Friday, June 30, 2006

Peanut Butter And Bannana Sandwiches Go Well With What?

So, in case you haven't noticed, they were dining on peanut butter and bannana sandwiches aboard Airforce One today. Do you think they were trying to save the American Taxpayers some money on this PR junket? Nope, just a bunch of nutty Elvis fans munching on the high calorie lunch item. But what else were they doing up there, Mr. Tony the Snow-job?
MR. SNOW: They're working out or getting drunk -- we're not sure which it is. But in any event, it's 36 grams of fat and apparently those eating it feel each and every one of those grams as they eat them.
Having visited Japan myself, my bet is on the latter not the former. I thought the President was on the wagon?

Right Down The Rabit Hole Into The Twisted World Of The W, Rove And Co.

If there were a political equivalent to Alice's Wonderland, it would have to be the political environment generated by the W, Rove and Co. What with signing statements, the desperate search for the "right" kind of activist judge, and the surreptitious circumvention of the Constitution, the rights of American citizens, and all things legal, we now have the W, Rove and Co looking to congress to figure out how to solve their Gitmo problem.
Q So now that you've had the drive-by briefings on Gitmo, what are you guys going to do now?

MR. SNOW: Well, I think right now, as the President said yesterday, it looks like there's considerable interest in Congress in going ahead and taking a good look at what the Supreme Court had to say and moving forward toward making sure that we can proceed with military commissions and bring to justice the people who are held at Guantanamo, as well as continuing to process or repatriating those who are going to be headed home.
Obviously, the purview of the executive branch is to figure out how to enforce the laws that are made by the legislative branch. The point of the judiciary is to make decisions about that law - did some one violate it, for example, and then mete out an appropriate punishment. But now it looks at if the W, Rove and Co has decided that they didn't like the decision of the SCOTUS and are working with the lawmakers to skirt their ruling. Does this sound like the American way or what?

If Gitmo Terrorists Must Be Set Free, Whom Shall We Blame?

You know, I said this in December of last year. There is a large possibility that the Gitmo nasties may have to be let go and all because of the breach of legality by the W, Rove and Co. I am sure the reichwingers are going to be suggesting it was those nasty "activist judges" who are insisting we put American's in jeopardy. But really, whose fault is it if we have to let some big fish go?

The apologists are most certainly going to suggest the W, Rove and Co were violating human rights and the law in order to save the American people from harm and thusly are justified. But really, if the W, Rove and Co are insisting that human rights are not worthy to maintain, aren't they the same as the Taliban? Indeed, the fundamentalist Muslims and the fundamentalist Christians are two sides of the same coin, aren't they?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Oh, What A Tangled Web We Weave: Repudiation, Drive By Briefings and, Circumventing the SCOTUS, Oh My.

So, let's find out what the Shrubster and his lackeys said about the SCOTUS decision. First look at the Joint Press Availability with the Japanese Prime Minister:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You've said that you wanted to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but you were waiting for the Supreme Court decision that came out today. Do you intend now to close the Guantanamo Bay quickly? And how do you deal with the suspects that you've said were too dangerous to be released or sent home?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you for the question on a court ruling that literally came out in the midst of my meeting with the Prime Minister -- and so I haven't had a chance to fully review the findings of the Supreme Court. I, one, assure you that we take them very seriously. Two, that to the extent that there is latitude to work with the Congress to determine whether or not the military tribunals will be an avenue in which to give people their day in court, we will do so.

The American people need to know that this ruling, as I understand it, won't cause killers to be put out on the street. In other words, there's not a -- it was a drive-by briefing on the way here, I was told that this was not going to be the case. At any rate, we will seriously look at the findings, obviously. And one thing I'm not going to do, though, is I'm not going to jeopardize the safety of the American people. People have got to understand that. I understand we're in a war on terror; that these people were picked up off of a battlefield; and I will protect the people and, at the same time, conform with the findings of the Supreme Court.

Q Do you think the prison will close?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I haven't had a chance to fully review what the court said, Terry. I wish I had, and I could have given you a better answer. As I say, we take the findings seriously. And, again, as I understand it -- now please don't hold me to this -- that there is a way forward with military tribunals in working with the United States Congress; as I understand certain senators have already been out expressing their desire to what the Supreme Court found, and we will work with the Congress. I want to find a way forward.

In other words, I have told the people that I would like for there to be a way to return people from Guantanamo to their home countries, but some of them -- people need to be tried in our courts. And that's -- the Hamdan decision was the way forward for that part of my statement, and, again, I would like to review the case. And we are, we've got people looking at it right now to determine how we can work with Congress if that's available to solve the problem...

...Q Right, but this -- can you comment on what looks like a judicial repudiation of your administration's policy on the treatment of terror suspects post-9/11?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Matt, I can't -- I wish I could comment, and would, obviously. I'm a person who generally comments on things. I haven't been briefed enough to make a comment on it, except for the following things. I'm sorry you had to waste your question, but we will conform to the Supreme Court, we will analyze the decision. To the extent that the Congress has given any latitude to develop a way forward using military tribunals, we will work with them.

As I understand, a Senator has already been on TV. Haven't seen it, haven't heard what he said, but as -- they briefed me and said he wants to devise law in conformity with the case that would enable us to use a military tribunal to hold these people to account. And if that's the case, we'll work with him. But that's -- I can't comment any more than I have just done in the first question. Otherwise I would have. I just haven't been fully briefed enough to answer your question, Matt.
So, no comment? Bullshit. He had a full briefing or there is no excuse for not getting one.

Let's move to the Press Whitewashing of the news by Tony the Snow-job where he tries to clarify what the president meant by a "drive-by briefing":
Q Can you describe for us -- the President mentioned the drive-by briefing --

MR. SNOW: Yes. I conducted that. I helped conduct it. What we did is -- and he only had about three minutes -- we got a quick brief. The case, I guess, came down, what, about five or ten minutes after 10:00 a.m. The President had been in continuous meetings with Prime Minister Koizumi and their national security teams, so we were able to give him a very quick gloss on what we at that point had known.

Even now, people are studying as carefully as they can what is a highly complex decision, trying to figure out what the ramifications are. But the President did point out, and it seems to be the point that Justice Stevens stressed from the bench today, that one of the most important things for the court, in the majority opinion today, was to get some congressional authorization. Members of Congress, including Senator Graham, on TV, have stepped forward and said that they'd be happy to work on that process. The President said he's willing to work with Congress on authorization to figure out how to move forward in a way consistent with the ruling handed down by the court.
Holy shit. A three minute briefing on what could be the ruin of your presidency? How much do you want to bet that the Rovester was in on this one?

The Snow-job goes on and on in his briefing trying to dissuade the people that the president did anything more illegal than just have a difference of opinion. The fact of the matter is that the SCOTUS decides what is the law of the land, and if you violate the law of the land. They did. But you can see how Snow dances around this at the web location. Frankly, it's too long for a blog post. Have a look and see what you think. I'll just paste in one more slice to prove that I am not an idiot for seeing that the Emperor has no clothes here:
Q This administration has said that under the Constitution, at a time of war, the President has had very far-reaching power to protect the American people, and the Court seems to disagree and says the President overreached in that power.

MR. SNOW: You know, it's -- overreached is the headline, it's not the way it's been written by the Court. I mean, I've got the opinion here, and I'd defy anybody to come up with a very quick and simple analysis of the varied holdings in here. You've got people agreeing and disagreeing in part. So I think what the Court is saying is that it wants to make sure that there's congressional authorization, and it also is concerned about comporting with the Geneva Conventions and also the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And those are matters that will be taken under advisement.

Q And those are things that this White House has basically said it did not have to do, that executive has the authority to pursue this war without dealing with those other institutions.

MR. SNOW: The Court disagreed with that.

Q The President said before that he was waiting for the Supreme Court ruling before he would make any comments about it, but he also said that he really wanted to close it soon. So where do we stand with that?

MR. SNOW: Well, you're talking about Guantanamo?

Q Yes. The ruling didn't address the --

MR. SNOW: Correct, and the ruling -- the President never said he wanted to -- he said he wants to close Guantanamo. He didn't say he wanted to close it quickly, because there are some practical considerations. There are approximately -- well, as quickly as possible, I believe. There's a difference, because you have a whole series of considerations. There are approximately a hundred prisoners we are still in the process of trying to repatriate. There is also a core of prisoners who are deemed so dangerous that their home countries won't even take them back. There are a number of prisoners, also, that we think need to be held to justice within the United States system. And now you have to figure out how to go forward with that. This will not mean closing down Guantanamo. There's nothing in this opinion that dictates closing down Guantanamo. We're studying very carefully what other implications there may be.

I think the most important thing, at this point, seems to be -- I don't want to fake being a lawyer, but I've had some pretty extensive consultations with our lawyers, who are still pouring over this -- I think the congressional consultation piece is going to be pretty important.

