Monday, June 30, 2008

Slow Burn of the USA Purge Continues

SadButTrue had a magnificent post last week about Mary Beth Buchanan. Who's that, you ask? She's the one who hired Monica Goodling. Currently Buchanan is serving as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, more on her later.

If ever a subject needed a definitive book written about it, the U.S. Attorneys Purge is it. The problem is coming up with a thesis for the book because the sheer evil genius of the purge is that it works for the Bush administration on so many levels that to take just one motive and run with it would leave so many other wings of the scandal behind.

Off the top of my head, the purge served the following ends:
1. Removed a cluster of effective, impartial prosecutors. These guys were putting away Republicans right and left.
2. Sent a message to the remaining U.S. Attorneys that their job security depended strictly on their compliance (or in the case of Patrick Fitzgerald, his status as untouchable).
3. It totally negated the subpoena power of the incoming Democratic majority. They have investigated now for a year and a half and have not found a single prosecutor that can convert evidence into jail time.
4. Voter supression. The new stooges are there to serve as the Katherine Harrises and Ken Blackwells of the 2008 election cycle.
By the way something, Mary Beth Buchanan has her own Don Siegelman case on her hands. Today the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Justice Department for documents related to the Siegelman prosecution as well as the odious prosecution of Cyril Wecht, which was run by Buchanan. Looks like SbT was onto something. If only there were anyone left to prosecute.

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George Lucas Is A Prophet

By any standard George Lucas of Star Wars fame is a prophet. Not only have others noticed the erie resemblance between a certain Sith lord and Joe Lieberman, George Lucas knew what was going to happen, dystopically, before that.

I have evidence, which I place before the galactic blogosphere - behold:

There's this little movie, THX 1138 from 1971 with Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasance in it for starters. Yep, Lucas directed it.

"The human race has been relocated to a underground city located beneath the Earth's surface. In the underground city, the population are entertained by holographic TV which broadcasts sex and violence and robotic police force enforces the law. In the underground city, society controls all life, all citizens are drugged to control their emotions and their behavior and sex is a crime. Factory worker THX-1138 stops taking the drugs and he breaks the law when he finds himself falling in love with his room-mate LUH 3417 and is imprisoned when LUH 3417 is pregnant."

Have a little look at this fabulous turn of events, where you get to buy "consumables" which are always being standardized for efficiency, and there's a VERY efficient working relationship between the State and Religion; Confession, all taped and digitized for easy retrieval. De-sensitization to violence is paramount in this culture of Lucas'. And I forgot, the Corporation IS the State. Just look for yourself.


I find the State flogging the Citizen at about 5:50 into the above video most disturbing. Replace that with Tasing, and VOILA! We have today. Clubs tomorrow?

Robert Duvall plays the part of THX-1138. (Have you put it together yet that the THX Surround Sound System is Lucas' homage to that little film yet? Anyways..) Duvall/THX get's incarcerated in the loony bin of that future state. Donald Pleasance is in the same bin. They Want OUT of their situation, really badly. Duvall/THX understands that he's looking at a dreamworld. He decides to defy the conventional and loony wisdom and walk to the boundaries of their crazy world. Donald Pleasance makes a bunch of noise and follows.

Watch the clip below, and look at about who gives them guidance at about 5:38?

And what does this guy do? Take some of their food, and when they ask him, "Do you know the way out?" he tells them, "Hey, go back the way you came. Look, that's the way out. You see?"

And they turn on their heels and follow him.

Long story short, he's a hologram, a puppet run by the same CorporoState that Brought You Consumables!

At 7:46 - "How shall a new environment be programmed? It all happens so slowly that most men fail to realize that anything had happened at all..."

This is my long winded and weird to get to the flap between Glenn Greenwald and Keith Olberman. The thing is, is that Digby is right. Fuck this centrist bullshit. What they're not saying is that POLITICS SHOULD BE AS PARTISAN AS CONCIEVABLE OR POSSIBLE RIGHT NOW! Cheese and Rice, there is no time like NOW to repudiate the politics of the Republicans with 8 out of 10 people saying the country is going down the tubes.

Obama Ain't Gotta Play On FISA. It's as simple as that. So he should suck it up and LEAD THE FILIBUSTER!

Now Olbermann announced that he'll have a Special Comment on his Monday program about this little grange war. Fine. I hope he shoots the shit out of the target and makes Obama squirm. If Keith goes to the alleged "center " on this thing, well fuck, he turns into the next generation of the Very Wise And Serious Villagers, at which point I will vomit, as if anybody cares.

Anybody that keeps saying to me "march to the center, it's pragmatic" I feel like punching in the face. I'm no sheep. I may be a Democrat and I want to win as much as anybody eolse but I don't want to wake up in 4, 5, 10 more years and be even farther down the road to THX 1138.

What the hell would be my name? UNC - 4291?

I'll vote for this Obama person, but it's only because of the alternative. Like I said during the primaries "If the country is a car hurtling off the cliff, the Repugs are stepping on the gas, the Dems are thinking about putting on the breaks. It's up to us to stop the fucking car."

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Are Americans Getting Dumber?

There are two things I always notice when I travel in Europe. The first is how fat we are (myself included, although by American standards I'm pretty slim). The second is how the level of discourse goes up by at least an order of magnitude when I get off the plane. Here is a translated article from die Zeit (by way of Watchingamerica.com).

(If you don't read watchingamerica from time to time, do so. It's really instructive to learn how the world thinks of us.)

Now I don't think Americans are dumb, at least not individually. In the herd, though, we sink to the lowest level of nearly any civilized country. We don't speak other languages. I have literally shocked people in Germany when they address me in English and I respond in German. Das gibt doch nicht, they say, That doesn't exist, or Du hast mich doch erschrocken,
you certainly shocked me. Not to say I'm the only American who speaks German but I certainly find the ones who do a lot more interesting.

My German friends and acquaintances of all educational levels always surprise me with their depth. We get together, a bit of beer or wine flows and we're talking about politics - American politics - or literature, or philosophy, or art. I read the posters stuck to nearly any flat surface in Frankfurt, classical concerts, theater, political talks. Here on the bus stops I see posters for Get Smart. And we wonder why we are losing ground in the world. In Sweden, everyone literally speaks English. They get their entertainment from us, you see, and the market for Swedish entertainment is not large enough to overdub, so they get English with subtitles. And the buildings are all built to allow natural light, something I'd like to see you propose to an American builder.

Are Americans stupid? No, not individually. As a herd, we're shallow, we think only in the short term and we tend to be very self-absorbed and I think that was what the author of the piece cited meant.

