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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 17, 2005 8:44 PM. The previous post in this blog was It was just lunch. The next post in this blog is Mystery gift. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Dumb and mean

Awfully quiet 'round these parts about the President making his own laws and signing off 36 times on domestic spying against Americans. Not a peep...
So chided a reader here today, and of course, he or she is right. The Republic is at a major crossroads, and here I am sitting on my 10 typing fingers.

I've got some good excuses. I've been busy living, doing all kinds of things in the non-cyber-world that aren't bloggable -- or if they are, I've written about them before, and it's just the same old stuff another time around. More significantly, I'm so bone-weary of the whole problem of Bush America that I'm paralyzed. I did what I could, as so many of us did, in the '04 election, and we lost. After that, I'm just so beat up I want to turn out the lights and forget about it all.

Now, as the wheels come off the second term of George W. Bush -- a horrible phrase that will live in infamy -- let me draw myself up from my prolonged coma of disbelief and despair to offer just a thought or two.

Bush and Cheney are dumb and mean. And not just in that order, although that's the popular image. They're each dumb and mean to differing degrees.

And so are the majority of Americans -- dumb and mean. They voted for these guys, and now we all get to live with the consequences. To add to the drama, the red state voters will wake up now as they face their $300 heat bills and $100 gas card bills and see these clowns for what they are, but it's far too late. Dumb and mean now control the economy, the Supreme Court, and our profile around the planet, and they have our civil liberties on a waterboard.

The whole show in Congress about the Patriot Act is interesting, but do you think these guys care what the law says about what they can and can't do to the average person? Rich guy Ron Wyden can make all the speeches he wants, and John McCain can pursue his oddball little chapter in history, but they're meaningless gestures. No matter who you are, or where you are, dumb, mean America is in your face now, and if you're in the States, in your bedroom too. And it isn't leaving without violence.

The key, key event in all of this was America's gesture to the world in November of 2004. Dumb, mean, and irreversible.

Comments (56)

we're f'd

The domestic NSA spying bit is the real kicker, because it basically says "so we made you give us the PATRIOT Act, and we already had the FISA court, but actually, we don't even need to use those because we'll just issue executive orders to do whatever we want."

FWIW, for those not following the bouncing ball, all of this would be why I posted what I did yesterday about the Bush presidency.

what a bunch of tripe. the US intercepts communications between suspected terrorists and their supporters with foreign fanatics and someone bitches and moans. heck, i would be pissed if we weren't taking such actions. at some point in time, the left needs to clear out the toys in the attic and understand that their are millions of completely whacked out moslems out there who don't have the brains to pour piss out of their sandels but who want to kill everyone who isn't a wacked out moslem. as far as the price of gass, it seems to be going down, down and down. President Bush is a winner..her regularly kicks the heck out of those left wing politicans who run against him and his administration's policies. As algore or "self inflicted wound Kerry" who complains of American soldiers terrorizing poor Iraqis. the next thing you lefties should prepare for is when we take out Iran's nuclear capacity...this will really give you something to whine about. it is, however, music to my ears..the more you whine, the more Bush wins...

the more Bush wins...

"Mission accomplished."

"Heck of a job, Brownie."

What a winner.

If half the things happening under Bush were happening under a Gore presidency, the GOP would long since have stormed over the fences around the White House bearing their Second Amendment AK-47s.

Translation: Bite me.

Or under Hillary in 2009.

Hell's bells, I'm as scared of Hillary as President as any Republican.

Just sayin'...

Hard not to agree with you Jack, in fact this is the best on the subject I've seen in the long time. Honest. But look just sitting there in disbelief and despair ain't helping much.

You say "... The whole show in Congress about the Patriot Act is interesting .. .

Jack this isn't a show, this is a desperate struggle. Do you know what they had in mind for you only last summer? Do administrative subpoenas mean anything to you? Thanks to some that's not longer on the table (for now). Who knows, the chances are we may even force real honest discussion about the original Act in coming months. Coma doesn't help Jack, it kills in the long run.

You say ... do you think these guys care what the law says about what they can and can't do to the average person?