Q Forgive me, Jim. The President has said, I want to close Guantanamo --

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q -- I'm waiting for this decision. You're just now saying, this doesn't mean we close Guantanamo. Isn't that --

MR. SNOW: No, because he wanted to see the decision, and I think what the decision has done -- for instance, in the case of Mr. Hamdan, is it's now reverting it back to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. There is no strict constitutional interpretation. As a matter of fact, this opinion does not talk about the Constitution. And so what the President is trying to do, and what the attorneys are trying to do, both here in the White House and also at Departments of Justice and Defense, is to figure out precisely what the Court is saying here, and how to proceed in a way that comports with it.

We will proceed as rapidly as we can to bring to justice those who have been held in Guantanamo, to repatriate as quickly as possible those who may be repatriated. And that's always been the goal. But this is not a decision that lends itself to a very quick disposition, because what it has now done is added the extra element of bringing Congress in, and saying to members of Congress, okay, congressional authorization. Section III of Justice Stevens' opinion deals with the issue of congressional authorization. And as I've mentioned, I think a number of members of Congress are going to want to weigh in on this.


Q For the record, the President still stands by the idea that he wants to close Guantanamo Bay.

MR. SNOW: Absolutely. Yes, that hasn't changed.

Q Then as far as the congressional oversight, could you just flesh out for me --

MR. SNOW: It's not oversight, it's authorization.

Q Authorization. Could you flesh out for me what that does --

MR. SNOW: I wish I could. I think what it means is that they want to make sure that Congress authorizes, pursuant to Congress' obligations when it comes to declaring war and laying conditions for a war, it wants Congress to authorize the way to proceed forward in terms of bringing to justice those who have been brought in from the battlefield.

Q So doesn't that, by definition, mean the administration overreached in setting up its initial approach?

MR. SNOW: I think it would say that the administration -- the Supreme Court has disagreed with the approach we've taken. You may -- I don't know how you'd say "overreached." Apply whatever adjective or whatever verb you want, the Supreme Court has said that it disagrees with the way in which the commissions were convened, and has laid down some guidelines for proceeding.

Q But the idea is to maintain sort of the concept, it's just to make sure that it's rewritten with Congress' authorization, as you say.

MR. SNOW: You've got to keep -- the principle is, you bring to justice people who were on the battlefield or have been apprehended in the process of committing acts of terror or on the war fields of Afghanistan and elsewhere. And that principle remains the same; nobody gets a "get out of jail free" card. Instead now, what we're doing is addressing the issue which the Court sort of threw in the lap of both Congress and the administration, of figuring out what the Court has decided is the proper way to proceed in trying to convene hearings for those who are being held.
Basically, if we want to sum it up this one quote from the decision by a pool reporter should be the trigger for initiating impeachment proceedings tomorrow:
Q Okay. In addition to that, there was some strong rhetoric in some of these decisions, the majority decisions, Kennedy writing in a separate opinion, "It's a concentration of power" -- referring specifically to the executive branch -- "puts personal liberty in peril of arbitrary action by officials," "an incursion to the Constitution's three-part system is designed to avoid." Is there any feeling in terms of the administration's reaction to that?
I'll leave you with this little bit about how the W, Rove and Co is going to try and circumvent the SCOTUS, at which point we should all take up arms and execute a Coup-de-ta, with arms if necessary, since the Executive should never trump one of the other two branches of the government. It's not what the founding fathers had designed or wanted. It looks too much like a mono-theocracy.
Q But those are the steps that you guys bypassed.

MR. SNOW: Well, and so those are not going to be bypassed in the future, and there's a disagreement. The Supreme Court has rendered its decision.

Q This way forward, working with Congress for authorization, isn't that basically a way to circumvent what the Supreme Court came down with today?

MR. SNOW: Not when a justice says, Congress can do this. That sounds to me to be -- and by the way, there may be other means of dealing with this. I do not want to give you the impression that is the one and only thing. But that seems to be something Justice Stevens considered important enough to say, from the bench, that Congress could write authorizing legislation to deal with this. That's not circumventing the Court, that's responding to what the author of the majority opinion had to say.
It goes on and on, ad nauseum, but you get the idea: The W, Rove and Co is in deep shit here, no? It's going to be fun to see how they squirm their way out of it.

It Is Never Too Late To Start Impeachment Proceedings: But Stop, The President Is Going To Graceland.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that President George W. Bush overstepped his authority in denying terror war detainees civilian trials...

The Court has ruled that U.S. detainees--classified by the Bush Administration as "enemy combatants"--cannot be considered exempt from the Geneva Convention. The administration had attempted to argue that the "combatants" had no rights under U.S. or international law, or that only certain rights under each applied.

The Supreme Court disagreed.

The trials had been challenged by Salim Ahmed Hamdan, former bodyguard and limo driver for Osama bin Laden. Hamdan has been held at Guantanamo Bay for four years, eventually being charged with conspiracy. The court pointed out that there is no international law against conspiracy.

The ruling is not likely to result in the release of Hamdan, or other Guantanamo prisoners. In fact, it may result in longer detentions, while the United States attempts to put another system into place.

The 5-3 decision overturns a lower court ruling in the government's favor by Chief Justice and Bush appointee John Roberts. Roberts did not participate in the decision.

A complete overhaul of the system for Guantanamo Bay detainee trails is now expected.

In the odd event that you would actually like to read the opinion of the SCOTUS, you can find it here, but there is one sentence that I liked best:
For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the military commission convened to try Hamdan lacks power to proceed because its structure and procedures violate both the UCMJ and the Geneva Conventions.
So, basically, we see laid bare, the degree to which the W, Rove and Co. will go to violate the laws in order to acheive their aims. With no law to high to violate, what will they do next? There are a lot more gems in the opinion of the court briefing, but I don't have time to look deeper. May get to it later. Stay posted as all eyes are on the whitehouse becuase they now have the "guidance" from the courts they have been waiting for to "close Guantanamo." Of course, the President is busy entertaining the Japanese delegation and taking the prime minister to Graceland, but hey, what's more important?

Is This "War" Worth It?

"I don't know if this war is worth the life of Terry Lisk, or 10 soldiers, or 2,500 soldiers like him. What I do know is that he did not die alone. He was surrounded by friends."COL. SEAN MacFARLAND, of the Army.

Boots on the ground know the truth.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

No Wonder The Rats Have Been Jumping Ship

Image Grabbed From BIO

"A Beacon Of Hope?"

As we celebrate our independence, Americans can take pride in our history and look to the future with confidence. We offer our gratitude to all the American patriots, past and present, who have sought to advance freedom and lay the foundations of peace. Because of their sacrifice, this country remains a beacon of hope for all who dream of liberty and a shining example to the world of what a free people can achieve. May God continue to bless the United States of America.
If you ask me, the President has done much to put out the beacon rather than make it shine brighter. What do you think?

Taking Comfort, or Not.

Of course, the President is on another American Taxpayer supported PR Junket to the midwest - Just one quick question, would you take comfort, given the current situation in Iraq, if the President met with you to "express our country's gratitude for their[your relative's] service?"
3:41 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank you all for coming. I just had a discussion with fellow citizens in the Guard, Reserve and active duty who have been in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I want to thank you for sharing your insights with me. Thank you for your service to the country.

I told these men and women that their service is necessary for the security of the United States of America, and that they're serving in historic times. And one day their children will be able to look back and say, my dad, or my mom went to Iraq and Afghanistan and helped a young country become a democracy, and therefore the world is more peaceful for it.

One of the things I am going to do is I'm going to meet with the family members of these good people, and express our country's gratitude for their service, as well. A lot of times military families don't get proper thanks, and I can't wait to meet your loved ones and tell them firsthand that the country appreciates your service.

One thing I told these good folks is that this country stands with people who are defending our nation. We're with you. We know the work is hard, but the work is necessary. And we're winning; and we're winning. And the world is going to be better off because of your courageous service, and I thank you for it.

Thanks for letting me come by and visit.

END 3:43 P.M. CDT
What would you say to the man if he met with you in such a capacity?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Staying The Course In Iraq Gets You...

Image grabbed from BIO location

"We Are Going To Be Perfectly Circular With You Here:" Another Political Parlor Trick Exposed By The Perpetrators

If there was a second whitehouse beat reporter that I enjoy after Helen Thomas, it's Victoria (I don't know what her last name is. Does any one out there know?). Well, okay, except for Lester (also don't know his last name), for entertainment value, maybe.

You have to love it when the Press Secretary exposes himself in public and then identifies the political parlor tricks (for which the W, Rove and Co. claim to have such disdain)they will used to keep the American people in the dark. Enjoy:

Q I talked yesterday with somebody from the NSC about the telephone records being handed over -- by the telephone companies to the NSA. And they wouldn't confirm or deny the existence of the program.

MR. SNOW: Right.

Q Now, as far as the SWIFT financial records issue that was reported in The New York Times, you seem to have confirmed the existence of that program by the way that you've been talking from the podium.

MR. SNOW: That is correct.

