Tuesday, January 31, 2006

P.S. Don't Bleepin' Lie To Oprah, However

What will it take for Oprah to take the W, Rove and Co. to task like Frey?

Alberto's Got Some 'Splainin' Ta Do

Well, if you have intimate knowledge of a "top secret" spying program and then lie to the Senate during your confirmation when you suggest you cannot respond to hypotheticals, shouldn't you be confronted for lying in retrospect?

Mr. Gonzales seems to forget that it isn't his job to protect the president any more, but to protect the American people - proving once again, the W, Rove and Co is missusing American Taxpayer dollars.
In a letter to the attorney general yesterday, Feingold demanded to know why Gonzales dismissed the senator's question about warrantless eavesdropping as a "hypothetical situation" during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January 2005. At the hearing, Feingold asked Gonzales where the president's authority ends and whether Gonzales believed the president could, for example, act in contravention of existing criminal laws and spy on U.S. citizens without a warrant.

Gonzales said that it was impossible to answer such a hypothetical question but that it was "not the policy or the agenda of this president" to authorize actions that conflict with existing law. He added that he would hope to alert Congress if the president ever chose to authorize warrantless surveillance, according to a transcript of the hearing.

The Pugilists

I just managed to see the text of OBL's number 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahri, shaking his war-finger at the Shrubster and got to thinking on my AM run.
In a new video aired Monday, al-Qaida's No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri mocked President Bush as a "failure" in the war on terror, called him a "butcher" for killing innocent Pakistanis in a miscarried airstrike and chastised the United States for rejecting Osama bin Laden's offer of a truce...

...He said the airstrike in Pakistan by an unmanned Predator craft targeted himself and four of his "brothers" in al-Qaida. Instead, he said, it killed 18 civilians — "men, women, and children" — and he called Bush "the butcher of Washington." "

Bush, you are not only defeated and a liar, but, with God's help and might, a failure. You are a curse on your own nation and you have brought and will bring them only catastrophes and tragedies," he said.

"Bush, do you know where I am? I am among the Muslim masses, enjoying God's blessing of their support, care, generosity and protection," al-Zawahri said.
If all they want is the "Butcher of Washington," and then they would stop their terrorist attacks, why don't we hand the beast over?

So, today's question for bloggers is simple. Let's call it Windspike's Speculative Ultimatum (oh, and spare me the discourse on not discussing hypotheticals. If we can invade Iraq on a hypothetical, we can certainly discuss them as we exercise our First Amendment Right):
1) If the terrorists were to guarantee no more attacks and to work for world peace if we simply handed George W. Bush over to them so they can bring him to their form of justice, would you?

2) That is, we see that al-Zawahri is able to seek refuge and safe harbor among the common Muslim people. If Shrub came to you for safe haven and harbor from those who seek to bring him to justice (yes, I know theirs is a different definition) would you house Shrub or hand him over if it meant that you would be guaranteed peace?

Take A Right, Past the Hall of Justice, Straight Down the Judicial Toilet

So much for the rights of women. Looks like the buggers are about to recieve their own brand of "Activist" judge.
Judge Alito replaces Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Justice O'Connor was the first woman ever to sit on the Supreme Court, and she is one of the most admired Americans of our time, or any time. Our Nation is grateful to Justice O'Connor for her extraordinary and dedicated public service, and Laura and I wish her and John all the best.
It doesn't seem to me like a fair and equitable trade to me. We loose Sandra D. and get the right wing wrapped in the flag? Any one taking bets on how long before a case trickles up to test Roe V. Wade? No doubt, the reichwingers already have a case ready to roll.

Corretta Scott King and The President

Corretta Scott King died yesterday. It is a great loss for our society.

The President issued a statement. Too bad he didn't take advantage of the MLK,Jr. Holiday to actual meet with the woman before she passed. Makes me think that he doesn't really hold dear the words his staff write for him. For me, these words ring very hollow and shallow:
Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Coretta Scott King. Mrs. King was a remarkable and courageous woman, and a great civil rights leader. She carried on the legacy of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including through her extraordinary work at the King Center. Mrs. King's lasting contributions to freedom and equality have made America a better and more compassionate nation. Laura and I were fortunate to have known Mrs. King, and we will always treasure the time we spent with her. We send our condolences and prayers to the entire King family.

Tax Cuts Are Great

By the way, while the shrubster advocates the trimming of fantatstically succesful programs that pomote the greater good this evening, I have one question that may be salient. Does Larry Ellison need another tax break more than the poor need Medicare and Medicade ?
According to documents unsealed by a judge in the shareholder lawsuit, Ellison habitually pushes his credit limit of more than a billion dollars to its maximum to finance his yachts and homes. And that's not even counting some $20 million a year he burns through in miscellaneous lifestyle expenses.

Of course, there's no question that Ellison, 62, is good for the loans. Forbes' famous list of wealthy people says the maverick entrepreneur is the nation's fifth richest individual, worth $17 billion, mostly in Oracle stock. Still, Ellison's spending and his reluctance to part with Oracle shares have caused his financial adviser fits of anxiety, the documents show.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Yes, Let's Look at the Facts

Here's a good question at today's press briefing amidst the stumping that Scotty was doing to prop up the president in advance of his SOTU:
Q According to data currently available at the Department of Homeland Security Funded Terrorism Knowledge Base, the incidents of terrorism increased markedly in 2005: worldwide attacks were up 51 percent from the year before, and the number of people killed in those attacks is up 36 percent; since the year 2000, attacks are up 250 percent, and deaths are up 550 percent. How do you reconcile those numbers with your claim that you're winning the war on terrorism and putting terrorists out of business?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, just look at the facts. If you look at the facts, many of al Qaeda's known leadership have been put out of business. They've been brought to justice. They've either been captured or killed. No longer is America waiting and responding. We're on the offense; we're taking the fight to the enemy. We are engaged in a war on terrorism. The enemies recognize how high the stakes are. And one thing the President will talk about, continue to talk about tomorrow night and in the coming weeks, is that we continue to face a serious threat. This is a deadly and determined enemy. But the difference is now that we've got them on the run, we've got them playing defense, we're taking the fight to them. And all of us in the international community must continue to work together.

We've been fortunate that we haven't been hit again since the attacks of September 11th. And that's in no small part because of the great work of our men and women in uniform abroad, and because of the great work of our intelligence community, and the great work of our homeland security officials here at home who have worked together using vital tools, like the Patriot Act and other tools, to help disrupt plots and disrupt attacks. And there's great progress being made.

But the President made it clear after September 11th that this was going to be a long war, but he's going to continue acting and leading and doing everything in his power to win that war so long as he is in office. And we also have to work to continue to advance freedom. And 2006 was a year of progress when it came to advancing freedom around the world. The Middle East is a dangerous, troubled region, and that's why it's important we continue to support the advance of democracy throughout that region.

So, if we don't get hit here, the war on terror is working wonders, eh? Look at the facts. Indeed we shall.

I Correct You

Well, here's some bonafide arrogance on the part of Scotty. Have a gander:
Q Let me ask you a question about elevating the tone, because, obviously, a lot of Americans are familiar with this talk from the President, even though it didn't really come to pass after he was elected in 2000. The President has talked a lot recently about, in essence, trying to set the terms for how his critics should disagree with him on Iraq, what the responsible way is to do it and what the irresponsible way is to do it. So could you be a little bit more specific about what he thinks he can do to elevate the tone?

MR. McCLELLAN: Just exactly what he's been doing throughout his administration. This President has always worked, whether it was when he was governor of Texas or since he's been President of the United States, has always worked to reach out and elevate the discourse. If you look at his tone, this President has focused on how we can work together to get things done, and focused on what the American people expect us to do. And that's what -- and that's what he will continue to do.

Q And then also equated Congressman Murtha to Michael Moore, when he questioned whether troops should be withdrawn, is that the sort of elevation in tone you're talking about?

MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, we said that we have great respect for his service to the country.

Q You later said that.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, we said that at the time. I correct you.

Go ahead, Goyal.
If you are expecting the discourse to be elevated by Shrub in the SOTU tomorrow, and you are holding your breath, I hope you have your estate in order and funeral plans at the ready.

Here's more in Scotty's stumping for the SOTU about what they mean by "elevate the discourse." It looks a lot like, "there's trouble in town and so you need to change so we can fix this. I've done all I'm going to do"
Q You said the President is going to continue doing what he's doing in terms of elevating the tone in Washington. So to whom, exactly, is he referring?

MR. McCLELLAN: To elevating the tone?

Q Yes.

MR. McCLELLAN: All of us. Both parties, to work together to get things done for the American people. Q So everybody is kicking in the gutter, except him? (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: No, that's not what he said. That's what you said.

Q But he doesn't need to elevate his tone, so are there some who don't need to elevate their tone?

