Making Conservatives Cringe Since 1977

I'm not Liberal, I'm paying attention.

31 January 2006

 

Sweet Jesus' General


 

Think this'll come up during the State of the Union?

Gonzales Is Challenged on Wiretaps Feingold Says Attorney General Misled Senators in Hearings By Carol D. Leonnig Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, January 31, 2006; Page A07
Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) charged yesterday that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales misled the Senate during his confirmation hearing a year ago when he appeared to try to avoid answering a question about whether the president could authorize warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.
-I say, I say, I tol day whole toof, an nutten' but day toof... Update from Think Progress:
Media Finally Reports That Gonzales Misled Congress

. . . Gonzales said “it is not the policy or the agenda of this president to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes.” In fact, he personally approved Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program, in contravention of a criminal statute. We have the full transcript of the Feingold/Gonzales exchange posted. In addition to Gonzales, former NSA director Michael Hayden and President Bush also made false statements relating to warrantless domestic surveillance.


30 January 2006

 

Tough Talk

Wow, you really flamed NavySwan up didn't you RV?! Problem is..., far from shutting any critics down, the Justice Department Memo has opened up more questions than it has answered. The same with General Hayden's defense from last week:
According to Hayden, the reason the President wanted to bypass FISA was because FISA requires a showing of "probable cause" in order to obtain a FISA warrant for eavesdropping on telephone conversations, and the President believed that standard was too burdensome.
This is an argument that falls flat on its face when you consider (among all the other reasons) the Administration would not support Senator DeWine's bill, which would have eliminated the "probable cause" barrier because it believed it would be unconstitutional. The reason why you're worked up, and NavySwan is worked up, and I as well, is because we love our country and would not see it perish. Here, however, one of the very things that makes our country great, the rule of law, specifically that which is embodied in the Fourth Amendment, is in jeopardy. I for one do not take that lightly, and I'm afraid that the situation will be solved in a political manner instead of what the law would proscribe:
Section 1809 of FISA, expressly provides that "[a] person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally - (1) engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute. . . ." And Section 2511(2)(f) provides that FISA "shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . may be conducted."
Would you give all this up for partisan politics? Or would you err on the side of caution, and for liberty?

 

School days.

- It all caught up with me this weekend. I love blogging, but school and work combined... I didn't get a chance to order my books until last night. I saved about $150.00 using Amazon though. Hope I can get can get a weeks worth of work done in one night for four classes...LOL. Anyways, here is an Editorial from the Washington Post that caught my eye: For RV Bad Targeting IT'S STILL NOT known which or how many Americans have been secretly targeted by the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance operations in the past several years, or whether abuses occurred. But we do know that a parallel clandestine operation by the Pentagon to collect intelligence about domestic threats gathered and stored information on innocent citizens who never should have been watched. The story is instructive and alarming. A database managed by a secretive Pentagon intelligence agency called Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, was found last month to contain reports on at least four dozen antiwar meetings or protests, many of them on college campuses. Ten peace activists who handed out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches outside Halliburton's headquarters in Houston in June 2004 were reported as a national security threat. So were people who assembled at a Quaker meeting house in Lake Worth, Fla., or protested military recruiters at sites such as New York University, the State University of New York and campuses of the University of California at Berkeley and at Santa Cruz. The protesters were written up under a Pentagon program called Talon, which is supposed to collect raw data on threats to defense facilities in the United States. CIFA, an agency created just under four years ago that now includes nine directorates and more than 1,000 employees, is charged with working to prevent terrorist attacks. Instead, hidden from public and congressional scrutiny, it has repeated the same abuses once committed against war protesters and civil rights activists of the 1960s. In addition to compiling information on Americans who were peaceful political dissenters rather than terrorists, the agency retained reports in its database well beyond a 90-day limit -- a standard adopted in response to the Vietnam-era excesses. The activity came to light only because of aggressive reporting by, among others, The Post's Walter Pincus, Newsweek and NBC News, which obtained a list of more than 1,500 "suspicious incidents" included in the CIFA-managed database. After the improprieties were made public, Pentagon spokesmen acknowledged that mistakes had been made, and they promised to clean up the database and give Defense Department intelligence personnel a refresher course on the regulations. Ensuring that the corrective action takes place -- and that further steps are taken to prevent intelligence-gathering on domestic political activity -- ought to be the job of the congressional intelligence and armed-services committees, which have yet to hold a hearing to review CIFA or its activities. The larger lesson is that domestic intelligence operations by security-conscious government agencies, even when necessary and well-intentioned, can easily get out of hand and violate the fundamental rights of Americans. After the abuses of the 1960s and '70s, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act precisely to ensure that there would be an independent monitor, in the form of a secret court, on the government's domestic surveillance. That is the law that President Bush bypassed in authorizing the NSA to monitor the communications of Americans. We believe that the president's decision violated the law and exceeded his powers as president. If it did not also lead to the wrongful targeting of some American citizens, then the NSA operation would be a historical anomaly.