Q So if that's the case, and the telephone records program was written about also in The New York Times and in USA Today, why not just go ahead and either confirm or deny the existence of this program and just lay the whole thing to rest?

MR. SNOW: Because we are neither going to confirm, nor deny. We are going to be perfectly circular with you here. But having neither confirmed, nor denied before, we're not going to do it. In the particular case with The New York Times, there was a concerted effort to lay before the newspaper the full facts and to try to make the argument that while it might make a good story, it's bad in terms of national security. As far as the other program, we just have never confirmed or denied the details.

When Snow Melts Himself

Okay, so the W, Rove and Co. argument goes: If we leak (who's fault is that, btw) top secret information and it is published in the press, it will hurt our efforts to stop bad people from doing bad things. Okay, just one question: If you can't predict the future, how do you know this is the case? Remember, this is just like the whole WMD ploy - the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. As Radar O'Reily used to say, "Wait for it." Tony the Snow-job commits rhetorical suicide for the W, Rove and Co one more time. The trouble is, the American people are too busy to notice that he melts his own argument:
Q Tony, regarding the disclosure last week of the SWIFT monitoring program, I understand the theoretical argument that this impedes the ability to conduct intelligence, but does the White House know for a fact that it's demonstrably changed and lessened the ability --

MR. SNOW: We took this up yesterday, which is, you're not going to be able to assess definitively within a day. But I think what you're likely to have is negative confirmation in the sense people change their behavior. This is a program that had worked, that had worked -- not only had been successful in intercepting terrorist funding and foiling terrorist plots and saving lives. And The New York Times story itself said as much. It's not as if terrorists are going to say, oops, got to stop doing that. You're not likely to get a lot of intel traffic. But on the other hand, I can imagine that over a period of time you're going to see some sort of patterns emerge.

Keep in mind also the idea that there's going to be a snap decision on this. The way the program worked was, you did not track bank transfers in real time. There was a lag. For instance, if you were going to seek a subpoena, you would have to cite specific intelligence, it would have to be reviewed by outside auditors, it would have to have allowed a certain amount of time to elapse. None of those things have had time to proceed. So we really don't have any basis right now for knowing exactly how it's influenced things, but I think it is safe to say that once you provide a piece of intelligence, people on the inside act on it.
We all know that any sentence that includes a "but" is only partially received and perceived. Which part of Tony's statement will be remembered?

Monday, June 26, 2006

The World's Richest Men Present Us With A Conundrum

I am sure you heard the news either yesterday evening or early this AM that Warren Buffet is giving a huge chunk of change to the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation. Here's the conundrum. Is it me, or does anyone else find it a bit odd that the world's second richest man is giving his cash to the world's richest man?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Carrots And Sticks: An Eye For An Eye Works In Both Directions

I've been working very hard to be a good father. My children are very young (4 and 2 years old). I'm enrolled in a parenting course - at the behest of my spouse. The main thrust of this course is to change styles of communicating with our children from negative to positive such that we are able to elicit good behavior and cooperation and listening and powerful, open communication by using a better carrot rather than stronger sticks. This led me to a whole mess of questions for the blogisphere to cogitate this weekend.

No run this AM as it's my rest day, but I have been ruminating over this concept for a few days. Answer any or all questions that you like in a comment below:
  1. What is it that is so very wrong about this pre-emptive war strategy to defeat terrorism?

  2. Might it not be that we are using the wrong device?

  3. An eye for an eye is easy to use as justification for using a bigger stick, but doesn't that slogan work both ways, and for all parties at either end of the stick?

  4. If we are always threatening a bigger stick, might not our enemies seek to trump our stick with a more grizzly and gruesome set of weapons all of their own invention (read, IEDs, or the "Hey, let's kidnap with intent to drill into GIs heads" strategy)?

  5. So, really, it might be that the war and fear mongering driven W, Rove and Co. administration is approaching the whole "war on terror" in the wrong way. In fact, shouldn't we be seeking a better carrot rather than a stronger stick?

  6. Moreover, if the existing carrot is rotten to the core, and we present a rotten carrot while threatening the stick, what does that get us: a) an end to the war on terror, or b) an indefinite, endless conflict that breeds only more pissed off and motivated terrorists?

  7. If we were to spend as much capital on building a better carrot rather than wielding a bigger stick, what would that carrot look and feel like?

  8. Would a better carrot be a swifter way to peace, that is, if peace is truly the objective?
I look forward to reading your comments. Blog on all.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Usurping Congress: A Presidential Strategy To Avoid Legality

Here's an interesting extension of the whole warrantless surveilance of banks on hehalf of the president's "war on terror," which is begining to look more and more like a war on American Civil Liberties:
Q Going back to The New York Times story. You were talking about since September the 11th, and you said we'd fight terror with every means at our disposal. Could you define that phrase for us?

MR. SNOW: Yes, every means legally. That means that you will use intelligence -- by the way, let me back up, because I --

Q That's not what you said -- "at our disposal."

MR. SNOW: Every means at our disposal -- then I will claim guilty to a bit of loose verbiage, because when I say, at our disposal as a government, at our disposal are not illegal means. That is not at our disposal. As a President who has sworn to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, live within the Constitution and live within the boundaries of the law -- within the Constitution and the boundaries of the law, we will do what we can to try to prevent terrorists from killing innocent people.

Let me also add, and just -- and I'll let you get back -- the executive order is Executive Order 13224, signed on September 21, 2001. It authorized the Treasury Department, in conjunction with other Cabinet agencies, to use all appropriate measures to identify, track and pursue not only those who commit terrorist acts here and abroad, but also those who provide financial and other support. So that is your legal justification.

Also, it is firmly rooted -- and I apologize for this, I had not flipped my page, because I did have the brief on it -- other statutory mandates and executive orders. These would include the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977. I will repeat, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977, and also the United Nations Participation Act. So those are some of the key bases legally for this program.

Q Tony, the critics are pointing to the emergency section of that second --

MR. SNOW: Well, look, you've got a war on terror. It is an emergency. They can -- if they want to argue that terrorists are still --

Q He can do that temporarily, but then he needs to seek congressional authority to continue. It's been going on for five year.

MR. SNOW: Let's see how this proceeds.
Indeed. W, Rove and Co Modus Operandi is to proceed until caught with hands in the cookie jar.

"Because Five And A Half Years Is A Long Time"

Q Tony, why did the Transportation Secretary resign?

MR. SNOW: Because he wanted to. He was not being pushed out. There's no -- as a matter of fact, the President, the Vice President, and others were happy with him and they suggested that --

Q He felt like he had put in his time?

MR. SNOW: Yes, he put in five-and-a-half years. That's a long time.
I can think of at least three or four other W, Rove and Co. officials that I wish would use the same logic for resignation.

Who Says The NY Times Doesn't Have a Sense Of Humor

I love this juxtaposition on the editorial page today."Comforting the Comfortable" versus "Afflicting the Afflicted."Sounds like GOP SOP, if you ask me. Look at their actions and you can discern their values:
Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed an estate-tax cut that is a repeal in everything but name. The so-called compromise would exempt more than 99.5 percent of estates from tax, slash the tax rates on the rest and cost at least $760 billion during its first full decade. Of that, $600 billion is the amount the government would have to borrow to make up for lost revenue from the cuts, which would benefit the heirs of America's wealthiest families, like the Marses of Mars bar and the Waltons of Wal-Mart Stores. The remaining $160 billion is the interest on that borrowing, which would be paid by all Americans.
A bill sponsored by Edward Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, to increase the minimum wage by $2.10 over two years drew the support this week of 52 senators, including eight Republicans, but Republican leaders threw up procedural barriers. And in the House, Republican leaders are not letting a minimum-wage increase come to a vote, apparently because it would pass.

8:45 PM update. Neil, over at his location had this to say about the same issue...had me rolling on the floor in a fit of laughter:
How the representatives of "The People" can continually fuck "The People" in the ass while at the same time giving a succulent blowjob to the richest one per cent in this country is far beyond the left-field porch of my comprehension.

Do Jihadists Use Traditional Banks?

Here's an intesting question raised by a friend. If terrorists use traditional banks, this secret program (exposed by yet another leak in the W, Rove and Co ship), would be for, what?
The program, run by the Treasury Department, is considered a potent weapon in the war on terrorism because of its ability to clandestinely monitor financial transactions and map terrorist webs.
Does anyone have any familiarity with the term "al-hawalah?"

A more important question is posed by Helen Thomas in the political pistolwhipping she delivers to Tony the Snowjob in his press conference today. I'm going to paste a bunch of it in here as, really, you can't make this shit up. I'll highlight a couple of important questions, but you can see for yourself how tangled the W, Rove and Co has gotten themselves in violations of our constitutional rights they seem like bumbling idiots when trying to answer legitimate questions:
Q On terrorist financing, the critics are saying again that this is another indication that the White House is overstepping presidential authority. Why isn't it?

MR. SNOW: Well, number one -- I'm glad you asked it. The stories that appeared today were interesting, because all of the potential criticisms were entirely abstract in nature, were not concrete, whereas the benefits were fairly concrete, as were the legal steps.

