9.27.2004

It's time to come back from Iraq

Al Lorentz is an Army Sergeant currently serving in Iraq. He recently wrote a brilliant article entitled, "Why We Cannot Win". In it, he lays out, with hard facts and the perspective of an experienced civil affairs officer in country, what is wrong with our Iraq policy.

First, we refuse to deal in reality. We are in a guerilla war, but because of politics, we are not allowed to declare it a guerilla war and must label the increasingly effective guerilla forces arrayed against us as "terrorists, criminals and dead-enders."

This implies that there is a zero sum game at work, i.e. we can simply kill X number of the enemy and then the fight is over, mission accomplished, everybody wins. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We have few tools at our disposal and those are proving to be wholly ineffective at fighting the guerillas.

The idea behind fighting a guerilla army is not to destroy its every man (an impossibility since he hides himself by day amongst the populace). Rather the idea in guerilla warfare is to erode or destroy his base of support.

So long as there is support for the guerilla, for every one you kill two more rise up to take his place. More importantly, when your tools for killing him are precision guided munitions, raids and other acts that create casualties among the innocent populace, you raise the support for the guerillas and undermine the support for yourself. (A 500-pound precision bomb has a casualty-producing radius of 400 meters minimum; do the math.)


Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatowski has written a follow-up article, "Roadmap for the Prosecution," about Sergeant Lorentz's assesment.

Al penned a factual personal assessment of what is happening in Iraq. He revealed no classified information. Far more detail on Iraq challenges has long been provided by respected retired military officers like Marine General Tony Zinni and former Director of the National Security Agency William Odom. Al wrote nothing more damning than what has already been published and released in part by the Central Intelligence Agency regarding conditions and future possibilities in Iraq.

So what is the problem?

The problem is that Al Lorentz, "Big Al" to his friends, has something that the Bush administration needs badly.

The Holy Grail in Washington is credibility. Bush and the Pentagon brass want it. The administration’s credibility deficit is its Achilles’ heel. Lack of credibility is the primary reason Bush will lose in November. George W. Bush’s own troubled past, a presidential lack of interest in terrorism until 9/11, criminal mendacity on the way to war in Iraq, flagrantly abused tax dollars at home and abroad, Patriot Act absurdities, artificial dummy governments amidst social and economic disaster in Kabul and Baghdad, the odd Iranian agent provocateur (Chalabi) and the more familiar Israeli-linked ones (Chalabi’s former allies in the Pentagon), the list goes on and on. It is as if Bush and Company signed up for a credibility destroyer of the month club at a special four-year subscription rate.


This is the kind of wisdom that the leaders of our country need to listen to. Unfortunately, neither Bush nor Kerry will seriously discuss our Iraq problems or propose any real solutions to it. Michael Badnarik has a real position on the war in Iraq and what our policy should be. It may not be perfect, but it's honest and actually deals with the issues. If you think this message needs to be heard, donate to the campaign today.

Until something changes, I'll keep getting emails like the one I got from my friend Brian today.

I was up in Boston this weekend to visit my brother-in-law who's back from a 6 month gig in Bosnia. He's a highly skilled tank commander, and went over to "keep peace" and maintain a few tanks for his final gig. But once he got over there they handed him a 75 lb backpack and an M16. He's fucking 45 years old! He is so pissed. Now his back is shot. And he's being "held in" until December 6th...so far. See, he was supposed to finish his service after Bosnia. Now there's talk of sending his unit to Iraq in January. It's just too close man. So at the base, right after getting back, He got fitted for desert gear and had his picture taken (for his obituary, not because he's so damn cute). Welcome home. Thank you for your 11 years of service. You're almost done. Kinda.

So there's our backdoor draft, in case anyone needs a little evidence.


Yours truly,
Mr. X

...let Badnarik debate...

Labels:

9.21.2004

Whose Reign of Terror ?

I got out of torts class early tonight because my professor, Andrew Popper, had to moderate a debate, entitled "Whose Reign of Terror at the Department of the Interior? A Debate About Cobell v. Norton," sponsored by the Administrative Law Review. We were encouraged to attend and it seemed a bit more interesting than going straight home to brief cases.

