Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Big Four Oh

Yup...I turn 40 today. Today I thought I'd comemorate the occasion with a little blast from the past. Of course, the date is marked by tragedy, such as the 20th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. It is also the date three years ago on which the GOP president George Bush told lie after lie during the SOTU address in order to justify his war against Iraq. A reminder:

Let's take a look back at George W. Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech.
Twelve years ago, Saddam Hussein faced the prospect of being the last casualty in a war he had started and lost. To spare himself, he agreed to disarm of all weapons of mass destruction. For the next 12 years, he systematically violated that agreement. He pursued chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, even while inspectors were in his country. Nothing to date has restrained him from his pursuit of these weapons -- not economic sanctions, not isolation from the civilized world, not even cruise missile strikes on his military facilities.
Actually, he totally and completely disarmed. He did so all the way back at the very beginning of the sanctions regime. There is no evidence that he pursued chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons at any point between the two wars. None.

Almost three months ago, the United Nations Security Council gave Saddam Hussein his final chance to disarm. He has shown instead utter contempt for the United Nations, and for the opinion of the world. The 108 U.N. inspectors were sent to conduct -- were not sent to conduct a scavenger hunt for hidden materials across a country the size of California. The job of the inspectors is to verify that Iraq's regime is disarming. It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see, and destroy them as directed. Nothing like this has happened.
Saddam Hussein did not have any weapons to lay on the table, and he told us as much.
The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax -- enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.
Actually, the UN concluded that Iraq could have created this anthrax back in 1991, and then failed to account for it. It was not asserted that Saddam currently had the ability to create this anthrax. Moreover, Iraq did provide some evidence that they destroyed all their anthrax, and no anthrax was ever found.
The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin -- enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hadn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.
The United Nations did not conclude this. Their conlusion? "It seems unlikely that significant undeclared quantities of botulinum toxin could have been produced, based on the quantity of media unaccounted for."
Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.
These are again accounts of what Saddam could have produced before the 1991 war. But as for the lethality of these weapons?
The assessment by Professor Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is as follows:
"The shelf-life and lethality of Iraq's weapons is unknown, but it seems likely that the shelf-life was limited. In balance, it seems probable that any agents Iraq retained after the Gulf War now have very limited lethality, if any."
"Iraq's Past and Future Biological Weapons Capabilities" (1998), p.13, at: link .pdf.
U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them -- despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.
This is also highly misleading:
"A Commission of Inquiry has been set up by Iraq to investigate why these warheads were stored at these sites or whether any more such warheads or other proscribed munitions are stored at other locations in Iraq. According to a document from the Commission, which was handed over to UNMOVIC in February 2003, the 12 warheads were part of a batch of less than 20 warheads received by Al Muthana in 1989 for training and reverse engineering purposes."
UNMOVIC, "Unresolved Disarmament Issues" (6 March 2003), p.54.
From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents, and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.
This evidence was supplied by the notorious drunkard and liar, codenamed: Curveball. German intelligence had issued a burn notice on Curveball's reliability.
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.
We know about the aluminum tubes and the Niger forgeries.
The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary; he is deceiving. From intelligence sources we know, for instance, that thousands of Iraqi security personnel are at work hiding documents and materials from the U.N. inspectors, sanitizing inspection sites and monitoring the inspectors themselves. Iraqi officials accompany the inspectors in order to intimidate witnesses.
This appears to be false and misleading. They did not have any weapons to sanitize or hide.
Iraq is blocking U-2 surveillance flights requested by the United Nations. Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as the scientists inspectors are supposed to interview. Real scientists have been coached by Iraqi officials on what to say. Intelligence sources indicate that Saddam Hussein has ordered that scientists who cooperate with U.N. inspectors in disarming Iraq will be killed, along with their families.
To my knowledge, no evidence to support this has been forthcoming.
Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction. But why? The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons, is to dominate, intimidate, or attack.
He didn't have any weapons of mass destruction. So this whole paragraph is meaningless.
With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region. And this Congress and the America people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.
The intelligence community told Bush that Saddam would not share these weapons with al-Qaeda because he could not control al-Qaeda. They also told the administration that an al-Qaeda defector who had claimed Iraq was assisting them was probably lying.
Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans -- this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known. We will do everything in our power to make sure that that day never comes. (Applause.)
Once again, the intelligence community put zero credence in this scenario, unless we invaded Iraq and Saddam wanted to punish us in the only way left to him.
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option. (Applause.)
It appears that trusting Bush's sanity and restraint was not a strategy.
The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages -- leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind, or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained -- by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape. If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning. (Applause.)
We have now catelogued Americans torturing detainees (in over two dozen case, to death), filming rapes, and using chemical weapons on civilian populations. Fortunately we have no evidence of American forces using drills or cutting out tongues.
And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country -- your enemy is ruling your country. (Applause.) And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation. (Applause.)
The liberation of Iraq was justified by nothing but lies, distortions, and exaggerations. In actual practice, the lives of most Iraqis has not improved. Bush and Cheney should be impeached.
Let's hope that this day is a bit less damning. Peace.

