Thursday, February 28, 2008
In the midst of their lowest approval ratings in the history of the Republic, the Senate decides that THIS, that drugs in sports is somehow a national priority. Rather than investigate the most obviously criminal (my mom knows about it) presidential administration in American history, we need to know if baseball players took steroids or not. What better example of a broken political process does one need?
BUT, there were some stirrings of credibility, much like a flickering flame in the eye of a hurricane. House majority speaker (whose time is ticking-away fast) Nancy Pelosi finally made a demand for the Department of Justice to investigate former Bush counsel Harriet Miers and former chief of staff Joshua Bolten for not appearing before Congress to give testimony, a misdemeanor.
She [Pelosi] added: "Short of a formal assertion of executive privilege, which cannot be made in this case, there is no authority that permits a president to advise anyone to ignore a duly issued congressional subpoena for documents."Pelosi sent an additional letter to U.S. Attorney Jeff[rey] Taylor, the chief federal prosecutor for the District of Columbia, whose office would oversee the grand jury. The letters point to sections of federal law that require the Justice Department to bring the House contempt citations before a grand jury to investigate. ("Pelosi wants Bush aides investigated," AP, 02.28.2008)House Speaker Pelosi has given the new Bush-appointed attorney general Michael Mukasey one week to respond. He's not the entire problem in the federal law enforcement process: it's United States Attorney Jeffrey Taylor, an interim appointment made after the U.S. Attorney firings in late-2006, and the man prosecuting "DC Madam" Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Has the FBI investigated Christopher D. Baker yet, as requested by Rep. Louise M. Slaughter over-and-over again with no response?
No, that's not a priority either, especially since congressmen--primarily GOP ones--are going to be implicated. So will dozens-and-dozens of lobbyists and other government contractors who aren't named Brent R. Wilkes, recently convicted and sentenced to a lengthy prison term for bribing a congressman...but curiously not for soliciting prostitution. You might ask about this, his federal prison inmate number is 00858-298. Eat and enjoy.
None of that's important, though, trust me. Baseball players taking steroids and lying about it before Congress is. What's not important is reasonable inquiries into the firing of the U.S. Attorneys and all of the evidence and individuals responsible for it. Not even Monica Goodling matters, just..., uh drugs in sports, a real priority. I guess. God bless every senator that failed to show-up for the political theater of the GOP and their Democratic allies, and their habitual avoidance of adult responsibility, and their inherent and genetic lack of leadership-skills.
Yet, WE are all to blame for this. It's the sum-total of our inaction, your apathy, our greed, your stupidity, our collective ignorance, and your cowardice. The next bombs that hit America are going to come from an international coalition of "allies" who will take-us-down if they feel it's necessary. How wonderful, the president noticed a scandal in baseball...and was alarmed. Him say four-legs bad, so: The FBI took up the Roger Clemens case Thursday, tapped by the Justice Department to investigate whether the star pitcher lied when he testified to Congress he never took performance-enhancing drugs.
The FBI's involvement was announced one day after the leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee told Attorney General Michael Mukasey they weren't sure whether Clemens told the truth under oath at a Feb. 5 deposition and Feb. 13 public hearing.
A probe could result in charges against the seven-time Cy Young Award winner for perjury, making false statements or obstruction of justice. Congress did not ask for a similar investigation of Brian McNamee, the former personal trainer who testified under oath that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone. ("FBI Opens Investigation of Roger Clemens," AP, 02.28.2008)
America isn't the only nation on earth "with all options on the table." When the rest of the world tires of our bullying and senses a genuine and direct threat, they will strike us. We will have earned if we continue down the same road we're on right now. What a bunch of clowns. Nuff' said. Next vacation, I'll tell everyone that I'm Canadian. Yep, I'll probably be going to Toronto again, but I order the same thing for Chinese carry-out every time too.
Visit Brent R. Wilkes and ask him about prostitution (visitation rules enclosed): http://www.bop.gov/locations/institutions/sdc/index.jsp
"FBI Opens Investigation of Roger Clemens," AP, 02.28.2008:
"Pelosi wants Bush aides investigated," AP, 02.28.2008: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080229/ap_on_go_co/congress_contempt
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Remember January 20, 2001? There was a riot at the inaugural ceremonies (something that didn't even happen at Lincoln's second inauguration during the American Civil War). Most Americans never even heard of this riot until the summer of 2003 when Michael Moore included footage of it in "Fahrenheit 9/11."
When things like that happen, you know that there's been a takeover of some kind. From the first-days when the Bush-Cheney administration classified their energy policy meetings, to the lies in the run-up to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, the lies about WMDs in Iraq, the U.S. Attorney firings, the pathetic response to Katrina that continues into today, the favoring of oil interests over national interests, the shielding of Saudi Arabia from serious 9/11 investigations, the coddling of other supporters of terrorism like the regime in Pakistan, misuse of public funds for political allies, unwarranted classification of the internal record, the war-profiteering in Iraq, rigged-elections, violent ejections of activists from speaking engagements by shadowy "security" posing as Secret Service agents--it all has the ring of a putsch to it.
The Democrats--knowing the end of American Empire is near--somehow thought they could control the Bush administration, that they would engage in fair play. That was their biggest mistake, and over time, many of them have been ensnared into the web of criminality spun by Vice President Cheney and President George W. Bush. But there have been dividends to the public. Because of the narrowness of their agenda, they've done what many of us on the left have tried for a very long-time to accomplish: they've exposed most of the mechanisms of control and manipulation used by established power in this country. Thank you! Also, most of Latin America has gone socialist and consolidated relations with one another, out of our sphere-of-influence, thanks to the war on terror. Thank you again, it was overdue.
One part of their plan was brilliant: do things so criminal and outrageous that the opposition will be paralyzed when they realize that the options for making the Bush administration accountable might wreck the system. Otherwise, that's it, they're still essentially the same bumbling criminals with delusions of adequacy they were back in 2001--particularly on September 11, 2001 when they failed to prevent the attacks of that day. If they ever thought they could run a government competently, they were as profoundly mistaken as the people who voted for them.
