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Al Gore On Bush Impeachment: excerpt...full speech...transcript

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

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Andy Ostroy: Bush And Cheney Are The “Great Protectors"? Give Us A Break!

Fresh from my utter frustration over the Democrats' failed (and pathetic, I might add) attempt to filibuster Samuel J. Alito Jr., I have to also admit that I'm getting Irritable Bowel Syndrome listening to conservative twits like Pat Buchanan declare that it is President Bush and VP Dick Cheney whom "Americans want to protect them." Exactly which Americans are they talking about, because last time I checked, most of the country's voters, according to the latest polls, think the Busheviks are responsible for much of the nation's woes. As for the myth perpetuated by Buchanan and other GOP spin-monkeys, maybe it's due to years of unfair double-standards in this country that Texans and ranchers are tough guys while New Englanders like John Kerry are wimpy prep-school sissyboys. It must be that, because it sure as hell ain't based on facts or on the record of these two draft-dodgers since they grabbed power back in 2000.

So to set the record straight, let's revisit this impressive record, shall we?:

1. It was on Bush/Cheney's watch that the worst terrorist act in our history occurred
2. It was Bush/Cheney who foolishly rushed to war over inaccurate intelligence
3. It was Bush/Cheney who grossly underestimated the insurgency
4. It was Bush/Cheney who defied experts like Gen. Shinseki and sent too few troops
5. It was Bush/Cheney who sent soldiers into battle without proper body armor and protective equipment
6. It was Bush/Cheney who've been wrong about every milestone in Iraq--fall of Saddam; death of Uday/Qusay; handing over of sovereignty; elections, etc--serving as the catalyst for reduced violence
7. It is Bush/Cheney who are the cause of over 2200 US Soldiers' deaths
8. It is Bush/Cheney whose actions have injured and/or maimed some 20,000+ soldiers
9. It is Bush/Cheney who've started a war that's spiraling out of control with no end in sight
10. It is on Bush/Cheney's watch that we've seen increased acts of terrorism around the world: London, Madrid, Egypt, Iraq and elsewhere.
11. It is Bush/Cheney whose grand plan for a Democratized Middle East has actually resulted in more U.S-hating radicals being elected in places like Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories
12. It is Bush/Cheney who promised to capture Osama bin Laden "dead or alive" and bring him to justice
13. It was Bush and Cheney who let bin Laden escape the hills of Tora Bora
14. It is on Bush/Cheney's watch that bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri's audio and video tapes are a constant reminder of how safe we are not
15. It is on Bush/Cheney's watch that N. Korea and Iran, largely unchecked by the U.S., have defied the Western world by restarting their nuclear weapons programs
16. It is Bush/Cheney's policy of torture that has made the world less safe for Americans and U.S. servicemen abroad
17. It is Bush/Cheney who've alienated us from virtually all of our allies
18. It is on Bush/Cheney's watch that U.S. popularity has sunk to unprecedented lows around the globe

Is there anyone out there who truly believes unCurious George and his sniveling sidekick, two inept war-mongers, are the best we have to protect America? Give us a break! --posted Jan. 31, 2006

Roll Call: Here Are The Dems Who Voted For A Bush Dictatorship Plan

The following Dems voted against an Alito filibuster. Alito is on record supporting Bush's plan for a predidential dictatorship, using the PR theory of a "unitary president." The percentage following their names indicate that 16 of the 19 have failing grades as Dems, voting against the Democrat position at least 8 times on the 20 major issues. This suggest that their support of Alito is not based on any abstract Constitutional theory, but in typical support of the Republican positon. In our opinion, they should be defeated if they have the audacity to run as Democrats in their next election:

Akaka, Hawaii 80%
Baucus, Mont. 60%
Bingaman, N.M. 45%
Byrd, W.Va. 55%
Cantwell, Wash. 75%
Carper, Del. 35%
Conrad, N.D. 45%
Dorgan, N.D. 70%
Inouye, Hawaii 55%
Johnson, S.D. 25%
Kohl, Wis.50%
Landrieu, La. 25%
Lieberman, Conn. 50%
Lincoln, Ark. 50%
Nelson, Fla. 55%
Nelson, Neb. 20%
Pryor, Ark. 45%
Rockefeller, W.Va. 60%
Salazar, Colo. 30 %

Alito Update, Monday, 5:00 p.m.: Vote Against Filibuster Wins, 72-25. Translated: 19 Dems voted for Alito and the Bush dictatorship plan. (Harken (D) did not vote.) The Senate up or down vote Alito vote for the end of Democracy as we know it will be tomorrow at 11 a.m. The names of those Dems who support the Bush dictatorship plan will be provided upon publication. --Politex

Alito Update: Monday, 2:30: Chaffee (R), No...Conrad (D), Yes...Lautenberg (D), No, Menendez (D) No. Six left uncommitted.

Alito Update: According to C-Span, those committed pro or con at the Senate Alito Hearings now number 90 (56-34). The remaining Dems are Bayh, Cantwell, Conrad, Dorgan, Lautenberg, Landrieu, Menendez, and Rockefeller. The remaining Repubs are Chaffee and Snowe. Three of the remaining ten have gone on record as opposing a filibuster: Conrad, Landrieu, and Snowe. Adding those three to the 56 who favor Alito means that the Dems would need all 7 or the remaining uncommitted votes to favor a filibuster in order to halt the Alito nomination. This assumes that those 34 who say they will vote against Alito would also vote for a filibuster, but Pryor and Salazar are on record as opposing a filibuster, meaning the Dem filibuster plan appears dead, unless some projected votes change. --Politex, Jan. 30, 2006, 11 am ET.

Tom Tomorrow: Shhhh! Al Qaeda Doesn't Know It's Being Bugged!

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Monday, January 30, 2006

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Hollywood: Does BushCo Have Its Hand On Oscar? Jerry Politex

It's just a question, but it's a question worth asking, since we saw the excellent documentary "Why We Fight" (trailer) and read "The Oscar Nominees Aren't,,," in the NYT yesterday, explaining why Hollywood rules keep it from being considered for an Oscar. It appears that what's happening in Hollywood is that the Academy keeps changing its rules to keep out documentary films that, in one way or another, oppose the policies of the Bush administration. As the NYT online teaser to the article words it, " Some great documentaries are ineligible for Oscars. Why? It's all in the fine print." "To be considered for an Oscar...a documentary must have made its debut in theaters and played for at least a week in New York or Los Angeles, and films that appeared only on television - or even those that appeared on television before moving to theaters - are disqualified," explains reporter John Anderson." But the fine print keeps changing to thwart, among others, those cash-strapped, anti-establishment docs, who try to follow Hollywood's industrial rules, only to find the rules have been changed.

"Last year, "Control Room," in which Jehane Noujaim examined American and Arab news coverage in the opening stages of the Iraq War, was...shut out," continues Anderson, "even though it was shelved by its producers for six months before being shown on European television; in the interim the required blackout period had been extended to nine months. That rule has since been eliminated. But it doesn't help "Why We Fight". "The director of "Why We Fight," which opened on Jan. 20, Mr. Jarecki has produced an ambitious treatise on the American military-industrial complex, the philosophy of perpetual war and the prescience of Dwight D. Eisenhower. It won him the prize for best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival last January - just as the documentary branch announced another set of rule changes.

"Ms. Mock [,head of the Academy's documentary division,] said in an academy press release that "films with a true theatrical rollout would be 'exempt' - in quotes - from the television blackout provision," said Mr. Jarecki, whose previous documentary was "The Trials of Henry Kissinger." Mr. Jarecki's legal counsel, John Sloss; members of the Sundance Institute; and executives at the BBC concluded that the academy had at last recognized that a television debut is sometimes a financial necessity for documentaries. Mr. Jarecki allowed "Why We Fight" to be shown on British television. "But according to the academy..., the film violated the broadcast ban. "We were informed that these clauses had been dropped," he said. "Had we known that the rules had retained some obligation to show first in a cinema in America, we would have rescheduled our screening."

At best, one could believe that the Oscar rulemakers are simply incompetent, or perhaps even biased toward certain kinds of documentary content, as Anderson implies elsewhere in his article, but in the same piece we learn that "at one point the academy's board of governors wanted to eliminate the short-documentary category altogether and banish documentary features to the science and technical awards, which are presented in a separate ceremony." Hollywood would look pretty silly doing so, given how closely the documentary film is woven into the fabric of film history and aesthetics, but this would not be the first time that Hollywood caved in to Washington. The bottom line is the Academy was put on the spot, politically, when Michael Moore won an Oscar for "Farenheit 9/11," and was cut off during his short but political acceptance speech amidst both cheers and boos, and what we're seeing now are attempts to prevent such an event from happening again. Given what we have learned over the years about Bush news management and propaganda, a White House hand in Hollywood is hardly out of the question., Jan. 30, 2006

Military-Inustrial Complex: Farewell Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. --more

"When war becomes profitable there will be more of it." --Chalmers Johnson, in Why We Fight

'Blowback' has come into use as shorthand for the unintended consequences of covert operations. [It] does not refer simply to reactions to historical events but more specifically to reactions to operations carried out by the U.S. government that are kept secret from the American public and from most of their representatives in Congress. This means that when civilians become victims of a retaliatory strike, they are at first unable to put it in context or to understand the sequence of events that led up to it....Even though the American people may not know what has been done in their name, those on the receiving end certainly do....Not surprisingly, sometimes these victims try to get even....The attacks on September 11, 2001 -- the most significant instance of blowback in the history of the CIA.... --Chalmers Johnson, CIA Consultant, 1967-1973

"President Bush took advantage of my patriotism." --father of 9/11 Victim, in Why We Fight

BW Publisher's Review: Balanced, Penetrating and Deeply Moving, Christine Tomlinson

If you're a patriot, if you're a pacifist, if you're a Christian, Muslim or Jew - do yourself and your fellow man a favor and see Why We Fight. This is no Michael Moore "rant" or Chomsky "polemic." This film explores the whole phenomena of the American military and the American empire in the voices of regular citizens like you and me as well as the players that make it happen today. It starts with Dwight Eisenhower's fairwell to the American people in which he cautions against the growth of the Military-Industrial complex and follows its growth up to the present, telling the stories of people like a Vietnamese woman who emigrated in 1975 and is now a weapons engineer. There's the retired police officer whose son died in 9/11, and we see him moved along in his thinking as the war in Iraq develops. This film holds a mirror up to each one of us and asks us to take a long hard look at what we have become.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

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War On Terrorism?: Meet Bush's Judge Walton, W. David Jenkins

There are simply too many dots! I’m not kidding around here. I’ve been through a carton of marking pens and a case and a half of extra strength Excedrin following the trail from the Sibel Edmonds case to Plame to Libby to the NSA to the Whistleblowers Coalition to Turkey to Hastert to Abramoff to the White House and back again. This is not an exercise equivalent to playing “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” but a monstrous series of lines and dots that would produce a flow chart bigger than Rush Limbaugh’s mouth.

Speaking of Limbaugh, his recent slam of Ms. Edmonds and fellow whistleblower, Russell Tice, prompted me to congratulate Sibel the last time we talked. “They must be worried if they’re calling out the right wing radio mouths,” I told her. However, Rove and Co. may want folks like Rush to shut up about Edmonds because the more people hear about her case, the more trouble it invites for this most corrupt administration. Besides, they’ve spent the last few years imposing gag orders on Edmonds out of fear of what she knows.

            And now, true to their sleazy ways of doing “business as usual” as Edmonds calls it, the Bush Cabal is going to add insult to Edmonds ’ injury. They’re going to poke her in the eye with “Scooter” Libby’s get of jail free card. Allow me to introduce, as well as concentrate on, Judge Reggie Walton.

            Walton is the judge who will not only be presiding over the Libby case, but he has also been “randomly assigned” to Edmonds’ Federal Tort Claim after having upheld her ridiculous gag order imposed by former attorney general, John Ashcroft. I call the gag order ridiculous because technically Edmonds ’ driver’s license, birth certificate and any potential job applications she might file can be considered a “state secret” under the provisions set. As I’ve said many times before, somebody is very worried about what Edmonds wants to talk about.... --more

Interview: Dealing With Homelessness, Mickey Z.

John "Indio" Washington, 67, is editor-in-chief of Street News (SN), a longtime New York City publication that focuses on issues of homelessness...primarily written and sold by homeless New Yorkers. This wasn't always the case. In the late 1980s, Indio was homeless. "In December 1989," he recalls, "I was riding on the #3 train 'n I saw this Black sister selling SN. I asked her if I could help sell the paper 'n she could hit me with whatever she wanted to give me for helping her. She instead took me downtown to SN headquarters 'n they gave me 5 or 10 free papers to sell. I never looked back."

Those were the days when homelessness was the cause du jour in the Big Apple and SN's circulation was close to 100,000. Then, says Indio, "The Mayor and or President of Transit or both, directed the Transit Police to arrest anyone selling our paper on the subways. The Port Authority, Grand Central Terminal, Staten Island Ferry 'n other agencies jumped on the bandwagon. We loss nearly 80% of readership."... --more

Sunday Funnies:

Protect Your Regime With iRepress, With powerful Democracy filtering! (By Mark Fiore)
This Modern World, (By Tom Tomorrow)
Political Debates of Tomorrow, (By Ward Sutton)
Cartoon: Hamas Shock Victory, Steve Bell

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Saturday, January 28, 2006
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Slurs, Lies, And Innuendo: WH Ad Hominem Attack on Kerry's Proposal Seconded
by Shields and Brooks on PBS's Newshour With Lehrer, Politex

Kerry, who unsuccessfully challenged Bush for the White House in 2004, made his pitch for a filibuster against Alito while overseas for a world economic forum. This is how the White House covered it through the McClellan press conference:

Q Can I also ask you, on Senator Kerry's comments, what is your reaction to the filibuster call by Senator Kerry, on Judge Alito?