28 January 2006

 

In the Valley of the Shadow

January 28, 2006 Op-Ed Contributor Finding a Place for 9/11 in American History By JOSEPH J. ELLIS Amherst, Mass. IN recent weeks, President Bush and his administration have mounted a spirited defense of his Iraq policy, the Patriot Act and, especially, a program to wiretap civilians, often reaching back into American history for precedents to justify these actions. It is clear that the president believes that he is acting to protect the security of the American people. It is equally clear that both his belief and the executive authority he claims to justify its use derive from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. A myriad of contested questions are obviously at issue here — foreign policy questions about the danger posed by Iraq, constitutional questions about the proper limits on executive authority, even political questions about the president's motives in attacking Iraq. But all of those debates are playing out under the shadow of Sept. 11 and the tremendous changes that it prompted in both foreign and domestic policy. Whether or not we can regard Sept. 11 as history, I would like to raise two historical questions about the terrorist attacks of that horrific day. My goal is not to offer definitive answers but rather to invite a serious debate about whether Sept. 11 deserves the historical significance it has achieved. My first question: where does Sept. 11 rank in the grand sweep of American history as a threat to national security? By my calculations it does not make the top tier of the list, which requires the threat to pose a serious challenge to the survival of the American republic. Here is my version of the top tier: the War for Independence, where defeat meant no United States of America; the War of 1812, when the national capital was burned to the ground; the Civil War, which threatened the survival of the Union; World War II, which represented a totalitarian threat to democracy and capitalism; the cold war, most specifically the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, which made nuclear annihilation a distinct possibility. Sept. 11 does not rise to that level of threat because, while it places lives and lifestyles at risk, it does not threaten the survival of the American republic, even though the terrorists would like us to believe so. My second question is this: What does history tell us about our earlier responses to traumatic events? My list of precedents for the Patriot Act and government wiretapping of American citizens would include the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, which allowed the federal government to close newspapers and deport foreigners during the "quasi-war" with France; the denial of habeas corpus during the Civil War, which permitted the pre-emptive arrest of suspected Southern sympathizers; the Red Scare of 1919, which emboldened the attorney general to round up leftist critics in the wake of the Russian Revolution; the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, which was justified on the grounds that their ancestry made them potential threats to national security; the McCarthy scare of the early 1950's, which used cold war anxieties to pursue a witch hunt against putative Communists in government, universities and the film industry. In retrospect, none of these domestic responses to perceived national security threats looks justifiable. Every history textbook I know describes them as lamentable, excessive, even embarrassing. Some very distinguished American presidents, including John Adams, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, succumbed to quite genuine and widespread popular fears. No historian or biographer has argued that these were their finest hours. What Patrick Henry once called "the lamp of experience" needs to be brought into the shadowy space in which we have all been living since Sept. 11. My tentative conclusion is that the light it sheds exposes the ghosts and goblins of our traumatized imaginations. It is completely understandable that those who lost loved ones on that date will carry emotional scars for the remainder of their lives. But it defies reason and experience to make Sept. 11 the defining influence on our foreign and domestic policy. History suggests that we have faced greater challenges and triumphed, and that overreaction is a greater danger than complacency. Joseph J. Ellis is a professor of history at Mount Holyoke College and the author, most recently, of "His Excellency: George Washington."

-I usually don't reprint whole articles, but this one is different.

 

A true Patriot

All you need to do in order to support the troops is put a bumper sticker on your car. No, really, straight from the mouth of asshat Senator Santorum himself. Do your part.
WINDOWS | QUICKTIME
-My thanks to Tip of the Spear

27 January 2006

 

Didn't he say the same about Ken Lay at first?

"I don't know Jack..."
Majority in U.S. Say Bush Presidency Is a Failure, Poll Finds

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg)
-- A majority of Americans said the presidency of George W. Bush has been a failure and that they would be more likely to vote for congressional candidates who oppose him, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

-and in related news...
-You are forgiven for that whole screwing the Chinese People thing, Google.
 

Democracy on the March!

Afghanistan Iran Egypt Iraq
As if the time hasn’t already passed for the U.S. to radically rethink it’s foreign policy, we can now add Palestine to the list above. If these parodies of the democratic process aren’t signal enough, what will be? The rise of radical Islam is directly tied to the oppressive governments that we have supported all these years. Islamist militancy is a symptom of the alienation the people of the Middle East feel when they are left out of the governing process. Far from being any kind of fan of Hamas, I hope that their new position of “being inside the tent pissing out,” rather than, “being outside the tent pissing in,” is not derailed by American and Israeli, “Shout shrilly and carry a big stick,” diplomacy.

26 January 2006

 

This is not a Democracy, it a Cheerocracy.

Update from:Daily Kos

They were for FISA before they were against it...

Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 09:15:47 PM PDT

The story doesn't note it, but the argument the Justice Department used against expanding FISA to cover non-US citizens inside the U.S. was -- get this -- that it was probably unconstitutional.
---
From: Unclaimed Territory

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Administration's new FISA defense is factually false

In light of Gen. Hayden's new claim yesterday that the reason the Bush Administration decided to eavesdrop outside of FISA is because the "probable cause" standard for obtaining a FISA warrant was too onerous (and prevented them from obtaining warrants they needed to eavesdrop), there is a fact which I have not seen discussed anywhere but which now appears extremely significant, at least to me. In June, 2002, Republican Sen. Michael DeWine of Ohio introduced legislation (S. 2659) which would have eliminated the exact barrier to FISA which Gen. Hayden yesterday said is what necessitated the Administration bypassing FISA. Specifically, DeWine's legislation proposed:
to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to modify the standard of proof for issuance of orders regarding non-United States persons from probable cause to reasonable suspicion. . . .
In other words, DeWine's bill, had it become law, would have eliminated the "probable cause" barrier (at least for non-U.S. persons) which the Administration is now pointing to as the reason why it had to circumvent FISA.
---
Consigliere James Baker III rejected the legislation saying:
The Department of Justice has been studying Sen. DeWine's proposed legislation. Because the proposed change raises both significant legal and practical issues, the Administration at this time is not prepared to support it.
and
The Department's Office of Legal Counsel is analyzing relevant Supreme Court precedent to determine whether a "reasonable suspicion" standard for electronic surveillance and physical searches would, in the FISA context, pass constitutional muster. The issue is not clear cut, and the review process must be thorough because of what is at stake, namely, our ability to conduct investigations that are vital to protecting national security. If we err in our analysis and courts were ultimately to find a "reasonable suspicion" standard unconstitutional, we could potentially put at risk ongoing investigations and prosecutions.
- Busted. The Bush administration lies just keep falling flat on there face. -Hat tip to Electronic Darwinism