Then I read of attempts to legislate natural law and once again, I become just a bit ashamed of what our country has become.

And finally, a bit of culture for a Friday night:

And a bit more fuel for this fire....
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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Introducing...

Mary Beth Buchanan

OK, I have a prediction, totally out of left field. A name you probably haven't heard of at all, but soon will be hearing A LOT in connection with the DoJ politicization/prosecutors' purge scandal. Mary Beth Buchanan. Mark my words. And I'll tell you why.

TPM Muckraker has this profile of Esther Slater McDonald, one of the two DOJ operatives fingered for winnowing through job applicants to exclude anyone with a liberal background or affiliations. The other one is Michael Elston, the former chief of staff for then deputy attorney general Paul McNulty. Muckraker contributor Kate Klonick mentions that Ms. McDonald was "ushered into the hallowed halls of Gonzales' DOJ by none other than the Monica Goodling herself."

So that brings up the question, "who hired Monica Goodling?" And the answer is: Mary Beth Buchanan. Buchanan herself is the current US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, appointed by George Bush the Lesser in 2001. As such she is one of the USAs referred to by Paul Krugman when he said last year,
"...In the last few days we’ve also learned that Republican members of Congress called prosecutors to pressure them on politically charged cases, even though doing so seems unethical and possibly illegal.

The bigger scandal, however, almost surely involves prosecutors still in office. The Gonzales Eight were fired because they wouldn’t go along with the Bush administration’s politicization of justice. But statistical evidence suggests that many other prosecutors decided to protect their jobs or further their careers by doing what the administration wanted them to do: harass Democrats while turning a blind eye to Republican malfeasance."
So, we have:
  • Esther Slater McDonald, implicated (with over 100 references to her in the IG's report) in the politicization of the DOJ.
  • Monica Goodling, who has already admitted under oath to having 'crossed the line' in her involvement in the politicization of the DOJ, hired McDonald.
  • Mary Beth Buchanan, one of the 'many other prosecutors [who] decided to protect their jobs...by doing what the administration wanted them to do,' hired Goodling.
  • Buchanan was an appointee of pResident George W. Bush, the ultimate 'loyal Bushie'.
And my prediction is that Buchanan will emerge as a key component in the DoJ prosecutors' purge scandal. She is already up to her neck in harassing Democrats: from her Wikipedia entry, read about her involvement in the prosecution persecution of Dr. Cyril Wecht in Pennsylvania:
Dr. Cyril Wecht, a former Allegheny County, Pennsylvania coroner and medical examiner, is a prominent Democrat in the Pittsburgh area. In January 2006, Dr. Wecht was indicted by U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan on 84 counts of fraud and theft relating to using his public office for private gain. Dr. Wecht's lawyers claimed that some of these charges involved $3.96 worth of faxes, and $1,778.55 worth of gasoline and mileage bills charged to the state.[15][16] Buchanan was known for her high-profile prosecutions and investigations of prominent Democrats such as Sheriff Pete DeFazio, the mayor Tom Murphy, and a County Judge, Joseph Jaffe.

Before Wecht's trial, the prosecution moved to dismiss 43 of the 84 counts without prejudice. The judge rejected the motion and dismissed the 43 charges with prejudice, which permanently bars the revival of the charges. Wecht's defense counsel claimed that his prosecution was politically motivated. The initial indictment was announced in early 2006, before the November 2006 elections. During the trial, the judge barred the defense from arguing that the case was politically motivated. Even though no discussions about possible political motivations were allowed during the trial, the jury foreman told reporters after the trial that some jurors began to see the prosecution as "political". In an interview post trial with a local news station, one juror expressed her concern about that case when she stated "I don't know if politically motivated or not, but it seemed to me that the motivations were certainly less than pure. There was something behind it other than seeking justice."
So this might be the second most prominent political hatchet job to come out of the Bush Department of Injustice, eclipsed only by the railroading of Alabama's true governor, Don Siegelman.

Wikipedia also notes that, "critics of Mary Beth Buchanan have claimed that she has embarked on several high profile public corruption cases that have exclusively targeted Democratic politicians such as former Sheriff Pete DeFazio, [and] former Mayor Tom Murphy."

She was also the force behind the prosecution persecution of actor/comedian Tommy Chong in 2003 for selling bongs over the internet. Chong spent 9 months in jail over this. When he got out, he made a documentary about his case, The United States of America vs. Tommy Chong - which resulted in a raid and confiscation of 10,000 DVD copies of the movie, in violation of Chong's First Amendment rights. Nice.

The other side of Krugman's observation holds too. Along with the harassment of Democrats, Buchanan was turning a blind eye towards Republican malfeasance.
One critic, Allegheny County Democratic Chairman Jim Burn stated that ”Her record speaks for itself. I've seen a long line of Democrats and mistakes aren't made based on party affiliation but I haven't seen anybody from the other side going though that system." Mr. Burns pointed to the fact that Mary Beth Buchanan’s Office refused to investigate former Republican Senator Rick Santorum who got a tuition reimbursement for his kids by claiming a Penn Hills residency when his family spends most of its time in Virginia as an example of an alleged double standard. "You have to ask yourself the misrepresentations of a Republican such as Rick Santorum made about his alleged residency in Penn Hills were significant," said Burn.
This brings us around to the main event: her involvement in the Prosecutors' Purge scandal at DOJ. More from her Wikipedia entry:

In April of 2007, Kyle Sampson, the former Gonzales aide, raised Ms. Buchanan's name to judiciary committee investigators during his April testimony. Mr. Sampson said that Ms. Buchanan was among the DOJ officials he consulted about which of the U.S. attorneys should be asked to resign. [36]

In May of 2007, Monica Goodling told committee members that she knew Ms. Buchanan had discussed the firings with Mr. Sampson.
[...]
After learning this information, the House Judiciary Committee requested an interview with Mary Beth Buchanan in June of 2006. Committee staff members privately questioned Buchanan. She had served as director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys in 2004 and 2005 when discussions were held within the Justice Department concerning which of the country's 93 top federal prosecutors should be dismissed. Buchanan has denied any involvement in the firings. After the interviews, it was reported that Mary Beth Buchanan used another exit to leave the federal building where the interviews were conducted and headed directly to the airport for a flight back to Pittsburgh without providing statements on the proceedings. Buchanan has denied any involvement in the firings of the US Attorneys and has denied that the prosecutions of key Democratic politicians in the Western PA area was driven by political factors.
I must be the suspicious type, because I find Buchanan's denial that politics played a part in the prosecution persecution of Democrats somewhat hard to believe, especially in light of this piece from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. "
Motive of Wecht deal talks questioned
Thursday, June 07, 2007
By Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Federal prosecutors approached defense lawyers for forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril H. Wecht last week to talk about resolving his criminal case, just days before U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan's scheduled closed-door interview with House Judiciary Committee investigators.