The quick, reflexive, honest answer is sure we don't, but the reality out there is a bit more complicated Jack, it pisses them off to no end that what they do to you has to be done secretly, under the cover of darkness, trying to hide their dirty methods. They yearn to be able to do it in broad light, with full statutory imprimatur, squinting in the sun so to speak. That's why you see them pushing things as hard as they do. We need to deny them that Jack, otherwise the abuse will be far more widespread than what we have now.

Notice that when the broadcast media is discussing this story, they rarely mention the word spying in conjuction with "international phone calls and emails." Similarly, they don't acknowledge these specific individuals had all been linked to Al Qaeda or related organizations.

My friends and family have wondered about increased surveillance (since 9/11) anytime anybody used the word "bomb" or "Allah" on email or the phone ('careful now, you wouldn't want to overload those nice boys that have to read all the "key word" searches'). Pllleeeaaasssse.

If y'all want to take offense at something Bush did, criticize him for alienating Colin Powell or failing to capture Osama. Whining about electronic eavesdropping is like being angry with Bush for eating more beef than sushi. He's from Texas, what did you expect?

Clearly, if something blows up, Bush will be blamed, especially by the left. Unless and until something blows up, I am merely asking that Bush receive credit where credit is due.

In the absence of a follow on attack to 9/11, are you going to acknowledge the Bush Administration has protected our national security? Or would you attribute it to good fortune, or the bad guys losing interest in killing Americans? Uh-huh.

If you think Bush is a lousy S.O.B. whether or not he successfully prosecutes the war on terror, then your politics have trumped your intellect. We all benefit from the Bushies willingness to push the envelope of what is "tolerable" in this preemptive war. We need Bush "on that wall."

As Col. Jessep (Jack Nicholson) observed in Hollywood's A Few Good Men:

Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.

We use words like honor, code, loyalty...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!

There are two levels of concern here, WBAII. On the one hand, there's the argument some make that any such wiretapping without court authority is unconstitutional.

But on the other hand, there's another argument: That if you allow this sort of authority without any checks and balances, there's nothing to stop any given administration from using it against anyone they over-broadly view as a threat.

We're talking here about an administration whose Pentagon was just caught spying on Quakers, after all.

While it's always possible that the extra-legal wiretapping Bush has ordered the NSA to engage in has so far been targetted against The Bad People, without any independent check on the authority to order those wiretaps, no one can ever know either way.

As I said over and over and over and over again during the JTTF debate, we are supposed to be a nation of laws, not of men. We're not supposed to just hand over a bunch of unchecked authority and say, "Oh please, you can trust them not to abuse it."

That's not the predicate or premise of this nation.

Oh good, now we're turning to fictional military men from crappy movies for our inspiration in the war on terror?

And, um, you do realize he was the villain of that movie, don't you?

On the general topic of dumb and mean, does anyone actually think that the war in Iraq is lessening the potential for another terorist attack on U.S. soil? That's one of the biggest non sequiturs I've ever seen passed off on the American public.

Along with "We're going to have a stable democracy in Iraq some day." In your dreams! Hello, people -- Iraq is not a country, it's a 1945 oil map. It will forever be about as stable as Palestine.

At best this war will buy a year or two of stability. At the cost of 1,000 or 2,000 American soldiers' lives per year, not to mention billions and billions of dollars plus immeasurable ill will among most civilized nations, it ain't worth it any more.

"Spying on Quakers" is overstating the case based on the information currently available.

More importantly, you cannot actually believe that "A Few Good Men" was crappy movie? Hello: Cruise, Moore, Bacon, Nicholson, and that wise-cracker that played Cruise's co-counsel. I'm crushed. You probably didn't like Braveheart, either.

Yes, Col. Jessup was the villian, perhaps in much the same way Dick Cheney may prove to be a villian. They both crossed a line in the protection of something (arguably) more important than a arbitrary line. Survival.

Cheney actually reminds me more of "The Shining."

b!X

Based on my reading, I believe the President is vested with the authority to intercept foreign broadcasts, telephone calls, emails, and electronic communications (of all variety) in the pursuit of national security interests. Ironically, very few Americans complained about all the Soviet undersea cables we tapped, or the listening devices they planted in thewalls of our "brand new" embassy. A laugh and a chuckle: business as usual. I would assume a "key word search" program is also being used on all email, looking for terms like "C-5" or "fertilizer bomb." Is it legal? Probably not. Do most of us need to possess C-5 or a fertilizer bomb? Not likely.

