Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Get Out the Vote
Some anecdotal responses

Donald P. Green and Alan S. Gerber are political scientists at Yale University. Eager to justify the discipline's claim to be scientific, they conducted experiments in U.S. elections to measure the efficacy of various campaign methodologies over a period several electoral cycles. They randomly selected potential voters and a similar control group; they applied various electoral techniques to the selectees and avoided the controls; measured actual voting behavior based on public records; and replicated the same experiments in different times and places. That is, they set loose the scientific method on campaign tactics.

Their little book Get Out the Vote: How to Increase Voter Turnout is a fascinating treasury of data, all fully reported. Some of their conclusions agree with my long experience in field campaigns; a very few don't agree; and I have many anecdotes that I think amplify some of their findings.

First a caveat: though Green and Gerber name the book GOTV, they were not always measuring the same thing that campaigns mean by that acronym. In actual campaigns, GOTV means getting out their own votes, not voters at large. The last thing most campaigns want is to turn out every voter. Though Green and Gerber do describe some partisan experiments, a lot of their data derives from non-partisan turnout efforts in which increased participation by anyone was considered a success. Campaigns want something quite different. They seek to win, not simply encourage participation.

Green and Gerber report on many tactics, in descending order of efficacy. Here I am summarizing their findings on the subset of their data that refers to partisan, contested elections:
  • Door-to-door -- 1 vote per 14 contacts;
  • Leafletting -- in partisan campaigns, 1 vote per 66 lit drops to registered voters;
  • Direct mail -- 1 vote per 177 base voters; 1 vote per 600 persuaded voters;
  • Phone calls -- volunteer callers, 1 vote per 35 contacts; paid phonebank, 1 vote per 400 calls without enhanced training and supervision;
  • Robo calls -- no detectable effect;
  • Email -- no detectable effect.
Some observations:

Door-to-door
My experience is certainly that door knocking canvasses work well for campaigns. But I was initially skeptical about this book's assertion that organizers can assume roughly 12 contacts an hour. I thought that was too high a number. So I asked around among experienced organizers and they agreed with Green and Gerber. Moreover, I tracked my own contacts on a precinct walk last Saturday and they were right on target.

Why does much of my experience suggest lower numbers of voters contacted per hour? I think too much of my experience has been with inner city canvasses in low-income areas where voters may be harder to find. Also, most of the door knockers I've worked with have been very inexperienced individuals who were tasked with moderately difficult missions to find out the partisan preferences of the voters. This is tougher than just encouraging turnout and may lead to lower contact rates.

An article by Michael McDonald in the Washington Post on Sunday suggested that canvass efforts may not be so effective in hot contests such as we are seeing this year. Green and Gerber read their experiments otherwise, saying door knocking GOTV works in both competitive and non-competitive contests. I'm not surprised. What none of us who care about politics can readily understand is just how remote these contests are from many voter's ordinary consciousness. Most people don't think much about politics -- or want to. Last weekend I walked door to door for one of the hottest contests around this year. Our opening line was supposed to be: "Have you heard of Jerry McNerney who is running for Congress?" Lots of people had not, ten days out. They have better things to do than worry about politics. That is why they need person-to-person contact to get them to vote (our way, we hope).

Overall, I could not agree more with Green and Gerber:

Face-to-face interaction makes politics come to life and helps voters to establish a personal connection with the electoral process. The canvasser's willingness to devote time and energy signals the importance of participation in the electoral process.

Leafleting
Under this label, Green and Gerber mean dropping campaign literature, especially door hangers, at the doors of targeted voters. As an organizer, I hate this kind of "leafleting." I consider the choice to employ this tactic an admission of defeat: we must not have recruited enough canvassers who would actually talk with people so we defaulted to running those we did get around to "lit drop." With that attitude, I was pleasantly surprised to see that GOTV maintains this activity is relatively effective.

They don't have a lot of data on this, so I feel real free to suggest my caveats about "leafleting." When five campaigns are lit dropping the same area, I doubt the effect is positive. Or, rather, I doubt it helps determine the direction of the vote, even if it increases turn out. And when an area is frequently targeted by pizza delivery door hangers, forget it!

I've seen a couple of kinds of large lit drops that I think did some good. If no other campaigns are door hanging and the date is surprising, I think you get something out of hitting every house in a neighborhood. Once we door hung a full half of San Francisco for a candidate the night before Thanksgiving; on the holiday morning, every address found a message from our candidate who was facing a December run off election. That was probably noticeable and a reasonable use of volunteer labor.

The other effective door hanging I've seen is done the night before or morning of Election Day with polling place information on each door hanger. I suspect this is novel enough to attract some notice, though it would be great to have better data on whether this really works.

Direct mail
Damn -- I love it that Green and Gerber consider direct mail relatively pricey and ineffective. Campaigns put vast sums into mailing and then starve their people-to-people efforts when the money could better have been used for personal contact. At the very least, many could put more effort into creating literature that can be delivered at the doors. I think some of the popularity of mail as a tactic is that lots of campaign workers think of themselves as budding message wizards, sure they've got the magic words and pictures that will win the day. Again, the more one interacts with average, unengaged voters, the more one realizes that messages and their impacts include an awful lot of unknowns. Usually message is only one variable in a shifting context that determines electoral outcomes in the few contested races.

Phoning
Green and Gerber make it clear that phone contacts have to feel personal and neighborly to the voters on the end of the line, whether made by volunteers or professionals. That rings true and is hard to achieve. Organizers all include phoning as a major part of electoral field programs because it is relatively simple to organize, but increasing numbers of unlisted and cell phones and the reality that more and more people don't answer phones are diminishing returns. Improved distributed computerized predictive dialing systems are helping this cycle, but I would expect phoning success to continue to decline -- from being the best way of reaching people aside from at their doors, phones are becoming just one among many communication media, alongside text messages, email, etc.

Quibbles aside, Green and Gerber have presented their research results in a way accessible to anyone who needs to think about how to win campaigns. Like the good professors themselves, I look forward to reading about more well-designed experiments that test all this stuff we do every couple of years. Organizers do enough flailing around in this very human enterprise; it would be nice to know that our tactical choices have been guided by smart experiential data.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Signs of the Season:
Brent Ives for Mayor


(Part of a continuing series on political signs. Other entries here, here, here, and here.)