Professor Popper gave a brief overview of the case. Cobell v. Norton was a case originally brought by Cobell and a number of other American Indians calling for the Department of the Interior to account for property held in trust. During the course of the proceedings the Department has failed to comply with numerous court orders, leading the judge, Royce C. Lamberth to hold various government parties in contempt. As a result of one of the contempt orders, all of the computers in the Department were disconnected from the Internet. Full disclosure: Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior, was Popper's student and research assistant at the University of Denver.

Professor Richard Pierce, Lyle T. Alverson Professor of Law at George Washington University, wrote an article entitled, Judge Lamberth's Reign of Terror at the Department of Interior. Professor Pierce was challenged to a debate by Keith Harper, member of Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and senior lawyer at the Native American Rights Fund, along with Jamin Raskin, professor of Constitutional Law at American University. Both Harper and Raskin are acting as counsel for the plaintiff in Cobell v. Norton.

Pierce noted at the outset of his opening statement that he does not know about Indian Law and that his article focuses only on present remedies for judicial misconduct.

Pierce was inspired to write the article in 2002 when he went looking for data on how much oil or gas was produced on Federal lands and found that there was no data, due to an Internet disconnection at the Department of Interior, Minerals Management Service, related to one of Judge Lamberth's contempt orders in Cobell. Pierce had first heard of Judge Lamberth in 1997 regarding an order in a suit against Hillary Clinton. Lamberth had characterized attorneys for Clinton, "dishonest, reprehensible, outrageous, and officials run amok."

Keith Harper replied first, noting that Judge Lamberth has been courageous to take steps to force the Department of Interior to fix a broken system that they refuse to fix. They've been ignoring orders for years. Giving some more background on Cobell, he noted that there has been an admission by each Secretary of Interior that the system is broken. The Department of the Interior has never provided an accounting, in the 100-year history of the trust, for the billions of dollars in the trust fund.

Further, Pierce ignores a century of mismanagement. The Department is a recalcitrant trustee, ignoring even a Congressional directive to change. He asked, "When is it appropriate for a Federal court to intervene?" They have no Accounts Receivable system. There is self-reporting of the oil companies of how much oil is taken from the land. The audit system is inadequate and broken.

He further noted some of the specific cases of malfeasance that resulted in the contempt ruling. The Department claimed that they had an acocunting of pre-1951 accounts based on Government Accounting Office reports, in spite of a letter that they had received from the GAO saying, in essence, that those reports did not constitute an accounting. The Department attorneys did not tell the judge of the existence of this letter.

The Department also destroyed 162 boxes of documents during a contempt hearing.

Harper said, "This article is not shoddy; it aspires to shoddiness." Pierce left out many pieces of the fact picture that would have been challenging to his conclusion.

Professor Raskin followed up Harper's comments briefly, first by asking, "Why write law review articles?" Raskin feel that they should be written to either advance the cause of justice or advance the study of law. In this case, Pierce writes an article that just attacks a particular judge. Raskin called the article "an academic drive-by shooting by a sharpshooter recruited to go into an unfamiliar neighborhood who then gets lost."

Pierce replied that he, "Agrees that the trust has been horribly mismanaged." He strongly suspects that the problem would not have been fixed unless they [Harper and Raskin] had brought the lawsuit. He further congratulated them on convincing the court that there needed to be an accounting.
In cases like this, Pierce felt that one needs a strong judge, but one who will not use criminal contempt to induce behavior and will not use sanctions such as disconnecting an entire agency from the Internet.

Raskin noted that the accounting was originally ordered in 1996 for merely five plaintiffs and they still have not been produced, eight years later. Even was Norton to walk in the door with that accounting, there are 499,995 other beneficiaries of the Indian Trust to go, and at eight years per every five Indians, it would take 400,000 years.

Raskin noted that Pierce's article was appended to a complaint he had filed for judicial misconduct that was rejected as without merit. In his knowledge, this is the only law review article repudiated by a Federal circuit court.

