Saturday, December 31, 2005

Spank You Mr. President

Does anyone actually listen to the President's weekly radio address? Again I ask, simply because a president says something, does that make it true? If I were to present conclusions like he does, with no evidence, I would be outcast and ridiculed by my colleagues. Any president who suggests that he is responsible for job creation or the like aught back it up with strong correlations derived from solid, empirically justified, statistically driven analysis. But no, we have to take this man on faith?

As we are short on this year, I am short on faith for this president. He has yet to earn my trust, and frankly, I can't detect one iota of honesty from the man, just more misleading banter. I repeat, does anyone listen to his radio addresses? And if so, do they really believe him? If so, why?
In 2005, America grew in prosperity, advanced the cause of freedom and peace, and enhanced our security. Our duties continue in the new year, and I'm confident that our nation will meet the challenges that lie ahead
I say to you, Mr. President - prove it! Simply because some numbers change in your record books don't prove any direct correlation nor a causal relationship between how the W, Rove and Co has acted and the way things have changed. Mr. President, if you can't prove that any of this happened or was caused by your administration, don't play politics with our emotions. It's not nice.

Happy New Year to y'all in the blogisphere, but spank you; spank you very much, Mr. President.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Trickle Down Intelligence

There's a great post by the Bastard over at Bring It On. Here's one sentence to wet your whistle and a comment I left there in reply:
The Bastard Said (Correction - as per the comment by the Psychotic Patriot attached to this post, I miss referenced the Bastard's quote. This quote was from a feature posted by the Bastard at BIO, but orginally written by the Psychotic Patriot. I urge you to visit that location as well. Seems like some good stuff, my apologies all around):
I sit at the edge of another vast wasteland; not the television itself, but the growing vacuum between the ears of America, and sadly, it's growing in one direction only.
Windspike replies:
The vapid vacuousness between ears is only a reflection of the void at the very top - let's call it trickle down intelligence. In that mission, ignorance propagated becomes bliss for the masses.

More Construing by Your President

Just because the President says certain things in a document doesn't make them legal - especially if he uses words like construe to justify his illegal behavior. Have a gander at this snarky legalese from our fair W.
The Supreme Court of the United States has stated that the President's authority to classify and control access to information bearing on the national security flows from the Constitution and does not depend upon a legislative grant of authority. Although the advance notice contemplated by sections 8007, 8011, and 8093 can be provided in most situations as a matter of comity, situations may arise, especially in wartime, in which the President must act promptly under his constitutional grants of executive power and authority as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces while protecting certain extraordinarily sensitive national security information. The executive branch shall construe these sections in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President.
If you review the document that this quote is lifted from, and you were to count the number of the times the word "construe" is used, you might have the same flash back I had to a certain movie (bonus points to the blogger who can identify it) line: "You keep on using that word. But I don't think that word means what you think it means."

Let's have a look at the definition by means of Construe: As a verb - 1) To adduce or explain the meaning of; interpret: construed my smile as assent. Or as a Noun: An interpretation or translation.

Well, Mr. President, I am certain you have every right to continue to construe the law in your favor, but I choose to construe your action as whittling the very foundation of our constitution out from under our civil rights such that the tripod that our Nation sits (the system of checks and balances) has one leg slowly chewing another such that our fair Nation is teetering on the brink of disaster.

Sneaky, Mr. President. Very Sneaky.

Let's just say you are an average American. You happened to email folks here and abroad on a regular basis and you called a friend recently in London. You were spied upon. The good folks of the NSA decide you are a threat, and pick you up. You get booked and flown to Guantanamo - detained indefinitely and never charged and completely denied your due process rights. Do you have a way to plow through the legal minefield to demand vindication and your rights back? Nope. Not as of today, courtesy of your federal government and the good ol' boys of the W, Rove and Co:
I also appreciate the legislation's elimination of the hundreds of claims brought by terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that challenge many different aspects of their detention and that are now pending in our courts.
Of course, W appreciates this - when do you think he will be rendered anprosecuteded for war crimes?

The Executive Branch Shall Construe...

Okay, my bet is the President really does not understand what he supposedly wrote:
Certain provisions of the Act relate to race, ethnicity, or gender. The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the requirement that the Federal Government afford equal protection of the laws under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.
Are there any legal scholars out there that understand what the W, Rove and Co is trying to do here? Sounds to me like subterfuge to disguise more institutionalized racism, but I may be reading too far into it.

The bigger question is to why they felt he needed to publicize this in particular. Any guesses? No doubt, the Executive Branch has been prone to construe what ever law it wants in what ever fashion it wants, so the admission that they construe something in their own view is particularly salient, nonetheless.

Sun Tzu and You

I am wondering if Sun Tzu is on Trent's reading list. Tzu would not spy on his people, he would cut their heads off first, and ask questions later. The analogy falls completely flat as does his answer - This proves that as bad as Scotty is at being the press secretary, Trent Duffy is really much worse.

They are reaching so far and deep up their own anuses to connect the illegitimate spying of Americans to Al Quesadia and 9/11 their brains have hemorrhoids. Have a gander:

Q Is the White House the ones that requested the Justice Department investigation into the NSA leaks?

MR. DUFFY: No, as the President said, the Justice Department undertook this action on its own, which is the way it should be. The President spoke directly about how he felt about the leaking of classified information, and the White House was informed of the decision, as was the President. And you have his own words about how he feels about the leaking of classified information. I think it's plain to say that the terrorists want to strike America again and they hope to inflict even greater damage than they did on September the 11th. The leaking of classified information is a serious issue. The fact is that al Qaeda's playbook is not printed on page one, and when America's is, it has serious ramifications. You don't need to be Sun Tzu to understand that. (Laughter.)

So the country is at war against a determined, patient, and ruthless enemy, and that enemy attacked America repeatedly and wants to do so again.

Earned Trust or Burned Trust - You be the judge

I was hopping around my blogroll as per usual and found an interesting diatribe being played out on one of Moxie Grrrl's posts between a self proclaimed libertarian and some others. And then it hit me - the trust that some place in the current administration springs directly from the same faith that makes people take up religion - the need to believe that they are not being misled or that there is some greater good - that is beyond explanation - in control. I, on the other hand, believe that trust takes a life time to earn and a moment to break. This lead me to the following comment and thought for the day:
If trust is earned, the W, Rove and Co. has done nothing but spend their credibility. The investment yields the same dividend we get from the Iraq conflagration

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Trouble With The Republican Leadership

I got to thinking this AM on my run. What's the trouble with the republican "leadership?" Essentially, these folks truly believe they are benevolent, magnanimous, generous people who have been put into leadership positions for whatever reason - and some times claiming God put them there. They also have elevated their actions to the level of being on par or better than our founding fathers.

Certainly, truth is a slave to perception, but my reality suggests they are anything but all those gallant words they suggest they are and we are not. Not even remotely close to being as important as our founding fathers. Moreover, their own thinking about themselves greases the skids for their further transgressions. Hey, if they do it (whatever) in the name of a "noble" cause, somehow, I am the one who is unpatriotic for pointing out it's against the law?

How About A Different Cut

Instead of cutting things like medicare and the other such programs that benefit those less fortunate than our republican leadership, howsabout cutting the gigantic budget for perpetrating the so called "war on drugs;" which incidentially, is another war we are not winning with the current strategy:
Republicans in Congress have been scrambling to cut federal spending to reduce a record deficit. Their 2006 Deficit Reduction Act would cut a paltry $40 billion over five years. If they want to find more savings, they should look to dubious spending on the dubious war on drugs -- to the high cost of incarcerating first-time nonviolent drug offenders, of mandating longer sentences for crack cocaine than powder cocaine and of using federal clout to raid medical-marijuana clubs, prosecute offenders and house them in prison. Cut these programs and Washington could move this country closer to what President H. W. Bush announced as his goal, "a kinder, gentler" America.
This seems like a wonderful idea. Moreover, instead of waging war on pot smokers, perhaps we could make it legal and tax the shit out of it - thus generating a multibillion dollar revenue stream that has not ever been a part of this "trickle down" economy; which by the way never seems to trickle far enough.