Your second point (lack of judicial oversight) is more interesting. Why ask for something if you're prepared to go it alone? Do you think Bush is worried about the threat of impeachment at this stage in the game? He's not planning on a third term, despite all the b/s King George comments. I take solace in the fact that we have limited resources to interpret all the data we intercept: if they waste their time listening to me joke with my Pakistani buddy (a muslim) about "cousin Fatwa" or "uncle Osama" that is time they didn't get to spend listening to someone that may represent a viable threat.

There's also the "if you don't have anything to hide" argument, then what are you worried about?

.. does anyone actually think that the war in Iraq is lessening the potential for another terorist attack on U.S. soil ...

Nobody rational does, on the contrary, thanks to this administration there must be now gazillions of desperate and determined people worldwide preparing, scheming, laying in wait, waiting for an opportunity to hit back. Dumb and mean is by far the best description of this administration I've seen so far.

b!X

Based on my reading, I believe the President is vested with the authority to intercept foreign broadcasts, telephone calls, emails, and electronic communications (of all variety) in the pursuit of national security interests. Ironically, very few Americans complained about all the Soviet undersea cables we tapped, or the listening devices they planted in thewalls of our "brand new" embassy. A laugh and a chuckle: business as usual. I would assume a "key word search" program is also being used on all email, looking for terms like "C-5" or "fertilizer bomb." Is it legal? Probably not. Do most of us need to possess C-5 or a fertilizer bomb? Not likely.

Your second point (lack of judicial oversight) is more interesting. Why ask for something if you're prepared to go it alone? Do you think Bush is worried about the threat of impeachment at this stage in the game? He's not planning on a third term, despite all the b/s King George comments. I take solace in the fact that we have limited resources to interpret all the data we intercept: if they waste their time listening to me joke with my Pakistani buddy (a muslim) about "cousin Fatwa" or "uncle Osama" that is time they didn't get to spend listening to someone that may represent a viable threat.

There's also the "if you don't have anything to hide" argument, then what are you worried about?

Sorry for the duplicate post (received an error message the first click). Uncle Jack: please fix.

O.k. I'll take the bait. I believe the war in Iraq lessens the probability (not potential) of another attack in the U.S. for two reasons:

1. Whoop-ass, one bottomless spray can. Totalitarian states like Libya, Syria, North Korea, Cuba and (to a lesser degree) China have keenly observed that when President Bush makes a threat, he's willing to back it up. There is a historical precedent for the exportation of terrorism for all four nations (excluding China). Our willingness to deploy force (or to stick it out) will make them think twice before trying to hit us in the future...All four dictators would like to avoid the "spider cave" photos that Saddam endured.

2. Moth effect. Every islamo-wacko on the globe is drawn to Iraq (like a moth to light) to kill American G.I.'s, contractors, NGO reps, and (ironically) pacifists. While it may be there is a multiplier effect (for every one we kill, 10 others may take his place), at least the most actively dangerous (the killing machines of today) are taken off the suicide belt waiting list. This also adds to our credibility as a worthy opponent (the U.S. counterbalance to Hama Rules).

The potential for new terrorists attacks will always exist just around the corner. Like the amorphous enemy "Chaos" in the old Get Smart t.v. series, it will survive. The probability declines as we behave less like a willing victim, and more like a reactive superpower.

Dumb and mean is better than smart and friendly. It is better to be feared than respected in this part of the globe.

Thanks, Bog.

That we must defend ourselves is true, providing that we also take full responsibility to be moderate in that defense and work equally hard at self-examination- but running halfway around the world to attack a country already contained is not defense. And even from a self centered point of view, a 'stategy' that does not take into account the basic principles of military science and philosophy and which repeats the failed policies of previous occupiers is an unjustifiable stupidity which has wasted the deaths of sons and daughters.