This has to be one of the most attractive signs I've seen this year. Mr. Ives success will probably depend upon whether Tracy, California wishes to hang on to the older rural image of itself to which he is appealing or whether it wants to see itself as the bustling bedroom community it is becoming.

Curiously, Mr. Ives seems to be the candidate whose agenda is to help developers circumvent slow growth restrictions that somewhat preserve the area's open space. His opponent, Celeste Garamendi, has a history of battling against big box stores and other unrestrained development.

So Ives' sign may be deceptive, but it sure is pretty. In contrast, Garamendi's signs are merely informative.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A city of ghosts


Last spring, I wrote about Anthony Shadid's account in Night Draws Near of the nightmare the U.S. has unleashed in Iraq. Shadid has returned to look up his friends in Baghdad. Here's how he begins his column today from the Washington Post.

It had been almost a year since I was in the Iraqi capital, where I worked as a reporter in the days of Saddam Hussein, the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, and the occupation, guerrilla war and religious resurgence that followed. On my return, it was difficult to grasp how atomized and violent the 1,250-year-old city has become. Even on the worst days, I had always found Baghdad's most redeeming quality to be its resilience, a tenacious refusal among people I met over three years to surrender to the chaos unleashed when the Americans arrived. That resilience is gone, overwhelmed by civil war, anarchy or whatever term could possibly fit. Baghdad now is convulsed by hatred, paralyzed by suspicion; fear has forced many to leave. Carnage its rhythm and despair its mantra, the capital, it seems, no longer embraces life.

"A city of ghosts," a friend told me, her tone almost funereal.

Read it all.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

On the campaign trail


Tools of the door knocking trade.

A few disjointed observations is all I can manage after a long day walking a precinct in Tracy for Jerry McNerney (CA-11).

Working on an election campaign provides a legitimate excuse to talk with our fellow citizens. Nobody in the exurban subdivision I tromped around today seemed distressed when I showed up with my clipboard on the their doorstep. Of course I was polite and didn't harangue. Juan Cole recently made some interesting comments on the gift of legitimacy that this election has created for criticism of the Iraq war even though the Democrats are not coherently running on a peace platform.

Mostly political discourse in the United States is dictated by the ruling party in Washington, and the mass media and press are most often nervous about getting out in front of the elected officials. But in an election season, the press is suddenly allowed to cover at least a narrow range of dissident views intensively-- that is, the views of political opponents of the incumbents. Since the vast majority of incumbents in the mid-Atlantic and Southern states are Republicans, the upshot is that a Democrat point of view is suddenly getting aired and reported on. And the Dems are mostly pretty critical of Bush's Iraq War....

The spike in US casualties in October may be part of the nosedive in support for the war among evangelicals [and others], but I think it is mostly that the usually closed US political information system has been temporarily opened up by election season.

Certainly at doors in Tracy, people seemed open to the notion that there is something wrong being done to U.S. service personnel.

Though a lot of people are still stunned by how successful Republicans were at getting out their vote in 2004, we need to remember that progressive grass roots organizations and unions (notably, in California, the United Farm Workers) invented organized voter identification and GOTV programs. Matt Stoller of MyDD gave a shout out to that history the other day and shared a few observations on how he thinks the progressive movement is doing at reclaiming electoral capacity:

Speaking abstractly, the right has a top-down centralized infrastructure that's more mature than ours. We have a legacy of political disagreements that translate into less efficient yet equally centralized infrastructure. They have little capacity for locally based decision-making, we have a great capacity for local organizing when we decided to use it. They own the media. We are building our own media. They are more experienced and have more savvy about how to manipulate the political system. We are smarter, younger, newer to politics, and we have the passion and energy of a new movement instead of the vicious cynicism of a dying movement.

In other words, they are just not that good, and we are just not that bad. And we are getting better at a far faster rate than they are. In fact, there's good reason to think that in lots of pockets all over the country, there's some incredibly innovative work going on with progressive organizing and campaigning.

That seems about right to me. The McNerney voter turnout operation is one of those places we're getting better fast.

Lots of people have been writing good calls to action. Here's one, from Involved in Minnesota:

Campaigning is about doorknocking, lit dropping, phoning, marching in parades, going to bean feeds and other local civic and community events and meeting face to face with people. It is about everyday volunteers, average joes and janes like you and me, slogging up and down city and suburban streets and through rural areas door-to-door, in sunshine, rain, cold, daylight and dark, knocking on doors and talking face to face (or on the phone) with actual people, giving them a personal pitch about why we support someone. This is what wins elections. Yes, big media is important, particularly in statewide races, but it’s this hardgrinding work that gets people elected.... Campaigns NEED YOU! (I speak to all who read here.) It’s fun. You’ll feel like you’re accomplishing something. You’ll meet people who share your interests. You’ll get a feel for the electorate. And you’ll know a lot more about what’s actually going on in campaigns. No candidate wins without volunteers! Find a candidate you support and DO IT!

She's right and it's now or never. Hope everyone reading this is doing something between now and the election.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Voting to impeach


The President's portrait can be observed stenciled on the sidewalks of San Francisco.

It was a great pleasure this morning to read the San Francisco Chronicle waxing somewhat apoplectic about our local ballot measure calling on Congress to impeach the President.

Prop J. This measure's call for an impeachment trial for President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney -- for their violations of the law -- is mocked by its assumption of guilt at the outset. ...Vote NO.

I have supreme confidence in the voters of San Francisco -- we'll vote YES.

The Chronicle, and elites generally, need to understand that our lack of concern for process is what happens when political and legal systems become so perverted that they no longer sustain even a pretence of justice. A President and Vice President whose lies led to the deaths of nearly 3000 U.S. service personnel, not to mention perhaps some 600,000 Iraqis (so far) don't get the benefit of a lot of peoples' doubts.

On some level, we're shortsighted to express our frustration outside the limits of a measured process. So is the right is when it seeks to cashier judges who have the temerity to rule in accord with law but against their druthers, whether for a woman's right to choose or against Presidential usurpation of monarchical powers of wiretapping and surveillance. But when people believe the wheels of justice have become gummed up, unless completely beaten down, they'll start banging on the machine and pushing with all their might to get justice moving again. For elites, that's always a fearsome moment.

