Saturday, December 24, 2005
Where’s the Outrage?
By Arlene Getz
Updated: 3:33 p.m. ET Dec. 21, 2005
Dec. 21, 2005 - Back in the 1980s, when I was living in Johannesburg and reporting on apartheid South Africa, a white neighbor proffered a tasteless confession. She was "quite relieved," she told me, that new media restrictions prohibited our reporting on government repression. No matter that Pretoria was detaining tens of thousands of people without real evidence of wrongdoing. No matter that many of them, including children, were being tortured—sometimes to death. No matter that government hit squads were killing political opponents. No matter that police were shooting into crowds of black civilians protesting against their disenfranchisement. "It's so nice," confided my neighbor, "not to open the papers and read all that bad news."
I thought about that neighbor this week, as reports dribbled out about President George W. Bush's sanctioning of warrantless eavesdropping on American conversations. For anyone who has lived under an authoritarian regime, phone tapping—or at least the threat of it—is always a given. But U.S. citizens have always been lucky enough to believe themselves protected from such government intrusion. So why have they reacted so insipidly to yet another post-9/11 erosion of U.S. civil liberties?
I'm sure there are many well-meaning Americans who agree with their president's explanation that it's all a necessary evil (and that patriotic citizens will not be spied on unless they dial up Osama bin Laden). But the nasty echoes of apartheid South Africa should at least give them pause. While Bush uses the rhetoric of "evildoers" and the "global war on terror," Pretoria talked of "total onslaught." This was the catchphrase of P. W. Botha, South Africa's head of state from 1978 to 1989. Botha was hardly the first white South African leader to ride roughshod over civil liberties for all races, but he did it more effectively than many of his predecessors. Botha liked to tell South Africans that the country was under "total onslaught" from forces both within and without, and that this global assault was his rationale for allowing opponents to be jailed, beaten or killed. Likewise, the Bush administration has adopted the argument that anything is justified in the name of national security.
Read the rest
Student admits he lied about Mao book
By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer
NEW BEDFORD -- The UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents over his request for "The Little Red Book" by Mao Zedong has admitted to making up the entire story.
The 22-year-old student tearfully admitted he made the story up to his history professor, Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, and his parents, after being confronted with the inconsistencies in his account.
Had the student stuck to his original story, it might never have been proved false.
But on Thursday, when the student told his tale in the office of UMass Dartmouth professor Dr. Robert Pontbriand to Dr. Williams, Dr. Pontbriand, university spokesman John Hoey and The Standard-Times, the student added new details.
The agents had returned, the student said, just last night. The two agents, the student, his parents and the student's uncle all signed confidentiality agreements, he claimed, to put an end to the matter.
But when Dr. Williams went to the student's home yesterday and relayed that part of the story to his parents, it was the first time they had heard it. The story began to unravel, and the student, faced with the truth, broke down and cried.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Power We Didn't Grant
By Tom Daschle
Friday, December 23, 2005
In the face of mounting questions about news stories saying that President Bush approved a program to wiretap American citizens without getting warrants, the White House argues that Congress granted it authority for such surveillance in the 2001 legislation authorizing the use of force against al Qaeda. On Tuesday, Vice President Cheney said the president "was granted authority by the Congress to use all means necessary to take on the terrorists, and that's what we've done."
As Senate majority leader at the time, I helped negotiate that law with the White House counsel's office over two harried days. I can state categorically that the subject of warrantless wiretaps of American citizens never came up. I did not and never would have supported giving authority to the president for such wiretaps. I am also confident that the 98 senators who voted in favor of authorization of force against al Qaeda did not believe that they were also voting for warrantless domestic surveillance.
Read the rest. It's worth it.
If you are into really bad fiction and vapid, transparent political spin, then you need to click on the link and read all about the McLiar/Vader 2005 "accomplishments."
If you can't stomach the full six pages of single spaced tripe... below are a couple of examples (along with a little truth)
The President Will Work With Congress To Complete Reauthorization Of The Patriot Act
Listing this FIRST among his accomplishments is something of an unintentional joke. This is an accomplishment ONLY if you believe that getting bitch-slapped by your own party is a good thing, or that you don't care that your threat of a veto of anything short of full, unaltered reauthorization was viewed as toothless bravado. Before you know it, he'll be taking credit for spending cuts in the face of the biggest deficit in U.S. history
Congress Took Action To Reduce Government Spending
(yeah, you just knew that this one was coming didn't you...)
Now get a load of the explanation:
Both the House and Senate made a fiscally responsible vote to cut spending by $39.7 billion and keep the government on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. This will also be the first time in nearly a decade that Congress has reduced entitlement spending. This demonstrates a strong commitment to funding the Nation's priorities while ensuring that taxpayer money is spent wisely.