As to our moral imperative: no Christian is allowed to support the war or even defense from attack: there's that first commandment, turn the other cheek thing. If you don't agree with that, then step away from the false claim that we are Christian or moral country, and admit to what we really are: a nation with a majority unwilling or unable to rise above their bestial nature and wallowing in rage, lusting after killing and bent on unguided revenge. No wonder the terrorists hate us--we're so much alike.

Bush's simple-minded belief in the intrinsic evil of the terrorists avoids the real answer to 'why DO they hate us? ' Because of what WE do.

I guess this is how it felt to be trapped in the early days of Nazi Germany.

Dumb and mean is better than smart and friendly.

Wow. At least this Bush partisan is honest in recognizing the stupidity of this administration. It's just rematkable that anyone would argue that being dumb is better.

Mark.

How did you discern the terrorists "hate us because of what we do"? I don't know any terrorists I can ask, and I find it difficult to accept their manifestos at face value. Pssst...political propaganda is a might important tool in their war chest.

I know alot of Democrats that hate us for what Bush does. I even know a few Republicans that think the "functioning democracy in Iraq" is a lousy excuse for an exit strategy.

I can surmise that our foundational support for the state of Israel cost us dearly in terms of Arab hearts and minds. Playing the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" game probably had something to do with it, as does our current support of corrupt Royalists and puppet regimes.

For the sake of argument, let's say we:

1. Abandoned our support of Israel and chapioned a relocation of the state of Israel to Italy.
2. Gave "Palestine" back to the Palestinians
3. Ended our military presence and arms sales to the region and recalled the entire U.S. Navy and stationed them 10 miles off the coast.
4. Shuttered all our foreign military bases (including GITMO: free all the prisoners).
5. Allowed islamic revolutions to occur in most of the region, with Iran acting as the exclusive puppeteer in our absence.

Then do you think that all the terrorists would come out of their caves smiling and saying ALLAH BLESS AMERICA, now we want to buy Cadillacs!

Get real. They don't hate us for what we do. They hate us for what we are: unbelievers and infidels. Their Koran is fairly explicit on that point. This isn't a public relations battle; it is a religious war. We simply cannot acknowledge the regigious component for political (and P.R.) reasons.

Frank:

I don't believe the Bushies are dumb or mean. I believe they are cunning and calculated, and very, very smart.

I will grant the Bush Administration's foreign policy is not progressive (when viewed through our liberal lens) and sometimes appears reactionary and heavy handed.

My point is that the Bushies are running with the big dogs, and they are playing with big dog rules. Hama Rules. They decided at the outset they were going to fight fire with fire.
Subsequently, the Libyans copped a plea, the Syrians withdrew from Lebanon, the (surviving) Afghanis turned state's witness, and Al Qaeda went back underground.

Again, you would rather be feared than respected in some parts of the middle east.

Umm....what ever happened to the 'one comment, one follow up - and only in one thread per day' rule?

Seems like one or two people need to get themselves a blog for Christmas...

Betsy:

It would have been easier to criticize my spelling errors if you want to belittle my opinion.

Don't read my posts if you don't like them. Otherwise, try and say something intelligent and we can advance our mutual understanding. This isn't BlueOregon: they don't ban people for being conservative.

The problem starts with "I decided . . ." versus "I asked Congress . . . "

Ho ho ho hum, What's New?

The Marshall/Brennan concurrance in CIA v. Sims 471 US 159 would be instructive reading. " See note on accommodating "litigation strategy."

It was in B41's time that we got secret tribunals where "sources and methods" could be withheld from the in-camera eyes of federal judges, as they too cannot be trusted; not some evil hordes.

The human zest for megalomania, so as to have control of one's own little bubble, is not new either. It is assumed. The question is whether the life-time appointment of federal judges is sufficient to enable them, acknowledging their own ego-filling-desires, to thumb their nose at the advocates of anarchy and arbitrariness in favor of the rule of law.

This isn't BlueOregon: they don't ban people for being conservative.

No, but there is a comments policy, which does get enforced if there's a complaint.

I won't darken your doorstep again, Jack. Good luck with the whole free speech thing.