I'll just read you a few highlights from The New York Times. "The program is a significant departure from typical practice." Well, so was September 11th, and I think everybody acknowledges that in the wake of September 11th it became necessary to try to use every means at our disposal to try to figure out what terrorists were doing and to try to track them down and to stop their activities. The program is, "highly unusual." I refer you to my previous comment about September 11th.

Some officials, "expressed reservations about the program." The reservations are not concrete. It says that, "What they viewed as an urgent temporary measure has become permanent." That doesn't tell me anything. That doesn't list a specific violation of anybody's private rights, it doesn't specify any statute that may have been violated. "The program has been described as exploiting a 'gray area.'" Difficult to figure out what that means. The executives voiced, "early concerns about the program." That was at Swift. Apparently those were resolved.

Meanwhile -- go ahead.

Q I think what they're saying is that the justification that you all are using for this program is based on the September 11th disaster, and now this program has been going on for five years, but there's no congressional authority for it.

MR. SNOW: And what's interesting here is, for instance, in the -- well, rise in peace, it says "It arguably complies with the letter of the law." There was no specific allegation of any breach of responsibility for notifying Congress. In addition, intelligence committees have been notified, and they know all about this.

Let me tell you why this is important. It works. If you read the piece, it works. The program has been tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to al Qaeda: Routine transactions confined to this country are generally not in the database; it has sought only for terrorism investigations; a series of safeguards have been put in place. For instance, anybody trying to have access has to have a specific reason and a specific piece of data that would justify going into the database. Furthermore, to ensure that there has been no abuse, they've also had an outside auditor take a look regularly at the program. This has been reviewed by Intelligence Committees on the House, it's been reviewed by the Fed and other financial institutions in the United States. Furthermore, according to the piece, again, Swift and Treasury officials are aware of no abuses, nor have any been alleged in the piece.

Here's what it has done -- this is the concrete part, as opposed to the abstract, potential dangers. It helped capture Hambali, who was responsible for the Bali bombing which killed more than 2,000 people.* It's provided information on domestic terror cells. That's a good thing. It helped identify a Brooklyn man convicted on terrorism-related charges last year.

So the point here is that the administration has been looking very carefully at ways of trying within the letter and spirit of the law to be able to shut off financing. It's a good thing to shut off the spigot, the financial spigot. And it does seem to be working. Now we have stories of people moving wads of cash over the borders -

Q Isn't it also to have it clear that it's legal, that there should be court-approved warrants, which is a general practice, subpoenas, and that kind of thing, to ensure that it --

MR. SNOW: Subpoenas, in fact, are not standard practice, no. Subpoenas are actually not standard practice in this kind of activity.

Q Why didn't the President seek congressional authorization for the program?

MR. SNOW: He didn't need to.

Q Why?

MR. SNOW: Because, why would he need it? Under what statute would he need congressional authorization?

Q On what legal -- what is your legal basis for --

MR. SNOW: The legal basis -- no, the legal basis here is that you've got an executive order, and furthermore, if you want to get into the legal vagaries, I will send you over to the Treasury Department attorneys who have been working this. I think it is safe to say that there's a presumption here that the administration is trying to do an end run. If so, it's interesting that people involved -- The Times refers generally to the administration having people contacted. These people are involved in the intelligence business, who knew about it, who are members of Congress, and who were informed about the program, who specifically asked The New York Times not to publish it.

So this is not something -- you might want to ask members of the intelligence committees whether they thought they got an end-run on this one.

Q Well, given all that you're saying, and given the fact that it has been well known publicly that the government has endeavored to cut off the financial spigot, to use your term, why did the administration go to such intense lengths to stop the publication of something that people think is somewhat self-evident?

MR. SNOW: Because the means and methods by which we do it are not.

Q But the existence of this organization is no secret, either.

MR. SNOW: Are you kidding? Are you talking about Swift? When did you know about Swift before?

Q I'm talking about those in the --

MR. SNOW: -- know about Swift before? (Laughter.)

Q While I don't, I can assure you that people in the financial community know.

MR. SNOW: I guarantee, you go talk to your local banker -- you talk about --

Q Why doesn't it --

MR. SNOW: It is legal, Helen.

Q What is the law that allows you to go into the private --

MR. SNOW: I'll tell you what, we will attach -- we'll get our lawyers to attach all this and it will just --

Q No, no, just give me the law --

MR. SNOW: I am going to give you the law.

Go ahead.

Q You don't even know --

MR. SNOW: You're absolutely right, I do not know the specific statute, which is why I will present it to you.

Q But, again, why go to the extraordinary effort of trying to get news media to inform people what their government is doing?

MR. SNOW: Well, I'll tell you what, does CNN disclose what it does with the financial information or personal information of the people who log onto its website? Does The New York Times? Does The L.A. Times? Your organizations all collect personal data on people who use your services. But there's a second point --

Q Do you not understand the difference between private companies and governments, sir?

MR. SNOW: I understand. I do understand. But what I'm saying here is, what the public -- I'll tell you what, you ask the American public, do you want -- do you think you have a right to know the specific means and methods by which --

Q That's not --

MR. SNOW: Helen, will you stop heckling and let me conduct a press conference.

Q -- argument.

MR. SNOW: Well, no, I'm making an argument, and you're pestering the teacher.

Okay, now, here -- I think the American people understand that if somebody says, how is it that you're tracking down terrorist financing? We don't want the terrorist to know that. That's an important thing for them not to know. But now what's happening is that some of the means and methods are available. What happens is they adjust their own techniques accordingly.

Now, here's the other interesting thing. If there were some specific allegation that there was an abuse here, that people 's rights were in jeopardy, that there was a violation of law -- none of which is alleged; I mean, you keep asking me what the laws are -- it's not even mentioned in here, in The New York Times or any of the pieces that ran today, there is no allegation of illegality.

Go ahead.

Q Let me ask a follow up. Are you saying that the financial experts in the terrorist ranks would not know about an organization that works for 7,800 different financial institutions in 200 countries?

MR. SNOW: I'm saying, yes. I think that a lot of people didn't know about the existence of Swift.

Q I asked, though, about the terrorist financial experts, the ones you would worry about, the ones --

MR. SNOW: I'm not sure they did. I really don't.

Q Tony, would you allow, though, that there could be a deterrent effect in this information becoming public, that the terrorists know that you're looking at this and they're going to have to find another less effective way to do this, and perhaps less successful way and a more easily discoverable way?

MR. SNOW: It's a good point. I think it's -- but I'm not sure the revelation of the methods is all that useful, but the government has said many times, we're going after your finances. And it's also clear that the financial trails have been drying up. And it's also clear that in some cases you do have stories of people baling up wads of cash and carrying them through the mountains of Pakistan and so on to try to transmit. So there clearly has been a deterrent effect. I don't know if it's traceable to this program; I don't know if it's traceable -- I'm not sure I can disaggregate the specific causes of it, but it is clear that the efforts to try to choke off terror financing have enjoyed a certain measure of success. And that's a good thing.

Q But there is a suggestion in some of the stories that the program isn't even that useful anymore because of the way al Qaeda moves money around is such an informal -- they have such an informal way of doing it now, that it doesn't even go through these official means, and that the program, in fact, invades everyone's privacy, but for very little use.

MR. SNOW: How does it invade people's privacy?

Q Well, by learning personal data.

MR. SNOW: No, but it is restricted. Again, it is not looking at your privacy, it's not looking at mine, unless --

Q How is it restricted?

MR. SNOW: It is restricted to -- you have to have intelligence data that would justify looking into the records of a person. All right? And that person has to have links to al Qaeda. Those are the basic guidelines. If you're not a member of al Qaeda -- and, Peter, I have it on good authority that you're not -- you're safe. They're not going to look at your records.

Go ahead, Jessica.

Q Is there anything in this emergency provision for the President that limits the administration from making a rule that lets you guys look into everyone's personal data?

MR. SNOW: Is there anything that limits? There's absolutely --

Q Any limits to the President's power, in your view --

MR. SNOW: There is no contemplation of any such action, period.

Q No, but the question is, is there anything in the law that you use to justify -- that the administration uses to justify these programs --

MR. SNOW: The law is very specific, which is talking about going at --

Q -- that limits the President's power?

MR. SNOW: Yes. The limit of trying to go after terrorists, that in itself is self-limiting because it limits the body of people whose financial transactions and other data are going to be investigated.

Q In previous cases when intelligence methods have been revealed in the news, the administration has not talked about them. This time you've trotted the Treasury officials to talk about them. Why have you done this? Is the administration concerned --

MR. SNOW: I think it was because --

Q -- that you're not being effective in getting this out to the people and justifying it?