"Come quietly to the camp..."

US to extend military executions rules to Guantanamo Bay

By North America correspondent Michael Rowland

The US military is clearing the way for executions of condemned terror suspects to take place at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

The army has just changed the rules governing the location of military executions.

The new regulations are primarily aimed at service personnel sentenced to death at a military court martial.

Previously executions could only take place at a military jail in Kansas but now death sentences can be carried out anywhere, including the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

The army has confirmed the new rules will also apply to any Guantanamo detainee sentenced to death at a specially convened military tribunal.

Nerdified Link

With habeas corpus effectively eliminated by last year's Congress, it's only a matter of time before places like Guantánamo Bay become death camps. After all, as I'm sure our elites will tell us, we can't just release all of those uncharged and untried individuals since they're sure to be mad as hell at being detained in the first place. Hat tip to Earthside.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Quotable: Good Will Hunting

Why shouldn’t I work for the NSA? That’s a tough one. But I’ll take a shot. Say I’m working at the NSA, and somebody puts a code on my desk, something no one else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I’m real happy with myself, ‘cuz I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East, and once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels are hiding. Fifteen hundred people that I never met, never had no problem with, get killed. Now the politicians are saying, “Oh, send in the Marines to secure the area”, ‘cuz they don’t give a shit. It won’t be their kid over there, getting shot. Just like it wasn’t them when their number got called, ‘cuz they were pulling a tour in the National Guard. It’ll be some kid from Southie over there taking shrapnel in the ass. He comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, ‘cuz he’ll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so that we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the little skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them but it ain’t helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. They’re taking their sweet time bringing the oil back, of course, maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin’ play slalom with the icebergs, it ain’t too long till he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy’s out of work. He can’t afford to drive, so he’s walking to the fuckin’ job interviews, which sucks because the shrapnel in his ass is giving him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he’s starving ‘cuz every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue plate special they’re serving is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I’m holding out for something better. I figure: fuck it, while I’m at it why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe, and join the National Guard? I could be elected President.
Hat tip to Mickey Z. Good Will Hunting is on my short list of fave films. Great acting. Great script.

What to Expect If Alito is Confirmed by the Senate

There are state legislatures chomping at the bit to kill off Roe v Wade:
The bill under consideration in Indiana would ban all abortions, except when continuing the pregnancy would threaten the woman's life or put her physical health in danger of "substantial permanent impairment." Similar legislation is pending in Ohio, Georgia and Tennessee.

Republican Rep. Troy Woodruff, serving his first term in the Indiana Legislature, wrote House Bill 1096 knowing it would conflict with Roe vs. Wade.

That was precisely his point: He wants his ban appealed to the Supreme Court, in hopes that the justices will overturn Roe and give states the power to make abortion a crime.

. . . . at least a dozen states have criminal laws banning abortion. They can't be enforced as long as Roe vs. Wade remains binding. In theory, though, they could take effect immediately upon a reversal, subjecting abortion providers to penalties ranging from 12 months' hard labor in Alabama to 20 years' imprisonment in Rhode Island.

"What the public doesn't realize is that the building blocks are already in place to re-criminalize abortion if Roe is overturned," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York.