To those justifying this as necessary--if this is really about terrorism, FISA as amended by the PATRIOT Act gives the goverment broad latitute to ask secret courts for warrants to conduct searches, and the govt never has to reveal that info to the subject of the search as long as the AG avers that it would compromise national security. Put simply, if it's really necessary, the weak checks FISA has provided since 2001 will allow it.

And as to "There's also the 'if you don't have anything to hide' argument, then what are you worried about?": I'm worried about the Fourth Amendment. Quite frankly, I don't trust this administration to confine its spying to the real bad guys. I wouldn't put planting evidence past them. I want to check that independent oversight of the courts provides--even the weak check that FISA warrants require.

Finally, as to the idea that they hate us because we are infidels, you're only partly right. The big boys do--they want to take us back to the glory days of the Dark Ages (as do some of our more batty Christian sects, but I digress...). But the capitalize on poverty and the attendant sense of purposelessness that so many young Muslim men and women feel in countries in which we have propped up greedy and corrupt leaders. Not that that justifies the atrocities that they have committed--at all--but it was a tactical error that we are suffering the effects of now. We would do well to remember that as we try to stablize Iraq and Afghanistan.

"FEAR" is respect in the Middle East...

The assumption that we can strike fear and create respect and build democracy in the middle east through a massive military presence has some fatal flaws with emphasis on the word 'fatal'. If this were true the Pope would probably still have an army. We are not fighting by their rules anymore then they are fighting by ours. It would be impossible for our enemies in the middle east to engage us on the same battle field and why should they? We can spend several years and billions and billions of dollars, stain the desert red with blood and we will never strike as much fear in the middle east as they did with a couple dozen Saudi nationals w/ box cutters and a few flight lessons struck here. This game will always end in a draw.

Conservatives need to quit thinking of this war as a cock fight (this generation's Cold War phallic sword fight)... Only simpletons could actually cheer talking points like "taking the fight to the enemy" and "Power and Fear are the only things they respect". Simply having a presence in the Muslim holy lands is a slap in their face and riles nationalistic fervor... how would the South feel if Islamic militants started settling in Mexico City? Would they start feeling suspicious and uneasy, arming up for impending attack on OUR WAY OF LIFE?

Although the military industrial complex would have you believe otherwise, YOU CAN'T FIGHT AN IDEOLOGY WITH TANKS, JETS, ETC. It requires increased foreign inteligence, that unglamorous trade that doesn't keep Fox News viewers glued. So while the fools in this country start to realize that they had been duped by pomp and circumstance leading up to Iraq, our country is at a crossroads... are we going to give up our principles, liberties, and constitutional rights JUST BECAUSE GUNS HAVE GIVEN WAY TO WIRETAPS? I weep at the thought this country might consent to it's own deconstruction.

Rendition. Tax cuts. Torture. Kyoto rejection. Military deaths. Social program cuts. Cronyism and corruption. Growing deficits. Corporate welfare. Birth control funding withdrawn as foreign aid. Political interference with scientific reports and conclusions. Right to die undermined. Abortion rights undermined. Constitutional protections ignored or withdrawn. Right-wing zealots to the Supreme Court in lifetime appointments. Propaganda disseminated through news media. Habeas corpus limited or withdrawn. Federal court jurisdiction narrowed, withdrawn through new laws. Increased poverty, infant mortality, hunger, joblessness, homelessness. What's not to like?

That's not to mention putting us all at risk through unilateral aggression against a sovereign nation with a flawed military plan that has weakened our defenses and our economy and fostered enmity and resentment abroad, all utterly in disregard of international law and standards of conduct for nations.

Tom, in life, unlike games, this draw ends in great loss.
Peace on earth, goodwill might be too lofty a goal at this point.
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Holidays, Good Tidings,... etc.

Geno, You said it brother and may I add 'Good Night and Good Luck'.

I won't darken your doorstep again, Jack. Good luck with the whole free speech thing.

Please, our Right Wing Martyr Quotient is full this week. All I'm asking is that you respect the posted rules.

Uh, I wasn't objecting to the position - it was more about repetition and/or monopolizing the conversation. If you're the one making the last seven comments out of ten (and your comments are long-winded to boot), don't you think it's time to let someone else get a word in edgewise? (Which is, of course, the whole point behind Jack's comment rules, no?)