Dr. Wecht's attorneys allege that Ms. Buchanan, in the spotlight for her role in the expanding investigation into the firings of U.S. attorneys and vetting of candidates, is trying to quell what they have all along characterized as a political prosecution.

"None of this is coincidence," said defense attorney Jerry McDevitt, of the timing of the prosecution's request to meet. "She wants to make sure we keep our mouths shut while she's down there before Congress."
Making sure that certain people keep their mouths shut seems to be a constant in the pursuit of truth in this affair. Government employees seem always to be either pleading ignorance, pleading the fifth or pleading amnesia when asked why these particular prosecutors were fired at the time they were (Dec. 7, 2006.) Again, I'm the suspicious type, so it sounds more like Omerta than amnesia to me.

So this leads to my final question. With the sworn testimony of two witnesses against her, and her own denial of involvement having NOT been made under oath, but in a private interview, why has the House Judiciary Committee NOT put Mary Beth Buchanan under oath and asked these questions again? I'm curious to see if we have another victim of contagious amnesia here. If not, and we could get some straight answers out of Ms. Buchanan, I think it would blow this case wide open.

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Art In The Service Of Evil

[I originally wrote this last summer, August, actually, and I am editing it for today's currency.]

I do not apologize for the difficulty of this post, just as neither Adams or Beethoven would not. The complexity of this piece and my concept require that the reader must pay attention. Must.

It's my intention that, if you would be so kind as to observe the word and order of the video performances in this post, dear reader, you shall come to a gratifying end.

Imagine the time. 1824 and John Quincy Adams, a Founder of our United States and a rebel by the way, is President of the United States.

One of the finest pieces of human art creation I know of is Beethoven's 9th Symphony, known as "The Chorale" symphony and it debuts in said 1824. Imagine that you composed, but you never physically heard it. That would make you Beethoven. There's a little bit of it that makes you, well, you.



Be embraced, you millions! This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, beyond the stars, a loving Father dwells
You bow down, you millions? Do you sense the Creator, world?
Seek Him beyond the stars! Beyond the stars must He dwell.
Be embraced, ye millions! This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, beyond the stars must a loving Father dwell. Be embraced,
This kiss for the whole world! Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium, Joy, beautiful spark of the gods
These are the wildly crazy words of Schiller, that Beethoven put to music. Now, watch.

This first part, to measure against, is from 1942, April 20th; Hitlers birthday , Kurt Furtwangler conducting. Notice the people's faces in both the orchestra and the audience.





Observe - the conductor, Furtwangler, is a MANIAC in this performance, and the orchestra result is all "Eh. I've had better." He was a world reknown conductor beforehand and his co-option by the Nazis.

And the audience are zombies. Including the wounded. Are these "millions" embraced? No. And does this sort of staged shit look familiar, like, say, the State of the Union, pick one, since 2003?

'Bout these here performers. Are they free? No.

Are they kissed? Probably not. And there's definiteley no lube, if you know what I mean.

Lets move to the reconstruction period in Europe. Previously, SadButTrue urged homework re: the difference between "Manifest Destiny" and "Lebensraum."

Well, here's a 1949 offering from those who lived through "lebensraum" and are pretty well into the Marshall Plan.






There's a very sobering difference when one observes it. The Prague ("Praha" in my family) folks during the Marshall Plan years have an entirely different performance. It's workman-like, and understandably so, since they are re-building. Notice how the simpler approach yields an entirely different performance.

A sober, simple and methodical approach is entirely appropriate, free from the yolk of Nazi oppression, AND IT BECOMES UPLIFTING! Instead of stilted as before. Observe the faces between the 2 videos so far. Video 1, the Nazis suck. Look at all the crossed arms in #1 and the serious faces. There is no Joy in #1. But - people are so serious about their "Freude" ("Joy") in #2 in Marshall Plan Prague. The tone is lighter, but is that all? Nope - the Czechs are STILL SINGING THE GERMAN WORDS! You see, the shit Nazi German has left, but the German Art remains.

This fucking brilliant next-door-neighbor, Beethoven, over 100 fucking years ago, made this shit, it's brilliant, it's in German and these folks just don't care that the Germans have totally fucked them in the ass, they CARE ABOUT THE ART! And they should. Beauty was bereft for so long, discrimination had no place along side it. And that makes those particular Czechs so pure of heart, for their time and place, I can't tell you how much it makes me tear up in hope for the future.

The simple fact of their breathing and volume and enthusiasm in the piece are worlds apart from video #1. They have SURVIVED THE MUTHERFUCKERS and are now PROSPERING, albeit barely and by scratch. They blame the Nazis and their fascism, and do not confuse it with Beethoven. Heavenly people, really.

And now, to my ultimate point:





Again- look at the peoples faces, in both the orchestra and the audience. It's so simple for Bernstein and his audience. The smiles alone tell the jubilation of the performance.

Here's the way I look at this. You can only have one opportunity to bastardize a great work of humans for a political agenda. To my mind, what happens is, you get one shot at the bastardization. TIME will prove as the Great Corrector.

The FISA bill is exactly the kind of thing that is the subject of Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio. Is that going to pass? Odds say yes.

If so, it could very well be that we could never ever have again such a performance as the Bernstein 9th Symphony in our lifetimes. In fact, Fidelio could ultimately be the victim of a soft ban. You know, dying by "well, it could never happen here." It is totally fucking dark here, right now, God, if you're listening.

So note to Obama: You ain't Furtwangler. You have a choice to be Eric Kleiber or Leonard Bernstein. I say, be Bernstein. That's what will guarantee you two terms instead of one, buddy. You told us on August 01, 2007

[...] This Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we
cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.

That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.

This Administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not. There are no short-cuts to protecting America, and that is why the fifth part of my strategy is doing the hard and patient work to secure a more resilient homeland.

Too often this Administration's approach to homeland security has been to scatter money around and avoid hard choices, or to scare Americans without telling them what to be scared of, or what to do. A Department set up to make Americans feel safer didn't even show up when bodies drifted through the streets in New Orleans.
That's not acceptable. [emphasis mine]

That's an entirely clear promise. Keep it. And by the way, You, Constitutional Professor, Know Better. Shame on you.

Shame. [shaking head]

.......................