MR. SNOW: I think it's important -- the one thing we can say is that Jim Risen and Eric Lichtblau and Bill Keller and others had -- and other reporters who did this, got extensive knowledge and briefing on this. So they knew it. And that's why -- I mean, it's interesting because I think there's a fair amount of balance in the story in that you do have concrete benefits and you do have the kind of abstract harms that were mentioned in there. I think it's important in a case like this, and obviously, we didn't want to print it. But we also wanted to make sure that as the reporters went through and as the editors went through it that they were fully informed so that they could make their own judgment, and that is what they did.

Go ahead. Let me get to Sheryl.

Q You had mentioned that the intelligence committees were briefed. Can you talk specifically about how members of Congress were briefed about this program, and when? And if the types --

MR. SNOW: No. Because I don't know.**

Q Can you also find out, if you don't know, were the briefings that Congress received on this program similar or different than the ones members received on the NSA wire tapping?

MR. SNOW: We'll asterisk that one --

MS. PERINO: Treasury is having a press conference at 1:00 p.m.

MR. SNOW: Yes, that's true, the Treasury, actually -- Secretary Snow is going to have a press conference on it. And frankly, he knows it far better than I do. So I think -- transfer there; if we don't get answers then, we'll do it.
I think the best statement here is this:
the way al Qaeda moves money around is such an informal -- they have such an informal way of doing it now, that it doesn't even go through these official means, and that the program, in fact, invades everyone's privacy, but for very little use.
So, thusly, my original question, why do you think they are doing this?

Oh, and Helen comes right back at Tony the schoolboy Snowjob one more time latter on in the lession - oop, I mean briefing:
Q Back to the banking transactions, how can you assure the American public that this isn't what seems to be a broad net covering all Americans -- you said no, subpoenas are needed, but warrants apparently weren't used, either. Very similar, and apparently this is parallel to the NSA case, which gives the perception, if nothing else, that it's an arrogance of presidential power and --

MR. SNOW: I think what you've done is just reveal the lens through which you're looking at it, which is suspicious, skeptical, and doesn't seem to understand that the word "terrorist" has real meaning, and furthermore, that somebody does have to have stated legal reasons and evidence to support it to enter the database.

I would suggest going back and actually reading more carefully the stories, because they do not convey the dark impression you try to convey in the question.

Q But you're not conveying the legality of it. That's the question here.

MR. SNOW: I'm not a lawyer, so I would suggest, if you want to get into the legal issues, talk to the Treasury Department lawyers and also to the legal --

Q We're asking you.

MR. SNOW: I know, but I'm not a lawyer, Helen, and, frankly --

Q You don't have to be a lawyer, you should have just gotten the information from inside, as to what they base it on.

MR. SNOW: Thank you, ma'am. Thank you.
Damn right, we are skeptical. That's because, if these programs are real, they don't add, but subtract our civil liberties...which I thought was contrary to a primary GOP value: Constitution and rule of law over all else.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Slipping In The Line Item Veto Underneath All The Political Diversions Drummed Up By The W, Rove and Co.

In case you haven't noticed amidst all the presidential propaganda and subterfuge, the W, Rove and Co is about to get themselves the line-item veto. Does any one else out there find it rather ironic given that the big W has not vetoed a damn thing in over five years?
I urge the Senate to also pass the line item veto legislation, so Congress and my Administration can begin using this important tool to help enforce fiscal discipline.
Well, how about using a little more fiscal discipline in the first place...the budget and debt busting habits of this administration are worse than a teen with free reign of daddy's credit card.

How Many Times Does The Veep Have To Say We Are Wrong Before We Believe Him? Stumping For The W With CNN Trotting Out The Shill Out For The Big Dick

Okay, simply because the vice president of the United States says that people are wrong, does that make it so? Have a look at the following Questions and abbreviated answers (I don't want to elevate their propaganda for them, pop over to their location if you dare to subject yourselves to the full brunt of the presidential propaganda catapult). Let's count together. How many times should the Veep have to say that we are wrong before some one starts to believe him:

Ah, one:
Q The Democrats will put on the floor of the Senate today a proposal -- they don't have the votes -- but they say this administration's policy in Iraq has failed. And the leading Democratic proposal would say, let's have a partial withdrawal -- they call it a redeployment -- and then require the administration to put forward a plan. Now, they say this is not cut and run, it's not retreat, but they say three years and three months later, it is time for the administration to tell the Iraqi government you cannot have this indefinite American security blanket. You need to do a better job of preparing your own people to take over security, what's wrong with that?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it's wrong in many respects, John. First of all, they're wrong. We are making significant progress.
Ah, two:
Q Jack Murtha, an old friend of yours, with whom you have sparred recently in the House, he says, look, when President Reagan realized the policy in Beirut was failing, he withdrew the troops. Call it cut and run if you will. When President Clinton realized the policy in Somalia was failing, he withdrew the troops. Again, some might say cut and run. He says this war is costing $8 billion a month, $300 million a day, there's no end in sight. And forgive me, but he says, you don't have a plan, so let's not have more kids killed.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: He's wrong. I like Jack Murtha. He's a friend. We did a lot of business together...
Ah, three:
Q Well, you disagree with the Democrats' plan, but they are stepping into a political environment in which the American people -- clearly, some have anger, some have dissatisfaction, some have doubts about this war and the administration's plan for this war. Fifty-four percent of the American people say it's a mistake; 55 percent say things are going badly in Iraq; 53 percent in our polling say the American people actually support a timetable. Why is it that the administration has failed to articulate to the American people then? The American people don't think you have a plan, sir.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, they're wrong. We do have a plan. It's there for anybody who wants to take a look at it. The Democrats have repeatedly made this charge. It's simply not the case. There is a good plan in place.
Ah, you believe him?

Incidentially, I found a bright spot of humor in this "interview," at which point the Big Dick Cheney reveals the name for the Korean Missile presently aimed possibly at the West Coast (Vandenberg AFB, maybe?), which I think is rather ironic:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we -- this is the first test of this particular type No Dong II missile. We believe it does have a third stage added to it now, but, again, we don't know what the payload is.

I think it's also fair to say that the North Korean missile capabilities are fairly rudimentary. I mean, they've been building Scuds and so forth over the years, but their test flights in the past haven't been notably successful. But we are watching it with interest and following it very closely.

Korea V. Iraq: Can Some One Help Me With The Difference Other Than Geographic Location?

Help me out here...but, with the new Bush driven doctrine of pre-emptive war, can some one explain to me what the difference is between North Korea and Iraq?
Q Former Defense Secretary William Perry just called on President Bush to launch a preemptive strike against the ballistic missiles that North Korea is said to be about to test. What does the United States think about that idea?

MR. HADLEY: Well, we've been pretty clear what we think about that idea, namely about the test.

Q No, I mean --

MR. HADLEY: I'll get to that. I get it. I'm not being cute. Look, we've been concerned for a long time about North Korea's development of ballistic missiles and their willingness to sell them. There is, of course, a missile technology control regime that is out that we are supportive of, as is most of the international community, that is trying to stop the trade in longer-range ballistic missiles. So we've been concerned about the North Korean program for some time. We've expressed those concerns to the North Koreans.

As you know, they adopted voluntarily a moratorium in 1999, and reaffirmed it several years later. And our position is that the North Koreans, as we've all said several times, should not test -- should not test; they should respect their own moratorium. That is the message we sent. That is the message the Chinese, Japanese, South Koreans and everybody else has sent to the North Koreans -- that we are trying to deal with a broader set of issues with North Korea through the six-party talks and a test would obviously be disruptive of those talks.

And the solution is for North Korea to decide to respect its own moratorium, not to test this missile, come back to the six-party talks, and let's talk about how to implement the agreement for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that was reached last September. We think diplomacy is the right answer, and that is what we are pursuing.
Let's see, in Korea we know they have the following: A brutal dictator? Check! Weapons of Mass Destruction? Check! Oil? Nope...Ah, I can see clearly now the rain is gone....

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

AT $ T: Poetry To The People

I was blogging about, as I am want to do, and found an interesting post over at Blononymous regarding AT$T's sending of our personal data to the NSA and had this poetic reaction left as a comment. Thought those of you who frequent here might enjoy:

Hey AT & T, you know me
Hey AT & T, Yeah, you know me
And the night I lost my security
To the NSA driven corporatocracy
I just might have to feed the conspiracy
Led by Rove and his mercenaries
And a reichwing army sent to bleed
All our freedoms and civil liberties

Kommandos Gearing Up For Independence Day Deployment

Those of you who missed the first round of a grassroots protest - come on, you know you love to exercise your first amendment rights - generated by Kvatch at Blognonymous can get in on a second round of the action slated for Independence Day. It's really quite simple.
  • Step 1 -Get yourself a bag of plastic green army men (as to why there are no women in these stashes is a whole other issue).

  • Step 2 - Get some tape and paste a political message to an appendage.

  • Step 3 - Deploy your troops in conspicuous locations for others to view or move to new locations.

  • Step 4 - Log your grassroots political action over at the Kommandos Project blog location.

The more participating Kommanders we have, the stronger the message.

Blog on all, and may the victory go to the glorious.

Presidential Denial: "That's Absurd," or Is it?