Nerdified Link

Those who try to convince you that after 33 years, Roe v Wade is a done deal are fooling themselves. Don't believe their hype. Only question now is whether or not there are enough Senate critters who have the guts to filibuster this nominee. I for one am skeptical.

Food for thought: Religion and politics edition

This is more a reminder than anything else:
1. Most progressives are religious. For example, in 2000, 81 percent of Gore voters professed a religious affiliation. That’s within shouting distance of the 89 percent of Bush voters who professed a religious affiliation (2000 National Study of Religion and Politics [NSRP]).

2. It is true that progressives attend church less than conservatives. In the 2000 VNS exit poll, 33 percent of Gore voters said they attended church once a week or more, compared to 49 percent of Bush voters who said they attended church that often.

...But the whole US population is trending toward less observance, not more. For example, in surveys taken over the last thirty years, it is the ranks of those who never or rarely attend church that have grown the most. According to a National Opinion Research Center (NORC) study, those who said they never attended church or attended less than once a year went from 18 percent in 1972 to 30 percent in 1998.

...Indeed, according to the NORC study, if you add to the 30 percent mentioned above those who say they attend church only once or a few times a year, it turns out that about half the US population attends church only a few times a year or less.


4. Not all evangelicals are conservative Republicans. ...Early 2004 NSRP data from this spring use a different categorization (“traditional”, “centrist” and “modernist” evangelicals) and also show a progressive group of evangelicals–the modernists, about one-sixth of evangelicals. This group actually supports Kerry over Bush by 9 points (46-37).

Nerdified Link

Note that I do have some quibbles with Teixeira regarding defining the term "progressive": he seems to want to lump Gore voters from 2000 and Kerry voters from 2004 as "progressive" when it isn't entirely clear to me that such a description is warranted. I'm going to assume that progressive means holding a basic leftist orientation. I am sure that there are plenty of lefties out there who voted for both candidates, but were all of those candidates' voters really lefties? Also, we need to remember that there were lefties who found candidates from other parties to support instead.

That said, if you're willing to look around, there are plenty of people of faith (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, etc.) who share a left-leaning perspective of one sort or another - and examples of these individuals can be found throughout blogtopia: Independent Christian Voice and Mainstream Baptist (both blogs run by fellow Okies), and Planet Grenada come most immediately to mind. You can find more at the Progressive Faith Blog-Con Carnival. Check it out. In the mean time, keep in mind that just because a person attends religious services for their faith, prays, or is open in expressing their faith to others does not mean that the person is some sort of authoritarian right-winger. Yeah, we have our share of Pat Robertsons and Osama bin Ladens who are gleefully spreading their poison, but by the same token those same religions produce the likes of Martin Luther King and Malcom X. Sometimes, you just gotta open your eyes.

Quotable: Kurt Vonnegut

An oldie but a goodie:
Dr. Vonnegut said this to his doddering old dad: “Father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.” So I pass that on to you. Write it down, and put it in your computer, so you can forget it.

I have to say that’s a pretty good sound bite, almost as good as, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” A lot of people think Jesus said that, because it is so much the sort of thing Jesus liked to say. But it was actually said by Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, 500 years before there was that greatest and most humane of human beings, named Jesus Christ.


But back to people, like Confucius and Jesus and my son the doctor, Mark, who’ve said how we could behave more humanely, and maybe make the world a less painful place. One of my favorites is Eugene Debs, from Terre Haute in my native state of Indiana. Get a load of this:

Eugene Debs, who died back in 1926, when I was only 4, ran 5 times as the Socialist Party candidate for president, winning 900,000 votes, 6 percent of the popular vote, in 1912, if you can imagine such a ballot. He had this to say while campaigning:
As long as there is a lower class, I am in it.
As long as there is a criminal element, I’m of it.
As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
Doesn’t anything socialistic make you want to throw up? Like great public schools or health insurance for all?

How about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. …

And so on.

Not exactly planks in a Republican platform. Not exactly Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney stuff.

For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

“Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon? Give me a break!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

As Confucius said, "A picture is worth ten thousand words."