The Nazi types may never again appropriate Beethoven's 9th Symphony. They will have to have US give it to them to do so again. Let us keep this particular torch unto ourselves, and never surrender it lightly. But are we surrendering?

I am dreading the day that I have to write the whole "Abschuelicher" thing again.

[Fidelio-Leonore ( woman who dresses as a man to get the job
done - UC)
appears on the scene: "Abscheulicher, wo eilst du hin,
was hast du vor?" (despicable one, where are you hurrying off to, what is your
intent?).

In trembling agitation, the orchestra accompanies the fearful lamentations of the plagued woman's heart. Then Leonore regains her posture; in a wondrous passage (introduced and accompanied by the strings, woodwinds and soft playing of the horns), "Komm, Hoffnung, laß den letzten Stern der Müden nicht rbleichen" (come, hope, do not let the last star of the weary one fade away).

And then Leonore rejoices, "Ich folg dem innern Triebe, ich wanke nicht" (
I
will follow my inner notions, I will not falter
). She sings herself into a delirious state. --At the request of Fidelio, Rocco orders that the prison cells be opened.

With a chorus that can hardly still be described "earthly", the prisoners welcome fresh air and light. Here, the outer course of events stand completely still. Yet, the expression of the inner meaning of the events is so strong that one would not consider this chorus as an interruption but rather as a first breath of air of the freedom to come
(emphasis mine) ]
Surrender your art NOT to the service of evil. And I know you folks won't. I am just challenging every frikking Dem in the Senate and the house, and not just on FISA.

But, fuck. [*] Beethoven would roll in his grave if he knew that the previous folks had ever used his Art to an ill-purposed, fascist or otherwise anti-human situation.

Be embraced ye millions - this kiss, Freedom, is for the whole world.

* This post was curse-word enhanced more than regular posting I do. Just because I wanted to.


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's Official....

Bush now has a lower approval rating than Nixon.
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What's Dobson Have Against Fruitcake?


So apparently Daddy Dobson thinks Obama has a "fruitcake interpretation of the constitution" and is "deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology." So, Daddy Dearest, is anyone who comes to a different understanding of the Bible a liar? If that's the case, then most of Americans who claim a religious affiliation are liars. An amazing Pew Research poll found that more than two-thirds of adults affiliated with a religious tradition agree that there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their faith. Or is it as Daddy believes, that they just don't take their biblical interpretation serioiusly? Why is it that unless we agree with you, we can only be lackadaisical liars?

Obama makes an overture to you and what do you do? You call him a fruitcake and a liar. You're just like the guy on who gets rescued off a deserted island. His rescuers observes three huts on the beach and asks the man what they are for.

"Well, the first one is my home and the second one is my church," he says.

"So what's the third hut for?" they ask.

"Oh, I got pissed off at my old church so I started a new church."


Today that same poll shows that seven in ten Americans who proclaim a faith (and the poll states that faith means christian, jew, muslim, buddist, hindu...) believe there's is not the only way to eternal life. That's means maybe three in ten agree with Dobson...of course, that might mean one evangelical, one jew and one muslim. But anyway you look at it, Dobson is finding himself closer and closer to being a congregation of one on a deserted island.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Who's The Terrorist Now?


This is from the recommended reader's posts at TPMCafé, and well worth a read. Kudos to the author, who goes under the name TESTING. Truly unruly.
Don't underestimate the implications of the Guantanamo rulings in the wake of the Supreme Court decision on habeas. They help peel away some of the layers of obfuscation the President and DOJ OLC created to hide this President's war crimes against protected civilians. The President and others did not take the (required) time to ensure civilians were protected.

The ruling declaring a POW was not properly classified as an enemy combatant turns Addington's applecart upside down.
There is some really nice reasoning here which can be simplified to three points.

  • SCOTUS has rejected the idea that any authority can be created by Congress and given to the Executive which allows them to create the designation Unlawful Enemy Combatants, thereby depriving them of their habeas corpus rights.

  • The administration has already rejected the idea that the detainees are soldiers, because then they would be POWs, afforded a whole set of protections under the Geneva Conventions.

  • So what does that make them? That's right, civilians. And the problem for the administration is that civilians are afforded even more protections than POWs are. In fact, interrogating them is an act of terrorism by definition.
OK, full disclosure, I added in that midddle point about POWs. I'm sure testing meant to include it. Anyway, it does lead to a very simple and straightforward argument against the Bush administration, not only for war crimes (which we unrulies always knew he was guilty of) but acts of terrorism as well - as defined by international convention.
There are no "authorized" interrogations of civilians during an armed conflict. Civilians are protected classes under Geneva from coercion, as interrogations inherently are.

Rather, the United States government has a problem: Interrogations of civilians could be construed as a separate offense under the laws of war, and illegal terrorism against protected civilians. Factors going against the government include:

A. the delay in guaranteeing the protected civilian status;

B. the lengthy civilian detention without a judicial review; and

C. the forced exposure of civilians to illegal interrogations despite ICRC demands to the contrary.

It was this President's policy to hide civilians prisoners from the ICRC, a subsequent violation of the laws of war.
There is only one problem here, not a legal one but one of practicality. Who in America has the nads to bell the cat? With impeachment off the table (even, it appears, in the case of crimes against humanity) and Bush's pet eunuch Michael Mukasey unwilling to enforce the law against the administration in the slightest regard any legal argument of wrongdoing is moot.

Such is life in BushMerika®.

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FISA Bill: Forget Immunity, There's Not One Good Thing In It

Last Friday while I was watching the whole FISA fiasco go down in the House, I was mostly focused on two pieces of the bill; Retroactive Immunity and the ridiculous "Presidential Permission Slip Tango" that requires the Judge to throw out the case and not say why.

I was mostly pissed about the secret part, because it's just plain stupid and very scary. Our system is generally built on transparency and sunshine, and secrecy is a very dark place. But something kept nagging at me which I didn't put my finger on until I read this piece by Looseheadprop over at Firedoglake.

It's stare decisis: "to stand by things decided." You know, precedents. The screcy piece of the "Permission Slip Tango" effectively abolishes stare decisis because you can't know the precedents of why cases were dismissed.

But wait! It get's worse! From David Kris at Balkanization:


"...more importantly, the pending legislation focuses only on the target’s location (or the government’s reasonable belief about his location) not his status or conduct as a terrorist or agent of a foreign power. In other words, there is no requirement that anyone – the FISA Court or the NSA – find probable cause that the target is a terrorist or a spy before (or after) commencing surveillance. " [emphasis mine]

This is flatly, out and out, can't say it enough, unconstitutional.