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

Q But you know he's not there skiing.

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I didn't ask you to yodel. I can hear you. (Laughter.)

Remember, Kerry was attending a world economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, along with other U.S. Congressmen. Simultaneous to the McClellan White House press conference, Kerry was on the capitol grounds, and by the time Reuters posted its report of the press conference at 1:39, deleting the last interchange between the reporter and McClellan, Kerry was giving an anti-Alito speech on the floor of the Senate.

Nevertheless, the Kerry smear continued on PBS's Newshour with Lehrer. The last interchange between the reporter and McClellan was deleted from the PBS tape, and Lehrer, Brooks, and Shields chose to portray Kerry as a loser by making such a proposal from a sky resort, when, in reality, he was making the proposal from the site of a world economic forum. Brooks went on to castigate the Dems for destroying a "precedent" of no filibuster, a "precedent" that only resides in his mind. Actually, the filibuster is part of this country's Constitutional traditions, having been used used by Republicans as well as Democrats in the past with respect to judicial nominations by a President. Shields did not disagree with Brooks. Brooks went on to contend that liberals are "the most vehement" in their efforts to prove they "are the most pure," standing a half-century of U.S. political history on its head. Again, Shields did not disagree with Brooks:

JIM LEHRER: Mark, how do you read the John Kerry sudden push for a filibuster, what is that about?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think there an unfortunate call for it, the venue is not ideal --

JIM LEHRER: The ski slopes.

MARK SHIELDS: Yeah, the Swiss connection....

IM LEHRER [to Brooks]: How do you read this filibuster thing?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, thought he should have done it while wind surfing; it would have been a more popular --

JIM LEHRER [to Shields]: I knew he was going to say something. Didn't you know he was going to say something like that?

DAVID BROOKS: We were looking at Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, it is the first time he's looked happy in years. One-liners, one week of happiness -- don't ruin it for him.

JIM LEHRER: That's right.

DAVID BROOKS: And it is a week of happiness for Republicans. But as for what John Kerry did, vote no. Just -- you want to register your opposition, vote no. You do not screw up the process. And you know, I think the Republicans make a good point when you say we were against Ginsburg but we voted for her. But if you are against the person, vote no. Don't screw up the precedent that says, you know, we're not going to filibuster. I think that is a valuable precedent.

I think if you are opposed to somebody you vote no, you don't take the option, which is always there in the Senate, of totally wrecking the process. And so, you know, I thought what Kerry did and what Kennedy did was, you know, it endangered the institutions of the Senate.

But there is now a habit in this town, especially among liberals in opposition that you got to be the most vehement. And that's the way that you prove you are the most pure.

MARK SHIELDS: It isn't really a filibuster because there aren't any enough votes -

JIM LEHRER: You've got to have 41 votes to have a filibuster.

MARK SHIELDS: So, I mean, probably shouldn't have said that. But I mean, I think there is a purpose to be made in making the case. And let's be very blunt about this -- this 2008 politics...a href="" target=new>PBS transcript.

Letters: Michigan Province Makes Good Sense

As a now 30-year resident of the Great Lakes State disguntled by the 2000 takeover of the US government by the Bushies, I was greatly amused by Province of Michigan. This thought has crossed my mind and lips often. It makes good sense. Heck, even our Democratic governor was born in Canada. ;o) --Kris, MSU

Review: Eugene Jarecki's "Why We Fight" (Film Doc)

In last night's NOW interview (PBS) with director Jarecki: the B-2 bomber was always passed by Congress because the maker of the B-2 had its parts-making spread to every state in the Union. Hence, when renewal time came up, nearly each member of Congress backed it in the name of his/her state workers.

Quips: Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."

"OH NO!" the President exclaims. "That's terrible!"

His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the President sits, head in hands.

Finally, the President looks up and asks, "How many is a brazillion?"

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Friday, January 27, 2006

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Shut It Down!: An Alito Filibuster Would Make the Democrats "Look Bad"? Andy Ostroy

Sen. John Kerry told CNN Thursday that he's attempting to pull support together for a filibuster of right-wing Supreme Court nominee Samuel J. Alito Jr. Apparently he has the backing of fellow Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy. But many Democrats appear apprehensive about supporting such a measure, and the White House says a filibuster will make the Democrats look bad. Come again? The White House? We're talking Bush administration officials saying Democrats will look bad? Can a party possibly look any worse than the Republicans do right now with the litany of moral, ethical and criminal charges facing them? Are the Busheviks for real?

The Democrats must filibuster this activist judge, and they must do it with zeal and a public display of passion not seen from the left since FDR, rallying against similar GOP threats to the balance of power, declared in a 1932 campaign speech that "Were it possible to find ... men almost godlike in their ability to hold the scales of justice with an even hand, such a government might be in the interests of the country, but there are none such on our political horizon." Democrats must fight tooth and nail to prevent Prince Alito, of "unitary executive" fame, of ever sitting on the bench and further strengthening the hand of King George and his monarchy.

Look bad? Wanna know what's gonna make the Democrats look bad? Lying down like dead sheep and letting the King's chosen one sail through without a fight. That's what the Democrats should worry about. ....--more

Illegal Spying: Bush Lied About Briefing Congress In Kansas Speech, Media Matters

In coverage of President Bush's January 23 speech at Kansas State University, evening news broadcasts on ABC, CBS, and NBC uncritically reported Bush's assertion that his "briefing Congress" about his authorization of warrantless domestic wiretaps by the National Security Agency (NSA) -- in apparent violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) -- shows that he believed the wiretapping program was legal. Bush said: "You know, it's amazing, when people say to me, well, he was just breaking the law -- if I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?" Similarly, on CNN's American Morning, host Miles O'Brien failed to challenge a claim by Dan Bartlett, counselor to the president, that "if the president of the United States was consciously breaking the law, why would he go inform the Congress that he was doing it?"

But none of these reports noted that both Bush's and Bartlett's assertions rest on the false premise that the briefings given Congress by the White House were full and adequate. Indeed, members of Congress from both parties have disputed the administration's claim that they were adequately briefed on the program, asserting that the information they received was incomplete. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) all said that they never received written reports on the program, which are required of the White House under the National Security Act of 1947 (as amended in 2001). Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) said the "program in fact goes far beyond the measures to target Al Qaeda about which I was briefed." The New York Times reported on December 21 that Graham complained he was not told "that the program would involve eavesdropping on American citizens." Shortly after the program was publicly disclosed, House and Senate Democrats sent a letter stating that media accounts of the program "have gone beyond what the administration" told Congress. ....--more

Editorial: Province of Michigan: A Modest Proposal, Jerry Politex

Recently, Toyota had to decide whether to put its new auto plant in the U.S. or in Canada. It chose Canada because that country's health care policy is such that Toyota's workers would receive full health care through their taxes, and the auto company would not have to share in that cost, making the price of their cars lower. Last week, Ford followed in the footsteps of other U.S. auto makers, laying off tens of thousands of workers and closing a number of plants because, in part, its cars were too expensive due to the company's health care coverage of its workers added to the cost of its cars.

The solution to this problem is obvious: the State of Michigan should choose to become part of Canada. While the heart of the U.S. auto industry would become Canadian, the workers would not lose their jobs and the new Province of Michigan auto industry --Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors-- would be able to lower the cost of its cars, making them more competitive with Toyota on the world market.

Our modest proposal would have little effect on the daily social lives of the people of Michighan, since they would remain living in their same neighborhoods and working at their same jobs. Further, the policies and attitudes of the Bush Administration are based on the concept that citizens are primarily concerned with making a buck and security, and Canada can provide both better than the U.S. has. Also, all of the citizens of the Province of Michigan would be treated to a cleaner environment, secure in the knowledge that they stand less chance of getting shot in Canada's anti-gun society and, if they are injured in an accident, they wouldn't have to go into credit-card bankruptcy to pay for treatment at a medical center. Finally, the large number of Muslims that help make up the Michigan work force will find less prejudice when they are welcomed as citizens in the new Canadian Province.

Given the history of life and politics in the U.S., we know that this rational proposal won't become reality without a fight from corporations, politicians, and others with personal vested interests --gun manufacturers and defense contractors, for example-- not willing to give up those benefits for the sake of a better society. Hence, why not start with a vote for sucession by the citizens of Detroit? Detroit would be a good place to start: not only is it the administrative center of the auto industry, it's also North of Windsor, a close, sister city in Canada. Decades from now, the citizens of the Province of Michigan will ask, "Why didn't we think of this sooner?"

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As of 2 pm Friday, Jan. 27, 2006.
Dem. Ford of Tennessee announces he will not support a filibuster.

As of noon Friday, Jan. 27, 2006.
Two Democrats -- Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado and Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana -- have said they would oppose any filibuster attempt. Salazar plans to vote against Alito, Landrieu is uncommitted. (Baptist Press)
41 votes are needed for a filibuster. Presently, of the 44 Dems, 3 plan to vote for Alito, and one against Alito will not vote for a filibuster, leaving one Republican vote needed for a filibuster. Of the Republicans, only Lincoln Chafee (RI) and Olympia Snowe (Maine), are uncommitted. The rest say they will vote for Alito. The following Dems remain uncommitted: Bayh, Cantwell, Chafee, Conrad, Dorgan, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Menendez, Pryor, and Rockefeller. (The toll free numbers to call the Capitol are 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641.)

As Of 4 pm, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006
Kerry Calling For Filibuster Of Alito (CNN)

As Of 3 pm, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006
Dems For Alito: Byrd (WV), Johnson (SD), Nelson (NE)
Repubs Against Alito: None

Expose the "Alito 8" Democratic Senators Who Are Blocking a Filibuster
Bob Fertik, January 25, 2006, 9:45 am

Harry Reid met with progressive lobbyists on Tuesday and told them he has nearly 44 votes against Alito. But 44 "no" votes isn't good enough, because Alito would be confirmed 56-44. To stop Alito, we need a filibuster - which can be started by one Senator - backed up by 41 votes to prevent "cloture." But Reid said there are 8 Democratic Senators who will not support a filibuster. If Reid has nearly 44 votes against Alito, every one of those Senators should support a filibuster or their vote against Alito is meaningless. Reid also said he will not pressure Democratic Senators on Alito because it's a "conscience vote." Bull. The Constitution - not to mention young women - are tied to the railroad track and the train that will kill them is named Samuel Alito. So call the Democrats who are leading this battle and demand a unified Democratic filibuster:
Harry Reid (NV)
Dick Durbin (IL)
Chuch Schumer (NY)
Debbie Stabenow (MI)
Pat Leahy (VT)
Use these toll free numbers to call the Capitol: 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641. If you can't get through, look up your Senator's District Office number in your phone book or here: Reid would not name the "Alito 8" who are blocking a Democratic filibuster - so we need to identify them and tell them not to betray the Democrats who funded them and voted for them. If Democrats want our support to win in 2006, we need their support now. The most likely suspects are the "Red State" Democrats:
Tom Carper (DE)
Kent Conrad (ND)
Byron Dorgan (ND)
Tim Johnson (SD)
Mary Landrieu (LA) is speaking publicly against a filibuster - see Update #2 below.
Blanche Lincoln (AR)
Mark Pryor (AR)
The "Alito 8" may also include some of the 7 Democrats in the Gang of 14:
Robert C. Byrd (WV)
Daniel Inouye (HI)
  Joseph I. Lieberman (CT)
Mary Landrieu (LA) (see above)
E. Benjamin Nelson (NE)
Mark Pryor (AR) (see above)
Ken Salazar (CO)
Ben Nelson has already said he will vote for Alito. Screw him, but we don't need his vote as long as we get nearly all of the rest. You can also call the Republicans who have not declared their support for Alito according to C-SPAN (thanks Dinamic!) - the best prospects are in bold:
Lincoln Chafee (RI)
Saxby Chambliss (GA)
Susan Collins (ME)
John Ensign (NV)
Lisa Murkowsky (AK)
Pat Roberts (KS)
Rick Santorum (PA)
Bob Smith (OR)
Olympia Snowe (ME)
Ted Stevens (AK)
John Vitter (LA)
George Voinovich (OH)
And call the five Democratic Senators who want you to support them for President in 2008. If they want to prove their leadership, they need to lead the filibuster. It only takes 1 Senator to start the filibuster. Call them with a simple message: IF YOU CAN'T LEAD A FILIBUSTER THEN YOU CAN'T LEAD OUR PARTY IN A CAMPAIGN FOR PRESIDENT.
Evan Bayh (IN)
Joe Biden (DE)
Hillary Clinton (NY)
Russ Feingold (WI)
John Kerry (MA)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

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Four Questions: Weaving the "Why?" Into The Bush Tapestry. Bermard Weomer

1. Why would the Bush Administration deliberately break the law by engaging in electronic surveillance of Americans without getting the required court warrants?