Nerdified Link

Injustice for all

Torture a POW to death and get a reprimand:
This is the one who beat the guy, then stuffed him head-first into a sleeping bag and sat on his chest until his victim was dead. The link below also refers to "simulated drowning" as another "technique" employed by Torturer Welshofer.

A military jury of six officers on Monday ordered a reprimand for an officer once facing up to life in prison for the death of an Iraqi general during an interrogation session.

Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. also was ordered to forfeit $6,000 salary and was restricted to his place of work, worship and barracks for 60 days. The sentence now goes to the commanding general, Maj. Gen. Robert W. Mixon, who can order a lighter sentence or set the whole verdict aside, defense attorney Frank Spinner said.

Welshofer, 43, had originally been charged with murder, but instead he was convicted on Saturday of negligent homicide and negligent dereliction of duty that carried a penalty of up to three years and three months in prison, a dishonorable discharge, loss of his pension and other penalties.

He was acquitted of murder and assault charges. The murder charge could have brought a life sentence....

The defense had argued a heart condition caused Mowhoush's death, and that Welshofer's commanders had approved the interrogation technique....

nerdified link

Protest the war, and go to jail for six months:
Peace Activist Gets 6 Months in Jail For Recruiting Station Protest
In upstate New York, a peace activist has been sentenced to six months in jail for pouring blood inside a military recruiting station in March 2003 in order to protest the invasion of Iraq. The man, Daniel Burns, 45, was one of a group now known as the St. Patrick's Four. The other three members will also be sentenced this week.

Nerdified Link
Somehow, I get the feeling the guy in the former case got off way too easy. The guy in the second case got punished more severely than he probably should have been. The latter action was, to say the least, politically incorect. It just isn't PC to do any direct action aimed at protesting what was at the time a "popular" war. It is PC in our nation to torture Ay-rabs (and even more PC to kill them), on the other hand. I'm sure in some circles, Welshofer will be hailed a hero.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Christians at War (John F. Kendrick - 1916)

Onward, Christian soldiers! Duty's way is plain;
Slay your [Christian] neighbors, or by them be slain,
Pulpiteers are spouting effervescent swill,
God above is calling you to rob and rape and kill,
All your acts are sanctified by the Lamb on high;
If you love the Holy Ghost, go murder, pray and die.

Onward, Christian soldiers! Rip and tear and smite!
Let the gentle Jesus bless your dynamite.
Splinter skulls with shrapnel, fertilize the sod;
Folks who do not speak your tongue deserve the curse of God.
Smash the doors of every home, pretty maidens seize;
Use your might and sacred right to treat them as you please.

Onward, Christian soldiers! Eat and drink your fill;
Rob with bloody fingers, Christ okays the bill,
Steal the farmers' savings, take their grain and meat;
Even though the children starve, the Savior's bums must eat,
Burn the peasants' cottages, orphans leave bereft;
In Jehovah's holy name, wreak ruin right and left.

Onward, Christian soldiers! Drench the land with gore;
Mercy is a weakness all the gods abhor.
Bayonet the babies, jab the mothers, too;
Hoist the cross of Calvary to hallow all you do.
File your bullets' noses flat, poison every well;
God decrees your enemies must all go plumb to hell.

Onward, Christian soldiers! Blight all that you meet;
Trample human freedom under pious feet.
Praise the Lord whose dollar sign dupes his favored race!
Make the foreign trash respect your bullion brand of grace.
Trust in mock salvation, serve as tyrant's tools;
History will say of you: "That pack of Goddamn fools."

Hat tip to The Uncapitalist Journal. Images from The Propaganda Remix Project.

A proposed bold move for the SOTU address

When George W. Bush delivers the State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 31, a little more than a week from now, William Rivers Pitt proposes that every single Democrat present in the House chamber for the speech should, at a predetermined moment, stand up and walk out in silent protest.

Nerdified Link

And as Pitt notes, all it takes is courage. Will it actually happen? I'll believe it when I see it. Still, it would make for quite a visual, and would put the nation and the world on notice that there is, lo and behold, an actual opposition party.

Possible State of the Union Speech

Part One: The Pet Goat

A girl got a pet goat. She liked to go running with her pet goat. She played with her goat in her house. She played with her goat in her yard.