The Fourth Amendment:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. " [emphasis mine]
Get that? "Particularly describing" is totally out the window on this one. It's dragnet searching, specifically forbidden by the Constitution.

There is not one good godamned thing in this bill. Not one at all. And it is just wrong to say I suport this bill EXCEPT retroactive immunity.

From Glenzilla:


"Making matters worse still, what Obama did yesterday is in clear tension with an emphatic promise that he made just months ago. As the extremely pro-Obama MoveOn.org notes today, Obama's spokesman, Bill Burton, back in September, vowed that Obama would "support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies." MoveOn believes Obama should be held to his word and is thus conducting a campaign urging Obama to do what he promised -- support a filibuster to stop the enactment of telecom amnesty. You can email Burton here to demand that Obama comply with his commitment not just to vote against, but to filibuster, telecom amnesty:

bburton@barackobama.com

Incidentally, Chris Dodd made an identical promise when he was running for President, prompting the support of hundreds of thousands of new contributors,
and he ought to be held to his promise as well. "

You can contact Dodd here or phone his office at (202) 224-2823.

Email Burton at the adress above. Demand that Obama reverse his position stated last Friday, that he supports the bill but without Telco Amnesty. This bill flouts the Constitution and Professor Obama knows it.


UPDATE: from mcjoan - Feingold's message to Dems on FISA:

Let's reiterate this: "Anybody who claims this is an okay bill, I really
question if they’ve even read it."

From his position on both the Intelligence and the Judiciary committees in
the Senate, I think Russ Feingold has some credibility in making that statement.

Feingold himself:

UPDATE 2: More Feingold from today's Democracy Now! broadcast:

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Feingold, will you filibuster this bill?

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD: We are going to resist this bill. We are going to make sure that the procedural votes are gone through. In other words, a filibuster is requiring sixty votes to proceed to the bill, sixty votes to get cloture on the legislation. We will also—Senator Dodd and I and others will be taking some time to talk about this on the floor. We’re not just going to let it be rubberstamped.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you filibuster, though?

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD: That’s what I just described. [empahsis mine]

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Barack Obama last year said that he was opposed to granting retroactive immunity to the telecoms, but he has now indicated support for the FISA deal. Your thoughts?

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD: Wrong vote. Regrettable. Many Democrats will do this. We should be standing up for the Constitution. When President Obama is president, he will, I’m sure, work to fix some of this, but it’s going to be a lot easier to prevent it now than to try to fix it later. [emphasis mine]

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Monday, June 23, 2008

More Than Just a Comic

R.I.P. George Carlin

George Carlin died last night of heart failure. He was 71 years old. Carlin didn't just make people laugh. As his Wikipedia entry points out, "Carlin's most recent stand-up routines focused on the flaws in modern-day America. He often took on contemporary political issues in the United States and satirized the excesses of American culture."

As a disciple of the great Lenny Bruce his routines relied heavily on exposing those hypocrisies that are normally taboo to talk about. Like Bruce he was a social critic - he not only entertained, he enlightened. He was in that regard a scientist of the human condition, drawing his conclusions not on any preconceived dogma, but directly from observation and experience.

Carlin has been described as Lenny's heir. He may even have surpassed him. "He placed second on the Comedy Central cable television network list of the 10 greatest stand-up comedians, ahead of Bruce and behind Richard Pryor." (Wiki again) The proof of that comes not from Carlin's wins of Grammy Awards and the Mark Twain Prize for American humor, but from the fact that he was arrested on obscenity charges in the 1970s. Like Bruce, he pissed off the powerful and became a target. Like Bruce, he knowingly and willingly took that risk.

The best tribute to an entertainer is to give him a stage, so here is some of his best stuff:
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
[...]
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.
[...]
Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.
Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
Here's a recent bit that shows Carlin at his unruly best, cutting through the bullshit and exposing mainstream talking points for the craptastic steaming pile that they are:

"I'll tell you what they don't want -

they don't want a population of citizens
capable of critical thinking."

And finally, fittingly;

George Carlin on Death

More from the Station Agent at Ice Station Tango

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

In Which I Confront Mark Udall re: His FISA Vote

Since it's an election year, there are predictable amount of politicians at Denver Pride. (Strangely Congressional Rep. Diana DeGette CO-01 was not there this year, and I have seen her there consistently over the years. Anyway, that's not important. She voted the right way on FISA.)

But a CO Congressional rep who voted the WRONG way on FISA was there; Mark Udall. And he's campaining for Wayne Allard's seat in the Senate.

It was approximately 10:00 in the morning, today, that I snagged this film. I saw Udall's campaign crowd moving along, but had lost track of Mark himself, who was working the side of the street shaking hands. I finally saw where he was because this woman had buttonholed him about FISA, and the little group around started to press closer to hear what he was saying. The woman did interrupt him, because he at one point said, "The important thing is that we stood up to the President." And she said "NO, you DIDN'T!" and he said "Let me finish!"


Let me continue some from where the video stops when I was yellling about Judicial Review.

I was waving my hands trying to get his attention. I was welcomed by "A Look" and then a swift turn of the heel. I continued, "Judicial Review is STILL IMMUNITY! Do you think we're stupid?" The crowd around me was muttering, and starting to be interactive with me. There was a smattering of "They do think we're stupid" and "We're in Democrat Central right here right now. They know we have no where else to go." You get the idea.

Udall just kept moving, smiling and waving. Perfectly professional.

So I started talking more with that little group around. I asked where they knew about the whole FISA fiasco. Astoundingly, to me anyway, only one was a blog reader, and it was the lady who asked Udall the question in the first place. She caught the vote and then the roll call from Huffington Post. Had never heard of Firedoglake or Glenzilla. The others had heard it from emails from friends or Olbermann from the Thursday night show with Turley. But somehow, these people were relatively informed, cared, and didn't like Udall's response.

None of them wanted to be recorded in any way, voice or video. And I really can't blame them. That made making the video a little harsh, but I promised them I wouldn't. So.....

I told them that Obama had released a statement in support of the FISA bill. The blog lady knew the lingo; she said, "I'm going to have to hold my nose on this one" and the others grinned and laughed to whatever degree.

The Obama campaign actually was after Udall; I just portrayed in reverse in the film for story telling continutity's sake. The O campaign folk were handing out printouts of Obama's LGBT stance. They tried to hand me one and I told the woman, nope, don't need one, and by the way, you guys on the inside of the campaign need to pressure Obama about his FISA stance.

She blinked. "What's that one?" she asked. I replied the whole telecom spying thing. She said, Oh, he's against that. I said "read the campaigns statement from Friday; he's supporting it."

She blinked again and said "No he's not."