Harper added that the special master appointed in Cobell was able to go into the system and move property interests from one account into another without an audit trail. He then asked, "What should a Federal judge do in such a case?" He went on to say that Pierce's article and presentation are bereft of any challenge to the facts of the misconduct. Somebody is responsible.

Popper opened the floor for questions. I asked the first one, "What, if any, limitation should their be on the contempt power when applied to a trustee who is also a sovereign agency?"

Raskin replied that any contempt order should be narrowly tailored, just as it would be if it applied to a private trust. However, if the trust data is in danger, it is acceptable to have a contempt order even if it affects other operations.

Pierce noted that in this case, there had only been one instance of hacking, the one commissioned by the special master. Disconnecting the entire agency from the Internet was not appropriate.

Harper clarified that the order was only to lock down the systems that had access to the Indian Trust data. The Department did not have any insulation or firewalling of those of those particular systems, and thus, they chose to disconnect all of the computers.

There was some discussion of whether the contempt was properly civil or criminal contempt. Raskin explained that the purpose of a civil contempt order is to get a party, in this case the Department of Interior, to comply with the orders of the court. Pierce was of the opinion that Judge Lamberth's orders were more properly criminal contempt charges, and should have been handled by a neutral judge.

Harper asked a question near the end, directed rhetorically at Pierce, "At what point should the courts take action? And if not this action [contempt], then what action?"

After the debate I had a chance to ask Professor Raskin about what could possibly be done to open up the debates to candidates like Michael Badnarik, knowing his background on the issue. He seemed interested in talking more and invited me to stop by his office later on in the week. Another thing to add to the plate.

Now it's off to study.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...let Badnarik debate...

9.16.2004

Update: Let Badnarik Debate

I just called the office of the Commission on Presidential Debates. Apparently Ms. Brown is out of the office today, but I left my name and phone number.

Keep up the pressure, people.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...202.872.1020...

9.13.2004

Let Badnarik debate

The following is the text of a letter that I wrote to Janet Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates regarding Michael Badnarik's inclusion:

Dear Ms. Brown,
It has been suggested by numerous op-ed writers on editorial pages throughout the country that your organization, the Commission on Presidential Debates, is a partisan organization unwilling to allow voices from outside of the major parties. It has further been suggested that the format of your debates encourages highly scripted conversations between the major party candidates, with their surrogates negotiating to ensure that truly substantive issues of interest to the American people are left off the table. I am writing you in hopes that you can dispell those rumors.

As you may know, Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik will be on the ballot of 48 states and the District of Columbia this year. In his campaign he is stressing issues where there is a clear difference between his approach and that of his major party opponents. Issues like the war in Iraq, the proper policy toward gay marriage, and the War on Drugs. These issues are of great import to all Americans and his inclusion in the debates would further the public interest in bringing them to the fore.

I urge you to include Michael Badnarik in the presidential debates and to include his running mate, Richard Campagna in the vice-presidential debate. If you have questions about Mr. Badnarik or Mr. Campagna, please don't hesitate to contact me and I will ensure that you get them answered.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I eagerly await your reply.

Yours truly,
Mr. X


If you have a moment, please take the time to contact them. Full contact information for Ms. Brown:

Janet H. Brown - Executive Director CPD
1200 New Hampshire Ave., NW Suite 445
Washington, D.C. 20036
202-872-1020
jb@debates.org

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...bring the noise...

9.12.2004

"And did I mention that I don't lie?"

I had an awesome day at the Takoma Park Folk Festival. People kept asking if it was lonely working the booth for Michael Badnarik in a sea of Democrats and I replied, "No, most everybody here is opposed to the War in Iraq, opposed to the Patriot Act, and for gay marriage; just like my candidate."

From the Badnarik blog an interview with Michael by Erie Voices:

Erie Voices: All right. I already know the answer to this, but just for the record: What sets you apart from the Democrats and the Republicans?

Badnarik: Honesty. Integrity. And 20 years of studying the Constitution.

