Sunday, April 29, 2007

Manifesto Joe's Great Moments In Conservative History, Chapter 2

"If it's to be a bloodbath, let it be now. Appeasement is not the answer."

-- California Gov. Ronald Reagan, on what to do about student disruptions at UC-Berkeley, quoted in the Los Angeles Times (1970-04-08). I remember this every time I'm tempted to think that Il Doofus makes me nostalgic for Reagan. (Note: The Kent State killings happened in Ohio the following month. Did somebody take him seriously?)

Manifesto Joe's Great Moments in Conservative History: Chapter 1

"During the General Strike of 1926, [Winston] Churchill was reported to have suggested that machine guns be used on the striking miners. ... he controversially claimed that the Fascism of Benito Mussolini had 'rendered a service to the whole world,' showing, as it had, 'a way to combat subversive forces' — that is, he considered the regime to be a bulwark against the perceived threat of Communist revolution. At one point, Churchill went as far as to call Mussolini the 'Roman genius… the greatest lawgiver among men.'

"He became most notable for his outspoken opposition towards the granting of independence to India ... He denigrated the father of the Indian independence movement, Mahatma Gandhi, as 'a half-naked fakir' who 'ought to be laid, bound hand and foot, at the gates of Delhi and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new viceroy seated on its back.'"

-- From Wikipedia's biography of Sir Winston Churchill. Just goes to show that even the best of conservatives have their Ann Coulter Prozac moments.

Friday, April 27, 2007

McGovern Rips Cheney A New One

This excellent piece requires little introduction, nor any epilogue. It's from -- MJ

The 1972 presidential nominee strikes back at the vice president for comparing today's Democrats to the McGovern platform.

By George S. McGovern
GEORGE S. MCGOVERN, a former U.S. senator from South Dakota, was the Democratic nominee for president in 1972.
April 24, 2007

VICE PRESIDENT Dick Cheney recently attacked my 1972 presidential platform and contended that today's Democratic Party has reverted to the views I advocated in 1972. In a sense, this is a compliment, both to me and the Democratic Party. Cheney intended no such compliment. Instead, he twisted my views and those of my party beyond recognition. The city where the vice president spoke, Chicago, is sometimes dubbed "the Windy City." Cheney converted the chilly wind of Chicago into hot air.

Cheney said that today's Democrats have adopted my platform from the 1972 presidential race and that, in doing so, they will raise taxes. But my platform offered a balanced budget. I proposed nothing new without a carefully defined way of paying for it. By contrast, Cheney and his team have run the national debt to an all-time high.

He also said that the McGovern way is to surrender in Iraq and leave the U.S. exposed to new dangers. The truth is that I oppose the Iraq war, just as I opposed the Vietnam War, because these two conflicts have weakened the U.S. and diminished our standing in the world and our national security.

In the war of my youth, World War II, I volunteered for military service at the age of 19 and flew 35 combat missions, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross as the pilot of a B-24 bomber. By contrast, in the war of his youth, the Vietnam War, Cheney got five deferments and has never seen a day of combat — a record matched by President Bush.

Cheney charged that today's Democrats don't appreciate the terrorist danger when they move to end U.S. involvement in the Iraq war. The fact is that Bush and Cheney misled the public when they implied that Iraq was involved in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks. That was the work of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda team. Cheney and Bush blew the effort to trap Bin Laden in Afghanistan by their sluggish and inept response after the 9/11 attacks.

They then foolishly sent U.S. forces into Iraq against the advice and experience of such knowledgeable men as former President George H.W. Bush, his secretary of State, James A. Baker III, and his national security advisor, Brent Scowcroft.

Just as the Bush administration mistakenly asserted Iraq's involvement in the 9/11 attacks, it also falsely contended that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. When former Ambassador Joseph Wilson exploded the myth that Iraq attempted to obtain nuclear materials from Niger, Cheney's top aide and other Bush officials leaked to the media that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent (knowingly revealing the identity of a covert agent is illegal).

In attacking my positions in 1972 as representative of "that old party of the early 1970s," Cheney seems oblivious to the realities of that time. Does he remember that the Democratic Party, with me in the lead, reformed the presidential nomination process to ensure that women, young people and minorities would be represented fairly? The so-called McGovern reform rules are still in effect and, indeed, have been largely copied by the Republicans.