25 January 2006

 

My names Bill Frist, and I'm a card carrying whiner

"Frist, the Tennessee Republican, opened what is expected to be a weeklong debate on Alito by saying the judge's Democratic opponents are "smearing a decent and honorable man in imposing an unfair political standard on all judicial nominees."

Tags:


 

For a fellow veteran

If you can do anything to help,
use the e-mail address.

MIA
By Paul Brooks Times Herald-Record pbrooks@th-record.com
Ellenville - Not here. People here will not leave wounded Marine sniper Eddie Ryan with no home to go to. A story in yesterday's Times Herald-Record reported that Ellenville native Eddie Ryan's home needs $90,000 to $100,000 worth of work to accommodate him once he's discharged from the hospital. Ryan took one bullet to the brain and a second to the jaw while fighting in Iraq in April. Doctors expected him to die. He's still going, battling through rehabilitation, learning to walk again, improving his halting speech, recapturing his life. Doctors at Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw told the Ryans he might be able to leave in six to eight weeks. But his family's three-bedroom ranch outside Ellenville needs wider halls and a bigger bathroom. Eddie's dad, Chris, applied to ABC-TV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" in hopes the show would do the work. It's a long shot at best. And the government is offering only $10,000 to help. But the family is not alone. Offers of help poured in yesterday from individuals, groups and businesses alike. More are expected. "I'm a carpenter," Gerard O'Donnell of New Windsor said. "I want to see what I can do to help the family out." Johann Huleatt of the Bruderhof, a religious group with a number of communities in the region, said his organization wanted to help the family. A&E Advertising and Web Design in Monroe is donating a Web site that will be up and running soon. Lan Associates of Goshen offered its architectural and engineering services to the Ryans at no charge. "We want to donate to Eddie," said Colleen Murphy, office manager. Others offered money. "I will make the first pledge. Five bucks," said Mickey Guarino in an e-mail. The offers of help surprised Chris Ryan. "That's beautiful. I can't believe it," he said. "This is Middle America. They work. They pay taxes and they are taking this burden on themselves to help a wounded warrior." Here is why: "It could easily have been my family," said O'Donnell. "I don't want anything in return. I just hope somebody would do the same thing if I were in the same situation."

-You can read more about Eddie Ryan here, and here.

24 January 2006

 

Intercalaris

One hundred start out, only one finishes. I’ve been tagged by Barbi and Jen. The Marching Orders: 1. Go into your archives. 2. Find your 23rd post. 3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it). 4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions. 5. Tag five other people to do the same thing. "It" Wehlia Bacchus® Jules Hazelton My brother Dan

23 January 2006

 

GCG


21 January 2006

 

The concept of Drafting

Who was he? I just finished up an article by Richard A. Clarke at The Washington Post.com in which he reviews Peter Bergen's book on Osama bin Laden. Clarke gives a decent overview, running throught the strengths and weaknesses, and relaying the feel of the book. One thing jumped out at me, lets see if it jumps out at you as well:
The result is a detailed, well-researched narrative that persuasively answers dozens of questions that are still painfully relevant today: Did the CIA give bin Laden his start in Afghanistan in the 1980s jihad against the Soviets? (No, the CIA's aid went directly to Afghan mujaheddin fighting the occupiers, not to Arab outsiders like bin Laden.) Did the Pentagon let him slip away in 2001? (Yes, by only belatedly sending U.S. troops to Tora Bora, where Bergen -- despite Bush administration claims -- confirms that bin Laden was cornered.) Is bin Laden behind Abu Musab Zarqawi's insurgent attacks in Iraq? (No, Zarqawi's group was always a separate, Jordanian-based organization, not one that takes orders from bin Laden.) Did Saddam Hussein and bin Laden work together? (No, the fanatically religious bin Laden loathed the secular Iraqi tyrant.)
Go ahead and Google, "Did the CIA give bin Laden his start in Afghanistan in the 1980s jihad against the Soviets?" You'll find that among the other established facts, about bin Laden's relationship with Zarqawi and Saddam, Bergan's implication (via Clarke) that bin Laden had no connection whatso ever with the CIA is on less solid ground. I'm not saying that the CIA created bin Laden, and I'm not saying that Google should be the end all, be all of research, but the results are interesting. Items of intrest...
Exhibit A: Thursday, June 10th, 2004 Ghost Wars: How Reagan Armed the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan
During Reagan's 8 years in power, the CIA secretly sent billions of dollars of military aid to the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in a US-supported jihad against the Soviet Union. We take a look at America's role in Afghanistan that led to the rise of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda with Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. [Includes transcript]
Listen to Segment || Download Show mp3 Watch 128k stream Watch 256k stream Read Transcript
Exhibit A-1: Abolish the CIA! By Chalmers Johnson TomDispatch.com

Friday 05 November 2004

This piece is adapted from and printed thanks to the permission of the London Review of Books where, in slightly altered form, it appeared on 21 October 2004, pp. 25-28.

"Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to 10 September 2001", by Steve Coll, New York: Penguin, 2004, 695 pp, $29.95.

Excerpt-

Funding the Fundamentalists

The CIA had no intricate strategy for the war it was unleashing in Afghanistan. Howard Hart, the agency's representative in the Pakistani capital, told Coll that he understood his orders as: "You're a young man; here's your bag of money, go raise hell. Don't fuck it up, just go out there and kill Soviets." These orders came from a most peculiar American. William Casey, the CIA's director from January 1981 to January 1987 . . . Casey knew next to nothing about Islamic fundamentalism or the grievances of Middle Eastern nations against Western imperialism. He saw political Islam and the Catholic Church as natural allies in the counter-strategy of covert action to thwart Soviet imperialism. He believed that the USSR was trying to strike at the U.S. in Central America and in the oil-producing states of the Middle East. He supported Islam as a counter to the Soviet Union's atheism, and Coll suggests that he sometimes conflated lay Catholic organizations such as Opus Dei with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian extremist organization, of which Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenant, was a passionate member. The Muslim Brotherhood's branch in Pakistan, the Jamaat-e-Islami, was strongly backed by the Pakistani army, and Coll writes that Casey, more than any other American, was responsible for welding the alliance of the CIA, Saudi intelligence, and the army of General Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan's military dictator from 1977 to 1988. On the suggestion of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) organization, Casey went so far as to print thousands of copies of the Koran, which he shipped to the Afghan frontier for distribution in Afghanistan and Soviet Uzbekistan. He also fomented, without presidential authority, Muslim attacks inside the USSR . . .
Fair-Weather Friends

A co-operative agreement between the U.S. and Pakistan was anything but natural or based on mutual interests. Only two weeks after radical students seized the American Embassy in Tehran on November 5, 1979, a similar group of Islamic radicals burned to the ground the American Embassy in Islamabad as Zia's troops stood idly by. But the US was willing to overlook almost anything the Pakistani dictator did in order to keep him committed to the anti-Soviet jihad. After the Soviet invasion, Brzezinski wrote to Carter: "This will require a review of our policy toward Pakistan, more guarantees to it, more arms aid, and, alas, a decision that our security policy toward Pakistan cannot be dictated by our non-proliferation policy." History will record whether Brzezinski made an intelligent decision in giving a green light to Pakistan's development of nuclear weapons in return for assisting the anti-Soviet insurgency.

From the beginning, Zia demanded that all weapons and aid for the Afghans from whatever source pass through ISI hands. The CIA was delighted to agree. Zia feared above all that Pakistan would be squeezed between a Soviet-dominated Afghanistan and a hostile India. He also had to guard against a Pashtun independence movement that, if successful, would break up Pakistan. In other words, he backed the Islamic militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan on religious grounds but was quite prepared to use them strategically. In doing so, he laid the foundations for Pakistan's anti-Indian insurgency in Kashmir in the 1990s.

Enter bin Laden and the Saudis
From the moment agency money and weapons started to flow to the mujahidin in late 1979, Saudi Arabia matched the U.S. payments dollar for dollar. They also bypassed the ISI and supplied funds directly to the groups in Afghanistan they favored, including the one led by their own pious young millionaire, Osama bin Laden. According to Milton Bearden, private Saudi and Arab funding of up to $25 million a month flowed to Afghan Islamist armies. Equally important, Pakistan trained between 16,000 and 18,000 fresh Muslim recruits on the Afghan frontier every year, and another 6,500 or so were instructed by Afghans inside the country beyond ISI control. Most of these eventually joined bin Laden's private army of 35,000 "Arab Afghans." . . . the CIA made almost no effort to recruit paid agents or collect intelligence. The result was that Saudi Arabia worked continuously to enlarge the ISI's proxy jihad forces in both Afghanistan and Kashmir, and the Saudi Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the kingdom's religious police, tutored and supported the Taliban's own Islamic police force.
---
-now fast forward back to more Bergen... Exhibit B:
"While the charges that the CIA was responsible for the rise of the Afghan Arabs might make good copy, they don't make good history. The truth is more complicated, tinged with varying shades of gray. The United States wanted to be able to deny that the CIA was funding the Afghan war, so its support was funneled through Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI). ISI in turn made the decisions about which Afghan factions to arm and train, tending to favor the most Islamist and pro-Pakistan. The Afghan Arabs generally fought alongside those factions, which is how the charge arose that they were creatures of the CIA. [Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden (New York: The Free Press, 2001), pp. 64-66.]

The summary seen at usinfo.state.gov:

• U.S. covert aid went to the Afghans, not to the "Afghan Arabs."

• The "Afghan Arabs" were funded by Arab sources, not by the United States.

• United States never had "any relationship whatsoever" with Osama bin Laden.

• The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Arab backing for the "Afghan Arabs," and bin Laden's own decisions "created" Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, not the United States.