Aren't We At Another of those Sticky Wicket Crossroads?

"This nation sits at a crossroads. One direction points to the higher road of the rule of law. Sometimes hard, sometimes unpleasant, this path relies on truth, justice and the rigorous application of the principle that no man is above the law. Now, the other road is the path of least resistance. This is where we start making exceptions to our laws based on poll numbers and spin control. This is when we pitch the law completely overboard when the mood fits us, when we ignore the facts in order to cover up the truth.

No man is above the law, and no man is below the law. That’s the principle that we all hold very dear in this country."
Hmm - Tommy Delay was very harsh when speaking about Clinton, way back when. When do we get out pointed piousness aimed at W by the same folks? Can you say impeachment? Have a gander of what our fair leaders were saying back when Clinton lied about his blow job and ruined - what was it, I forget - how many cities were sacked becuase Clinton boinked his intern?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Here's a funny question

I had a bit of a chuckle when a reporter in yesterday's press gaggle asked a very interesting question. Incidentially, how much time do you have for vacation at your hobby ranch? Not nearly as much as our dear president, eh? Pissed? Yeah, me too!
Q Trent, should we read anything into the fact that he's got three years left and he's already reading a book about what it's like to be out of office?

MR. DUFFY: The President is a history buff -- you know that as well as anybody. He does read a lot of books based on recommendations, and Brian Williams recommended it to him, so he picked it up and he's reading it. He is an avid reader. And the President knows full-well that he's got a lot of time left in this second term and he's going to accomplish big things, as he has talked about repeatedly.

Q Why "Imperial Grunt"? Kaplan is pretty critical of Iraq. Do you have any idea why he picked that book?

MR. DUFFY: The President is an avid reader. He reads books of all kinds and stripe and persuasion. And he decided to read it.

Does Mr. President Have a Naughty List Too?

Many folks may have already read the comment that the W, Rove and Co are not spying on soccer moms. Do you believe them? Have a look from yesterday's gaggle with Trent - I'm no better than Scotty - Duffy:
Q To follow up on last week, you know that New York Times story that talked about the NSA, and how the government was doing much broader surveillance than the White House has acknowledged. Are you familiar with that story?

MR. DUFFY: Yes, I saw the story. We'll be declining to comment on any specific operational details. The program -- I think the President said in his press conference and the Attorney General briefed very heavily about, the President's most solemn obligation is to protect the American people, and he will continue to do that. He has the authority granted to the President by the Constitution and it's in line with protecting the civil liberties of all Americans. But we'll decline to --

Q Does the White House still stand by the claim that the order that he issued only allows eavesdropping on a limited number of people with al Qaeda links?

MR. DUFFY: This is a limited program. This is not about monitoring phone calls designed to arrange Little League practice or what to bring to a potluck dinner. These are designed to monitor calls from very bad people to very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings, and churches. And the President believes that he has the authority -- and he does -- under the Constitution to do this limited program. The Congress has been briefed. It is fully in line with the Constitution and also with protecting American civil liberties.

So, if these are truly bad people, then why are they still able to make phone calls from our very soil? Are they also putting taps on folks who bomb Planned Parenthood facilities or aim their rifles at Doctors who perform abortions? It seems like a very slippery slope has been traversed and they are fallying pell-mell into the crevasse of illegal and unethical violation of civil rights of the American People. But that's just me typing.

Blog on all.

Some Terrorists Could Get Off the Hook on a Legal Technicality

Given the W, Rove and Co's propensity to skirt the law, some potentially "bad men" may get off the hook on a technicality - you know, being spied on when it is against the constitution. This is no small error on the part of the current administration.

My bet: Perhaps certain folks will be assassinated in lieu of a fair trial. If and when the illegal spying situation comes to a front, the W, Rove and co may be laid bare for all to see - and it ain't going to be pretty (like haphazardly seeing ugly men in ass-less chaps - it simply is not all that palatable and there aught be a law against it - as in, only those with good looking asses should be wearing them). If you are going to be serving the public, you certainly should not be violating their rights to do it. Have a look at this exchange with Trent - I'm no better than Scotty - Duffy:
Q The New York Times reports today that there are several legal challenges based on the NSA wiretaps. Are you concerned that these challenges could jeopardize the cases against people you guys have already described as very bad people?

MR. DUFFY: Jessica, I think Attorney General Gonzales and General Hayden did a very thorough briefing about the legal underpinnings that the administration is basing this program on. I don't have anything to add to that. And we decline to comment on any pending cases, but I don't think it should serve as any surprise that defense attorneys are looking at ways to represent their clients; that's what defense attorneys do...

...Q That same New York Times article says, there's consideration of filing criminal charges against President Bush, himself. Is he prepared to face any possible charges, and what kind of -- the White House must have some sort of reaction to the concern that this could bring this NSA issue into the court and open it up to all sorts of inquiries.

MR. DUFFY: I'd just leave it just where I said, Jessica. The Attorney General, himself, the administration's top legal eagle, explained the legal underpinnings that the administration is basing this program on. And I don't have anything to add to that. We always decline to comment on pending cases. You're asking me to speculate about what may happen in the future, and that's another area where we shy away from.

Q Are you making preparations in the Legal Counsel's Office to defend this in court?

MR. DUFFY: I don't know how to answer that question. So I won't.

Q Do you think, though, that the lawyers -- or more specifically, their clients, have a right to know how their cases came to be, and if --

MR. DUFFY: Dana, you're asking in the context of pending cases, and we're just prohibited from commenting on that. So speculating on pending cases is something we can't do.

Q You all have talked about cases that are up before the courts before. Just in general, can you say how hard the administration is going to fight the defense lawyers?

MR. DUFFY: I would refer you to the Justice Department for any questions like that.

Q The President publicly acknowledged the NSA wiretapping in his Saturday radio address. But in subsequent news revelations about perhaps broader surveillance, he's chosen not to acknowledge that. Why the difference?

MR. DUFFY: The President discussed what he felt comfortable discussing in the news conference, and this is a highly classified, or was a highly classified program and he felt it necessary to discuss that since it was reported. And that's the decision that he made and the administration made.

Monday, December 26, 2005

SOP for the GOP

How nice. We give, they get:
"Something is very wrong here. Our federal government is paying an extraordinary amount of money for services that are not being performed adequately. "FRANK LEACH a supervisor in Jackson County, Miss., speaking about cleanup efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Some Assembly Required

After three Manhattans - one of my favorite drinks and hard to lay off on the eve - I was relegated to the task of putting together a wagon shipped to us via the Michigan grandparents. A prior conversation with MI Grandpa left me with the impression that the wagon would require only minor assembly. Not so - and I think intentional on his part. He wanted to share with me the infinite pleasure of slapping together toys for small children into the wee hours on the Christmas eve with mediocre directions.

Parts everywhere, none too few cuss words and an hour and a half later, we had the wagon. The end result? The kids played with the 1.5 dollar stocking stuffers all AM. Did they touch the fucking wagon? Not one iota.

I think this thing is going on Ebay. Should be worth more already assembled, no?

It makes me think once again, what's the true meaning of Christmas? Hugs from your kids and smiles to shouts of "Santa Came - Come Look Daddy!"

