region has not attracted any new significant government projects and has continued to decline economically and the residents continue to vote in more and more conservative representatives.

If only there was some tangible symbol of government success that the residents of this region could see that would show them that government actions can help add thousands of good paying jobs.

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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Sep 04th 2010, 04:13 PM
Clicking through I made a 20 second stop on Beck and he was bloviating about how 'self regulation' was the way to liberty by a religious population that self regulated itself based on its religious convictions. This was all part of a divinely inspired plan that the "Founding Fathers" had magically divined and followed and all we had to do was get back to the original teachings of the founding fathers

I believe that Glenn Beck achieved a world record in misstatements or factual errors within that 20 seconds and it would take hours to lay apart how a underpopulated rural 18th century collection of disparate communities didn't really require the same degree of regulation as highly complex 21st century densely populated urban society (get rid of the FAA and have airlines self regulate, get rid of the CDC and bring back small pox, let every community decide its own wattage and phone system).

But that would take all weekend.

Let's just focus on one set of historical inaccuracies:

"founding father's personal religious belief".

The founding father's were not 'evangelicals'. That form of highly individualized personal salvation was largely 19th century phenomena (coming at the same time that individual consumerism was also needed to stoke the emerging AND NEW economic system, capitalism). However the Evangelical movement traces its roots to the "Great Awakening" of 1740. The 'founder' was George Whitefield who attracted huge crowds and preached personal religious choice. He and Franklin became friends but Franklin was a committed secularists and found Whitefield's work helpful because he was able to get the drunken dreggs of society to start thinking of higher moral matters.

But they weren't even conventional Protestants either by and large. For the most part they were Deists, believing in a Creator that established a Natural Order. It was a time of philosophical awakening and A LACK OF CONFIDENCE in established religious teaching.
That is why they were revolutionaries, they thought that what was being taught as 'God's Order' was F***** UP.

The reason that they risked everything was not to establish a new religious order but to establish a new secular order. Those that were well satisfied with the religious order were, by definition, committed to keeping the current political order. From their respective Wikipedia articles

George Washington

"Washington practically speaking was a Deist" and he was respectful of others way of belief: "If they be good workmen, they may be from Asia, Africa, or Europe; they may be Mohammedans, Jews, or Christians of any sect, or they may be Atheists.

Ben Franklin

"Although Franklin's parents had intended for him to have a career in the church, Franklin as a young man adopted the Enlightenment religious belief in Deism, that God’s truths can be found entirely through nature and reason.<90> 'I soon became a thorough Deist.'<91> As a young man he rejected Christian dogma in a 1725 pamphlet."

Thomas Jefferson

"The religious views of Thomas Jefferson diverged widely from the orthodox Christianity of his day. Throughout his life Jefferson was intensely interested in theology, biblical study, and morality.<1> He is most closely connected with the Episcopal Church, Unitarianism, and the religious philosophy of Deism. As the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence, he articulated a statement about human rights that most Americans regard as nearly sacred. Together with James Madison, Jefferson carried on a long and successful campaign against state financial support of churches in Virginia.

During his 1800 campaign for the presidency, he had to contend with critics who argued that he was unfit to hold office because he did not have orthodox religious beliefs."

James Madison

"Unknown Religion"

from this article

Called the father of the Constitution, Madison had no conventional sense of Christianity. In 1785, Madison wrote in his Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments:

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

John Adams

Unitarian who did not believe in the divinity of Christ.

" Adams was educated at Harvard when the influence of deism was growing there, and used deistic terms in his speeches and writing. He believed in the essential goodness of the creation, but did not believe that God intervened in the affairs of individuals, and, being a Unitarian, his beliefs excluded the divinity of Christ."

So all of the big hitters, the key 'founding fathers' would not have considered themselves Christian nor would they have been labeled as such by today's Christian orthodoxy.

Looking at some of the second level founding fathers we find

Alexander Hamilton

He was originally cynical about religion but became more religious as he became more conventional politically and became an apologist for the rich in American life.

John Witherspoon

Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister (the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence) and the only 'Evangelical' among the founding fathers had a very wide and tolerant view of religion and morality which he used as President of Princeton to make the Presbyterian college more secular, not less:

"Witherspoon made fundamental changes to the moral philosophy curriculum, strengthened the college's commitment to natural philosophy (science), and positioned Princeton in the larger transatlantic world of the republic of letters. Witherspoon's common sense approach to morality was more influenced by the Enlightenment ethics of Scottish philosophers Francis Hutcheson and Thomas Reid than the Christian virtue of Jonathan Edwards. Witherspoon thus believed morality was a science. It could be cultivated in his students or deduced through the development of the moral sense--an ethical compass instilled by God in all human beings and developed through education (Reid) or sociability (Hutcheson). Such an approach to morality owed more to the natural moral laws of the Enlightenment than traditional sources of Christian ethics. Thus, while "public religion" was an important source of social virtue. . ."

John Jay

Besides the mercurial and class obsessed Hamilton the only founding father that would be close to Beck is John Jay:

"In a letter addressed to Pennsylvania House of Representatives member John Murray, dated October 12, 1816, Jay wrote, "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."<72>

Now of course Jay also considered Catholics unfit for leadership and I would have to assume that Catholics who convert to Mormonism would also have been found unfit.

Its come up before and it will come up again but the Founding Fathers were not Christian, not Protestants, not Evangelicals.

They were rebels. Generally speaking deeply religious people don't support armed revolution unless they are trying to set up a theocracy.

And of course then there is this. None of the leaders were Mormons, which was invented after all the founding fathers were long dead.

It has been estimated that less than 10% of the population in the colonies attended Church regularly at the time of the American Revolution.

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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion: Presidency
Sat Aug 28th 2010, 06:47 PM
In April I predicted here that Mitch Daniels would be the nominee for President on the Republican ticket.

He is a popular governor who was OMB director fitting the likely Republican strategy of trying to run on the deficit and better budget stewardhsip. All of the circus acts now going on are a diversion. The Republican establishment is looking at Republican Governor Daniels. He will continue to profess no interest and the "Draft Daniels" campaign which has already started will get a huge infusion of cash and swamp the other candidates.

The reasons are:

1) All other Republicans have high negatives, Daniels has no negaties
2) Most Presidential candidates are governors. When was the last time a governor was defeated by a non governor in an an open election (meaning no incumbant President or VP).
3) Republicans who lose in open primaries do not come back and win the nomination the next time (Reagan was running against an incumbant President an almost won. Bush Sr returned as an incumbant)
4) Republican nominations are even more front loaded than the Democrats where IA/NH/SC usually decide the nominee. Daniels matches up very well in IA and NH.
5) Daniels is polling very well in IN. With very low neagives Daniels will attract a lot of money from establishment donors.

It showed President Obama’s approval rating at 44 percent, with 50 percent disapproving. The number were the opposite for Daniels, 65 percent approving, and 28 percent disapproving.

6) Daniels can make the social conservatives comfortable but is the best possible candidate to run on budget issues because of his experience as OMB director and Governor.

David Brooks is constantly talking about him and Richard Lugar is his close friend and mentor.

Never heard of him? Had you heard of Palin 2 1/2 years ago?

For Daniels its a no lose situation. By running in 2012 he gets a lot of credit from Republicans for giving a good fight. Outside chance he wins but if he loses he will have a lock on the nomination for 2016 and a much better liklihood of winning.