Since the rubber-stamp FISA court had turned down only five applications for domestic spying warrants out of about 15,000 since its inception in 1979, why wouldn't the Bush Administration automatically go to it for the required warrants? One implication, certainly, is that even the amenable FISA court might rebel when it found out the true motives and scope of the ongoing domestic spying, for, you see, Bush's order to NSA to engage in massive communication surveillance preceded 9/11. See "Bush Authorized Domestic Spying Before 9/11" and "How Cheney Used the NSA for Domestic Spying Prior to 9/11.

The Busheviks say they decided not to use FISA because the government needs the speed and flexibility to move quickly, and agents can't keep running to the secret court each time. But the law has a built-in proviso that permits NSA to move quickly in an emergency and fill out the required paperwork later, within three days.

The technology is now much more advanced than it was in the old "wire-tapping" days, when police agencies wanted to listen in on someone's bedroom or office phone. Now humongous computer banks do data-mining of millions of phone calls (land-line, cell, satellite) and email messages to and from Americans; they sweep up, and government agents check out, masses of "suspects," based on words or patterns unearthed by the data-mining programs. Of course, the vast majority of those "clues" turn out to be worthless; see "Spy Agency Data After Sept. 11 Led F.B.I. to Dead Ends". Yet, regardless of that reality and the invasion of ordinary citizens' privacy, the Bush Administration continues the massive intercepts, and apparently will be proudly citing this "national-security" program for the coming midterm elections.

Rather than stay within the law by going to Congress and saying "Look, the technology now requires blanket court warrants, so please amend the FISA bill," the Bush Administration simply chose to ignore all attempts to remain legal. They deliberately did not go to go to FISA court for permission, or to Congress for rewriting the authorization bill -- and they did (and are still doing) everything possible to keep the issue from going into the federal courts. In deepest secrecy, they made themselves the law and simply carried on, all the while trying to get into place their Federalist Society-type judges, who would rule in favor of the President, always.

The Bush Bunker crew wants the freedom desired by all authoritarian leaders: to act on their own, free of restraints, especially those coming from the courts or legislature. Arrogant and insecure, they need to know what everyone is thinking and doing, as a means of enhancing and protecting their political power. If they accidentally wind up getting some actionable intelligence about foreign terrorists, all the better.

So the short answer to the question as to why they Bush Administration broke the law is that they felt they could get away with this top-secret snooping on American citizens without anyone ever finding out. Once the word leaked about what they actually were doing, they hauled out the cockamamie "unitary executive" theory that asserts the President can violate whatever laws he wants, whenever he wants to, because he's "commander-in-chief" during "wartime." (The "war," never declared by Congress, is Bush's "war on terrorism," which, we're told, will last forever. Dictatorship for perpetuity.)

The Bush Administration utilized the same theory to justify Bush's authorization of torture of prisoners in U.S. care. And, as political insurance, it added one more rationale for the NSA spying: With a major leap in interpretation, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, for decades a Bush toady, claims that the post-9/11 resolution authorizing Bush to use "force" against al Qaida provides even more justification to monitor U.S. citizens' communications. Even if this interpretation were correct -- and most legal scholars think the opposite -- this war-authorization rationale does not explain away the pre-9/11 surveillance of American citizens.

If I'm correct here, the reason the Bushies are fighting so hard to keep anyone, including the FISA judges, from learning more about the real reason for their massive domestic surveillance is that outsiders might discover that it has less to do with foreign terrorists and more to do with collecting info on their political enemies and thus creating conditions for more firm control of the American populace in general.

2.... --more

Song: Paranoid Police State Blues, (c) J.E. Fowler and Uncle Monk Music

Cameras on every corner; Cops on every street;
They want to keep me safe; Doesn’t that sound "sweet"?
I don’t want to be too quiet, I don’t want to be too loud
Don’t want to attract attraction, or stand out in a crowd
They say Freedom’s just another word, for nothing left to lose

I've got those watch what you say, watch what you do, paranoid Police State blues

The bible says a man sows exactly what he reaps
I got nothing against Jesus, it’s just the company he keeps
All these Christo-Facists are just a bunch of nuts
If Jesus knew what they were doing, He’d be puking up his guts
So Lord please tell me, the path that I should choose.

I've got those watch what you say, watch what you do, paranoid Police State blues

They said after 9-11, Our system would not fail
But now they don’t need a judge, to throw your ass in jail
You might never get a hearing, just so many sleepless nights
To save our precious country, why did we have to lose our rights.
It’s all a mystery, and they’ve hidden all the clues.

I've got those watch what you say, watch what you do, paranoid Police State blues

The thought of Judge Alito takes away my breath
There’ll be so much law and order, it’s scaring me to death
If I’m not a patriot, Am I a criminal instead?
Why do I have the feeling, Dick Cheney’s 'neath my bed?
I'm just trying---to play by the new rules.

I've got those watch what you say, watch what you do, paranoid Police State blues

I've got those watch what you say , watch what you do, watch what you think, watch what you want, watch what you eat, watch what you feel, watch who you love......

Paranoid Police State blues

--mp3 file

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

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Editorial: Alito: Dems Should Shut It Down!, Jerry Politex

The Christian Science Monitor reports this morning that the Senate floor vote to confirm Alito could come as early as today. The Dems are expected to vote against his confirmation. So what? The hypocritical Dems know they don't have enough votes to stop Alito's confirmation. The Dems don't have enough votes to stop Bush from continuing his plan to turn our democracy into his dictatorship, via a "unitary presidency," which Alito supports.

What's needed is a filibuster, but the Dems are afraid to use the filibuster because the GOP's Sen. Frist has promised to permanently destroy the filibuster if the Dems use it in this instance. But the Dems have previously said if Frist kills all filibusters, they could shut down the government. And they could.

We say, shut it down! In order to preserve our democracy, shut it down! We once went to war with the British to defend the idea of democracy. Shut it down! The Dems should do what's right and shut it down! It's time for the Dems to take some heat for the sake of our democracy and our forefathers, and prove they believe in something more than their cushy jobs. Shut it down!

"Fooled Again": Voters In Denial: How Much Evidence Does It Take? Ernest Partridge

Like biologists with evolution and atmospheric scientists with global climate change, those who warn us that our elections have been stolen and will be stolen again must now be wondering, “just how much evidence must it take to make our case and to convince enough of the public to force reform and secure our ballots?” The answer, apparently, is no amount – no amount, that is, until more minds are opened. And that is more than a question of evidence, it is a question of collective sanity. In his new book, Fooled Again, Mark Crispin Miller not only presents abundant evidence that the 2004 election was stolen, but in addition he examines the political, social, and media environment which made this theft possible.

When I first read the book immediately after its publication, I confess that I was a bit disappointed. What I had hoped to find was a compendium of evidence, from front to back. To be sure, Miller gives us plenty of evidence, meticulously documented. But evidence tells us that the election was stolen. Miller goes beyond that to explain how and why it was stolen, and how the culprits have managed, so far, to get away with it. So on second reading, I find that it was my expectation and not Miller’s book that was flawed. We have evidence aplenty, to be found in John Conyers’ report, and the new book by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, in addition to the Blackbox voting Website  among numerous others. Soon to be added is Prof. Steven Freeman’s book on the statistical evidence of election fraud. What we don’t gain from these sources is an understanding and appreciation of the context in which this crime was committed. This we learn from reading Miller’s book.... --more

"Fooled Again": Pre-October Non-Surprise, Chris Floyd

This year's congressional races and the presidential contest in 2008 are already over, and the Bushists have won. It's true that some of the candidates have not yet been chosen – including whatever front man the goon squad picks to replace the kill-crazy klutz from Crawford – but the vast machinery of electoral malfeasance that propelled this extremist faction to power over the wishes of the electorate in both 2000 and, yes, 2004, is not only still in place, it's growing stronger all the time.

No one has laid bare the malodorous innards of this democracy-devouring monster better than Mark Crispin Miller, whose new book, Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They'll Steal the Next One Too, takes us back to the dastardy of Election Day 2004 and the hydra-headed campaign of vote-rigging that preceded it. This second heist of the White House is one of the great untold stories of our time – even though it was largely carried out in plain sight. Miller performs the simple but increasingly rare act of journalism and gathers a mountain of overwhelming evidence from publicly available material. This is no "conspiracy theory" stitched together from anonymous sources, strained inferences and dark innuendo, but a solid case based on official records, sworn testimony, eyewitness accounts, news reports – and the Bushists' own words.

Indeed, the game was actually given away long before the balloting... --more

Song: Belafonte's "Bush Bwana Boat Song"

"US security like Gestapo, says Belafonte," AP

Gesh-tah-po, Gesh-tah-ah-po
Bush Security Is Like Gesh-tah-po
Gesh, me say Gesh, me say Gesh, me say Gesh
Me say Gesh, me say Gesh-tah-ah-po
Bush Security Is Like Gesh-tah-po

Beaten all night, got a pain in my tum
Say to Bushman me wan' go home
Suspended me rights till the mornin' come
Say to Bushman me wan' go home

Come, Mister Bush man, you my bu-wah-nah
Daylight come and me wan' go home
Come, Mister Bush man, you my bu-wah-nah
Daylight come and me wan' go home

Six foot, seven foot, eight foot tall
Bush biggest ter'rist in da whole wide world!
Six foot, seven foot, eight foot tall
Bush biggest ter'rist in da whole wide world!

Bush rose to power somewhat du-bee-ous-ly
Then he tells lies to the people of this na-tion
Bush and his henchmen won't let us be
They hold their power with fash-ist o-press-shun

Don't Mister Bush man send us to war
We don't mind fight'in for the folks of this na-tion
But ya give all our money to the rich who have more
While for all us poor it's dirty water and c-ray-tion

Hey, Mister Bush man, you not our bu-wah-nah
We see the light and we say you go home
Hey, Mister Bush man, you not our bu-wah-nah
We see the light and we say you go home

Gesh-tah-po, Gesh-tah-ah-po
Bush Security Is Bush Gesh-tah-po
Gesh, me say Gesh, me say Gesh, me say Gesh
Me say Gesh, me say Gesh-tah-ah-po
Bush Security Is Bush Gesh-tah-po

--by Attaway and Burgie, with changes by Politex

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

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Alito: The Dems Must Earn Our Vote, Jerry Politex

In December two New York Times reporters disclosed that in 1984 Sam Alito believed that it was ok for the Attorney General to break the law, even if the U.S. were not at war: "The attorney general should be immune from lawsuits for ordering wiretaps of Americans without permission from a court, Samuel A. Alito Jr., President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, wrote in a memorandum in 1984 as a government lawyer in the Reagan administration."

The Dems responded by warning the nation that Alito will have to answer to them at his scheduled hearings in January: "In a letter to Judge Alito, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said yesterday that he would question him vigorously about his current views on whether the attorney general and other top officials 'have absolute immunity from suits based on even willful unconstitutional acts.'''

By January, holding Alito's feet to the fire was pretty much forgotten, as the questions were asked and Alito was allowed to slide with, "The President must follow the rule of law." Well, duh, that's what the "unitary president" smoke screen is all about, it holds that in time of war the President makes the law, and we're presently involved in a never-ending war against terrorism, a war whose terms and conditions are being set by Bush and his minions.

A recent Supreme Court vote had Scalia, Thomas, and Roberts lined up agains the rest of the Court, and if Alito is approved by the Senate, it's generally agreed that he would make a fourth, then all that's needed to approve the presently-contested move on Bush-Cheney's part to give the President dictatorial powers is one vote. Given that far right Alito is replacing the Court's swing vote, that shouldn't be hard to find.

The December NYT piece notes, "In his 1984 memorandum, Judge Alito urged his superiors to await a different legal vehicle, presumably one not tied to the abuses of the Nixon administration, to make the argument that top officials were free to violate the law." Clearly, that time is now.

So where are the Dems in all of this? As Gove Parish wrote yesterday, 'Democrats no longer control the chamber, there's a President in office that has made the most concerted effort to accrue power to himself of any in modern history (with little opposition from Congress), and Alito has enough allies already on the Supreme Court that his additional vote may well be all that's needed to establish some of these radicals' extreme views as the law of the land.

That should have been enough to get Senate Democrats off their asses. It also should have been enough to get a majority of Americans alarmed. Neither has happened...the failure of Democrats to even seriously try to stop Alito, and the failure of progressives to make stopping Alito an urgent priority, has been truly discouraging."

Parish chalks it up to the Dems simply giving up the fight in the face of overwhelming odds and using the hearings as a self-serving vehicle:

"Instead of trying to seriously challenge Alito, ambitious senators like Joe Biden (he of the speechifying 11-minute question) decided it was more important to get themselves face time with a national TV audience. That told me all I needed to know about where this was headed. And it's gone true to form since."

The LA Times recently reported: "Senate Democrats emerged from a strategy meeting Wednesday saying that most members appeared inclined to vote against the nomination of Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court, but that they were unlikely to mount a filibuster to halt his confirmation."

Parish: "At this point, none of the Senate's 55 Republicans have said they will oppose Alito, and several Democrats have indicated they will support him or are leaning that way. Senate Democrats have given strong indications that they have already decided not to pursue a filibuster, but even if they do, it's not at all clear they have the 41 votes to sustain it. And even if they do get far enough to sustain it, Sen. Frist has essentially promised that he will invoke the "nuclear option" and permanently prohibit the use of the filibuster in the Senate -- for which he only needs 51 votes, which he clearly has. (That's a major reason, I suspect, why Dems don't want to filibuster.) Even the moderate Republicans in the "Group of 14" have almost all said that if the Democrats filibuster Alito, they would vote to invoke the nuclear option. They were all that stood in the way the last time Frist threatened this."