The Democrats' 1972 platform was also in the forefront in pushing for affordable healthcare, full employment with better wages, a stronger environmental and energy effort, support for education at every level and a foreign policy with less confrontation and belligerence and more cooperation and conciliation.

Cheney also still has his eyes closed to the folly of the Vietnam War, in which 58,000 young Americans and more than 2 million Vietnamese died. Vietnam was no threat to the United States.

On one point I do agree with Cheney: Today's Democrats are taking positions on the Iraq war similar to the views I held toward the Vietnam War. But that is all to the good.

The war in Iraq has greatly increased the terrorist danger. There was little or no terrorism, insurgency or civil war in Iraq before Bush and Cheney took us into war there five years ago. Now Iraq has become a breeding ground of terrorism, a bloody insurgency against our troops and a civil war.

Beyond the deaths of more than 3,100 young Americans and an estimated 600,000 Iraqis, we have spent nearly $500 billion on the war, which has dragged on longer than World War II.

The Democrats are right. Let's bring our troops home from this hopeless war.

There is one more point about 1972 for Cheney's consideration. After winning 11 state primaries in a field of 16 contenders, I won the Democratic presidential nomination. I then lost the general election to President Nixon. Indeed, the entrenched incumbent president, with a campaign budget 10 times the size of mine, the power of the White House behind him and a highly negative and unethical campaign, defeated me overwhelmingly. But lest Cheney has forgotten, a few months after the election, investigations by the Senate and an impeachment proceeding in the House forced Nixon to become the only president in American history to resign the presidency in disgrace.

Who was the real loser of '72?

THE VICE PRESIDENT spoke with contempt of my '72 campaign, but he might do well to recall that I began that effort with these words: "I make one pledge above all others — to seek and speak the truth." We made some costly tactical errors after winning the nomination, but I never broke my pledge to speak the truth. That is why I have never felt like a loser since 1972. In contrast, Cheney and Bush have repeatedly lied to the American people.

It is my firm belief that the Cheney-Bush team has committed offenses that are worse than those that drove Nixon, Vice President Spiro Agnew and Atty. Gen. John Mitchell from office after 1972. Indeed, as their repeated violations of the Constitution and federal statutes, as well as their repudiation of international law, come under increased consideration, I expect to see Cheney and Bush forced to resign their offices before 2008 is over.

Aside from a growing list of impeachable offenses, the vice president has demonstrated his ignorance of foreign policy by attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for visiting Syria. Apparently he thinks it is wrong to visit important Middle East states that sometimes disagree with us. Isn't it generally agreed that Nixon's greatest achievement was talking to the Chinese Communist leaders, which opened the door to that nation? And wasn't President Reagan's greatest achievement talking with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev until the two men worked out an end to the Cold War? Does Cheney believe that it's better to go to war rather than talk with countries with which we have differences?

We, of course, already know that when Cheney endorses a war, he exempts himself from participation. On second thought, maybe it's wise to keep Cheney off the battlefield — he might end up shooting his comrades rather than the enemy.

On a more serious note, instead of listening to the foolishness of the neoconservative ideologues, the Cheney-Bush team might better heed the words of a real conservative, Edmund Burke: "A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood."

Friday, April 20, 2007

How Bush Thugs In Armani Suits Stole Elections: Chapter 87


If there were still any doubt that the last two presidential elections were blatantly stolen, a story that was all but buried by the Mainstream Media this week should dispel that. I realize that it was a busy news week, with the horror of the Virginia Tech massacre. But this revelation should have rated lead-story treatment at least one day. As the The Sun of Baltimore reported on April 19:

WASHINGTON -- For six years, the Bush administration, aided by Justice Department political appointees, has pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates, according to former department lawyers and a review of written records.

The administration intensified its efforts last year as President Bush's popularity and Republican support eroded heading into a midterm battle for control of Congress, which the Democrats won.

Facing nationwide voter registration drives by Democratic-leaning groups, the administration alleged widespread election fraud and endorsed proposals for tougher state and federal voter identification laws. Presidential political adviser Karl Rove alluded to the strategy in April 2006 when he railed about voter fraud in a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association.

Questions about the administration's campaign against alleged voter fraud have helped fuel the political tempest over the firings last year of eight U.S. attorneys, several of whom were ousted in part because they failed to bring voter fraud cases important to Republican politicians. ...