A draft campaign is already underway underneath the radar: / / /

edited to correct link
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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Aug 13th 2010, 12:34 PM
The debate at DU foreshadowed the Gibbs 'kerfuffle'

The recent Gibbs 'kerfuffle' has reignited the basic divergence that DU has been experiencing and discussing captured in these two threads:

These two threads were unusual in the DU context because 1) they ended up discussing broad patterns of DU in a systemic way 2) they were conducted with a suspension of DU rules and 3) Skinner entered into the discussion in an usual way.

Ironically, and the irony of the issues of the Gibbs 'kerfuffle' is almost without bounds, these threads foreshadowed the issues that came to the fore with Gibbs statement. In a way, because of its open and accessible format, DU is ground zero for the comments of the Press Secretary. It would be difficult to name a site where the issues raised were more fully engaged in a daily basis by such a large number of active posters. DU is "Soapbox Central" for those who want to engage in public discussion on issues centering on the future of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

What and who was Gibbs talking about

Going back to Gibbs statement its fair to say that if you take his words literally that there is not much to be outraged about. In the first place he is addressing people who equate Obama with Bush and in the second place he is gently ribbing them by saying they need to be tested to see what drug might have influenced such a conclusion. As mild an 'up yours' as can be delivered and by DU standards not even a slap on the wrist if it had been part of an exchange here.

The reaction of threads that certainly numbered in the high hundreds, or possibly low thousands, is out of any proportion with what was said. The charge is that it was a 'veiled' statement that was aimed at the entire progressive wing.

Obviously there are those who are so antagonized by the Obama administration that the context and truth of what he is talking to are of no real importance, that it is simply another occasion to try and demonstrate an institutional antagonism between the President and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Those that hold such a view (and those who actively organize in off site 'shadow' discussion threads so that they can coordinate organized attacks on the President and his supporters here - commonly known as members of BOG) need to read no further and can skip to the reply function (or go to the 'shadow' thread that the 'hate Obama' cabal participates in before they come to discuss with their non conspiratorial DUers - threads that number in the hundreds and have over 11,000 replies) so that you can post your "Obama hates progressives" response.

If you have read this far and are a critic of some of the policies of the President but consider yourself an open minded and loyal supporter of the Democratic Party then please bear with me because I intend to use cold hard facts to prove the following:

1) There was nothing particularly remarkable about what Gibbs said except that it was the Press Secretary who said it.
2) The division at DU is becoming less civil and more trivial (and considerably less interesting).
3) The facts show that the President is pushing forth on the general principles of the Progressive wing (even though the legislative process necessitates that even as we push forward passage requires compromise).

Who Gibbs was talking about

There was a general assumption in most of the hundreds of threads that Gibbs was talking about the entire Progressive Wing.

When it is pointed out that the premise of Gibbs' remarks has to do with those that equate Obama with Bush then the response among some has been along the lines of the following:

Oh come on now- you're smarter than that You know exactly who Gibbs is referring to- and who he and the administration meant to insult.
That's one of lamer rationalizations I've seen and quite frankly, it makes me question your credibility and the objectivity of other analysis you might post.

So no evidence can be provided that Obama/Gibbs is intending to insult the entire wing, just the smarmy condescending assertion that "damn the facts DU knows better".

Closer examination of this assertion, however, cannot convince the open and fair minded DUer that in fact Gibbs was interested in a 'broad based' attack but that he had a very specific kind of target in mind. Does it really make sense that Obama/Gibbs is interested in alienating a large broad section of the Party? Is it consistent with Obama's tenor and personality, where he is constantly avoiding such broad based attacks? Clearly the answer is no.

So who was it aimed at?

On the macro level it was aimed at the Hamsher type of 'professional blogger' who is constantly arguing that there is little difference between Obama and Bush and that Obama has sold out progressives. Hamsher was on CSPAN this morning repeating the same tired line.

So who at DU was he talking about?

He was talking about those that are working on the assumption that there is no difference between the two parties, that the corporate powers have rendered them meaningless shadow puppets that are operating and controlling the two parties. In fact that is the premise of one of the thread's referred to above, a thread that clearly stated that the rules of DU were insufficient because they gave cover to DINO's:

There is a growing number of bad Democrats (DINO's) that vote Republican. There I said it. So your rules do not deal with the problem that we have DINO's) that vote Republican. There I said it. So your rules do not deal with the problem that we have progressive Democrats vs. conservative Democrats (Republicans in Democrat clothing).

So our previous discussion is a prefect foreshadowing of the very same type of thing that Gibbs was addressing. A group of DUers consider that the President, and by extension supporters of the President not to be Democrats at all. At DU there is a daily staple of attacks not on the policy of the President but his role as a 'stooge', 'corporatist lackey', 'trojan horse' and so on. BOGgers can measure their effectiveness in irritating those in the shadows by how many "Fuck You Threads" are conducted by those that return here under the false cover of enforced civility (Fuck You FrenchieCat generates 5 google pages while Fuck you grantcart measures a paltry 4 pages). So Gibbs finally got fed up with the "Fuck You" sentiment that a very small group engages in and made a mild funny retort.

It is not the supporters of the President who are being disingenuous in framing Gibbs remarks but those that are engaged in faux outrage. Why do I say faux? Let us be completely truthful. As mentioned above there is a sustained effort by a small but well organized group of DUers to control the debate at DU.

They do not come here in open debate and enter into discussion with a free flowing exchange of facts in a community that has common respect. They secretly communicate, coordinate personal attacks and campaign for recs.

They are not, however, the sharpest knife in the drawer. Note this PM sent to me. Note that it was sent 24 hours before the thread cited above that was calling for alteration in the rules so that supporters of the President can be attacked as DINO's.

(name of former DUer redacted)
From: rhett o rick
Date: Jun-30-10 05:20 PM
Is it forboten to speak of "the other site". Or can you tell me the site that (name of former DUer redacted) posts on? Is it (name of site redacted)? I haven't seen him there. It's a shame but I think there is a very strong DLC element in DU.

The connection requested was, ironically, provided and 24 hours the remarkable thread quoted launched.

In context to these attacks on the President and his supporters at DU, the mild, and accurate response from Gibbs is clearly aimed at those who
are engaged in an organized and sustained attack on their standing as Democrats. Because of this the general give and take of DU is becoming more strident and more trivial in nature.

Who is not aimed at?

It is not aimed at fellow Democrats who sustain thoughtful, informed and effective criticisms of Administration policy. We have these at DU as well, unfortunately in the present era these are a smaller and smaller mix and the attacks on the Administration as a legitimate part of the progressive movement per se dominate the forums. As the herd is formed, conspired with and directed in shadows, the threads that deal with thoughtful discussion and criticism are overwhelmed by the strident demagogue questioning both the character of the President and the worthiness of his supporters to be identified as Democrats.

The Substance of Barack Obama

In sharp contrast to those who engage in the most over the top attacks of the President is the substance of the President himself. Rather than going into a long list of actions and legislation that will lead to long and laborious technical discussions of just how 'progressive' a particular piece of legislation is let us look at two areas: Restoring the dignity and operations of the Presidency, Pursuing a rational basis for political action, Significantly expanding the role of the Federal Government.