The question remains: Where have the Dems been? The answer: our Bush Watch analysis of the Senate Dems' vote on 20 major bills has half of the 44 Dems voting with the Republicans more often than with their own Dem Party values. No wonder so many observers don't know what the Dem Party stands for. Half of its Senate members are really moderate Republicans. But nearly all of them, it appears, are willing to give up our values as a Democracy and allow Bush to place one more backer of Presidential Dictatorial Powers on the Supreme Court.

At this point, if the Dems are too conservative to fight for our Democracy by attempting to block Alito from the Supreme Court through a filibuster, the Dems, as a party, are not deserving of our votes. However, as Dr. Strangelove similarly reminded the Russian ambassador, things don't change if the other side is not forewarned. The Dems are not going to change unless we let them know that their base is placing them on notice. Parish is probably right in concluding that it's too late to stop Alito. But it's not too late to warn a Dem politician that his career is hanging by a thread, because appeals to his values or to his ethics is clearly a waste of time. --Jerry Politex, Bush Watch Editorial, Jan. 24, 2006

Interview: Is The Bush NSA Program Legal? Sen. Patrick Leahy

I want to make it very clear that the illegal spying on Americans is not authorized by the Congress or by any law whatsoever. This is why I question they're trying to keep us safe from terrorists....Nobody has been able to point to anything where it's authorized in the law. In fact we have a very specific law that says how the president can conduct surveillance....Nobody has suggested the president couldn't have gone to the FISA court if he really had reason. And yet, we hear people like Michael Chertoff, the head of the homeland security, suggesting that thousands of Americans had been wiretapped and been spied upon. Are you telling me that there are thousands of Americans calling Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida members around the world?...

I remember just briefly before we passed the resolution to go after Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Them coming up and saying, by the way, could we expand this to give us other powers beyond the law? We said no. The White House never came back after that to ask for any further powers....We acted under the War Powers Act. We gave authority to go into Afghanistan to get Osama bin Laden....We did not give him the authority for illegal spying on Americans, period...

[You do not buy the attorney general's statement that there were operational reasons for not using FISA, they had to act this way?] What conceivable operational reasons could they have? They can act even without a warrant for up to three days....The head of the FISA court has told about how accommodating they can be if people need warrants. He's met at 3 o'clock in the morning in his pajamas and bathrobe in his living room to issue these warrants, two thousand or so applications, I think only three or four individual warrants were turned down....We've had a Congress that, no matter what this administration does because the Republicans control both the House and the Senate - instead of having hearings, they're told by the White House just trust us, just trust us, and we'll do what we want to do....

The law is very, very clear on this. If there are other laws that they need, then come to the Congress and act on it, not this unilateral action. They even said-- and I heard on [AG Gonzales'] interview with you, he said, well, we had all kinds of lawyers or the president said earlier from Kansas we had all kinds of lawyers look at it. Yeah, he had all kinds of lawyers. I'd like to know what kind of lawyers? Are they the same ones who wrote the memo for him saying that we don't have to follow the laws against torture? Now, that was what the administration's position was until the public found out about it. When the press reported what's happening here, now suddenly they're scrambling around trying to find a justification for it. Why weren't they honest to begin with and say, look, we need some other tools?...We found out that this administration had the evidence before 9/11 where they could have stopped it, didn't use it. And even weeks and months after it, they still hadn't even translated all the material they picked up on the wiretaps before that....

We don't even know who is being spied upon. We have rules in this country. It doesn't do to say, well, Osama bin Laden doesn't follow rules. Well, we're not Osama bin Laden. We're the American people. We have nearly 300 million people who exist because we follow the law, and especially when we made the law so easy to go after terrorists -- if it's legitimate. What I worry about is that this and the data mining -- now we want to go and find out where you and I or anybody else went on the Internet through Google and all. What is this administration trying to do? Are they seeking enormous power to be able to spy on any of us with no reason whatsoever?...

The fact is you will not find I don't think you will find anybody, Republican or Democrat, who will seriously look you in the eye and say, oh, yes, we gave the president authority for illegal warrant-less wiretapping on Americans and the authorization to go after Osama bin Laden. We authorized him to go after Osama bin Laden and we also wrote the Patriot Act at that time. And I was one of the architects of that. It greatly expanded powers, gave all the powers the administration said they needed. Why, if they felt they needed these powers, why didn't they tell us? Or is it this like the case with the torture memo? They'll do things that they couldn't do under the law unless the press finds out about it.... And Mr. Gonzales said somehow the Hamdi case gave him this right; it didn't. Sandra Day O'Connor made it very, very clear, even in a time of war the president is not given some blank check to be above the law because we're after terrorists. --more

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Monday, January 23, 2006

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Dems: Alito Filibuster Needed To Help Prevent Bush Dictatorship Powers (excerpts), Robert Parry

If confirmed, Alito would join at least three other right-wing justices – John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas – who believe that George W. Bush should possess near total control of the U.S. government during the ill-defined War on Terror. If Anthony Kennedy, another Republican, joins them, they would wield a majority. Alito’s theory of the “unitary executive” holds that Bush can cite his “plenary” – or unlimited – powers as Commander in Chief to ignore laws he doesn’t like, spy on citizens without warrants, imprison citizens without charges, authorize torture, order assassinations, and invade other countries at his own discretion.

“Can it be true that any President really has such powers under our Constitution?” asked former Vice President Al Gore in a Jan. 16 speech. “If the answer is ‘yes,’ then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited?” The answer to Gore’s final rhetorical question would seem to be no, there is nothing prohibited to Bush. The “unitary executive” can assert authoritarian – even dictatorial – powers for the indefinite future. Under this government envisioned by Alito and Bush, Americans would no longer have freedoms based on the Constitution and the law, but on Bush’s tolerance and charity. Americans would, in essence, become Bush’s subjects dependent on his good graces, rather than citizens possessing inalienable rights. He would be a modern-day king.

In the face of such an unprecedented power grab, Americans might expect senators from both parties to filibuster Alito and resist Bush’s consolidation of power. But Republicans seem more interested in proving their loyalty to Bush, and Democrats so far are signaling only a token fight for fear of suffering political reprisals. A meeting of the Democratic caucus on Jan. 18 to discuss Alito drew only about two dozen senators out of a total of 45. The caucus consensus reportedly was to cast a “strategic” – or a symbolic – vote against Alito so they could say “we-told-you-so” when he makes bad rulings in the future. [See NYT, Jan.19, 2006]

But it’s unclear why voters would want to reward Democrats for making only a meaningless gesture against Alito, rather than fighting hard to keep him off the court. An extended battle also would give them a chance to make their case about why they see Alito as a threat to the U.S. Constitution.... --more

Verse: If Not Now, Then When? Madeleine Begun Kane

Will Senate Dems preserve our rights
And filibuster Sam?
How 'bout it Dems? Let's see you fight
And prove you give a damn.

Cause Democrats must do much more
Than talk and primp and bluster
. It's time for Dems to show some guts
And Sammy filibuster.

Canadian Elections: Liberals Best For Canada (excerpts), Toronto Star Ed

...Despite [the Conservative] Harper's appeal, there is reason to be skeptical, or at least cautious, about his shift toward the centre. "I don't think my fundamental beliefs have changed in a decade," he said last week. This from the former Reformer who vowed to "create a country ... the Liberals wouldn't even recognize." His plans for that new Canada are visible in his platform. At root, his $75 billion platform for change constrains Ottawa's freedom to fund any national objective by imposing hefty tax cuts and by shuffling more cash to parents instead of starting a national daycare network. That hollowing out of Ottawa defines the Conservative agenda. And while Harper campaigned from the centre, he will face much pressure from his base and from some in his caucus to govern from the right.

Already Harper is promising a more U.S.-oriented foreign policy, threatening to pull out of the Kyoto accord and considering joining missile defence. He wants a U.S.-style two-chamber Parliament, in which the Commons would have a more powerful legislative rival in an elected Senate. And, like U.S. conservatives, Harper favours a less progressive Supreme Court, one that would not, for example, affirm same-sex marriage rights. Beyond that, his tax preferences would ensure Ottawa plays a less activist role shaping national social policy. The country's rich-poor gap might grow. And cash-poor cities like Toronto would get less federal support. In consequence, Canadians who see the Tories as agents of political change and cleaner government must consider what else they stand for.

Progressive voters have an attractive alternative in the New Democrats under Jack Layton. The party has also moved toward the centre, now backing tax cuts and no deficits. It has also championed a new deal for Toronto and other cities, tax relief for families and the poor, generous day care and help for seniors. But the NDP will not form a government. So the Liberals remain the only viable alternative to the Tories. And like them, the Liberals have shortcomings and strengths.

When Martin was elected party leader in 2003 he spoke of "historic possibility," of "transformative change" and of summoning a new "national will" to "rally a nation to its unfulfilled promise." He hasn't delivered. Martin's hesitant personality held him back, as did his lack of focus, the sponsorship fiasco and the shackles of minority government. But on a wide range of issues about which the Star cares deeply, the Liberal vision and program come out ahead. And Martin himself has gotten a lot right since the June 2004 election, even hobbled by a minority.

Historically, the Liberals have stood for progressive, activist government and social policy. They gave us medicare, the Canada Pension Plan and old age security. Martin has kept up that tradition by proposing the first new social program in a generation, a child-care network, by pumping $40 billion into medicare and by legalizing same-sex marriage. As well, Martin deserves credit for 12 years of sound fiscal stewardship, which put Canada into a surplus position from a crippling deficit. The Liberals remain better placed in Quebec to speak for Canada.

And the Liberal platform, with its more modest tax cuts, provides correspondingly more help for financially strapped cities; environmental priorities; better child care; more research and development money, in particular in the Toronto area, to enable Canada to compete in the high-tech global economy; and more help for aboriginal communities. Finally, the Liberals have struck a healthy balance managing relations with the United States. Canadian troops are in Afghanistan fighting terror. But we did not follow the U.S. into a war in Iraq on a false premise. And Martin resisted fierce U.S. pressure to accept a bad softwood lumber deal.

It would be wrong to exaggerate the differences between the rather conservative Liberals under Martin and the relatively liberal-sounding Conservatives under Harper. But those that do exist are very real. For Canadians who believe in progressive, activist government, the Liberals are a better choice than the Conservatives. They would take a more resolutely Canadian stance on the world scene. They are the more credible economic stewards. They offer more for cities and the environment. They offer the better mix of tax relief and services for all people. The Liberals are still stirred by the idea that Canada must strive to be not only a richer society, but also a more just and compassionate one. The Star shares that vision. That is why the Liberals are our choice. --more

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

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In Depth: "Fixed" Intelligence from Feith's "Gestapo Office," the CIA, and the Bush Administration's Impeachable Lies about Iraq's Prewar Links to al Qaeda, Walter C. Uhler

Except in the cynical, zealous or spiritually clouded minds of his right wing devotees, it's become a well-established (if under reported) fact that President George W. Bush is a serial liar, if not a congenital liar.1 For example, after The New York Times very belatedly leaked Mr. Bush's unconstitutional order permitting the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens without obtaining the required court-approved warrants, Bush defended his directive as a "vital tool" in the war against terrorism.

But, as liars commonly do, Bush seems to have forgotten that in April 2004 he told an audience in Buffalo, New York: "When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so." He also told the audience that precisely because it was "the United States government talking about wiretap," Americans could rest assured that "constitutional guarantees are in place." 2

Obviously, that specific lie pales when compared with Bush's willful violation of the Bill of Rights, and thus his oath to defend the Constitution -- clearly an impeachable offense. But, even that impeachable offense pales when compared with the heinous crime of spewing lies to scare Americans into supporting war against an enfeebled Iraq. Yet, Americans have failed to impeach him for that crime, in part, because more lies are being told to cover it up.

In fact, Bush lied on December 14, 2005, when discussing what intelligence was available to Congress, when it voted to support his decision to invade Iraq. Bush lied when he asserted: "Some of the most irresponsible comments - about manipulated intelligence - have come from politicians who saw the same intelligence I saw and then voted to authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein." 3

Mr. Bush, of course, was referring to the hastily crafted classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of October 2002, the classified briefings to Congress that accompanied the NIE and the declassified White Paper, issued a few days after the NIE. All were made available to Congress. (The extremely alarmist White Paper lacked the caveats and doubts found in the NIE, which became understandable, once people learned that the White Paper had its origins in the White House's desire to mobilize the public for war. Fabrication of the White Paper actually commenced prior to and independent of the NIE.)

Yet, Bush knew his assertion was false. And so do readers of Bob Woodward's book, Plan of Attack. For, as Woodward tells us, President Bush received additional briefings both before and after the October NIE and Congressional vote, including the now infamous briefing on December 21, 2002.... --more

Publisher's Comment: Two Reasons Why Warrantless Domestic Spying Matters, Christine Tomlinson

Apparently 48% - 51% of citizens hold the opinion that the "war on terror" warrants bush's illegal warrantless domestic spying. These citizens are mistaken in this opinion. Many claim that they "aren't doing anything wrong" and they don't have anything to hide, so it's O.K. for Bush to do as he wants.

They are mistaken on at least two grounds:

1) As represented thus far, Bush's domestic spying is illegal. If we are a community governed by laws rather than persons, we simply cannot sustain illegal behavior by the administrative branch without, in fact, becoming a community governed by persons rather than laws. This is a simple and (ought to be) compelling reason why Bush's warrantless domestic spying must be prosecuted and the administration held accountable, so that future administrations will be less likely to overreach.