May all your Christmas wishes be granted.

One more question for the blogisphere. What, to you, is the true meaning of Christmas? Leave a comment and Blog on all. Blog on.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

All I Want For Christmas

Last month, when the Good Guys closed it's doors, I snapped up a 32 in LCD television by HP at a serious discount. It rocks. HD ready and the full gambit of connections. Subsequently, my spouse and I are not swaping gifts - we already have everything we need.

Two days ago, my sons and I dropped off three toys to St. Anthony's as they were having a Christmas celebration and giving out donated toys to tots with no wherewithall here in our own city. The boys already have a mountain of toys, and more under the tree from the steady stream incoming via UPS and the grandparents, etc...

So, I sit contemplating what would be nice to have, in reality, for christmas beyond superficial wishes such as those espoused by the President (incidentially, it doesn't seem necessary with over 30K Iraqis killed by our guns to point out the hypocrisy of his wishes, but I guess I just did - please do recognize that he is not wishing for peace but simply suggesting this is "a time of joy and peace"):
Good morning. On this Christmas Eve, Laura and I send our best wishes to families across America as you gather in your homes to celebrate the holiday. Christmas is a time of joy and peace, and we hope the holiday season brings all of you happy reunions with families and friends, and time to rest and reflect as you look forward to a new year.
So, rather than type out a list of Christmas wishes - I thought it would be interesting and, okay I'll say it, nice to have folks leave one wish as a comment here.

So, let's call this Windspike's Merry Christmas Beyond the Superficial Wish List (sounds rather Seussian, no?). The challenge is to, if you could wish only one wish and have it granted, what wish would it be and do explain why. Perhaps the infinate karma of the blogisphere will make more than one come to fruition.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Friday, December 23, 2005

It Requires A Court Order

Even then, it is rather suspect that domestic spying could ever be considered legal. The W, Rove and Co. has gone from the garden variety pants on fire variety of liar politicians to the more aggressive Nixon-style law breakers.

When do we get our impeachment?

Have a gander at this hardball compilation video clip over at crooks and liars if you don't believe me. The metamorphosis is painfully obvious to even the dimmest of dim whits.

He's Looking A Lot Like Activist Judge

Looks like Alito is just the kind Activist the W, Rove and Co needs when they are looking to break the law - particularly when trying to stack the courts with people who like 'em:
Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito defended the right of government officials to order domestic wiretaps when he worked for the Reagan Justice Department, documents released Friday show.

He advocated a step by step approach to strengthening the hand of officials in a 1984 memo to the solicitor general. The strategy is similar to the one that Alito espoused for rolling back abortion rights at the margins.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Naughty or Nice?

You better watch out. Cuz, Santa Claus is coming to town. Now, anyone taking bets as to whether the good folks of the W, Rove and Co are on which list: Naughty or Nice? Tell us what you think.

Methinks they are all getting coal in their stockings - but they would probably think that was a good thing given their propensity for loving fosil fuels.

Is There Any Body Out There? You Betchya!

While Scotty and da boys of the NSA would want you to believe they are not spying on purely domestic communications, they are. No surprise there, eh? Have a gander at this exchange from yesterday's press briefing and see if you can tell how crafty they are at lying to the American People:
Q So are you saying that reports to the contrary today that some wholly domestic communications got swept up by accident is in error?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm stating to you what the Deputy Director of National Intelligence said to you all the other day, and they stand by that comment. And the authorization is very clear in terms of what is spelled out. And there are safeguards in place, and it's very limited in nature, and, as I said, one party to the communication has to be outside the United States.

Q So, therefore, it would be impossible for any wholly domestic communications to get accidentally swept up in that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he talked about the physics of it, and again, I refer you to what I just said; I quoted him.

Q But he also said that if we were to intercept something that we believe to be domestic, we would move off of it -- would certainly suggest that there might be --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the question was asked -- is, if you wind up listening where you realize you shouldn't have, was the question, and he said, we don't have the resources to be able to waste them. We can't waste our resources on targets that simply don't provide valuable information. And he went on to talk about that a little bit further in his comments.

Q He was not explicitly saying it never occurs. My sense of that was that he said, should it occur, we quickly move away from it because we don't have the resources --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, the specific question, are there cases where you wind up listening and where you realize you shouldn't have, and that's what he was responding to. But again, he talked about the physics of it and the technology and how they go about doing things. But I hesitate to go further in that because then you're getting into operational details.

Obstructionsts or Guardians of Freedom? You be the Judge

So, hmmm, correct me if I am wrong, but aren't these folks called politicians for a reason. Here's the catch twenty-two of it: If you suggest that folks are playing politics, does that mean you are in on the game or not? Really, if you think that the Patriot Act is not progress, but shooting holes in the Constitution don't you have a moral obligation to do everything in your power to stop it? I don't look at this as "obstructionist" like the W, Rove and Co. I look at this small group of Senators as Guardians of Freedom. The W, Rove and Co. are turning the very foundation and fabric of our wonderful country into wormwood.

Will the W play politics with his veto powers and strike down the extension? Here's a fun exchange from yesterday's press briefing where one reporter tries very hard to get Scotty McMessage McClellan to use the words he said at a prior briefing. Enjoy:

Q Scott, would the President veto a three-month extension of the Patriot Act? Is that something you can accept?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think we need to talk about what's going on here. What's going on here is pure obstructionist politics. A minority in the Senate, led by Senate Democrats, are putting politics above our nation's security. This bill has been thoroughly debated. It enjoys majority support. They need to give it an up or down vote and quit playing politics with our nation's security.

Q So would the President veto a three-month extension?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President has already made his views known on that -- I expressed his views last week -- and nothing has changed in terms of our views. That's why it's important for them to go ahead and get this passed now.

Q So you would veto a three-month extension?

MR. McCLELLAN: I expressed our view last week; nothing has changed.

Q Can you tell me what that was again?

MR. McCLELLAN: You can see what I expressed last week. You know very well what it was.

Q Sounds like you're backing down from that.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, nothing has changed in terms of what I said last week.

Q So just say it. Just say --

Q Will you use the word "veto"? Why are you not using the word "veto"?

MR. McCLELLAN: I expressed our views on that last week --

Q But if you still stand by them, why won't you reiterate it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, what I said last week still stands.

Q Which is what?

MR. McCLELLAN: I talked about a short-term extension. And Senator Frist has already said that there's not going to be a short-term extension of three months. And Speaker Hastert has already said it would be irresponsible to move with a short-term extension.

Let me talk about the Patriot Act, because when it went through the debate this year, extensive debate, in the conference committee there were changes made to it. There were some 30 additional protections put in there relating to civil liberties. And it seems some Senate Democrats are claiming that's the reason, but we now know from the leader of the Democrats in the Senate that all they were interested in was killing it. All they want to do is extend it in order to seek a way to weaken some of the authorities in the Patriot Act. And that's why I said they need to quit obstructing progress on reauthorization of the Patriot Act and get it passed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

W, Rove and Co Hand Victory to the Terrorists

Every step of the way, the terrorists seem to be gaining ground - being handed victory by the W, Rove and Co under the guise of "protecting us." Here's a nice post by Ken over at Common Sense. Pop over there to view the whole post. I follow with my comment I left there as a response:
...Government is also exploiting our legitimate fear of enemy attacks into an excuse to abridge freedom and bypass the rule of law. If the enemy seeks to destroy our freedom and democracy, and this administration, under the guise of protecting us from our fears, takes away our freedoms and ignores the rule of law, then the enemy wins a small victory without even having to fight. Indeed, the actions of this administration have given the enemy a victory without even realizing it. As it now stands, we have an actual enemy who wants to kill us, and an enemy in our own government that wants to limit our hard fought freedoms in the name of security.
Here's my reply:
This is one righteous post Ken. Hope should trump fear, but it's the fear these mongers in the whitehouse keep peddling. Certainly, they are lazy. That's the easy way to stir action out of people. Hope just makes folks feel good. Fear gets us stocking up on rolls of duct tape and a run on the local big box store for any kind of supply that might aid in the nuclear winter.

