Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

June 10, 2008

Kucinich Submits 35 Articles of Impeachment

Filed under: impeachment, politics — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 5:59 pm

Dennis Kucinich presented 35 articles of impeachment last night.  Yup, Democracy Now and blogs are about the only places where you are going to see it covered.  Over at the Daily Kos, they have a short summary of all the articles.  It is worth noting each article is an impeachable offense and each was well documented.

Democratic leadership still considers impeachment off the table.  This has to be the most politically feckless position imaginable.   Imagine, a political party unwilling to engage in a debate about how horrible the opposition party is.  Republican equate Democrats to Nazi appeasers.  The best the Democrats come back with is if we are Nazi appeasers than so are you (see Secretary of Defense Gates).

Even if an impeachment resolution doesn’t go anywhere, one would think Democrats would see the advantage to be had to remind the American people of how horrible the current Republican president has been, and to remind the American people of all the things that made him unpopular to begin with, certainly Kucinich reminded me of a few offenses I might had previously forgotten.

Democrats have control of congress.  They do have some ability to control the topic of debate.  Yet, they refuse to use the power which they have vested, whereas the president uses all of his power and usurped a few powers he doesn’t actually have.  In response, the Democratic leadership does nothing and can do nothing.  We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis, except that one side decided not to play, decided not to use the only they had to contain a destructive presidency: impeachment.  The constitutional government has failed and there were two parts to the failure: a presidency that usurped the power and a congress unwilling to check the power of the executive using the only effective means they had.  As is stand, the legacy of George W. Bush will pass without an official word of condemnation.  A guarantee that there will be more presidents like George W. Bush to come.

January 18, 2008

The Other Excluded Candidate: Mike Gravel

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 11:05 am

In many ways, Mike Gravel did not get a fair shake this election. He has done a lot for this country. He attempted to filibustered the draft. He helped release the infamous “Pentagon Papers” to the public.

Here is an email Noam Chomsky wrote on Mike Gravel’s present and past accomplishments.

Alone among members of Congress, Senator Mike Gravel had the courage to take a stand that not only helped bring the atrocious Indochina wars to an end, but also made a great contribution to breaking the wall of secrecy that governments erect to protect themselves from their own citizens. I am of course referring to his release of the Pentagon Papers, properly called “the Gravel edition,” which provided the public with a unique opportunity to become educated about affairs of state.

In the years since, Gravel has continued to show the same moral integrity and courage, particularly with regard to war and aggression, the severe threat of nuclear war, the destructive impact of the military-industrial complex on American democracy, and the programs of aggressive militarism that have led even Europeans to rank the US as the greatest threat to world peace, far above Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, or other states assigned this role in the US doctrinal system. It may be that these consistent and honorable commitments are responsible for his being largely excluded from the media, even from presidential debates. And the same integrity and courage should be an inspiration for people who care about their country, the fate of its people, and its role in the world.

The Gravel campaign also put out a video “Et Tu, Dennis?”

In all honesty, I would like all active Democratic candidates in the debate.  However, I do understand some of the pressure candidates are under.  Ideally, Democratic candidates would show some solidarity for one another.  Realistically, the Democratic candidates are in direct competition with one another.  It is not surprising that the only candidate to mention Kucinich’s exclusion was Obama, the candidate Kucinich told his supporters to make their second choice if they didn’t make the 15% threshold during the Iowa Caucuses.  The political game is perfectly obvious.  Obama wants to be the candidate to pick up Kucinich’s supporters, either in the later primaries or in the general election.

However, the other unfortunate side-effect of this direct competition is that candidates attack the candidates they think they can win votes from. This means Gravel is much more likely to attack Kucinich for his stance on exclusion rather than Clinton or Edwards.

The only notable exception to this I’ve seen to this are the Republican candidates attacking Ron Paul.  Basically, all the Republican candidates want to be the most “Alpha-male” candidate, so when Ron Paul starts some of his classic non-interventionist rhetoric, the other candidates salivate to be the one to deliver the most devastating zinger.

In all fairness, if we want to fix the debate exclusion, it needs to happen at the party level, not the individual candidate.  The Democratic party should have some rules about excluding candidates from a presidential debate.  If a candidate is excluded, the party won’t support the debate.   Democratic candidates that break the rules would face party sanctions.  Look, there is no reason to let MSNBC establish the criteria for debate inclusion.  The Democratic party can easily come to the aid of an unwelcome candidate by forbidding those the organizers do want from participating.  However, such rules would need to be established ahead of time.

Ultimately, it is the Democratic party that is hurt by this exclusion process.  Yes, it helps the top-tier candidates by marginalizing the excluded candidates, but it also misrepresents the true spectrum of the party.  This lack of diversity means the base of the Democratic party is not as big as it could be.  In short, allowing MSNBC to determine the candidates is costing the Democratic party votes.

The true problem exists with the lack of solidarity in the party over candidate exclusion.  However, expecting an individual candidate to take initiative on any such measure without collective agreement works directly against the candidate’s rational self-interest and obligation to be in the race to win it.