MR. McCLELLAN: He's going to continue to. I think we've seen that -- and it's one of the things he's talked about, Victoria. Maybe it's a surprise to you, but this town has become pretty bitter over the course of the last several years, not just when this President has been in office, but even before that. And this President, when he -- go back to his days as governor; he was able to reach out and work with Democrats and Republicans, alike, to get things done, and he was hoping we could have made more progress to elevate the tone in this city. But it requires both parties reaching out to one another.

The President has reached out. It requires others to reach back. And there are many people here in this town that would like to see that happen, many leaders that would like to see that happen. Unfortunately, the focus sometimes is too much on the partisan attacks and the bitter, negative tone. The President is going to continue to say, even though it's an election year, we've got to work together and elevate the tone and get things done.

Tomorrow Will Be National Screw The Poor Day

With the SOTU speechifying spin out of control, we see in Scotty's stumping for the prez that it turns out tomorrow will be national screw the poor day. Have a gander:
Q Is the President going to ask for permanent tax cuts when we have such deficits that are rising so incredibly?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, tax cuts are part of the solution. It's out of control spending that has been part of the problem that you bring up, and that's why the President has continued to lead and advocate spending restraint within the budget. And Congress has changed the path that our budget is heading on by moving forward on initiatives that he outlined to --

Q Taking it out on food stamps --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- address mandatory spending and reduce the growth of discretionary spending, and it's important that we continue moving in that direction. But we are a nation that has been at war. We are a nation that has had to address unanticipated challenges, like the recovery and rebuilding along the Gulf Coast. And, you bet, we're going to continue to meet the needs when it comes to winning the war and --

Q But why give permanent tax cuts to the richest people?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- we're going to meet the needs when it comes to the people of the Gulf Coast as they work to rebuild their lives and their communities. That is something the President is strongly committed to.

Now, in terms of keeping our economy growing, and keeping our budget on path to cut the deficit in half, we need to continue to keep that economy growing, we need to continue to exercise spending restraint. And tax relief has helped us lay the foundation of a strong economy. We're creating jobs -- 4.6 million new jobs created since May of 2003; 400,000 in just the last two months. It's because of the policies that we have pursued that our economy is growing.

And if you look back over the last few years -- and, Helen, I would encourage you to do this -- the revenues have come in much higher than anticipated. Many people said that we'd pass tax cuts and that it would have the opposite effect. Well, it didn't turn out that way. Tax cuts are good to keep our economy growing. It's important that we make the tax cuts permanent. You bet, the President is going to continue advocating for that. The worst thing we can do to our economy right now is raise taxes on working families and the American people. As I pointed out last week, it would be a $1.3 trillion tax hike on the American people and working families if we let those tax cuts expire.

Q You're contemplating $40 billion to $50 billion in cuts for food stamps, scholarship grants, everything that affects the poor.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I disagree with that. We're making sure that -- the President has talked about this on a number of occasions. The government has a responsibility to make sure that we are meeting the needs of our neediest Americans, and we're meeting the needs of people with disabilities, and we're meeting the needs of the elderly. That's why this President worked to pass Medicare reform. And now seniors are starting to realize significant savings on their prescription drug cost. And we will continue working to make sure that those priorities of the neediest Americans and our elderly are met.

What will we get? More leadership by faith instead of facts, I see. The days of "trust us and we will do right by you" are over for the W, Rove and Co. Just ask the folks trying to navigate successfully through their Medicare & Medicatebenefits.
Millions of low-income people would have to pay more for health care under a bill worked out by Congress, and some of them would forgo care or drop out of Medicaid because of the higher co-payments and premiums, the Congressional Budget Office says in a new report.

Republican Bias- Sub Title: The Academics Snap Back

Here's an interesting article to stimulate discussion - or at least to understand why republicans act the way they do. Certainly, it doesn't make their behavior more explainable but not more forgivable:
Studies presented at the conference, for example, produced evidence that emotions and implicit assumptions often influence why people choose their political affiliations, and that partisans stubbornly discount any information that challenges their preexisting beliefs...

...Another study presented at the conference, which was in Palm Springs, Calif., explored relationships between racial bias and political affiliation by analyzing self-reported beliefs, voting patterns and the results of psychological tests that measure implicit attitudes -- subtle stereotypes people hold about various groups.

That study found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did...

..."Obviously, such research does not speak at all to the question of the prejudice level of the president," said Banaji, "but it does show that George W. Bush is appealing as a leader to those Americans who harbor greater anti-black prejudice..."

..."If anyone in Washington is skeptical about these findings, they are in denial," he said. "We have 50 years of evidence that racial prejudice predicts voting. Republicans are supported by whites with prejudice against blacks. If people say, 'This takes me aback,' they are ignoring a huge volume of research."

Here's a Good Idea

Stanford, much as I hate to admit, is doing some good. Have a gander:
Stanford University has instituted a new policy that seeks to accommodate female graduate students who give birth by granting them up to six weeks of paid time off from their usual commitments to research and teaching.

The policy gives such students an "academic-accommodation period" of up to two consecutive academic quarters, in which they can postpone examinations, course assignments, and other course work. They will also receive an automatic extension of one academic quarter (with the possibility of extending that to three quarters) to complete major university or departmental requirements such as qualifying exams.

Next, to truly be progressive, they should grant similar, if not the same kind benefits to fathers. After all, aren't the fathers important to a new born's life?

Can You Figure Out What The President Is Saying Here?

Just when you think you have nothing to post on any given day, the President steps up to the podium. Again, I am left scratching my head wondering where the substance in the discourse lies. Can you tell me what he means here?
Tomorrow night I'm going to be speaking to the Congress, giving the country my State of the Union address. I can't tell you how upbeat I am about our future, so long as we're willing to lead.
So, basically, brace yourselves for a serious congressional love fest tomorrow evening while the repugs applaud their commander-in-theif while he blows some serious sunshine up our collective skirts.

Any time you hear the chorus chirp the words "visionary," I want you to think of a picture at Niel Shakespeare's location. Blog on All

More Hamas Hogwash

Okay, so, if a duly, fairly, and democratically elected government in the Palestinian Territories is not one to work with, how will you change their ideology? Can't we take a lesson from working with the IRA and Sinn Fein? Apparently not:
Q Mr. President, Israeli officials are seeking an international boycott of a Palestinian government that includes Hamas. Do you support this? And, if so, isn't that punishing the Palestinian people for exercising the democratic rights that you've called for in the region?

THE PRESIDENT: The Hamas party has made it clear that they do not support the right of Israel to exist. And I have made it clear so long as that's their policy, that we will not support a Palestinian government made up of Hamas. We want to work with a government that is a partner in peace, not a government that is -- whose declared intentions might be the destruction of Israel.

Secondly, this new democracy that's emerging in the Palestinian Territories must understand that you can't have a political party that also has got an armed wing to it; that democracies yield peace. And so the second half of our message to Hamas is get rid of your arms, disavow terrorism, work to bring what you promised to the people of the Palestinian Territories. Listen, these folks ran on the campaign "we're going to get rid of corruption" and that "we're going to provide services to the people," and that's positive. But what isn't positive is that they've got parts of their platform that will make it impossible for them to be a peaceful partner.
Okay, if it is not okay for governments to arm themselves and protect their interests, what the hell does that say for all actions related to the W, Rove and Co. initiated "war on terror?" If democracies yield peace, do you think not working with them is the way to it?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Bake Sale For Body Armor

I found this bumper sticker over at the Bring It On location. Here, you can buy said bumper sticker and the proceeds actually go to helping our troops instead of fattening the wallets of another war-time-profiteer.

This gives us cause to rethink tired slogan, "I can't wait for the day when the Airforce has to hold a bake sale for a bomber, and Education gets all the cash it needs." One of the commentators over at BIO said it well: " Sometimes we go to war with the Secretary of Defense we have and not the one we wished we had."

It's That Simple

The NYTimes has a wonderful editorial today. Have a gander, but here's the crux of the domestic spying issue trouble that should haunt the W, Rove and Co until they are done in:
The secret program violates the law as currently written. It's that simple.
Here's the opener to get you into it:
A bit over a week ago, President Bush and his men promised to provide the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the sort of warrantless spying on Americans that has been illegal for nearly 30 years. Instead, we got the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation, contemptuous dismissals of civil liberties concerns, cynical attempts to paint dissents as anti-American and pro-terrorist, and a couple of big, dangerous lies.

The first was that the domestic spying program is carefully aimed only at people who are actively working with Al Qaeda, when actually it has violated the rights of countless innocent Americans. And the second was that the Bush team could have prevented the 9/11 attacks if only they had thought of eavesdropping without a warrant.