Hope takes creativity.
Fear takes meanness to propogate
Hope takes optimism
Fear takes pessimism
Hope brings smiles to faces
Fear gives shock and awe
Hope brings people together
And ultimately,
fear tears people apart

It is really tragic that the W sold himself as a "uniter, not a divider." Because the penultimate political strategy for this administration is to divide, separate, and concquer - Vini Vidi Vici - but in the end, what will they be left with. That indeed, from my view is a constitution riddled with holes, a divided nation very much on the brink of economic ruin - see, in the end, fear begets more fear and pessimism.

I think it was Roosevelt that said, "we have nothing to fear but fear itself." And he couldn't have been a better prognosticator - Indeed, it seems he was spot on.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Masters of Fiction or Deception

You be the judge. So, if Rummy admits that he doesn't "know what it means," why does the mainstream press print what he says? Are these guys masters of fiction or deception? My bet is that its the latter - but they are not very good at that either - it's just that the remainder of their apologists are simply that gullible.
"I think it is interesting that we haven't heard from him for close to a year," Rumsfeld told reporters en route to Islamabad.

"I don't know what it means, but I suspect in any event if he is alive and functioning that he is sending a major fraction of his time trying to avoid being caught," Rumsfeld said.

"I have trouble believing he is able to operate sufficiently to be in a position of major command over a worldwide al Qaeda operation, but I could be wrong," he said.

Either way, don't you think we - the American people - deserve something more than speculation from the W, Rove and Co? Yes indeed, he "could be wrong," so why is he "playing politics" when that is a game the W, Rove and Co so despise?

P.S. Thanks for the catch Gaia - I must have been looking at another article when I typed the top paragraph. It's fixed.

Terrorists Learn Their Skills Where?

Humm, I've oft said this, but it is becoming more clear that the longer we stay in Iraq, the more skilled the terrorists are becoming. This little report is chilling, but the last two paragraphs are more disturbing. What happens when these Iraq trained jihadists land on our soil and start using their honed GI and civilian killing skills on us directly? Lots of murder, no doubt. Remember, the fact that no large scale terrorist attack has happened since 9/11 is not proof that the "war" is working. I would have my diploma revoked if I drew conclusions that way.
A British security expert in Kabul said the insurgents "are learning from experiences developed in Iraq and other conflict zones such as Chechnya." "

This is partly due to Afghans learning their skills abroad but also insurgents from other countries coming to Afghanistan and passing on their techniques acting as embedded trainers," he said.

18,000 Wire Taps

How many terrorists do we have sleeping in cells here on the home front soil? Good question. If there are really that large a number of suspected terrorists, why are they not doing more rounding up of these rascals? If there aren't, the discrepancy is important. The answer could give us a good sense of how big a hole the President has shot in our Constitution and our Civil Liberties. Oh, and if you review the whole set of this text, you find our President has lied to us again. Do you still believe the W, Rove and Co cluster of scallywags?
Q Another question. It's our understanding this power has been used 18,000-plus times. Are we to presume that there are that many al Qaeda agents in this country?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into talking about more than what we've said publicly. That's getting into more than what we've talked about publicly, so I'm not in a position to confirm or deny the numbers that you threw out there. And we don't want to go into greater detail because it's important that the enemy not have a sense of what we're working to do, because they can change and adapt. They can -- and they do. They're constantly changing and adapting. This is a sophisticated and deadly enemy that is constantly trying to change and adapt, and that moves with great speed when they need to. We must move --

Q -- give us an indication of how often this power is used?

MR. McCLELLAN: We must move with great speed to stay ahead of them.

Q You don't want to give us an indication of how often this power is used, and you don't want to give us an indication of the size of the potential threat in this country>

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think, again, the Attorney General and General Hayden talked a little bit about this yesterday, but I talked about the nature of this authorization and the scope of it, and I talked about the safeguards and oversight that are in place. This is very carefully reviewed every 45 days and it --

Q I really don't need you to go there.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, no, but this goes to your question. It is limited to people who have -- one of the parties to the communication have a clear connection to al Qaeda or terrorist organizations, and one of the parties is operating outside of the United States. I think that's important for people to know, because there's been some suggestions that it's spying inside the U.S. That's not the case.

Q I'll stipulate that. But it is limited to that situation, are we to presume, then, that there are in excess of tens of thousands of al Qaeda agents in this country, because it's been used that many times?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm not confirming or denying those numbers. I don't think anyone has done that publicly, so I'm not going to get into a discussion of that nature. But what I will reiterate is that this is very limited and targeted, and that you have to have a clear connection to al Qaeda or a related terrorist organization. And it's the career intelligence officials at the NSA who are making these decisions. These people receive extensive training in acting consistent with what the authorization provides. And that's important for the American people to know. It's important for them to know the parameters of this is very limited in nature.

Q Is it important for them to know the scope of the threat you perceive?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the American people understand that we are in a different kind of war, and understand that we face a new kind of threat from an enemy that changes and adapts, and that getting into talking about some of these operational details endangers their national security, puts us at greater risk.

Intelligence is vital to winning the war on terrorism. Intelligence is vital to winning any war. And this is signals intelligence that we're talking about. It is critical that we have that information to be able to stop attacks from happening before it's too late.

Q Scott, in April of 2004, President Bush delivered remarks on the Patriot Act, and he said at that time, "any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it require -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so." Was the President being completely forthcoming when he made that statement?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think he was talking about in the context of the Patriot Act.

Q And in terms of the American people, though, when he says "nothing has changed" --

MR. McCLELLAN: I would have to look back at the remarks there, but you're clearly talking about it in the context, as you pointed out, of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act is another vital tool. That's why the Senate needs to move forward and get that reauthorized now. We cannot let that expire -- not for a single moment, because the terrorist threat is not going to expire. Those tools have helped us disrupt plots and prevent attacks and break up terrorist cells. We need those tools for our law enforcement and intelligence community. And we urge the Senate to stop the delaying tactics by the minority of senators, to stop their delaying tactics, to stop filibustering, stop blocking this legislation and get it passed.

Q So you don't see it as misleading in any way when the President says, "nothing has changed"?

MR. McCLELLAN: You're asking me to look back at something that is in relation to the Patriot Act. And it's in relation to the Patriot Act --

Q But he's talking about wiretaps --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and I'll be glad to take a look at his comments. I think you're taking them out -- I think the suggestion that you're making, I reject that suggestion. And I'll be glad to take a look at those comments.

Is Killing People the same as Liberating People?

Check out this exchange between Scotty McMessage McClellan and Helen Thomas (I love her, in case you didn't know already). I haven't seen any video of this particular briefing, but it reads as if Scotty blew a gasket on this one. Helen does have a point - and of course, Scotty's got the usual rhetorical spew and spin:
Q The President has publicly acknowledged that we went to war under false information, mistaken information. Why does he insist on staying there if we were there falsely, and continue to kill Iraqis?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, maybe you missed some of his recent speeches and his remarks, but the President said it was the right decision to remove Saddam Hussein and his regime from power --

Q And a right decision to move in and to tell the people, the American people, that it was all a mistake, and stay there?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think he said that. He said that Saddam Hussein was a destabilizing force in a dangerous region of the world --

Q That isn't true. We had a choke-hold on him.