It is even more important that San Franciscans vote for Prop. J since our local Congresswoman and the likely Democratic Speaker-to-be, Nancy Pelosi, has pledged that impeachment is "off the table." This may (or may not) be smart politics, but we need to let her know loud and clear that her constituents don't think the law-breaking twosome deserve a get-out-of-jail free card. Nor does she deserve a pass from being called out and pushed on if she denies us access to the measured, legal remedy for criminal conduct by our elected officials.

Citizens calling for impeachment may be agitating outside conventional decorum, but we have to keep in mind, as Kagro X points out, that nothing in the past history of the Bush-Cheney regime suggests that they'll meekly comply with legal Congressional efforts to investigate their wrongdoing.

We get the amount of democratic process we force out of our elites, not the amount they give us.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

When going green, follow the instructions...




Yes -- here's the picture. Immaculate and attractive at that. Though the accompanying tool makes one wonder.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Iraq roundup


General Casey gave the line in Baghdad yesterday.

Today, in preparation for a talk about the trip I took to Jordan and Syria last summer, I performed a depressing experiment. I read through the main articles loosely covering the Iraq war offered in some of our most authoritative newspapers collecting interesting tidbits. I won't repeat the headline drumbeat from U.S. authorities, military and civilian, trying to sping the emerging disaster as something more positive, especially until November 7. But here are some telling oddments, often from lower ends of long recitations of the official story.

Fighting fires

In Falluja on Monday, American troops, responding to a report that a fire truck had been hijacked by insurgents, stopped a fire truck matching the description, the command reported. As the truck’s four occupants “exited quickly,” the statement said, the troops opened fire, killing them. American troops later found that the men were actually firefighters responding to an emergency call and were not riding in the hijacked truck.

New York Times


Who's in charge here?

Iraqi army special forces, backed by U.S. advisers, carried out a raid to capture a "top illegal armed group commander directing widespread death squad activity throughout eastern Baghdad," the military said.

[Iraqi Prime Minister] Al-Maliki, who is commander in chief of Iraq's army, heatedly denied he knew anything about the raid.

"We will ask for clarification about what has happened in Sadr City. We will review this issue with the multinational forces so that it will not be repeated," he said. "The Iraqi government should be aware and part of any military operation. Coordination is needed between Iraqi government and multinational forces."

San Francisco Chronicle


Have we got a "timetable" for you...

A copy of the timeline Mr. Khalilzad said had been agreed to by Iraqi leaders was made available to The New York Times by American officials. Entitled “notional political timetable,” it sets a seven-month schedule, running from this September to March 2007....

New York Times


Now where's that light at the end of the tunnel?

Casey and Khalilzad, the top U.S. military and civilian leaders in Iraq, were left for several minutes to deliver their remarks in darkness illuminated only by the battery-powered lights of TV camera crews. One of Baghdad's frequent power outages cut electricity to the converted parking garage that houses the U.S. military press center, briefly knocking the internationally broadcast conference off the air.

Washington Post


Oh, so that's why they don't "stand up"...

Since Iraq lacks an effective banking system for paying its troops, soldiers are generally given a week’s leave each month to bring their pay home.

New York Times

Where have all the jihadis gone?

"In Afghanistan, you have NATO troops to fight as well as Americans, all the 'crusaders.' "

Los Angeles Times

None of this touches on the critical human story, a tale of unremitting carnage and displacement of Iraqis as that society collapses. These were the stories we heard from Iraqis in Jordan and Syria.

This week the United Nation's relief agency (UNHCR) confirmed that 3 million Iraqis have been driven from their homes by the war. This is ten percent of the population, many without homes or work. About half are within the country and half in neighboring states, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, which are not economically or politically able to assimilate such a movement of people. Yet the funds available to the UNHCR to help Iraqi refugees have been cut from $150 million in 2003 to just $29 million in 2006. More than all the U.S. newspaper accounts, this Iraqi man's cry for help speaks the truth of what the U.S. has wrought:

"We do not have jobs because there are thousands of Iraqis in Syria and without this help we are going to have to beg for money in the streets," said Haj Jamal, a 62-year-old Iraqi refugee living in Damascus.

"I urge in the name of all Iraqi refugees in Syria that the United Nations looks after this situation and remembers that without this support, thousands of newly poor people will be walking the streets of Syria next year," he added.

The head of the UNHCR office in Damascus reports that he has a budget of one dollar to spend on each Iraqi refugee in the country.

I think the peace movement needs to move into demanding reparations.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Another sort of bomb


Because of the way the search engine works, lots of links to the same article will ensure that article turns up high in Google. Putting up those links is called "Google bombing." So Chris Bowers of My DD proposed that progressive bloggers should post this list of articles about various less than ethical Republican candidates so that searchers are more likely to encounter this side of their stories. Here's the list.

If you have a question about any of these people, and they are all pretty questionable, just check the link below.

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert

My very smart partner questions both the ethics and the long run utility of this kind of gaming the system. As is usually the case, she is probably right. However doing this sure is easier than all the phoning and canvassing we all should be doing.

Under bombs ...


When I was a child in the late 1950s I attended a summer camp deep in the New England woods. The people who ran this oasis of privilege were descendants of Protestant missionaries who had carried their Gospel far and wide to people they probably called "heathen" and whom we might call "citizens of the less developed world." Happily, that experience of life outside the United States, instead of teaching them to feel superior, actually made them unusually aware that we, here, had much to learn from people who lived in other countries. The camp leadership always made sure there were foreign campers and counselors in residence.

One year we had a Japanese counselor, a shy and barely English speaking woman. She was a good friend to some of the shy campers. We also had the usual collection of home grown counselors, many of them boisterous college students enjoying a summer break. One of the latter got a surprise visit from her boyfriend -- an aspiring pilot, he buzzed the camp in a small plane.

As the biplane swung past, campers squealed in delight -- but then we heard screams of a different sort, cries of a kind of terror none of us had known. Our Japanese friend ran from her tent and plunged under the nearest building, out of her mind with fear. She lay there, white and shaking, refusing to come out for hours.

What did we know about growing up under bombs, under incendiary raids?

It is not major news in U.S. media, but Israeli jets are still buzzing the Lebanese towns upon which they rained bombs last summer. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz,

The planes conducted mock raids over much of southern Lebanon, Reuters reported, and residents saw them flying low over the capital Beirut, but neither Hezbollah nor the Lebanese army fired anti-aircraft rounds at them as they have done in previous years.