Restoring the dignity and orations of the Presidency

It is taken for granted just how far the President has moved the dignity and operations of the Presidency. That was at least a part of what the Nobel Prize consideration. It is a huge distinction to move from a Presidency that crosses into starting a war of aggression to a President that is committed to leaving that theater.

It is much more basic than that however. Look simply at the DOJ. The President has restored the DOJ as an independent professional arm of the law enforcement function of government (indeed some regret that he is in fact following the law and should personally run the DOJ). Contrast that to the operations of the Bush WhiteHouse that came within a hair of being indicted for politicizing the role of Federal Prosecutors.

Revisionists are trying to paint Bush as being a master of passing legislation and pushing the government around in getting its way. After "No Child" was passed Bush had no further legislative successes outside of those directly related to the response to 9/11 and the country's emotional license it gave to Bush to respond. Bush's two highest domestic legislative priorities; immigration reform and social security reform were historical flops - he could not even get his own party to even hold congressional hearings on the subjects.

The President took over during a time of systemic economic collapse. Washington Mutual had just undergone the largest bank run in world history. There was "Its a Wonderful Life" type of panic that had it continued would have brought us to 1929 economic collapse. The President restored confidence in the country and allowed the rebuilding to begin.

Pursuing a rational basis for political action

The President doesn't kick the can down the road. From Health Care, Gitmo, or the Stimulus the President does not involve in demagoguery or leak secrets to discredit people he disagrees with, another huge difference with Bush/Cheney.

Rene Descarte is quoted as "I think therefore I am" which is used as the epistomological foundation for rational thought, and by extension rational discussion. It however should include the full quote “Dubito ergo cogito; cogito ergo sum. (I doubt, therefore I think; I think therefore I am)”.

As a political leader the President has taken care not to frame political discussion in an absolutist manner that stiffles debate but to embrace the essential questioning that Descrate describes as the defining element of human reason. It is the source of irritations to some progressives that he is too open and too encouraging. Again Obama is right. We are currently facing two different approaches to public debate the Republican strategy of fear and faith as seen as in the AZ Law and the half Governor Palin, and the effort of the President to establish a mechanism for open debate. Progressives should always favor open debate. It is in open debate that our advantage of facts and reason will always win out. It is a slower more methodical approach but over a longer period of time will generate better results.

Again ironically this is where their could not be a greater contrast between the President and the current outrage on the Gibbs kerfuffle. Clearly somethings that have been said about the President that are over the top. Where the President responds by always prefacing his argument with "while there is some truth to what . . . said" those that are 'outraged' spoke in absolute tones. Their arguments would have been more convincing had they simply said, "while it is true that some on the left are engaging in irresponsible attacks the overall impact of Gibbs . . .". It is in their absolute conviction, their absolute framing, their unwillingness to concede basic principles of comity that those that are organizing in the shadows reveal that their position is weak intellectually or they wouldn't have to cling to such absolutism which is clearly not supported by the facts.

Significantly expanding the role of Fedeeral Government

In two years the President has expanded the role of the Federal Government more than all but two Presidents, FDR and Lincoln.

In the last 24 months the President has orchestrated the move of the Federal Government in 3 areas;

1) Economy - openly purchsing General Motors and Chrysler and returning them to profitability is an exercise unique to the country.
2) Health Care For the first time the federal government now has a legislated approved interest in overseeing medical care from cradle to grave.
3) Financial Markets and Consumer Protection

Lets agree that where the federal government is starting in health care and consumer protection is not where the progressive wing wants to end up. It is also a clear fact that the history of federal expansion has always started at one point and evolved to another, simply getting the federal government legal authority and responsibility is the big step.

Whether it was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EPA, the CDC or NOAA the principle or the aqency on which the Federal Government was based on was a slender thread and grew after that. Once established as under the supervision of the Federal Government Health Care and the Consumer Protection Agency will follow the growth and development of every other federal agency and in time policies that the country now considers as 'too radical' will be adopted and like every policy since Social Security, people will wonder what the fuss was in the begining.


It is clear that Gibbs comments mirror the same frustrations that have been expressed at DU. Every day threads are locked and responses deleted along the lines of Obama=Bush and that supporters of Obama are really only Republicans trying to pass off as Democrats.

In the face of an organized effort to campaign for that point of view on a systematic basis the individual supporter of the President cannot sustain much in light of such a 'professional' effort. I am satisfied if the visitor to DU is able to see a single thread that clearly puts forth the President's case.

Impossible to respond to a hundred threads I chose instead to make this systematic comprehensive response. It is clear that the herd at DU is in force to paint the President and his Press Secretary as irrational actors at war with the Progressive Wing.

A detached unemotional response tells a different story and even those that have strong policy disagreements with the President can still accept that the President is not an enemy of the progressive wing, is advancing its interests even if it doesn't meet either the scale or the pace that all progressives would like to see.

I was determined not to comment on the Gibbs kerfuffle. It quickly reached an 'iconic' status at DU. It is now in hallowed grounds and DU is not going to admit that its reaction may have been too emotional and that there was some truth to what Gibbs was saying but seeing Hamsher on CSPAN this morning with her smug "Democrats are no different than Republicans" knowing that she openly embraces Republicans to try and defeat the President got the better of my judgement.

I apologize for any spelling or syntax errors I have a full day and don't have time to review it and won't have time to respond to thoughtful comments.

If you found something reasonable in the OP and made a constructive response, let me thank you in advance.

If you found the entire thing an absolute and complete pile of excrement and said so in response, let me thank you in advance for making the point even better than I can.

If you are starting a 'fuck you grantcart' thread in the shadows I thank you in advance as I hate to see FrenchieCat get ahead of me.

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Posted by grantcart in Barack Obama Group
Wed Jul 28th 2010, 01:36 AM
Confronting Radicial Islam

For many years I have been puzzled by the response I would get from Muslims to the question, "why don't you do more to confront the irrationality of extreme Muslims?". The question wasn't flippant but having lived in Malaysia, Indonesia and employing 100 Muslims in Thailand,
it would come up in natural conversations. My brother in law is an articulate Muslim that had a long career working for the US Embassy and I would ask him as well. Living in Islamic countries you aren't struck by how religious Muslims are but how secular most of them are. Pretty similar to Christians in the US. Most participate in their religion to be involved in their communities and help structure a better family life, they are not seeking a monolithic theology to impose on the rest of the world.

The most common response would be a shrug of the shoulders and something to the effect "What is the point of talking to these people? Facts and reason have no currency with them. They believe what they believe, better to argue with a rock."

On the road I don't have much time for cable or DU and when you post at DU you really need to follow the context because there is so much fast moving information and rapidly changing context.

Ellsberg and Wikileaks

Clicking through the channels I saw Daniel Ellsberg commenting on the Wikileaks. Iconic almost mythological figure of the left and for those of us that opposed the Vietnam War.

Ellsberg said "The leaked information will, I believe, show that like Vietnam the insurgency is getting stronger even as we apply more military pressure to eliminate it".

This is the mythology of the Tet Offensive. We were sure that it was true and it was the 'tip of the spear' in opposing the strategy of sending five hundred thousand soldiers in theater.