MR. McCLELLAN: It is true. He was a threat. And the threat has been removed.

Q We had sanctions, we had satellites, we were bombing.

MR. McCLELLAN: Let's talk about why it's so important, what we're working to accomplish in Iraq --

Q I want to know why we're still there killing people, when we went in by mistake.

MR. McCLELLAN: We are liberating people and freeing people to live in a democracy. And why we're still there --

Q Do you think we're spreading democracy when you spy and put out disinformation and do all the things that -- secret prisons, and torture?

MR. McCLELLAN: I reject your characterizations wholly. I reject your characterizations wholly. The United States is helping to advance freedom in a dangerous region of the world.

Q -- recognize this kind of --

MR. McCLELLAN: For too long we thought we had stability by ignoring freedom in the Middle East. Well, we showed -- we saw on September 11th --

Q -- 30,000 plus?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Helen, we can have a debate, or you can let me respond to your questions. I think this is an important subject for the American people to talk about. By advancing freedom and democracy in the Middle East we're helping to protect our own security. It's a dangerous region --

Q By killing people in their own country?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I reject that. We're liberating and freeing people and we're targeting the enemy. We're killing the terrorists and we're going after the Saddam loyalists.

Q The President said 30,000, more or less.

MR. McCLELLAN: And you know who is responsible for most of that? It's the terrorists and the Saddam loyalists who want to turn back to the past.

Q We didn't kill anybody there?

MR. McCLELLAN: Our military goes out of the way to minimize civilian casualties. They target the enemy --

Q You admit they kill?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've got a lot of technology that we can use to target the enemy without going after -- without collateral damage of civilians. And that's what our military does.

Q Are you kidding?

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, I'm going to stand up for our military. Our military goes out of the way to protect civilians. In fact --

Q Fallujah, we didn't kill any civilians?

MR. McCLELLAN: We freed some 25 million people in Iraq that were living under a brutal regime.

Go ahead.

Was GW a Bully?

I don't know about GW - he could have been a class A wuss. But the Big Dick Cheney was no doubt a bully in school. I found this nicely written paragraph in the Chronicle of Higher Education's 16 Dec 2005 issue (article by W.A. Pannapacker):
In my own memory, the difficulty of school was never the work; it was surviving the day without being victimized by students whose violence was beyond the capacity or desire of adults to control. My spouse remembers the cruelty of girls in cliques, who can be even more cunning at the infliction of pain and permanent emotional scarring than any of the boys who sometimes sent me home with torn clothes and a bloody nose.
The article is about home schooling, but I thought it was a salient paragraph that demonstrates how folks learn to opperate and survive early on in their lives. Perot may have been correct calling the Whitehouse a "bully pulpit." Indeed, lately we see that the Shrub is feeling rather Almighty.

Sounds Intelligent

Looks like one Judge at least has the balls to quash these nutty "chrisitan activist"school boards:
A federal judge on Tuesday banned the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution by Pennsylvania's Dover Area School District, saying the practice violated the constitutional ban on teaching religion in public schools...

...Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in a public school classroom," Jones wrote in a 139-page opinion.

The school district was sued by a group of 11 parents who claimed teaching intelligent design was unconstitutional and unscientific and had no place in high school biology classrooms.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The President Has Cancled Christmas, Hasn't He?

Listen to this last sentence in W's briefing from today and ask yourself why the Rev. Falwell has not sicced his christian warrior laywers on the whitehouse?
Thank you all for coming, and happy holidays to you. Appreciate it.

Freedom Spreading

When was the last case of freedom spreading by osmosis?
And what you're seeing now is an historic moment, because I believe democracies will spread. I believe when people get the taste for freedom or see a neighbor with a taste for freedom, they will demand the same thing, because I believe in the universality of freedom. I believe everybody has the desire to be free. I recognize some don't believe that, which basically condemns some to tyranny. I strongly believe that deep in everybody's soul is the desire to live in liberty, and if given a chance, they will choose that path. And it's not easy to do that. The other day, I gave a speech and talked about how our road to our Constitution, which got amended shortly after it was approved, was pretty bumpy. We tried the Articles of Confederation. It didn't work. There was a lot of, kind of, civil unrest. But, nevertheless, deep in the soul is the desire to live in liberty, people -- make the -- have got the patience and the steadfastness to achieve that objective. And that is what we're seeing in Iraq.
Now Correct me if I am wrong, but hoping and believing that democracies will spread to Iraq's neigbors is a bit fanciful a notion. Most freedom is fought for and paid for in blood spilled. It's expensive and does not seep across national boundaries. So, why does W continue this line of argument to justify his little capitalistic endeavor to fatten his buddies wallets? This notion of "spreading freedom" is really out of joint with the realities of hard fought democracy.

"Let Me Give You An Example"

The boys and girls of the W, Rove and Co have been trying so darned hard at trying to link Saddam and OBL that they can't separate the two in their own minds even though the American people are not so foolish that they believe them. Instead of an example that is powerful, W gives us a very revealing Freudian slip:
Let me give you an example about my concerns about letting the enemy know what may or may not be happening. In the late 1990s, our government was following Osama bin Laden because he was using a certain type of telephone. And then the fact that we were following Osama bin Laden because he was using a certain type of telephone made it into the press as the result of a leak. And guess what happened? Saddam -- Osama bin Laden changed his behavior. He began to change how he communicated.

Thorough Review of The Program

If the President is using the same level of standards for intelligence and oversight of the spying program as he did on the intelligence to invade Iraq, we are doomed. Does anyone believe when W says he is conducting a thorough review of the spying program, that it is more than just he and his close circle of sycophants saying, "hey this looks good to me?"
So, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, I authorized the interception of international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. This program is carefully reviewed approximately every 45 days to ensure it is being used properly. Leaders in the United States Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this program. And it has been effective in disrupting the enemy, while safeguarding our civil liberties.

This program has targeted those with known links to al Qaeda. I've reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for so long as our nation is -- for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill American citizens...

...Q Thank you, Mr. President. Getting back to the domestic spying issue for a moment. According to FISA's own records, it's received nearly 19,000 requests for wiretaps or search warrants since 1979, rejected just five of them. It also operates in secret, so security shouldn't be a concern, and it can be applied retroactively. Given such a powerful tool of law enforcement is at your disposal, sir, why did you see fit to sidetrack that process?

THE PRESIDENT: We used the process to monitor. But also, this is a different -- a different era, a different war, Stretch. So what we're -- people are changing phone numbers and phone calls, and they're moving quick. And we've got to be able to detect and prevent. I keep saying that, but this is a -- it requires quick action.

And without revealing the operating details of our program, I just want to assure the American people that, one, I've got the authority to do this; two, it is a necessary part of my job to protect you; and, three, we're guarding your civil liberties. And we're guarding the civil liberties by monitoring the program on a regular basis, by having the folks at NSA, the legal team, as well as the inspector general, monitor the program, and we're briefing Congress. This is a part of our effort to protect the American people. The American people expect us to protect them and protect their civil liberties. I'm going to do that. That's my job, and I'm going to continue doing my job.

Oh, so it looks like they are going to be continously violating the constitution as I don't see this threat deminishing at all. Just ask yourself how long Isreal has been dealing with terrorists as a means of understanding.

By show of hands, how many of you out there trust the president is "guarding" our civil liberties?

More "Oops, Sorry, Our Bad," From the W, Rove And Co.