It's possible that Bush really took conservatism seriously by taking it to the extreme of its own logic. They say that romanticism inevitably leads to totalitarianism. What could be more romantic than a cowboy president who lives most of his time on a ranch? There were no laws on the frontier, and some of us miss that. So, we import that lawlessness to other countries so we can bring it all back to life. The problem is, there's always a price to be paid for romanticism. How many Indian chiefs predicted a violent end for America? It must have been many.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The American Mind--Is there an American mind? Like Neil Young, I'm still looking for it. I'm not understanding this incredible hatred from those of us on the so-called left (everyone's pissed, it's not a "left" or a "right" thing to think this country is in-trouble), but then I keep forgetting that I couldn't disagree more with their viewpoint that Ralph Nader almost solely facilitated the Bush campaign's road to the White House. Considering how few people voted in 2000, and even today, it's not a stretch to say that many Americans failed themselves and Nader in 2000.
No, it wasn't all of the Black Americans and the poor--including veterans--who were denied the right to vote, and it wasn't the tens-of-millions of pampered slackers who are too dumb and lazy to get-up and actually do what many in other nations fight for the privilege to do (vote), and it wasn't all of the irregularities at the polls in Florida, or the entire truckload of votes that disappeared then magically reappeared there. It surely wasn't the fact that the Bush campaign filed a counter-suit against the Gore campaign, knowing full-well that they had Supreme Court Justice Scalia in their pocket. Clearly, this was all the fault of Ralph Nader, who never did anything good for his country (and other mythologies borne of cognitive-dissonance and the introduction of logic to reactionary minds). Welcome to collective-guilt folks, we'll be seeing more fallout from it soon.
And it wasn't the fact that many electronic voting machines were manufactured, programmed, and probably hacked by Republican operatives--it was all Ralph Nader, and he's never done anything for Americans. That's the common take, and it couldn't be more wrong-headed. Rather than showing some kind of belated thanks for the fact that all of us are protected by safety standards he not only pushed-for but also authored, we go through our days not realizing the little things that he's accomplished that prevent us from...dying.
There was a time--before Ralph Nader--when there was no OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), no EPA, not even a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). But forget about that for a moment and realize that without him, you would be more likely to die in a car accident or be poisoned by the food you eat every day, since there would be few very few safety standards without him and "Nader's raiders." Being 6' 4", his stature is very much like that of Abraham Lincoln, and he can take the licks he's getting.
Yet, somehow, Ralph Nader is screwing things up for the country, and it's solely his fault that George W. Bush is president. Therefore, allege those who perversely hate Nader, Iraq, warrantless surveillance--everything under Bush that's bad--is Ralph Nader's fault. Did Dennis Kucinich ever have any more of a chance of winning? Ah, but he "stayed within the system," he ran as a Democrat.
There you have it: Ralph Nader's primary sin is that he ran as a third-party candidate in a hotly-contested election in 2000 and 2004. I know, especially considering that it's not supported by the facts, and the fact that 25% of those who voted for Nader in 2000 would have voted for George W. Bush. But that doesn't matter--it's Nader's fault, not ours. How many Germans felt "it's not our fault" before Soviet troops came crashing into Berlin? After? It's never our fault, only the faults of others. Kucinich is a great guy, and Ralph Nader is a "dinosaur," and an "egotist" for running.
Postscript: A good friend told me last night (I'm paraphrasing), "Maybe it was Gore and Bush that lost the election for Ralph Nader." Not everyone who voted for Nader was going to vote for Al Gore, and at least a quarter of the people who voted for him were votes lost for George W. Bush. That's right, Ralph Nader took away votes from Bush, something you'll rarely ever hear. Add-to-that the irregularities at the polls, and it becomes a lot less about Ralph Nader, and lot more about how fundamentally bankrupt our political system and culture are. Food for thought, but America's on a "truth diet" about itself, as always.
Monday, February 25, 2008
We chose not to confront the Bush campaign as we should have as a nation back then, and we've been paying the price for it ever since. Blaming Ralph Nader for the fact that the Democratic platform stank to high heaven and didn't address the needs or the will of the American people is an insult to the intelligence or morons everywhere (you hear that Republicans?).
The DNC--by barring real grassroots representatives within the party--has alienated many Americans, and so has the voting behavior of politicians like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Daniel Inouye, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, and so many others.
It's time that the Democratic Party decides who they're with: the American people, or the corporations and the Kings of High Finance (no, not the Jews, stupid).
Ralph Nader isn't running to win, he's running to get the issues out there. I won't be voting for him as I did in 2000, it doesn't matter. The real point is getting another viewpoint out there and pressuring the candidates towards the will of the public, there is no other reason. Even with people voting more than they have in ages, it's not enough. The excuses don't hold any water anymore.
It's time to start voting again America, the Republicans and the sell-outs in the Democratic Party will only respond to pressure, and that's exactly what this great man is doing, a man who has genuinely stood-by his ideals and our cherished principles of democracy. Few incumbents can say this. Slagging Ralph isn't going to change the fact that neither of the two parties are not responding to the will of the people. Only by taking-up those principles and acting on them as responsible citizens is going to do the job.
Ralph Nader could teach former professor Barack Obama a thing-or-two about the Constitution and what's really possible in Washington. Obama's the best candidate the system can produce, and it will be his fault if he becomes president and doesn't listen to all of us--the American people--that final "check" in our system of checks and balances in government. The New Deal didn't happen because of FDR anymore than the victory of unionization during the Great Depression--it was Americans standing-up and taking responsibility for their lives and demanding a better tomorrow. FDR was wise enough to step-aside and let things go in a productive direction.