The premise that the Viet Cong grew stronger and that the Tet Offensive was a great Viet Cong victory has, however, been proven to be completely wrong. It was admitted by General Giap in his book after the war. I met both Viet Cong and North Vietnamese leaders who gave me the personal details of what was becoming publicly understood among those that followed SE Asia; The Tet Offensive was not only a disaster for the Viet Cong but probably was planned that way by the North Vietnamese. Gen. Giap spent a year planning the offensive only to leave the country and spend the time in Eastern Europe for 'medical reasons'. After the war the North Vietnamese went out of their way to restrict the Viet Cong to a couple of high profile symbolic positions and gutting the remainder. You would have a better chance of reuniting the VC cabinet in France than you would in Vietnam. A longer completely fact bassed discussion of the subject can be found here:

Ellsberg is also on very shaky ground saying that the Taliban is resurging. Yes it is said on the TV every day, but then so is the 'fact' that the Tet Offensive was a great VC victory.

First the analogy with Vietnam is highly problematic. Vietnam was essentially a united ethnic and historical national movemment that had been in the works for hundreds of years against the Chinese, a few decades against the French and a few years against the Americans. The Vietnamese had two super powers supplying them and had half of the country 'liberated' along with parts of S Vietnam and access to staging areas in Cambodia. The Taliban had the support of the ISA in Pakistan but after the assasination of Bhutto and the terror attacks in Mubai that has all changed.

Because it is underground it is difficult to gauge how strong an insurgency is. What is in the media is the lethal capability of the insurgency but that is not an indicator of how strong the insurgency is, it is simply an indicator of how lethal it is. A better comparison would be that of the Sri Lankan insurgency by the Tamil Tigers. Just a few years ago the LTTE controlled 15,000 square kilometers of 'liberated' territory. The LTTE came close to winning a negotiated settlement in 2006. Last year the LTTE were complete defeated.

Afghanistan is more tribal, and has more remote areas. It will take a long time to gain support in the Pashtun areas (but a lot quicker if the Pashtuns in Pakistan are included, but there is no evidence that the Taliban could ever take. ver vast areas of non Pashtun tribes. Indeed at their height of power the Taliban was unable to gain control over much of the country. The Taliban has no 'liberated' territory today. Most of its victims are now civilians, An increase in lethal actions may well be an expression of desperation of an insurgency.

Ideoology's Mythology

It is impossible to continue to re argue every point in an ideology all of the time. So a shorthand is accepted. Somethings become iconic and accepted. The War in Iraq was a war of aggression and illegal. Now the shorthand has extended this to Afghanistan. Even though the facts are completely different the ideology extends the mythology. Who is going to argue with Daniel Ellsberg? The man risked jail and government persecution. He could have been 'eliminated'.

There becomes a religious element to ideology that certain cannons are sacred. Here are some:

The US was defeated militarily in Vietnam (The US military left Vietnam in 1972. The North Vietnamese "Ho Chi Minh" Campaign started in 1975.)
The Tet Offensive was a great VC victory (It resulted in wiping out the military wing of the VC)
Insurgencies almost always win (80% of all insurgencies fail)
You can only end an insurgency with negotiations. (Some - like Thailand - are settled without combat and all negotiation, others like Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka are settled only by military means. The best prospect for a negotiated settlement with the outer allies of the Taliban is that they see a viable Afghan government. Insurgesnts really are not that excited about spending a generation fighting if there is a way out.)
The US occupation of Iraq was determined by oil interests - (auctions of oil contracts by the Iraqi government went to non US companies)
The US is interested in Afghanistan because of a secret pipeline (This is one of the most nasty lies as you can go to the ADP website and find complete details of the Turkmenistan-Afghan-Pakistan pipeline in less than a minute. The purpose of the pipeline is to bring gas and petroleum from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, and possibly Pakistan. It is a long planned development to help bring energy to the people of Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, nothing sinister.

The Lessons of the Wikileaks

So far the leaks have provided source material have basically confirmed what we have known, under the Bush administration the strategy and tactics involved generated large numbers of civilian casualties and the Pakistan ISA was involved in supporting the Taliban. Those realities have changed considerably. The largest source of civilian casualties now is the result of Taliban suicide bombers and IEDs.

The Pentagon Papers revealed that the government was systematically lying about the events in Vietnam. Nothing in these leaks have indicated that. Wikileak cofounder offers some words of caution about the leaks because the materia is classified, not confirmed. Many first hand reports that are in the reports will prove to be incorrect rumors or information.

The media wants a binary equation in Afghanistan

They continue to ask "can we win in Afghanistan?" It is an oddly childish question.

The question is "Can we assist the Afghan people achieve a government that will allow for Afghan self determination. The Taliban should be welcomed as a political party but they will not accept because they know that they can only achieve power through coercion and not persuasion.

If we can give the Afghans some time to build workable national Afghan institutions that provides for them to control the future of their country without outside interference then our objectives will have been met.

Discussing Afghanistan

There is reason to be concerned about our involvement in Afghanistan. There should be pressure to hand over as much of the security to the Afghan govenment as quickly as possible. There should be more emphasis on provincial development and poppy replacement and not eradicaiton, but these kinds of discussions are impossible in GD because it has taken on a orthodoxy that defies logical engagement. Which brings us back to our Muslim friends and why they feel it is so hopeless to try and engage in rational factual discussion with people who have already determined what the correct answer is. Facts are irrlevent. The War in Iraq is the same as the war in Afghanistan. The insurgency in Afghanistan is the same as the insurgency in Vietnam. The Tet Offensive was a great victroy for the Viet Cong.

The President inherited some of the gravest challenges the nation has faced in the last 30 years. His approach in Afghanistan has avoided getting side tracked in the mythology of the conflict and centers on engaging the reality.
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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Jul 06th 2010, 09:08 PM

1) The filibuster appears neither in the constituion nor the Senate rules.

It exists simply because there is no call for an end of debate.

2) To change the Senate rules you need 2/3 of THE SENATORS PRESENT

3) You could change the filibuster by having the majority party issue new Senate Rules at the begining of the next session.

Senator Hatch

Sen. Hatch, stated in a National Review article in 2005, "both conservative and liberal legal scholars, including those who see no constitutional problems with the current filibuster campaign, agree that a simple majority can change Senate rules at the beginning of a new Congress."

Senator Udall explains it here:

More facts here:
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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Jul 04th 2010, 09:39 PM
Much of your information is dated, incorrect, or incomplete understanding of the statistics.

1) ICE officers conducting sweeps of undocumented aliens in residential areas.

The second article is published recently but actually details, and says so in the article, sweeps that happened in 2008 during the Bush administration.

Here is an article that details the worst of these sweeps:

here is another

Since January there has been a standing order that no undocumented aliens are to be detained by ICE if they don't have a clear criminal connection. In the San Diego/Imperial County sector that has been only one such detention and the officer was repreimanded.

If you look at the graph carefully you will se that the largest increase of alien deportations is in criminals. ICE Offices in the inland area have been closed and those officers have been reassigned to work in jails identifying criminals that are here illegally. They are also conducting sweeps of "criminal" aliens.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It's being called the largest operation targeting criminal aliens in the history of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

During the three-day sweep, 286 foreign nationals with criminal records were arrested in California.

More than 80 percent of the suspects had prior convictions for serious or violent crimes. There were also 30 convicted sex offenders. At least 100 of the criminal aliens have already been deported while the rest face deportation.