I've said this long ago, but just because a president says something does not make it so. Thus, we have a decent question that receives an outright denial...but really, could it be that the President, rather, is in denial?
Q A question to President Barroso and President Bush. Do you actually share the view that Russia is using its energy resources to oppress other countries? And in what respect does your cooperation help you now to position yourselves against that?

And if I may, to President Bush, you've got Iran's nuclear program, you've got North Korea, yet, most Europeans consider the United States the biggest threat to global stability. Do you have any regrets about that?

PRESIDENT BUSH: That's absurd. The United States is -- we'll defend ourselves, but at the same time, we're actively working with our partners to spread peace and democracy. So whoever says that is -- it's an absurd statement....
Ah, but the President doesn't get off the hook so easily. And, when queried again, decides to hurl the ever so lucrative Nine Eleven political snake oil at the Europeans. Did they buy it? What about you?
...Q Chancellor Schüssel, the European public is deeply worried by these secret prisoners that the CIA has been transporting, is transporting through Europe. Did you get assurance today from the President that this is not going to happen anymore, that there won't be anymore in the kidnapping of terror suspects in Europe, that this is a thing of the past?

And to the President, Mr. President, you said this is "absurd," but you might be aware that in Europe the image of America is still falling, and dramatically in some areas. Let me give you some numbers. In Austria, in this country only 14 percent of the people believe that the United States, what they are doing is good for peace; 64 percent think that it is bad. In the United Kingdom, your ally, there are more citizens who believe that the United States policy under your leadership is helping to destabilize the world than Iran. So my question to you is, why do you think that you've failed so badly to convince Europeans, to win their heads and hearts and minds? Thank you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, yes, I thought it was absurd for people to think that we're more dangerous than Iran. It's a -- we're a transparent democracy. People know exactly what's on our mind. We debate things in the open. We've got a legislative process that's active. Look, people didn't agree with my decision on Iraq, and I understand that. For Europe, September the 11th was a moment; for us, it was a change of thinking. I vowed to the American people I would do everything to defend our people, and will. I fully understood that the longer we got away from September the 11th, more people would forget the lessons of September the 11th. But I'm not going to forget them. And, therefore, I will be steadfast and diligent and strong in defending our country.

I don't govern by polls, you know. I just do what I think is right. And I understand some of the decisions I made are controversial. But I made them in the best interest of our country, and I think in the best interest of the world. I believe when you look back at this moment, people will say, it was right to encourage democracy in the Middle East. I understand some people think that it can't work. I believe in the universality of freedom; some don't. I'm going to act on my beliefs so long as I'm the President of the United States. Some people say, it's okay to condemn people for -- to tyranny. I don't believe it's okay to condemn people to tyranny, particularly those of us who live in the free societies.

And so I understand, and I'll try to do my best to explain to the Europeans that, on the one hand, we're tough when it comes to the war on terror; on the other hand, we're providing more money than every before in the world's history for HIV/AIDS on the continent of Africa. I'll say, on the one hand, we're going to be tough when it comes to terrorist regimes who harbor weapons. On the other hand, we'll help feed the hungry. I declared Darfur to be a genocide because I care deeply about those who have been afflicted by these renegade bands of people who are raping and murdering.

And so I will do my best to explain our foreign policy. On the one hand, it's tough when it needs to be; on the other hand, it's compassionate. And we'll let the polls figure out -- people can say what they want to say. But leadership requires making hard choices based upon principle and standing -- (President's mike goes out) -- and that's how I'm going to continue to lead my country.

Thank you for your question.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

One Fundamental Problem with The Bush Administration

It's in statements like the following where we uncover the fundamental problems with the W, Rove and Co:
And we worked for a man who had inherited a damaged office and who swiftly and successfully restored authority, dignity, and respect to the presidency
This is the Big Dick Cheney spouting off one more time in front of a friendly audience and referencing Gerald Ford's Administration. What's the problem with this statement you ask?

Well, in my view, it demonstrates yet again the warped system of values that places people over the institutions that outlast them. That is, I would have to disagree that Ford took over a "damaged office." In fact, I would go further to suggest that Nixon's actions stained only his own honor, not that of the presidency - the very office for which he stood. That fact that Nixon had the honor to stand down for his illegal actions (unlike some presidents) may well have boosted the power and strength of the office.

Indeed, Cheney's train of thinking permeates the W, Rove and Co and leads them to conduct unbecoming of the office simply because they believe it is the right thing to do even despite that fact that their actions undermine constitutional justice and all that is right (as in correct, not the politically co-opted term stolen by the GOP) with America. The perfect example is using warrantless wiretaps to surveil Americans. This is anti-constitutional and illegal. But the W, Rove and Co. justify it as necessary and proper because they believe it to be.

Indeed, perhaps, it's because Ford pardoned Nixon that he may have lost that election in 1978. The interests of our nation might have been better served if he let Nixon serve time for his crimes. Perhaps then we would know that it is the position, not the man that temporarily occupies its seat, that is most important. And then "we the people" would be empowered to hold our Presidents to the highest of ethical and legal standards.

Instead, we have the W, Rove and Co continuously placing themselves above the laws of the land in a trade off that is a devil's bargain for the soul of America. And if our soul is tarnished by their actions, might not the terrorist have actually won regardless who occupies Iraq?

I am certain that others in the blogisphere can point out other fundamental problems/flaws with the W, Rove and Co (e.g. their propensity to lie to the press and the American people, for one example). I leave it to the commentators to add to the list or argue the point.

Blog on all.

The "Last Throes Of The Insurgency"

Looks like the W, Rove and Co is getting all tangled up in its own spin and propaganda. But what with two GIs being kidnapped and killed and boobytrapped, how any one can suggest the insurgency is in its last throes is beyond me:
Q I want to ask you about Vice President Cheney's remarks yesterday. How can the White House justify him standing by his remarks that the insurgency is in the last throes? Can you just explain that, how that could --

MR. HADLEY: The Vice President explained it yesterday.

Q Well, then I didn't --

MR. HADLEY: You can talk to him about it; I thought it was a good explanation.

Q Why do you think it's a good explanation?

MR. HADLEY: It's a good explanation, it speaks for itself. I think it points to the fact the significance of what has happened politically over the last two years, that as he said, we are at a point where we have a duly-elected government, a constitution drafted and ratified by the Iraqi people, that is a unity government that has a plan for going forward. And I think you've seen in the last two weeks a lot of efforts by that new government to provide leadership. They're moving forward with a security initiative in Baghdad. They've talked about their objectives going forward, in terms of electricity and security. We are making great progress on this international compact, which you've been writing about.

I think what the Vice President was saying is things are happening that give in evidence, as our prior discussion does, that this new Iraqi government is stepping forward and taking responsibility. That's a good thing.

Q I'm sorry, how does that comport with the insurgency being in its last throes, all of what you just said?

MR. HADLEY: The Vice President talked about the significance of what we're talking about and what it will mean over time for the insurgency. It's what I think Tony showed, the fact that the Iraqi people are tired of it, they're ready for peace, they're talking about a reconciliation process, but a reconciliation process in which people lay down their arms.

They've also got a government that's stepping forward, taking responsibility for security and the leading of that reconciliation process. I think that's a big development of 2005, 2006, very important as we look forward in Iraq.

Q Just to be clear, the President would agree with the Vice President that the insurgency is in the last throes?

MR. HADLEY: What I said was the Vice President has explained his comments yesterday, and I have tried to provide a little bit more context for that explanation.

MR. SNOW: Let me add another point. He's not saying the war is over. You need to be clear about that. But, again, Steve is just pointing out you're seeing increasing evidence of assertiveness on the part of Iraqi citizens and the Iraqi government. You've got Operation Forward together, it involves 50,000 Iraqi police and military forces going into Baghdad. You've got other operations around the country.

You do have -- and our military commanders have talked about it -- increasing intelligence. We had another key al Qaeda operative who was taken out, I believe it was yesterday or today. General Caldwell was briefing on that this morning. The fact is that we're getting intelligence at a level that continues to increase and continues to be useful in going after them. Are they gone? No, of course not. But on the other hand, it does -- you do have a very clear sense that the Iraqi people are speaking not only at the ballot box, but also in cooperation with U.S. forces. And now that you've got Iraqi forces, they feel an even greater comfort level in talking with Iraqi forces and saying, [to their security forces] okay, you can find them [insurgents] over here.
Okay, let's have a look at what the Big Dick Cheney actually said and decide for ourselves if we belive him/them:
Q About a year ago, you said that the insurgency in Iraq was in its final there throes. Do you still believe this?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I do. What I was referring to was the series of events that took place in 1995 [sic]. I think the key turning point, when we get back 10 years from now, say, and look back on this period of time, and with respect to the campaign in Iraq, will be that series of events when the Iraqis increasingly took over responsibility for their own affairs. And there I point to the election in January of '05, when we set up the interim government; the drafting of the constitution in the summer of '05; the national referendum in the fall of '05, when the Iraqis overwhelmingly approved that constitution; and then the vote last December, when some 12 million Iraqis, in defiance of the car bombers and the terrorists went to the polls and voted in overwhelming numbers to set up a new government under that constitution, and that process of course has been completed recently with the appointment by Prime Minister Maliki of ministers to fill those jobs.

