.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

A Faerie's Farthing

Flitting through the internets looking for sparkly bits. All content mine and not to be reproduced without permission.

Location: All Material Copyrighted, United States

Monday, January 30, 2006

Keep Up the Hardball With Hardball

Keep Up the Hardball With Hardball

This is Alito-related anyway - unbelievable though it is.  So, what could possibly top Chris Matthews' classless performance of equating liberals with Osama bin Laden? Or his less-than-charming notions regarding immigrants?  Glad you asked. He's at it again and Crooks and Liars has the video.

MATTHEWS: ...won't they say something up beat and (bucking up)... isn't she a great woman, didn't she stand up-and then they'll put the camera right on Ted Kennedy and show how he was the guy that molested her basically-that's the way they'll play it

Yes - he just accused Senator Kennedy of molesting Mrs. Alito. Exactly where does "sloppy, irresponsible journalism" stop and "slander" begin?

Back to the boycott!

Tags: , , ,

Wall of Shame

Wall of Shame

The following Senators voted in favor of cloture on the Alito nomination. A lifetime Supreme Court appointment deliberated for all of 30 hours. Disgusting.

AR - Lincoln, Pryor
CO - Salazar
CT - Lieberman
DE - Carper
FL - Nelson
HI - Akaka, Inouye
LA - Landrieu
MT - Baucus
NE - Nelson
NM - Bingaman
ND - Conrad, Dorgan
SD - Johnson
WA - Cantwell
WV - Byrd, Rockefeller
WI - Kohl

History will vindicate the filibusterers, but why wait? Keep up with the LTEs - we cannot let the media set the tone and define this narrative. And while you're at it, be sure to give Lieberman an unmistakable message by donating to Ned Lamont today.

And please give Kerry, Kennedy and the others who stood up for what's right some love. They deserve it.

Tags: , , ,

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Tax Overhaul

Tax Overhaul

Wyden's Fair Flat Tax of 2005 proposal gets some good press!

[it] would tax all income from whatever source at the same rate, close thousands of loopholes, and simplify everybody’s tax return into a one-page form.

...It’s been 20 years since the last tax overhaul, when then Democratic Sen. Bill Bradley worked with the Reagan administration to slash the tax rates and close loopholes. Wyden conferred with Bradley, who told him the case for reform is even stronger now than it was in 1986 because globalization has tightened the squeeze on the middle class.

Wyden would reduce the current six tax rates to three—15, 25 and 35—and get rid of “all the glop,” the 17,000 special-interest provisions added since ’86. He wouldn’t raise the top rate, which should calm Republican fears about class warfare, and he would preserve popular deductions like home-mortgage interest and charitable contributions. When Wyden calls some of his wealthier constituents to tell them he wants the same treatment for wages and investment income, “You can hear the pause at the other end of the line.” After he explains that it’s not really fair to tax unearned income from investments and stocks at a lower rate than hard-earned wages, “There’s another long pause before they say, ‘I can’t argue with that’.”

...Bush had intended to make tax reform a centerpiece of his second term, but he is too weakened to bring his party to any consensus. Wyden thinks his plan could attract bipartisan support. “A Republican senator told me he didn’t agree with me on capital gains,” Wyden told NEWSWEEK. “But he said it ought to be a requirement every 20 years to clean up the code. He laughed and said, “Then the lobbyists can come back and fill it up again.”

Tags: , ,

Guerrila Marketing Success!

Guerrila Marketing Success!

Some members of World Can't Wait were in my neighborhood tonight and apparently were told by someone around the way to be sure not to miss the house with the "Impeach" sign!

Yay front-porch blogging!

Oh, and speaking of the SOTU...

Tags: , ,

"Keep Our Powder Dry"

"Keep Our Powder Dry"

You've got to read this. Trust me.

For once, I'm in agreement with the pragmatists of the Democratic Party. The fight to stop Alito is one that we cannot win. It is better to keep our powder dry. You might respond, "Keep it dry! For what?" Glad you asked. I can think of fights for which we will be glad we kept our powder dry.

...Imagine that a catastrophic terrorist attack happens on our shores. The Republican President gives some nice speeches and promises to kick some terrorist ass. He tells us that if anyone could have imagined such an attack he would have done everything possible to protect us. I'm just spinning my wheels here, but what if it later became clear that there was warning of the attack and the President did absolutely nothing to stop it? He was busy doing something ultra-Republican, maybe trying to start a new nuclear missile program -- who knows. At any rate, he ignored the threat and lied about receiving warning. This is a Republican we are talking about; so, he'd probably try to pull some crazy stunt like falsifying an EPA report that states the air at the place struck by the terrorists made the location unsafe. We need to keep our powder dry for this eventuality.

3. Republicans love war, particularly when they and their families don't have to fight. Terrorists don't really have their own nation, so the President would have to find somewhere to attack and appear "Presidential." It is possible, unlikely, but let me put on my tin-foil hat for a minute, that the President would manufacture reasons to go to war with a nation that was in no way threatening us. He'd probably pick some faltering Middle East country that he felt would be a cakewalk. How would he convince us to fight? Maybe, he'd say something about mushroom clouds and also suggest they were in league with the terrorists. He'd probably try to hint that the country had something to do with the terrorist attack on the US. I'm not sure what else, make a half-ass try at avoiding war through the UN. Sure, millions would see through this and take to the streets in anti-war marches, but we would need our Senators and Representatives to have some dry powder ready to stop the illegal war. At least we know that Republicans are all about integrity and hate "nation-building," so once no weapons are found and the war of choice is exposed, they'd hold the President accountable.

...These are just a few examples of how things could get much worse. I even dreamt up one scenario where a whole US city is destroyed because of incompetent planning and misplaced priorities. I bet if that happened the GOP would go with the "Nobody could have predicted this" defense. Crazy Wingers.

...who knows what those wacky GOPers could get up to, so let's keep that powder dry for a real fight.


Tags: , , ,

Why Alito Matters

Why Alito Matters

This video and his judiciary committee testimony speak volumes.

Polls show that Americans are on our side in this - let the Senate know!

Tags: , , ,

Sheehan for Senate?

Sheehan for Senate?

Wouldn't that just beat all!?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Poor Little Ricky

Poor Little Ricky

It seems he doesn't lie so well. Crooks and Liars has footage directly linking him to Norquist and the K street Project. Oops!

wing tip to dailykos

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Filibustering Alito

Filibustering Alito

Kerry is supporting a filibuster - Please sign his filibuster petition. And call Salazar NOW - he is taking a filibuster poll. Apparently, Ben Nelson is soliciting feedback as well. I just called Nelson's office and spoke with a delightful fellow who didn't even care that I'm out of state because he's from here! : p

I told him that extending debate on Alito's nomination is entirely appropriate given Alito's deference to presidential power in light of spygate. There is no reason not to put Alito's nomination off until we have some answeres on extralegal domestic surveillance.

Meanwhile, we need to get the word out publically in every way possible - people need to understand what they'd be getting in Alito and why a filibuster is warranted.

Here are some resources for LTE's, etc.:

a democratic staffer !@#$%& gets it!

Anti-Alito Brigade for Justice round-up

and don't forget the wisdom of Mark Crispin Miller:

"A no vote is a yes vote, unless you filibuster!"

Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Maybe There's Hope for Kansas After All

Maybe There's Hope for Kansas After All

Are they still screening shrubya's audiences?

Army troops from Fort Riley, Kan., listen to President Bush deliver a speech about the war on terror during the Landon Lecture at Kansas State University Monday, Jan. 23, 2006 in Manhattan, Kan.. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Perhaps this brightened their day a bit:
Someone asked Bush at a question and answer session at Kansas State University if he'd seen "Brokeback Mountain," since he's a rancher and all. Bush said he hadn't.

The president, clearly caught off guard, hemmed and hawed when asked his opinion of the movie.