If it wasn't bad enough that we invaded Iraq on faulty intelligence (or even doctored it up to make it look rational), they are now tapping people that have no links with terrorism whatsoever and they want us to bend over and take it up the ass - and like it too boot. "Oops, sorry our bad. We won't listen to your phone conversations any more?" As the reporter puts it in the tail end of this exchange, "You're never supposed to spy on Americans."
Have a look:
Q Al, you talk about the successes and the critical intercepts of the program. Have there also been cases in which after listening in or intercepting, you realize you had the wrong guy and you listened to what you shouldn't have?

GENERAL HAYDEN: That's why I mentioned earlier that the program is less intrusive. It deals only with international calls. The time period in which we would conduct our work is much shorter, in general, overall, than it would be under FISA. And one of the true purposes of this is to be very agile, as you described.

If this particular line of logic, this reasoning that took us to this place proves to be inaccurate, we move off of it right away.

Q Are there cases in which --

GENERAL HAYDEN: Yes, of course.

Q Can you give us some idea of percentage, or how often you get it right and how often you get it wrong?

GENERAL HAYDEN: No, it would be very -- no, I cannot, without getting into the operational details. I'm sorry.

Q But there are cases where you wind up listening in where you realize you shouldn't have?

GENERAL HAYDEN: There are cases like we do with regard to the global SIGIN system -- you have reasons to go after particular activities, particular communications. There's a logic; there is a standard as to why you would go after that, not just in a legal sense, which is very powerful, but in a practical sense. We can't waste resources on targets that simply don't provide valuable information. And when we decide that is the case -- and in this program, the standards, in terms of re-evaluating whether or not this coverage is worthwhile at all, are measured in days and weeks.

Q Would someone in a case in which you got it wrong have a cause of action against the government?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: That is something I'm not going to answer, Ken.

Q I wanted to ask you a question. Do you think the government has the right to break the law?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Absolutely not. I don't believe anyone is above the law.

Q You have stretched this resolution for war into giving you carte blanche to do anything you want to do.

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Well, one might make that same argument in connection with detention of American citizens, which is far more intrusive than listening into a conversation. There may be some members of Congress who might say, we never --

Q That's your interpretation. That isn't Congress' interpretation.

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Well, I'm just giving you the analysis --

Q You're never supposed to spy on Americans.

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: I'm just giving the analysis used by Justice O'Connor -- and she said clearly and unmistakenly the Congress authorized the President of the United States to detain an American citizen, even though the authorization to use force never mentions the word "detention" --

Q -- into wiretapping everybody and listening in on --

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: This is not about wiretapping everyone. This is a very concentrated, very limited program focused at gaining information about our enemy.

Q Now that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, do you expect your legal analysis to be tested in the courts?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: I'm not going to, you know, try to guess as to what's going to happen about that. We're going to continue to try to educate the American people and the American Congress about what we're doing and the basis -- why we believe that the President has the authority to engage in this kind of conduct.

Q Because there are some very smart legal minds who clearly think a law has been broken here.

That Confirms It

Another great question recieves another line of shit. This fits right in the ball park with the most innane comments by a W, Rove and Co officials in a while:
Q General Hayden, I know you're not going to talk about specifics about that, and you say it's been successful. But would it have been as successful -- can you unequivocally say that something has been stopped or there was an imminent attack or you got information through this that you could not have gotten through going to the court?

GENERAL HAYDEN: I can say unequivocally, all right, that we have got information through this program that would not otherwise have been available.

Well, no shit. If you were not violating our rights to get the info, you wouldn't have gotten it. This is just as good as shoveling standard rhetorical crap the W, Rove and Co feeds us on a regular basis (e.g. we have saved lives by invading Iraq). You are still breaking the law to gather said information, and even if you provided proof that it did some good, it's still breaking our Constitution to do it.

In the end, no matter how much good they profess to do, fornicating with the constitution to do it can't be good. This is SOP for the W, Rove and Co (and the way our MBA president runs most of his businesses). The ROI is never worth the initial outlay. We should have prepared or known better by examining W past performance running private organizations. Voters never learn lessons the easy way, now do they - particularly when they are blinded by party loyalty.

Bending the Law to Protect the President

So, now the W, Rove and Co has trotted out their Attorney General to give us the legal wrangle as to why they feel they are above the Constitution. If you ask me, it looks as if they are playing a standard legal trick: If your client broke the law, find any and all case precedent that suggests -however remotely - that an exception can be made for you client. It still doesn't change the fact that the W, Rove and Co are violating our Constitutional Rights. And that, my friends, is against the law - no matter how you bend it to atone for your sins. Here's what the General said verbatim:
Now, in terms of legal authorities, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides -- requires a court order before engaging in this kind of surveillance that I've just discussed and the President announced on Saturday, unless there is somehow -- there is -- unless otherwise authorized by statute or by Congress. That's what the law requires. Our position is, is that the authorization to use force, which was passed by the Congress in the days following September 11th, constitutes that other authorization, that other statute by Congress, to engage in this kind of signals intelligence.

Now, that -- one might argue, now, wait a minute, there's nothing in the authorization to use force that specifically mentions electronic surveillance. Let me take you back to a case that the Supreme Court reviewed this past -- in 2004, the Hamdi decision. As you remember, in that case, Mr. Hamdi was a U.S. citizen who was contesting his detention by the United States government. What he said was that there is a statute, he said, that specifically prohibits the detention of American citizens without permission, an act by Congress -- and he's right, 18 USC 4001a requires that the United States government cannot detain an American citizen except by an act of Congress.

We took the position -- the United States government took the position that Congress had authorized that detention in the authorization to use force, even though the authorization to use force never mentions the word "detention." And the Supreme Court, a plurality written by Justice O'Connor agreed. She said, it was clear and unmistakable that the Congress had authorized the detention of an American citizen captured on the battlefield as an enemy combatant for the remainder -- the duration of the hostilities. So even though the authorization to use force did not mention the word, "detention," she felt that detention of enemy soldiers captured on the battlefield was a fundamental incident of waging war, and therefore, had been authorized by Congress when they used the words, "authorize the President to use all necessary and appropriate force."

For the same reason, we believe signals intelligence is even more a fundamental incident of war, and we believe has been authorized by the Congress. And even though signals intelligence is not mentioned in the authorization to use force, we believe that the Court would apply the same reasoning to recognize the authorization by Congress to engage in this kind of electronic surveillance.

Coincidentially, it looks as if they W is trying to use some kind of Jedi Mind Trick to make us think he's in the right. The trouble is, he believes he is right. Have a look:

Now, having suggested this idea, I then, obviously, went to the question, is it legal to do so? I am -- I swore to uphold the laws. Do I have the legal authority to do this? And the answer is, absolutely. As I mentioned in my remarks, the legal authority is derived from the Constitution, as well as the authorization of force by the United States Congress.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

How Much Weight Should One Letter Carry

The W, Rove and Co is getting a lot of political milage out of the supposed letter from Zawahiri to Zarqawi. Should we trust these guys that such a letter exists - like WMD or Yellow Cake in Africa?
And recently we got our hands on a message from bin Laden's deputy, Zawahiri, sent to Zarqawi. The letter makes clear that Iraq is part of a larger plan of imposing Islamic radicalism across the broader Middle East, making Iraq a terrorist haven and a staging ground for attacks against other nations. Zawahiri also expresses the view that America can made to run again. But we're giving him an education. We're in this fight to win. These colors don't run.
So, was this the front on the war on terror before we made it so? Well, we know that the colors don't run, but they can be put into hock so that future generations will be paying for the mistakes of the W, Rove and Co.