Okay, let's do a quick review of the War on Terror:

1) It's true that the US has not been attacked directly since 9/11. However, we are still very vulnerable to attack, despite all the precautions put into place.

2) Osama bin Laden, the primary quarry in this whole affair, remains at large, four years after we began our search for him in earnest.

3) Not one piece of ordnance has been used against Saudi Arabia, the country from which most of the 9/11 terrorists were from and the country in which bin Laden retains his wealth. And with as much as we've invested in removing Saddam Hussein from power, it's unlikely we'll move this War on Terror any further.

4) Because FEMA was put under Homeland Security, it was removed from direct communication with the President. As such, while our soldiers were fighting to give Iraqis free elections, the government virtually ignored the people of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, similar complaints also surfaced after Hurricane Wilma struck Florida.

Now to be fair, not all of this is Bush's fault. But his handling of these situations has left a lot to be desired. So I have a couple recommendations.

1) Ask the Mossad to track down Osama bin Laden. Not only will they bring him in alive, they'll probably do it within 72 hours of going out.

2) Make FEMA a separate Cabinet-level position, with its secretary directly responsible to the President.

3) Fortunately, Bush's second term ends in 2008. So here's a charge to all you good Americans reading this--elect someone who's going to put the War of Terror back on track. We will never win that war completely--they don't wear clothing with "Terrorist" embroidered on it, so we have to be vigilant about threats from our own citizens, too--but we need to show we're serious about protecting our homeland.

Those of you who are complaining that Bush is acting with "unchecked authority" should remember that the Senate Intelligence Committee -- which includes our own Ron Wyden -- has been briefed multiple times about the program.

If Bush & Cheney are so dumb and mean, how did they win two terms and trick 62 million of us dumb, mean Americans to vote for them? Do you really believe anyone who disagrees with you politically is several cards short of a full deck? If so, could that have even a little bit to do with the extreme partisan nature of political rhetoric in our country?

Eating too small bites never gets the flavor of dish.

Jack, there are some thoughts so unreasonable that I wonder how you can come to them and hold them, and then topics like this show you are surrounded by them. Free advice: Get out more. (Maybe 2 hours at GlobalResearch.ca ? Just as a suggestion.)
-----------
It is nothing about Iraq, and everything Underhold says is a propaganda-distorted lie anyway. It is about that Bush is dumb and mean, Cheney, too, Rummy, Condi, Ashcroft, Gonzalez, Scalia, Alito, Abramoff, DeLay, Frist, Zell Miller (there's another tangent for Pied Undertow Piper to pipe off on), Schwarzenegger, Bloomberg, Pat Robertson, Falwell, Ralph Reed, Hastert, Noe, Hutchinson, Stevenson (and daughter), all mass media toadies, and simply to end somewhere, Gordon Smith: are liars and criminals. Dumb and mean. Fundamental public menaces.

Jack, that restive wee shiver-thought you can't quite put description to, ("...but do you think these guys care what the law says ...?" -- point being: asking questions is the worry coming out of your thinking), that's called your conscience. It's not the number of indictments (bites) that triggers moral sense, it is the distasteful quality (flavor).

Our laws imprison such named people: for such threats as they make on us, for such fraud as their incompetence and deceits, and for such crimes as their mass murder. It is not Iraq at all, nor Katrina, nor Plame, nor election theft, nor ...; so shut up Under-worlders.

Bush said: 'stop throwing the Constitution in my face, it's only a goddamned piece of paper.' Period. That's what it is about. He shall be imprisoned for that alone. The Bush cult: Betrayal and treason. Deranged and barbaric. Imbeciles and inhumane. Dumb and mean.

Let our troops who served in Iraq conduct his trial. Conduct all their trials. Speedy and fair, just like the g**d*** piece of paper says.

Good and gentle people are saying:

Bush: I Did It. So What.
Feingold: 'It's a Sad Day for America

So, so what, Jack?