The New Republican Party is a Murder-Ball

Those of you who have not seen the documentary Murderball, I highly recommend you put it on your Netflix must see list. It's a great film and powerful story of overcoming dramatic obstacles. But that is not why I am typing this post.

In the tail end of the film, the murderball players make a visit to Walter Reed Hospital to inspire some Iraqi War vets who had various limbs torn from them and the minds completely fucked with while they were blown to bits in the name of the W, Rove and Co.'s glorious "noble" cause. That's not altogether astonishing, and indeed the work the players were doing with these vets was inspiring.

What threw me for a loop was how young these kids were. These were not grizzled Vietnam Vets in wheel chairs. These were fresh faced teenagers, now saddled with life altering injuries. Certainly, when a whole party advocates for an illegitimate war in places we never should have gone into in the first place, they should be held to a higher standard of responsibility for these folks that were injured in their war. More succinctly, it seems to me that the new republican party under the direction of the W, Rove and Co has hosted (for quite some time and with no end in sight) a Murder Ball in the big kitty litter box we know as Iraq. If it's their party, but why are they not dancing in it?

On what day does the R.O.I. not become worth the outlay, when one more dead GI is too many dead GIs, when one more quadriplegic GI is one too many?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Who Is Responsible For Learning?

Oddly enough, I was at a dinner/birtday celebration last evenning for one of our neighbors, hosted by another neighbor. The conversation twisted and turned and landed on the sorry state of the educational system in America and finally came down to one real concrete question and answer.
Q - "Who is, ultimately, responsible for a person's education?"

A - "In the final analysis, it is the individual who is solely responsible for her own learning."
I say oddly enough becuase a friend and regular reader of this blog sent me an email with this comment:
Public schools are better than private when demographics are taken into account. The place to work on education is in the home, not the school, because that's where education happens.
This comment was followed up with a link to yet another of the long list of articles writen about test scores. I suggest that using test scores to assess learning is as smart as entrusting your brake job to a monkey (or Shrub for that matter). That is, simply becuase test scores rise does not indicate that more (or less) learning is taking place. Real assessment of learning is going to take longer than a simple multiple guess, standardized test - but the public is not willing to pay for the real costs of true learning assessment (and teacher performance for that matter).

Right now, what are republicans advocating in terms of educational spending? This question is important becuase the article says:
"Right now, the studies seem to show that charter schools do no better, and private schools do worse," Mr. Nelson said. "If private schools are going to get funding, they need to be held accountable for the results."
Blog on All.

Show Me The Law That Isn't

Regular readers may remember my post about John Gilmore - fighting the good fight. Looks like he may have to amplify the struggle some other way as the courts have decided in favor of the government over civil liberty once again. We need a different brand of activist to decide this case. The questions flow from here:
1) If there really is a "law" but not a public "law" that has no penalty other than they won't let you board an airplane, what other kinds of spurious or secret "laws" are out there that the government uses to clamp down on our civil liberties?

2) Certainly, if there is a law that says you can't fly without ID, how do children under the age of, say, three get on board an airplane?

3) Is it fair to apply the "law" unevenly?

4) If there is a "law" that is going to be applied, shouldn't that law be made known publicly?

Why Not Work With The Democratically Elected Hamas Government?

With all the tripe dished by the W, Rove and Co about spreading freedom, democracy and a commitment to supporting peoples who are involved in a free election, I got to thinking.

Why is it that the W, Rove and Co suggest that they are unwilling to work with the newly elected folks in the Palestinian Territories? Because they are terrorists? Really? Do they think people who are actively working in a parlementary government have time to strap bombs to themselves?

Or is it that the new, freely elected Palestinian government does not reflect the culture of corruption that made the old Palestinian government a much better match for ours?

Just wondering. Any answers out there in the blogisphere?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Buckets of Horse Manure

The Shrub is loading it on the shoulders of the American people by the truck load. Any one who buys this logic is a sucker. Most certainly, there is one born every minute, but hey, come on. Let's tackle this one item at a time.
1:Bush defended his order permitting the National Security Agency to listen in on phone calls and read e-mails of Americans suspected of communicating with terrorists. Critics claim the program violates civil liberties and say the government is circumventing the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

"I have looked at this program from all angles, and my dilemma and my problem is I can't explain to you how it works in order to justify your question without telling the enemy what we are doing," he said.
Are Are you kidding me? You can't tell us how it works, but you are suggesting we take it on faith that you are protecting us. Not this camper.
2: Asked if he thinks there is anything a president cannot do if he considers it necessary in an emergency, Bush said he thought there were "clear red lines" a president cannot cross.

"I don't think a president can ... order torture, for example," Bush said about his presidential powers under the Constitution. "I don't think a president can order the assassination of a leader of another country with which we're not at war."
Gee, ya think? I require more definative answers from the "leader" of the free world.
3: On a personal note, Bush said that after he leaves office, he may be interested in setting up a think tank where young scholars could write and think about freedom and liberty.
Hey Skippy, let's you and I see if we can get in on the graft syphoning lobyist dollars from Native American Cash. Wahoo! Then we can pursue liberty and freedom while ejaculating all over America.

From the Dismal Abyss to the Poetry of Hopefulness

Found this video linked up via The Bastard Over at Bring it On. Enjoy.

Advance Video Of The State Of Our Union

Found this link embedded in a comment over at Bring It On. Enjoy. (it's quicktime)

More Lessons From Eleanor

Regular readers know that I have been plowing through Eleanor Roosevelt's memoir, "This I Remember." It's really fantastic, but challenging to get through given how brief the quite moments are round here as the kids grow to the chase-each-other-screaming-at-the-top-of-their-lungs phase. In the last scintilla of quietness, I managed to negotiate a chapter.

Here's a few more gems of advice/lessons for the W, Rove and Co who are so busy with their spin cycle lead up to the State of the Union Address that they certainly don't have time to read - not that anyone in the W, Rove and Co are avid readers, but I digress.

Starting on page 234 of my copy:
Now the president of the United States was my husband, and for the second time in my life I heard a president tell the Congress that this nation was engaged in a war. I was deeply unhappy. I remember my anxieties about my husband and brother when World War I began; now I had four sons of military age.

The occasion was such a solemn one that we tried to take everyone we could to the Capital....It was a very impressive occasion, one of those occasions when a spirit of unity and strength prevailed. There was no criticism - only an acceptance of the fact that something had happened to us which as a nation we had to face...

...In retrospect it is easy to see things that were obscure at the time...

...I, however, could not help feeling that the New Deal social objectives that had fostered the spirit that would make it possible for us to fight the war, and I believed it was vastly important to give people the feeling that in fighting the war we were still really fighting for the same objectives. It was obvious that if the world were ruled by Hitler, freedom and democracy would no longer exist. I felt it was essential both to the prosecution of the war and to the period after the war that the fight for the rights of minorities should continue. I wanted to see us go on with our medical problem not only in the field of military medicine but in the whole area which concerned children and young people. I thought the groundwork should be laid for a wide health program after the war...

...Another visitor was Harry Hopkins' son, Robert, who was shortly to go into the service, as well as Harry's youngest son, Stephen, aged 17, who came at about the same time. This youngster was killed in the Pacific very soon after going into the service, and I always felt that his youth made it a particularly sad loss...

...Seeing their sons go off to war was hard on both my husband and Harry Hopkins. Both of them would have liked to take their sons' places. They wanted their sons to do what they could for the country, but humanly they wished they could be side by side with them.
Makes you wonder about the service of those offspring of our current leadership and question the legitimacy of the whole "war on terror", no?

Stop It Scott, Stop It

More tripe from Scotty offered up as evidence as to how misleading he can be. Is he outright lying here or is it so grey an area that he slips his Rovian comment right up our asses with so much KY slapped on his lips that we cannot feel it?
Q Can I also ask you, on Senator Kerry's comments, what is your reaction to the filibuster call by Senator Kerry, on Judge Alito?

MR. McCLELLAN: On his call yesterday? It was a pretty historic day. This was the first time ever that a Senator has called for a filibuster from the slopes of Davos, Switzerland. I think even for a Senator, it takes some pretty serious yodeling to call for a filibuster from a five-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps. (Laughter.)

Q But you know he's not there skiing.
Good point. Why is Kerry in the Alps? Anyone know out there? I couldn't find it on his web location, but did manage to see Kerry was in the Chambers today delivering his rationale for not supporting Alito:
Judge Alito's record envisions an America where police may shoot and kill an unarmed boy to stop him from running away with a stolen purse; where federal agents may point guns at ordinary citizens during a raid, even after no sign of resistance; where the FBI may install a camera where you sleep on the promise that they won't turn it on unless an informant is in the room; where a black man may be sentenced to death by an all-white jury for killing a white man, absent a multiple regression analysis showing discrimination; and where police may search what a warrant permits, and then some. This is not the America we know. Nor is it the America we aspire to be.
And here's why Kerry says its time to fillabuster:
Judge Alito will take America backward, especially when it comes to civil rights and discrimination laws. His record speaks for itself. Rather than live up to the promise of ‘equal justice under the law,’ Judge Alito has consistently made it harder for Americans to have their day in court. He routinely defers to the power of the government, no matter how extreme. And he doesn’t believe women have a right to privacy that’s protected by the Constitution.

