Friday, February 17, 2006

Political links of the week

Since I'd rather not turn this into a completely political blog, I'm pondering trying to combine my politically related posting into a single weekly post. Here are this week's links:

The Trust Gap: A scathing New York Times editorial on the Bush administration. It's well documented, and the opening paragraph sums it up:
We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers — and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.
Bill functionally bans third parties: The Green Party reports that Democrats are pushing a bill in Congress that would all but eliminate third parties from elections:
HR 4694 ("Let the People Decide Clean Campaign Act") would grant nominees of parties (i.e., Democrats and Republicans) that had averaged 25% of the vote for House races in a given district in the last two elections would get full public funding.

All others (i.e., third party and independent candidates) would be required to submit petitions signed by 10% of the last vote cast for partial funding, and 20% petitions for full funding.

Furthermore, candidates who don't qualify for funding would be barred from spending any privately raised money on their campaigns.
Government may waive near $7 billion in oil, gas royalties:
The government may waive up to $7 billion in royalty payments from companies pumping oil and natural gas on federal territory in the next five years, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing administration officials and budget documents.

The royalty relief would amount to one of the biggest giveaways of oil and gas in U.S. history ...
UN inquiry demands immediate closure of Guantanamo:
A United Nations inquiry has called for the immediate closure of America's Guantanamo Bay detention centre and the prosecution of officers and politicians "up to the highest level" who are accused of torturing detainees.

The UN Human Rights Commission report, due to be published this week, concludes that Washington should put the 520 detainees on trial or release them.
Lawyers: Many Gitmo Detainees Not Accused:
More than half of the terror suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay have not been accused of committing hostile acts against the United States or its allies, two of the detainees' lawyers said in a report released Tuesday.

Compiled from declassified Defense Department evaluations of the more than 500 detainees at the Cuba facility, the report says just 8 percent are listed as fighters for a terrorist group, while 30 percent are considered members of a terrorist group and the remaining 60 percent were just "associated with" terrorists.
The photos America doesn't want seen - An Australian TV show has released more pictures of torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. There is a gallery here; BoingBoing has linked to a number of sites hosting the Australian pictures here. Subsequently, Salon released a different set of pictures, which BoingBoing links to here.

Iraqi insurgency more confident, coordinated: A report ("In Their Own Words: Reading the Iraqi Insurgency"; available here) by the International Crisis Group analyzing communication trends of the Iraqi insurgency.
In Iraq, the U.S. fights an enemy it hardly knows. Its descriptions have relied on gross approximations and crude categories (Saddamists, Islamo-fascists and the like) that bear only passing resemblance to reality. This report, based on close analysis of the insurgents’ own discourse, reveals relatively few groups, less divided between nationalists and foreign jihadis than assumed, whose strategy and tactics have evolved (in response to U.S. actions and to maximise acceptance by Sunni Arabs), and whose confidence in defeating the occupation is rising.
Republicans Block Investigation of Domestic Spying Program: A blog post by Representative Conyers describing how House Republicans blocked his proposed investigation into the domestic NSA spying.
You may recall that a few weeks ago I introduced a resolution of inquiry to obtain Justice Department documents about the President's domestic spying program.


Today, the House Judiciary Committee considered my resolution of inquiry on the domestic spying program. The Resolution was rejected 16 to 21, with all Democrats and one Republican (Congressman Hostetler) voting for it.


To me, this is one of the most serious problems with one-party, Republican rule: there is no check and balance of Executive Branch wrongdoing. The refusal to assert basic prerogatives to obtain documents and engage in oversight is dangerous and disheartening. We are not giving up -- we, meaning every House Judiciary Democrat, have sent our own questions to the Chairman and asked for a series of hearings on this issue.
25 Representatives want impeachment inquiry: The initial sponsor of the bill is none other than Representative Conyers.
25 US Representatives–including two members of the Georgia delegation–have now signed on as co-sponsors of H. Res 635, demanding a probe which could recommend Bush’s impeachment ...

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