Providing the pressure is what Nader is doing, and it's strange that anyone claiming to hold genuine American ideals of democracy would say that he shouldn't run. Pressure from third parties has been very effective in our history towards positive social change, and it works. People are entitled to their opinions, but take-note the ferocity directed at Nader. Is it justified? This writer thinks not.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
No, it's not the "Hungarian Suicide Song." In 1973, Lou Reed was riding high. He had scored a reasonably popular single in the last year off of the LP "Transformer," produced by glam rockers David Bowie & Mick Ronson . That song was "Walk on the Wild Side," and it charted at #16 in the U.S. and #10 in the U.K. What would Lou Reed follow-up his commercially successful glam rock LP?
As Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore so aptly put it, Lou Reed followed-up "Transformer" with the most depressing album ever made. I would add that it also included the saddest song ever written on it: Berlin. The album tanked.
Making the album was so depressing that producer Bob Ezrin, who produced Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, and a gaggle of others, told Reed to "put the tapes in a drawer and forget about it." Everyone plays on Berlin: Steve Winwood, Jack Bruce, the Brecker brothers, Aynsley Dunbar (fresh from Frank Zappa), Steve Hunter, and even Tony Levin! Almost all of them hated the album and the experience.
Before this album, rock just didn't deal much with truly adult themes, and its time had come. After Berlin, things would never be the same. It reflected the horrible disillusion of 1973. Watergate was everywhere, and the war in Vietnam was ending in a very ugly way. Heroin was everywhere. Cynicism was rampant. I don't know how you write a song like "The Bed" at the age of 30-31. You have to lose a lot of people before you even begin to understand what loss means, but it's a testament to Reed's sensitivity to understand the themes in "The Bed."
I never would have started if I'd knownThat its end this way But funny thing, I'm not at all sad
That it stopped this way
This is the place where she lay her head
When she went to bed at night
And this is the place our children were conceived
Candles lit the room brightly at night
And this is the place where she cut her wrists
That odd and fateful night
And I said, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, what a feeling
And I said, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, what a feeling
("The Bed," Lou Reed, 1973)
What does it mean? Everyone's going to bring their luggage along, but I'd wager that most Americans know where this is coming from. If you've ever witnessed a Baptist or congregationalist sermon in the South, Michigan, or even just Southern Indiana or Ohio, you should know exactly what it means. It's a protestant thing, the source of the most extreme Christians since the Crusades. This peaked in the hysterical-fits of religious hysteria that the president was once stricken by at-the-height of his popularity during those first-days of the war in Iraq. We appeared very close to be taken-over by a theocratic threat to our most cherished liberties when the president began his "faith-based initiatives" and his bizarre claims that God was speaking to him. We no longer hear the latter claim.
I have watched Baptist sermons where the preacher did nothing but yell and berate these people, the self-loathing was palpable. It was a very depressing spectacle to have to watch, but what made it worse was knowing the sweating, shaking asshole was yelling at me too. I know there are "good" Christians out there, hiding somewhere from all the other Christians, no doubts here. It only takes a few bad-apples, as they say, to ruin the barrel. Looking at orthodox Christianity today, it isn't hard to come to the conclusion that the barrel needs to go, and that we've been using the wrong one for almost 2,000 years. Again, what if the barrel itself is rotten?
It's well-known in biblical scholarship that there are thousands of copying mistakes throughout the Bible, specifically in the New Testament. We know books were kept-out of the canon, namely the Gnostic Gospels and of other early sects of Christianity. What if a vital wisdom was left-out, even purposefully removed? Look, there are a lot of great things in the New Testament--so why the protestant fixation on the Old Testament? There is no point to a new one when you focus on the old one, it makes no sense. And frankly, Jesus was a revolutionary. Liberation theology is the real Christianity, not the lying timid barbarian versions held by Europeans.
The truth in the phrase I've concocted is that it's about specific religious extremists, namely extreme Baptists and your neck-of-the-woods protestant congregationalists. I stand by my firsthand-impressions of contact with many of these folks, and could tell you many other stories of the whack-jobs that I've borne witness to. If you've ever watched someone speaking-in-tongues, you know how truly bizarre, twisted, and terrifying it is. There is a real force behind it too, and it isn't benign, and it isn't "God." What's creepy is that you can feel it coming, rising like a bony blackened demon from the infinite heart of a bloody-pentagram...
Saturday, February 23, 2008
South Bend, Indiana--Lots-o'-goobers here, the slack-jawed, drooling, yammerin' kind, that's why. How much you want to bet that the shadowy group running it to pressure Rep. Joe Donnelly to vote for the retroactive immunity version are being funded with Defense Department funds illegally? Being very wishy-washy, dumbo Joe might actually cave-in, hence the other reason they're running it here. Sorry, the threat is being exaggerated, but we're used to that since the president and the GOP tried to cry wolf every time they were in-trouble...just like now.
Hoosiers: they spook easily like most "oogah-boogah" people descended from lynch mobs, but that doesn't mean everyone here was raised by a wild-pack of baptists...
One would think the primaries are already here, but these silly-ass ads are all about making sure there are no real revelations about the crimes of the White House, Congress, and the telecoms, and how much they spied on all of us illegally. They knew it was illegal, and they're lying that we need this stupid legislation with its retroactive immunity amendments for the telecommunications companies--they are unrelated issues. Get a warrant, it's that simple. If it isn't, resign from office.
We might even be able to add a new crime into our lexicon: white collar crime, committed under the color of government authority using data-mining techniques which are also illegal. Why are some Americans so chicken-shit? Come visit Indiana sometime, and you'll find out: poor education, willful ignorance, lazy conformity, religious fanaticism, and your basic poverty and lack of culture. The usual.
Michiana/Indiana's 2nd District: This area is a mixed-bag, and if I was to say the group of people that I like the most here, it would be the Black people. There are also a few good-ol'-boys who live around here who have hearts of gold, they're very tolerant of differences in others. There are farmers around here who really are wonderful people. The Catholic community here is the mixed-bag, because--with the obvious exceptions--they're not especially tolerant, and frequently very well-off.