Israeli jets have routinely flown over Lebanon since the 34-day war.... The Lebanese government and the UN say the overflights, which Israel had continued to conduct after it ended its 22-year presence in south Lebanon in 2000, violate both the latest truce and the terms of Israel's earlier pullout.

It has also come out in the last few days that Israel used white phosphorous weapons during the war.

White phosphorous is a translucent wax-like substance with a pungent smell that, once ignited, creates intense heat and smoke. ...

In addition to the toxicity of the smoke, burning fragments can stick to the skin and clothing to cause severe burns, and fragments of phosphorous can become buried in wounds.

Of course, the use of such weapons is not news to those upon whom they fall. It is the rest of us who are kept in the dark about what our militaries are doing. Israel is not alone in using this vicious substance; the U.S. also used it in Iraq.

Monday, October 23, 2006

California Prop. 87
Al Gore headlines Berkeley rally


Some states have functional legislatures and folks there probably don't think much of them. Here in California we have a state government hamstrung by decades of rightwing pseudo-populist ballot measures, so we govern by initiative. (And we also don't think much of our legislature.) Prop. 87 is a California classic: it aims to enact policies to encourage use of alternative fuels and energy efficiency using proceeds from a per barrel tax on oil produced in the state.

The oil industry is spending some $78 million on spreading the usual arguments against any initiative: the measure costs too much, goes too far, and is too complicated. People we are supposed to identify as firemen and other public servants (but are probably actors or hacks) tell us this on TV, constantly. Proponents are spending only slightly less money to make sure we know that former President Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore say that Prop. 87 will make us less dependent on foreign oil, reduce air pollution and asthma, and help develop wind and solar power.

As of a couple of weeks ago, the No side's ads seemed to be working, showing Prop. 87 only 3 points ahead. This seems quite a triumph of money, since people hate the oil companies. And well we should; it turns out that, despite all their bleating, California is the only oil producing state that doesn't levy a tax like the one proposed. I sure hope the voters figure this one out and don't get scared off by big oil.

However, the real subject of this post is not Prop. 87, much as I hope it wins, but Al Gore's appearance at a rally in Berkeley today.

In my professional role training community groups to work on elections, I put a lot of energy into discouraging the urge to hold rallies. In electoral terms, it doesn't matter a hill of beans if you got 200 or 2000 supporters to turn out to cheer your candidate or position if you don't collect their names and contact information and get some work out of them. The Yes on 87 campaign did pretty well at getting the names by insisting that we give them up on their website in order to get a "ticket" to get into the Berkeley event. I trust I'll be hearing from them daily. And they also didn't give a damn whether people actually produced the "tickets" to be part of the crowd, a wise choice that filled the audience with folks on their lunch breaks and high school students.

I'd never seen Gore in person before. I had seen An Inconvenient Truth and been impressed. But I wasn't prepared for how effectively Gore presents himself -- perhaps as a future president? His rap [as paraphrased from my notes]:

The United States borrows vast amounts of money from China; sends that money to the Middle East for oil; burns the oil and pollutes our air; and thereby contributes massively to global warming. ...

It is right to say that climate change is a "planetary emergency." It is as if the earth was a child with a fever. The fever isn't going down, it is going up. The doctors, scientists, tell us it won't just go away. We have to do something about it....

The people in power were warned about what might happen to New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. The warnings weren't heeded. They have been warned about global warming. The warnings aren't heeded. We have seen what happens when warnings aren't heeded....

We do not have political problems that keep us from acting. We have a moral problem. We face a moral imperative to act against global warming. This imperative is much like that which faced people in the last century when confronted by fascism. They rose to that challenge and there were good outcomes that they had never foreseen, including the United Nations and the European Economic Community. We can do as well responding to the challenge of global warming.

I suspect that last bit might include something about triumphing over communism when he gives it outside Berkeley.

Gore is a pretty effective speaker, at least in person. I wonder whether his seriousness might come across as angry on TV -- in person, he exudes strength. Gore preaches. He proposes a moral vision and promises moral leadership. We're not used to hearing this from a Democrat.

If Gore throws down for the presidential nomination, I think he'd be formidable. The high school kids next to me ate it up -- there are millions yearning for leadership that asks them to rise above the grubby realities of this failing empire. They hate Bush and more vaguely "the Republicans" but they are want desperately something, someone, to be for. They threw down in 2004 for Kerry as "not Bush," but they could get excited about a candidate who challenged them. Gore is speaking to this hunger.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

California Prop. 89
A good idea, not a panacea


I hate "campaign finance reform." As a worker in elections, often for poorly funded populist candidates, mostly I've experienced the various schemes to control the influence of money in campaigns as more hurdles than a help. Every additional requirement for disclosure, every additional regulation, amounted to further opportunities for armies of election lawyers and accountants, but helped non-incumbent challengers little, if at all.

The Supreme Court created an insuperable barrier to most efforts to dam the flow of money into elections by holding that rich people have as much right to free speech as poor people. That logic, and it is logical from a purist free speech perspective, means that that spending limits and contribution limits always come with "work arounds" open to the well-heeled and imaginative. Many of these take the form of "independent expenditures" -- campaign activities carried out by "committees" and individuals that are not coordinated with candidates. Meanwhile non-profit organizations and unions operate under rules that preclude their taking advantage of the ruses that enable wealthy individuals to make themselves felt in campaigns.

And so, people concerned that money is distorting democracy are always looking for new ways to level the playing field. Their current best plan is to take financial advantage out of elections as much as possible by substituting public financing for all that begging from rich interests that candidates now must do. How does it work?

Clean Elections gives candidates the option to qualify for public funding to run their campaigns. While the specifics vary, typically a candidate must collect a set number of small qualifying contributions -- usually $5 -- from people in their district. The number of signatures and contributions required varies according to the office sought.

If a candidate runs under the Clean Elections system and faces an opponent who is running with private contributions and outspends the publicly funded candidate, the law typically provides a matching grant, to a limit, to the publicly funded candidate. Extra funding is also often available if there is independent spending against a candidate by an outside group or individual.