2) The 48% - 51% of citizens who feel they have nothing to hide are, in fact, hiding their heads in the sand. They simply do not understand the extent to which data mining of mass surveillance can be misused to arrive at conclusions that can virtually frame any individual for the most bizarre associations with persons or groups that represent threats to the security of community.

Sunday Funnies:

Political Debates of Tomorrow (By Ward Sutton)

Welcome to Greater Georgelandia! Formerly known as the U.S.A. (By Mark Fiore)

This Modern World (By Tom Tomorrow)

Cartoon: Oil That Iron Maiden!, Steve Bell

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

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Bush Diary: Iran, Peter Clothier

I imagine you'll have been waiting for my words of wisdom on this issue, Bush. Unfortunately, I have none. Nor, apparently does your Rice, who threw up her hands yesterday and said "there's nothing to negotiate." Now, as you well know, I'm no foreign policy wonk, but it seems clear to me that your past actions are what have left you with no options there. Having gone off half-cocked in Iraq, you've left yourself pretty much at the mercy of the ever intemperate President Ahmadinejad and the America- (and Israel-) hating mullahs. Ahmadinejad is clearly enjoying the freedom to thumb his nose at you--and at the West in general. He's got the oil. And he evidently has the support of his people, who are awash in national pride about their nuclear program, without regard as to whether it's for military or peaceful purposes....--more

Iran Standoff: Nuclear Showdown With Iran , Eric Margolis

In a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black, the US and Israel - both nuclear powers - accuse Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. They offer no confirming proof of this charge, just more so-called leaks from `high-level administration sources’ in the US accusing Iran of working on a nuclear delivery system. We saw precisely the same pattern in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

Tehran accuses the west of nuclear apartheid and hypocrisy, citing the Bush Administration’s recent pact to provide fuel and technology to India’s nuclear programs, which Washington formerly condemned. India has an estimated 100 nuclear weapons and is building land and sea-launched missiles that can strike the continental United States. Only Muslim nations, (Pakistan excepted since it’s a reliable US ally) it seems, are not to be allowed nuclear weapons.

Given that US and Israel are already probing Iran’s defenses and may soon outright attack Iran, and threats from the EU to impose sanctions, one suspects Iran would not likely risk so much unless it is racing to make nuclear weapons. Or, it has simply decided to seek a showdown with the US and its allies.

Note: Iran has not violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(which nuclear-armed Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan never even signed). So Iran may be punished for agreeing to international inspection of nuclear facilities while those nations that refused to cooperate with efforts to limit nuclear weapons are being studiously ignored. In fact, the head of the UN nuclear agency was recently in Israel and failed to say anything about its secret nuclear arsenal, estimated at 200 nuclear warheads.

UN monitors say Iran may have concealed some questionable activities – even these charges are hotly disputed - but did not violate the treaty. Western experts believe if Iran is indeed secretly working on nuclear arms, it is still 5-10 years away from being able to develop deliverable nuclear weapons....

Why would Iran seek nuclear arms? What motivates Iran’s new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to challenge the west? Iranians see themselves threatened by the US, Britain, Israel and Russia. Iran is now surrounded by US bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf, and Pakistan. Iranians feel historically exploited and victimized by the great powers – and indeed, they were.

In 1941, Britain and Soviets invaded Iran. This forgotten part of WWII was an aggression every bit as criminal as Hitler’s 1939 invasion of Poland. In 1952, the US and Britain overthrew Iran’s democratic government after it tried to take the national oil company away from British control. They imposed their puppet, the grotesque Shah Reza Pahlevi, who inflicted a reign of terror and unbridled thievery on Iranians. In 1980, the US and Britain engineered Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran in an attempt to crush its new revolutionary Islamic government. That war inflicted nearly one million casualties on Iran. President Ahmadinejad led volunteers in the war.

Iran’s suffering at foreign hands has produced national fury, paranoia, and xenophobia. Many Iranians have a `the world is against us’ mentality, fear and hatred of Israel, which threatens Iran with nuclear weapons, and belief the US or Russia intends to seize Iran’s oil. The US invasion of Iraq has heightened these fears. Allocation of funds by the US Congress to overthrow Iran’s elected government, and the conviction among Iranians that Israel controls US foreign policy accentuates Iran’s sense of growing peril.

Accordingly, some militants insist Iran must have nuclear weapons for self-defense. They point to nuclear-armed North Korea, which forced Washington to back off threats of invasion when it dug and threatened to fight to the death. Iraq’s lesson is not lost on Iranians: if Saddam had nuclear weapons, the US would not have invaded his nation. ....--more

Verse: A White House Response to Senator Feingold , Calvin Trillin

The President believes he has the right to overrule laws the Congress has passed.
He is a President, not a king."
--Senator Russell Feingold

As long as I'm in charge, Russ,
I'll spy on those who merit it.
If this is not a throne, Russ,
Just how did I inherit it?

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Friday, January 20, 2006

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Bush's Crime: Bush and Republicans vs. Rule of Law, Stephen Crockett

It is amazing that the Republican controlled Corporate Media and the Republican controlled federal and state governments have been able to control the flow of information vital to American Democracy by abusing positions of power. Examples can be found at all levels of government and in the media. The Bush Administration engaged in blatantly criminal behavior by wiretapping millions of American citizens without a court order. Bush has called the program limited but a NSA Whistleblower and admitted source for the New York Times story that exposed the illegal program stated in an ABC news story that millions of citizens were likely involved. The wiretapping orders and the disinformation on the scale of the program came directly from Bush and Cheney.

Bush and Cheney ignored the law by claiming governmental powers that simply do not exist. The type of "powers" claims made by Bush have been made before and reviewed by federal courts. They were found to be not supported by law. Most recently, the Reagan Administration made similar claims during the Iran-Contra scandal when White House operatives ignored specific federal laws limiting the scope of Presidential powers in the fields of foreign policy, use of military actions and national security. Like the NSA wiretapping scandal, the actions of the Reagan White House were known to be illegal when undertaken and were hidden from the American public for years.

In both scandals, the White House claimed a higher duty while taking a very low road by breaking federal law. In both cases, the illegal actions proved to be questionably effective. The White House in both cases undermined the rule of law and directly attacked the Constitutional checks and balances system dividing power between the courts, Congress and the Executive branches of the federal government. ....--more

Big Bush Lies: , Bush Spied, And Then He Lied, Al Gore

Just one month ago, Americans awoke to the shocking news that in spite of...long settled law, the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on large numbers of Americans for the last four years and eavesdropping on, and I quote the report, "large volumes of telephone calls, e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the United States." The New York Times reported that the President decided to launch this massive eavesdropping program "without search warrants or any new laws that would permit domestic intelligence collection."

During the period when this eavesdropping was still secret, the President seemed to go out of his way to reassure the American people on more than one occasion that, of course, judicial permission is required for any government spying on American citizens and that, of course, these constitutional safeguards were still in place.

But surprisingly, the President's soothing statements turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this massive domestic spying program was uncovered by the press, the President not only confirmed that the story was true, but in the next breath declared that he has no intention stopping or of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy to an end. ....--more

GOP Words: democracy n. A product so extensively exported that the domestic supply is depleted [Michael Schwartz, unknown].

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

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Middle East: Why Should We Be Surprised? William Fisher

Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, launched a media tsunami when he declared the Holocaust a myth. But we shouldn’t be all that surprised. The Middle East is chockablock with Holocaust-deniers and Holocaust-minimizers. And it is not only the so-called Arab Street that has been infected. The disease has spread to many members of the Arab intelligentsia and to some of the area’s privileged elite.

I learned just how deeply embedded this attitude is during a conversation I had with members of my staff when I was managing a U.S. aid program in Egypt a few years ago. Sitting with me in our luxurious offices overlooking the Nile on a steamy, smoggy Cairo afternoon were three of Egypt’s “best and brightest” – all from affluent families, all with master’s degrees from what is arguably the premier international educational institution in the Middle East, the American University in Cairo. These were no ordinary proxies for the Arab Street; they were Egypt’s future leaders.

I’ve long since forgotten what aspect of geopolitics we were talking about, but the subject soon turned to Israel. All three made excellent and accurate points about that country’s deeply myopic policies vis a vis the Palestinians. Then we seemed to segue effortlessly from Israel to the Holocaust....--more

Iran: Here We Go Again, Mickey Z.

Since quoting Marx makes a writer appear both more educated and more serious, I figured I'd start this piece about Iran with a bit of Marxism...from "Duck Soup." Ambassador Trentino: "I am willing to do anything to prevent this war." President Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho): "It's too late. I've already paid a month's rent on the battlefield." Now I'm not trying to imply the reasons America goes to war are this frivolous but...WMDs? Hussein connected to 9/11? Spreading democracy? Even Harpo would be laughing out loud.

The U.S. has a long history of conjuring up dubious rationales to wage war...and this goes for those on both sides of the proverbial aisle. During the 2004 presidential campaign, for example, Senator John F. Kerry declared: "The United States of America never goes to war because we want to; we only go to war because we have to." Can someone ask Harpo to quiet down?...

Now we have Iran...a nation with the audacity to make decisions without first asking for U.S. permission.... --more

Verse: George Bush Says That Spying Is Cool, Madeleine Begun Kane

George Bush says his spying is cool,
And he broke not a law, nor a rule.
What, he doesn't need warrants?
That man is abhorrent!
Those who trust him are nothing but fools!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

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Shallow Throat: Another Dem Betrayal, Bernard Weiner

"Shallow Throat" joined me at a mostly-deserted park in Virginia, bursting with anger. I didn't even have to ask a question before the rage exploded out: "I can't believe your Democrat friends are blowing it once again! The Bushies are imploding in one scandal after another, it's dictator-time, the Republicans are tarred by the Abramoff corruption brush, more attacks on Mideast countries are coming soon, Bush ordered spying on Americans with no court permission, impeachment momentum is in the air -- and the Dems have let the President off the hook once again! How many times are you going to push that boulder up the steep hill to the top and then let it roll back down again? Do you liberals really have a death-wish?" --more

Al Gore: Gore More Outspoken Than Senior Dems, Suzanne Goldenberg

The strongly worded speech makes Mr Gore the most prominent political figure in America to weigh in on the wiretapping scandal. Mr Gore, who lost the 2000 election to Mr Bush following the intervention of the supreme court, also went further than other Democratic critics in accusing the president of wrongdoing...."A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government," he said....

Since the 2000 presidential elections, Mr Gore has occasionally used his peculiar position in American politics - he was defeated by Mr Bush despite winning more votes - to advance an agenda that is more liberal than the Democratic party leadership. He has been a far more outspoken critic of the Iraq war than most senior Democrats.... "The disrespect embodied in these apparent mass violations of the law is part of a larger pattern of seeming indifference to the Constitution that is deeply troubling to millions of Americans in both political parties," he said. --more

Quips: Bush on Diplomacy: "Yes, good question, good question. I graduated from Yale, and I have a diploma to prove it. So, yes, I'm a firm believe in a dipolma, see." --G.W. Bush

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

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Al Gore: Gore Calls Bush "Lawbreaker", Evan Derkacz, AlterNet

Gore's powerful MLK Day speech (PODCAST/TRANSCRIPT/VIDEO) was titled "Restoring the Rule of Law" -- if that gives you any idea of its focus and force. The former VP reportedly left little to the imagination when describing past presidential policy and fears for the future of the American system of governance.

Woody Allen jokes aside (Q: do you think Democracy can work? A: Yes... but I think the American way can work too.), the Constitution is under attack and Gore makes an eloquent (if frightening) case. Referring to the once arcane -- now merely obscure -- unitary executive theory, eagerly supported by impending Supreme Court justice Sammy Alito:

"This legal theory, which its proponents call the theory of the unitary executive but which is more accurately described as the unilateral executive, threatens to expand the president's powers until the contours of the constitution that the Framers actually gave us become obliterated beyond all recognition...
"This effort to rework America's carefully balanced constitutional design into a lopsided structure dominated by an all powerful Executive Branch with a subservient Congress and judiciary is-ironically-accompanied by an effort by the same administration to rework America's foreign policy from one that is based primarily on U.S. moral authority into one that is based on a misguided and self-defeating effort to establish dominance in the world."

Gore touches on the spying scandal, intimidation of opponents, the right to dissent, and nearly every other abuse of power by Bush over the past 5 years, ending with an MLK quote:

"Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us." (Newshounds, Irregular Times, HuffPost)

Al Gore: Gore "Not Running" In '08? Get Real.
Blistering Attack on Bush Is First Unofficial Campaign Speech, Andy Ostroy

Is there anyone out there who still believes former vice president Al Gore is not going to run for president in 2008? If so, I have a timeshare in the Sunni Triangle I'd like to sell you. Gore unofficially kicked off his '08 campaign on Monday with a blistering attack on Bush over his secret spying program carried out by the National Security Agency since the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Gore called for an immediate special counsel investigation into the warrantless domestic eavesdropping scheme, and said the president's actions violate the law. The speech was made to The American Constitution Society and The Liberty Coalition, who jointly sponsored the event. --more

Big Bush Lies: Definition of a Lie: "2. Something that misleads or deceives" (Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary)
Bush Lie #7 (of 55): "The regime . . . has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda. The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other."
Source: President Says Saddam Hussein Must Leave Iraq Within 48 Hours, White House (3/17/2003).
Why This Statement is A Lie: This statement was misleading because it suggested that Iraq was providing support to al Qaeda. In fact, the U.S. intelligence community had conflicting evidence on this issue and was divided regarding whether there was an operational relationship. This statement also was misleading because it evoked the threat of Iraq providing al Qaeda with weapons of mass destruction. According to the National Intelligence Estimate, the intelligence community had "low confidence" in that scenario.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

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Dems: Anti-Fiibuster Feinstein Wimps Out On Alito, Andy Ostroy

"This is a man I might disagree with. That doesn't mean he shouldn't be on the court." So said California Sen. Diane Feinstein Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation." And there you have it. In one single sentence, Sen. Feinstein demonstrated why the Democratic Party is having such a hard time winning elections and defeating the political, social and legal agenda of the radical right. Can you ever imagine anyone, anyone, on the Republican leadership side--Frist, DeLay, Hastert, Blunt, Cheney etc.--ever being so damned fair and balanced? Not until hell freezes over. That's because Republicans get it. Republicans have one goal in mind: winning. It's something the Democrats have yet to fully grasp.

