Friday, May 06, 2005

BuzzFlash Intereviews one of the Denver Three and other things of note this morning

From BuzzFlash, we'll note "Leslie Weise of the Denver Three Asks On Whose Authority They Were Expelled? It Sure Wasn't the Secret Service ..." From that interview:

BuzzFlash: Last week Scott McClellan admitted that the White House unilaterally reserves the right to forcibly remove any American from a taxpayer-funded, official Presidential event, based on the suspicion that an attendee might disrupt the event. It seems that the strategy of preemption has now permeated into the domestic arena, dictating who is allowed to hear the President speak or not -- or who will have their constitutional rights denied or not. This is a disturbing trend. Clearly what happened to you, the "Denver 3," was not an accident or a mistake, but part of a larger strategy to keep anyone who disagrees with the President away from the President.
Leslie Weise: That's made clear from the fact that this has been a repeating occurrence at town hall meetings. This happened not only to us, but also to a student in Tucson, Arizona, the same day of our encounter. It happened in Fargo, North Dakota, where 42 people were denied entry because they had some affiliation with an organization or a viewpoint that was in some way different from Bush's. And it happened in New Hampshire, where a few middle-aged women were removed from the event because of t-shirts they were wearing. So not only has Scott McClellan admitted it, but they've shown that it is a pattern.
BuzzFlash: You have a lawyer. You guys are hot on the case. You have been pressuring the powers-that-be in the White House to release the identity of the man who evidently impersonated a Secret Service agent -- which prompted the Secret Service to launch a criminal investigation. The White House and the Secret Service know the identity of the "mystery man" but they won't release his name. What's the next step for the "Denver 3"?
Leslie Weise: The next step is the step we've been wanting all along, and we still haven't reached -- which is to find out who did this to us. More importantly, who instructed him, and the people he was working with, to throw us out of the event? We also need to find out why -- what is the set of instructions given to these people? And does that cross the Constitutional line? We believe preemptively and forcibly removing Americans from seeing the President based solely on suspicions from the White House -- or because we drove to the event with a "No More Blood for Oil" bumper sticker -- does violate the Constitution. Clearly our First Amendment rights were violated. We were denied the opportunity to participate in this public event despite holding valid tickets, which we received from Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez. It is disturbing to us, as it should be to all Americans, that the threat of having a different viewpoint on any policy with the Bush administration means that action is going to be taken against you. Quite frankly, you'll be considered un-American.

For information on the Denver Three and other similar actions, check out Matthew Rothschild's "McCarthyism Watch." You can also refer to Democracy Now!'s "Three People Forcibly Removed From Bush "Town Hall" Meeting on Social Security."

On The Rachel Maddow Show this morning, Maddow noted that Jane's Defence Weekly was reporting on the defense budget in the U.S. Maddow noted that, "Our spending in twelve months on our defense will equal what the entire rest of the world spends on defense this year."

From The Independent, we'll note Andrew Grice's "Blair secures his third term - but how long will he last at No 10?" From that article:

Tony Blair saw his majority cut sharply today as Labour was hit by a Tory revival and a protest vote over the Iraq war. The party was still heading for a third successive general election victory for the first time in its history, but suffered a string of surprise defeats.
A BBC projection at 4am forecast that Labour's majority would be slashed from 167 at the 2001 election to 70. A Sky News projection put Labour's majority at 72 ­ still more than halved.
The early results showed that many people who voted Labour in 1997 and 2001 had deserted the party to give Mr Blair a "bloody nose" over the Iraq war, which became the dominant issue in the second half of the election campaign.
Labour suffered a spectacular defeat in Hornsey and Wood Green, north London, where the war was a big issue, at the hands of the Liberal Democrats, who achieved a huge 14.6 per cent swing.
In a clear sign of an "Iraq effect", Labour performed much worse in the capital than other regions. It lost Enfield Southgate, Putney, Hammersmith, Ilford North and Wimbledon to the Conservatives.

Folding Star is also addressing the elections at A Winding Road:

The system is so different from ours. Here in America, we elect our Legislative and Executive branches completely separately. In the UK, it's all one and the same, really. Whichever party has a majority in the House of Commons gets to form the Government, its party leader (who is elected to the House of Commons along with everyone else) becomes Prime Minister and chooses his Cabinet from among his colleagues in the House.
I've tried to explain this to friends before. When you're only familiar with our system here in the US, it can be hard to grasp that voters in Britain (or in most parliamentary Governments) don't go to the polls to elect a Prime Minister. The country at large does NOT elect Tony Blair. Each district votes for their own local Member of Parliament and that is the extent of it.
The equivalent would be if our President was picked based on which party had the majority in the House of Representatives. Given the make up right now, the Republicans have the majority and their leader- Tom DeLay (shudder)- would be President and would choose his Cabinet from among fellow Republicans in the House. They'd all continue to serve in the House and represent their districts in addition to their Government roles.

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[Note: This post has been corrected to make the Rachel Maddow paragraph more clear. This includes noting that Jane's is a magazine.]