Bush -- after some hesitation, and laughter in the audience -- said he'd be glad to talk about ranching, but said he hasn't seen the movie.

...The guy who asked the question told the president, "You would love it. You should check it out."

Check it out? He's practically living it. Although he's probably much more interested in the sequel.

, , , , ,

Monday, January 23, 2006

Scotty's Not Gonna Like This...

Scotty's Not Gonna Like This...

It seems that Americans are none too keen on this warrantless spying nonsense.

The warrantless surveillance targets international communication between suspected terrorists and people in the USA. "If (terrorists) are making phone calls to the United States, we need to know why to protect you," Bush told an audience at Kansas State University.

The remarks were part of a Bush administration rebuttal to weeks of criticism about a program that empowers the National Security Agency to tap communications without a court-approved warrant.

Gen. Michael Hayden, the nation's No. 2 intelligence officer, gave a more detailed defense of the secret surveillance in Washington.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to take up the issue in public hearings early next month.

A new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows that 51% of Americans say the administration was wrong to intercept conversations without a warrant. The poll also showed that 58% of Americans support appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the issue. The poll of 1,006 adults was taken Friday through Sunday and has a margin of error of +/—3 percentage points.

Be sure to sign the ACLU's petition!

Tags: , , ,

wing tip to Dailykos!

Grow Your Own! Home, that is

Grow Your Own! Home, that is

What they won't think of next!

Growing a home from living trees instead of building a home from felled timber is the goal of an architect from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Mitchell Joachim, part of the MIT Media Lab's Smart Cities Group, along with ecological engineer Lara Greden and architect Javier Arbona, propose a home that is actually an ecosystem.

...In Joachim's vision, the exterior of the living house is shaped over the course of several decades into a protective crisscross of vines, interspersed with soil pockets and growing plants.

A clay and straw composite fills in the gaps to insulate against the cold and heat and keep out moisture.

He proposes constructing windows manufactured from soy-based plastics that would flex with the home as it grows.

...Joachim's dream is to plan an entire community based on the living house design, but before that can happen, he will need to conduct a year or two's worth of sociology and feasibility studies.

In the meantime, he is currently designing a house in California that will be constructed from 50 percent recycled and reconstituted materials and 50 percent living elements.

The project is called MatScape and Joachim sees it as an experimental step toward the ultimate living house.

Go Joachim!



Bush, Abramoff and Cheney, oh my!

Kerry Entering Alito Opposition Into Congressional Record

Kerry Entering Alito Opposition Into Congressional Record

John Kerry has a new anti-Alito petition and will be entering the gathered signatures into the Congressional Record! Please sign it and share it far and wide.

Dear Friend,

I've studied Judge Alito's legal record. I met with him one-on-one. After all this, I am left with one simple conclusion: if Judge Alito becomes Supreme Court Justice Alito, he will move the Court backwards.

I will vote against Judge Alito's confirmation, and I hope a majority of Senators choose to join us on the Senate floor, voting and speaking out against him. I know we face tough odds, but this is an important fight.

The bottom line is Judge Alito cannot be trusted on the Supreme Court. We can't trust him to stand up to government abuse of power. We can't trust him to ensure all citizens enjoy equal protection under the law. We can't trust him to protect our right to privacy. We can't trust him to defend mainstream American values.

To muster enough Senators to defeat Judge Alito, the American people have to make it clear that they are against his nomination. That's where you come in. By speaking out, you will help us convince other Senators to join our fight.

We can do this! Be sure to also check out SusanHu's great diary about some Senators who need that extra nudge to do the right thing.

Tags: , , ,

People Against Pombo!

People Against Pombo!

You know you've got problems when, between you and Nixon, you're the asshole. When a retired congressman - from your own party, no less - considers re-entering politics solely to ensure your defeat. And he's not your only challenger. And even your challenger has a challenger...and...oh hell, I haven't got all night:

The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund has begun a campaign to oust the man voted the "Most Anti-Conservation Member of Congress" -- Republican Richard Pombo (CA-11). Rep. Pombo is the best kind of friend special interests have ever had. He has tried to gut the Endangered Species Act, restart commercial whaling, open coastlines to offshore drilling, sell off 15 national parks, allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and weaken the Magna Carta of environmental law -- the National Environmental Policy Act.

...Challengers to Pombo in his district are Republican Pete McCloskey, a 78-year-old former congressman who was an original co-author of the 1973 Endangered Species Act -- the bill Pombo is trying to gut. McCloskey has looked for a younger Republican candidate, but has not been able to find one, so he said he will enter the race if one does not step forward.

On the Democrats side is Jerry McNerney, who is a wind power engineer and who lost to Pombo in the last election. McNerney's competition will be Steve Filson, an airline pilot from Danville with no political experience.

McCloskey vs. McNerney - that'll make for an interesting "pregnant chad" scenario. I really don't care who wins as long as Pombo goes down.

[UPDATE from 1.9.2006] McCloskey is in!

"Winning isn't the issue. The issue is forcing a debate on which way the Republican Party goes," McCloskey said. "This guy Pombo, he wants to privatize the remaining public lands in California and he has the power to do it. He's the chairman of the House Resources Committee. He's up to his neck with Abramoff."

...McCloskey, a lawyer in Redwood City, helped write the Endangered Species Act while he was in congress, and he ran for the Republican presidential nomination against
Richard Nixon in 1972 on an anti-Vietnam War platform.

He said Saturday that he spent months trying to find a candidate to run against Pombo, also a Republican, who is in his seventh term.

"I'm going to run against him because nobody else will," McCloskey said. He said he planned to formally announce his candidacy Monday.

Another one to keep our eyes on Sen. Larry Craig - he and Pombo are peas in a pod.

Tags: , , , ,

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Kulongoski Decides Not to Run

Kulongoski Decides Not to Run

He will instead be working with the Archimedes Movement:

It was the clear eyed recognition of this reality that led me to my conclusion. At some point, each of us needs to ask "where can I make the most difference?" And for me the answer is clear. I can make the most difference not by entering a campaign for governor but rather by launching a campaign to change the American health care system and by offering people a way to engage around an idea - not just a candidate-- and as members not of political parties or of various stakeholder groups, but as members of a community.

Tags: , , , ,

Feingold Fighting for Victims of Medicare D

Feingold Fighting for Victims of Medicare D

It's just three weeks old and already disastrous. So, for 2008, it's Feingold, Gore and Clark - whatever order - Pres., Veep, cabinet Secretary, SoS; whichwhatever.

I &hearts Russ

be sure to check out this great column by Teresa Heinz Kerry and Jeffrey Lewis on Medicare D.

Tags: , , ,

Friday, January 20, 2006

Wyden Saying "No" to Alito

Wyden Saying "No" to Alito

Three cheers for my good Senator!

“It is my conclusion that Judge Alito’s record portends a view on the power of the President that would undermine our proven and constitutionally-mandated system of checks and balances. His measurable record and answers to my questions suggest that, on the question of a woman’s right to choose, he will have an open mind only with respect to the degree to which he is willing to recognize more than three decades of precedent.

His record demonstrates a dangerous and narrow interpretation of the Commerce Clause, which could lead to results that would threaten the health and safety of all Americans. And his record of standing with large, corporate polluters who fouled our air, poisoned our waters, and then don’t want to pay for it could be disastrous for generations to come.

Ultimately, it is Judge Alito’s record that leaves me convinced that he has pre-judged many of the matters that would come before him on the court. It is with a heavy heart that I arrive at this conclusion. I believe that a President is due considerable latitude to select nominees of his or her own political party and ideology, but I will not vote to confirm a judge whom I believe incapable or unlikely to separate those personal beliefs from his constitutional obligations.”

Lots of extra Anti-Alito info over here.

[UPDATE]: He's also in for the filibuster! Show him some love!

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Conyers to Hold Hearings on Illegal Spying

Conyers to Hold Hearings on Illegal Spying

Oh, I do love that man! I wish that I could vote for him. Tune in tomorrow at 11 EST to watch the proceedings.