Employers around here aren't any better or worse than anywhere else in America--take from that what you will. Wanton, senseless bigotry is prevalent, in a town where Notre Dame students rioted against the Klan around eighty-years-ago. This was once a stop-over on the underground railroad. My father discovered a system of tunnels on construction site dig once that was part of that network. Indiana is a mixed-bag.
Ed.-The shadowy group that ran the ads are called "The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies," of which Joe Lieberman is a founder. Newt Gingrich is alleged to be a founder as well. Their site is cagey on these matters: http://www.defenddemocracy.org/about_FDD/about_FDD_list.htm?attrib_id=7615
1. Jesus would never call anyone "nigger," "spic," "chink," "gook," "slant," "wop," "kike" (we know this one), "mick," "spade," "ofay" (he wasn't white, get over it), etc. .
2. Wash AND dry, because he's a nice guy and a responsible guest.
3. Jesus would watch NC-17 movies because he had depth and curiosity, unlike his subsequent generations of followers. His favorite director is Pier Paolo Pasolini. I asked him last night.
4. Jesus would always be in-trouble because his beliefs wouldn't be popular in-practice today. Luckily, only a tiny minority of self-proclaimed Christians have ever done this: himself and St. Francis.
5. Jesus would vote independent, and never for a Republican or Democrat unless they were enlightened (there's a clear-and-empty shot there so far...). He would be a hard-left voter who hates the sick, greedy rich as most reasonable people have throughout human history.
6. As a carpenter in an industrialized, mechanized, and technological world Jesus...would do very little work. He would be unemployed unless he was lucky and had a journeyman's union-card.
7. Jesus would say, "I told you to give unto Caesar what is Caesar's, but I didn't mean 'worship him or myself as a god.' I never said, 'worship authority.' " Like the last time, nobody would listen or change their behavior and would go on like before in the standard dumbshow way.
8. Jesus would save green stamps, finding-out that they were worthless later-on, exclaiming as he did on the cross: "Lord, why have you forsaken me?"Indeed. Clouds would gather as they did in a Cecil B. Demille movie--but didn't at the actual crucifixion--and the mourners would gather (also more than at the actual crucifixion). Birds would fall from the sky, but the universe would shrug as it always does.
9. Because Jesus would see our industrial and technological reality as a hell on earth, and because he would see America as the New Rome, he would read Philip K. Dick, Mark Twain, Melville, Huxley, Blake, Poe, Marx, and Nietzsche voraciously. He might even smoke pot occasionally.
10. Jesus would avidly watch Sam Peckinpah movies because he hates violence and murder. His favorite would be "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia."
11. Jesus would find Deborah Jeane Palfrey innocent for every reason you suspect.
12. Jesus would abolish the death penalty for every reason you suspect.
13. And finally, Jesus would be very-very angry that anyone would suggest what he would do, nearly 2,000-years after his untimely death, as most human beings would. Luckily, it doesn't matter, only what he taught about treating each other better does. "He who lives by the sword dies by the sword," said Jesus. So mote it be. We murder a guy for saying, "Be nice to each other," and then we feel bad and are haunted by the guilt of it for two-millennia. We're still pagans, barbarians flailing our way through history. It will end one day. So mote it be.
Bush to Sheriff-like Democrats: Let Me Break the Law and Spy Without a Warrant Again (By Letting My Accomplices Off)
"It is unfair and unjust to threaten these companies with financial ruin only because they are believed to have done the right thing and helped their country." --President George W. Bush today in his Saturday attempt at an address. (Whitehouse.gov)
Washington D.C.--I know, life is so unfair, but that's how it goes on the frontier (unless daddy sends help through the Pony Express). With continued impotent threats, bickering, and foot-dragging, the president and the GOP have dragged-out the whining over their Protect America Act not getting a renewal. The reasons for no renewal are simple: while there was little opposition in the Senate against retroactive immunity for law-breaking telecommunications companies, the House had already passed similar legislation without the immunity. The Sheriff won't let us steal horses anymore, and it just ain't fair.
The president appears surprised at the fact that he isn't getting his way for once. And somehow some Americans are surprised when rockets and mortars hit the interior of the American Green Zone in Baghdad, or when a $1.2 billion dollar "Stealth"B-2 fighter-bomber crashes at our air fields on Guam. American soldiers on both sides of the Civil War were surprised to find that they were eating spoiled provisions, and that they had virtually no clothing. But when you're ignorant, everything is new, everything is a surprise, daily...and usually a horrible, catastrophic one. When you refuse to learn who you are, or where you've been, one can expect the worst.
In that spirit, the president is frequently "surprised" by the resistance he's met in his "fighting" of the phantom-like "war on terrorism." Instead of a "war of words," we've gotten a "war on words." It should be written and said again-and-again: you cannot have a war on a word or a concept, it doesn't work, it isn't real. Americans like to think that the world is black-and-white. It isn't, and many of these so-called "terrorist-networks" were created by the very people now calling for their destruction. Our curse is the ailment of the ages: a seemingly indestructible Manichean world-view where we're the "Sons of Light," while those who aren't like us are the "Children of Darkness." The narrow-minded insanity of this view speaks for itself.
But fighting against ghosts, puffed-up enemies, and phantasms has been America's stock-in-trade since her inception, and the profits have been extraordinary. The war on terrorism was never meant to work, and it was only concocted by our Congress and the executive branch to ensure some strange economic certainty for an American Empire that is dying and has been dying for several decades. Nothing succeeds like failure, and one can never have enough enemies, the truest of American creeds.