Erie Voices: Okay so -

Badnarik: And did I mention that I don't lie? You may not like the answers I give but if you ask me questions you’re going to hear what I believe. And my answers don’t change from Monday to Friday like some candidates I know - and I also recognize that my power is limited. When I take an oath of office it is my responsibility to protect the life, and the liberty and the property of my fellow Americans. And everyone has learned that in our system of government there’s supposed to be a system of checks and balances - we have no checks in Washington. Congress will pass an unconstitutional act - the President will sign that act into law - and the Supreme Court will misinterpret it. We have no one in Washington protecting our rights. By electing a Libertarian Presidential candidate we can easily restore the system of checks and balances because I promise to veto any unconstitutional law that Congress sends to my desk.

Erie Voices: [long pause] Wow.

Badnarik: Oh I’m sorry, am I straddling the fence too much for you?

Erie Voices: [laughs] No. I love it. I love it.

Badnarik: Thank you.


The whole interview is here.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...crashing hard...

9.10.2004

Vote for Inclusiveness, Freedom, and Peace

I've survived another week, barely. I'm not exactly behind on my studying, but I'm not exactly caught up either. I should be in the midst of drafting a predictive memo for a negligent hiring case, rather than just briefing the source cases, but hey, that's what weekends are for.

Then again, this one has a Habitat for Humanity thing on Saturday and manning the Libertarian booth at the Takoma Park Folk Festival on Sunday. Hmm...

Yesterday was a huge media day for the Badnarik campaign. Articles in Las Vegas City Life, the Las Vegas Mercury, the Denver Post, USA Today, a TV interview with 9News in Denver, and even a mention on CNN.

On top of that, there was an endorsement of Badnarik from the Pink Pistols, a gay gun rights group. Excerpt:

"We're excited to endorse the only candidate in this election who stands for equal rights -- and the means to defend those rights -- for everyone," says Douglas L. Krick, founder of Pink Pistols. "With the 'major' parties competing to see who can be most strident in encouraging different standards for the queer communities, it's more important than ever that we stand up for ourselves -- and support candidates who stand with us."

Badnarik, 50, of Austin, Texas, welcomes that support. "Pursuit of political reform is best exercised through the ballot box and the jury box," he says. "But ultimately the cartridge box must be there, especially when lives are at stake. In America today, it's still considered acceptable in many places to attack gay men and lesbians for no other reason than who they are. When that happens, the victim can't wait for a police officer or a jury to try to sort things out."


After class, I went to the AU College Libertarians meeting to discuss strategy for getting the message out to voters on campus. Lots of new people showed up and a good number of them seemed excited about having a real option. Mike's right, selling his message is "like selling ice water in hell".

Speaking of selling the message, the following is a letter I submitted to the American Jurist:

Dear Editor,
Thank you for covering the Presidential campaign in your August 2004 issue. I was dismayed that the Libertarian candidate, Michael Badnarik, was omitted from your candidate profiles.

Mr. Badnarik supports the rights of gay Americans to equal protection under the law, including the right to marry whomever they choose. In contrast, Bush and Kerry only disagree over whether gay marriage should be prohibited at the state (Kerry) or federal (Bush) level.

Mr. Badnarik opposes the encroachment of our civil liberties by the Patriot Act. Bush and Kerry only differ in that Kerry voted for the law and Bush signed it.

Mr. Badnarik opposes the war in Iraq and supports bringing our troops home. Bush brought this country into the war and Kerry has gone on record that, even knowing what he knows now about weapons of mass destruction, he'd still vote to authorize the war.

It seems obvious that Mr. Badnarik's positions on issues that may be of importance to the WCL community stand in stark contrast to Mssrs Bush and Kerry. I would urge your readers to vote for a candidate that shares their values of inclusiveness, freedom, and peace. I would urge them to vote for Michael Badnarik.


We shall see if it gets published next month.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...keeping it real...

9.07.2004

Secret law, secret testimony

The DOJ has asked to keep their arguments secret in the case brought by John Gilmore, the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, challenging the requirement to show ID before boarding a plane.

"We're dealing with the government's review of a secret law that now they want a secret judicial review for," one of Gilmore's attorneys, James Harrison, said in a telephone interview Sunday. "This administration's use of a secret law is more dangerous to the security of the nation than any external threat."


Not only do they want the proceedings secret, but they also want to present their arguments to the judge outside the presence of the plaintiff and his lawyers.