Candidates who choose not to participate in the Clean Elections system can raise money from private donors, but must follow state campaign finance limits and disclosure laws. Clean Elections laws must be voluntary to comply with the Supreme Court’s 1976 Buckley v. Valeo ruling, [that's the rich people's free speech rule] which specifically approved of voluntary public financing systems.

Reforms along these lines have been enacted in Maine and Arizona. The sky has not fallen; more and more candidates are choosing to participate in the "clean" system; some new voices have come to the fore. (Pretty good discussion here.)
"Clean elections" seem to prove that changing the whole system works slightly better at fostering fair competition than reforms that tinker at the edges.

The California Nurses Association (CNA) did the work and paid the money to get the signatures to put Prop. 89, a Clean Elections measure, on the November ballot. (That statement is a complement from me to CNA, not a slam. All initiative measures in California get on the ballot because some interest pays professional signature gatherers. I saw enough actual CNA staff petitioners to know that they probably collected as many unbought signatures as any initiative in recent memory!) The new law would provide public funding for candidates who raise a small sum from many contributions. It would be paid for by a 0.2 percent tax on corporations. The measure would also set $10,000 limits on contributions to ballot measure campaigns from corporations and some other entities. (We have lots of entities and if having more will get money into campaigns, we can be sure they'll proliferate.)

CNA sells Prop. 89 as a panacea: "everyone wins!" Pass our proposition and you'll be able to get all the good policies you want that government refuses to give you. See adjoining clip from the campaign website. This seems deceptive hyperbole to me; we aren't going to get the policies or the democracy we want through some elections gimmick. There are no shortcuts to organizing majorities of aroused citizens.

Most of the good government groups in the state, such as the League of Women Voters, have lined up behind Prop. 89. The usual suspects, big business (Chamber of Commerce) and big media (newspapers), assure us that Prop. 89 is unfair. The provisions restricting contributions to ballot measure campaigns peeled off the very biggest unions like the California Teachers Association from supporting the measure. They have gotten very good at using their funds to win initiative fights. They don't want no stinking limits! On the other hand, some union locals and the huge United Teachers of Los Angeles think Prop. 89 is a good idea.

All this is likely to be moot. Polls indicate that California voters hate the notion of publicly funded campaigns. Government has become increasing unable to deliver wellbeing to voters; it is hamstrung by a series of rightwing populist initiatives including tax limitations, budget set-asides and restrictive term limits. It doesn't work very well and people are, by and large, unwilling to put new money in the hands of politicians they already distrust.

This all goes back to the gimmick problem I raised above. We aren't going to win a reform such as "Clean Elections" unless we actually organize a broad constituency behind it that understands the proposed remedy and will work and sacrifice to win it. If we organize such a constituency, we can win a lot of other things, whether we win election reform or not.

I'll be voting for Prop. 89, but I suspect I won't be celebrating its passage on the morning of November 8.

Good-bye to the "world's longest undefended border"


On a trail in Washington State.

One of the best things about growing up in Buffalo, N.Y. was the feeling of intimacy with Canada. Sure, when you went across to Ontario, you knew you were entering someone else's country -- the other side of the Niagara River was a slightly different place. Some people talked funny -- Canadians said "aboot" for "about." But you could enter Canada on a whim and return from without incident. I often sailed a tiny boat across the river and once even swam the mile crossing. Later in life, I used to drive across to run on the Canadian side of the river.

This comfort with what people on both sides boasted was "the world's longest undefended border" is a casualty of our post-9/11 hysteria. I needed a passport to return to the U.S. from Canada in 2002. How strange it felt. We're determined to draw lines -- we have to know who is in and who is out.

Now the "security" boondoggle, the border fence that legislators are paying their corporate cronies to build on the Mexican border, is going to be extended to the Canadian line. The "Department of Homeland Security" (just because there really is an entity with this name is not a reason for me to take that silly moniker out of quotes) promises a high tech fence by 2008. (Bet that completion date will slip if Iraq is any precedent.)

The emphasis on the U.S.-Canada border will be in the West -- Manitoba to British Columbia -- the CBC's Henry Champ said. The U.S.-Canada border may have been included so the project does not look like it was simply aimed at Mexico, he said....

The new system, dubbed SBINet (for Secure Border Initiative Net), will include 1,800 towers up to 80 metres high, Champ said. The towers will receive data from sensors in the ground monitoring the border and pass it on to agents who could then check the location. Sound, motion and infrared sensors would pick up movements, ...

The Boeing contract was valued at $67 million US initially, but could grow. The department said the contract will run for three years, with three possible extensions of a year each. The Bloomberg news service estimated the value could reach $2.5 billion US.

Well, it is clear who has a good deal there.

Meanwhile, unbelievably, our rulers have decided they have to militarize the Great Lakes. Coast Guard cutters are to be equipped with upgraded machine guns -- naturally the service wants to practice using their new hardware. Fishermen are more than a little upset at the declaration of "free fire zones" in Lake Michigan.

The mind reels. So does the New York Times.

As a defense against terrorism, militarizing the Great Lakes is a symbolic defeat. And it is another in a series of incremental changes that threaten to change everything that we take for granted about our country

Friday, October 20, 2006

Perhaps we are winning?


Could the antiwar movement be winning and not know it? Steve Gilliard thinks so.

People have mistaken the opposition to the Iraq war. The anti-war movement has blocked the enlistment of thousands of kids, quietly, effectively, helped thousands of UA members escape or stay underground, has mobilized veterans against the war. While this isn't the generation defining movement of the 1960's, it's also vastly more effective.

But because it's one on one, there is no massive repression or sterotyping of the movement. Cindy Sheehan is hardly Abbie Hoffman. The attacks by the right have largely been ineffective.

And unlike the Vietnam War, 50 veterans are running for office as Democrats, something unimaginable two years ago. If just 10 of them win House seats the ability of Bush to make shit up ends.

Also, the general embrace of servicemembers [has] given their complaints about Iraq vastly more credibility. They are not angry and alienated, they are angry and working for change within the system. Which is why the GOP has to Swift Boat, because of the power of their stories.

For those of us who want an antiwar movement that repudiates U.S. imperial ambitions, this clearly isn't good enough. But just maybe, we are seeing an antiwar movement that is rooted in the actual experience of the ordinary people of this country, that broad middle and working class who must ultimately endorse any shift away from bellicose militarism. It is an idea worth thinking about, instead of berating ourselves for our weakness.