"Of the 286 individuals whom we have taken into custody, more than 200 had prior convictions for serious and violent criminal offenses like crimes involving rape and armed robbery," said John Morton of the I.C.E.

2) Increased number of deportations - non criminal.

In fact your graph shows most of the increase as being criminal related and the non criminal declined slightly but this too is deceptive.

When somebody ws caught by the Border Patrol within 40 miles of the border, many times within a few feet, it was the practice of the BP to allow them to ask for voluntary deportations (VD). These cases which account for a large percentage of all returns are not recorded as deportations. Under the Obama administration the practice has been to significantly reduce VDs. For one reason these people are not getting the benefit of an attorney. The other problem is that you are not keeping track of repeat offenders. If a person is repeatedly caught crossing the border then penalties including future visa denials and short term detention can be used to deter illegal crossing.

So non criminal deportations are inflated by the fact that volunatary deportations have been reduced by 80% and those numbers have increase the number of non criminal deportations.

3) Access to ICE courts and detention facilities.

In CA these facilities are well identified an conspicous areas. They have regular visits from relatives and attorneys and anyone else who has a reason to be there. They are much nicer facilities than normal criminal jails probably because most of the people in there are regular folks and they maintain a non violent atmosphere.

You can visit immigration court and you will find that they take the same painstaking efforts to follow US legal procedure as they do on Law and Order. You can't simply plead guilty, you have to allocute and your allocution has to be in order or the judge will order a trial. You can be sure that if these people were not receiving access to lawyers and courts that there would be strong response from the Hispanic organizations that are helping them.

The last time I was at a detention facility I had to wait 30 minutes because an inmate complained that the company that was contracted to sell phone cards for the detainees had shorted his credit. After auditing his calls the officer determined that inmate was correct and an order was issued to the contractor to refund $ 7 to the inmate.

You would be hard put to see any other agency where there has been a bigger change between the two administrations

1) Residential Sweeps stopped
2) Work place sweeps stopped (unless there is evidence of employers involved in criminal conspiracy including exploiting workers)
3) Interior ICE offices closed.
4) ICE officers moved from non criminal deportatios to working in jails and tracking down criminal aliens
5) Decrease in voluntary deportations ensuring more aliens have access to legal representation prior to deportation.
6) Sharp increase in deportation of criminal aliens.
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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion: Presidency
Sun Jul 04th 2010, 03:03 PM
Today is the 12th birthday of Malia Ann Obama

Her great great grandparents included Jim Robinson and Melvina Shields

Not a great deal is known about these two but we know they were born into slavery and freed by the Civil War.

Their descendents would marry and eventually produce a Princeton/Harvard graduate of tremendous grace, beauty and intelligence by the name of Michelle Robinson.

What would these two think to see their great-great-great grandaughter celebrating a birthday in the White House?

On July 4th 1826 two former combatants and now dear friends would die within hours of each other.

The passing of Jefferson and Adams and the birthday of Malia 184 years later offer remarkable bookends to July 4th.

In the midst of so much that is frustrating the birthday of a 12 year old girl in this context is a reminder that big changes
can in fact happen in this country.

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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Jul 02nd 2010, 02:54 PM
Yesterday in a remarkable thread it was suggested that if we didn't agree with the poster we were "Republicans in Democrat clothing".

The thread was allowed to stand to allow for a discussion of the the reality that DU has split into two parts and it was seen as helpful to talk about this particular elephant in the room (irony intended).

In that thread Mr. Skinner made the following comment:

My intent was not to insult anyone.
I did not know that calling people idealists or pragmatists was insulting. If you have a better way of characterizing it, which is not insulting to either side, I would appreciate hearing it.

This is in response to that thread and Mr. Skinner's challenge.

First I think that there are three distinct groups not two at DU.

Three not two groups at DU

In referring to these groups I think it should be noted that in reality there is, for the most part, little disagreement in policy. The health care debate was a clear example. Virtually everyone here, and all three groups I refer to, strongly supported single payer systems. When it became clear that single payer was not going to be passed most supported the bill with a Public Option. Others looking at the final bill accepted it as a bill that would bring some immediate benefit and would provide a platform for further reform. Others felt that it should not be passed without at least some public option, that it was more effective to push back and wait for a better bill than to settle for incremental ism now and a third group felt that even with the public option it was a sell out to have mandatory insurance and that all compromises should be put aside until we have real structural reform.

I think it is possible to describe the groups in non pejorative terms and describe their point of view in a way that outlines the strongest points of their argument.

Solidarity Democrats

Solidarity Democrats feel that history has shown that real change comes when coalitions are built and some degree of party discipline facilitates passing actual legislation. Solidarity Democrats are more willing to make calculations to get 80% of a good bill than to wait and get a much better bill. They strongly support the President because he leads the party but also because in many ways he shares their opinion and approach. Solidarity Democrats have strong principles but feel that interim victories bring us closer to those principles, and are not a sell out. Solidarity Democrats strongest argument is based on the fact that the Senate requires not a super majority but a super-super majority where Senators from the 20 smallest states (and only 20% of the population) can effect a veto on all legislation. Solidarity Democrats therefore are not against compromises, as distasteful as they are, that split the harmony of the Republican Caucus. One big step today can be added on to make a big leap over time.

Principle Democrats

Principle Democrats feel that too much compromise has undermined the essential message of the Democratic Party. "If the salt has lost its taste then what is it good for". Many in this group feel that the President is a good and decent person but is too trustful of institutions in general and of the Republicans and Big Business in particular. Even if a clearer more decisive message now meant that there would be some electoral loss in the short term it would be much more effective a few years out because the public will respond to the True Product rather than become disillusioned with tepid compromises. For example if the country lost Roe-Wade just wait and see the public's reaction when their daughter can't get an abortion. Just as Solidarity Democrats have principles Principle Democrats embrace solidarity. They are not always against every compromise, they just believe that it has been given away at too cheap a price.

Radical Alternative Democrats

Radical Alternative Democrats feel that there is a deep structural problem in the country that has corrupted not just the Republican Party but has fatally wounded the Democratic Party. All politicians are basically corrupt. The President may have started out as a community organizer and not taken the easy street but has sold out now. Today he is a corporatist. Whether he has sold out or been duped he doesn't get it. These Democrats (and third party supporters) believe that all of the incremental steps undermine real structural reform. The Democratic Party is just as corrupt as the Republican Party and is only paying lip service to the crushing problems of poverty and long term joblessness. In some ways these small improvements that the President makes only further delay real change and in that way the Presidents successes actually benefit the super rich of the country far more than the homeless, the sick, the permanently unemployed, and those that have been objectified by a consumerist society that is diverted by shiny new objects and blind to the tremendous human suffering that is easily viewed in the streets of every major downtown city in America. Only when we take on the basic premises of society, they argue, are we going to effect structural and real change. All other attempts are window dressing and the President is simply the designer for superficial window changes.

Now recently it was posted that Senator Feingold has one of the highest records of voting with the Republicans in the Senate.

Here are the statics

Feingold proves to be an even bigger enemy of the Democratic agenda when the votes really matter. He votes with the Republicans 37.33% of the time, ranking him the 4th most conservative in the Democratic Caucus. The list of Senators with a better voting record reads like a netroots hit list – Specter, Baucus, Pryor, Landrieu. Joe Lieberman, the most hated man in the caucus, votes with the Democrats 84% of the time on crucial votes and 89.5% of the time overall. At this point, Feingold has more in common with Scott Brown than Sherrod Brown.