Civil rights advocates contend that the administration's policies were intended to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of poor and minority voters who tend to support Democrats, and by filing state and federal lawsuits, civil rights groups have won court rulings blocking some of its actions.

The administration ... has repeatedly invoked allegations of widespread voter fraud to justify tougher voter ID measures and other steps to restrict access to the ballot, even though research suggests that voter fraud is rare.

Since President Bush's first attorney general, John Ashcroft, a former Republican senator from Missouri, launched a "Ballot Access and Voter Integrity Initiative" in 2001, Justice Department political appointees have exhorted U.S. attorneys to prosecute voter fraud cases, and the department's Civil Rights Division has sought to roll back policies to protect minority voting rights.

On virtually every significant decision affecting election balloting since 2001, the division's Voting Rights Section has come down on the side of Republicans, notably in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Washington and other states where recent elections have been decided by narrow margins.

The chief of the Voting Rights Section from 1999 to 2005, Joseph D. Rich, saw the partisan pattern firsthand. Rich wrote in the March 29 edition of

THE SCANDAL unfolding around the firing of eight U.S. attorneys compels the conclusion that the Bush administration has rewarded loyalty over all else. A destructive pattern of partisan political actions at the Justice Department started long before this incident, however, as those of us who worked in its civil rights division can attest.

I spent more than 35 years in the department enforcing federal civil rights laws — particularly voting rights. Before leaving in 2005, I worked for attorneys general with dramatically different political philosophies — from John Mitchell to Ed Meese to Janet Reno. Regardless of the administration, the political appointees had respect for the experience and judgment of longtime civil servants.

Under the Bush administration, however, all that changed. Over the last six years, this Justice Department has ignored the advice of its staff and skewed aspects of law enforcement in ways that clearly were intended to influence the outcome of elections.

It has notably shirked its legal responsibility to protect voting rights. From 2001 to 2006, no voting discrimination cases were brought on behalf of African American or Native American voters. U.S. attorneys were told instead to give priority to voter fraud cases, which, when coupled with the strong support for voter ID laws, indicated an intent to depress voter turnout in minority and poor communities.

At least two of the recently fired U.S. attorneys, John McKay in Seattle and David C. Iglesias in New Mexico, were targeted largely because they refused to prosecute voting fraud cases that implicated Democrats or voters likely to vote for Democrats. ...

This administration is also politicizing the career staff of the Justice Department. Outright hostility to career employees who disagreed with the political appointees was evident early on. Seven career managers were removed in the civil rights division. I personally was ordered to change performance evaluations of several attorneys under my supervision. I was told to include critical comments about those whose recommendations ran counter to the political will of the administration and to improve evaluations of those who were politically favored.

Morale plummeted, resulting in an alarming exodus of career attorneys. In the last two years, 55% to 60% of attorneys in the voting section have transferred to other departments or left the Justice Department entirely.

At the same time, career staff were nearly cut out of the process of hiring lawyers. Control of hiring went to political appointees, so an applicant's fidelity to GOP interests replaced civil rights experience as the most important factor in hiring decisions. ...

The implications of the Bush hooligans' election thefts are enormous. And yet, the allegedly liberal Mainstream Media mostly gave this story passing, secondary coverage. At last count, U.S. military deaths in Iraq stood at 3,309. It is unlikely that we will ever know approximately how many Iraqis have died. British government scientists recently endorsed the validity of a study that estimated 655,000 Iraqis have been killed as the result of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

And, it's even more unlikely that this needless and vastly damaging war would have occurred had just 1,000 or so legitimate voters not been disenfranchised in Florida in 2000.

Of course, this critically important story just wasn't enough to compete with, say, the real daddy of Anna Nicole's baby, as the day's lead.

And this is why our "free" press is in serious trouble -- almost as much as is our pseudo-republic.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas.