Left Behind

Have a gander at this booklet. Found it at Grumpy Old Man's location:
...The reality gap between fundamentalist and urban liberals is unfathomable. Liberal observers watching from a safe distance in New York or San Francisco conclude it is pure stupidity that caused millions of Americans to continue to support of the Bush junta in the face of overwhelming evidence of lies, deceit and contempt for the constituttion, even as the fat cats raided their retirements and picked their pockets at every turn. Others think it is just plain meanness that attracted them to Bush. And so do I sometimes...that poisonous toad Karl Rove being their chief deity of meanness for meanness sake.

40 Santas on Public Transit

My spouse and I were taking public transit to go see Billy Crystal's 700 Sunday's last night. When, out on the street there arose such a clatter, slightly over 40 Santas - and one Hanukkah Claus (in blue suit, shall and yarmulka too boot) - jumped on our train.

When queried, they were reluctant to say, what's up with all the folks in red suits? One offered a explanation, "It's Christmas," and another offered me a shot. What's in that flask I ask, Santa says, "Whiskey, Of Course!" And another rendition of Jingle Bells shook our train on down the track.

Turns out, these Santa shenanigans happened all about the globe on the same eve. Nothing like a little bit of Santarchy to get you in the Holiday Spirit.

Blog on all, blog on. Oh, and HO, HO, HO - Truth is more entertaining than fiction, if not stranger than most.

Longer Than Two Weeks

"The terrorist threat to our country will not expire in two weeks."PRESIDENT BUSH, referring to the deadline when key provisions of the USA Patriot Act will end.
Unfortunately, so too will much of the affects of the W, Rove and Co administration. With slightly over three years left to dig, how large a hole in the constitution - and by proxy our civil liberties - do you think they can make? With the National Debt growing, how long do you want to be paying back the Chinese for the loan that the W, Rove and Co are hocking our stars and stripes?

Belly up to the bar conservatives, it's time for you to start acting like real conservatives.

Is it me or has the W, Rove and Co used terrorism and the threat of terrorist acts to their political advantage? For that I say, shame on them. It is always easier to generate more fear and terror than to solve problems.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Right Winger's Gift Trove

Feeling the pinch of shopping for so many of your rightwinger friends? Here's a location I found surfing BE that may just suit all your holiday shopping needs.

Blog on friends.

What About Karl, Mr. President?

Interestingly, I have to agree with the President on at least one point of his RARE Saturday LIVE radio show (which incidentially the president must be feeling the pressure as he felt the need to conduct work on the weekend - oh, fear not, he has enough back logged vacation days that he owes us a weekend day or two, no?). Read on:
This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security. Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends and allies. Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country(emphasis added).
Well, indeed Mr. President, if revealing classified information is such a problem, why have we not seen more heads roll out of the Whitehouse and the exclusive trusted crease of folks that grease the political skids for you...and in particular, the ones that revealed the identity of Valarie Plame? The hypocrisy is thicker than oil that may or may not be under the ANWAR. If you really believed your own rhetoric, wouldn't there have been swifter action beyond the indictment of Scooter? Could Novak had been right all along - you do know who the leak is, but you are too much of a spineless wimp to do anything about it?

No Harm Done

David Letterman and his team of writers are very witty. I was finally sitting down to watch a tivo'ed segment last eve (from Thursday night) and he had me rolling in the living room. Here's what Dave had to say about the fact that W admitted the intelligence was wrong (paraphrased):
Well, we now know that the president admits the intelligence used to make the decision to invade Iraq was wrong. Just plain wrong. That is astounding. This is unprecidented in the history of the United States (dramatic pause)

...Well, no harm done.
Without being laced with the truth, the sarcasm wouldn't be as funny, no?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Now We Know - It's Life over Liberty in W's Book.

Actually, now we know the answer to a question I posed earlier today - as of at least 6:46 - how W would answer it - life over liberty - which I would venture to say is rather silly since liberty lasts (or should) over generations and life is fleeting and temporary. Instead of choosing wisely, the President has sacrificed one more liberty in his quest to turn our nation into a highly controled and tightly reigned in community of sycophants - Where GOP values are the only way, and every way else is against the law.

President Bush signed a secret order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in the United States, despite previous legal prohibitions against such domestic spying, sources with knowledge of the program said last night.

This is highly illegal and out right unconstitutional. Where's the outrage by the right? Shouldn't W be arrested or is he above the law? Sadly, there is no garuntee that his actions will preserve life, no matter how many times he suggest that it does or that lives would have been saved.

Certainly, no one should W's premise becuase there is no way to know that the same number of lives would have been saved by simply doing nothing since there is no control group. And in the end, just like the "war on drugs" has not stopped the illegal use of drugs, perhaps the "war on terror" will never stop terror.

Life Versus Liberty: Subtitle - Another Great Question Gets No Answer

Take a gander at this exchange and tell us what you think should be the answer to the question: Which is more important, life or liberty? I think it's a good one and as usual Scotty McMessage McClellan doesn't answer it, but he does waver a bit in his reply - leaving it open as to what the answer would be if the President were forced to answer it:
Q Scott, what you have said in response to the Times story is that the President's highest priorities are protecting American life and preserving civil liberties. As we see in the Patriot Act fight, unfortunately, sometimes those two things conflict. Which is a higher priority for the President?

MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree with your characterization of the Patriot Act, because the Inspector General at the Department of Justice has actually looked into how the Patriot Act has been carried out, and they have found no verified instances of abuse.

Q But the questions in Congress are about --

MR. McCLELLAN: But you're assuming that there are problems with it, and they have oversight measures in place. And that's what the conference committee worked on. They came to an agreement on protecting American civil liberties. They put in additional protections when it comes to protecting civil liberties and safeguarding those civil liberties.

Q But in a situation where those two priorities might conflict, which one is a higher --

MR. McCLELLAN: We can do both. They're both priorities. And we're committed to meeting both. And let me point out that in the Patriot Act that, again, not a single verified abuse of any provision has been identified, and the Inspector General has looked into that a number of times.

But there are literally dozens of additional safeguards that were put in place in the reauthorization bill to protect Americans' privacy and their civil liberties. It puts in place four-year sunsets on three of the provisions that relate to these issues. And there are a number of additional steps that are in there. I would encourage you to go and look at that.

Q I understand that. But I don't see how you can say that these two priorities at times won't conflict. I can see a situation where --

MR. McCLELLAN: You're absolutely right. You're absolutely right. These are difficult issues to address.

Q Which would be the President's priority, protecting life or protecting the civil liberties?

MR. McCLELLAN: Both. We think we can do both and we have done both. And --

Q Do you think they never conflict?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think these are difficult issues that you have to address in a post-September 11th world. Some people go back to a post-9/11 [sic] mind-set now that we're four years after the attacks of September 11th. The President said he would never forget what happened on September 11th. We are going to do everything within our power to prevent something like that from happening again.

The terrorists are determined to strike us. They are dangerous and they are deadly and they are sophisticated. They are going to continue to try to strike the American people here at home. That's why we're taking the fight to them abroad; that's why we're also working to advance freedom in the center of a dangerous region of the world. And that will inspire other reformers in the broader Middle East and help bring about real change in a dangerous part of the world. And so --

Q Do you think those priorities never conflict with each other?

MR. McCLELLAN: I didn't say that. In fact, I said that these are difficult issues that you have to work to address and we believe we have.

Q When they do conflict, which one takes priority?

MR. McCLELLAN: They're both priorities. And we can meet both.