If We Know You Are Terrorists

Just one small (okay, it's not all that small) question for the W, Rove and Co, if I may: If we know Hamas is a terrorist organization, why can't you come up with a better solution to their winning elections in the Palestinian Territories than simply saying "we don't deal with Hamas because Hamas is a terrorist organization," given that we are sponsoring one massive "war on terrorism?" Have a gander and more insipid tripe delivered by whitehouse spokes model Scotty McMessage McClellan:
Q So then you're saying "if" Hamas is the government, well, there doesn't seem to be any doubt that it will be based on the election results and on what's happening over there today. So what you're really saying, it seems to me, is that unless Hamas renounces the charter provision that calls for the destruction of Israel, the U.S. won't deal with it.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President made our view very clear yesterday. We don't deal with Hamas because Hamas is a terrorist organization.

Q Follow-up question, how do you know that it is simply a reaction to local conditions, corruption, and local problems that caused the election of Hamas?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that you can look at what was taking place. And the President referred to -- the President referred to the "old guard" that was there.

Q Right. But why --

MR. McCLELLAN: But we believe -- we believe very strongly that people around the world, and societies around the world want to, one, live in freedom; and, two, that they want peace. And I think that's very clear from what the Palestinian people have said over the years. They want peace.

Q Where do they say this? I don't --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you can go and talk to people in that region, and you will hear them say that, yes, they want peace. The people in that society --

Q You keep laying it all off on the problems that they had with corruption and leadership.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, elections are about the government and it's about a competition of ideas, as the President talked about yesterday. I don't think you can ignore those facts.

Q Have there been any contacts with Hamas, other than your public statements here, and the President's, in terms of trying to reach them or see what can happen?

MR. McCLELLAN: We don't deal with Hamas, as I stated.

Go ahead.
Does anyone in the blogisphere know if there is oil buried under the Palestinian Territories?

African American History Month

You know, I'm mixed on today's proclamation by Shrub to declare February African American History month. Well, shit. No I'm not. I getting tired of white men in charge doing what they think is best for the black men. Take this as evidence of yet another in the string of proclamations by Shrub that doesn't fit well in the pantheon of great presidential proclamations:
African-American organizations have played a vital role in achieving justice and equal rights, and they have helped make communities across our country stronger and better. This year's theme of African American History Month, "Celebrating Community: A Tribute to Black Fraternal, Social, and Civic Institutions," recognizes the African-American groups that have worked to confront injustices and expand opportunities. These organizations believe in the potential and worth of every person, and they have worked to help all Americans receive a quality education, to feed the hungry and house the homeless, to encourage youth to make healthy choices, and to reach out to others in need. By answering the call to love a neighbor as we would like to be loved ourselves, these groups have set a positive example, and we continue to be inspired by their compassion and service to others.
Morgan Freeman sums it up pretty well:
"You're going to relegate my history to a month?" the 68-year-old actor says in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" to air Sunday (7 p.m. EST). "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history."

...Freeman notes there is no "white history month," and says the only way to get rid of racism is to "stop talking about it."

The actor says he believes the labels "black" and "white" are an obstacle to beating racism. "I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man," Freeman says.
You have got to admit there is something to the notion that African Americans have been left out of the story of American History to the detriment of us all.

Blog on all.

With Friends Like These

No wonder the republicans are complaining about "activist" judges. They know full well that even SCOTUS appointments are not beyond the reach of corruption - or at least spurious behavior:
"Nightline" recently reported that the gig had left Justice Scalia plenty of time for tennis, fly-fishing and socializing with seminar participants, some of whom may have business before the Supreme Court. One Federalist Society cocktail reception was sponsored in part by the lobbying and law firm that used to employ Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay's convicted pal and benefactor for golf trips.
Hmm, the Federalist Society, nice bunch of do gooders, no doubt.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Means And The Ends

I was out running this AM and thinking. I know, you get a lump in your throat every time I start a post this way - But I did, per usual, start thinking about this charade of a government we know well as the W, Rove and Co.

I got to thinking that the modus operandi for the W, Rove and Co is a lot like this recurring nightmare I have - that I go for a run and lace up the shoes and about mid-way through the run, I find I am running naked through the neighborhoods on my usual path. Sure, I get my run in, but do the means justify the ends? Meanwhile, my neighbors - well, who knows what they think - they arlready think I'm nutty for running in weather they wouldn't send out their constipated dog out in.

But the president and his administration, as it seems it has become the Standard Operating Procedure - is to suggest to the American people that the means indeed justify the ends, regardless of the legal and civil liberty implications. This raises two questions for me - Let's call these Windspike's Sure Happy It's Thursday Questions du jour:
First, do you feel more or less protected by the government (given that both 9/11 and Katrina happened on W's watch)?

Second, do the ends purported to have been accomplished by the W, Rove and Co justify their means in getting said results?

Let me know what you think.

This whole idea resonated for me as I was listening to NPR this AM post run and hearing about how the Shrubster obfuscated his way around questions as to why he circumvented FISA to subject us to his illegal spying program. I was going to post on this AM's speechifying by the Shrub, but the links on the whitehouse dot gov location are not showing any of today's action. Will get to it when they do. Blog on all.

Unvarnished Advice

Who the bleep is Rapuano, and why do we care? There are better people to talk to about the Katrina follow up disaster & FUBAR situation, like Brownie! Turning over several tons of documents to have committees sift through is not going to be all together helpful as they probably used the "let's give them every thing and more so they can't find the salient information" gambit in this case.
Q Why is it that this administration is not allowing the senior -- your senior staff that you conversated [sic] with prior to Hurricane Katrina, during and after, to testify, to interview or talk with congressional leaders? And why not push Michael Brown, who is now a private citizen, to go before them, as he is what many are calling a linchpin to the whole issue?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me make sure you have the facts. We have given 15,000 pages of White House documents to the investigators, congressional investigators; some -- I think it's 600,000 pages, administrative documents. We have sent a fellow named Rapuano to talk about -- he's a White House staffer -- to talk to the committee. There have been a lot of interviews. There have been public testimony.

As a matter of fact, we are so concerned about this that we've started our own investigation to make sure that lessons -- that we understand the lessons learned from this. This is a problem we want to investigate thoroughly so we know how to better respond on behalf of the American people.

And so we're fully cooperative with the members of the House in -- of the Senate, and we'll do so without giving away my ability to get sound advice from people on my staff. You see, April, here's -- and this is an issue that comes up all the time, and you might -- we've had several discussions like this since I've been the President. If people give me advice and they're forced to disclose that advice, it means the next time an issue comes up I might not be able to get unvarnished advice from my advisors. And that's just the way it works. But we've given thousands of pages of documents over for people to analyze.

Q Does that include Michael Brown?


Q Does that include Michael Brown?

THE PRESIDENT: People who give me advice, it will have a chilling effect on future advisors if the precedent is such that when they give me advice that it's going to be subject to scrutiny.

Now, we've analyzed -- we've given out all kinds of pages of documents for people, and we're cooperating with the investigators. And that's important for the American people to know. What's also important is we want to know how we can do a better job. And so we're having a lessons-learned investigation, led by Fran Townsend. And -- anyway, we need to know.

Let's see here -- yes, Mark.

Do you trust this man at his word, because I don't. Some one please convince me otherwise because I don't see the W, Rove and Co as trustworthy -not in the least bit- based on their actions.

Well, how about a little unvarnished advice?

Frankly, Mr. President, some of your decisions and actions suggest to me that you have received very poor advice. Maybe it's time you accepted a little congressional oversight and take the public spanking you so rightly deserve. The time to impeach is neigh.

There Is A Big Difference Between "Will Not" And "Have Not"

Semantics are important when you are confronted with an advesary who is masterful at bending the language to confuse the American people and use it to argue the political end of policy making.

Correct me if I am wrong, but there is a gigantic difference between "Will Not" and "Have Not" spied domestically, no?
Q Members of your administration have said that the secret eavesdropping program might have prevented the September 11th attacks. But the people who hijacked the planes on September 11th had been in this country for years, having domestic phone calls and emails. So how, specifically, can you say that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Michael Hayden said that because he believes that had we had the capacity to listen to the phone calls from those from San Diego to elsewhere we might have gotten information necessary to prevent the attack. And that's what he was referring to.

Q They were domestic calls --

THE PRESIDENT: No, domestic outside -- we will not listen inside this country. It is a call from al Qaeda, al Qaeda affiliates, either from inside the country out, or outside the country in, but not domestically.