Monday, April 16, 2007

IRS Tax Gestapo Loves To Pick On Poor People

By Manifesto Joe
"... In 1976, my mother owed $300 in taxes. They were not paid due to the fact that she was diagnosed with cancer and given 12 weeks to live. In May, as she lay dying, two IRS agents showed up at my house where we had moved my mother to take care of her. They told me they were friends and had come to visit. I took them to the room, where they introduced themselves as IRS agents and served her papers to confiscate everything she owned. She was to (sic) weak to sign the paper but did make an X and I signed for her. On that day, they took everything she owned ... even the soda bottles at her place of business! She died within the week. ..."
-- IRS Abuse Report #193, from
Those were supposed to be the bad old days of the IRS. After countless complaints like this, in the late '90s there was a bid to reform the service into something BusinessWeek called, a bit facetiously, a "kinder, gentler IRS." The Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, signed by President Clinton, was gauged to make "significant structural changes in the management and oversight ..." and strengthen and enhance "the rights of and protections applicable to taxpayers ..."
There were a few meaningful changes in the new law. But it didn't take long for the IRS to revert to stonefaced abuse of poor and financially distressed taxpayers -- while ignoring most of the cheating by the rich.
Under the Bush regime, the working poor have come under special attack over their claims of the Earned Income Credit. This is an especially valuable tax credit for people coming off the welfare rolls and into the low-wage job market, because it can bring a refund of all income tax and Social Security tax withheld from their paychecks. The bottom line: This credit is an incentive for welfare recipients to go to work. Wasn't that what the Right-Wingers wanted when they "reformed" welfare in 1996?
But, being a conservative means never having to say you're sorry. In the conservative world, the poor are a sub-species, basically faceless and worthless. If people are poor, then they must be lazy, drink too much and gamble, rent their kids to pedophiles, or such. It most certainly has to be their fault; and if you honestly try to help them, I'm told that they'll spend the money on a console and play Nintendo all day. So, as the thinking on the Right goes, we might as well kick this sort of gutter trash around a whole lot more.
So, this is where the IRS comes in. David Cay Johnson reported in this story, first published by the New York Times on Jan. 10, 2006, that:
Tax refunds sought by hundreds of thousands of poor Americans have been frozen and their returns labeled fraudulent, blocking refunds for years to come, the Internal Revenue Service's taxpayer advocate told Congress today.
The taxpayers, whose average income was $13,000, were not told that they were suspected of fraud, the advocate said in her annual report to Congress. The advocate, Nina Olson, said her staff sampled suspected returns and found that, at most, one in five was questionable.
A computer program selected the returns as part of the questionable refund program run by the criminal investigation division of the Internal Revenue Service. In some cases, the criminal division ordered that taxpayers be given no hint that they were suspected of fraud, the report said.
Most of the poor people whose returns the computer flagged as fraudulent were seeking the earned income tax credit, a benefit for the working poor. The credit can return all of the income taxes and Social Security taxes withheld from the paychecks of poor people. Without the credit, many poor people coming off welfare and going to work would receive less money because of taxes taken out of their paychecks and the loss of health benefits, I.R.S. data and other government documents show.
The average refund sought was $3,500, which under the rules for obtaining the credit means that the vast majority of those suspected of fraud were single parents or married couples with children. The maximum benefit for singles is less than $400.
Ms. Olson said the I.R.S. devoted vastly more resources to pursing questionable refunds by the poor, which she said cannot involve more than $9 billion, than to a $100 billion problem with unreported incomes from small businesses that deal only in cash, many of which do not even file tax returns.
Let's forget any discussion of "small" businesses here. And, going into the way the rich and corporate giants get by without paying taxes is a whole different post. There isn't nearly enough room here.
Suffice it to say that some of us know what this is about, from schoolyard memories. It's a lot easier to pick on little kids than to take on the big ones. The IRS is just one of many bully magnets in our society. I haven't got time or space to describe all the others. It is merely one manifestation of a rising bully culture. And conservatives seem to be leading the swagger.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Brief Memorial To Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Manifesto Joe was very saddened to hear of the death of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., 84. Although Kurt lived a long and interesting life, it is tragic that our society is losing so many of the great, unique characters like him. Kurt was a hero of mine back in the '70s, and one of the inspirations for me to start writing. He was an unreconstructed socialist, and a chain-smoker of Pall Malls, until the day he died, as far as I know. It's no longer fashionable, none of this; but I have to admire a contrarian that stubborn. We could use a few more. I hope for humanity's great cycle to eventually bring a few back. -- MJ

Sunday, April 1, 2007

A Special Post For April Fool's Day

If Bush had been a Roman emperor:

All hail to Dyslexius the First.