Q But Scott, the administration did not suggest that life is perhaps more important than liberty, is the question that's being driven at here.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, no, I think the question is going to --

Q If there is a conflict and you can't do both, when push comes to shove, the question is, which is more important: life or liberty?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, you're asking me, one -- you're asking me, one, to get into hypothetical situations. But what the President has made clear is that we abide by our values, we abide by our laws, and we abide by our treaty obligations. He's made that clear in all that we do. We have a responsibility to protect the American people. And the issue we're getting in today is talking about intelligence. We have made a number of improvements relating to our intelligence in the aftermath of September 11th so that we can connect the dots and prevent attacks from happening -- go after and disrupt plots from happening in the first place.

And the point Ken gets to goes to the law. And our law has protections in place when it comes to -- and our Constitution when it comes to people's civil liberties, and when it comes to privacy. And the point I'm making to you is that those are both priorities to the President, and we can meet both. Now there may be difficult issues that you have to work to address when you're trying to fight a different kind of war and when you're trying to go about preventing attacks from happening here in the homeland.

And I'll go back. The Patriot Act helped us break down a wall that existed between law enforcement and intelligence so that they could share vital information to keep the American people safe. That's why it's so critical that Congress moves forward on this act.

But no one's saying these aren't difficult issues to work to address. But that's why there's oversight in place for these kind of matters. Some people suggest that the President is just going off and doing certain things. Well, there's congressional oversight in place, there's other oversight in place, there's our Constitution, there's the laws. And we abide by them.

Q Thank you.

MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you. And have a good weekend.

END 1:00 P.M. EST

Which is Worse?

Does Scotty really think we buy this line they are feeding us about the President not getting better intelligence than congress? I'm not. Are you?
Q Scott, do you have a reaction to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service's study that rejects the President's frequent assertions that the Congress had access to the same intelligence -- pre-war intelligence that he had? Apparently in this report it says Congress was routinely denied access to intelligence sources, collection, analysis methods, raw, lightly-evaluated intelligence, PDBs.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think it's an accurate reflection.

Q That Congress does not get the same intelligence the President gets.

MR. McCLELLAN: We provide the Congress a lot of intelligence information, and they did have access to the same intelligence that we saw prior to making the decision to go into Iraq. And some have chosen to play politics with that now, people that had previously supported the efforts to go in there, and saw the same intelligence, the intelligence that other agencies around the world used. And I saw there was a reference to the Presidential Daily Brief, where the Silberman-Robb Commission already addressed that issue, and said that if anything, the Presidential Daily Brief was less nuanced than the intelligence that members of Congress saw and that we saw, as well.

Which is worse, having congress acting on the same faulty intelligence, or a President who recieves updates in the form of Daily Briefs that are less nuanced than what Congress sees?

Is this more of Scotty playing the blame game here or what? Zoikes, his blame finger is working very hard to spread the egg around on all the faces.

The Constitution Is A Rock for You and Me

But for the President, it seems as thought it is rather arbitrary as to whether he should be following the spirit or the letter of the law. This is why it is important to have checks and balances that work.

Unfortunately, when there are secret orders and initiatives dished out by W like white on rice, we will never know what is really going on or how far our civil liberties have been eroded or corroded by the W, Rove and Co. So, if there can be secret laws and secret orders, who thinks it wasn't just a great political move to sign off on the McCain anti-torture amendments? Who cares if there's a law, if they want to do it they can, and I am certain, they will. I don't trust 'em, not one iota:
Q Scott, Senator Specter says that the Judiciary Committee is going to make it a high priority to look into this report that the President authorized the NSA to eavesdrop without warrant on people in the United States. And he says that there is no doubt that this is inappropriate. How do you respond to his characterization of what happened?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we have a responsibility to work with Congress to do all we can, within the law, to protect the American people. And that means preventing attacks and saving lives. And the President made a commitment that he would do everything within his power and within the law to prevent attacks and save lives. He renewed that commitment more than ever after September 11th. He also made a commitment that we would remain firmly committed to protecting the civil liberties of Americans and upholding our Constitution. He is doing both.

We are continuing to do all we can to save lives. That is the President's number one priority. We are sitting here talking about waging the war on terrorism. And the President is going to continue to act to protect the American people, but he'll do so within our laws. And in terms of these issues, there is congressional oversight of intelligence activities, and we will continue to work with members of Congress on those matters.

Q Will the Judiciary Committee be part of that oversight, or is that just the Intelligence Committees?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'd just say we would continue to work with members of Congress on these matters. This is about protecting the American people.

Q Will you cooperate with Senator Specter as the Judiciary Committee looks into this?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not sure there's any request that's been made of us at this point.

Q Is it your position that legal authority is required --

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry should turn off his phone.

Q -- for any surveillance of U.S. citizens by the NSA?

MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things. One, I'm aware of the reports that were in the papers this morning.

Q I hope so.

MR. McCLELLAN: This relates to intelligence activities and ongoing intelligence operations that are aimed at saving lives. And there's a reason why we don't get into discussing ongoing intelligence activities, because it could compromise our efforts to prevent attacks from happening. We are doing all we can to disrupt plots and prevent attacks from happening. And it could telegraph to the enemy what we are doing. The enemy wants to know exactly what we are doing to go after them and prevent attacks from happening. And we don't want to do anything to compromise sources and methods.

Q Right, but all I asked you was whether it's your position that it always requires a court order for surveillance of U.S. citizens.

MR. McCLELLAN: What it's getting into -- again, let me reiterate. The President is firmly committed to upholding our Constitution and protecting people's civil liberties. That is something he has always kept in mind as we have moved forward from the attacks of September 11th, to do everything within our power to prevent attacks from happening. It's very important to him. We are meeting both those priorities. Those are two important priorities.

Now in terms of talking about the National Security Agency or matters like that, that would be getting into talking about ongoing intelligence activities. And they're classified for a reason, because they go to the issue of sources and methods and protecting the American people. And because they're classified, I'm not able to get into discussing those issues from this podium.

Q Let me follow with one other question. Is it your position that the congressional authorization for war against al Qaeda in 2001 allows the President to take some steps to collect intelligence?

MR. McCLELLAN: I just told you why I'm not going to get into discussing ongoing intelligence activities.

Q You mean you cannot say whether it's lawful to spy on Americans or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: We have a Constitution and we have laws.

Q We're not asking for any details. We're asking you --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I'm making a broad statement to let you know that we --

Q It is broad. Is it legal to spy on Americans?

MR. McCLELLAN: We have a Constitution and we have laws in place, and we follow those --

Q You say you are abiding by the law?

MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely. And there's congressional oversight of intelligence activities, there's other oversight of intelligence activities.

Q Why do you have to have secret orders then?

MR. McCLELLAN: Does anybody have a question? Go ahead.

Q And how many secret orders have been issued by this President?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the American people appreciate what we do to work within the law to prevent attacks from happening. The Patriot Act is being debated right now.

Q It's never been within the law to spy on Americans.

MR. McCLELLAN: The Patriot Act is something that members of the Senate are debating right now. The House has already acted on it. And the House, in a strong bipartisan fashion, renewed these vital tools for our law enforcement intelligence officers to protect the American people. This law has helped prevent attacks from happening by breaking up terrorist cells in parts of the United States.

And while the Senate didn't pass the vote that they were looking to do right now, their -- the leadership is committed to moving forward on this. They're still in -- there's some more time this year. We urge them to get this done now and pass that legislation. The President has made it very clear that he is not interested in signing any short-term renewal. The terrorist threats will not expire at the end of this year. They won't expire in three months. We need to move forward and pass this critical legislation.

Carl, do you have something?

Oh, on another note, I appreciate that Mr. McClellan has every right to speak for the President and the W, Rove and Co on the whole for that mattter. Hell, he gets buckets of taxpayer dollars in remuneration to do just that. But, I really do get pissed off when he suggests he can speak for the whole of the American People. Don't you?