The hearing will commence at 11 am ET, and will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, Radio Pacifica, and ABC Radio. It will also be covered by CNN, the New York Times, and many bloggers. This is particularly timely since the DOJ today issued a 42 page rant that again attempts to defend the indefensible - spying on Americans without court approval. For those in the DC area, you can see the hearing in person at B 339 Rayburn Bldg (1116 Longworth for overflow).

This is a Huge development. The fact that millions of Americans will be able to tune in and see House Democrats challenging this program will show that we don't need to simply sit on our hands while the Constitution is shredded.

We will have an excellent and bipartisan panel, including Reagan Deputy AG Bruce Fein, GWU Law Professor Jonathan Turley, spying expert and author James Bamford, peace activist Richard Hersh, ACLU DC Director Caroline Frederickson, and Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies.

In the meantime, enjoy yet more criticisms of shrubCo's extralegal shenanigans from conservatives in goverment.

, , ,

Death With Dignity? Not With Alito

Death With Dignity? Not With Alito

The good news is that the Supreme Court recently upheld Oregon's Assisted-Suicide Law; the bad news is that the addition of Alito to the nation's highest court would likely endanger this and other personal rights.
The U.S. Supreme Court, bolstering the right-to-die movement, ruled that the Bush administration overstepped its authority by trying to block an Oregon law that authorizes doctor-assisted suicide.

The justices, voting 6-3, today said the Justice Department can't use the U.S. Controlled Substances Act to bar physicians from prescribing lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients, as Oregon law permits. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was among the dissenters.

The ruling is a major victory for patient advocates, preserving a first-of-its-kind law that may serve as a model for other states. More than 200 people have killed themselves using drugs prescribed under the Oregon Death With Dignity Act, which took effect in 1997.

The majority said the Justice Department and former Attorney General John Ashcroft had encroached on the traditional power of states to regulate the practice of medicine.

Given Alito's tendency to support the executive branch and expand its powers, we can't count on him to rule in a similarly restrained manner.

The Bush administration position would ``effect a radical shift of authority from the states to the federal government to define general standards of medical practice in every locality,'' Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court.

Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Stephen Breyer, John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter voted with the majority.

Roberts joined Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in dissent. Scalia's opinion for the group said the court should have deferred to the Justice Department's approach.

...Oregon voters approved the measure twice, in 1994 and 1997, the second time with 60 percent favoring the law. Court challenges kept the law on hold until October 1997.

The balance is especially precarious in light of Thomas' and Roberts' statements during their nomination hearings. In both cases, the nominees said all the "right" things during the confirmation process, but proceeded to rule in direct contradiction of their statements once appointed to the bench.

Prior to his confirmation hearings, then-Judge John Roberts had a conversation with our Senator Ron Wyden.

While they didn't discuss the Death With Dignity law directly, he seemed to indicate that he would look favorably upon it. Of course, earlier today Roberts voted with Justices Scalia and Thomas in a dissent against upholding it.

A look back to August 10, 2005:

Supreme Court nominee John Roberts declared that, in cases dealing with end-of-life care, he would "start with the supposition that one has the right to be left alone," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said after the two met for an hour Tuesday. ...

Roberts told Wyden that he would look closely at the legislative history of federal laws and would be careful not to strip states of powers they traditionally have held -- such as regulating the practice of medicine, Wyden said.

The death with dignity act was upheld on a 6-3 split - adding Alito to the bench would tilt the balance precariously toward intrusive government regulation of deeply personal decisions - where is the vaunted federalist philosophy now?

Tags: , , , ,

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Blog Roundup - Passing Judgement

Blog Roundup - Passing Judgement

Needless to say, Alito took center stage around the blogosphere this week. I think it would be impossible to round up every worthwhile Alito post, so let's just say shorter blog roundup: Alito, Scalito, Thomaslito, Borkalito. It's so much nicer to end the week with Harry Reid's statement regarding "Say Anything Sammy's" nomination.

I have not forgotten that Judge Alito was only nominated after the radical right wing of the President's party forced Harriet Miers to withdraw. The right wing insisted that Justice O'Connor be replaced with a sure vote for their extreme agenda.

And what would any extreme agenda be without extremist rhetoric such as this:
And now Ariel Sharon, who was again a very likeable person, a delightful person to be with. I prayed with him personally. But here he is at the point of death. He was dividing God's land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations or United States of America. God said, "This land belongs to me, you better leave it alone."

Obviously, Israel didn't appreciate what Robertson had to say and the country has judged back - they have decided to "stop all contact" with him. Maybe now that his inane ramblings have finally caught up with him - he won't get to build his "JesusLand" theme park anymore - he might finally be a little more prudent with his commentaries. Of course, there's always the 700 Club's prayer line - it would be hilarious to get a ton of prayer requests for Robertson to get a grip.

Aaahhhh...so much judging and there's always so much to go around; while we were judging judges and Robertson was - well, not exercising any judgement whatsoever, but anyway - Spain and other European nations may have been judging us.

The concept of universal jurisdiction asserts that some crimes are so abhorrent that they transcend the normal understanding of sovereignty:

According to the proponents of universal jurisdiction, certain crimes pose so serious a threat to the international community as a whole, that any state ought to be able to prosecute an individual responsible for it; no place should be a safe haven for war criminals (including criminals involved in genocides) and human rights violators. Amnesty International also includes torture, "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions in this list.

The most famous incarnation of this concept can be found in Belgium's 1993 "law of universal jurisdiction under which charges were brought against participants in the Rwandan genocide, Ariel Sharon for event at Shatila, and against George H.W Bush, Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney for the 1991 Gulf War. However, Belgium is not the only country that has asserted the principal of universal jurisdiction.

In addition to Belgium, Spain has claimed the right to universal jurisdiction, with this jurisdiction traditionally being limited to cases involving Spanish nationals. This was the basis upon which Baltazar Garzon, one of Spain's investigating magistrates, brought charges against Augusto Pinochet, the ex-dictator of Chile. While the vast majority of the allegations being made against Pinochet related to the killings and torture of native Chileans, the presence of Spanish nationals amongst the victims was the basis upon which Garzon was able to ask for the extradition of Pinochet from the UK to stand trial in Madrid.

John Yoo isn't going to like that...

Tags: , , , ,

I've Been Tagged

I've Been Tagged

Carnacki got me with this "5 Weird Habits" thing.

1. When I'm getting my morning coffee, I pour the cream first. The coffee is always as strong as it always is and, therefore, always needs the same amount of cream to be that perfect rich, creamy goodness that coffee is. Why dirty a spoon or use the disposable stirrers, yannow? I also couldn't, for the life of me, estimate how much cream that is, i.e., if someone asked how I liked my coffee, I would only be able to answer "add enough cream so that it matches that light brown sweater over there..."

2. When coughing or sneezing, I use the crook of my elbow instead of my hands to cover my mouth. I touch far fewer things with it...

3. I salt my ketchup, because, let's face it - salt never sticks to french fries unless they're straight out of the fryer.

4. I am very fond of zippered sweatshirts and always, always, always have safety pins attached to the zippers and usually a hair tie or two or three. *shrug*

5. I'm fascinated by random noises, the wackier the better. I will often try to mimic them without even realizing I'm doing it. Yes; this includes a few embarassing incidents where people thought I was making fun of them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Few Moments With Paul Craig Roberts

A Few Moments With Paul Craig Roberts

aka, "Why Can't the Sunday Lineup Be Like This?"

I'm on the West Coast, so trying to catch the Sunday talking heads live is just brutally absurd. Sometimes though, I imagine it might be worth it if we could see pundits who were actually capable of, say, thinking beyond talking points. Or if someone might offer analysis that goes a little deeper than "some people say." It would be especially delightful if we could look forward to scathing reviews of shrubCo, such as those delivered by Paul Craig Roberts.