Yep, the "bridge to nowhere" is wise government spending alright. Yep, taking money out of those wicked entitlement programs like indigent healthcare, student loans, and school lunches will sure demonstrate to the nation your commitment to priorities. Remember, this is a president that hasn't used his veto ONCE to rein in pork spending by his party-run-amok.
Next thing you know he'll be taking credit for getting a torture bill passed....
Cutting The Deficit
Uh huh. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/97/US_budget_defecit.png
or try this link http://www.publicdebt.treas.gov/opd/opdpenny.htm
President Bush Calls On Congress To Restrain Spending
Here is what the president did when he called on congress:
If you don't stop spending I'm gonna, gonna, gonna - do nothing and sign everything that you send me no matter how stupid, mean-spirited or hateful.
Last February, the President submitted the most disciplined budget proposal since Ronald Reagan was in the White House (unless you count all those budgets sent by Clinton).
The President Nominated Well-Qualified Candidates To The U.S. Supreme Court:
The President Nominated, And The Senate, Confirmed Chief Justice John Roberts. President Bush Nominated Judge Samuel Alito To Serve As Associate Justice Of The U.S. Supreme Court.
Ah President McLiar, you forgot one.....
Among the things he doesn't take credit for:
Threatening to veto the torture ban
Fixing Social Security
Helping the White Sox win the World series
Keep up the great work!!!
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Mr Bush, in an effort to force passage of the bill, warned on Friday he would veto any temporary extension of the [Patriot] act.
From AP today:
(White House-AP) December 22, 2005 - The White House is hailing the Senate's vote to extend the Patriot Act for six months, a day after vowing President Bush wouldn't accept a short-term extension.
Press Secretary Scott McClellan calls Wednesday night's Senate vote "an important victory for the American people."
Thanks to daily Kos for the story.
From the town where I spent my college years:
Town does about-face on holiday names
GREENCASTLE, Ind. -- Christmas and Good Friday are going back on the city's calendar after a community uproar over a City Council decision to adopt generic holiday names. Nearly 200 people -- many singing ''We Wish You A Merry Christmas'' -- filled the council's chambers before a 4-0 vote to reverse the policy after less than a week. ''I believe this was political correctness run amok,'' Councilman Mark Hammer, who was absent for last week's original vote, said during Monday's meeting. ''When we use the terms 'winter holiday' and 'spring holiday,' we're not being inclusive, we're being exclusive.'' The council's initial 4-0 vote to change the name of the employee holidays caused an outcry in the community of 10,000 people. ''This struck a nerve in people and impassioned them,'' Pastor Sam Gamble said. Council members said they received many telephone calls, e-mails and letters from residents who were upset about their decision.
What I find interesting was how few of them had open comments. Some had closed them. Some didn't even offer the option to comment. That really speaks for the strength of one's argument, doesn't it? - That they're not even willing to allow open debate.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
I figured that taking a spin on it from a different angle (striking resemblance by profession) would be entertaining.
So...it is just me, or do this guy
and this guy
find themselves really doing the same thing?
And, ultimately, aren't they all trying to convince us to "please disperse because there's nothing to see here?"
It looks like Chimpy Inc. isn't as good as fixing elections in Iraq as they are in Ohio and Florida. The returns indicate a total rejection of the U.S. puppet (Chalabi) and an almost total rejection of semi-puppet Allawi. So--we have the hard-line religious parties winning and the Sunnis who turned out en masse , more pissed than ever.
So I was wrong on the conspiracy theory, but right in that Operation Iraqi Clusterfuck continues unabated.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Alice: While you talk, he's gone!
More: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast - man's laws, not God's-and if you cut them down-and you're just the man to do it-do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake."
Bill O'Reilly: "Because I was in combat and when you are there your adrenalin is flying through your ears."
Funny, I don't recall Bill's military service. Turns out he was referring to his heroic tour of duty in Argentina REPORTING on the Falklands war, hunkered down in the Alvear Palace Hotel in Buenos Aires with a hard-to-find falafel in one hand and himself in the other, whiling away the hours with his collection of pin-up photos of Jeanne Kirkpatrick.
Using the powers of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in disregard of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, imparting the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive branch and the purposes of these agencies.
Q: It was, why did you skip the basic safeguards of asking courts for permission for the intercepts?
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I -- right after September the 11th, I knew we were fighting a different kind of war. And so I asked people in my administration to analyze how best for me and our government to do the job people expect us to do, which is to detect and prevent a possible attack. That's what the American people want. We looked at the possible scenarios. And the people responsible for helping us protect and defend came forth with the current program, because it enables us to move faster and quicker. And that's important. We've got to be fast on our feet, quick to detect and prevent.
Cheney, speaking to reporters during an overseas trip, forcefully defended the eavesdropping program as necessary to the nation's defense.