Again, we see that simply because the President says something does not make it true:
Q Your explanation on the monitoring program seems to say that when the nation is at war, the President, by definition, can order measures that might not be acceptable or even, perhaps, legal in peacetime. And this seems to sound like something President Nixon once said, which was "when the President does it, then that means it is not illegal," in the areas involving national security. So how do the two differ?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I said yesterday that other Presidents have used the same authority I've had to use technology to protect the American people. Other Presidents -- most Presidents believe that during a time of war, that we can use our authorities under the Constitution to make decisions necessary to protect us.

Secondly, in this case, there is an act passed by Congress in 2001 which said that I must have the power to conduct this war using the incidents of war. In other words, we believe there's a constitutional power granted to Presidents, as well as, this case, a statutory power. And I'm intending to use that power -- Congress says, go ahead and conduct the war, we're not going to tell you how to do it. And part of winning this war on terror is to understand the nature of the enemy and to find out where they are so we can protect the American people.

There's going to be -- there will be a constitution -- there will be a legal debate about whether or not I have the authority to do this; I'm absolutely convinced I do. Our Attorney General has been out describing why. And I'm going to continue using my authority. That's what the American people expect. Yes, Mark.
Again I ask, do you feel "protected?" And for the final rhetorical trick of the day, we finally get to see this whole hoopla about the President's opposition to the term "circumventing."
Q Stepping back from the immediate NSA debate that's going on right now, Vice President Cheney recently said that the White House is reasserting its executive power. Is the NSA program part of that effort? And what do you say to Democrats who charge that you are abusing your constitutional authority?

THE PRESIDENT: I would say that there has been a historical debate between the executive branch and the legislative branch as to who's got what power. And I don't view it as a contest with the legislative branch. Maybe they view it as a contest with the executive; I just don't. I view it -- I view the decisions I've made, particularly when it comes to national security, as necessary decisions to protect the American people. That's how -- that's the lens on which I analyze things, Jonathan. And I understand we're at war with an enemy that wants to hit us again. Osama bin Laden made that clear the other day, and I take his words very seriously. And I also take my responsibility to protect the American people very seriously. And so we're going to do what is necessary, within the Constitution and within the law, and at the same time guaranteeing people's civil liberties, to protect the people. And that's how I look at this debate.

Now, there's all kinds of people taking a step back and saying well, this is this, this is that. And I recognize throughout history, people -- there have been a debate about legislative power and executive power. Part of the questions asked here today kind of reflect that debate. I'm going to leave that to the lawyers.

I believe I've been hired by the people to do my job, and that's to protect the people, and that's what I'm going to do, mindful of my authorities within the Constitution, mindful of our need to make sure that we stay within the law, and mindful of the need to protect the civil liberties of the people.

Q Mr. President, though -- this is a direct follow up to that -- the FISA law was implemented in 1978 in part because of revelations that the National Security Agency was spying domestically. What is wrong with that law if you feel you have to circumvent it and, as you just admitted, expand presidential power?

THE PRESIDENT: May I -- if I might, you said that I have to circumvent it. There -- wait a minute. That's a -- there's something -- it's like saying, you know, you're breaking the law. I'm not. See, that's what you've got to understand. I am upholding my duty, and at the same time, doing so under the law and with the Constitution behind me. That's just very important for you to understand.

Secondly, the FISA law was written in 1978. We're having this discussion in 2006. It's a different world. And FISA is still an important tool. It's an important tool. And we still use that tool. But also -- and we -- look -- I said, look, is it possible to conduct this program under the old law? And people said, it doesn't work in order to be able to do the job we expect us to do. And so that's why I made the decision I made.

And you know, "circumventing" is a loaded word, and I refuse to accept it, because I believe what I'm doing is legally right. Bob.

Q There are going to be hearings on Capitol Hill starting February 6th regarding --

THE PRESIDENT: Regarding that point, right. And Al Gonzales has recently given a speech laying out the administrative position, and I'm sure you analyzed it carefully.


Okay, so now the Prez is using Scotty's "I reject that" mechanism to obfuscate the point, but only lightly - he says, "I rrefuse to accept it," becuase he belives i't right. Well, shit, if the President beleives killing Iraqis on a 1 to 15 ratio (GIs to Iraqi Civilians Killed) is right, then it must be.

Not Relevant to the Investigation - Subtitle: Okay Everybody, Lets Piss On Our Own Legs

Hmmm, if you are asking us to trust you that the Abramoff pics with the prez are not relevant to the investigation there is a flaw in your logic. If they indeed are not salient, then where's the harm in releasing them?
Q What do you hear or your staff hear about releasing of photographs of Jack Abramoff with you, Mr. President? If you say you don't fear anything, tell us why you won't release them?

THE PRESIDENT: She's asking about a person who admitted to wrongdoing and who needs to be prosecuted for that. There is a serious investigation going on, as there should be. The American people have got to have confidence in the -- in the ethics of all branches of government. You're asking about pictures -- I had my picture taken with him, evidently. I've had my picture taken with a lot of people. Having my picture taken with someone doesn't mean that I'm a friend with them or know them very well. I've had my picture taken with you -- (laughter) -- at holiday parties. My point is, I mean, there's thousands of people that come through and get their pictures taken. I'm also mindful that we live in a world in which those pictures will be used for pure political purposes, and they're not relevant to the investigation.

Q Do you know how many?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't have any idea.
I see, and it's only okay for you to use photographs for political purposes? And, if the prez doesn't know how many pics there are, how does he know for sure that they are irrelevant to the investigation. My curiosity is peaked - I'd like to see those pics now. How about you?
Q Mr. President, you talked about Jack Abramoff in the context of pictures, but it may not necessarily just be about pictures. He also had some meetings with some of your staff. So you remember, you ran on the idea of restoring honesty and integrity to the White House. So why are you letting your critics perhaps attack you and paint you with maybe a guilt by association? Why not just throw open your books and say, look, here is --

THE PRESIDENT: There is a serious investigation going on by federal prosecutors, and that's their job. And they will -- if they believe something was done inappropriately in the White House, they'll come and look, and they're welcome to do so. There's a serious investigation that's going on.

Q But, sir, don't you want to tell the American people look, as I promised, this White House isn't for sale and I'm not for sale?

THE PRESIDENT: It's hard for me to say I didn't have pictures with the guy when I did. But I have also had pictures with thousands and thousands of people. I mean, people -- it's part of the job of the President to shake hands and -- with people and smile. (Laughter.) And I do. And the man contributed to my campaigns, but he contributed, either directly or through his clients, to a lot of people in Washington. And this needs to be cleared up so the people have confidence in the system. Yes, Peter.
Ah, now I see - the Shrub is using the classic Rovian ploy to suggest that because others did it, it's okay for him to do it. And, of course, he doesn't answer the question now does he? Okay everyone, all together, let's piss on our own legs. 1..2...3...Pee! Now, doen't that feel good? If we do it all together, it must be the right thing to do.

Okay, let's try asking the prez about this one more time:
Q Can I ask you again, why won't you release the photos of yourself with Jack Abramoff?

THE PRESIDENT: I just answered the question.
Aha! You are the one who taught Scotty how to answer a question by saying you already answered the question when in actually you never really did or do. Or was it Scotty that taught you how to do that?

Well, don't leave this post just yet. The president gets all screwy on the last question of the PR Propaganda tourney. Have a gander at this last bit. While you are reading, mull over this question in your head: Is the President Lying?
Q Can you say, sir, whether you were lobbied by Jack Abramoff or other lobbyists, and what your policy is about lobbyists meeting with senior staff?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I, frankly, don't even remember having my picture taken with the guy. I don't know him. And this investigation will -- needs to look into all aspects of his influence on Capitol Hill, and if there's some in the White House, I'm sure they're going to come and knock on the door. But I -- I can't say I didn't ever meet him, but I meet a lot of people. And evidently, he was just like you were the other day, at a holiday party -- came in, put -- the grip-and-grin, they click the picture and off he goes. And that's just -- I take thousands of -- I mean, somebody told me I maybe take over 9,000 pictures this holiday season. And he obviously went to fundraisers, but I've never sat down with him and had a discussion with the guy.

Q Do you meet with lobbyists?

THE PRESIDENT: I try not to. Have I ever met with one? Never having met with one is a -- if I ever say that, sure enough, you'll go find somebody. But, no, I don't have them come in. Now, when, for example, people are helping on issues -- like on promoting trade -- you bet, we bring them in and I say, thank you for promoting CAFTA; or, thanks for working on the vote; or, thanks for helping on tax relief. That may be -- if you consider that a meeting, the answer is, yes, I'm sure I have, in a roomful of people as we either thank people for success in policy or thank people for going out of their way to get a piece of legislation passed on the Hill.