The destruction of New Orleans is the responsibility of the most incompetent government in American history and perhaps in all history.

...The Bush administration is damned by its gross incompetence.

...The neoconservatives have brought these disasters to all Americans, Democrat and Republican alike. Now they must he held accountable. Bush and his neoconservatives are guilty of criminal negligence and must be prosecuted.

Wouldn't it just make your morning to hear that as you drink your coffee? Sadly, we must content ourselves with the internets, as what passes for journalism these days is just pseudo-intellectual infotainment. If Judy Bachrach freaked them out, can you imagine the short circuit upon hearing shrubya declared a tyrant?

Americans must recognize the Bush administration and the Republican Party for what they are. They are tyrants. They are bringing evil to the world and tyranny to America.

The talking heads might well explode like so many Harry Mudd robots, incapable of reconciling unfamiliar input. Imagine a Sunday lineup that included something à la this excerpt:

No administration in my lifetime has given so many strong reasons to oppose and condemn it as has the Bush administration. Nixon was driven from office because of a minor burglary of no consequence in itself. Clinton was impeached because he did not want the embarrassment of publicly acknowledging that he engaged in adulterous sex acts in the Oval Office. In contrast, Bush has deceived the public and Congress in order to invade Iraq, illegally detained Americans, illegally tortured detainees, and illegally spied on Americans.

Good news - you longer have to imagine! I emailed Dr. Roberts and he agreed to grant an interview of sorts; his answers to three of my questions are almost a column unto themselves. I know this is neither television nor Sunday, but you are reading this via an electronic screen and it will still be here when the talk show circus circuit starts this weekend. So you can keep it nearby to read during the commercial breaks; it will keep you invigorated through all the bloviation.

And now, without further ado, those promised moments with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts (all emphasis mine):

C: At what point did you part ways with the Bush administration?

PCR: I can't say that I was ever in company with the Bush administration, or any other, with the exception of Ronald Reagan's administration in which I served. Political parties and administrations are collections of interest groups who put their interests ahead of those of the country. Reagan did convince me that he was primarily concerned with two enormous issues on the outcome of which the country's fate rested. One issue was stagflation and the threat of simultaneous increases in both unemployment and inflation. The other issue was the cold war. Reagan dealt decisively with both issues and thus served the country well.

The current Bush administration is associated in most people's minds with the US invasion of Iraq and the faulty justification for this war. I, like most Americans, was disturbed by the events of September 11. However, it was clear to any informed person that Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with September 11. When I saw where the Bush administration was going with the terrorist issue, I wrote that an invasion of Iraq would be a strategic blunder of disastrous dimensions. This fact is beginning to dawn even on distracted Americans.

C: In your column "America's Hegemonic Miscalculation," you raise many interesting points about unforeseen consequences of international military aggression and wonder "what hath Bush wrought?" regarding Iraq. I suppose it could be argued that most of the snafus resulting from the invasion (insurgency, civil war, Islamic state, etc.) were not anticipated. But your broader point is that we should be wary of the long-term consequences of, in your words, "the first adventure of neoconservative Jacobin ideologues willing to use any means to impose their "democratic" agenda on the rest of the world, especially the Middle East."

You cite this misadventure as a turning point in history - do you have any thoughts on what some of the long-term consequences might be?

PCR: Yes, the consequences are dire. America has never faced a greater threat than the neoconservative ideologues--who are not conservatives but Jacobins (see Claes Ryn's book, "America the Virtuous"). These neocons or neocrazies as some call them have total control of the Bush administration. They have their own agenda and are using the Bush administration to advance their agenda. It is not clear to me that Bush himself is aware of what is happening and why. In brief, neocons believe that America as interpreted by them has a monopoly on virtue and the right and duty to impose American virtue on the rest of the world, especially on the Middle East, which they see as a Muslim threat to Israel. They have made this abundantly clear in their writings.

Among the consequences is a complete change in how the world views America. For example, in the Asia Times (Jan. 12, 2006, "Dismal days ahead in Iraq"), a young Iraqi woman is quoted as follows: "We used to love the American people but not anymore. Hatred is spreading all over now, and everyone wants revenge on America. Bush is bringing disasters to the people of your own country, not only to Iraqis." Another Iraqi says: "The Americans destroyed everything in Iraq. Bush should be among the greatest terrorists along with his colleagues in Britain, because they are all criminals who have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis."

Polls show that huge majorities all over the Middle East now feel this way about America, a country that formerly they looked up to and respected. Polls also show that our former European allies now see us as a rogue state dangerous to the world's stability.

In short, Bush and the neocons have isolated America. This is an especially bad thing when you are running up massive foreign debts that the rest of the world is financing. Once the dollar's role as reserve currency gets into serious trouble, Washington cannot look to the rest of the world for support. Indeed, the world can collapse the US superpower by devaluing our currency. US living standards are on a precipice.

Bush's invasion of Iraq has damaged the image of American military might. 150,000 US troops are essentially tied down by a few thousand rag-tag lightly armed insurgents. After three years of fighting and enormous destruction in Iraq, the US does not exercise control over the territory and has failed to impose its will.

Furthermore, prior to Bush's invasion of Iraq the country was ruled by secular Sunnis. The outcome of the invasion is to turn Iraq over to the majority Shi'ites, who are largely religious fundamentalists. The Iraqi Shi'ites are allied with Iran, which is also Shi'ite. What Bush has done is to create, in the words of our ally, the king of Jordan, "a Shi'ite crescent from Iran through Iraq to Lebanon." This is a great concern to the Sunni regimes that are our allies if not our puppets.

Saddam Hussein served as a restraint on Iranian power. By removing him, we have strengthened Iran. Now that the Bush administration recognizes its blunder, it thinks it can mitigate its mistake by attacking Iran. Alarmed US officials have leaked the word that Bush has plans to attack Iran with tactical nuclear weapons, as we have no remaining forces to risk in a ground war. I fear that Bush and the neocons are insane enough to attack Iran with nuclear weapons. If this mistake is made, the US will not recover from it. The rest of the world will put us on a par with Nazi Germany and organize against us.

Neocons, wallowing in hubris, confuse America's power with military power. However, America's power has always been based on our "soft" power: the recognition of our moral, diplomatic, and economic leadership. Once the world no longer accepts our leadership, military power will not go very far.

Another dire consequence is that the Bush administration has told so many lies and broken so many laws that it has to protect itself by constructing a police state. That so many Americans think the Bush police state will only be used against "terrorists" shows how distracted from reality they are.

Really, what American ever expected to hear the president, vice president, and attorney general of the US justify torture, indefinite detention, the right to break the law against spying on Americans, or claim that the president is above the law? Bush is leading us back to a legal system prior to the existence of our civil liberties. The Bush administration has made it clear that its intention is to discard our Constitution's separation of powers and to concentrate power in the executive. The Alito appointment to the Supreme Court will give the five votes needed to create an unaccountable executive with power to rule as he chooses.

C: I had asked Roberts a question about popularly-elected democratic representation as it relates to the following quote from H.L Mencken:

"We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

PCR: H.L. Mencken was on to something. In his humorous way he anticipated Hans Herman-Hoppe's point that democracies are poorly governed because the rulers only have a short-run interest in the country's success, whereas a king must think of the state of the kingdom that he is leaving to his son. Democratic governments grow large by gaining powers to tax and to regulate. The income tax (1913) and the New Deal (1930s) gave government the power to tax and regulate on a vast scale. Once that happens, government degenerates into interest group politics.

(end of correspondence)

Hamilton actually made similar arguments in Federalist no. 71, suggesting that a limited presidential term for the presidency wouldn't quite induce the president to properly invest himself in the office. Unfortunately, shrubya proved to be an extraordinary exception, but it is still an interesting idea. It's probably more interesting than the Sunday pablum, in any event.

Enjoy your coffee.