January 17, 2008

Chomsky’s Version of the “Shock Doctrine”

Filed under: capitalism, economy, politics — Tags: , , , — codesmithy @ 8:53 am

Noam Chomsky gives a speech at a City Life/Vida Urbana event where he gives a remarkably similar narrative to that of Naomi Klein’s book “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.”

and parts 2,3,4 and 5.

Here is a link to Dean Baker’s book “The Conservative Nanny State” that Chomsky mentions. One can read the whole book online.

As Chomsky elucidates in his speech, the economic system is setup in a particular way, namely to transfer wealth upwards. The mechanisms and policies that achieve this effect are considered natural, efficient, immutable, when in fact they are anything but. However, any course of action that has the opposite effect, namely to transfer wealth downwards, are considered distortions, interference, inefficient and stifling to innovation.

One fundamental goal is to remove economic decisions from democratic governments which might be influenced by the vast majority of the population into the hands of an elite “virtual senate.” The governments would exist, however it would not have actual sovereignty. An economic elite could cause havoc via forced interdependence, one tool in their toolbox is currency flight.

For American political discourse, Kucinich gets it right. We cannot talk about illegal immigration in America without first discussing NAFTA. NAFTA caused a collapse in the Mexican farm economy, fueling the need for immigrants to come to the North to work for American agribusiness and other unskilled labor fields.

Dean Baker shows there is a flip-side to the system we have and it can be changed.

January 16, 2008

NBC Wins Appeal, Excludes Kucinich from Debate

Filed under: media, politics — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 8:17 am

If you voted for “find a more sympathetic judge and stop the threat of injunction” in yesterday’s post, then you were right. NBC appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court and they found in NBC’s favor.

Glenn Greenwald is a former constitutional lawyer and highlights some of the legal issues involved in the case.

The two main legal claims for the injunction were

  1. In excluding Kucinich, MSNBC was violating Section 315 of the Communications Act which requires broadcasters “to operate in the public interest and to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of public importance.”
  2. The invitation represented a contract between the two parties, thus MSNBC was in breach of contract when it rescinded the invitation

The Nevada Supreme Courts ruling can be found here. I’m not a lawyer, but from reading the ruling the Nevada Supreme Court stated that the district court exceeded its jurisdiction in applying section 315 of the Communications Act. In the court’s opinion, that power rests with the FCC and thus ruled in NBC’s favor.

For the second claim, the Nevada Supreme Court “conclude[d] that the district court manifestly abused its discretion in determining that a contract existed between the parties.” An enforceable contract requires an offer, and acceptance, meeting of the minds and consideration. According to the Nevada Supreme Court, consideration was lacking.

Here is a definition of legal consideration:

1) payment or money. 2) a vital element in the law of contracts, consideration is a benefit which must be bargained for between the parties, and is the essential reason for a party entering into a contract. Consideration must be of value (at least to the parties), and is exchanged for the performance or promise of performance by the other party (such performance itself is consideration). In a contract, one consideration (thing given) is exchanged for another consideration.

January 15, 2008

The MSNBC Kucinich Debate Saga

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 10:20 am

In an interesting turn of events, MSNBC invited and then uninvited presidential candidate and Ohio congressmen Dennis Kucinich from Tuesday’s debate in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Unfortunately, this is nothing new.  Dennis Kucinich was also excluded from the ABC debate before the New Hampshire primary.  As I examined before, even when he is there moderators try to turn him into a wallflower.  What is new is a judge said that he will issue an injunction to stop the debate if Kucinich is excluded.  NBC is appealing the decision.

It will be interesting to see what MSNBC will do

  1. Find a more sympathetic  judge and stop the threat of injunction
  2. Force the judge to stop the debate
  3. Allow Kucinich in the debate and all but ignore him

However, if Kucinich is allowed in the debate, I would expect some questions trying to discredit him.

December 5, 2007

Kucinich at the Brown and Black Forum

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — codesmithy @ 9:17 am

Above, Representative Kucinich takes advantage of the forum’s format slightly to ask himself a question, which he happens to have a very good answer for.   I’ve already written about H.R. 676 in reviewing Paul Krugman’s “Conscience of a Liberal.”  Krugman stresses the need to compromise and endorse plans to secure enough profits for private insurance companies, less insurance companies oppose any universal health care plan.  Plans like those proposed by Obama, Edwards, and Clinton.  I think Krugman is slightly mistaken in his political calculation.  I think strong support for H.R. 676 is necessary to enable the other compromises.  I don’t see private insurance companies being willing to compromise unless they believe something that cuts them out completely is credible.  Other compromises would require such blatant transfer of public wealth for private profit, it seems unsavory and wasteful.

Alas, more impressions of Kucinich’s performance can be read here.