Listen, thank you all very much. Looking forward to Tuesday evening -- I hope you are, as well.

Thank you.

END 11:01 A.M. EST
Bingo! We caught ya, Shrubmiester. Blog on all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Promises, Promises

When you belly up to the TeeVee to watch the Shrub pontificate and preach to the proletariat in that "State of the...talk...whatever you call it," ask yourself this one question: Do you believe his promises? If so, why? Video source is at Think Progress.

29 November 2004 - SupaDubya

An astute reader of my Blog pointed out that the 29 Nov 2004 SupaDubya video clip I posted then had it's link die. Shit happens. Fortunately, said reader found another live link. I think it would be fun for folks to review this brilliant rap given that not much has changed for the better since that time in terms of the W, Rove and Co. Enjoy.

Acting On Faith

Pop on over to Neil Shakespeare's location for some more art-as-blog. There's a interesting pic there that spurred my comment - worth posting I think:
One of my favorite scenes is in the play Angels In America. It's when the Mormon wife strips naked for her husband and freaks out for him. It's wonderful, and very powerful.

The charade of religion leads many to follow the wrong signals guessing incorrectly that the word they interpret is the the word of god. Acting on false assumptions based on faith can lead to disaster, no?

National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2006

Did you miss this? I did. I was surfing the whitehouse dot gov location for kicks and giggles and found this under the proclamations page. You didn't know we had one did you? Fess up. Let's see what this means to the old W, Rove and Co that authored this proclamation:
...National Sanctity of Human Life Day is an opportunity to strengthen our resolve in creating a society where every life has meaning and our most vulnerable members are protected and defended including unborn children, the sick and dying, and persons with disabilities and birth defects. This is an ideal that appeals to the noblest and most generous instincts within us, and this is the America we will achieve by working together.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Sunday, January 22, 2006, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies and to reaffirm our commitment to respecting and defending the life and dignity of every human being.
It doesn't hold up to the standard of great proclamations, now does it? Moreover, how many people were drilled, killed, and blood spilled by the 22nd of Jan in the name of the W, Rove and Co? What does this number (57 KIA in Jan 06 so far) say about the stock the W, Rove and Co place in this proclamation? About the same stock it places on a bill that gets a "signing statement" rider attached, I'd imagine.

The Term "Domestic" Spying Is A Red Herring

Who cares if it's an international phone call that they are tapping? The NSA is still spying on people inside the USA - could be me or you if you call your brother in Iraq - stationed in one of our many, now quasi-permanent bases there. The rhetorical argument is a red herring - but one of the order that the W,Rove and Co has used in the past to trick the American people (you know, the smoking mushroom cloud threatened by Condi prior to Iraq).

Don't fall for it. The Constitution says that you cannot spy on American Citizens without a warrant. But we already know the W, Rove and Co is not interested in being in line with the law. Have a gander at this exchange - and it is particularly entertaining, which keeps me clicking over there:
Q I just want to button up Martha's point on domestic spying. You mentioned General Hayden -- well, General Hayden made it clear that this kind of surveillance has been going on under his authority, because he had the authority to do that. The difference is that on the domestic side, whoever was on, say, that telephone call was identified as person one or person two, and the information about that individual domestically was never shared throughout the government. With the President's authorization after 9/11, that changed, and then you began more specifically monitoring people domestically who were in contact with somebody overseas. So how can you say that that's not domestic? How can you say that that's not a fundamental shift from what was occurring before?

MR. McCLELLAN: It's an early warning system. It's not aimed at long-term monitoring, like the FISA court was set up to do for a different enemy in a different time period when we were in the Cold War, remember. This was set up as an early warning system to detect and prevent attacks. So you're talking about for a shorter period of time. Its one purpose is to detect and prevent attacks.

Q That's totally off point. You're challenging the notion of domestic spying, when the truth of the matter is that heretofore the person domestically that was being surveilled was never identified, was never tracked in any real fashion. That changed when the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me ask you this. Is an international communication overseas by an al Qaeda member coming into the United States, that is monitored overseas, is that a domestic communication?

Q Well, first of all, I ask the questions, I don't answer them. Number two --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sure you don't want to answer that question.

Q No, because I'm not in the business of setting the rules on this.

MR. McCLELLAN: That's a very simple question. I can put it right back to you.

Q I'm a reporter, I'm not responsible for authorizing these things. You speak for the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, okay.

Q -- so that's why I ask the questions.

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, you don't want to answer that question. Got it. (Laughter.)

Q Isn't it a fundamental shift in the program that adds a domestic component to it? Why are you --

MR. McCLELLAN: It's international communications. And I gave you a very clear example of international phone calls. We're talking about international communications. So I think I answered that question.

Go ahead, Peter.

Now You Can Stick Me In the Other Eye And I Still Won't Get A Warrant - Neener, Neener, Neener!

We already know the Shrub thinks he is above the law and the sticky ethical problems of his warrantless wire tapping. But, by fixing the FISA rules and then applying retroactively for warrants, this whole situation could go away (well, not really as it won't change what the W, Rove and Co has already done).

But we have to ask two questions: 1) If you were a FISA Judge, why would you stay on the job knowing you are irrelevant? And 2) Why won't the W, Rove and Co fix the problem? Here's a taste from today's propaganda fest delivered by Scotty:
Q My question is, instead of spending time trying to fine-tune the rhetoric over what you want to call this program for political purposes, why not seek to amend FISA so that it can better suit your purposes, which is another thing the previous administration did when it wasn't considered to be agile enough? So why not, if you want the program to be more responsive, to be more agile, why not seek to amend FISA?

MR. McCLELLAN: Let's look at a practical example. Do you expect our commanders, in a time of war, to go to a court while they're trying to surveil the enemy? I don't think so. This is a time of war. This is about wartime surveillance of the enemy. That's what this is about. And we don't ask our commanders to go to the court and ask for approval while they're trying to gain intelligence on the enemy. So I think that's a real practical term to look at it in when you're talking about this issue, because that's what this is about.

Q There's no way to amend --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, no, let me back up, because I talked about this the last couple days. I mean, it's a very good question and an important question. FISA is an important tool. We use it. General Hayden talked about that. When we were briefing members of Congress over the course of the last few years -- I think it was more recently, over, maybe, the last couple years -- I think the Attorney General talked about it -- we talked with congressional leaders, bipartisan congressional leaders, about this very issue: Should we go and get legislation that would reflect the authority the President already has? And those leaders felt that it could compromise our national security interest and this program if we were to go and get legislation passed. Because we don't want to let the enemy know about our play book, and the more you talk about this program, the more potential it has to harm our national security interest. That's why we don't get into talking about the operational aspects about it. But it is important for the American people to understand exactly what this program is and how limited it is and what its purpose is. There's been some misrepresentations. Now, with that said, as I pointed out, we work very closely with Congress. We'll continue to work closely with Congress as we move forward. But the President has the authority and the responsibility to do what he's doing and he's going to keep doing it.

Purple Heart Is No Shield: Sub title - "We Were Supposed To Raise Our Kids Together"

Unfortunately, while the W, Rove and Co. are busy pumpin' and pimpin' their propoganda this week as the rhetoric ratchets to the stratosphere, GIs still die. Blood spills and there is no remorse or grief from the shrub and his pals in charge.

To make matters worse, this poor soul was already wounded. And, this GI was on his second tour - the article doesn't say, but was he on his second tour of duty by choice is an interesting question. I'm pasting in the whole article for y'all:
When Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon Dewey of Tracy survived his wounds from a car bomb during the battle for Fallujah in 2004 and was awarded the Purple Heart, his family took it as a good omen.

"He had already missed the big one,'' said his stepfather, Scott Conover. "We figured he was safe now, that someone was looking out for him.''

But on Friday, Dewey, 20, was killed along with Marine Cpl. Carlos Arellanopandura, 22, of Los Angeles in another attack involving a car bomb during combat in Iraq's Anbar province, the Marine Corps said Tuesday. Both were members of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

Dewey, an Eagle Scout known for his sense of humor and his smile, was scheduled to return home from his second tour of duty in Iraq in April. His mother, Julia Conover, and her husband learned of his death Friday night when they returned home from dinner and saw two Marines in full dress uniform in a van across the street.

"You know when they dispatch a pair of Marines to your house,'' Scott Conover said. "You know it's the worst possible news.''

Dewey grew up in Tracy. He enjoyed hiking, camping and rock climbing with the Boy Scouts and dreamed of joining the Marines before following his father, Mark, into law enforcement. His father is a former Union City police officer.

"He always wanted to be a Marine because they were the toughest,'' his stepfather said. "He was a Boy Scout, and in his mind, that was preparing for the Marines.''