Meanwhile I'll keep shipping out antiwar newspapers. I just got an order for 1200 papers for a local vigil. Though you may not see it on TV, the antiwar movement is very widespread and deep in our communities.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thinking about U.S. healthcare


I hardly could be thinking about anything else. I spent most of yesterday at a teaching hospital attached to a highly regarded medical school helping a friend get through a batch of high tech tests. She was poked, stuck with an IV, infused, irradiated, imaged -- and finally fed to raise her blood sugar lest she collapse mid-test. The people who worked on her -- nurses and nuclear medical technicians mostly -- were considerate, thoughtful and cheerful.

And yet -- I find it hard to believe that what happened there was necessary. I'm no doctor, but please bear with me while I try to apply common sense to what I saw.

A little background: my friend reminds me of Job, a person visited with affliction after meaningless affliction. Some years ago she was in a car accident and was thrown through the windshield, suffering numerous broken limbs and some brain damage. She was hospitalized for nearly a year. She emerged severely disabled and, naturally, being unable to work, ended up living on the pittance that is Social Security Disability Insurance. She gets the medical attention the state in its wisdom offers the indigent. She has developed both asthma and COPD, what we used to call emphysema. She breathes oxygen 24 hours a day. Her mobility is severely limited by pain of multiple sorts, some undiagnosed. Not surprisingly, she is severely depressed and has become grossly obese. That is, she is a living, suffering creature in pain. She takes vast numbers of prescription medicines.

Somewhere in all this, a pain specialist became my friend's primary care physician. The guy really wanted her not to hurt so much, as all of us do who can see through her misery to her wisdom and charm. But as he rose in his profession, he stopped seeing patients, so has been transferring my friend to another doctor over the last year. The New Doctor inherited a four-volume history and, since she is attached to a high tech medical center, wanted yet more data. You'll note that the previous description doesn't report any circulatory or heart problems. This woman's heart seems to be plunking along well enough to keep her around to suffer the rest of her maladies.

But New Doctor wanted to know all the lay of the land. So my friend, who mostly is quite cooperative with doctors she feels are on her side, had to go through yesterday's procedures. When you are enormous and can barely move around, being stuck and strapped into smallish machines that take pictures of your insides is agonizing.

And presumably all this high tech stuff costs a pretty penny. Perhaps $5000 will be billed somewhere?

What in the world is New Doctor going to do with the information? Give her more drugs for her heart? My friend already takes such a melange of prescriptions that she's something of an experiment in drug interactions.

Everyone involved in what I saw yesterday seemed to be doing their best to do something good. But the system seems broken, warping the effects of people's best intentions. This is not a story of failure of access. My friend gets doctoring, sophisticated doctoring. Rather, it is a story of failure of care. It is about medicine divorced from the healing. Somehow this country has created a crazy quilt "system" that has more distortions than paths to recovery. Can't we do better?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Foreign policy psychoanalyst fears narcissist with nukes

... a friend of mine once explained the credo of the narcissist as "I'm the piece of shit the world revolves around." It is a psychological syndrome in which extreme insecurity finds cover and comfort in self-obsession. Therefore, every response you make to a petulant, irritable, childish, tantrum-inclined narcissist finds you walking on thin ice. ... It is the reason why, when one is dealing with a narcissist who is also wielding a nuclear bomb, a little tactical forethought is your best friend.

It's important to understand that a narcissist operates out of only two constantly flip-flopping states of emotional being; grandiosity and humiliation. So, if you are not feeding the grandiosity ..., than you are humiliating him. Period. Those are your choices. That is the part of this equation you can't change.

Out of those two choices, only the grandiose narcissist is a happy narcissist. A humiliated narcissist is a rigid, non-compliant, revenge seeking nightmare....

To a narcissist, anything short of being treated like a V.I.P. is not only unacceptable, it is humiliating. And the behavior of a humiliated narcissist is always a vengeful, vindictive tantrum. Always.

Merrill Markoe

Our ruler? Or North Korea's? Or both?



Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pollster says immigration won't hurt Dems


Republican nightmare

No, it won't. In general, newly minted citizens, especially Latinos and folks of various Asian origins, are well on the way to joining African Americans as the backbone of the Democratic Party. Only a myopic vision that mistakes a momentary snapshot of reaction for an enduring trend could claim otherwise.

Anna Greenburg, of the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, writes:

Along with taxes and security, immigration represents one of the pillars of Republican attacks on Democrats this year. Regardless of the district or state, an inflammatory attack on Democrats for allegedly supporting amnesty and Social Security benefits for illegal immigrants fills the airways and mailboxes.

But the data are not so clear that attacking Democrats on immigration is terribly effective, at least in many races. While many Americans hold hostile views towards immigrants and are deeply disturbed by the notion that illegal immigratrants receive government benefits (which is not entirely true), the debate as it has played out has not necessarily benefited Republicans.

In reality, Democrats have not been particularly progressive on immigration issues. But they do okay by contrast with the other guys.

Anti-immigrant sentiment usually serves as a cover for racial anxiety -- a fear that white America is being swamped by a Brown Other. Many Democrats buy into this worldview, though not as consistently as most Republicans. The latter party made itself the undisputed champion of white supremacy by adopting the Southern strategy beginning with Reagan. With their huge base of African American voters, Democrats can only sporadically and weakly compete in the white supremacist sweepstakes.

Oh sure, there are pockets of new citizen voters who have brought with them repressive cultural opinions that accord with Republicans.

But most new immigrants of all sorts want government to level the playing field so they can work their way to a better life in their new "land of opportunity." If white Democrats don't completely capitulate to the racist strains always lurking in U.S. society, their future belongs to an emerging majority that cares more about fairness and smart governance than holding on to a mythical past.

Monday, October 16, 2006

New fundraising strategies:
Play with guns ...
or even at being an assassin


According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Friends of the National Rifle Association (NRA) recently held a charity machine gun shoot which benefited St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

"There's not many places you can go to shoot these kinds of guns in a safe and secure environment and do it for a good cause," said Julie Hill, a participant as well as the manager of acquisition marketing for St. Jude.

"It's an adrenaline rush." ...