For the sake of illustration let us assume the following:

Senator Feingold is an outstanding US Senator and tremendous asset to the Senate and the caucus.

That Sen. Feingold is both principled and intelligent.

In most cases Sen. Feingold represents the thinking of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

With those assumptions we can use Senator Feingold in context as a prism how the three factions at DU respond.

Solidarity Democrats

Even if they agree with the Senators point of view the Senator should make his views known and vote with the caucus. He should not give the Republicans the vote they need to sustain a veto. When liberal Senators from liberal states vote against the caucus they undermine the arguments for caucus discipline that we want to use against Blue Dog Senators to keep them in line voting for progressive issues. Blue Dog's will say "if liberal Democrats from liberal states can vote against the caucus then certainly I as a moderate from a conservative state should be able to.

Solidarity Democrats bottom line: Make your point, scream like hell but vote with the caucus. If Sanders and Franken and the others can do it so can you.

Principle Democrats

Senator Feingold is helping the progressive wing. He doesn't vote against every bill but if a few big pieces go down then the caucus will start listening more to the progressives and we will get better legislation. Will the Blue Dog's lose? Maybe but if we start showing the people that we can deliver real change that will have a bigger impact on people's life we will be able to effect a larger mobilization of the people.

Principle Democrats bottom line: Senator Feingold should bring some bills down. It will wake up the administration and the Senate and House Leadership that our interests have to have a higher priority. Obviously he could go too far but so far the Senator has gone along with alto of big legislation including health care. Bringing down this watered down Financial Reform bill is a good example of waking people up.

Radical Alternative Democrats

Senator Feingold is on the right track but he needs to go further. He shouldn't have voted for the HCR. Until people wake up and see how structural the problem is no real change is going to take place.

Radical Alternative Bottom line: The other "progressive Senators" should listen to their own speeches and join Feingold. Until this country makes a major move against capitalism as it is now defined, corporations as they now exist and a system that sucks wealth to the top and keeps the bottom 20% of the country in a state of near slavery and the middle 50% in a state of real usury it is all for show.

The problem for DU is not that a "divided house cannot stand" its that a perpetual war is no fun.

The attraction of DU is not the homogeneity of its discussion but the fascinating combination of backgrounds that bring forth such an illuminating debate.

We have devolved from an engaged discussion of issues to a trading of slogans and posts that represent the sloganeering of bumper stickers.

Virtually everyone who bothers to keep track of such things probably realizes that I am in the first group (except for a few including the hapless poster who PM'd me yesterday asking for the location of those that are not following the DLC leanings of DU. He asked about a particular DUer who had moved on and wondered where he could find him. I gave him a link to that poster's current thread: Fuck you, Grantcart). I would like to think that a part of me is in the second group and another part is in the third.
If you go downtown and see block after block of homelessness and don't want to pick up a brick and throw it thru a window then you aren't seeing the deep shallow wells of despair that are written into the eyes of families with small children that now huddle with no shelter, no sanitation, no food and, worst of all no hope. I notice however that many of our top contributors, people who I would read and learn from, even as I disagree with them are hard to find. Bigtree and Kurt_and_Hunter are two.

People just get tired of incessant infighting.

But here is the bottom line.

Democratic Underground can survive with two groups but not three.

You cannot expect Solidarity Democrats to come here and see a President who they like and support to keep getting bashed in thread after thread after thread as a corporate sell out. Even if you feel that is the truth you certainly can understand why people who support the President wouldn't want to continue to come to a site that promotes attacks against the President that, in many cases, approach the venom of the right wing.

On the other hand you cannot expect Radical Alternative Democrats to participate in a forum where their basic point of view is always rubbing against the rules and they have to temper their real sentiment to stay within the rules of the site.

Principled Democrats just have to be satisfied being pissed off at everyone else.

In the end this site will institute rules that will allow Solidarity Democrats to come here and participate without having to put on asbestos suits to say something good about the President or they will wander off and no longer participate. No we are not talking about disagreements with particular policy but the common refrains that the President has sold out and become a "corporatist" and the Democratic Party is no different than the Republican.

The reality is that there are other places for Radical Alternative Democrats to go and express themselves where the rules of the site will remove disruptor's who don't agree with their basic agenda.

Currently this is theoretically Democratic Underground. If it is decided to cater to Principled Democrats and Radical Alternative Democrats (and the third party allies that are active here) then it would be wise to change the name to Progressive Underground.

If however the site is meant to be a home for people who share progressive values but are committed to advancing the interests of the Democratic Party, as flawed as it is, then additional boundaries will be necessary or the Solidarity Democrats will disappear.

My suggestion is that principled and specific criticisms of the President, Democratic office holders and the Democratic Party will be welcomed here but categorical statements will not. Statements like "Obama has sold out" or "the Democratic Party is no different than the Republican Party" really are not consistent with the over all stated theme that this is a home for Democrats to come to find common cause.

The reality is that DU now has two seasons, Campaign season and Governance Season. During campaigns attacks against Democratic candidates are clearly not allowed. When they govern they are. For people who support the President and the Democratic Party and the STATED principles of DU the reflexive incessant basing of the President and the Party are making it very difficult to remain in this community.
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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Jun 24th 2010, 10:11 AM
1) a) Yes.

The idea that the Taliban leadership was simply a host and not involved in Al Queda's mission is not supported by historical fact.

While Americans believe that the attacks started on the morning of September 11th, the evidence does not support that.

On September 9th two suicide jihadists blew themselves up and killed Ahmad Shah Massoud the leader of the Northern Alliance and perhaps the only person who had the credentials from earlier conflicts to unite the company. edited to add: The jihadists met with Mullah Omar the night before they carried out their mission. They were recruited by AQ to portray Muslim journalists outside of the country interested in interviewing Massoud but were operationally briefed by the Taliban who were the NA's enemies.

While I do not like Afghanistan/Vietnam comparisons Massoud was as close to Afghan's Ho Chi Minh as you can get. Today September 9th is a national holiday "Massoud" Day in Afghanistan.

1 b) Yes

There is substantial reasons to continue our presence in Afghanistan, although any continuation should be well defined and limited term.

The reasons for this is that the Taliban/Al Queda goal is to cause massive disruption to the stability of South Asia.

An Afghanistan sympathetic to the Taliban/Al Queda is not simply a base for attacks against the US, but even more importantly as a base of attacks in South Asia, particularly Kashmir.

In Usama Bin Ladin's "Declaration of War" against the US he lists the presence of Indians in Kashmir as being only second to the Palestinian question as a main grevience against the US.

We also advise you to stop supporting Israel, and to end your support of the Indians in Kashmir, the Russians against the Chechens and to also cease supporting the Manila Government against the Muslims in Southern Philippines

Significant AQ presence was confirmed by the media prior to the US invasion of Afghanistan:

Nasir Ali, a wiry jeep driver, says Al Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan have arrived here in large numbers. He should know, he says, because he was the one who gave them a lift in from northern Pakistan after their escape from Afghanistan. "I, myself, drove three Arab fighters into the center of Kashmir," says Ali. "I carried them only part way in and their own jeeps met us and drove them the rest of the way. Hundreds have entered Kashmir in the last several months."