I think that will have been, from a historical turning point, the period that we'll be able to look at and say, that's when we turned the corner; that's when we began to get a handle on the long-term future of Iraq.

Q Do you think that you underestimated the insurgency's strength?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think so. I guess if I look back on it now, I don't think anybody anticipated the level of violence that we've encountered. I guess the other area that I look at, in terms of an area where I think we were faced with difficulties we didn't anticipate was the devastation that 30 years of Saddam's rule had wrought, if you will, on the psychology of the Iraqi people. Very, very hard to go from the way they were forced to live for a long period of time to a situation in which they have the opportunity for self-government, for setting up and operating their own free and democratically-elected society. That's a huge transition to make.

And if I look back on something that I underestimated, it would be the extent to which that society had been damaged by that series of events that had occurred over 30 years during Saddam's rule, up to and including the 1991 uprising where so many Iraqis rose up against the regime, and then were slaughtered by Saddam Hussein's forces.
What a load of horse shit. What sort of definition of "last throes" is the Big Dick using here?

Oh, and by the way, since when are there "rules" when we are talking about war?
Q I just wonder what, tactically, you make of that? You know, their abduction and their apparent death. Does it say anything about the tactics of the insurgents and terrorist groups at this point that may be changing in any fashion?

MR. HADLEY: No, I think it's a reminder that this is a brutal enemy that does not follow any of the rules. It attacks civilians for political gain, it provokes sectarian violence and it really follows no rules of warfare. It's a very brutal enemy and it's a reminder to all of us about what we're up against. And, obviously, any loss of life is a source of great regret.
All this rhetoric, but still no remorse for the hundreds and hundreds of innocent Iraqi civilians killed by American weapons. No surprise there.

Oh, and any Iraqi or American who thinks that the US of A will be out of Iraq completely has their head so far dug into the sand they can't even breath. From this statement alone, we have to ask further, what exactly does standing up and standing down look like...and no doubt, the W, Rove and Co will be feed us the same old arbitrary answers:
Q Permanent military bases in Iraq, do you expect those?

MR. HADLEY: We haven't talked about that. What we've really been focusing on is this process of training, turning over responsibility for security at the military level, and then the taking of responsibility by political authorities in Iraq. That's what we really need to be focusing on, and that's what we focused on, and the progress, we hope, that that will afford in dealing with the security situation there. That's really what we've been focusing on.

Q I could be completely wrong about this, I think there was a New York Times story about bases not too long ago, and I don't think you guys have ever tried to dissuade us of the idea that there likely will be troops of some sort in Iraq for as long as we can foresee.

MR. HADLEY: We're going to have a relationship, we would hope, with a free and democratic Iraq for a long time. Iraq has an opportunity to come and be part of the family of nations, as the President -- of the democratic family of nations, as the President said, the example in the region and an ally in the war on terror. Does that mean that we expect to have good relations with Iraq going forward for a long time? You bet. Obviously, over time, it will become the kind of normal relationship we have with countries.

Why Do You Suppose The Veep's Staff Cut Off The Q & A Just As the Questions Were Getting Good? Did The Big Dick Cheney Cut And Run?

Just yesterday, the Big Dick Cheney actually took some questions and provided answers, but the session got cut off just as the questions were getting tougher:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't believe I've ever talked about the unitary executive. Others may have suggested that I talked about that.

But I clearly do believe, and have spoken directly about the importance of a strong presidency, and that I think there have been times in the past, oftentimes in response to events such as Watergate or the war in Vietnam, where Congress has begun to encroach upon the powers and responsibilities of the President; that it was important to go back and try to restore that balance.

I participated in the Iran-Contra investigation in the Congress. For those of you who are bored and don't have anything else to do, there are minority views we filed with that report that lay out a view with respect to how we think the balance ought to exist between the executive and the legislative in the conduct of national security policy. So I do believe there is a -- it's very important to have a strong executive.

What are the limits? The limits are the Constitution. And, certainly, we need to and do adhere to those limitations. But I think if you look at things like the War Powers Act, for example, adopted in the aftermath of the Vietnam conflict, that that was an infringement on the President's ability to deploy troops. It's never really been tested. I think it's probably unconstitutional. There are a series of events like that that we believed needed to have the balance righted, if you will, and I think we've done that successfully.

Q This comes as no surprise, this being a press club, I do have several press questions for you. The Bush administration worries that disclosures of classified information may have damaged national security. Can you cite a time in U.S. history when a press disclosure has genuinely damaged national security?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I do believe that there need to be secrets. I think there are things that the federal government does in the national security arena that need to be off limits. And I think the fact of the matter is that there have been stories written that are damaging, if you will, from the standpoint of national security.

I would -- obviously, I can't get into any operational details. One of the frustrations that exist with this debate is that you cannot go out and talk about current operations with the press in order to try to explain to everybody why that particular piece of information needs to say secret.

Let me just say that there have been examples that I am aware of where we've had discussions of ways in which al Qaeda communicates, for example, and because of those conversations they no longer communicate that way, and we've lost the ability in some cases to be able to intercept important communications.

I can think of one situation recently that had to do with a story that appeared in one of our major newspapers. It dealt with certain technical countermeasures that we were considering with respect to how we would deal with a certain type of a problem. And within five days of the publication of that story, there were posted ways to deal with that and to neutralize our activities on one of the jihadist websites. That was about five days from publication in a major U.S. news outlet until it was on a jihadist website -- advice, in effect, on how to counter what our military wanted to do in a particular area.

Now that strikes me as a pretty straightforward, direct example of why it is important that there be secrets. I think oftentimes in the past, there's no question, the executive branch has probably overdone it with respect to classification. On the other hand, the assumption on the part of some of the press that it doesn't matter if it's classified, they have every right to print absolutely anything they want, and they are the final judges, I think that's a mistake.

I think if somebody is asked by the -- say, the President of the United States or a senior administration official who is in a position of authority and has some knowledge in the area to withhold on a particular story, they need to give that serious thought. And I think that we are -- one of the problems we have is that oftentimes as a government we're perceived by other governments overseas, people we have to work with, intelligence services who need to have confidence in our ability to keep a secret, find it difficult to work with us because the United States has oftentimes demonstrated an inability to maintain the security of classified information. So it's the problem.

Q Mr. Vice President, I've been advised by your staff that you need to cut the program off early. So I wanted to ask a final question to you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Why is that? (Laughter.) Something is going on I don't know about. (Laughter.) Or maybe the President is watching.

Q I hope he's not watching, because of this question. (Laughter.) President Bush will be 60 on July 6th. What gift do you plan to give him?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Maybe a shotgun? (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: He's got one already. What gift do I plan to give him. Well, we usually don't exchange birthday presidents, we exchange Christmas presents. And I'd have to give serious thought. It's probably -- it's one of those things that need to be secret. (Laughter and applause.)
- sounds like he cut and run, doesn't it?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Two Quick Questions For Monday: W Plays Politics With The Graduating Class of 2006 Per Usual

I have two quick questions for you this AM. First, what do Word War Two and September Eleventh, Two Thousand One have in common? Second, is it proper for the President of the United States to use a commencement address to deliver political messages to the Iranian people?

I know my answers, but what are yours?

Here's two paragraphs for those who are click averse and don't have the desire to review the whole text of W's speech at the Merchant Marine Academy where he proves once again that he is able to use wide swaths of people as political tools and levers (in other words, playing politics with the class of 2006) via the presidential propaganda catapult:
I've a message for the Iranian regime: America and our partners are united. We have presented a reasonable offer. Iran's leaders should see our proposal for what it is -- an historic opportunity to set their country on a better course. If Iran's leaders want peace and prosperity and a more hopeful future for their people, they should accept our offer, abandon any ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons, and come into compliance with their international obligations.

I've a message for the Iranian people: The United States respects you and your country. We admire your rich history, your vibrant culture, and your many contributions to civilization. When Cyrus the Great led the Iranian people more than 2,500 years ago, he delivered one of the world's first declarations of individual rights, including the right to worship God in freedom. Through the centuries, Iranians have achieved distinction in medicine and science and poetry and philosophy, and countless other fields.
And, instead of grief and remorse for the family of another soul lost because of the Iraq Conflagration the W, Rove and Co. started, we get yet another reprehensible example of the President using the dead to push for support of his lethal agenda:
We see the devotion to duty and honor and country in the life of one of this Academy's finest graduates, Aaron Seesan. Aaron was an Ohio boy who grew up dreaming of being a soldier. He brought that dream with him to this Academy -- and when he walked through these gates three years ago, he carried on his shoulders the gold bar of a second lieutenant in the United States Army. After entering the Army, Lieutenant Seesan trained as a combat engineer. And he was serving at Fort Lewis, Washington, when a group of soldiers who were based at the fort were struck by a suicide bomb in Iraq. Two of the men were killed. And that's when this young lieutenant volunteered to go to Iraq to take the place of a wounded platoon leader.