Bill Arnold, the chairman of the Memphis Friends of the NRA chapter, said a safe and supervised opportunity to handle the guns can help people get over any fear and maybe get them interested in the sport, he said.

Not my cup of tea. I know there are real hunters out there, for whom shooting is skill and sport. But when I last lived somewhere rural, I also saw too damn many drunken crazies driving around hoping to catch a deer in their headlights and mow it down. Those guys (all guys as far as I know) scared me and everyone else shitless.

Still this little exercise in heart-pumping fantasy seems almost benign compared to another fundraising scheme reported recently.

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - It's billed as the "Ultimate Mission" -- an eight-day, James Bond-style quest behind the scenes of Israel's conflict with Palestinian militants.

For a little less than $2,000 and a donation to a center that sues countries and groups it accuses of militant links, participants are promised briefings from Israeli spies, a visit to a West Bank checkpoint, tours of the Lebanese frontlines and trips in light aircraft over northern Israel.

In exchange for your donation, an outfit that bills itself as the Israel Law Center will take you on a tour of the Israeli Air Force unit that carries out "targeted killings" and provide a "live exhabition [sic] of penetration raids in Arab territory."

Yes, this blood thirsty bunch claim to be a Law Center. And the Queen of Hearts was a jurist: "Off with their heads."

Hat tip to Non-Profit Quarterly for the Memphis story and to KABOBfest for Israeli mad tea party.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Football puzzle: punt or go for it?


Click to see larger chart.
I just spent a Sunday mostly watching football. It wasn't as much fun as it might have been. My poor 49ers show signs of life, but haven't reached respectability yet -- and the Raiders are flat out pathetic. Both teams lost ignominiously.

But the day's dissipation reminded me of a set of statistical calculations that I read about last spring in Kevin Drum's blog. With the support of the chart above, he writes:

I'm happy to report (via Tyler Cowen) that David Romer of UC Berkeley has written an exhaustive analysis filled with sigma signs and subscripts that provides a quantitative answer to this burning question: exactly when should you go for it and when should you kick?

The solid line in the chart ... provides the answer. At the 50-yard line, you should go for it if you have less than five yards to go. At the 40-yard line you should go for it if you have less than seven yards to go. At the 35-yard line you should go for it no matter what. Beyond the 33-yard line, as you get into field goal range, the value of kicking rises and the "critical value" necessary to go for it declines steeply (though it stays above four yards all the way to the goal line). The dashed line summarizes actual coaching decisions over the course of the study and shows that, on average, coaches go for it only if they're past midfield and have only about two yards to go. That's much too conservative....

But the bottom line is simple: always go for it if you have less than three or four yards to go. Past midfield, you should go for it even in higher yardage situations until you get into field goal range. But even then, you should go for it if you have less then three or four yards to go.

On the evidence that I saw today, Art Shell might have been aware of this advice -- the Raiders tried to convert on several 4th down situations well outside the normal conservative practice. Mike Nolan took a more conventional approach with the 49ers, punting the ball away.

I'm sure the mathematical probabilities laid out in these studies are true -- but it is pretty easy to imagine how coaches actually make with these decisions and they seem to evaluate other variables. Today, it looked like Shell decided repeatedly to go for it because he considered his team already screwed -- just maybe if they succeeded at an unexpected 4th down conversion, they'd wake up and play like they meant it. Meanwhile, Nolan is trying to normalize the 49ers -- he doesn't want them shaken up; he is teaching consistency of play.

In any case, the statistical calculation misses what certainly is one of a coach's most important considerations in deciding to go for it: if the attempt goes wrong, he's the one who is going to face raving fans and possibly an angry owner. Usually it is the player who drops the ball who gets the vilification, but in this situation the responsibility for an unconventional risk falls directly on the coach. That's not something most coaches can afford to assume. Probably the ones most able to afford the risk are those whose teams least often force them to make a decision whether to punt or go for it.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

"I finally received the phone call."


Egyptian policemen look out of a police vehicle during a protest in Cairo. Via Telegraph, U.K.

Since my previous post on Jose Padilla's fate was more than a little dire, I urge readers to check out this account of how one activist has learned to live with "keeping on keeping on" in a fully realized police state.

Emad met me with a big smile, "I finally received the phone call."

What do you mean? I asked.

"State Security called me yesterday," he said.

Read it all.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Torture in the U.S.A.


Weekly vigil outside the law school at UC Berkeley where John Yoo, Bush's legal apologist for torture, teaches when he is not on book tour.

Jose Padilla is Bush's guinea pig. A U.S. citizen, a Puerto Rican, a convert to Islam, once a gang member and petty criminal, Bush labeled Padilla an "illegal enemy combatant," had him locked up in a Navy prison, and, Padilla charges, had him tortured for 3 and half years. Our elected representatives in Congress have just legalized Bush's assumption of such a power, after the fact, in the so-called "Military Commissions" bill. So much for the rule of law. And so much for any expectation of security in our persons within our own country by virtue of being American citizens.

Now that Padilla's been charged and given access to lawyers (so the Supreme Court wouldn't have to decide in his case whether to endorse Bush's lawlessness), his attorneys have detailed what he says was done to him.

There has not been nearly the volume of commentary on this in the liberal political blogosphere that I would have expected. Glenn Greenwald and Michael Froomkin at Discourse.net (the full brief is there) are honorable exceptions.

What Padilla claims was done to him is sickening stuff. I find it very believable as it the logical extension of experiments with "interrogation" and torture that have been ongoing in the ugly underside of the U.S. "security" apparatus as least since U.S. service men captured in the Korean war "gave in" to their captors. Our military decided they needed to refine the Korean and Chinese methods. Mostly they have practiced overseas, especially in Central America. "Supermax" isolation units in domestic prison systems also fit the bill. Now those "techniques" (that antiseptic word for vile acts against the human person) are being normalized.

Whether there are any limits to what our rulers claim the right to do to us will ultimately be a political matter, not a question of law. Law is on the run. Popular revulsion has interrupted tyranny before and can again, but only if we find the courage to build an opposition. I am posting a very long set of excerpts from Padilla's brief below, because I believe we can only stop torture if we are willing to look at it. Read and weep.

Excerpts from a brief on behalf of Jose Padilla filed in Southern District Court of Florida.
Emphasis added by me.