"When Congress reconvenes on Monday, members of the House have a choice to make:They can empower the trial bar, or they can empower the intelligence community," Bush said in his Saturday radio address. "They can help class-action trial lawyers sue for billions of dollars, or they can help our intelligence officials protect millions of lives."Bush has promised to veto any surveillance bill that does not protect the companies from civil lawsuits that allege violations of privacy and wiretapping laws under the warrantless wiretapping program. ("Bush Chides Democrats Over Intel Bill," AP, 02.23.2008)The president--being a blackguard and an outright liar--almost has a tone of astonished surprise here, but we can all rest assured that there's a mountain of calculation here. The facts: George W. Bush is the current President of the United States. As president, it is his responsibility under federal laws to obtain a warrant in any investigation, including related surveillance of suspects within the continental United States.
In multiple-cases, President George W. Bush authorized an NSA surveillance program that did massive sweeps of the private communications of millions of American citizens without a warrant. How did they do this? The telecommunications companies. They not only allowed the Bush administration and the NSA to connect to their switching stations, but many of them actually gave the government under George W. Bush more than his representatives even asked for. That's not helping protect Americans at all, it's just-the-opposite.
The fact is, retroactive immunity is not needed at all, and the telecommunications companies and their allies need to face the music for aiding-and-abetting a criminal administration--and that's leaving-out the war crimes. Most importantly, what the White House and her allies fear most are the even more startling revelations of corruption and incompetence that will come out during the upcoming trials in the 40 lawsuits that have been filed against the the telecoms.
This is the reason for all the begging-the-question, the fear-mongering, and the feeble attempts to push the House into what happened in August of last year with the unfortunate passage of the Protect America Act: the Bush administration fears further exposure of their criminal acts through telecom trials, period. In addition to this, the damage faced by the GOP overall for supporting such an administration unquestioningly could end any presumptions that they're competent as a party in national security. This is outside of their own illegal activities with lobbyists, creating what one would hope will be a self-inflicted blow to the GOP's future as a national party. The president blathered on:
They can put our national security in the hands of plaintiffs' lawyers — or they can entrust it to the men and women of our government who work day and night to keep us safe. As they make their choice, members of Congress must never forget: Somewhere in the world, at this very moment, terrorists are planning the next attack on America. And to protect America from such attacks, we must protect our telecommunications companies from abusive lawsuits. Thank you for listening. [Ed.-I didn't.] (Whitehouse.gov, 02.23.2008)Frankly, I'd prefer putting our national security in the hands of lawyers and the legal system--meaning judges and public officials who weren't appointed by George W. Bush. It's the best legal system in the world, but you wouldn't know that from the rhetoric emanating from the president and his party. Strangely, many of them were lawyers, so what are they really saying? Being the GOP, not much. Does Congress "have to act now?" There's no law that says so, and the president can keep vetoing the bill into the last seconds of his disastrous tenure in office.
Not every Democrat is rolling over--at least not in the House. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers of Michigan has been giving the Bush administration tit-for-tat for a long-time. Unlike Senator Jay Rockefeller, he doesn't have much enthusiasm for retroactive immunity of the telecoms, and isn't as closely-connected to them as the senator is in his relationship with A.T.&T. It's all about criminals buying time, trying to keep the forces of law and order at bay. This can occur only so many ways, and the president is reacting as all criminals do: by making demands denials, and stonewalling. Conyers and the Democratic leadership in the House don't appear to be accepting these demands entirely.
John Conyers says current surveillance laws are adequate to address any emerging threats. In the Democrats' weekly radio address, the Michigan congressman said "there should be no question in anyone's mind" that U.S. intelligence agencies are able to take any action necessary to protect the American people. He added that suggesting otherwise would be "irresponsible and totally inaccurate." ("Conyer says lapse of intelligence law is no security threat," AP, 02.23.2008)"Irresponsible and totally inaccurate." That would describe nearly every assertion and action by the GOP and the Bush administration since the events of September 11th, 2001. Chide away. And while you're at it, let's empower all of those litigation attorneys and the courts that are still independent. There's no rush on the Protect America Act if it includes retroactive immunity, no rush at all. Besides, retroactive immunity is what pardons are for. Perhaps the time has come to get rid of them? Yes. "It is unfair and unjust to threaten these companies with financial ruin only because they are believed to have done the right thing and helped their country," said the president today. It appears only those who were involved want to believe so badly.
"I have isolated the specimin!": www.whitehouse.gov
"Conyers says lapse of intelligence law is no security threat," 02.23.2008: http://www.kgan.com/template/inews_wire/wires.national/3b83d6f7-www.kgan.com.shtml
"Bush Chides Democrats Over Intel Bill," 02.23.2008:
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The State Department--The mainstream media has done its best to convince us that this was Skylab 2.0, a case of space junk crashing back down into backyards everywhere. That was the misdirection, but the reality is that it was a real world test and use of the missile defense shield system, a deadly new step in the global arms race. A source who witnessed earlier tests in the South Pacific almost ten-years-ago told me at the time how wasteful and faulty the program was.
What a difference ten years makes, but do we really need this stupid thing? Does it really justify the billions that it cost to develop and make? Will the reactions of other nations make us safer, knowing that we possess the capability of a first nuclear strike with a defense shield to "protect" us from the inevitable retaliation?
Assuming that the radar installations being constructed in Poland and the Czech Republic are part of the global infrastructure of this anti-missile system, is it really wise to add to the intimidation of Russia by pushing Kosovo's (as Germany and NATO did with Croatia and Slovenia in the early-1990s--the rest is history) independence from Serbia? Ask most Russians and they'll tell you that "the Serbs are our brothers," a healthy reminder that Pan-Slavism is hardly dead.
Thanks-a-lot Werner Von Braun (and Robert Goddard). The continuing American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan also fuels Russia's justified paranoia, also including NATO's presence in those countries, and within the Balkans. How would Americans react if Chavez stationed peace keepers along the Rio Grande?