Dewey enlisted under a delayed-entry program before he even graduated from Tracy's Merrill F. West High School in 2003. In the battle for Fallujah, Dewey was sprayed with shrapnel from a suicide car bombing, suffering injuries to his face, neck and legs. He spent a day and a half in a field hospital before rejoining his unit.

Marilyn Chorley, organizer of Military Moms Tracy, said Dewey grew up with her son, who is also serving in Iraq, and was in her Sunday school class at St. Paul's Lutheran Church.

"He was a very special kid,'' she said. "This is too much.'' Dewey, she said, is the fifth Tracy resident to die in Iraq. Dewey's sister, Elyse Dewey, 18, is also in the military. She was rushed home on leave Friday from Florida, where she is in cryptology training for the Navy.

On a Web site dedicated to Brandon Dewey's memory, she wrote a heartfelt farewell to her older brother. "I miss you so much," she wrote. "You were not supposed to go. We were supposed to raise our kids together, and they were supposed to be close like us with our cousins.

"You were supposed to be at my wedding and I was supposed to be at yours. You're supposed to make me laugh when my heart gets broken. I'm supposed to make fun of your big nose. ... You were supposed to come back."

Dewey's body is expected to arrive in San Francisco on Thursday. A funeral, with a Marine Corps honor guard, is tentatively scheduled for Monday. He will be buried in the "Little Arlington" section of Tracy Cemetery.
Thanks Shrub - you are the reason the "Little Arlington" second of the Tracy Cemetary is growing and there is no end in sight.

I Love Republicans, Don't You? - Sub Title: Love Your Lobyist And They Love You

But more specifically, I love their benevolent sense of doing what's right for the American people. Don't you? I love their sense of fair play, inclusiveness, and duty to not play politics. I love their uniter, not divider, stance. But most of all, I love their devoted attention to making sure that corporate America wins, despite the cost to us, the American Taxpayer. No doubt, their smart, well thought out policy decisions help us navigate the difficult morase of Medicare.
Never mind the golf junkets and poolside seminars. One of the rawest displays of lobbyists' power in the Capitol occurred beyond the sight of the public last month, when Republican Congressional negotiators tweaked a budget-cutting bill in order to provide the health insurance industry with a $22 billion windfall. The circumstance of this victory by insurance lobbyists is particularly relevant now that the same Congressional leaders are feverishly vowing to enact lobbying reform. The bill change, dearly sought by the H.M.O. industry, was written by House and Senate lawmakers and staff members in closed-door, Republican-only bargaining sessions - one of the "conference committees" for settling differences in final legislation that are themselves becoming part of the Capitol's influence-peddling scandal.

The current version of this deal-setting routine entirely excludes Democratic lawmakers, who are in the minority but still represent significant numbers of Americans. Rather, the lobbyists who successfully worked for a whopping fix in the Medicare reimbursement formula were far more clued in by cooperative Republicans. This is business as usual in Congress; no one is promising hearings about secretive behavior, skulking about in a black hat or hiring defense lawyers.

The bill change might have gone unnoticed but for the fact that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office was doing its job in parsing out the last-minute gutting of a formula that was originally intended to produce a $26 billion savings for taxpayers across 10 years. Instead, the final bargainers reduced the projected savings to $4 billion and handed the H.M.O.'s a $22 billion gift by protecting the inflated reimbursements they currently reap through Medicare.
Maybe the American people need to band together to get their own lobyists.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Relationship? We Don't Need No Stinking Relationship

Memo to the good people of Iran: You're fucked. Prepare to be carpet bombed to start as soon as the W, Rove and Co need a bump in the polls:
Q On Iran, as things deteriorate in this relationship -- there may be sanctions and maybe some more dramatic action --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not sure if a "relationship" is there. Go ahead.

I'd Rather Stick A Needle In My Eye Than Get A Warrant

Scotty McMessage McClellan twists and turns at the outset of the Q & A in his latest attempt to plug the gaping hole in the W, Rove and Co rationale for spying on us. Have a gander at this exchange below and you understand why many are legitimately pissed.

Not only that, but lets just say one of the terrorists (or worse yet, some one who has been detained as a terrorist with no due process, but legitimately had no connection with terrorism whatsoever) manages to wrangle a lawsuit (okay, right there you have me as I know the W, Rove and Co is not allowing any lawsuits by "detainees," but let's just for argument's sake pretend) suggesting that his/her rights were violated. Will the case be rejected or will damages be awarded at great taxpayer expense because of the actions of the W, Rove and Co?

My bet, we loose that suit, not unlike all the wrongful death suits that should mushroom out of the mire that Katrina left. And, again, we find that there is nothing fiscally conservative about the current administration and we leave our future generations in hock beyond our stars and stripes.
Q I have two questions that can be dismissed with a yes or no. One, is the President going to seek any legal -- more legal permission from Congress to spy on Americans without a warrant? And two, does he think, does he believe that his new designation of the spy program, terrorist surveillance, will tarnish people who are spied on and are guilty or not guilty?

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me take the first part of your question, and I think it's important to give a clearer picture of where things are with the American people, and so I want to make a few comments about it.

Q I want to know where you stand --

MR. McCLELLAN: And I'm going to do that. I've already previously answered this question with reporters and stated our view; the Attorney General stated it earlier today in some interviews. This is an important tool that helps to save lives by preventing attacks. It is a limited, targeted program aimed at al Qaeda communications, as the President pointed out yesterday. This program is focused only on communications in which one person is reasonably suspected of links to al Qaeda or affiliated terrorist organizations. And it involves international communications. I reject your characterization to suggest it's domestic spying. That's like saying someone making a phone call from inside the United States to another country is a domestic call. It is billed the international rate and it is labeled --

Q The law says he has to seek a court warrant.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- it is labeled an international call --

Q Why doesn't he seek a warrant? What's the big problem?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, actually, we've walked through this repeatedly over the last few days. It's important for the American people to understand what the facts are. There is a lot of misinformation about --

Q Why can't you seek a warrant?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- this program. And we do use the FISA tool, as well. That's an important tool, as well. But we have briefed members of Congress more than a dozen times on this. We continue to brief members of Congress in an appropriate manner. This is a highly classified program and it is a vital program to our nation's security. The 9/11 Commission criticized us for not connecting the dots --

Q Is it vital to go through legal steps?

MR. McCLELLAN: This is helping us to connect the dots in a very targeted and focused way. Q Why can't he seek a warrant?

MR. McCLELLAN: It is about detecting and preventing attacks. FISA was created for a different time period. General Hayden walked through that yesterday; the Attorney General talked about it more. This is about moving with speed and agility, not some long-term period of time. It's about detecting --

Q You can get one retroactively.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- it's about detecting and preventing attacks. And we are a nation at war, and the courts have upheld the President's authority to engage in surveillance. Surveillance is critical to prevailing in the war on terrorism.

Q He doesn't have a blank check.

MR. McCLELLAN: And we talked with members of Congress about whether or not there needed to be legislation that reflects what the President's authority already is, and the congressional leaders felt that by doing so it could compromise this program. This is a vital program and it's important that we don't show the enemy our play book. And talking about it --

Q Getting warrants doesn't show the enemy a play book.

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay. Next question.

More "I Reject That Wholeheartedly" - Subtitle: More Presidential Malpractice and Malfeasance

In case you were wondering how the investigation into the poor and down right disastrous response by the feds and others to the Katrina disaster is going, don't hold your breath. All Scotty's got for you is more rejection in the spin package. Have a gander at some legit questions that still get you no answers.

I still say that there is a great opportunity for lawyers to pony up and file massive class action wrongful death suits against the US Government at many levels for all deaths that were caused because of the sorry response by FEMA et al. Look at the date of death of your relatives and love ones. And if it happened (and you can get a death certificate that says any other date than the day that Katrina hit - which will be a legal sticking point for many, btw), say, a few days after Katrina passed, you have a case. File it.
Q Scott, back on September 1st, President Bush said in an interview, "I don't think anybody anticipated a breaching of the levees in New Orleans." And we had this Infrastructure Simulation and Assessment Center that delivered a report to the White House that, indeed, said that the levees were likely to be breached and that New Orleans would be underwater for months. So did the President mis-speak, or did he just not get the word?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think, unfortunately, you're kind of combining two things that are not related, because the President actually talked about this --

Q Which one is not related, the hurricane or New Orleans?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President actually talked about this and talked about what he was referring to, John. Of course, we know -- we knew what the potential was of a hurricane of that magnitude. We had done exercises in Louisiana and other exercises and looked at such a possibility previously. As the President said, what he was referring to was that there was a sense by many, once the hurricane hit and had passed, that the worst-case scenario did not happen. There were numerous media reports saying that New Orleans had dodged the bullet. And I can pull those up for you and show you those. And so that's what the President was referring to. So I think it's wrong to mischaracterize --

Q It couldn't have been mine, because I was hip-deep in water at the time.