But the goat did some things that made the girl's dad mad. The goat ate things. He ate cans and he ate canes. He ate pans and he ate panes. He even ate capes and caps.

One day her dad said, "that goat must go. He ate too many things." The girl said, "dad if you let the goat stay with us, I will see that he stops eating all those things."

Her dad said he will try it.

So the goat stayed and the girl made him stop eating cans and canes and caps and capes.

But one day a car robber came to the girls house. He saw a big red car near the house and said, "I will steal that car."

He ran to the car and started to open the door. The girl and the goat were playing in the back yard. They did not see the car robber.

More to come.

Part Two: The Goat Stops the Robbergoat_book2_web

A girl had a pet goat. Her dad had a red car.

A car robber was going to steal her dad’s car. The girl and her goat were playing in the back yard.

Just then the goat stopped playing. He saw the robber. He bent his head down and started to run for the robber. The robber was bending over the seat of the car. The goat hit him with sharp horns. The car robber went flying.

The girl’s Dad ran out of the house. He grabbed the robber. “you were trying to steal my car,” he yelled.

The girl said, “but my goat stopped him.”

“Yes,” her dad said, “that goat saved my car.”Goat_book3_web

The car robber said, “something hit me when I was trying to steal that car.”

The girl said, “my goat hit you.”

The girl hugged the goat. Her Dad said, “that goat can stay with us. And he can eat all the cans and canes and caps and capes he wants.”

The girl smiled. Her goat smiled. Her Dad smiled. But the car robber did not smile. He said, “I am sore.”

The End.

The Pet Goat, Siegfried Engelmann & Elaine C. Bruner, Lesson 60, page 153, Reading Mastery 2,

Hat tip to Ledge of Liberty for the text of the story.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Don't believe the Bu$hCo hype

Yet right-wing propagandists lie and claim not only is Bush's spying program wildly popular among Americans, but that it's just unpatriotic, Osama-lovin' liberals who are calling for an investigation of the program. But the fact that the nation's leading conservatives are speaking out against Bush is undeniable:

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "I don't know of any legal basis to go around [FISA]."
  • Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA): "There is no doubt that this is inappropriate."
  • Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS): "I am troubled by what the basis for the grounds that the administration says that they did these on, the legal basis, and I think we need to look at that far more broadly and understand it a great deal....
  • Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN): "I [want hearings]. I think this is an appropriate time, without going back and should the president have ever tried to listen to a call coming from Afghanistan, probably of course. And in the first few weeks we made many concessions in the Congress because we were at war and we were under attack. We still have the possibility of that going on so we don't want to obviate all of this, but I think we want to see what in the course of time really works best and the FISA Act has worked pretty well from the time of President Carter's day to the current time."
  • Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE):"No president is ever above the law. ... We are a nation of laws. You cannot avoid or dismiss a law."

For a long list of other Republican members of Congress who come out against the program, check out Media Matters here.

Don't forget that the nation's leading conservatives have spoken out at Bush's program in unequivocal and blunt terms:

  • Bob Barr: "[F]ederal law still clearly states that intelligence agents must have a court order to conduct electronic surveillance of Americans on these shores. Yet the federal government overstepped the protections of the Constitution and the plain language of FISA to eavesdrop on Americans' private communication without any judicial checks and without proof that they are involved in terrorism.""
  • Grover Norquist: "Public hearings on this issue are essential to addressing the serious concerns raised by alarming revelations of NSA electronic eavesdropping."
  • David Keene (Chairman, American Conservative Union): "This is not a partisan issue; it is an issue of safeguarding the fundamental freedoms of all Americans so that future administrations do not interpret our laws in ways that pose constitutional concerns."

Bush's spying program is so repulsive to the core of our democracy that even some of his most ardent supporters will not come to his defense. Just as every other time Bush has face criticism from his own party (Social Security, Iraq War) his administration is embarking on a full-blown, campaign style offensive this week. Alberto Gonzales, Deputy National Intelligence Director Mike Hayden, and other officials will flood the airwaves with their empty rhetoric of a "limited program" which "saves lives." The goal is not just to convince Americans and to paint liberals as anti-national-security. Bush also faces the daunting task of fending off the growing mass of conservatives demanding answers.