Mr. Ali, an employee for a private transport company, described in detail subsequent meetings with Middle Eastern fighters he admires. Ali's account, and several others gathered this week, of how groups of Al Qaeda fighters have infiltrated Kashmir present a harrowing prospect for Washington. Strategic analysts have long warned that Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network is keen to exploit tensions between the two nuclear powers of India and Pakistan, whose governments both claim full rights to divided Kashmir.

A week-long investigation uncovered evidence that Al Qaeda and an array of militant affiliate groups are prospering inside Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, with the tacit approval of Pakistani intelligence. The evidence comes after recent statements by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that he had "seen indications that there are Al Qaeda operating near the Line of Control" that separates Indian and Pakistani Kashmir, but that he had no hard evidence on numbers or location.

Senior officials in Pakistan called Mr. Rumsfeld's statements inaccurate and stressed that he had no real evidence. But the Pakistani military, which has begun to chase stray Al Qaeda elements in its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, has been unwilling to crack down in Kashmir on Islamic militant groups that it has been pledging to eradicate since January.

Since the Taliban was removed from Afghanistan AQ elements in Kashmir have left and Kashmir has experienced remarkable calm.

Most people consider the Israel/Palestine theater as the most incidiary and the one most likely to create a huge ground war with millions of casualties. That is not the case. Pakistan and India is a much more likely location. Having come to blows many times Pakistan and India are more explosive, I would argue, than the Korean stand off, and this is AQ's real interest in Kashmir.

In the simple division of India and Pakistan a million people were killed. Both Pakistan and India are nuclear powers. AQ would love to polarize the situation, radicalize Pakistan and gain control of Pakistan's military power, including their nuclear weapons.

The 2008 attack on Mubai by the Lashkar-e-Taiba is an extension of this strategy. The terrorists came from a base in Kashmir. The Lashkar-e-Taiba have a long history of cooperation with both the Taliban and Al Queda.

The US strategy in Afghanistan by the President is intended to give the Afghan people time to establish a working government so that they can defend themselves against the Taliban insurgency. It is a limited worthwhile goal that will have (and already has had) in helping to maintain not only a peaceful but friendly Indo/Pakistan relationship. The fact is that India and Pakistan have never been closer in cooperation and relationship building at the leadership level as it is today.

The arguments that are made against any involvement are based on three commonly held premises:

1) Afghan has always been ruled by reactionary tribes man and uncivilized.

The fact is quite the opposite. Eighty years ago Afghanistan had the most liberal government in the middle east. In fact it became a Soviet satelite because it had a large indigenous Communist party that the Soviets could manipulate.

2) Efforts against insurgencies always fail.

The fact is most insurgencies fail. Just this last year the longest modern insurgency, in Sri Lanka collapsed. Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia all successfully defeated insurgencies that were as strong as the Taliban is today. Cambodia's Khmer Rouge succeeded in taking over the country and then were removed by an occupation force by an outside army, the Vietnamese. The reality is that unless an insurgency can sustain a supply line from a neighboring country (like the Vietnamese did with China) then it is very difficult for them to actually overtake a functioning central government, although they can continue to inflict civilian casualties for decades, as the Sri Lanka "Tigers" (inventors of the suicide bomb vest) did until they were finally defeated.

3) If the US military leaves, killing and deaths, especially deaths of civilians will go down.

There is no evidence that this would be the case. I would argue that the Taliban are as crazy as the Khmer Rouge who before they took power were perceived as gentle social reformers so that Prince Sihanouk voluntarily returned to Phenom Penh and was followed, by his urging, by dozens of his relatives - almost all of whom were killed by the KR.

The above gives substantive evidence that the return of the Taliban and AQ would significantly destabilize the region with the possibility of a conflict that would not be measured in thousands of casualties but hundreds of thousands.

However if you take that out completely and say that there is no regional factor that it is simply a question of Afghanistan then there is still a compelling humanitarian reason for giving the Afghans time to establish a functioning self government.

The first is that it advances civilized rational human existence. For people who live in the US and the developed world this may seem like bull but I can tell you it is not. It is not simply the treatment of women but allowing ordinary people the benefits of civilizaiton. My neice in Thailand, who I helped raise, died of superstition. She had returned to her village and got married. A couple of years later she died of a "brain tumor". The reality is that she died of AIDS but even in Thailand, where there is considerable more enlightenment people die from just plain ignorance and shame. If we had known we could have helped. Think of the terror a young gay man experiences living in a Taliban controlled town.

The second humanitarian reason is that there are hundreds of thousands of people who have worked with us and believed us and it is reasonable to assume that they would end up spending decades in refugee camps should the government be taken over by the Taliban.

Between 1982 and 1985 my office assisted in the resettlement of 10,000 Afghan refugees from the Russian invasion, These were people who had some connection with the US. After I left another 80,000 Afghan refugees were resettled in the US. These refugees were resettled in better economic times and before 9/11. No one can credibly believe that with the current political situation that the US would be willing to resettle the hundreds of thousands refugees that our current involvement would create.

Now I understand and appreciate well thought out posters who disagree with the above and feel that we should leave now. Bigtree is such a poster. Frankly I wouldn't want to be apart of a discussion board that had only one opinion on the subject. I still have concerns that include; opium eradication (I am against it), creating an Afghan dependency, civilian causualties and the effects on those that carry the burden on our behalf. My work takes me frequently to Veterans Hospital where I find those that have sacrificed so much have a very clear understanding of the long term importance of helping the Afghans to self government.

The nearly daily insults from posters who have the opinion that there is no reason to be in Afghanistan frankly reveal a juvenile perspective. The answers to Afghanistan do not fit on a bumper sticker. Some of the posters here go to other sites have denounced me as warmonger, presumably because it is against the rules here. I wear their disdain with pride.

After spending 8 years in refugee camps I try and speak for those who would become vulnerable to becoming a refugee, no one else does.

2) Obviously this question is based on No answers on the questions above.
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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Jun 23rd 2010, 10:28 PM
An Eyewitness to Carnage

In the evening of June 24th 1859 Henry Durant, a devout Calvinist from Switzerland, arrived in Solferino Italy and witnessed the battle between the French forces of Napoleon III and Austria. Durant was drawn to the city in an effort to meet with Napoleon III in order to secure water rights for agricultural business that he was pursuing in Algeria.

Durant became an eye witness to the incredible carnage that large armies using modern railroads and modern armaments were beginning to stage. He watched while after the battle 38,000 were left dying or wounded on the battlefield.

He responded with purchasing materials and setting up field hospitals.

From that date 151 years ago the Red Cross movement started.

He returned to Europe wrote a book about it, toured Europe building support and on Feb 17, 1963 founded the International Committee from the Red Cross. He would devote his life to building international cooperation to humanitarian ideals. One of his ideas of having a World Library would become a foundation for UNESCO.

Dunant's personal and financial life would suffer and the Red Cross Movement would pass him by and he would spend most of his life in poverty. Decades later he would be rediscovered and be a co-recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize.

The Red Cross Movement

The Red Cross Movement has three distinctive organs that are commonly confused. They are confused in media reports, by talking heads (Limbaugh gets them confused every time he talks about them) and even by more sophisticated followers of current events.