Also all this, all of a day:

Op-Eds for Sale: Rightwing Columnist Admits Being Paid to Promote Indicted Lobbyist's Clients

Media Help Rove, Bush Distort Reality

The Greater the Secrecy, the Deeper the Corruption

Sen. Reid Calls US Congress 'Most Corrupt in History'

Pre-script of Bush's Oval Office Address Tonight: "Please Forgive Me"

The US is Now Rediscovering the Pitfalls of Aspirational Imperialism

Molly Ivins:
They Wouldn't Lie to Us, Would They?

"I won't darken your doorstep again, Jack."

What a weiner.

Perhaps I've overlooked it in the articles I've read, but nowhere have I seen that Bush has been keeping Congress up on his domestic spying "program." I'd be surprised if it were true, given the strong non-partisan reaction against Bush's conduct. Moreover, keeping a secret Congressional committee in on the loop still doesn't provide the sort of check the Founders envisioned, which is either the political check of those who can undo what one branch of govt is doing (voters or full Congress) or the Constitutional interpretation check that the courts provide.

As to not having the time to go to the courts (which is what the prez is saying), I say bunk. These are ex parte warrants, and if the government has developed enough information to believe that spying is constitutionally justified, then there's sufficient time for a quick FISA hearing to obtain a warrant. Regular courts issue warrants quite quickly all the time. For Bush to claim that exigent circumstances prevent him from using the very liberal procedures already in place is absurd. This is just a power grab from an already power-abusive executive.

No, Amanda, there is/was no 'select' "secret Congressional committee" being informed in tandem for discussion and debated decision. Or did some Bush lips say there IS, TOO, a committee, but it is too secret to show and tell us to prove it exists? If they did, they lied -- there is NO congressional 'peer review.'

Following the Bush lies into the thicket of loopholes and legal lickspittle, sucks away the personal time one might have to sit still at this point, in consideration with one's conscience, seeing that political liars today, again, are torturing humans to death with one's tax money. My taxes pay for torture murder. Your taxes, Amanda, pay for torture murder. More murders again today, you pay.

Justice seems more about following pursuits of questioning U.S. murders, than in flyspecking secret protocols for judiciously intercepting calls and communications of people who might be discussing Bush-led U.S. torture, war crimes and murders.

Spying on americans is hardly new, and not an exclusively republican theme. It is the theme of large government democratsnand republicans alike. After all, nothing improves your political career like the expansion of government.

ECHELON and CARNIVORE have provided these capabilities for a long time. Of course now carnivore has been abandoned because they use commercially available software (spying became mainstream).

Echelon functions like a virtual wiretap on everyone's phone on the PSTN in all of america. It does voice and context analysis, records, and flags your conversations for agents to review (without any form of court order).

This is not just a Bush thing, but an attack on civil liberties by both parties - ongoing - and will not change just because a D is in office.

Wes Wagner
Publisher
NW Meridian

From the NYT on Friday:
"After the special program started, Congressional leaders from both political parties were brought to Vice President Dick Cheney's office in the White House. The leaders, who included the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House intelligence committees, learned of the N.S.A. operation...

"It is not clear how much the members of Congress were told about the presidential order and the eavesdropping program. Some of them declined to comment about the matter, while others did not return phone calls.

"Later briefings were held for members of Congress as they assumed leadership roles on the intelligence committees..."

It's no wonder you didn't see it -- it was in paragraphs 23, 24 and 25.

To add to the drama, the red state voters will wake up now as they face their $300 heat bills and $100 gas card bills and see these clowns for what they are, but it's far too late.

Ahh, yes. Because we all know that oil would be much cheaper if there was a libby in office.

Tenskwatawa-

Whats your point? ALL politicians are "liars and criminals". You cant get into office any more without being one or the other, or maybe even both. There is not one single politician out there that gives a flyin' crap about their constituency after they get elected. Period.

kp: I said perhaps I overlooked it, and I did. No need to snarkily imply that I don't read past the first few grafs of an article. It was mentioned once in the two Sunday Times articles I read yesterday, which was the first chance I had to get up to speed, what with all this studying for exams.

Nevertheless, that some "Congressional leaders" were privy to highly classified information on which they could take no political action does not undermine my fundamental point: the president has overstepped his constitutional bounds.