So we have exhibits A thru B, and misinformation from our own government which ignores the established fact that we had a dollor for dollar working agreemnet with the Saudis. I could add more from other sources, but the water would still be muddied. Clarke repeated Bergan's assessment without any caveat. John Stuart Blackton does, for the most part, the same at TMPCafe, but at least he notes that:
What we did do was: * Facilitate Arab funding for the fight against the Russians * Use the Pakistani intelligence services as intermediaries far more that was prudent * Tolerate the modest number of "Arab fighters" who joined the cause because we assumed that while they were not militarily significant, they were somehow a necessary part of keeping the flow of private Arab funding at substantial levels.
I'm not going to let Clarke slip by with what he said anymore than Blackton's commentors:

Mr. Blackton,

When people say that the CIA created Bin Laden, I interpret them as saying that CIA operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere created conditions that empowered the Aghan Arabs, encouraged the explicitly Islamist dimension of the anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan, and thereby nurtured the rise of Bin Laden and the broader movement of jihadist, anti-Western anti-imperialism that he represents. Whether or not Bin laden or his associates were ever actually on the CIA payroll is quite beside the point.
---
Members of the CIA assigned to the first Afghan war must have been morons if they did not know that Osama bin Laden was a member of one of the wealthiest families in Saudi Arabia and owners of one of the the biggest construction companies in the world. Or were they just too busy hustling the sale of arms and heroin to notice a 6'6" young man with a lot of money at his disposal?
It's simply the principle of drafting.

20 January 2006

 

Fridays Top Ten

Special dedication to GW 1. Franz Ferdinand - Eleanor put your boots on 2. Subways - Rock & Roll Queen 3. Dios (Malos) - Grrrl 4 Death Cab for Cutie - Crooked Teeth 5. Decemberists - 16 Military Wives 6. Willie Mason - Oxygen 7. Cure - Taking Off 8. Primatives - Crash 9. Velvet Underground - Rock & Roll 10 The Stooges - 1969 I'm getting out of here! Where are you going? To the other side of morning. Please don't chase the clouds, pagodas - Jim -That's right, I'm out and about tonite. It's almot 50 degrees, I canna stay indoors!

19 January 2006

 

Who speaks for me...

Is it line "A," or is it line "B?"
Blunt Instrument by Ryan Lizza Only at TNR Online | Post date 01.19.06
It looked like a wedding. The setting was the majestic Great Hall of the Library of Congress, an absurdly ornate cavern of white marble, grand staircases, brass inlayed floors, stained glass sky lights, and 75-feet high ceilings. Reporters were warned not to block one staircase landing as it was being used for the "procession." And sure enough, as a treacly orchestral soundtrack echoed through the room, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, followed by dozens of their fellow Democrats, slow-walked two-by-two down the aisle and assembled on a makeshift stage....

I expect to catch some flack for this post. So be it. If you go on to read the rest of the article in The New Republic you see that Mr. Lizza has come to roughly the same conclusion I have, after the last blustery week in politics, when he says," It's hard to disagree with the details in any of the reforms in the package, but the overall strategy seems to sacrifice a more comprehensive policy for the sake of some shrewd politics." This week we've heard these statements from the following:
DOWNLOAD - .WMV DOWNLOAD - .MP4
"When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about." - Hillary Clinton
---
". . . the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses." - Al Gore

Video-WMP Video-QT

Now before you go saying that maybe I should change the name of my blog to, "Making liberals cringe since 1977," let me say that both quotes can be found in their context by clicking on their respective links. And that's just it. Why does Media Matters have to take the time to defend Hillary Clinton's statements, and in addition why's Al Gore reacting to revelations that came out almost a month to the day from when he gave his speech?! Did it take that long for him to get all his focus groups together? Were all Hillary's staffers absent at the Senators last brainstorming session? Contrast race baiting and old "day late, dollar short" in row A with row B. Each individual there has let their actions speak louder than any Howard Deanesque outburst. John Edward's work with the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity speaks for itself. Russ Feingold's preformance at Alito's confirmation hearings set the standard of which Teddy Kennedy and Joe Biden fell well short (as I've already noted). Feingold's early opposition to the Patriot Act and his vote against the Iraq War resolution put him in the vangard among his fellow Democrats, and those who've jumped on the bandwagon in the meantime, when it comes to taking a stand on principles. Obama impressed me way back during the Bolton confirmation hearings as one who brought substance to the table, rather than typical gum flapping from Kerry and the like. As Lizza's article notes, ". . . this is exactly why Reid and Pelosi were shrewd and modest enough to make Barack Obama their main voice on the issue." Regardless of the posturing, Democrats will see a repeat of 2004 if they continue to sit back, occasionally lobbing off-hand comments, believing that simply not being Republican serves the Peoples's intrest.
. . . without fundamentally tackling campaign finance reform, making minor changes to how lobbyists and members interact with each other is meaningless. And as the left-leaning folks at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington have noted, the Democrats' plan is silent on how to revive the ethics committee or create other enforcement mechanisms that are true watchdogs of congressional behavior.
- I pick "B," and I'll let John Stewart have the final word:
When Dems Attack

DOWNLOAD - .WMV DOWNLOAD - .MP4


 

1984 + Catch 22 = 2006

Bin Laden Emmanuel Goldstein's alive!
". . . Oceania will not let up in the peace conflict on terror despite the threats on the tape, said Inner Party Headquarters press secretary Scott McClellan."
-from our friends at the Agitprop News Agency.

18 January 2006

 

Cowboys and Indians

Where the hell have I been...