Nerdified Link
So the question then becomes, will those GOP leaders like the ones listed above actually walk their talk and do the right thing by the American people and the Constitution, or, once being given their marching orders from the White House will they instead goose-step to whatever tune Rove calls? I suspect that the answer is fairly self-evident, although I wouldn't mind being pleasantly surprised. Some of the old paleocons and libertarian types like Paul Craig Roberts and Ron Paul I expect will continue to vocally oppose Bu$hCo's criminal behaviors, such as warrantless spying on Americans. Whether the so-called opposition party (i.e., Democrats) can actually mount something more than a tepid response also remains to be seen. I won't be betting the farm on that, although again, I'm all in favor of being pleasantly surprised.

In the meantime, we would do well to remember that the trump cards of any would-be tyrant are fear and coercion. Those trump cards, however, are only as strong as the governed choose to let them become. As I've tried to mention before, even those tactics can wither in the face of vocal and principled opposition. That opposition starts with a simple premise: the current rulers are no longer to be treated as legitimate. By treating the Constitution as a "worthless piece of paper" they have forfeited their right to steer this nation.


Michael Moore responds to Chris Matthews:

Also, Preznit Bush and Jack Abramoff have been seen together, and there are apparently pictures:
WASHINGTON - Although President Bush says he doesn't recall meeting convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the two have reportedly turned up in photos together.

Both Washingtonian and Time magazines have reported the existence of about a half-dozen photos showing the two together.

Time reported on its Web site Sunday that its staff members have seen at least six photos featuring Bush and Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from his lobbying practices and has pledged to cooperate with investigators. They appeared to have been taken at White House functions, according to the reports.

Maybe Junior and Jack could invite Tweety and Osama out for a night on the town.

Your "Culture of Life" Preznit Unmasked

Image courtesy of Free Iraq.

Blog for choice

If it isn't already obvious, this blog commemorates the 33rd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v Wade decision by reaffirming support for that decision. A woman's right to choose is one that is simply non-negotiable from my vantage point.

"We regret the civilian casualties, but..."

Senator Lott, a former Senate majority leader, and another member of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, did not shrink from the CNN interviewer's premise that the raid had been carried out by a C.I.A. Predator.

While saying that more information was needed, Senator Lott said that "my information is that this strike was clearly justified by the intelligence."

Senator Bayh also expressed confidence on the CNN program that the attack had been carefully planned and based on "solid information."

"The standard of proof before an operation of that type is extraordinarily high," he said. Of the civilian casualties, he said, "It's a regrettable situation, but what else are we supposed to do?"
Nerdified Link To CNN article

In other news today, Indian government officials have expressed regret over the loss of innocent life after their missile strike on the US House of Representatives. Two hundred fifty-four members of Conmgress and a school group from Boise, Idaho, were among the dead.

"We had good intelligence that the former CEO of Union Carbide was in the building," said a government spokesperson. "This man is wanted in India for the deaths of thousands killed by poisonous gas in the city of Bhopal, and he has been in hiding ever since he was indicted. It would have been far more regrettable to have let him get away."

Both courtesy of Under the Same Sun.

Food for thought Sunday

John Brown refers to the so-called "Global War on Terror" as our elites' 21st century continuation of America's "Indian Wars."

On another somewhat related note, Junior Caligula has declared today "National Sanctity of Human Life Day." The same ruler who's regime is responsible for many thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, using napalm and white phosphorous on civilians in Fallujah, torturing POWs captured in Iraq and Afghanistan, continuing to kill villagers in Afghanistan and Pakistan, ad nauseum is excessively selective in his reverence for the sanctity of human life. That's not even getting into the little matter of eugenics advocacy that such Bu$hCo enablers as William Bennett have foisted upon us in the last few months (let's just say black fetuses are granted less sanctity in his view than white fetuses). You want to talk about sanctity of human life? Great! First cease and desist from genocide, torture, and racial and ethnic injustice, and I'd be glad to converse. Otherwise, I'll continue to call bullshit on the hypocrisy that is rampant in DC.