Amanda:
My apologies. I did not intend to accuse you of failing to read past the fold, though I see in retrospect how it would come across that way. My comment was intended as a snarky swipe at the media, the NYT specifically, which likes to bury information like that. Good luck with finals.

To the discussion in general:
Wisconsin's Russell Feingold, speaking about the authorization of force shortly after Sept. 11, said some might interpret the resolution as creating some new "authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism as a new grant of power; rather it is merely a statement that the President has existing constitutional powers."

I am convinced of one thing..Some of the people her are so warped by their hatred at the President's ability to wipe up the floor with them, that they have trouble keeping all their oars in the water. After 911, I expect the goverment to do whatever they can to protect the US from Moslems and to kill every terrorist they can get their hands on. If it takes the interception of communications with foreign terrorists, so what? Idealism and foreign policy do not belong in the same world. Answer this question: Should the US do whatever it must to prevent Iran from producing atomic weapons? Before you answer, note that the new political and religious leaders are both as crazy as a stoned baboon and just about as bright. My bet is that the West will, if necessary, use military force to prevent giving these scum sucking pigs from becoming a nuclear power.

kp: apology accepted. I would do well to remember that this is a medium in which tone is often ambiguous, and consequently not infer that a statement subject to different interpretations is a slight.

As to the president's powers, I don't think he or Congress can vest the agents responsible for executing the search with full discretion over whom to search. Too much like general warrants to comport with the 4th Amendment, in my view. Please don't take this as a hit-and-run, but I'm afraid that'll have to be it for me till after exam period. Much as I'd like to have a substantive discussion about the scope of presidential powers, I must defer that until later this week, or my grades will be toast.

It is my understanding that the eavesdropping allowed by the chimp-in-charge's authorization was upon American citizens in the United States.

Additionally, because of the self-protection of the eavesdropping, we will not know who was targeted, nor for what reason.

Curious reports arise as to possibilities, though... A college student in Massachusetts is confronted by Homeland Security officials for requesting a specific copy of Mao ts-Tung's _Little_Red_Book_ for use in his research for a class on "Totalitarianism". This indicates that our government is tapping into electronic interlibrary loan requests between libraries....without a warrant. (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/daily/12-05/12-17-05/a09lo650.htm)

Other indications are that these warrantless eavesdropping sessions are being used to spy on journalists. (http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/12/did-bush-domestic-spy-program.html)

Still others that it's anti-gay-discrimination protesters voicing their disapproval of "don't ask, don't tell" military recruiting policies.
(http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/12/pentagon-anti-terror-investigators.html)

When there is a special judicial function designed to facilitate legitimate warrants in cases which present a clear and present danger to Americans, why would the executive need to avoid that to undertake electronic surveillance, unless it is illegal?

Even Bob Barr, not your average everyday "libbie" says the president broke the law.

Now... While the president is a Democrat,the witchhunters in Congress expend multiple millions of dollars and years of agonizing hearings to determine that that president streched the truth about his illicit sexual peccadilloes, which in no way endangered the nation or placed Americans in harm's way, a Repugnantan can be brought to power by an illicit Supreme Court coup, lie to the American public, place American military personnel in harm's way based upon dubious rationale, divert important military resources away from tracking down and catching a terrorist who claimed responsibility for the most devastating attack upon American soil in its history, taint American foreign policy irrevocably, and pillage the public till in the interests of its industrial complex buddies, and Congress does squat.

Does not anyone else see a double standard here?

"They both crossed a line in the protection of something (arguably) more important than a arbitrary line. Survival."

That choice is not theirs to make. That's why the line exists in the first place. They are villains because they chose to excersize power to which they were not lawfully entitled. It makes no more sense to save the USA by ignoring the constitution now than it did to destroy a village in order to save it a few decades ago.

As others here have said, this is a nation of laws. None are meant to be above the law, especially the President. I do not know if this president has broken any laws by his orders in this matter, but I do earnestly wish that those who are empowered to examine such matters find out and let us know.

Especially troubling to me is that this has been going on since shortly after 9/11/01. Congress would have given the president anything he asked for back then... provisions to make this explicitly legal could have been bundled into the patriot act and it still would have passed by a wide margin.

Why did he take it on himself to assume such power, instead of asking Congress?


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