I like getting out of the office. I don't like the end destination so much, they don't call it the "Puzzle Palace" for nothing, but going up to Headquarters get me out and about. It also gives me a chance to take in my preferred form of media--the thing I started going to school for until I switched my major--Radio. The Erie Canal slipped on by, but I barely paid its icy flows any attention this particular journey. My Shotgun has Sirrus Radio. That's right. Sirrus Radio. The 2+ hours on the road turned into a blur. We listened to Howard Stern the whole way there. It was some of the best shit I 've heard in a long time.

FYI: Howard Stern Shows Constraint, Dumps Content Was Howard Stern's Sirius Show Pirated? Howard Stern on Satellite: The Price of Freedom

The second part of my day was a stark contrast to my expedition east. On my way home I was once again confined to terrestrial radio. The only oasis of intellectual stimulation remaining on the dial is way down on the left end (no pun intended) where NPR resides. Snuggled between the Bible Thumpers and the “My Hump[ers]” NPR is like the last civilized stop on a stage coach ride to points west. What I heard Tuesday was an in-depth look at how the Abramoff Scandal plays into the old theme of Cowboys and Indians. Take a listen:

-Well, I'm now almost caught up till yesterday, stay tuned for my take on recent statements from Al Gore and Hillary Clinton.

17 January 2006

 
commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.
 

Testing

How's it look? Any feedback would be appreciated. I'll be out of the office today, so just leave a comment and let me know what I can improve. I hope to finish sleshing out the links to include all the places I linked before, and resize the link images so everything fits in the right column. I hope everything is of a font size so it's easy to read. Thanks.

15 January 2006

 

I am Ironnn Mannnn

Your results: You are Iron Man
Iron Man
70%
Spider-Man
65%
Catwoman
65%
The Flash
60%
Hulk
60%
Superman
45%
Green Lantern
45%
Wonder Woman
40%
Batman
40%
Robin
35%
Supergirl
35%
Inventor. Businessman. Genius.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz... -I hates fooseball...
 

Aint that the truth, Brother...

"Make no mistake. There are only two types of people in this world: those who collect more interest than they pay, and those who pay more interest than they collect."

14 January 2006

 

Knee Deep...

I've got pools of blood and code at me feet... please be patiant, the Doc is at work.
-Update, this three column thing is kicking my ass...

12 January 2006

 

Fatwah #336

 /static/images/tv_clips/bill-oreilly.jpg

Click Play Play to listen to this audio clip

-Why does Mr O'Reilly hate America? Why is he so negative? Why doesn't he believe that America, Dr Rice, the State Department, whoever, can get the job done in Iran? ...and right on the heels of his outburst, this item:
Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:22 PM ET11 By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and the European Union's three biggest powers said on Thursday talks with Iran over its nuclear program were at an impasse and that Tehran should be brought before the U.N. Security Council.

Such a move could eventually lead to international sanctions on the world's fourth biggest oil exporter.

Accusing Tehran of defiantly turning its back on the international community, the western powers said it had consistently breached its commitments and failed to show the world its nuclear activities were peaceful.

"Our talks with Iran have reached a dead end," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after talks in Berlin with his British and French counterparts and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined their call for an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, board of governors to discuss what she called Iran's "defiant" resumption of uranium enrichment work.

"That meeting would be to report Iran's noncompliance with its safeguard obligations to the U.N. Security Council," Rice told a news conference in Washington.

Tehran shot back that it was not worried by the threat of bringing the issue to the Security Council and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator reiterated his country's stance that its nuclear plans were for peaceful means.

"We have already declared that our intention is to do nuclear research, it has nothing to do with enrichment," Ali Larijani told CNN.

CHINA AND RUSSIA

If Iran is referred to the Security Council, it will not automatically face sanctions. Rice said there was a "menu of possibilities" but declined to give any specifics

The EU3 and the United States will also have to fight hard to win the support of Russia and China, permanent Council members with veto powers, both to send Iran to the Council and for tough action once the case is referred there. Continued ...


 

Disgraceful.

I am very disappointed in Ted Kennedy. Not a day goes by that I don't deal with someone in the blogosphere's Logical Fallacies, and one of the most used is a Red Herring known as, "Guilt by Association."

Our friend Brian, from Argentina, comes to mind.

Listen, Ted, take a cue from your colleagues. They've got him to admit that Alito doesn't view Roe v. Wade as settled law, something even John Roberts agrees with. Feingold and others have done as good a job as can be expected with an obviously brilliant lawyer; what Alito has not said in regards to Unified Executive Theory/Separation of Power speaks as loudly as what he has. Hell, the guy can't even agree with Justice O'Conner's classic, " . . . war does not give the President a blank check." You of all people need to be careful when delving into an individual's past, and whom they associated with.
. . . Mr. Kennedy was on shaky ground accusing the nominee of associating with people opposed to the inclusion of women in private institutions. The eight-term senator belonged to an all-male social club -- the Owl -- at Harvard University. The Owl refused to admit women until it was forced to do so during the 1980s, according to records kept by the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper.

Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) performance has been no great service to the public either. I don't care about that soap opera shit. Why is it Republicans are already firmly behind Alito, don't they remember how they been burnt before with Souter, Kennedy, and even Ginsburg? What really needs to be focused on is clearing up the myths, the lies, and the half-truths. They are identified and debunked here by Media Matters:

#1: Alito's opinion in Farmer case is evidence that he would vote to uphold Roe

Broadcast and print media have repeatedly mischaracterized Alito's concurring opinion in the 2000 case Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey v. Farmer as evidence that he has issued conflicting rulings on abortion. Specifically, these news outlets have juxtaposed Alito's decision in the Farmer case, in which he voted with the majority on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down a New Jersey law restricting certain late-term abortion procedures, with Alito's dissent in a 1991 case, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, in which he argued for upholding restrictions on abortion. But Alito's actions in the two cases are in no way inconsistent. His concurring opinion in Farmer provides no support for the claim that he would have ruled the same way if he were sitting on the Supreme Court. Indeed, he explicitly noted in a separate concurring opinion that he was voting to strike down the abortion ban only because he was obligated as an appellate judge to follow Supreme Court precedent.

In that concurrence, Alito wrote that he was voting to strike down the abortion ban only because he was bound to follow the Supreme Court's 2000 decision in Stenberg v. Carhart. In that case, the court struck down a Nebraska law restricting certain late-term abortion procedures as an undue burden, in part because the ban did not include an exception for the health of the pregnant woman. While the majority opinion in Farmer provided a detailed examination of the New Jersey law's constitutionality, Alito explicitly distanced himself from such analysis. In his concurring opinion, he wrote: "Our responsibility as a lower court is to follow and apply controlling Supreme Court precedent." He went on to express the view that the court's only responsibility was to "explain why Carhart requires us to affirm the decision of the District Court." (The District Court overturned the New Jersey late-term abortion ban.)

As correspondent Jeffrey Toobin stated on the October 31 edition of CNN's American Morning, the Farmer opinion represented "a reluctant following of precedent" by Alito. Toobin also correctly noted that Alito would have "a lot more flexibility regarding precedent" as a Supreme Court justice.

#2: Alito's recusal pledge covered only a limited time frame

In reporting on Alito's refusal to recuse himself in two cases involving companies in which he owned stock, The New York Times has repeated without challenge Alito's claim that the pledge he made in 1990 to recuse himself in such cases was limited to "the initial period" after his confirmation. In fact, when Alito assured the Senate Judiciary Committee that he would recuse himself from cases involving companies in which he had a financial interest, he did not qualify the pledge in any way or suggest that it was time-limited.

In the questionnaire he submitted to the Senate during his 1990 confirmation, Alito made the unqualified promise to recuse himself from all cases involving companies tied to his "financial interests," such as Vanguard Group and Smith Barney:

I do not believe that conflicts of interest relating to my financial interests are likely to arise. I would, however, disqualify myself from any cases involving the Vanguard companies, the brokerage firm of Smith Barney, or the First Federal Savings & Loan of Rochester, New York.

Despite this pledge, Alito participated in a 2002 case involving the Vanguard Group in which Shantee Maharaj, widow of a holder of Vanguard funds, charged, according to a November 1, 2005, Washington Post article, "that the company had improperly seized some private accounts and blocked the owner's widow from obtaining the funds they contained." Alito joined in a ruling in favor of Vanguard, but the decision was withdrawn after Maharaj complained that Alito's participation in the case was improper. Further, Alito ruled on a 1996 case involving Smith Barney.

The Times has also presented as undisputed the claim that Alito was not required to recuse himself in those cases. In fact, the propriety of Alito's participation in those cases is very much in dispute. George Washington University constitutional law professor Mary Cheh has said that "even though these are broadly held funds ... if you are aware of the holdings, you should recuse yourself because you stand to benefit one way or the other." Others such as University of Pennsylvania law school professor Geoffrey C. Hazard Jr. argue that Alito had no obligation to recuse himself from these cases. But even Hazard has conceded that Alito's 1990 pledge to recuse himself is "a basis for mild criticism," given that Alito has since engaged in conduct that is apparently at odds with it.

#3: Alito is a "strict constructionist"

Shortly after Alito's nomination, NBC Today co-host Katie Couric parroted his supporters' claim that he is a "strict constructionist." Such characterizations of Alito's judicial temperament promote the false dichotomy -- advanced by conservatives in support of Bush's judicial nominees -- between strict constructionists (who, supporters claim, will "interpret the Constitution literally") and "judicial activists" (whom supporters describe as "legislating from the bench"). Couric's comments also suggest that Alito's judicial philosophy is not a matter of dispute. But whether Alito is a true "strict constructionist" -- if scholars can even agree on a definition -- and a practitioner of judicial restraint is an issue very much in dispute. Indeed, some legal experts contend that by one measure of "activism"-- a judge's inclination to strike down statutes passed by Congress -- Alito's record is, in fact, that of a judicial activist.

A recent study by Yale law professor Paul Gewirtz and Yale Law School graduate Chad Golder suggests that Supreme Court justices often labeled "strict constructionists" (i.e., justices who purport to discern and apply the true original meaning of constitutional provisions) are the real judicial activists. Gewirtz and Golder ranked the justices according to how often each voted to strike down a law passed by Congress. They found that justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, often considered the two most conservative justices on the high court, ranked first and third, respectively, in frequency of votes striking down acts of Congress. While their analysis concerned only Supreme Court justices, George Washington University law professor and New Republic legal affairs editor Jeffrey Rosen recently analyzed Alito's efforts to restrict congressional authority and similarly determined that Alito is an "activist."

In a November 22, 2004, New Republic column, Rosen defined "conservative activists" as those "determined to use the courts to strike at the heart of the regulatory state"; Rosen included Alito in that group. As evidence, he cited Alito's "troubling" view on the limited scope of congressional authority under the Commerce Clause as described in his "dissent from a decision upholding the constitutionality of a federal law prohibiting the possession of machine guns." Rosen concluded that Alito's "lack of deference to Congress is unsettling."