We shouldn't be surprised that Serbs are attacking the American Embassy in their Capitol considering how much the Clinton administration and the rest of NATO used them as their genocide scapegoat to bring about the fragmentation of Yugoslavia. Not everyone in Western power circles has learned the lessons of why WWI happened. Wesley Clark's comments that the rioters who attacked and set-fire to our embassy were "extremists" could be held-up against those of the Hapsburg governors a century ago. The differences and the denials of reality are striking.
Very little has changed, and the Serbs aren't ever going to stop fighting against what they see as threats to their sovereignty from outside the region. America and NATO are bent on the domination of the Balkans and the encirclement of Russia, this much is certain. This missile test is just part of the plan.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Like "The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," "Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain" is a 527, non-political PAC. The link below is to this PAC, started by one Jerry ("Gerard") Kiley. Who is Kiley? He is a member of the American Legion, works for a high-powered American corporation in some capacity, and he makes a lot of noise for someone who is so private. By-all-accounts, he's a veteran's provocateur who never served anywhere near John McCain during the Vietnam War, and in mid-January, representatives for his VVAJM were handing-out crude fliers before the South Carolina primaries in the state:
Vietnam Veterans Against McCain is led by Gerard W. Kiley, who led a similar effort against Senator John Kerry’s Democratic presidential campaign in 2004. Reached Wednesday at his home in Garnerville, N.Y., in Rockland County, Mr. Kiley said that he was effectively the only member of his group and that “we really don’t have any money to speak of.” Mr. Kiley said he thought Mr. McCain gave up too much information to the North Vietnamese and was wrongly claimed as a war hero.
Mr. Kiley, 61, a Vietnam veteran, said that he had worked for the past four decades for a major New York corporation that he declined to name.
Mr. Kiley said that his flier had been distributed by U.S. Veteran Dispatch, an online newspaper published by Ted Sampley, who did not return a telephone call on Wednesday afternoon. It was unclear how widely the flier was distributed. ("McCain Parries a Reprise of 2000 Smear Tactics," The New York Times, 01.17.2008)
Shadowy groups like VVAJM deserve greater scrutiny regardless of the party-in-question or their political affiliations. Where do their funds come from? Who paid for the fliers attacking McCain in South Carolina? It all stinks of Karl Rove, frankly, but now that McCain is winning, will Rove and his protege (and deposed U.S. Attorney appointee) Tim Griffin throw in their lot with the man who appears to be slated to win the his party's nomination as candidate for president? They may have well before January.
Maybe Kiley is as shell-shocked and confused as Senator McCain. Kiley is alleged to be a blustery veteran with a very pronounced fixation on the POW-issue, a now-dead political football for the Republicans. It is alleged that he has donated to the campaigns of Senator Joe Lieberman in-the-past. But he and Ted Sampley have a "thing" going, and both were present when Kiley allegedly assaulted (he tossed wine at) Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai in late-June of 2005 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. McCain was also present at this incident. Sampley and Kiley have asserted that McCain was behind the charges of assault against Kiley. It appears that Kiley was found innocent of all charges in the incident. It wasn't his first time attempting to confront Khai, as he attempted the same in 1993 when the delegate from Vietnam was at a function in NYC. One has to wonder if Sampley was also present at that incident.
Again, who are these people? Are they for real? Talking Point's Muckraker finds that they might not be "for real" at all:
As for the size of the group and it's supporters, it's not clear. They filed papers with the FEC last February and March establishing the group, announcing in a statement of purpose that "We will collect donations to pay for a web site, radio and TV ads exposing John McCain only (negative advertizing). We are completely independant (sic) and not connected to any political organization. All of the money collected will be used for the express purpose of defeating John McCain.” But they've reported no contributions since then, even failing to file the required mid-year report, which won them a chiding letter from the FEC. ("Swift Boat Vet Appalled by McCain Smear," TPMuckraker, 01.16.2008)TPM notes that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth treasurer Weymouth Symmes is denying any connection to VVAJM, even though their logo with their address is found on the anti-McCain fliers (image above, see bottom left-hand box for Swift Boat logo) handed-out by Sampley's U.S. Veterans Dispatch in South Carolina. In addition to this, VVAJM has an address in North Carolina, the same state that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is headquartered in. Either someone is trying to smear John McCain and the Swift Boat Vets simultaneously, or they really have a solid-connection to them in some form. Kiley isn't saying, and neither is Sampley.
One can only imagine why, yet they bear all the marks of being someone's operatives, and are not who they say they are. Who else would it be but the movers-and-shakers of the GOP? There is a good possibility that this is all being done for John McCain's benefit: he's received donations to his campaign from the Swift Boaters. On January 2nd, The Nation studied Swift Boat's FEC records.
The most notable recipient of Swift Boat largesse is John McCain, erstwhile front-runner and Stand Up Guy. When the Swift Boat ads were first unleashed, McCain was alone among his Republican colleagues to condemn them. A fellow Vietnam veteran, a good friend of Kerry's and a former target of smears about his own service, McCain called the ads "dishonest and dishonorable," a "cheap stunt," and he urged Bush to condemn them. But in pursuit of the GOP nomination, McCain ditched the mantle of maverick for that of hack, and his once-floundering, possibly rejuvenated campaign has been aided along the way by $61,650 from Swift Boat donors and their associates. ("Return of the Swift Boaters," The Nation, 01.02.2008)The Swift Boat Vets have also changed their name in way that is very similar to the themes found within the propaganda of Kiley's VVAJM--they have changed it to "Swift Vets and POWs for Truth." Since when hasn't John McCain been someone's (notably, George W. Bush and his backers) hack? The Nation goes on to recount that T. Boone Pickens, "Houston homebuilder Bob Perry," and billionaire Harold Simmons have given $9.5 million to the Swift Boat Vets...I mean Swift Vets and POWs for Truth. Hopefully, they won't be able to keep that one straight (or McCain, if he's involved).