In an effort to gain Mr. Padilla's "dependency and trust," he was tortured for nearly the entire three years and eight months of his unlawful detention. The torture took myriad forms, each designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and, ultimately, the loss of will to live. The base ingredient in Mr. Padilla's torture was stark isolation for a substantial portion of his captivity. For nearly two years -- from June 9, 2002 until March 2, 2004, when the Department of Defense permitted Mr. Padilla to have contact with his lawyers -- Mr. Padilla was in complete isolation....

His isolation, furthermore, was aggravated by the efforts of his captors to maintain complete sensory deprivation. His tiny cell -- nine feet by seven feet -- had no view to the outside world. The door to his cell had a window, however, it was covered by a magnetic sticker, depriving Mr. Padilla of even a view into the hallway and adjacent common areas of his unit. He was not given a clock or a watch and for most of the time of his captivity, he was unaware whether it was day or night, or what time of year or day it was....

In addition to his extreme isolation, Mr. Padilla was also viciously deprived of sleep. This sleep deprivation was achieved in a variety of ways. For a substantial period of his captivity, Mr. Padilla's cell contained only a steel bunk with no mattress. The pain and discomfort of sleeping on a cold, steel bunk made it impossible for him to sleep. Mr. Padilla was not given a mattress until the tail end of his captivity. Mr. Padilla's captors did not solely rely on the inhumane conditions of his living arrangements to deprive him of regular sleep. A number of ruses were employed to keep Mr. Padilla from getting necessary sleep and rest. One of the tactics his captors employed was the creation of loud noises near and around his cell to interrupt any rest Mr. Padilla could manage on his steel bunk. As Mr. Padilla was attempting to sleep, the cell doors adjacent to his cell would be electronically opened, resulting in a loud clank, only to be immediately slammed shut. Other times, his captors would bang the walls and cell bars creating loud startling noises. These disruptions would occur throughout the night and cease only in the morning, when Mr. Padilla's interrogations would begin....

Efforts to manipulate Mr. Padilla and break his will also took the form of the denial of the few benefits he possessed in his cell. For a long time Mr. Padilla had no reading materials, access to any media, radio or television, and the only thing he possessed in his room was a mirror. The mirror was abruptly taken away, leaving Mr. Padilla with even less sensory stimulus. Also, at different points in his confinement Mr. Padilla would be given some comforts, like a pillow or a sheet, only to have them taken away arbitrarily. He was never given any regular recreation time. Often, when he was brought outside for some exercise, it was done at night, depriving Mr. Padilla of sunlight for many months at a time. The disorientation Mr. Padilla experienced due to not seeing the sun and having no view on the outside world was exacerbated by his captors' practice of turning on extremely bright lights in his cell or imposing complete darkness for durations of twenty-four hours, or more....

Mr. Padilla was often put in stress positions for hours at a time. He would be shackled and manacled, with a belly chain, for hours in his cell. Noxious fumes would be introduced to his room causing his eyes and nose to run. The temperature of his cell would be manipulated, making his cell extremely cold for long stretches of time. Mr. Padilla was denied even the smallest, and most personal shreds of human dignity by being deprived of showering for weeks at a time, yet having to endure forced grooming at the whim of his captors. ...

He was threatened with being cut with a knife and having alcohol poured on the wounds. He was also threatened with imminent execution. He was hooded and forced to stand in stress positions for long durations of time. He was forced to endure exceedingly long interrogation sessions, without adequate sleep, wherein he would be confronted with false information, scenarios, and documents to further disorient him. Often he had to endure multiple interrogators who would scream, shake, and otherwise assault Mr. Padilla. Additionally, Mr. Padilla was given drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations. ...

The deprivations, physical abuse, and other forms of inhumane treatment visited upon Mr. Padilla caused serious medical problems that were not adequately addressed. Apart from the psychological damage done to Mr. Padilla, there were numerous health problems brought on by the conditions of his captivity. Mr. Padilla frequently experienced cardiothoracic difficulties while sleeping, or attempting to fall asleep, including a heavy pressure on his chest and an inability to breath or move his body. ...

In one incident Mr. Padilla felt a burning sensation pulsing through his chest. He requested medical care but was given no relief. Toward the end of his captivity, Mr. Padilla experienced swelling and pressure in his chest and arms. He was administered an electrocardiogram, and given medication. However, Mr. Padilla ceased taking the medicine when it caused him respiratory congestion. Although Mr. Padilla was given medication in this instance, he was often denied medication for pain relief. The strain brought on by being placed in stress positions caused Mr. Padilla great discomfort and agony. Many times he requested some form of pain relief but was denied by the guards.

The cause of some of the medical problems experienced by Mr. Padilla is obvious. Being cramped in a tiny cell with little or no opportunity for recreation and enduring stress positions and shackling for hours caused great pain and discomfort. It is unclear, though, whether Mr. Padilla's cardiothoracic problems were a symptom of the stress he endured in captivity, or a side effect from one of the drugs involuntarily induced into Mr. Padilla's system in the Naval Brig. In either event, the strategically applied measures suffered by Mr. Padilla at the hands of the government caused him both physical and psychological pain and agony.

It is worth noting that throughout his captivity, none of the restrictive and inhumane conditions visited upon Mr. Padilla were brought on by his behavior or by any actions on his part. There were no incidents of Mr. Padilla violating any regulation of the Naval Brig or taking any aggressive action towards any of his captors. Mr. Padilla has always been peaceful and compliant with his captors. He was, and remains to the time of this filing, docile and resigned -- a model detainee....

In sum, many of the conditions Mr. Padilla experienced were inhumane and caused him great physical and psychological pain and anguish. Other deprivations experienced by Mr. Padilla, taken in isolation, are merely cruel and some, merely petty. However, it is important to recognize that all of the deprivations and assaults recounted above were employed in concert in a calculated manner to cause him maximum anguish. It is also extremely important to note that the torturous acts visited upon Mr. Padilla were done over the course almost the entire three years and seven months of his captivity in the Naval Brig. For most of one thousand three hundred and seven days, Mr. Padilla was tortured by the United States government without cause or justification. Mr. Padilla's treatment at the hands of the United States government is shocking to even the most hardened conscience...

The treatment of Mr. Padilla, a natural born citizen of the United States, is a blot on this nation's character, shameful in its disrespect for the rule of law, and should never be repeated. ...

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