The government contends its court arguments should be sealed from public view and heard before a judge outside the presence of Gilmore and his attorneys as well. The government, however, said it would plan to file another "redacted" public version of their arguments.
- from the Mercury News article

I love my country, I fear my government.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...who is Michael Badnarik...

Jack Valenti is an ass

Props to Scott for letting me know that Carrington Vanston is at it again with a wonderful essay on the stupidity of Jack Valenti.

In fact, the only thing that’s ever made me want to pirate movies more than that annoying must-sit-through-it-again FBI Warning was the pre-show PSA by stunt man Manny "don’t call me Jack" Perry. The gall of running that ad before cinema audiences — who are by definition people who have just paid for a movie, and therefore the one group that we can be absolutely certain isn’t the ad’s supposed target audience — was not just satirical but insulting. I’m sure Manny’s IMDB listing page took a digital pounding as people across the continent compiled their own to-download lists.


What a maroon.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...don't know jack...

9.05.2004

Gun safety lesson

Apparently Monroe County Coroner David Toumey should practice a little more before giving any more gun safety lessons.

Perhaps he should remember the rule, "don't check to see if a weapon is unloaded while pointing it at your own leg.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...a public service announcement...

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9.03.2004

Oreos, Pigface, and relief from convention burnout

Ben Cohen, the Ben of Ben & Jerry's, made a little cartoon to educate us about the federal budget. Mmmm, Oreos.

My friend Brian sent me an email last night about a Pigface song that spoke to him. Excerpt:

I was just listening to Pigface's "Notes From Thee Underground"
(1994, Invisible Records); and the lyrics to "Your Own You Own" caught my attention. The lyrics are by a guest vocalist, Genesis P-Orridge, lead singer for Psychic TV.

I wonder how long I've been a Libertarian? I was a Pigface fan long before this CD came out - but something about THIS song always overwhelmed me. Well...Enjoy. Another reason to love this acid-industrial crew outta Chicago!


Lyrics:

for 23 years we've told you to beware
to be aware
before awake
your freedoms are being eroded [x2]
your needs blocked [x2]
your freedoms are being eroded
your needs blocked
your sexuality legislated
your dreams your right to dreams, stolen [stolen!
stolen! stolen! stolen!]
you are being criminalized
you are being reposesed
your being digitized for ease ov location
your breath thee breath ov youth is being polluted
[provication! [x4]]
your own you own
your very own
your own you own
your brains are being polluted, poisoned, and
fragmented by fear
not your fear [x3]
your own you own [x10]
you only run free
as ov this day
you do not have the right to socialize
your own you own [i lost count, i'd say 30]
or criticise, or analyse, or fantasise, or politicise,
or publisice
or subsidise, or visualise, or conceptualise, or
realise anything!


Also, for those of you burnt out on the taxpayer-funded parties that are the RNC and DNC conventions, equal opportunity satire courtesy of Mark Fiore:

The Republican Games

The Democratic Convention Game

A pox on both their houses, vote Michael Badnarik. Remember, he's not Bush either.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...bomb-diggity...

9.02.2004

Loose ends

I had a good weekend.

Friday night I went out with the peeps to Cafe Japone for sushi and some really bad karaoke. If I can get pics from Tina, I'll post 'em.

Went to visit the family down at Fort Belvoir on Saturday. Got to play Viking King Kubb, an awesome outdoor game I picked up at the County Fair. Afterwards, Allyson and I went to see her friend Marissa Levy play at the Grog & Tankard. Good times.

Sunday was spent studying. This will probably become a trend.

Nemo sent me a great link to the DNA Lounge's experiment in ATM subversion. Gotta love jwz's sense of humor.

I've been arguing gun control with a lot of people this week. In my travels, I found a really good site that takes a look at things from a far more fundamental perspective than the typical, "what does the Second Amendment really mean," standpoint.

a human right

Also, on Tuesday, August 31, Michael Badnarik took part in the first debate of the campaign season. Check out the blog for the post mortem.

Keep it real people, I'm off to Torts.

Yours truly,
Mr. X

...catching up...