An annoying, quasi-legal enigma, wrapped in a riddle:
"Return of the Swift Boaters," The Nation, 01.02.2008: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080107/hayes
"Swift Boat Veteran Appalled by McCain Smear, Talking Points Muckraker, 01.16.2008:
"Vicious South Carolina Flyer Attacks McCain's Vietnam Service," TPMuckraker, 01.16.2008:
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Are there political prisoners in Cuba? Yes, though the number has likely doubled thanks to Guantanamo Bay's concentration camp. Is there torture in Cuba? We don't know whether Castro's regime does this systematically with any absolute certainty anymore than we know if this is the case at Guantanamo Bay: President Bush admitted that water-boarding techniques are used by agents of the American State the lat two-weeks. When we look at the crimes of Castro, we're only looking at what we hate in ourselves. He has hardly been the greatest human rights offender during the 50-years of his rule, but the United States and the numerous regimes she has supported have.
Will things change in Cuba? Have they changed since Fidel Castro had his surgery? They have not in any substantial sense, and aren't going to during the administration of George W. Bush, or even the next president. There will be no end to the trade embargo, and hence, no changes in Cuba. There's your answer. Countries like Spain, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Brazil, Canada--OK, the rest of the world besides the United States--will continue to conduct trade and feed the Cuban economy with their tourist dollars.
Unlike the rest of the citizens of the planet earth, Americans are legally prevented from going to Cuba (though many do anyway through other countries) and are subject to fines of several hundred dollars if caught there. If Cuba's so bad, why not let Americans see it and decide for themselves? There will be no invasion of Cuba. America is now more diplomatically isolated than the regime in Havana, a regime that isn't going away anytime soon. We are the New Cuba.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Since most American presidential administrations are hopelessly corrupt, what's to stop any or all of them from using the new surveillance apparatus and the databases their building to engage in international insider trading? Imagine the potential for rampant industrial-tech espionage, globally, by the State Department--the executive branch. Who would stop them? The marketplace, naturally, but why not save the time and money by killing this wrong-headed legislation here-and-now, letting the Protect America Act die with this criminally corrupt and inept administration?
All of this leads to the same place: America will decline as a global power, nothing can prevent it. This bill will only accelerate the process, just as the wars in the Middle East are doing right now. The real fear is of the American people. We're considered the "threat to our national security." The "our" isn't the public, it's the people who have traditionally held power in this country. With Empire sinking, the domestic population will be harder to pacify and control, hence the "need" for "increased security." They know the groundswell is coming, and have seen it on the horizon for over eighty-years. Change is inevitable. Making it constructive is not, that requires will and effort. Time to move.
"I guess you got to come to the conclusion that there's a threat to America, or not a threat. ...I mean, evidently, some people just don't feel that sense of urgency. I do. And the reason I do is I firmly believe that there are still people out there who would do us harm." --Our ostensible President, George W. Bush, engaging in political theater today.
Washington D.C.--The yelling, squelching, and fear-mongering by the White House and her allies in Congress and the media continues today on the issue of renewal of the Protect America Act, blessedly expiring on Saturday. Will letting it expire make us less safe? No. FISA requires that any president who wishes to conduct a wiretapping operation within the United States must first go to the secret court (already questionable in-itself) and apply for a warrant. But that wasn't good enough for the Bush White House, an fear-ridden administration that has rightly seen enemies everywhere--especially within the continental United States. Could we have a better Valentine's Day gift? Who needs chocolates? There is no legitimate study that has ever connected the failures surrounding September 11th, 2001 to the requirement for warrants and all the other requirements that must be met to obtain judicial permission for investigative surveillance by the executive branch. Not one. Why would logic stop the president when he's facing legal difficulties? He didn't want the cookies anyway. Today, even the poker-faced Associated Press wrote that, "In a day of high political theater, President Bush said Thursday he'll delay his trip to Africa if necessary to get the House to finish a bill about how the government monitors phone calls and e-mails of suspected terrorists." ("Bush Criticizes Congress on Terror Bill," AP, 02.14.2008) Great, stay in Washington, go ahead, but isn't that endangering all of us by neglecting urgent diplomacy?
Yet, the president and his allies insist we could actually be attacked "in-the-interim" (while they were doing their walk-out, which is just as logical as their own assertions). Never mind that it took the 9/11 hijackers and their backers five-years to plan and expedite the attacks, the president--shock-and-awe--is going to do his own hijacking of the diplomatic process again, this time to protect himself and everyone else who was involved with his administration's roving, warrantless wiretapping program from investigation. This is unacceptable, and it's a direct threat to our collective security as a nation. That's nothing new under the Bush administration.
We can safely assume that one of the primary enablers of illegal surveillance by the White House is Senator Jay Rockefeller. Around the time of the New York Times article on the NSA program, Senator Rockefeller produced a sealed copy of a note he sent to Vice President Cheney on his "reservations" about the legality of the program. Sponsoring an amendment that flies-in-the-face of the thrust of the note story suggests the senator's involvement in the program is substantial, especially considering his direct ties to A.T.& T.
But growing a spine could be good for House and Senate Democratic incumbents, and the elephant in the room is that House Democrats are doing exactly what the majority voted them in to do in midterm elections in November of 2006 regarding this issue. The main issue is corruption, something the public has been wearying of for several years. The rest of the incumbents are being given their cue to repent to the public, and the stragglers and wafflers are going to lose if they continue to throw their lot in with the nearly expended Bush White House.