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not suggesting it was, but what the President was referring to was what we had previously said. And he made that very clear earlier. Now, in terms of the issues relating to Hurricane Katrina, remember, we talked with you all ahead of the storm and provided regular updates to the American people about the steps that we were taking ahead of the storm. The President issued emergency disaster declarations ahead of the storm hitting. The President went public and said, listen to the warnings from state and local officials; this is a dangerous storm. As the Governor of Louisiana said, the President called her ahead of the storm, and said, evacuate New Orleans. So we were taking a number of steps ahead of the storm. And what's important now is that we continue to help the people along the Gulf Coast recover and rebuild their lives and their communities, and that we continue to move forward on a comprehensive lessons-learned review. That's what this administration is doing. Fran Townsend, our Homeland Security Advisor, is heading up a comprehensive review so that we can look at what went wrong, what went right, and then apply the lessons learned. We've already taken steps to address some of the issues relating to Katrina, and to prevent a recurrence of some of the problems that occurred. And that's what we will continue to do.

Q Evacuate with what, though? FEMA, in its hurricane PAM simulation, suggested that 600 buses and 1,200 drivers would be needed. The bull's-eye was on New Orleans 48 hours before the hurricane hit.

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and Max Mayfield, of the Hurricane Center --

Q Where were the resources to evacuate?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- was issuing warnings. And these are all issues that are being looked at as part of the comprehensive review. It is very important that we look at these issues. As the President indicated, all levels of government dropped the ball, to an extent -- the federal, state and local. The President accepts responsibility for the federal response efforts. Now, there were also a lot of good things going on and important work being done to save lives. The Coast Guard is a great example. They were working around the clock to lift people off of their rooftops and take them to safety. And we can't discount all of that. But what we've got to do is make sure that we learn the lessons, and that we apply those lessons to future response efforts. And that's exactly what we are doing. We're also working with congressional committees. They're moving forward on hearings and looking at these issues. And the comprehensive review that we have undertaken is nearing completion, and we'll be talking more about it soon.

Q Is it fair to say you had pretty good warning of what would happen prior to the hurricane hitting?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we walked you through the warnings that we were issuing ahead of the hurricane. We knew it was a very dangerous storm. I just walked you through the steps that we were taking and the steps that the hurricane center was taken under Max Mayfield's direction, to warn state and local officials along the whole Gulf Coast. This was a very dangerous storm, and we knew that well ahead of time. We were taking it very seriously. Now, with that said, the President --

Q You knew what the consequences might have been --

MR. McCLELLAN: With that said, the President wasn't satisfied with the response. Of course, we understood what the impact of a hurricane of that magnitude could do if it hit directly on New Orleans.

Q Scott, just a little bit of a follow-up on that, to get this straight, then.

MR. McCLELLAN: Because there were exercises ahead -- there were exercises that were done well ahead of that hurricane.

Q When the Situation Room was told about this report about five hours, I believe, before it hit landfall -- you're saying that did not have anything to do with what the President was saying? Because the President said to Diane Sawyer on September 1st, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did not anticipate a serious storm." So --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, Martha, what I'm saying is that it's important to take a comprehensive look at the response efforts at all levels of government, what was being done. And that way, the American people can have a clear and accurate understanding of what happened with the response efforts. I'm not going to try to get into a play-by-play analysis of an ongoing look at the response efforts. That's undergoing, both by --

Q -- look at why the President would make a statement about that?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- both by the administration and it's undergoing by members of Congress. And that's an important part of helping us move forward and prevent something like this from happening again, in terms of the response efforts.

Q Okay, but you'll look at statements by the President, for instance -- "they did not anticipate a serious storm," as part of looking into this?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, what statement by the President that said that? The President --

Q He said, "They did not anticipate a serious storm," on September 1st.

MR. McCLELLAN: I reject that wholeheartedly. The President said ahead of the storm, this is a very dangerous storm, and warned citizens all along the Gulf Coast region to heed the advice of state and local officials. He held a press conference that was carried nationwide the morning ahead of the storm and reemphasized the importance of taking this storm seriously. Now, what we are focused on --

Q All I'm telling you, September 1st, he said, "I don't think anybody anticipated a breach of the levees. They did not anticipate --

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, that's a different issue, and I addressed John's question --

Q -- a serious storm."

MR. McCLELLAN: I addressed John's question, what he was referring to in those remarks. And what he specifically was referring to is exactly what media reports were citing at the time. The hurricane had hit; it had passed New Orleans; and there was a sense by many that the worst-case scenario did not happen. And that's what the President was referring to in those remarks, and he said so when he was asked a follow-up question about those very comments. I said so, as well, at the time. So I'd encourage you to go back and look at that. Of course, we recognized the potential damage from a hurricane of this magnitude. We had conducted exercises before the storm hit, well before the storm hit.

No Remorse - Should We Expect More?

So, this is the brand of compasionate conservative we like to have running the show. No remorse for those killed in Pakistan? WTF, it makes me sad to know that the Shrub can't own up to mistakes of this calibre. What's that about a special place in hell...
Q Pakistan has been very critical of the air strike that killed a number of people, apparently some innocent civilians, last week. Did the Prime Minister raise objections or concerns with the President today? And what did President Bush say in response?

MR. McCLELLAN: Prime Minister Aziz talked about this a little bit earlier. I don't think there's really a whole lot to add to what he already said. The two leaders had a very good discussion. They talked about how we're working together in the war on terrorism and how it's important to continue working together. They talked about continuing to work to improve cooperation and coordination. And the discussion that I sat in on, both in the Oval Office and the residence, focused on our ongoing efforts to defeat al Qaeda and to prevent attacks from happening, both against Pakistan and against the United States. And that's where the focus was.

Now, they also had some private time together in between the two meetings. But there's really nothing else to add to what I just said and what the Prime Minister said earlier today.

Pakistan is a valued ally in the global war on terrorism. We work very closely with Pakistan and we will continue to do so. This President has made it clear we're going to pursue terrorists wherever they are -- wherever they are. There is no negotiation with terrorists. These are people who are determined to harm innocent civilians in Pakistan, in America, and in countries around the civilized world. And the way to defeat them is to take the fight to them and prevent them from carrying out the attacks in the first place.

Q We haven't heard from the President on this. Can you tell us what the President said?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, I think I'll just leave it where I did and leave it where the Prime Minister did.
Oh, and if you bother to look at the statement from the PM, there is no mention of the incident. So, alas, if you expect genuine remorse from a person who claims that he values life and tries to foster a culture of life - well, then, Scotty's got a hearty figurative fuck you for ya (see above discourse).

Who's Tapping the Right-To-Lifers' Telephones?

Just wondering, since the fringe element on the right to lifer contingent of our fair society tend to want to do things like bomb Planned Parenthood clinics and shoot Doctors, who is tapping their phones and do they have warrants to do it?

You know, bombing clinics and shooting doctors looks a lot like terrorism to me. How about you? Well, in case you needed further verification that the W, Rove and Co (and Alito) are all about over turning Roe V. Wade, you need look no further than this telephone call. When you take a look at these words from the Shrub, his hypocrisy become plain for all to see - particularly, when we are still bombing the shit out of Iraq and killing civilians in Pakistan.
You believe, as I do, that every human life has value, that the strong have a duty to protect the weak...

...We also must respect human life and dignity...

...By changing laws we can change our culture...

...we're working to persuade more of our fellow Americans of the rightness of our cause...
No doubt, the catalog of atrocities and human indignities perpetrated by this administration lay bare all that is wrong with what the president is saying here. But ho w is it that the American public is letting the wool down over their own eyes? Why are there some that are foolish enough to think that our liberties and rights are more expendable than our lives - as human life is transient, while the laws that built and govern our lands span the generations?

When You Care Enough To Hire The Very Best

You outsource your torture - makes it easier to say "We" don't. How ethical is that?
"There is a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of 'relocation' or 'outsourcing of torture'," Marty told the 46-nation Council, based in the eastern French city of Strasbourg.

Monday, January 23, 2006

President Goes Brokeback On Us

Have a gander at how tangled Shrub gets on even the easy questions. What exactly is the President suggesting here? Could there be some latent closteted homosexual tendencies involved with our fair leader?
Q W is for Wisconsin. You're a rancher. A lot of us here in Kansas are ranchers. I was just wanting to get your opinion on "Brokeback Mountain," if you've seen it yet? (Laughter.) You would love it. You should check it out.

THE PRESIDENT: I haven't seen it. I'll be glad to talk about ranching, but I haven't seen the movie. (Laughter.) I've heard about it. I hope you go -- you know -- (laughter) -- I hope you go back to the ranch and the farm is what I'm about to say. I haven't seen it. (Laughter and applause.)