"The president and I believe very deeply that there is a hell of a threat," he said, adding this obliged them to "do everything in our power to defeat the terrorists."
Oh. The "Hell of a threat" clause. Wasn't that also used by Polk when they killed all the Irish?
From the White House, a record of remarks made on April 20, 2004, in Buffalo NY:
Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.
(Thanks to the dailyKos for making my head explode.)
As we stumble from apocalypse to apocalypse, they should recall the warnings of the prophet Hosea:
"For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind"
Methinks for all the sowing we have done, the whirlwind to come is an F6!
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A federal judge said on Tuesday the teaching of intelligent design by Pennsylvania's Dover Area School District violated the constitutional ban on teaching religion in public schools.
Judge John Jones, in a 139-page ruling, said, "The defendant's ID (intelligent design) policy violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States."
Jones banned the school district from any future implementation of the policy in Dover schools.
The district was sued by a group of 11 parents who claimed the intelligent design policy was unconstitutional and unscientific and had no place in science classrooms.
"You know, what we have got to recognize just there in this case is that the evolutionists worship atheism. I mean, that's their religion. And evolution becomes their religion. It is a matter of religion. So this is an establishment of religion contrary to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. And the fact that somebody comes along and says, "We are not sure that it's accurate, it's a theory and not a fact" -- how can you say it's a fact? You are talking about 10 to 15 billion years ago. Who was there?
Yeah, well, a lot of scientists are [acting like brain-dead psychozombies, editor's note]. More and more are. They are saying there are just too many things that can't be explained by evolution. But, I mean, these fanatics, I mean, it is a religion, it is a cult. It is cultish religion, and whenever you start talking about the origins of life, you now get into religious matter, and theirs is just as much religion. The only difference is that even questioning, questioning that-the ACLU says even if you question our religion, you are guilty of violating the First Amendment. I mean, give me a break."
This will all play out eventually in congressional committees and in the United States Supreme Court. If the Democrats regain control of Congress, there may even be articles of impeachment introduced. Similar abuse of power was part of the impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974.
I won't go further into that, except to say that I hope the media and Congress do not let this go. We know that some members of Congress had been briefed on this issue, and while some of them may have valid excuses for not coming forward, in my mind the fact that they kept quiet in no way absolves Bush of responsibility - it just makes them complicit in the crime.
But there's a deeper point here, one brought out by Lindsay Graham's comments earlier this week. While "outcome-based" might be an intriguing phrase, the more common version is "the ends justify the means." The Evil and Greedy wings (E&G) of conservatism clearly operate under this philosophy - to them no means are too extreme if the end is achieved. You look at how they campaign - smear tactics, lies, innuendo - and you see that it's never about ideas, it's about winning. You look at how they govern - lying, rewarding their friends while punishing their enemies or ignoring the weak, making promises that they can't keep, and coalescing power in as few hands as possible. Now, one might argue (if they, say, were on LSD, had been kicked in the head by a horse, waterboarded, and subjected to the entire collected works of Scott McClellan) that these actions were taken "with the best intentions" - there are those, I'm sure, that believe that trickle down economics really works, or that they're really saving people's souls by going on religious crusades, or whatever.
However, we all know how dangerous this is. Ask the wingnuts how they'd feel if, say, Bill Clinton, had assumed that he had this power in a similar situation. They'd be screaming up one side and down the other about the abuses to their freedoms. Freedom isn't a sometimes thing. It's not something that we get to set aside when inconvenient. The Constitution is vague about some things, but not about this. "Congress shall make no law". "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated". And it's not me saying this. Decades of Supreme Court rulings clearly mark the boundaries of executive power.
"A state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens," wrote Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
So, sorry, Mr. President, the ends do not justify the means. If you save my life, but take away my freedom, you, sir, are unAmerican. You, sir, are in violation of your oath of office. You, sir, are nothing but a criminal.
Monday, December 19, 2005
First of all, I think it is a stupid idea. Multi-millionaire players are not playing "for their country," and teams paying those millions should be concerned about season and career-threatening injuries.
But that doesn't merit a post here. Administration idiocy does. They won't let the Cubans in.
What is the point? I know, to suck up to well-heeled and politically active Floridians in a corrupt political environment, but please--Cuba? A tiny, impoverished nation?
What do we hope to prove?
We do business with far worse than Castro (hell, WE are far worse than Castro!) The fall of the Soviet Union (OK, for you dittoheads, Reagan bankrupting us with obsolete weapons for his defense contractor buddies had NOTHING to do with it, resume being fascinated by small shiny objects) demonstrated how access and trade can break down totalitarian walls, not a false isolation.
Wow, I'm frightened, but I feel safer knowing they can't play baseball here.