I laughed out loud. The others around me from the Udall encounter were all shaking their heads at the campaign lady. I said, "Yes he is. Go look for yourself." Her last response was "No he's not. He's just not that way."

They marched cheerfully on, cheering and chanting.

I looked at the older guy next to me, and went "Baaaaaa."

He grinned, and looked at the ground, his sandals I suppose, since he kicked at a little piece of grass. Looked back up and said:

"It is what it is, I guess."

Yep.


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Friday, June 20, 2008

Obama Supports Bad FISA Bill

Bad move.

Full text of the statement here. But here's a piece:
“Under this compromise legislation, [*] an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President's illegal program of warrant less surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance [1] – making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. [2] It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future. [3] It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses. [4] But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. [5] By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act. " [annotations mine to be further considered]

Let's begin - [*] This is not a compromise. It's a capitulation. SO says Russ Feingold.

[1] The 1978 FISA law IS the exclusive law of the land. The PAA muddied the waters until it sunsetted.

[2] The law was in place and the President circumvented it anyway. That's why this whole thing is illegal, and they NEED immunity.

[3] This is the "Presidential Permission Slip." This is not judicial oversight when you hand a case to a judge and say here you go judge. And the judge is compelled to approve the order.

[4] So what? Removing the immunity clause will not remove immunity. That's what's so insidious about this. All they need is the "Presidential Permission Slip" from the AG's office and the reviewing judge is COMPELLED to dismiss the case, not say why, and keep it secret. See above [3] and Guess what? They already have the documentation waiting to dismiss the 40 pending suits.

[5] Inspector Generals replacing the now gutted 4th Amendment. Nice. I'll trust them.

Turley tells us all about it from last night's Countdown


Atrios gave Obama "Wanker of the Day." dday says This endorsement of a X'ing out the Fourth Amendment is waaaay out of bounds and emptywheel says "Obama Replied to my letter to him. He told me to fuck off. "

I'm pretty much in agreement with them.

So here's the thing I'm doing. I'm telling the Obama Campaign to take me off their email list. I'm telling them never ask me for money again. I won't campaign for him.

I'll hold my nose and vote, and know that it's suffering the evil of two lessers. But Obama gained a fierce pack of critics today by abandoning the very netroots who helped get him where he is today.

That's change I can't believe in.

TAGS: , , , Many Millions of Clothespins for noses required

Blogs Against Kleptocracy - The Wages of Sin

Taking nothing away from the Unconventional Conventionist's excellent post on retroactive immunity for the telcos—and while we're waiting for the House of Representatives to cave to the administration on the issue—we should take note of the fact that the whores at AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have already been paid for servicing Bu$hCo.

Indeed, whether to help the telcos mitigate the financial danger of class action lawsuits or simply as a "Thank you for helping us f*ck the American people," cooperative companies watched their federal contract income skyrocket in 2007, up to $1.3B in Sprint's case. Whereas non-cooperative telcos, Qwest for example, watched their federal contract income drop by 100's of millions of dollars.

Apparently the Bush Administration has now even monetized trashing the Constitution.

<< Previous   Blogs Against Kleptocracy

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Action Alert! 4th Amendment About To Be Shredded!


The House of Representatives is fully participating in shredding the 4th Amendment, and maybe even as soon as tomorrow.

Glenzilla reports:

CQ reports (sub. req.) that "a final deal has been reached" on
FISA and telecom amnesty and "the House is likely to take up the legislation Friday." I've now just read a copy of the final "compromise" bill. It's even
worse than expected. When you read it, it's actually hard to believe that the Congress is about to make this into our law. Then again, this is the same
Congress that abolished habeas corpus with the Military Commissions Act, and
legalized George Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program with the "Protect
America Act," so it shouldn't be hard to believe at all. Seeing the
words in print, though, adds a new dimension to appreciating just how corrupt and repugnant this is:

The provision granting amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms, Title VIII, has the exact Orwellian title it should have: "Protection of Persons Assisting the Government." Section 802(a) provides:

[A] civil action may not lie or be maintained in a Federal or State court against any person for providing assistance to an element of the intelligence community, and shall be properly dismissed, if the Attorney General certifies to the district court of the United States in which such action is pending that . . . (4) the assistance alleged to have been provided . . . was --

(A) in connection with intelligence activity involving communications that was (i) authorized by the President during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on January 17, 2007 and (ii) designed to prevent or detect a terrorist attack, or activities in preparation of a terrorist attack, against the United States" and

(B) the subject of a written request or directive . . . indicating that the activity was (i) authorized by the President; and (ii) determined to be lawful.

So all the Attorney General has to do is recite those magic words -- the President requested this eavesdropping and did it in order to save us from the Terrorists -- and the minute he utters those words, the courts are required to dismiss the lawsuits against the telecoms, no matter how illegal their behavior was. [emphasis original]
Call and email your reps!

UPDATE: Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher reports there is chatter that this FISA bill is going to be tied to the Iraq Funding as a supplemental. Disgusting and craven if true.

She also has this statement from Russ Feingold:

The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation. The House
and Senate should not be taking up this bill, which effectively guarantees
immunity for telecom companies alleged to have participated in the President's
illegal program, and which fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans
at home. Allowing courts to review the question of immunity is meaningless when
the same legislation essentially requires the court to grant immunity. And under
this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international
communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected
terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power.
Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq,
Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this
administration.


Also, Digby weighs in and tells us about StrangeBedfellows.com.

And since Obama is the de facto head of the Democratic Party, I call on him (I'm not the only one) to make a public statement before this legislation hits the floor AND to not only vote against it when it comes to the joint conference part of the process, but to LEAD the fight against it. He can redeem himself from not voting against it last February. Plus he knows better. He is a Contitutional Lawyer fer crtin' out loud!

The call to his campaign is toll free: (866) 675-2008 [Dial 6, then 0, on the menu]

Via mcjoan:
Call Steny Hoyer and tell him this is a bad deal: Phone (202) 225-4131 , Fax (202) 225-4300
Call Nancy Pelosi and urge her to pull the bill from the House schedule: Phone (202) 225-4965, Fax (202) 225-8259

Dammit; I don't want to have to write another "And Liberty Cried" post again....


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Marriage 55 Years in the Making

Congratulations to Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon on their nuptials today. Del is 83 and Phyllis is 79 and they have been a couple for 55 years, but today they are officially spouses for life. "I think it's a wonderful day and I have to thank our mayor for most of it," Lyon said. "I'm very happy and very grateful for all of you."

You can send your congratulations to the newlyweds here.