Each of the different organs has a distinctive role, they do not overlap.

The International Committee of the Red Cross

The ICRC is distinguished from other Red Cross organizations because it maintains absolute neutrality and its unique mission is established in international treaty.

The core tasks of the Committee, which are derived from the Geneva Conventions and its own statutes are the following:

to monitor compliance of warring parties with the Geneva Conventions
to organize nursing and care for those who are wounded on the battlefield
to supervise the treatment of prisoners of war and make confidential interventions with detaining authorities
to help with the search for missing persons in an armed conflict (tracing service)
to organize protection and care for civil populations
to act as a neutral intermediary between warring parties

Membership into the ICRC is limited to Swiss Nationals and done by invitation. About half of its employees are none Swiss.

The ICRC is not a diplomatic organization, not a non governmental organization and not a UN organization, nevertheless it enjoys diplomatic immunity and sovereignty

You can read more about the different functions of the ICRC in the link above but it is interesting to understand how it functions in the case of visiting detained prisoners, as it is commonly in the news, and like much about the Red Cross Movement is misunderstood.

Signatories to the Geneva convention agree that they will allow the ICRC to visit all of the prisoners that they detain in war. ICRC conducts confidential interviews and then issues a single copy of that report. That report is then given in confidence to the head of government. The whole idea is not to embarrass heads of governments about their treatment of prisoners but to allow them to understand how the prisoners that government is being held.

During WWII the ICRC documented the status of 45 million prisoners. (Concentration camps for civilians were not covered but the ICRC did obtain permission to send 10 delegates to Nazi camps, on the condition that they stay to the end of the war. These delegates were able to prevent thousands of deaths)

The case of US troops overseeing Iraqi prisoners is a classic example of how the head of government can be uninformed of how prisoners are being treated.

The US military has traditionally welcomed ICRC inspection because it hopes that any US serviceman captured by enemy forces will be afforded similar access. (Intelligence agencies with secret locations are less cooperative.)

National Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies

Each country develops its own Red Cross or Red Crescent Society (Israel has a Red Crystal Society). The ICRC acts as a gateway approving the application of the society. Individual societies are not understood to be legally neutral and unlike the ICRC are primarily focused on only one side of the conflict and working on other natural disasters within that country and assisting other societies.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

The IFRC leads and coordinates the activities of the different Red Cross/Crescent Societies as follows:

to promote humanitarian principles and values
to provide relief assistance in emergency situations of large magnitude
to support the National Societies with disaster preparedness through the education of voluntary members and the provision of equipment and relief supplies
to support local health care projects
to support the national societies with youth-related activities

The Lesson for the Gulf

We tend to think of answers to problems in terms of actions by a national government.

Some problems, like the problem of dealing with the humanitarian treatment of combatants found by Mr. Durant on that battlefield in Solferino 151 years could not be solved by national action. And so a new organization was formed and it has done great work and received the Nobel Peace Prize three times.

The problems of pollution into the atmosphere, climate change and pollution into the ocean transcend a national solution.

We can pass all the laws we want about regulations for deep sea drilling but hundreds of wells are being drilled even in our own hemisphere (One Brazilian field is currently on schedule to add 400 new wells.)

What is needed now is action to ratify LOST (Law of the Sea Treaty) and create an UN Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency to establish a legal structure to solve the problem above the national level. Not only is petroleum fungible but so is the pollution and the results of atmospheric change it creates.

We are, like Durant, standing on the battlefield of terrible carnage.

This time the wounded and dying are nature and its different species.

National laws and agencies will not be enough, we need to organize an effective response beyond that of national governments.

More details on LOST here:
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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Jun 23rd 2010, 08:17 PM
With everyone making broad comparisons about Vietnam and Afghanistan (Mathews and Howard Fineman just spent 10 minutes talking about how the Vietcong are comparable to the Afghan resistance).

The plain, unrefutable fact is that after the Tet Offensive the Vietcong were destroyed as a military force. What was not known until after the war was that the design of the campaign exposed Viet Cong military units in vulnerable urban areas while keeping NVA forces in Khe Sanh and Hue leading some to conclude that the destruction of the military units of the Viet Cong by the North was intentional.

Here are the facts:

The offensive was undertaken in the hope of triggering a general uprising, but urban Vietnamese did not respond as the Vietcong anticipated. About 75,000 communist soldiers were killed, according to Trần Văn Trà, commander of the "B-2" district, which consisted of southern South Vietnam.<61> "We did not base ourselves on scientific calculation or a careful weighing of all factors, but...on an illusion based on our subjective desires," Trà concluded.<62> Earle G. Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, estimated that Tet resulted in 40,000 communist dead<63> (compared to about 6,000 U.S. and South Vietnamese dead). "It is a major irony of the Vietnam War that our propaganda transformed this debacle into a brilliant victory. The truth was that Tet cost us half our forces. Our losses were so immense that we were unable to replace them with new recruits," said PRG Justice Minister Trương Như Tạng.

. . .

Aside from some districts in the Mekong Delta, the Vietcong failed to create a governing apparatus in South Vietnam following Tet, according to an assessment of captured documents by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.<66> The breakup of larger Vietcong units increased the effectiveness of the CIA's Phoenix program (1967–72), which targeted individual leaders, as well as the Chiêu Hồi Program, which encouraged defections. By the end of 1969, there was no longer any communist-held territory, or "liberated zones," in South Vietnam, according to the official communist military history.<67> There were no predominantly southern units left and 70 percent of communist troops in the South were northerners.<68>

After the war I had a singularly unique opportunity to discuss this with both Viet Cong and North Vietnamese leaders after the war.

I met former Viet Cong Justice Minister Truong Nhu Tang (cited above) and had lengthy discussions with him at Galang Refugee Camp in Indonesia. He detailed how after the war no Viet Cong were given any real positions of power but a few were given symbolic positions. The North dissolved the PRG without even bothering to call for a meeting. Nguyen Hu Tho was the big winner of the symbolic Viet Cong award and eventually became one of the Vice Presidents and Vice Chairman of the national assempbly. Truong was resettled to France.

Viet Cong's leading general Tran Va Tra (also cited above) would later write about the strategic failures of the North in supporting the Viet Cong. Tran Va Tra would become a token member of the government as vice minister of defense. After publishing his version of the Tet Offensive he would spend the rest of his life under house arrest.

Another example is Dương Quỳnh Hoa who was a cabinet member in the Viet Cong Provisional Government who was bitterly disappointed with the North Vietnamese post war government. After the Tet offensive she fled and survived in the jungle. She latter said of the North Vietnamese :"I have been a communist all my life, but now I've seen the realities of Communism, and it is a failure — mismanagement, corruption, privilege, repression. My ideals are gone.

Later I would visit and negotiate logistical arrangements with the new leaders in the North. When I asked them about the Viet Cong and their leaders their normally difficult-to-read faces produced some very uncharacteristic chuckles. One of them noted how "coincidental" it was that General Giap was out of the country getting treated in Eastern Europe when the most important combined campaign of the war took place.

If your going to go on national TV and talk about the Viet Cong you should be aware of the facts of its fate that are now well documented. The Viet Cong were not significantly involved in the fall of Saigon. The military offensive that unified the country was undertaken by regular elements of the NVA in the campaign known as the "Ho Chi Minh Campaign".

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