By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer
NEW BEDFORD -- A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book."
Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.
The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.
The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book is on a "watch list," and that his background, which included significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further.
"I tell my students to go to the direct source, and so he asked for the official Peking version of the book," Professor Pontbriand said. "Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring inter-library loans, because that's what triggered the visit, as I understand it."
Although The Standard-Times knows the name of the student, he is not coming forward because he fears repercussions should his name become public. He has not spoken to The Standard-Times.
The professors had been asked to comment on a report that President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to spy on as many as 500 people at any given time since 2002 in this country. The eavesdropping was apparently done without warrants.
The Little Red Book is a collection of quotations and speech excerpts from Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung. In the 1950s and '60s, during the Cultural Revolution in China, it was required reading. Although there are abridged versions available, the student asked for a version translated directly from the original book.
The student told Professor Pontbriand and Dr. Williams that the Homeland Security agents told him the book was on a "watch list." They brought the book with them, but did not leave it with the student, the professors said. Dr. Williams said in his research, he regularly contacts people in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other Muslim hot spots, and suspects that some of his calls are monitored.
"My instinct is that there is a lot more monitoring than we think," he said. Dr. Williams said he had been planning to offer a course on terrorism next semester, but is reconsidering, because it might put his students at risk. "I shudder to think of all the students I've had monitoring al-Qaeda Web sites, what the government must think of that," he said. "Mao Tse-Tung is completely harmless."
You know the look--when your dog hears you but you can tell he doesn't understand what you are saying. If I didn't know better, I would give the confused dog look to the following:
President Bush on Monday said disclosure of his domestic eavesdropping program was a “shameful act” and said he will keep using it “for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill American citizens.”
Note that the complete and utter disregard of our constititutional rights isn't the "shameful act" disavowed by the president. It is a (hopefully) free press that he is condemning.
The sad part is, I'm not confused. I know EXACTLY what he's saying:
And here's the concern I have-we can’t become an outcome-based democracy. Even in a time of war, you have to follow the process, because that's what a democracy is all about-a process.
I am not a lawyer, and I do not understand the law well enough to know if crimes have been committed either by the President or by those he ordered to spy on Americans, but I urge you and your colleagues to investigate this situation fully and, if necessary, bring charges against and punish those who have broken the law.
Dr. Eric Martell
I considered breaking down the president's address point-by-point, where he trots out his old failed explanations and his "stay the course" rhetoric, but realized the pointlessness of that exercise. Why bother to point out any more the foolishness of using violations of U.N. resolutions as an excuse to violate the U.N. charter? Why argue that "victory" is not only impossible but irrational? Rather, we just call it what it is, as the learned Schmidlap pointed out. The president just said "this is what I did, I did it because I wanted to and the hell with you."
Krugman, citing an early work from Henry Kissinger, of all people, and implicitly addressing the rise of fascism in the 1930s, describes what happens when a stable political system is confronted with a "revolutionary power": a radical group that rejects the legitimacy of the system itself. This, Krugman believes, is precisely the situation in the
Krugman further describes how "the Bush administration managed to sell tax cuts as a benefit to the poor when the result will really be to benefit the rich, and why they managed to rally support for war in Iraq with arguments for which they didn't have the evidence." Journalists "find it very hard to deal with blatantly false arguments," he argues. "By inclination and training, they always try to see two sides to an issue, and find it hard even to conceive that a major political figure is simply lying."
Sunday, December 18, 2005
I am no expert on criminal constitutional law, but I cannot find a way to fit this into the boundaries of legal surveillance. The 1978 act establishing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court clearly envisioned this tribunal acting swiftly to facilitate appropriate intelligence work, and the court has been OVERWHELMINGLY receptive to government requests.
According to the NYT report, "Mr. Bush's executive order allowing some warrantless eavesdropping on those inside the United States - including American citizens, permanent legal residents, tourists and other foreigners - is based on classified legal opinions that assert that the president has broad powers to order such searches, derived in part from the September 2001 Congressional resolution authorizing him to wage war on Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, according to the officials familiar with the N.S.A. operation."
So, once again. the dreaded "9/11" trumps all.
This is frightening, maddening and disgusting.
What I'm wondering from the lawyers is - did Bush break the law here? If so, he just told the country that he did, which would seem like a problem for him.
There is a secondary part to the story, dealing with the traitorous New York Times. No, not traitorous like the head of the KGB, err, President of the United States has suggested - that letting us know that the government may be illegally spying on us is somehow criminal - but traitorous in that they waited a year to publish this. I'm not even talking about that it meant they might have affected the elections in 2004, but that they might have covered up evidence of a crime by this nation's highest elected official for a year. That's it - I wouldn't read an article in that rag if they printed a cover story about how thinkingorsitting was the best blog ever.