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Today in History

Today in History

On January 10, 1776, Thomas Paine published Common Sense. Here are a few of what I feel are the more fun excerpts from "On the Origin and Design of Government in General, with Concise Remarks on the English Constitution."

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins.

...Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him, out of two evils to choose the least.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth...

...In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought...Thus necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly arrived emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessings of which would supercede, and render the obligations of law and government unnecessary while they remained perfectly just to each other; but as nothing but Heaven is impregnable to vice, it will unavoidably happen that in proportion as they surmount the first difficulties of emigration, which bound them together in a common cause, they will begin to relax in their duty and attachment to each other: and this remissness will point out the necessity of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.

...Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world.

I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature which no art can overturn, viz. that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered, and the easier repaired when disordered.

Absolute governments, (tho' the disgrace of human nature) have this advantage with them, they are simple; if the people suffer, they know the head from which their suffering springs; know likewise the remedy; and are not bewildered by a variety of causes and cures.

And once they set their minds to "off with their heads," they stuck with it.

But as the same constitution which gives the Commons a power to check the King by withholding the supplies, gives afterwards the King a power to check the Commons, by empowering him to reject their other bills; it again supposes that the King is wiser than those whom it has already supposed to be wiser than him. A mere absurdity!

There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of Monarchy; it first excludes a man from the means of information, yet empowers him to act in cases where the highest judgment is required. The state of a king shuts him from the World, yet the business of a king requires him to know it thoroughly; wherefore the different parts, by unnaturally opposing and destroying each other, prove the whole character to be absurd and useless.


Some writers have explained the English constitution thus: the King, say they, is one, the people another; the Peers are a house in behalf of the King, the commons in behalf of the people; but this hath all the distinctions of a house divided against itself; and though the expressions be pleasantly arranged, yet when examined they appear idle and ambiguous; and it will always happen, that the nicest construction that words are capable of, when applied to the description of something which either cannot exist, or is too incomprehensible to be within the compass of description, will be words of sound only, and though they may amuse the ear, they cannot inform the mind: for this explanation includes a previous question, viz. HOW CAME THE KING BY A POWER WHICH THE PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO TRUST, AND ALWAYS OBLIGED TO CHECK? Such a power could not be the gift of a wise people, neither can any power, WHICH NEEDS CHECKING, be from God.

That the crown is this overbearing part in the English constitution needs not be mentioned, and that it derives its whole consequence merely from being the giver of places and pensions is self-evident; wherefore, though we have been wise enough to shut and lock a door against absolute Monarchy, we at the same time have been foolish enough to put the Crown in possession of the key.

see: Michael Brown, "Signing Statements"

The prejudice of Englishmen, in favour of their own government, by King, Lords and Commons, arises as much or more from national pride than reason. Individuals are undoubtedly safer in England than in some other countries: but the will of the king is as much the law of the land in Britain as in France, with this difference, that instead of proceeding directly from his mouth, it is handed to the people under the formidable shape of an act of parliament. For the fate of Charles the First hath only made kings more subtle — not more just.

Thank you, Mr. Paine!

Tags: ,

Monday, January 09, 2006

That About Sums It Up...

That About Sums It Up...

"Credibility" has rarely been an issue for Supreme Court nominees, but it is clearly a major issue for Alito.

- Senator Kennedy.
The views expressed there raise serious concerns about his ability to interpret the Constitution with a fair and open mind. When this embarrassing document came to light, he faced a difficult decision on whether to defend his 1985 views or walk away from them. When I and others met him a short time later, he appeared to be renouncing them -- "I was just a 35-year-old seeking a job," he told me. But now he's seeking another, far more important job. Is he saying that he did not really mean what he said then?

You really just can't beat that, but some things come close. I think this one will be an instant Frameshop classic:
Some say that Alito can chalk the statements up to job-application hyperbole that can be expected from someone applying for a political position. "The best thing he can say is that he was sucking up," says Rutgers' Baker.

...But Alito supporter Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute says, "He can't back away from the 1985 statements, nor should he."

If the best his supporters can say is that he must own his words," Sammy's got more than a few problems - it's not just credibility.
The university's most famous alumnus of the day, basketball star and later U.S. senator Bill Bradley, was invited into CAP initially but quickly found it "impossible to remain a member" because of CAP's "right-wing" views. A special committee of alumni, which included future Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, accused CAP of presenting a "distorted and hostile" view of the university. Alito joined CAP about that time, despite its purposes and reputation, and remained a member through 1985, when he cited his CAP membership as another qualification to join the Meese inner circle.

In 1987, when he was nominated to be U.S. attorney for New Jersey, and in 1990, when he was nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, he did not mention his CAP membership to the Senate Judiciary Committee or to then-Sen. Bradley, who introduced him to the committee at the nomination hearing and endorsed him "100 percent." Bradley says today that had he known about Alito's long membership in CAP he would have had serious questions about it. Alito now says he can't remember anything at all about CAP.

Not that I would expect such details to stop the theocrats from mewling about how he was overwhelmingly confirmed by the Senate before - as if U.S. Attorney for New Jersey is somehow comparable to being Supreme Court Justice. They'll probably declare CAP irrelevant and otherwise do whatever it takes to get their man on the bench. After all, he passed the litmus test with flying colors.

One really has to wonder if these people see anything beyond their rigid social agenda. As usual, they've been hoodwinked by subjectivity and so blithely assume that because abortion is their only concern, that will be the only impact of Alito's rulings. Or something. They are an extraordinarily dangerous sort - so focused in their zeal for implementing their social agenda that they are blind to any other concerns, oblivious handmaidens of a totalitarian state.
His pledge to be absolutely impartial where the government is concerned : While chairing his confirmation hearings in 1990, I asked Alito how he could remain neutral in the cases that would come before him as a 3rd Circuit judge after his more than a dozen years of service representing the U.S. government. He stated that he would be "absolutely impartial" in all his cases. But in case after case involving the actions of U.S. marshals, IRS agents and other government officials, he has sided with the government and against the citizens, even when his fellow judges have told him he was off-base.

Executive power. Alito is Roman Catholic, but don't be surprised if he is accused of being a Unitarian this week -- not of the Protestant sect, but an advocate of the theory of the "unitary executive." In a November 2000 speech before the Federalist Society, Alito expounded on this theory, which holds that the Framers of the Constitution wanted all executive power to be in the hands of the president and not to be shared with administrative agencies or with Congress. The Framers advocated this approach not only for efficiency and accountability, he said, but "to balance the huge power of the legislature and the factions that may gain control of it."

In the wake of revelations about Bush administration domestic eavesdropping, Alito has also been taken to task for a 1984 memo he wrote in the solicitor general's office suggesting that government officials deserved immunity from liability for authorizing illegal wiretaps.

This, of course, makes him every bit as dangerous as his Wingnut™ supporters. Yet, somehow, he's apparently expected to just charm his way through the judiciary committee. What a load of dreck!
"Sam will be home free when his most ardent political opponent cannot resist genuinely sharing in Sam's dry, laserlike humor..."

What the !@#$%& ever. I'm sure Thomas has cracked a few good jokes in his day. Hell, even Hitler probably did. But that doesn't make them suitable for their respective positions any more than shrubya's faux folksiness qualifies him to breathe my oxygen.
If this issue gains traction with the public and with Republicans -- some of whom, such as Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, Pa., are concerned about the erosion of congressional powers -- then it could spell trouble.

Now that's more like it. These are going to be some mighty interesting hearings...

wing tip to dailykos!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

They Get Letters...

They Get Letters...

He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

The reality of life under the Party (poor, dirty, and hungry) is completely different to the image of life according to their propaganda (efficient, futuristic, and mechanical). Even so, everyone appears to swallow the propaganda and believe they are living the great life they see in posters and on films.