November 21, 2007

Kucinich and Gravel

Filed under: environment, media, politics — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 9:11 am

Rep. Kucinich gave an inspiring ten minute speech about the role environmentalism would play in his administration. The key question facing our species is whether we can overcome ruthless exploitation, not only with our fellow men but also planet we live on. A flawed notion of our species is that we are separate from nature. We build our societies, our homes, our machines, the world beyond our narrow affairs seldom enters into our day to day reality.  Nor is this surprising, because we’ve done such a great job masking it.  But, no matter how hard we try the underlying reality remains the same, our survival depends vitally on the ecosystem of the Earth as a whole.  It is easy to forget what we’ve taken and what we’ve wasted.  The Earth is so large and the resources have been so abundant.   However, there are now signs that we need to start considering those issues, because failure to so could very well mean our extinction.  And yes, war is an environment issue.

Mike Gravel is another dark horse Democratic Presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator from Alaska.  Someone put together a video of audio clips of him and Nine Inch Nails “In This Twilight” from Year Zero (an album about a dystopian future set in 2022).  I thought it was quite good and should pass it along.

November 17, 2007

Kucinich and Paul

Filed under: media, politics — Tags: , , , — codesmithy @ 12:00 pm

Above is Dennis Kucinich’s performance at the Las Vegas CNN debate.

Devz0r did some great work breaking down the time allotted to each candidate.

Candidate Total Chances to speak Average Response Length % of total
Obama 21 min 40 sec 14 93 sec 23%
Clinton 19 min 15 76 sec 20%
Richardson 15 min 40 sec 11 85 sec 16%
Edwards 13 min 30 sec 12 68 sec 14%
Biden 10 min 30 sec 10 63 sec 11%
Dodd 8 min 40 sec 8 65 sec 9.1%
Kucinich 6 min 6 60 sec 6.3%

This data seems to agree with the Talk Clock on Chris Dodd’s site.

Candidate Total % of total
Obama 18 min 9 sec 22%
Clinton 15 min 55 sec 20%
Richardson 14 min 6 sec 17%
Edwards 10 min 43 sec 13%
Biden 9 min 15 sec 11%
Dodd 7 min 10 sec 8.9%
Kucinich 5 min 37 sec 6.9%

The maximum percentage difference between the two data sets for any candidate is less than 1%.

A Ron Paul supporter emailed Noam Chomsky about the good doctor and here is Chomsky’s reply. Chomsky basically nails Paul’s position, which is one of extreme nationalism. While I may agree with Paul’s position on the Iraq war, we arrive at that similar conclusion based on fundamentally different lines of thought and principles. A liberal position is based on notions of international justice and diplomacy, Paul’s are based on isolationism that would also withdraw the United States from the United Nations. I understand the Friedman and Rand appeal to entrepreneurial supermen/women that are the engines of society, whose vast potential and independent spirit push society forward and any bureaucracy causes distortions that can be scientifically proven to be harmful. It is hard to argue with this myth with the believers. Chomsky tries to point out some of the problems by the various mismatches in the power structure. I don’t hold out much hope for it penetrating though. There is a saying that goes: intelligence is learning from your own mistakes, wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others. Although, I like this one better: “learn from the mistakes of others, you may not live long enough to make them all yourself.” Unfettered capitalism is counterproductive to middle-class, democratic societies. “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism” by Naomi Klein gives an honest description of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War and beyond. In many ways, what Bush has done is apply and insource policies that the United States has helped implement abroad since at least the 1950’s. Paul’s planned policies lead to speculation, and while cronyism may go down, inequality is likely to rise.

Whether I would vote for Ron Paul is merely a tactical decision. I like the fact that he is a grass roots candidate and I would have to agree with Ralph Nader’s this assessment that Ron Paul would be an enema for America. Also, it could finally discredit the free market fundamentalism and underscore the need for regulation when government actually has to live within its means (as if the great depression and its brutal application in third world countries didn’t already demonstrate its moral bankruptcy sufficiently for some, which nevertheless seems to be the case). That said, I honestly just wish Kucinich would get the Democratic nod, but I’ve come to the conclusion that is unlikely.

First, the leading Democratic candidates are just stronger than the Republicans. The Republican field is pretty weak, meaning an outsider like Paul has more of a chance. Second, Paul divides the Republican party in a really interesting way. He hits most of the values of the Republican party square on the head, except the authoritarianism and drug issues. However, given how strong of a candidate he is for the strong nationalists, gun rights and pro-life sentiments of the party, if he can gain perceived legitimacy he has some real potential to resonate with a lot of the Republican base. It is all about gaining momentum and peaking at the right time, which Paul might just pull off. The Democratic candidates, on the other hand, are promising just enough to keep Kucinich support divided and marginalized so long as he is perceived as a dark-horse candidate. Even if Kucinich received a money bomb like Ron Paul’s (which would be great), I can’t say that it would have the same effect in raising his chances of winning. It just means Kucinich supporters have to fight harder; history is what we make it.

Just imagine what it will be like to have a President of the United States who is right the first time – Dennis Kucinich

As a side note, the student who asked the “Diamonds or Pearls?” question at the end of the debate appears none too happy. It is rather remarkable how far downhill CNN has gone since Turner left.

Blog at WordPress.com.