Feinstein plans to vote against Samuel J. Alito Jr.'s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. But she will not support a filibuster. Feinstein, a lifetime supporter of women's reproductive rights, called the anti-abortion Alito "clearly qualified" and said she was "very impressed with his ability to maintain a very even demeanor during this entire thing and his ability not to specifically answer any questions." Shouldn't this last statement be reason enough to do whatever possible to block his confirmation? When will Democrats stop being so concerned with impressing conservatives with their civility and righteousness? They don't get it in return. In fact, they get the exact opposite.... --more

Iran: Engage or Enrage? Walter Uhler

from September/October 2005  pp.65-67 (vol. 61, no. 05) © 2005 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Review of The Iranian Labyrinth: Journeys through Theocratic Iran and Its Furies, by Dilip Hiro. Nation Books, 418 pages, 2005, $16.95; and Iran's Nuclear Option: Tehran's Quest for the Atom Bomb, by Al J. Venter. Casemate Publishers, 451 pages, 2005, $29.95.

While America seems unable to get over its feelings of humiliation from the days of the 1979 hostage crisis, many Iranians are eager to move on. A recent New York Times report recounts how the denizens of Tehran have become increasingly embarrassed by the relics of their revolutionary past, such as an American flag painted on the road for cars to drive over. "We don't hate America," explains a man working in a jewelry store. "We like to have better relations. It's just the governments." Yet judging by the "Axis of Evil" rhetoric of the Bush administration, the United States seems determined to squander the benefits it could be reaping from Iran's shifting attitudes. That's too bad, because as historian Dilip Hiro writes in his new book, The Iranian Labyrinth, all it might take to win crucial allies in Iran's younger generation would be a thoughtful U.S. policy toward the country. --more

Cartoon: Which Camel Has The Bomb? Try Both!, Steve Bell

Tom Tomorrow: 2006 For Optimists: Call Jack Bauer

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

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Gag Reflex: Bush Dictatorship and Torture Authority , Chris Floyd

If President George W. Bush shows no qualms about violating the 217-year-old U.S. Constitution or the 791-year-old Magna Carta, why should we be surprised to find that he is now violating the 2,400-year-old Hippocratic Oath? And yet this week's revelation of how U.S. doctors are force-feeding captives on hunger strike in Bush's concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay still has the power to shock and sicken -- not just from the savage act itself, but also for the wider moral defeat it represents: another open embrace of raw brutality, another step in America's accelerating plunge into vicious despotism.

...But just how far does the "Commander's" torture authority reach? To the crushing of an innocent child's testicles. So says John Yoo, the former deputy assistant attorney general who helped craft the official White House "torture memos" that justified any torture short of permanent maiming or death -- and even countenanced the latter if it was "unintentional." Yoo also helped devise the regime's crank philosophy of the "unitary executive" -- that is, dictatorship for a "war president." In response to a question at a public debate last month, Yoo declared that Bush could override any law or treaty and order his goons to crush the testicles of a prisoner's child in the name of "national security," commentator Andrew Sullivan reports....

Gag Reflex: Torture On Your Plate, Andrew Sullivan

KINSLEY ON TORTURE: He salami-slices Krauthammer's case, while Rumsfeld tries one last gambit. Money quote:
There is no reason to suppose that if Krauthammer's reasoning was accepted, the result would be Krauthammer's rules. Once we are rid of the childish notion of an absolute ban on torture, there is no telling where adult minds may take us.

The trouble with salami-slicing is that it doesn't stop just because you do. A judicious trade-off of competing considerations is vulnerable to salami-slicing from both directions. You can calibrate the viciousness of the torture as finely as you like to make sure that it matches the urgency of the situation. But you can't calibrate the torture candidate strapped down before you. Once you're in the torture business, what justification is there for banning (as Krauthammer would) the torture of official prisoners of war, no matter how many innocent lives this might cost? If you are willing to torture a "high level" terrorist in order to save innocent lives, why should you spare a low-level terrorist at the same awful cost? What about a minor accomplice?
What about the child of a terrorist? If you need to save lives, why not? You may think no one in America would go there, right? Not so fast. Here's AEI's John Yoo, as recorded in a recent debate with Douglass Cassel at Notre Dame:
Cassel: If the president deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?

Yoo: No treaty

Cassel: Also no law by Congress -- that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo...

Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.
Just keep slicing the salami until you're torturing innocent children. And we deposed Saddam for what again?

TORTURE, DEFINED: When all else fails, check the legal definition. The U.N. Convention on Torture, to which the U.S. is a signatory, defines it thus:
any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession ... when such pain or suffering is inflicted at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity."
The dictionary definition is the following:
1. a) Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.
b) An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain.
2. Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony: the torture of waiting in suspense.
3. Something causing severe pain or anguish.
The Vatican seems to know what it means. Here's the CIA definition of waterboarding:
The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.
Rich Lowry argues that this is not the infliction of severe physical or mental anguish or pain. The Wall Street Journal believes this isn't "anything close" to torture and today argues that "if practiced properly, it does no lasting physical harm." That's the WSJ's standard for America. Let's just say it isn't mine.

Media Lies: Oprah Should Be On "Dead To Me" List Journalism, politics and publishing have been tarred by scandals that have revealed a chilling insensitivity to right and wrong. Random House isn't concerned that an author makes up stuff in a book labeled nonfiction; it just kept counting the money after The Smoking Gun exposed James Frey's lies about his own life.

When Mr. Frey went on "Larry King Live" with his mom to defend his book's "essential truths," Oprah Winfrey called in to back him up. She sounded disturbingly like Scott McClellan. Despite doubts about facts in the book, she said, "the underlying message of redemption" still "resonates" with her. She should have said: "Had I known that many parts were fake, I wouldn't have recommended the book to millions of loyal viewers. I wouldn't have made this liar a lot of money." She should take a page from Stephen Colbert and put the slippery Frey on her "Dead to me" list. --Maureen Dowd

Sunday Funnies:

U.S.A. Loves Iraq
Think of it as a war for you, not against you (By Ward Sutton)
Buy Your Own Congressmen!
And mess up democracy for years to come! (By Mark Fiore)
This Modern World
(By Tom Tomorrow)
Cartoon: Arrest That Camel!, Steve Bell

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

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Report: The Bodies Keep Piling Up In Bush's Iraq Fiasco, Andy Ostroy

Twelve dead U.S. soldiers. 183 Iraqis killed. Violence has been raging out of control for the second straight day, with suicide bombs exploding in several different locations in and around Baghdad. The violence is getting worse, and the situation continues to spiral out of control. Since the December 15th election, the insurgency appears to be gaining strength and the region more deadly than ever....

Report: New Demand For Body Armor , Amanda Lang

I just received an email from Wes Clark urging that I send letters to officials demanding body armor for US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Shortly before an email arrived from Hillary Clinton claiming lack of body armor "unforgivable" and called for a Congressional probe after 2,200 deaths and almost 16,000 wounded. Haven't received any emails from Republicans, but then again I never do, and don't expect to although they, as the Democrats, have long been aware that our troops lacked the proper armor for personal protective equipment and combat vehicles.

You see, all this "sudden outrage" is not so sudden. I have sent at least 25 letters in the last year alone demanding to know why a trillion dollar plus war could (or would from a readiness stand-point) have soldiers in the field -- where IEDs are the weapon of choice -- without armor; why these soldiers taxpaying families at home were raising money to buy their fathers, husbands, and children armor that a $2 trillion war should have had in spades (families paid S&H too); why there was talk in some media and the Pentagon about reimbursing these families; and why lying Rumsfeld, who claimed "lack of production capacity" never responded to the armor-supplier CEO that declared his company could produce at a 20% higher production capacity than was OKed by the Pentagon. Rumsfeld was sorely taken to task on one of his "impromptu" talks with US troops while visiting Iraq (in his arsenal/bunker on wheels -- armored-to-the-hilt). Yet now after close to 3 years, it is a big issue. Reportedly, the armor has been available since 2003.

The truth is that a new Pentagon report concludes that "[e]xpanded armor can save soldiers' lives." So now the Dems get righteous and mine political "paydirt." The Bush Chickenhawk Neocons and GOP will stay with the Rove playbook and act shocked but say or do little. And many of the 2,200 dead families and the 16,000 wounded will wonder why and what could have been. Shame on them all, Democrats and Republicans, with their whole families and "whole" family members who never set foot on Iraq or Afghan soil with or without armor, now clamoring for an accounting.

GOP Words: neoconservatives n. Nerds with Napoleonic complexes [Matthew Polly, Topeka, Kans.].

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Friday, January 13, 2006

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Bush Watch Editorial: Why Bush Could Be Impeached

It's one thing to call for the impeachment of the President and another to have him impeached. Even though "Article 2 of the three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon dealt with illegal wiretapping," as Doug Ireland writes below, and Bush has admitted to the same crime, it takes Congress to impeach, and the Republicans control congress. It's that simple. In a November Zogby poll, 53% said Congress should consider a Bush impeachment because he lied us into war, reports Ireland. However, in the US, presidential crime only takes place when a politicized Congress says so. That's why Bush will never be impeached by our government for "war crimes." Congress is too politicized and too culpable. However, the crime of warrantless wiretapping is something that has stirred up Republicans and Democrats, alike.

With the backing of senators on both side of the aisle, Republican Arlen Specter has called Bush's admitted crime "inappropriate" and has promised a senate inquiry. The right wing John Birch Society reports that 73% of its site readers have called for Bush's impeachment, as has Georgia House Democrat John Lewis. In short, political support for a Bush impeachment is a possibility, because the concern is bi-partisan. As Elizabeth Holtzman, a former member of the House Judiciary Committee observes in a lengthy analysis: "Finally, it has started. People have begun to speak of impeaching President George W. Bush--not in hushed whispers but openly, in newspapers, on the Internet, in ordinary conversations and even in Congress. As a former member of Congress who sat on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, I believe they are right to do so."

While there will be more on this in the mainstream press in the days to come, it seems clear from his record and responses at his hearings that Bush's Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito has become one more vote in Bush-Cheney's drive to turn the country towards a single-branched government with the President taking control of the levers of power, and away from a three-branched government with Congress, the judiciary, and the President sharing power in a balanced democracy. (See Weiner below.) It's beginning to appear that Bush wasn't kidding when he said, "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." (transcript) --Politex, Friday, Jan. 13, 2006

Impeachment: It's Time To Impeach Bush Doug Ireland

When the U.S. Senate refused to renew the liberticidal Patriot Act -- with its provisions for spying on Americans’ use of libraries and the Internet, among other Constitution-shredding provisions of that iniquitous law -- it was in part because that morning’s New York Times had revealed how Bush and his White House had committed a major crime.

By ordering the National Security Agency -- the N.S.A, so secretive that in Washington its initials are said to stand for “No Such Agency” -- to wiretap and eavesdrop on thousands of American citizens without a court order, Bush committed actions specifically forbidden by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Passed in 1978 after the Senate’s Church Committee documented in detail the Nixon administration’s widespread use of U.S. intelligence agencies to spy on the anti-Vietnam war movement and other political dissidents, FISA “expressly made it a crime for government officials 'acting under color of law' to engage in electronic eavesdropping 'other than pursuant to statute.’”, as the director of the Center for National Security Studies, Kate Martin, told the Washington Post....And the FISA statute required authorization of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to make such domestic spying legal. Bush and his NSA sought no such authorization before invading American citizens’ right to privacy -- a blatant flouting of the law that made both wavering Democrats and libertarian Republicans mad enough to vote against extending the hideous Patriot Act [, at least for the time being]...

Impeachment: Fear, the Future, and the Other F-Word, Bernard Weiner

  WASHINGTON, The Future (Associated Press) -- President George W. Bush today applauded the decision by the House of Representatives and the Senate to disband. "Everything changed on 9/11," said the President. "The American people join me in thanking Congress for finally having the wisdom and patriotism to recognize this changed situation in the country and the world. Although these legislators have served our nation well over the years, now all that bickering, partisan sniping, and obstructionism blocking my programs are gone.

"In a word, I know what needs to be done. And now we can reach those goals with aggressive speed and determination, knowing that all our citizens are united under one leader. Those seeking to throw the American government into chaos and anarchy with their talk of impeachment and cutting-and-running from our battles abroad have been silenced."

A joint statement from Republican and Democratic leaders in both branches of Congress was issued late last night: "It appears that the Executive Branch has made the Legislative branch redundant, by outsourcing our law-making functions to itself. They are deciding which laws to obey, and have the Justice Department and the courts under their control. So, rather than waste taxpayers money in spinning our wheels, we're simply going out of business."...