And lest the party poopers try to do what poopers do...here's some myth busting from PFAW:

MYTH #1: Churches in California will be forced to perform same-sex marriages, even if they don’t want to.

FACT: No church will ever have to perform any marriage it disapproves of. That’s protected in the First Amendment of the US Constitution and will never change.

MYTH #2: County clerks can pick and choose which marriages they officiate.

FACT: Unlike religious leaders, county clerks are civic officials who are required to administer the law without discriminating. A civil marriage isn’t a religious ceremony — it’s a legal contract. County clerks need to perform their official government duties.

MYTH #3: The Supreme Court shouldn’t have done this!

FACT: The state Constitution requires equality under the law for all Californian, and the justices on the Court had an obligation to stand up for that principle. Throughout American history, courts have stood up for those who couldn’t defend their rights any other way. Those decisions were often unpopular, but now we look back on them proudly.

MYTH #4: This is bad for marriage.

FACT: This is great for marriage! When two people love each other and want to make a lifelong commitment to care for and be responsible for each other, they should be able to get married. Starting today, marriage will be stronger, not weaker. Stopping some people from getting married doesn’t help anyone’s marriage — it only hurts those who are discriminated against and their families.
On June 18th my hubby and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. I pray that we will live long enough to celebrate 55 years together. No word on where the happy couple will be honeymooning!


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Global Blogging Arrests Triple

The number of blogging arrests world-wide tripled last year. Egypt, Iran and China account for more than half of all blogging arrests.

Jane Novak at Armies of Liberation blogs regularly about the case of online journalist Abdul-Karim al-Khaiwani, who received a six-year jail sentence from the Yemeni government last week. Her reporting has really pissed off the Yemeni government, and they have banned her blog in that country.

Al-Khaiwani (pictured), a pro-democracy journalist and activist was convicted by a Yemeni court for conspiring with anti-government rebels, a ridiculous charge that Novak and others have soundly refuted.

Frontline Defenders has more on Al-Khaiwani:
Charges of insulting the president and “demoralising the military” as well as allegations that he had links with an al-Houthi terrorist cell had been brought against Abdul-Karim al-Khaiwani based on articles written about the Sa'ada war in Yemen.

The newspaper for which Abdul-Karim al-Khaiwani works has been closed and his website has been blocked. His family have also been subject to physical abuse and threats. In 2004, he was sentenced to one year's imprisonment for supporting Hussain Badr al-Din al-Huthi, a cleric from the Zaidi community. On 20 June 2007, he was arrested at his home for allegedly having ties with an al-Houthi terrorist cell. According to reports, these accusations were fabricated. Abdul-Karim al-Khaiwani has previously reported on human rights violations against the Zaidi community and those suspected of having links to al-Houthi. On 27 August 2007, after having been released, Abdul-Karim al-Khaiwani was abducted and tortured by a gang of armed men. His family have also been subject to physical abuse and threats.

(more)

In Singapore on Monday a U.S. citizen named Gopalan Nair was charged with insulting a judge because he wrote on his blog that the judge was "prostituting herself during the entire proceedings, by being nothing more than an employee of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his son and carrying out their orders". Nair faces one year in prison and a fine.

The whole NSA wiretapping deal is a pisser, and the Bush administration are horrendous by American standards, but imagine the sentences some American bloggers would face if we had to answer to the Singaporean government.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day for Peace




On April 9, 2004 at 11:00 pm, during the First Siege of Fallujah, Abdul Hakeem and his family were asleep at home when mortar rounds fired by US forces rained down on their home. Abdul Hakeem's mother suffered abdominal and chest injuries. Eight months pregnant, she lost Abdul Hakeem's unborn sister. His older brother and sister were also injured. Abdul Hakeem received severe injuries to his face and eye from shrapnel.

At that time, US forces did not permit ambulances to transport civilian casualties to the hospital. In fact, they fired on ambulances in violation of international law. A neighbor volunteered to take the family to the hospital, where doctors assessed Hakeem's chances of survival at five percent. The doctors told Ismaeel, his father, that Abdul Hakeem must go to the hospital in Baghdad for treatment.

Ismaeel had to stay with his wife and other injured children, but he sent Abdul Hakeem to Baghdad with his uncle. During the attack, the US forces were only allowing women to leave the city. When they reached the city's border, the uncle waved a white shirt in the air for the American soldiers. When they saw he had an injured child, they put both of them on a plane to Baghdad. After twelve days, Ismaeel was able to go to Baghdad to see his son, but was devasted when, despite several surgeries, he found him in the same state as before. There was little they could do.

No More Victims learned about Abdul Hakeem in March of 2005. In early 2006, Chad Hetman, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace, spent six weeks in Amman guiding Hakeem and his father through the difficult and time-consuming visa process. He accompanied them to Pittsburgh, where they arrived in February 2006.

During that first visit, Hakeem received medical treatment from Pittsburgh Children's Hospital. He was fitted for a prosthetic eye, which dramatically improved his appearance. His TMJ was restored on the left side, and skin grafting and stretching removed 50% of the scar tissue. After several months of surgeries, he and his father returned to Iraq.

No More Victims is a non-profit, non-sectarian, humanitarian organization which brings war-injured Iraqi children to the United States for medical treatment. Maybe it's a little too late to save your dad from the dreaded tie this Father's Day, but it's never too late to save a child-victim of war. You can honor your dad and help a father who was unable to protect his own child from war by making a donation here and by learning more here.



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Friday, June 13, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

SCOTUS Appears To Show Signs Of Functioning


One branch of the Government appears to be functioning correctly, at least in this instance.

From ThinkProgress.org today:


The justices, in a 5-4 ruling Thursday, handed the Bush
administration its third setback at the high court since 2004 over its treatment of prisoners who are being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

It was not immediately clear whether this ruling, unlike the first two, would lead to prompt hearings for the detainees, some of whom have been
held more than 6 years. Roughly 270 men remain at the island prison, classified as enemy combatants and held on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.

[...]

SCOTUSBlog calls the ruling "a stunning blow to the Bush Administration in its war-on-terrorism policies" because it found that "Congress had not validly taken away habeas rights. If Congress wishes to suspend habeas, it must do so only as the Constitution allows — when the country faces rebellion or invasion."

Wow! Score 1 for The Constitution!

UPDATE: The full case and decision are available online (pdf) here at SCOTUSBlog

Glenzilla weighs in, emphasis his:

In its decision, the Court emphasized (and revived) some of the
most vital principles of our system of Government which have been trampled upon
and degraded over the last seven years (emphasis added):

The Framers' inherent distrust of government power was the driving force behind the constitutional plan that allocated powers among three independent branches. This design serves not only to make Government accountable but also to secure individual liberty. . . .