Quote 41: "Even the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages was tolerant by modern standards. Part of the reason for this was that in the past no government had the power to keep its citizens under constant surveillance. The invention of print, however, made it easier to manipulate public opinion, and the film and the radio carried the process further. With the development of television, and the technical advance which made it possible to receive and transmit simultaneously on the same instrument, private life came to an end." Part 2, Chapter 9, pg. 206-7

Surveillance 10: All letters sent by mail are opened and checked by the mail service. There is no such thing as private mail.

It used to be fiction...

In the 50 years that Grant Goodman has known and corresponded with a colleague in the Philippines he never had any reason to suspect that their friendship was anything but spectacularly ordinary.

But now he believes that the relationship has somehow sparked the interest of the Department of Homeland Security and led the agency to place him under surveillance.

Last month Goodman, an 81-year-old retired University of Kansas history professor, received a letter from his friend in the Philippines that had been opened and resealed with a strip of dark green tape bearing the words “by Border Protection” and carrying the official Homeland Security seal.

DHS was fairly unapologetic and uninformative in their response to inquiries on this issue. As is typical with this administration, we learn far more from what not is not said.

A spokesman for the Customs and Border Protection division said he couldn’t speak directly to Goodman’s case but acknowledged that the agency can, will and does open mail coming to U.S. citizens that originates from a foreign country whenever it’s deemed necessary.

...“This process isn’t something we’re trying to hide,” Mohan said, noting the wording on the agency’s Web site. “We’ve had this authority since before the Department of Homeland Security was created,” Mohan said.

However, Mohan declined to outline what criteria are used to determine when a piece of personal correspondence should be opened, but said, “obviously it’s a security-related criteria.”

Mohan also declined to say how often or in what volume CBP might be opening mail.

Oh goody! More surveillance with ill-defined boundaries and applications. On whose whim is it determined that correspondence needs to be screened? Who is doing the screening? Does DHS keep files on the opened letters and their contents?

This is getting ridiculous.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Smoke, Mirrors and Snake Oil

Smoke, Mirrors and Snake Oil

Well whaddaya know - the much ballyhooed torture compromise between McCain and shrubya has been, well, compromised.

The President signed the Defense Appropriations bill on Friday. In his signing statement he did at least two notable things.

First, with respect to several provisions of the bill, the President signaled his intention to reserve his authority, as Commander in Chief, to ignore statutory mandates.

...Most importantly, as to the McCain Amendment, which would categorically prohibit cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees by all U.S. personnel, anywhere in the world, the President wrote:

The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks.

Translation: I reserve the constitutional right to waterboard when it will "assist" in protecting the American people from terrorist attacks.

So, where is McCain on this? Maverick, my ass. All the demagoguery and veto drama about his anti-torture amendment was just an elaborate dog and pony show, if you ask me; a kind of Senatorial "good cop, bad cop" routine. McCain gets to publically be the principled advocate for what is right and decent, thus securing his image as moderate reformer. He can pretend he's bucking the shrubCo machine, while in the back rooms, he and Graham and shrubya worked out a backup amendment and this "signing statement" to make sure nothing really changed. McCain gets to play good cop while remaining in collusion with the bad cops and retaining shrubya/GOP support for the 2008 nomination. Politics, you understand...

"We've been happy to work with him to achieve a common objective, and that is to make it clear to the world that this government does not torture and that we adhere to the international convention [on] torture, whether it be here at home or abroad," Bush said.

..."We've sent a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists," McCain said while sitting next to Bush at the White House. "We are . . . a nation that upholds values and standards of behavior and treatment of all people, no matter how evil or bad they are. And I think that this will help us enormously in winning the war for the hearts and minds of people throughout the world."

Charlatans, the lot of 'em. Including their lawyers - chalk this up as reason number 4,753 why Alito should not be confirmed. He's pretty big on these "signing statements." Probably because it would keep cases out of SCOTUS' hair:

Second, the President unsurprisingly signals that the Administration reads the Graham Amendments to cut off currently pending habeas cases:

[G]iven the decision of the Congress reflected in subsections 1005(e) and 1005(h) that the amendments made to section 2241 of title 28, United States Code, shall apply to past, present, and future actions, including applications for writs of habeas corpus, described in that section, and noting that section 1005 does not confer any constitutional right upon an alien detained abroad as an enemy combatant, the executive branch shall construe section 1005 to preclude the Federal courts from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over any existing or future action, including applications for writs of habeas corpus, described in section 1005.

What this means is that we're about to see a major battle in the Supreme Court, where the SG argues that the Court must dismiss the Hamdan case and Hamdan's attorneys argue that the Graham amendment should be construed to preserve pending cases.

So, what of Graham's amendment? It basically eliminates any way to enforce a "no torture" policy, i.e. it renders the McCain amendment meaningless.

This one bars Guantánamo detainees from going to federal court to enforce the rights that McCain would declare sacrosanct.

A shabby compromise is in the making. Bush removes his veto threat - as long as Graham's amendment remains in the bill - to transform McCain's principles into a hypocritical gesture: Listen up, world, we are against torture at Guantánamo - as long as nobody can complain about it.

It also provides murky justification for the use of information obtained under coercion:
...it provides that the review boards, in reaching a decision on the status of a detainee, should consider whether statements supporting that decision were obtained under coercion.

If the statements were obtained coercively, the boards are instructed to assess the "probative value" of those statements.

...it leaves open the possibility that a review tribunal will find that a statement obtained coercively is nonetheless reliable. And by leaving the possibility open, it indicates that such statements may be used.

...Article 15 of the Convention Against Torture, a treaty that the United States has ratified, requires that governments ensure "that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings."

Good thing Abu Gonzales declared the Geneva conventions "quaint" and "obsolete." Even our only real ally in the waronterra has denounced torture and emphatically declared that evidence produced by it is not admissable in court.

As one law lord explained, the use of torture "corrupts and degrades the state which uses it and the legal system which accepts it."

"Torture is not acceptable," another law lord stated categorically. "This is a bedrock moral principle in this country."

Oh, how far we've fallen from the tree, when the defense of torture is a high priority for our country's "leaders."
But Vice President Cheney...is strongly opposed to any compromise that includes the McCain provision.

...Cheney personally lobbied against McCain's measure to ban abuse and torture, contending that its language was too broad and would prohibit the use of interrogation methods necessary to secure vital national security information. After the Senate approved the measure as part of a defense spending bill, he pushed to exempt the CIA from its provisions.

Now Cheney has turned to House Republican leaders to hold McCain's language back.

"It's fair to say the White House has made the case -- both the president and the vice president -- that the McCain amendment is harmful," acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said last week.

...Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride said Cheney has done nothing on the issue that is not fully supported by the president. She pointed to a statement Bush made last week, saying that Cheney's lobbying reflected administration views.

I thought we were supposed to be the Good Guys™...

be sure to check out this fabulous article about the Graham amendment, also - lots of detailed info. wing tip to boomantribune!

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Et Tu, Newte?

Et Tu, Newte?

Some news items are just too much fun:

With a House Republican committee chairman implicated in the criminal case and the highest echelons of the Republican Party increasingly vulnerable to charges, GOP leaders moved yesterday to distance themselves from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and prepare to combat a growing corruption scandal.

...The Post detailed a fundraiser held by Hastert at one of Abramoff's restaurants that netted from the lobbyist's law firm and tribal clients at least $21,500 for the speaker's political action committee. Since then, numerous lawmakers from both parties have returned such donations, but only yesterday did Hastert join the line.

"While these contributions were legal, he believes that it is appropriate to donate the money to charity," said Ron Bonjean, Hastert's spokesman.

Given all the slush fund charity shenanigans of Team Abramoff, it's delightfully fitting that at least some of the money is finally going to worthy causes. It provides some wonderful poetic justice, even if it is nothing more than CYA. Speaking of CYA, DeLay's people should really stop talking to the press - they never seem to do themselves any favors by it. I've come to think of them as the Keystone Kops of the disinformation set.