Impeachment: Bush On Spying Without A Warrant , Calvin Trillin

Since I am Commander in Chief,
My powers to spy or debrief
Are limitless. That's my belief.
So go somewhere else with your beef.
I'll do what I want when I want to.
Since terror is not like croquet,
The NSA does what I say.
Despite your soft-headed dismay,
My Nanny Dick says it's OK.
I'll do what I want when I want to.
Security trumps, that's for sure.
And I get to say who's secure.
And laws and court warrants obscure
My mission. And I will endure!
I'll do what I want when I want to.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

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Torture: Bush, McCain, Torture And Beyond , William Fisher

Note: This story was written in mid-December with the expectation that Bush would honor his agreement with Sen. McCain to sign an anti-torture bill after certain changes were made. Although he did sign the bill containing those changes in late December, a Jan. 4 story in the Boston Globe reports: "When President Bush last week signed the bill outlawing the torture of detainees, he quietly reserved the right to bypass the law under his powers as commander in chief. After approving the bill last Friday, Bush issued a ''signing statement" -- an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law -- declaring that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. This means Bush believes he can waive the restrictions, the White House and legal specialists said." --Politex

President George W. Bush suffered a stinging defeat when overwhelming congressional support forced him to abandon his opposition to anti-torture legislation and reach an agreement with its sponsor, Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican. The president’s reversal came after months of White House attempts – led by Vice President Disk Cheney and National Security Advisor Steven Hadley -- to weaken the measure, which would prohibit the "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" treatment of any detainee in U.S. custody anywhere in the world. The Administration had been negotiating with McCain to either drop the measure or to modify it so that interrogators, especially those working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), would have significant exemptions. Bush had previously threatened to veto the bill and Vice President Cheney lobbied hard to change the McCain proposal to give interrogators more flexibility to use a range of extreme tactics on terrorism suspects. Mc Cain, who was to...

Torture: God Rest Ye Merry Torturers , W. D. Jenkins, III

Right now, on this very night while I take in the quiet warmth and comforting seclusion with my family this holiday season, somewhere out there is a man far from his loved ones. He wears a hood and his hands are bound behind his back. He lies bruised and naked in a dark, cold makeshift prison cell. The echoes of his screams still ring in his ears as immeasurable fear overtakes his very soul.

We don’t know who he is anymore than his family knows where he is. No one knows if he’s guilty of anything nor does anyone know if he’s just one of those “errors in policy” that Secretary of State Condi Rice referred so deprecatingly to during her recent trip to Europe . One thing we do know, however, is that the abuse of this man and others like him is being done in our name – with or without our approval.

Now I’m not so disillusioned to think that the history of this country is not tainted by actions and policies that would shock the average person. As lofty as the ideals of the founding fathers might have been, we cannot escape the fact that the genocide of the native people of this land centuries ago was perceived by some to be crucial to attaining those ideals. And that’s just the beginning. Our country’s history is rife with cruelty coupled with a sense of entitlement as we marched towards that American Dream....

Rendition: Come Fly With Me

Come fly with me, let's fly let's fly away
On you they'll use some exotic screws
In a cell beyond the bay
Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away.

Come talk to me, let's float off o'er the sea
In camel land, they'll slice your hand
And they'll throw away the key
You'll talk and talk, until your face is sand.

Once we get you there,
Where the law is rarefied
They'll tan your hide
And melt your eyes,
Once we get you there
They'll be twisting you this way
You will know why angels fear - because were the USA.

Torture-wise its such a lovely day
Just say the words, or they'll beat your bird
'Till your blood drips through the hay.
Its perfect to elicit what you know - they say
Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away.

by Sammy Cahn, with changes by Jerry Politex

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

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History: Another Bush Betrayal, Peter Clothier

I presume the story is well known to you, Bush. But these things tend to fade in the memory, so I myself found it a useful refresher course: how that region populated in the main by Arab tribes had been for many years under the frequently brutal control of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, and how the Arabs saw their chance, as World War II began, to win the support of Britain in fighting for their freedom from the Turks. How the British, teetering on the verge of disaster in the Middle East, were happy to use the Arabs' warrior energy in their effort to beat back the Turks, and used the peculiar skills of Lawrence to corral and direct that energy. How they promised an independent nation in return for the support of the Arab Revolt. And how they at the very same time plotted treacherously with the French to divide the spoils of the Arab territory between them once the war was won. My political geography is a bit shaky, Bush, but as I recall the French nabbed what is now largely Lebanon, and the British took over the big swath of Arabia that included Palestine, Syria--and, of course, a good part Iraq, with its wealth of oil. It was at this time, too, that the state of Israel was first conceived. What a mess they made of things, in their arrogant assumption of imperial rights!...

Israel: Bad Faith Distorts Iraq's Prewar al Qaeda Links, Walter C. Uhler

The question of "first loyalty to Israel" has been both James Bamford (in A Pretext for War) and George Packer (in The Assassins' Gate). Both have decried the official machinations of two younger unregistered lobbyists for Israel, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser. Both were obsessed with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein -- in order to secure the realm for Israel -- long before they accepted employment in the administration of the malevolent Dick Cheney and the incurious, insouciant George W. Bush. Mr. Packer goes so far as to suggest that, for Mr. Feith and Mr. Wurmser, loyalty "to the security of Israel was probably the prime mover."...Cheney and Rummy's evidence came from Feith's "Gestapo office" (as Secretary of State Colin Powell referred to it). And so did the evidence that Scooter Libby attempted to foist on Powell prior to his now infamous February 5, 2003 speech before the Security Council of the United Nations. Moreover, we now possess "bulletproof" evidence to convict Feith's PCEG of hyping its so-called intelligence about Iraq's ties to al Qaeda....

Quips: And in this part of the country, Mr. Bush, it appears that we have not only alienated voters, but actually infected them, as well.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

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2006: Bush At Year-End, William Fisher

My editors, as well as many friends around the world, have been urging me to write something about how I think about George W. Bush as 2005 ends and a new year begins. I was reluctant because I have been reading dozens of year-enders on this subject, and wondering if I had anything to add. What I have to add is not exactly new. Many others have expressed similar views. To which I will now add my own perspective. As I thought about our president, I wondered: Do I hate him? Do I think he is a liar? Do I think he is a provincial and poorly informed scion of a privileged family? Do I think he embarrasses our country by mangling the English language? Do I think he has placed unnecessary and unproductive restrictions on our liberties? Do I think his promise of a more “compassionate conservatism” was merely an election-year slogan? Do I think he is an incompetent manager of our affairs of State? The answer to all of the above is either “No” or “We don’t know yet”. But the more I pondered the question, the stronger grew one overwhelming feeling...

2006: Which Wolf Will You Feed in 2006? Mickey Z.

“Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” This statement (made by Dubya in late 2001) has been mocked by just about anyone to the left of Genghis Khan, but in 2005, I came to realize how oftenwe all slip into that mentality...myself very much included.

For example, in the 10 years I’ve been vegan, I’ve often enforced the “you’re either with us or against us” mindset. In 2004, during the presidential election, I publicly mocked anyone who tried to find a reason to vote for Kerry. To the Anybody-But-Bush crowd, I ranted: “you’re either with us or against us.” Or, in a more general sense, I’d see someone driving an SUV into a McDonald’s parking lot, smoking a cigarette and yakking loudly on a cell phone...and I’d have that person judged, categorized, pigeon-holed, and lined up on the “other side.” (And these are only a few of far too many examples I could list.) In turn, I’ve had variations of the “you’re either with us or against us” tactic used on me...and it’s both disconcerting and frustrating.

My personal resolution for 2006 is to not let this mentality check myself before I so readily “identify the enemy,” so to speak. Of course, there are times when one can genuinely—and perhaps justifiably—feel “you’re either with us or against us.” But I submit that those instances are few and far between...much less frequent than we’d all like to believe....

2006: "Yippee!! Bushwatch is back!!!" letters

Boy, did I miss Bush Watch daily in my routine!! I'm sure glad you're back. I hope you had an enjoyable holiday. --Rob Osborne

Now that Bushwatch is functional again, my mornings feel a bit more complete. Thank you for returning. Thank you for the incredible work you do. --Bill Lane

Glad you're back! Hopefully we can all work on getting a transparent, public voting system in place, eh? --Gil

The absence of Bush Watch made me acutely aware of much I had come to rely on your site both to maintain my view of the world and my sanity. During your holiday, I reaffirmed that there is just no other source that comes close to yours in reviewing the world press for the stories that reflect on the truly crucial issues of the day. --Stephan Day

You were missed. Glad you're back. --Connie

Big Bush Lies: Definition of a Lie: "2. Something that misleads or deceives" (Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary)
Bush Lie #6 (of 55): "The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more."
Source: President Bush Announces Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended, White House (5/1/2003)
Why This Statement is A Lie: This statement was misleading because it suggested that Iraq was linked to al Qaeda. In fact, the U.S. intelligence community had conflicting evidence on this issue and was divided regarding whether there was an operational relationship.

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Monday, January 9, 2006

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Bush Watch Ed:
How the New York Times Got Bush Elected

Yesterday on "Meet the Press" Tim Russert asked James Risen, the NYT reporter who broke the story that Bush committed an impeachable wiretapping crime, why the story wasn't reported last October when they had the story ready to go. Risen didn't answer the question. This is not the first time someone has suggested that the story was withheld prior to the presidential election, nor should it be the last. "It may have played a role in the election of 2004 if it had been published in October. Why was it held?" Russert asked Risen. Obviously, given the outrage against Bush's crime on both sides of the aisle, it's not a stretch to realize that if the voters knew Bush had committed such a crime prior to the election, he would have been defeated. No wonder the NYT is stonewalling. As Bryon Calme, it's ombudsman, writes:

"For the first time since I became public editor, the executive editor and the publisher have declined to respond to my requests for information about news-related decision-making. My queries concerned the timing of the exclusive Dec. 16 article about President Bush's secret decision in the months after 9/11 to authorize the warrantless eavesdropping on Americans in the United States. I e-mailed a list of 28 questions to Bill Keller, the executive editor, on Dec. 19, three days after the article appeared. He promptly declined to respond to them. I then sent the same questions to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, who also declined to respond. They held out no hope for a fuller explanation in the future....

"The most obvious and troublesome omission in the [original story's] explanation was the failure to address whether The Times knew about the eavesdropping operation before the Nov. 2, 2004, presidential election. That point was hard to ignore when the explanation in the article referred rather vaguely to having "delayed publication for a year." To me, this language means the article was fully confirmed and ready to publish a year ago - after perhaps weeks of reporting on the initial tip - and then was delayed....If no one at The Times was aware of the eavesdropping prior to the election, why wouldn't the paper have been eager to make that clear to readers in the original explanation and avoid that politically charged issue? The paper's silence leaves me with uncomfortable doubts."

In the original Risen story we're told that a meeting with White House officials led to the NYT withholding of the story for over a year: "The terse one-paragraph explanation noted that the White House had asked for the article to be killed," writes Calme. "After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting," writes Risin. However, Bill Keller, the NYT's Executive Editor, "said the paper initially held the story based on national security considerations," Calme explains. This would not be the first time Bush has used his war on terrorism/national security as an excuse to further his own political gains. --Politex

Tom Tomorrow: Bush Is Caught Red-Handed

2006: 12 Political Insights: A Starter-Kit for 2006 , Bernard Weiner

Bush&Co.'s scandals are coming so rapidly and getting so huge that it's hard to lay off talking about them at length, but in this new year, let's step back a bit for some longer-range perspectives. In no particular order, here from decades of politics-watching are a dozen bits of insight, most of which were reinforced by events in year 2005. Below each is some discussion of how those truisms flowered in the Bush era.

2006: In 2006, Voting Fraud is the Keystone Issue , Ernest Partridge

The significance of the election fraud issue can not be overstated. The fate of our republic turns on how this issue is dealt with and resolved in the coming year. On the one hand, the Bush Administration, the Republican party and the Republican Congress, with the continuing connivance of the corporate media and the persistent indifference of the Democratic party,  may successfully resist public demands for electoral reform, and consequently the existing system of unverifiable voting and secret software will remain in place. If so, then the Republicans will surely retain control of the Congress, regardless of the will of the American people. On the other hand...

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Special Report: Sunday, January 8, 2006

Lawbreaker Bush: Bush's Illegal Wiretapping Is Impeachable, John Dean

On Friday, December 16, the New York Times published a major scoop by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau: They reported that Bush authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on Americans without warrants, ignoring the procedures of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). It was a long story loaded with astonishing information of lawbreaking at the White House. It reported that sometime in 2002, Bush issued an executive order authorizing NSA to track and intercept international telephone and/or email exchanges coming into, or out of, the U.S. - when one party was believed to have direct or indirect ties with al Qaeda. Initially, Bush and the White House stonewalled, neither confirming nor denying the president had ignored the law. Bush refused to discuss it in his interview with Jim Lehrer. Then, on Saturday, December 17, in his radio broadcast, Bush admitted that the New York Times was correct - and thus conceded he had committed an impeachable offense.