Where a person is detained by executive order rather than, say, after being tried and convicted in a court, the need for collateral review
is most pressing. . . .
The habeas court must have sufficient authority
to conduct a meaningful review of both the cause of detention and the
Executive's power to detain. . . .

Security depends upon a sophisticated intelligence apparatus and the ability of our Armed Forces to act and interdict. There are further
considerations, however. Security subsists, too, in fidelity to
freedom's first principles.
Chief among these are freedom from
arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to separation of powers. . . .


The laws and Constitution are designed to survive,
and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system, they are reconciled within the framework of law.
The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of first importance, must be a part of that framework, part of that law.

In ruling that the CSRTs woefully fail to provide the constitutionally guaranteed safeguards, the Court quoted Alexander Hamilton's Federalist No. 84: "The practice of arbitrary imprisonments, in all ages, is the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny." It is that deeply tyrannical practice -- implemented by the Bush administration and authorized by a bipartisan act of Congress -- which the U.S. Supreme Court, today, struck down.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 was -- and remains -- one of the great stains on our national political character. It was passed by a substantial majority in the Senate (65-34) with the support of every single Senate Republican (except Chafee) and 12 Senate Democrats. No filibuster was even attempted. It passed by a similar margin in the House, where 34 Democrats joined 219 Republicans to enact it. One of the most extraordinary quotes of the post-9/11 era came from GOP Sen. Arlen Specter, who said at the time that that the Military Commissions Act -- because it explicitly barred federal courts from hearing habeas corpus petitions brought by Guantanamo detainees -- "sets back basic rights by some 900 years" and was "patently unconstitutional on its face" -- and Specter then proceeded to vote for it.

Now I have zero expectation that the Executive Branch will perform properly, but erm, maybe the Senate and the House could?

That would be music to my ears:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Impeachment A Lot to Me

Kucinich's Articles of impeachment have their own blog.

Here's a look at the 35 reasons Kucinich gives for tossing GWB out.
Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio
In the United States House of Representatives
Monday, June 9th, 2008
A Resolution

INDEX

Article I
Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq.

Article II
Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks

of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression.

Article III
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War.

Article IV
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States.

Article V
Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression.

Article VI
Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of HJRes114.

Article VII
Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration of War.

Article VIII
Invading Iraq, A Sovereign Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter.

Article IX
Failing to Provide Troops With Body Armor and Vehicle Armor

Article X
Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes

Article XI
Establishment of Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq

Article XII
Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation's Natural Resources

Article XIIII
Creating a Secret Task Force to Develop Energy and Military Policies With Respect to Iraq and Other Countries

Article XIV
Misprision of a Felony, Misuse and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the Central Intelligence Agency

Article XV
Providing Immunity from Prosecution for Criminal Contractors in Iraq

Article XVI
Reckless Misspending and Waste of U.S. Tax Dollars in Connection With Iraq and US Contractors

Article XVII
Illegal Detention: Detaining Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and Foreign Captives

Article XVIII
Torture: Secretly Authorizing, and Encouraging the Use of Torture Against Captives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Other Places, as a Matter of Official Policy

Article XIX
Rendition: Kidnapping People and Taking Them Against Their Will to "Black Sites" Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice Torture

Article XX
Imprisoning Children

Article XXI
Misleading Congress and the American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the Iranian Government

Article XXII
Creating Secret Laws

Article XXIII
Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act

Article XXIV
Spying on American Citizens, Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the Law and the Fourth Amendment

Article XXV
Directing Telecommunications Companies to Create an Illegal and Unconstitutional Database of the Private Telephone Numbers and Emails of American Citizens

Article XXVI
Announcing the Intent to Violate Laws with Signing Statements

Article XXVII
Failing to Comply with Congressional Subpoenas and Instructing Former Employees Not to Comply

Article XXVIII
Tampering with Free and Fair Elections, Corruption of the Administration of Justice

Article XXIX
Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Article XXX
Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare

Article XXXI
Katrina: Failure to Plan for the Predicted Disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Failure to Respond to a Civil Emergency

Article XXXII
Misleading Congress and the American People, Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address Global Climate Change

Article XXXIII
Repeatedly Ignored and Failed to Respond to High Level Intelligence Warnings of Planned Terrorist Attacks in the US, Prior to 911.

Article XXXIV
Obstruction of the Investigation into the Attacks of September 11, 2001

Article XXXV
Endangering the Health of 911 First Responders
Only 35? I guess time is of the essence, since, you know, they're getting away. And by the way something, obviously this warrants the vaunted Icee Award. I am also nominating Kucinich for the lifetime achievement Icee Award to be awarded at a later date.

UPDATE: From McClatchy--"Hours after Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, introduced articles of impeachment against President Bush, his campaign says his website 'was shut down by a series of suspicious and fast moving events.'"

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Monday, June 09, 2008

A Very Important Speech

Yes, Even More Important
Than Hillary's Concession Speech


Bill Moyers' entire NCMR address (40 minutes)

- or click here to go to YouTube,
(if you wish to watch it full-screen.)

You can't help feeling that Mr. Moyers isn't really talking about the media so much as he's talking about a last-ditch effort to save democracy. But he can speak for himself as well as anyone, and better than most, so I'll just excerpt a couple of what I consider to be his most important statements.
What we need to know to make democracy work for all Americans is compromised by media institutions deeply embedded in the power structures of society.
[...]
Democracy without honest information creates the illusion of popular consent while enhancing the power of the state and the privileged interests protected by it.
As the state has accumulated more power it has simultaneously devolved towards protecting the privileged. At the same time the media has been co-opted into serving those very same privileged interests. This is decidedly NOT a good thing. The multinational corporatocracy has a huge incentive on getting a grip on the power structures of American (and international) society. The people have to wake up to the realization that they have a vested interest in opposing this naked fascist power grab.

RISE UP! Before it's too late.
BONUS VIDEO: I know that the Bill Moyers speech, at 40 minutes, is very long for YouTube, or for anyone on the rapid-fire internet to devote their time to. Still, I give you this five minute speech from John F. Kennedy on the dangers of secret societies. It was delivered to the National News Publishers Association on April 27, 1961.

Somehow I feel as if the US federal government has become a branch office of Skull and Bones, with the co-operation of FOX news, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal. Everything is secret, and no-one seems willing to expose any of it. Everything that Kennedy warned of has come to life. Anyway, kudos to the person who posted this - the series of accompanying images is very appropriate. More here, with a transcript of the entire (19 minute) speech.

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