Moreover, numerous references to Abramoff-financed trips to Scotland and the Northern Mariana Islands raised anew questions about DeLay's own trips to both locations with Abramoff...Dick DeGuerin, an attorney for DeLay, said he is not concerned about the Abramoff investigation.

..."If Jack Abramoff tells the truth, what he'll do is clear the air, and everyone will see there's no connection between Jack Abramoff's money-dealing and Tom DeLay," DeGuerin said.

No connection...unless you count Abramoff's former partner Mike Scanlon, who also previously worked as a top aide for DeLay. Or pesky details such as these:

Yesterday, Travis County prosecutor Ronnie Earle, who has been overseeing the probe into illegal corporate donations in Texas, tried to find that connection by sending subpoenas to Abramoff's two former employers in Washington, seeking documents and any correspondence involving DeLay and certain contributions by Abramoff clients.

The subpoenas are based on evidence that the law firm Preston Gates Ellis LLP and several Abramoff clients, including the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, made donations to Texans for a Republican Majority, a political action committee organized by DeLay and his associates. That committee has been indicted on charges of illegally using corporate funds, and Earle now appears to be seeking information on what the donors expected to get in return for their payments.

Nope...no connection between Abramoff's money machine and Tom Delay. What's a little campaign donation between best friends?

Apparently, plenty - DeLay's chances of regaining his position as House Majority Leader are now effectively nil.

And former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) called on House Republicans to elect a new majority leader to permanently replace Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), Abramoff's most powerful ally in Washington, who faces a trial on unrelated criminal charges of violating Texas campaign laws.

"Unequivocally, the House Republicans need to select a new majority leader in late January or early February," said Gingrich, who cited revelations in The Washington Post that a public advocacy group organized by DeLay associates had been largely financed by Russian energy interests.

2006 is going to a very interesting year...

wing tip to Americablog!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

"Watergate Was a Kindergarten Picnic"

"Watergate Was a Kindergarten Picnic"

Maybe my inner schadenfreude has voyeuristic tendencies; I just find it immensely gratifying to see conservatives levying serious criticisms against shrubya. It's a fine day indeed when even (R) Senators call for investigations and the rug is otherwise pulled out from under this maladministration. And nobody pulls the rug, rolls it up and proceeds to thwap shrubya upside the head with it better than Paul Craig Roberts, who has been positively excoriating the preznit at just about every turn. He's been screaming for impeachment longer than most, including many on the left.

As you might imagine, his commentary on shrubya's extralegal domestic spying, titled "A Criminal Administration," is exceptional. He blasts the obsequiousness of our Potemkin Press and lays out precisely why the spying is illegal (and unecessary) under FISA. Oh, and Hitler references are now "fair game," to quote a...ummmm...noted personality.

Caught in gratuitous and illegal spying on American citizens, the Bush administration has defended its illegal activity and set the Justice (sic) Department on the trail of the person or persons who informed the New York Times of Bush’s violation of law. Note the astounding paradox: The Bush administration is caught red-handed in blatant illegality and responds by trying to arrest the patriot who exposed the administration’s illegal behavior.

Bush has actually declared it treasonous to reveal his illegal behavior!

Get this man a bully pulpit! Or maybe a seat in Congress. MSM, take note: the leaker is a patriot, whereas shrubya is breaking the law. Learn it, love it, live it. Repeat it ad nauseum like we all know you can! For bonus points, spend the five minutes that might allow you to weave this narrative in amidst the corrupt and naked imperialism the administration wears like a badge of honor.

Compared to Spygate, Watergate was a kindergarden picnic. The Bush administration’s lies, felonies, and illegalities have revealed it to be a criminal administration with a police state mentality and police state methods. Now Bush and his attorney general have gone the final step and declared Bush to be above the law. Bush aggressively mimics Hitler’s claim that defense of the realm entitles him to ignore the rule of law.

Does this mean the 'f' word is no longer off-limits as well? All shrubya's missing is a little hair grease and that goofy mustache. If the jackboot fits...

What will the federal courts do? When Hitler challenged the German judicial system, it collapsed and accepted that Hitler was the law. Hitler’s claims were based on nothing but his claims, just as the claim for extra-legal power for Bush is based on nothing but memos written by his political appointees.

...Bush has upheld neither the Constitution nor the law of the land.

...The Bush administration, backed by the neoconservative Federalist Society, has brought the separation of powers, the foundation of our political system, to crisis.

I do believe this is the first condemnation from conservative quarters that puts such a fine point on the magnitude of this issue. Too many of them are still more than happy to shred the Constitution in the name of dear leader's lip service. "Sure he can ignore laws - we're at war, donchyaknow!?" Well, excuse me, but I didn't realize we were electing a monarch capable of ignoring any law which doesn't suit his nefarious purposes. I'm no Rhodes scholar, but I'm pretty sure we fought for independence precisely so we would be free of the capricious, self-serving edicts of a megalomaniacal aristocracy. Doesn't being the Good Guys™ mean we fight against tyranny?

We used to; I'm pretty sure that was in my history class as well. It is sickeningly ironic that our government is becoming the very thing we committed a generation's worth of resources and citizens to defeat. And this analogy isn't just coming from the American left; the idea that America is taking a turn towards totalitarianism has been widely expressed by people who really should know it when they see it. Desmund Tutu has said that America's current political climate reminds him of Apartheid South Africa.

"It's unbelievable that a country that many of us have looked to as the bastion of true freedom could now have eroded so many of the liberties we believed were upheld almost religiously."

..."I had naively believed all these many years that Americans genuinely believed in freedom of speech. [But I] discovered there that when you made an utterance that was remotely contrary to what the White House was saying, then they attacked you. For a South African the déjà vu was frightening. They behaved exactly the same way that used to happen here—vilifying those who are putting forward a slightly different view."

Holocaust survivors and others with vivid recollections of Nazi Germany are also worried about the current state of affairs. I'd think they'd know fascism when it rears its ugly head.

"My father was a Nazi soldier and he realized during the war what he and most of his generation was led into. I have learned from him that a nation can be guilty and that we must stop the arrogance of the powers at the very beginning. To me, America is becoming truly scary and the parallels to the development in Germany of the thirties (although the reason behind it are totally different) are sickening."

..."With Adolf Hitler's ascendancy to the chancellorship, the Nazi Party quickly consolidated its power. Hitler managed to maintain a posture of legality throughout the Nazification process."

Whether by chance or design, George W. Bush is the most powerful American president in modern history. Not only does he have both houses of Congress beholden to him, but the majority of the Supreme Court is acting like a quintet of Bush lapdogs. And it all appears legal.

...Soon after Hitler took power...Parliamentary democracy ended with the Reichstag passage of the Enabling Act, which allowed the government to issue laws without the Reichstag."

Which is precisely what shrubya would claim for himself - l'etat c'est moi, as it were. In his mind, he should be the sole arbiter of what is right and wrong and if what he feels is right is against the law, well, that's a mere technicality. If you ask me, anybody who isn't positively horrified by such a development is every bit as delusional and dangerous as shrubya himself. "Only people with something to hide need worry" is just shorter Martin Niemöller in English.

Besides, we already know that such a claim is patently false, given what we do know about the targets of the domestic surveillance. Peta, though annoying, is hardly a threat to western civilization. And I wonder just what they imagine the Quakers - a sect dedicated to non-violence - might do by the way of insurrection. Paranoia will destroy ya, georgie. It got Nixon in the end and it will bring you down too, especially when we find out the full list of U.S. citizens on whom you spied illegally.

Nor do I think stonewalling will be effective here - all that does is leave filling in the details up to the imaginations of millions of outraged citizens. Just earlier today, there was a diary on the recommended list wondering if shrubya might have had the NSA listen in on Kerry's campaign or other communications of his. Some kossacks lamented and derided the diary as "irresponsible speculation," but really; is it so much of a stretch to think that a group as underhanded, dirty and conniving as this lot would use a tremendously powerful data-mining operation for their own political purposes? No. It most certainly is not. So take heart, davej - Mr. Roberts agrees with you.