Alito's colleagues on the bench have similarly criticized his apparent willingness to usurp congressional authority. For example, the majority opinion of the 3rd Circuit Court in the case United States v. Rybar also criticized Alito's dissenting view that Congress ought to be required to prove a link between regulation and interstate commerce in such cases. Third Circuit Chief Justice Dolores K. Sloviter wrote: "We know of no authority to support such a demand on Congress"; further, she noted that such a demand would require "Congress or the Executive to play Show and Tell with the federal courts at the peril of invalidation of a Congressional statute."

#4: Alito's 1985 criticism of Roe mirrors legal scholars' opinion that the decision was right but incorrectly reasoned

In his 1985 application for the position of assistant attorney general in the Reagan Justice Department, Alito wrote that he was "proud of his contributions in cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court ... that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion." Numerous conservative commentators have attempted to downplay Alito's stated position on abortion by likening it to the common argument put forth by some more liberal legal experts that the decision in Roe v. Wade was correct, but the court's reasoning was wrong. In fact, there is a clear difference between arguing that a constitutional right to an abortion does not exist and questioning the particular constitutional principles upon which the court relied in reaching its decision.

Those likening these arguments have often put forth as examples the criticism of Roe articulated by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Some also cite comments made by author and former Supreme Court clerk Edward Lazarus. But in contrast to Alito, both Ginsburg and Lazarus have clearly stated in their writings on the subject that they believe the Constitution protects a woman's right to an abortion.

Indeed, in a 1984 lecture, Ginsburg strongly criticized the basis for the court's affirmation of a constitutional right to an abortion. She argued that, while the Supreme Court was right to strike down the Texas law in question, it should have done so on the basis of the Constitution's equal protection clause, rather than on an unstated constitutional right to privacy. But Ginsburg affirmed her belief in a constitutional right to abortion during her 1993 confirmation hearings.

In an October 2002 column, Lazarus asserted that "[a]s a matter of constitutional interpretation and judicial method, Roe borders on the indefensible." But he went on to write, "I say this as someone utterly committed to the right to choose, as someone who believes such a right has grounding elsewhere in the Constitution instead of where Roe placed it."

#5: Alito's 1985 job application does not represent his "personal views"

Some media figures have further defended Alito's controversial 1985 job application by claiming that he was not expressing his "personal views" when he wrote that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion." For example, on the November 14, 2005, edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Brit Hume asserted that "these were not personal views he was discussing," but rather "the legal arguments that he made as a lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department."

In fact, Alito made clear in the application that he "strongly" and "personally" believed in the legal arguments in question:

Most recently, it has been an honor and a source of personal satisfaction for me to serve in the office of the Solicitor General during President Reagan's administration and to help to advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly. I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect the right to an abortion.

#6: The "Ginsburg precedent" should apply to the Democrats' handling of Alito

As occurred following the 2005 nomination of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., reporters and conservative commentators have suggested that Senate Democrats should set aside ideological concerns in considering the Alito nomination because Senate Republicans did just that in their nearly unanimous 1993 confirmation of Ginsburg. This deceptive argument -- the so-called "Ginsburg precedent" -- was recently revived by NBC host Tim Russert and The 700 Club host Pat Robertson. The argument rests, however, on the false claim that Republicans confirmed Ginsburg despite her reputation as a liberal. In fact, she had established a largely moderate record during her 13 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and was recommended to President Clinton by a senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Indeed, Ginsburg was considered "a consensus choice, pushed by Republicans and accepted by the president in large part because he didn't want to take on a big fight," as Ruth Marcus wrote in her November 15, 2005, Washington Post column. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) -- then the ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- claimed credit in his autobiography, Square Peg: Confessions of a Citizen Senator (Basic Books, 2002), for suggesting Ginsburg as a Supreme Court nominee in 1993 after discouraging Clinton from nominating then-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt. Hatch even wrote of Ginsburg: "Not many people realize this, but her voting record at the appellate court was very similar to that of another subsequent Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia" [Page 263]. This assessment of Ginsburg's reputation as a moderate judge was substantiated by a study of the 1987 appeals court that found Ginsburg had voted more consistently with Republican-appointed judges -- such as Kenneth W. Starr and Laurence H. Silberman -- than those appointed by Democrats.


11 January 2006

 

For Vonster:

________________________________________________________
-Von Herr Sutra und Messer Mack

 

Poker Anyone?

Credibility Gap "I was an advocate seeking a job, it was a political job and that was 1985." Q...and can you convince us that you're doing anything otherwise now? Is that your tell, rubbing your cheek like that?

Cross-posted @ "My own Private Idaho"
---
-Update (he's showing his tell again!)
Democrats Express Frustration as Alito Questioning Enters Second Round
January 11, 2006
Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee expressed frustration with the lack of specific answers they had elicited from Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, saying Americans deserved to know more about the judge's judicial philosophy and positions. (with Audio)

 

Media Matters Bulletin

Limbaugh again falsely claimed FISA court blocked search of Moussaoui's computer

Summary: For the second time in a week, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court denied the FBI a warrant to search the laptop computer of Zacarias Moussaoui. But in fact, the FBI never petitioned the court for a warrant after bureau attorneys determined they did not have sufficient evidence.

-Put down the Kool-Aid,
stop carrying water!

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