There can be no serious question that warrantless wiretapping, in violation of the law, is impeachable. After all, Nixon was charged in Article II of his bill of impeachment with illegal wiretapping for what he, too, claimed were national security reasons. These parallel violations underscore the continuing, disturbing parallels between this Administration and the Nixon Administration - parallels I also discussed in a prior column. Indeed, here, Bush may have outdone Nixon: Nixon's illegal surveillance was limited; Bush's, it is developing, may be extraordinarily broad in scope. First reports indicated that NSA was only monitoring foreign calls, originating either in the USA or abroad, and that no more than 500 calls were being covered at any given time. But later reports have suggested that NSA is "data mining" literally millions of calls - and has been given access by the telecommunications companies to "switching" stations through which foreign communications traffic flows. In sum, this is big-time, Big Brother electronic surveillance.

...No one questions the ends here. No one doubts another terror attack is coming; it is only a question of when. No one questions the preeminent importance of detecting and preventing such an attack. What is at issue here, instead, is Bush's means of achieving his ends: his decision not only to bypass Congress, but to violate the law it had already established in this area. Congress is Republican-controlled. Polling shows that a large majority of Americans are willing to give up their civil liberties to prevent another terror attack. The USA Patriot Act passed with overwhelming support. So why didn't the President simply ask Congress for the authority he thought he needed? The answer seems to be, quite simply, that Vice President Dick Cheney has never recovered from being President Ford's chief of staff when Congress placed checks on the presidency. And Cheney wanted to make the point that he thought it was within a president's power to ignore Congress' laws relating to the exercise of executive power. Bush has gone along with all such Cheney plans. No president before Bush has taken as aggressive a posture -- the position that his powers as commander-in-chief, under Article II of the Constitution, license any action he may take in the name of national security....

Had Bush issued his Executive Order on September 12, 2001, as a temporary measure - pending his seeking Congress approval - those circumstances might have supported his call. Or, had a particularly serious threat of attack compelled Bush to authorize warrantless wiretapping in a particular investigation, before he had time to go to Congress, that too might have been justifiable. But several years have passed since the broad 2002 Executive Order, and in all that time, Bush has refused to seek legal authority for his action. Yet he can hardly miss the fact that Congress has clearly set rules for presidents in the very situation in which he insists on defying the law. Bush has given one legal explanation for his actions which borders on the laughable: He claims that implicit in Congress' authorization of his use of force against the Taliban in Afghanistan, following the 9/11 attack, was an exemption from FISA. No sane member of Congress believes that the Authorization of Military Force provided such an authorization. No first year law student would mistakenly make such a claim. It is not merely a stretch; it is ludicrous. But the core of Bush's defense is to rely on the very argument made by Nixon: that the president is merely exercising his "commander-in-chief" power under Article II of the Constitution. This, too, is a dubious argument.

...In acting here without Congressional approval, Bush has underlined that his Presidency is unchecked - in his and his attorneys' view, utterly beyond the law. Now that he has turned the truly awesome powers of the NSA on Americans, what asserted powers will Bush use next? And when - if ever - will we - and Congress -- discover that he is using them?

Special Report: Saturday, January 7, 2006

2005: The Year In Review, Tom Tomorrow, with Politex

Jan. 7: The Administration has been paying conservative commentator Armstrong Williams to promote its agenda.

Jan. 12: The experts searching for WMD's in Iraq quitely conclude that there are none.

Feb. 10: Fake reporter [with fake name] "Jeff Gannon" resigns from fake news agency which employed him to ask fake questions.

March 21: Bush cuts his vacation short to fly back to D.C. and sign the Terry Schiavo Bill.

[April 15: House votes to permanently repeal estate tax, which will cost $70 billion a year, while this year's deficit of $291 billion halfway through fiscal 2005 threatens to exceed Bush's record deficit of $412 billion last year.]

May 1: Downing Street Memo is published, pretty much proving that Bush lied us into war.

May 3: Dick Cheney says Iraq insurgency is in its "last throes."

[June 23: China outbids Chevron for takeover of American oil giant Unocal with American dollars, but Washington pressure later nixes the offer in the name of national security.]

[July 7: London bombings leaving 49 dead force U.S. to focus on Homeland Security's failures to protect the American people: "We are still not ready." --WP's Colbert King]

[Aug. 7: Cindy Sheehan Begins Her War Protest in Crawford, TX.]

Aug. 11: GOP uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff indicted for fraud.

August 28-Sept, 3: Bush administration fiddles around while New Orleans drowns.

Sept 28: Tom DeLay indicted on multiple counts.

Oct 3-15: Harriet Miers nominated to Supreme Court, later withdraws her nomination.

Oct. 26: U.S. death toll in Iraq Reaches 2000.

Oct. 28: Scooter Libby charged with five-count indictment in Plame scandal.

Nov. 2: Washington Post reveals the existence of a network of secret overseas prisons.

Nov. 4: Dick Cheney presses Republican lawmakers for exemptions to proposed torture ban.

Nov. 5: Declassified memo proves that administration pushed claims of known liar to justify war.

Nov. 7: President Bush declares, "We do not torture." Majority of world population doubles over in uncontrollable laughter.

Nov. 17: Congressman (and former marine) John Martha calls for withdrawal from Iraq.

Nov. 29: New York Times reports that death squads are now operating in Iraq.

Nov. 30: Thirty-two months after the start of the war, Bush unveils a "strategy for victory in Iraq."

Dec. 16: We learn that Bush has illegally authorized the NSA to spy on Amnericans.

[Dec. 30: Bush signs bill containing a ban on torture, but says he will not abide by it.]

Special Report: Friday, January 6, 2006

Big Bush Lies: from"When Presidents Lie," Eric Alterman

To the relief of many made uncomfortable by the complicated moral questions raised by a President who lied about what most people consider to be a private moral sphere, Clinton's successor, George W. Bush, returned the presidency to the tradition of deception relating to key matters of state, particularly those of war and peace. Bush may have claimed as a candidate that he would "tell the American people the truth," but as President he effectively declared his right to mislead whenever it suited his purpose. We have no need here to rehearse the many costly untruths that led to the disastrous invasion of Iraq, as well as almost every significant policy initiative of the Bush Administration, nor their costs. As Michael Kinsley sagely observed early in the Administration's tenure, "Bush II administration lies are often so laughably obvious that you wonder why they bother. Until you realize: They haven't bothered. If telling the truth was less bother, they'd try that, too. The characteristic Bush II form of dishonesty is to construct an alternative reality on some topic and to regard anyone who objects to it as a sniveling dweeb obsessed with 'nuance.'"...

Why do American Presidents feel compelled to deceive Congress, the media and the country about their most significant decisions? Perhaps the most elegant defense for such behavior can be found in the arguments of a mentor of a number of the planners of President Bush's war in Iraq. Abram Shulsky, who headed the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, whose work was used to override professional CIA analyses in favor of war, was, like the war's primary intellectual inspiration, Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, as well as many other neoconservatives, an admirer of the late political philosopher and refugee from Nazi Germany Leo Strauss, who died in 1973. Together with Gary Schmitt, who heads the Project for a New American Century--the Washington think tank where the war strategy was originally conceived--Shulsky wrote an essay published in 1999 titled "Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence (by Which We Do Not Mean Nous)." In it, the authors argue that Strauss's idea of hidden meaning "alerts one to the possibility that political life may be closely linked to deception. Indeed, it suggests that deception is the norm in political life, and the hope, to say nothing of the expectation, of establishing a politics that can dispense with it is the exception." Joseph Cropsey, a close friend and colleague of Strauss's at the University of Chicago, as well as the editor of his work, explains that in Straussian thought, a degree of public deception is considered absolutely necessary. "That people in government have to be discreet in what they say publicly is so obvious--'If I tell you the truth I can't but help the enemy.'"

However high-minded, the argument does not really convince. With few exceptions, Presidents lie largely not for the reasons above but for reasons of political convenience. The decisions to lie were bred of a fundamental contradiction at the heart of the practice of American democracy. American Presidents have no choice but to practice the diplomacy of Great Power politics, but American citizens have rarely if ever been asked to understand the world in those terms. As the dissident Kennedy-Johnson aide George Ball observed in 1967, "We have used the vocabulary and syntax of Wilsonian Universalism while actively practicing the politics of alliances and spheres of influence and it is now time that we stopped confusing ourselves with our political hyperbole." The result, more often than not, is that when deals must be struck and compromises made on behalf of large purposes, Presidents tend to prefer deception over education....

If history teaches us anything, it is that Presidents cannot lie about major political events that have potentially serious ramifications--particularly those relating to war and peace--with impunity. In almost all cases, the problem or issue that gives rise to the lie refuses to go away, even while the lie complicates the President's ability to address it. He must now address not only the problem itself but also the ancillary problem his lie has created. Karl Kraus once mused, with only slight exaggeration, that many a war has been caused by a diplomat who lied to a journalist and then believed what he read in the newspapers. The tendency for leaders to believe their own propaganda over time is one form of what first CIA agents and, later, political scientists have come to call "blowback." One feature of blowback is that its effects are almost always portrayed as unprovoked, often inexplicable actions, when in fact they are caused by actions initially taken by the government itself.

The point here is that in telling the truth to the nation, Presidents may often have to deal with complex, difficult and frequently dangerous problems they would no doubt prefer to avoid. But at least these are genuine problems that would have arisen irrespective of the leader's actions. This is, after all, inherent in the job description. But once a President takes it upon himself to lie to the country about important matters, he necessarily creates an independent dynamic that would not otherwise have come about, and we are all the worse for it....

Under President George W. Bush, Americans entered an era of politics in which the value of truth, for all practical purposes, became entirely contingent. Whether its citizens were aware of it or not, the presidency now operated in a "post-truth" political environment. American Presidents could no longer depend on the press--its powers and responsibilities enshrined in the First Amendment--to keep them honest. The death, destruction and general chaos that seemed ready to explode on a daily basis in Iraq following the US invasion seemed to be just one price that "reality" was demanding in return.

Presidents, Bush included, speak rhetorically of their commitment to tell the American people the truth no matter what. This is, of course, nonsense. The Bush Justice Department has even gone before the Supreme Court to argue its right "to give out false information...incomplete information and even misinformation" whenever it deems this necessary. This claim goes well beyond even the famous formulation that Arthur Sylvester, then a Defense Department official, offered on behalf of President Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis: "It's inherent in [the] government's right, if necessary, to lie to save itself."

In a better world, future Presidents would learn the obvious lessons from the experiences of their predecessors: Protect legitimate secrets by refusing to answer certain questions, certainly. Put the best face on your own actions and those of the politicians you support, of course. Create a zone of privacy for yourself and your family that is declared off-limits to all public inquiry. But do not, under any circumstances, lie.

Special Report: Thursday, January 5, 2006

Bush Watch, Burnt Orange Division: Texans Beat Bush, 41-38 (Observations)

Yes, Vince Young's knee touched the ground prior to his pitch to Selvin Young, who went the remaining 12 yards for a second quarter touchdown to give UT a 9-7 lead over USC in the Rose Bowl. But a review would have given UT the ball on the 12 yard line with four shots to take it into the end zone or gain another first down on the two yard line. Think they wouldn't have made it? Besides, USC made it to the Rose Bowl on a clearly illegal play in the last second of their game against Notre Dame that should have been reviewed, when running back Reggie Bush pushed his quarterback, Matt Leinhert, backwards into the end zone. (Photos here.) Bush and his coach later admitted he did the deed, and knew that the rule had been violated. And so it goes. --Politex

Outside the Rose Bowl before the game: USC fan Safari Earth swigs on a longneck through the face guard of his USC football helmet. "If you called yourself Safari Earth in Texas, somebody would drag you behind a horse." --John Kelso, local wit

Back in Austin on the drag next to UT near the growing mob immediately after the game: "Hooliganism is a Northeast thing. The most there'll be out here is people jumping up and down with a bunch of toilet paper or honking at the Tower when they turn it orange." --Austin police Lt. Darrell Boydston

Don't get me started about the insipidness of national TV sportscasting, but I'm sure articulate sportscaster turned political observer Keith Olberman would agree with me: 77 year-old ABC sports announcer Keith Jackson has got to go. Penn State coach Joe Paterno is even older than Jackson, but he still delivers, as his team's third-place national showing this year indicates. Meanwhile, Jackson turned this year's exciting Rose Bowl game into the Snooze Bowl with his low energy and low affect, miscalling the plays on the field and providing his listeners with his dreaded cornball football cliches that went out with high button shoes and the flying wedge. Five minutes into the game, I did what I usually do when watching Texas on national TV. I kept the picture on, turned the sound off, and ran a local radio broadcast of the game called by informed sports announcers through the TV speakers, something I recommend to any fan as a way to avoid the endless hype and glitz that gets in the way of nationally televised sporting events. --Politex

Special Report

Big Bush Lies: Bush Lies, Then McClellen Lies In Cover-Up Attempt, Jerry Politex

"A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources....At the White House, spokesman Scott McClellan was asked to explain why Bush last year said, "Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so." McClellan said the quote referred only to the USA Patriot Act." --Washington Post, Dec. 21, '05.

This is not true. Bush was explaining that there was no difference between wiretaps before the Patriot Act and wiretaps after the Patriot Act: "Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution." This was a lie, given the New York Times story on the subject on Dec. 16 and Bush's admission on December 17: "On Friday, the New York Times revealed that, after the 2001 terrorist attacks, Bush authorized the NSA to eavesdrop inside the United States without court-approved warrants. The newspaper said thousands of people may have had their phone calls and e-mail monitored as a result. Bush, appearing angry during his radio address, called the program lawful and crucial to safeguarding America from further attacks." --Houston Chronicle.

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