When Lieutenant Seesan arrived in Iraq, some of his fellow soldiers wondered what was the Army thinking. His platoon sergeant said, "I didn't know what the hell a Merchant Marine graduate was doing here in the 73rd Engineering Company." The sergeant quickly changed his mind when he saw Lieutenant Seesan in action, taking care of his men as they patrolled the most dangerous roads in and around Mosul. In May 2005, he was leading a routine sweep of a city street when a bomb exploded and hit the fuel tank of his Humvee. Those who were with him recall his last words: "Take charge, Sergeant Arnold, and take care of the others."

He died on May 22 -- on National Maritime Day. For his act of bravery, Lieutenant Seesan was awarded the Bronze Star. And the campus memorial that bears his name will remind all who come here of Kings Point commitment to service above self.

Aaron Seesan gave his life freely. While still in high school, he wrote a poem that now seems prophetic. He wrote, "Mourn not my terrible death, but celebrate my cause in life." Aaron's cause in life was freedom, and as you take your place as officers in our Armed Forces, I ask you to celebrate the freedom for which Aaron fought and died.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

"I Traveled To Baghdad..."because.... Subtitle: Windspike's Wonderful Weekend Finish The President's Sentence Contest

I traveled to Baghdad to personally show our Nation's commitment to a free Iraq, because it is vital for the Iraqi people to know with certainty that America will not abandon them after we have come this far.
So, that's what the president said. Do we believe him? I'll bet we can finish his sentence in a much more honest, forthright, and pithy way. So this leaves me with...drum roll please...

Windspike's Wonderful Weekend Finish The President's Sentence Contest

Rules: there are none.

Just finish the sentence that follows with what you think is the most plausible reason why W really went to Baghdad. In other words, pretend you are president and you have been struck by the magic truth wand (not unlike the Jim Carrey flick Liar Liar) and you have to tell us exactly why...

"I traveled to Baghdad because..."

In the event of a tie, the breaker will be to answer the following question: Was his stated mission accomplished? Explain...

As a bonus tie breaker, estimate how much you think W's PR junket to Baghdad cost the US Treasury (and the taxpayers of America).

In the end, we see that the W, has no remorse for the blood spilled in this Iraq Conflagration (perhaps because none of his relatives have been KIA for it) as evidenced by the remainder of his closing paragraph:
The challenges that remain in Iraq are serious. We face determined enemies who remain intent on killing the innocent, and defeating these enemies will require more sacrifice and the continued patience of our country. But our efforts in Iraq are well worth it, the mission is necessary for the security of our country, and we will succeed.
Can anyone prove the president's claim...that the Return on Investment was worth the outlay? Now that's the real challenge, isn't it?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Crossing The Chasm Between Patriotism and Treason

My mood is not good this evening. I was thinking, what's the fine line between genius and insanity equivalent for the self proclaimed "patriots" of the W, Rove and Co and I got to thinking. As I crossed over Isa's location learning to sequence I wrote this:
Beyond sick can't even begin to describe my disdain for the W, Rove and Co. Is it possible that they have traversed the chasm between patriotism and treason? Yup, indeed they have. Just like there is a fine line between genius and insanity, there is a faint line between patriotism and betrayal of one's country...The W, Rove and Co has crossed it, in my book.
Not to insinuate that anyone beyond Uncle Karl is a genius in the W, Rove and Co. but certainly, if one professes to be a patriot loud enough, are they not possibly treasonous people guilty of the betrayal of what America has come to stand for? Indeed, checkmate is the use of warrantless wire taps, singing statements and the GOP SOP of lying to avoid answering for one's sins, not to mention then number of innocents KIA and wounded on behalf of a supposedly "nobel" cause...fuck.

I really am in a sour mood. I just watched's not fun. Anyone that would revel in the killing - even if justified has lost a nut. Too bad the W, Rove and Co is sacrificing all that is good about America, and for what? Fuck them. I should have had the tequila I spoke about earlier....I wouldn't be on line typing at you right now.

Blog on brothers and siters, blog on all.

Five Hours In Iraq, And The President Deserves Another Vacation

So, after a hard, challenging week - well, okay maybe I'm being a little facetious here - which included a wonderfully and highly successful PR junket to Baghdad, what's a president to do? I know: Do a little fundraising for fellow, reichwing fundamentalists up for re-election and then retreat to your ranch for a little R & R:
Right now we're on our way to Seattle, where the President will attend a reception for the Friends of Dave Reichert, Congressman Dave Reichert, and then we're on our way to New Mexico, where he will make remarks at the Heather Wilson for Congress Reception. That is expanded press pool coverage, so you'll meet up with your colleagues there. Both of those members of Congress are on board with us today traveling. And then the President travels to Texas, where he will spend the weekend at the ranch.
It's times like this that I wish we had a similar procedure like a vote of no-confidence available in parliamentary governments because I sure want to vote these bastards out and wish I didn't have to wait until November to do it.

"Good Times For The Administration:" Fair And Balanced Reporting By Hannity?

Now that Tony the Snow-job is officially on the Whitehouse payroll, the W, Rove and Co have a new favorite MSM shill to do their know, ask a set of fair and balanced questions representative of the liberal media the fundies of the GOP so quickly depict every time they receive a negative portrayal due to some honest reporting. Here's the Q from the Q & A from yesterday's "interview" with the Big Dick Cheney in case you wanted to judge for yourself as to whether or not the MSM has a liberal bias:
3:15 P.M. EDT

Q Mr. Vice President, how are you?

Q Well, I got to admit, these are good times for the administration. You got -- Zarqawi is dead, revenues are up significantly, the deficit has been cut significantly, the President's trip. And I'm also told there's some breaking news that a high-value insurgent has again been captured in Iraq just now.

Q See, that's why I'm here, to bring you good news.

Q Three hours a day, Mr. Vice President, is all we ask. Let's talk first about the Zarqawi memos and these documents that were captured by U.S. forces just before he was killed last week. Among other things, he's clearly worried the U.S. is winning the war in Iraq. Tell us about your awareness of him and what you think of him.

Q Can an argument be made, Mr. Vice President, that in fact they have worn down the will of some people in this country? Some people -- I don't know if you heard the comments, for example, of John Kerry. This was at the Take Back America conference that they had just earlier this week. And let me play it for you and get your reaction to it:

We were misled. We were given evidence that was not true. It was wrong, and I was wrong.

What are your thoughts on that?

Q But doesn't this really get to the debate -- and there is a distinct difference between the two parties. And you can hear it clearly in what John Kerry is saying. They have a debate going on in the House of Representatives today. This has everything to do with Iraq, the war against Islamic fascism. In many ways -- I guess the distinct difference is that you and the President -- and frankly, I agree with you -- have decided that the time is now and the place is Iraq. I ask most people on the other side of the aisle when I interview them or debate with them, well, do you believe at some point we are going to be at war with those people that have attacked us, that want to destroy our society. They say yes. They just disagree with the time and the place, no?

Q Mr. Vice President, there seems to be a rush to judgment any time there's an allegation made against our troops. We have the Haditha incident that is ongoing right now. We have another incident. We had a father calling -- his son is a Marine, his son hasn't been charged, his son is in shackles in Camp Pendleton. We have the comments of John Murtha. Let me play him for you and get your reaction:

There was no -- there was no firefight. There was no IED that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them. And they killed innocent civilians in cold blood.

What are your thoughts when you hear that?

Q They deserve the presumption of innocence.

Q Mr. Vice President, I guess the most dangerous and volatile situation that is emerging on the world front is the issue of Iran and nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad has pledged to annihilate Israel, wipe it off the face of the earth. They've not been cooperative with the IAEA. We see the possibility of talks emerging. How do you prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons? And is there a possibility it may take military action?

Q Mr. Vice President, poll numbers have been tough of late, yet the economy is growing and surging. The revenues of the government have increased significantly. We've got elections coming up. We've had a huge victory with Zarqawi. Do you feel the momentum has shifted?

Q Are you comfortable that the Republicans will win?

Q The last question I have is, the biggest criticism I hear from conservatives about the President and the Vice President -- the administration, that's you -- is they're not happy with the proposal on immigration, and anything that would be any kind of forgiveness or amnesty for illegal immigrants. In the 40 seconds we have, your response.

Q Mr. Vice President, we always appreciate having you on. Congratulations. It's been a good run. And last quick question: Do you think you'll be able to pull some troops out quick?

Q Vice President Cheney, thanks for being with us.

END 3:27 P.M. EDT
Fuck! Not a single thing fair and balanced about that "interview," now was there? I feel so dirty for having read this transcript, but I don't know if I should take a cleansing shower of have a shot of tequila (the good stuff, sippin' variety - my favorite if you must know is Centenario Anejo). Perhaps both is the antidote...but I digress.