Why, then, has the administration created another scandal for itself on top of the WMD, torture, hurricane, and illegal detention scandals?

There are two possible reasons.

One reason is that the Bush administration is being used to concentrate power in the executive. The old conservative movement, which honors the separation of powers, has been swept away. Its place has been taken by a neoconservative movement that worships executive power.

The other reason is that the Bush administration could not go to the FISA secret court for warrants because it was not spying for legitimate reasons and, therefore, had to keep the court in the dark about its activities.

What might these illegitimate reasons be? Could it be that the Bush administration used the spy apparatus of the US government in order to influence the outcome of the presidential election?

Unless he decides to be finally be honest with American citizens about the full extent of this spying, I'm afraid the only healthy option is to assume the worst, given shrubCo's track record. Not considering the appalling prospect that he would spy on his political opponents is the irresponsible action in this scenario. We cannot afford to pretend that shrubya is doing a heckuva job and that we are not, in fact, on the verge of a constitutional crisis.

No administration in my lifetime has given so many strong reasons to oppose and condemn it as has the Bush administration. Nixon was driven from office because of a minor burglary of no consequence in itself. Clinton was impeached because he did not want the embarrassment of publicly acknowledging that he engaged in adulterous sex acts in the Oval Office. In contrast, Bush has deceived the public and Congress in order to invade Iraq, illegally detained Americans, illegally tortured detainees, and illegally spied on Americans.

...September 11, 2001, played into neoconservative hands exactly as the 1933 Reichstag fire played into Hitler’s hands. Fear, hysteria, and national emergency are proven tools of political power grabs. Now that the federal courts are beginning to show some resistance to Bush’s claims of power, will another terrorist attack allow the Bush administration to complete its coup?

But you see, shrubya won't need another Reichstag fire if he manages to get executive enabler Alito on the Supreme Court. Let's hope Specter was serious about investigating spygate in early January; with any luck, it will postpone or completely derail the Alito hearings. And may I just say that "filibuster" has never been a lovelier word.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, January 02, 2006

Corrections, Page Z29

Corrections, Page Z29

At least this made it to the public record, I guess.

Britain has dropped its allegation that Iran has been supplying extremist groups in southern Iraq with bombs.

...It is ackowledged that the devices or the technology to construct them must have been smuggled to Iraq across the Iranian border into Maysan province in the south, but British officials no longer say that there is any intelligence linking the bombs to Tehran or even to elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Craig Murray Interview

Craig Murray Interview

From BBC 4

Background on Murray

Leaker in Chief

Leaker in Chief

Never mind that Libby only left the White House upon indictment and that Karl Rove still works there, security clearance intact - this administration does not tolerate leakers! After the revelation of the extra-legal domestic spying, shrubya had this to say:

Meeting with reporters at the White House, Bush said he has the power as commander in chief to repeatedly authorize the National Security Agency to listen in on private domestic phone calls to crack terrorism cases, and that program needs secrecy to avoid tipping off suspected terrorists.

''My personal opinion is, it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy."

So why does he keep discussing it? In a recent break from the true WOT his vacation, he did some speechifyin' and other prezudenshal posturing. Apparently, his handlers are on vacation, too.

President Bush on Sunday strongly defended his domestic spying program, saying it's a limited initiative that tracks only incoming calls to the United States.

"It's seems logical to me that if we know there's a phone number associated with al-Qaida or an al-Qaida affiliate and they're making phone calls, it makes sense to find out why," Bush said. "They attacked us before, they'll attack us again."

That sounds like a leak to me; it certainly provides more specific information about the program than the leak in question. At least it would if it were accurate. I really think shrubya's winging it again. Not to worry, though - his handlers are back on the job.

The White House, clarifying the president's remarks after his appearance, said later that either end of the communication can in fact be outside the United States.

I really don't think they pay attention to anything they say. Discussing the spying program helps the enemy, so Mr. "I'll keep you safe"...discusses it. Then the White House feels compelled to correct the preznit, providing more information about the program. I'm sure Al Qaida appreciated the update.

This is all even more pathetic in light of William Safire's recent appearance on Meet the Press:

MR. SAFIRE: I was writing a speech on welfare reform, and the president looks at it and says, "OK, I'll go with it, but this is not going to get covered. Leak it as far and wide as you can beforehand. Maybe we'll get something in the paper." And so I go back to my office and I get a call from a reporter, and he wants to know about foreign affairs or something, and I said, "Hey, you want a leak? I'll tell you what the president will say tomorrow about welfare reform." And he took it down and wrote a little story about it.


More Conservatives Get Their Grip On

More Conservatives Get Their Grip On

It has long been rumored (and fervently hoped in some circles), that, eventually, one of shrubCo's antics would fall so far beyond the pale as to break through the Kool-Aid haze. I think Operation: Big Brother has finally done it. The idea of impeachment, once relegated to "the fringe," is now openly discussed. "Separation of Powers" is suddenly a topic of great interest and the Constitution is actually being quoted. None of which is good for shrubya - from Congress, to the courts to commentary, he's taking hit after hit over his administration's blatant power grabs and manipulations.

So far, at least three (R) Senators have stepped up in favor of investigations, including Olympia Snowe and Richard Lugar. Chuck Hagel also had some choice words on the matter:

"Every president, that we know of, has complied with the law (FISA)," Hagel said. "No president is above the law. We are a nation of laws and no president, majority leader, or chief justice of the Supreme Court can unilaterally or arbitrarily avoid a law or dismiss a law. If the vice president holds a different point of view, then he holds a different point of view."

..."I take an oath of office to the Constitution," he said. "I don't take an oath of office to the vice president, a president or a political party."

Lindsey Graham also dropped some gems in his December 18th appearance on Face the Nation:

GRAHAM: If he has the authority to go around the FISA court, which is a court to accommodate the law of the war of terror, the FISA Act was-created a court set up by the chief justice of the United States to allow a rapid response to requests for surveillance activity in the war on terror. I don't know of any legal basis to go around that. There may be some, but I'm not aware of it. 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 reject the idea that any president can sit down with a handful of congressmen and deal the courts out if the law requires the court to be involved. It is about the process. It's not about the politics. It is about winning the war, adhering to the values that we are fighting for and you can't set those values aside in the name of expediency.

Interestingly, the notion that shrubCo plays fast and loose with policy for the sake of expedience is also a facet of this smackdown from the very conservative 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Maybe Luttig's just being testy over not being nominated to the Supreme Court, but he put some pretty scathing remarks in the court's opinion of the Padilla case.

[The Bush Administration’s] actions have left not only the impression that Padilla may have been held for these years, even if justifiably, by mistake [but also] they have left the impression that the government may even have come to the belief that the principle in reliance upon which it has detained Padilla for this time…can, in the end, yield to expediency with little or no cost to its conduct of the war against terror

...And these impressions have been left, we fear, at what may ultimately prove to be substantial cost to the government’s credibility before the courts.

Even William Safire, a former White House speech writer, has said they've gone too far. It's amazing what having one's phone tapped will do to ones' perspective.

SAFIRE: And so they tapped my phone, and for six months, every home phone call I got was tapped. I didn't like that...it told me how easy it was to just take somebody who is not really suspected of anything for any good reason and listen to every conversation in his home--you know, my wife talking to her doctor, my--everything.

...So there's always this struggle in a war between liberty and security...During wartime, we have this excess of security and afterwards we apologize. And that's why I offended a lot of my conservative and hard-line friends right after September 11th when they started putting these captured combatants in jail, and said the president can't seize dictatorial power. And a lot of my friends looked at me like I was going batty. But now we see this argument over excessive security, and I'm with the critics on that.

Nope...things are not going well for the boy who would be king who would be emperor.

wing tip to Americablog!