Democrats chairing the Intelligence and Judiciary committees in both Houses are already talking about compromises, Pelosi said, and the House Rules committee has left open the possibility of adopting compromise legislation on Thursday or Friday, before the President's Day weekend break. But Bush says he will veto any bill that does not include amnesty for the telecoms that helped with his five-year warrantless spying program, saying that if Congress does not do so, companies will be reluctant to help in the future. (Wired online, 02.14.2008)It's a hollow argument, like all the others the administration has foisted on us. We want total power, but we cannot tell the big telecommunications corporations what's important to our national security. This seems confusing when you think of the administration as separate from corporate America--they are not. Again, there are the enablers in the ranks of the Democrats: Senators like Indiana's Evan Bayh, who could lose very big indeed by not being nominated for the post of Vice President. Besides having no personality, it would be for his "up" vote for the Protect America Act and his long-term support of funding for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The milquetoast Bayh is not alone in Congress by any means. Taking the moderate path--which in America means hard-right--isn't going to save these wafflers, and they're likely to regret their votes for the renewal of the PAA. The public will remember this across the political spectrum, and the real electoral showdown is coming sooner rather than later. The majority of the American public will not accept retroactive immunity in any version of the bill.However, the stakes are much higher, and trials and prison could await co-conspirators like Rockefeller if a wider investigation of the warrantless NSA wiretapping program occurs. Hence the reason for retroactive immunity and its "broad support" in Congress: many of them stand to loses if the lawsuits of the 40 plaintiffs against America's biggest telecommunication companies go through. The outcomes wouldn't even be as important as the revelations that would come out in the trials, and political damage could be acute. For this reason, the American public isn't supposed to know what their own history is.
As Senator Chris Dodd stated before the final vote in the Senate, it would "close the door" on what happened for a very long time. In the spirit of all this today, the president made some evasive statements on the bill and why he felt so compelled that it be passed immediately:
Without this protection, without this liability shield, we may not be able to secure the private sector's cooperation with our intelligence efforts. And that, of course, would put the American people at risk. Now it's the House's turn to act. It is clear that the Senate bill would pass the House with bipartisan support. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate can put partisanship aside, and pass a good bill. There's no reason why the House cannot do the same, and pass the Senate bill immediately. (whitehouse.gov, 02.14.2008)The president isn't missing the point--he's avoiding it on purpose. The fact is, there is already ample proof to investigate wrongdoing by the White House in so many areas that it's mind-boggling. What's well-known is that the president authorized an illegal wiretapping program expedited by the NSA and the telecoms that did wide sweeps netting information on millions of Americans. It was all done without warrants. This is illegal, and should be handled by our legal system, not the legislative or executive branches. And what of the Republican "walkout"?
The nature of the walk-out is being reported in some areas incorrectly: it was staged and urged on by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Oh.-thanks a lot, Ohio.) because contempt citations would finally be issued against former Bush aides and counsel for not appearing before Congress regarding the U.S. Attorney firings flush to the 2006 midterms.
This sole constitutional standoff has lasted for at least a year. On the walkout:
Republican leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is giving a press conference on the Capitol steps right now [Ed.-the original article was posted at 2:02 PM ET], saying that the decision of the House to debate a contempt resolution involving former White House officials instead of taking up the Protect America Act jeopardizes national security. He said the House Republicans would stay in Washington as long as necessary to finish the bill.
Pelosi and the Democratic leadership believe there isn’t enough time to reconcile the differences between the Senate and House versions of the act, which would make adjustments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act permanent, giving the government more power to monitor phone calls and emails without a court order in certain circumstances. The Democrats want a second extension of the current act to work out the differences. ("FISA Faceoff: Republicans walk out," The Swamp, Baltimore Sun, 02.14.2008)But never mind that Congress should be given ample time to hammer out the differences, why not let the courts decide all of this so that we have the normal traditions of our cherished checks and balances restored? And so, the Republicans walkedout, refusing to vote on the contempt citations for former Bush counsel Harriet Miers and former White House Chief of Staff, Joshua Bolten, who the Bush administration is terrified of seeing testify under oath. If the threat is so great to America, why walkout? Why not stay and attempt to reconcile the bill?
The vote in the House was 223-32 to hold former presidential chief of staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers in contempt for not appearing before Congress. The citations charges Miers with failing to testify and accuses her and Bolten of refusing Congress' demands for documents related to the 2006 firings of at least nine U.S. Attorneys. One of them was Carol Lam, who was likely fired for her successful investigation and conviction of former GOP Representative Randall Cunningham. Both the issues of the contempt citations and inquiries into warrantless surveillance by the Bush administration and her allies are the real issues. They are the genuine domestic threat to our national security. It would be good for America if the GOP did more walk-outs, we might have a reasonable pursuit of happiness for a change...
And so, if "time is wasting," why walkout, then pronounce that you're going to "stay in Washington to work on the bill"? Could anyone but a Republican make such bizarre, even contradictory statements than that? Yes, Bill Clinton could, and he figures-into the same political culture as the supporters of the Protect America Act. They all want retroactive immunity for the telecommunication companies to preserve a crumbling imperial presidency. Al Gore would vote the same way, as would Hillary Clinton.
It's also likely that Barack Obama would have voted for this version of the bill if he wasn't running for the office of President of the United States. This why they avoided the actual vote on the bill in the Senate. Interestingly, so did Lindsay Graham. Nonetheless, the pressure against these measures from the public is real, and it's not going away anytime soon. They hold little popular support at all. Lack of popular support hasn't stopped the GOP yet, and so only the courts can do this job.
A word of advice to the Republicans who walked out today: keep walking, and don't look back. Many of your aren't by not seeking reelection, and we're getting ready out here to hammer the next brew of corrupt candidates. You're finally serving the public interest for once in your lives by leaving office.
The Republican walkout is all just a ruse, bad political dinner theater to deflect any solid inquiries into the Bush administration's crimes. It should be obvious now that a number of co-conspirators in the warrantless surveillance program reside in Congress, and a few of them are Democrats on powerful committees. The inaction towards the Bush administration should come as no surprise in this context.
Criminals aren't known to investigate and arrest themselves. Next time around--if there is one--candidates Obama and Clinton should vote on such questionable legislation as the PAA so that we know where they really stand. What do they have to hide? One could imagine that it's a lot. Being a registered Democrat doesn't mean you trust the people in Washington, or take them at their word. It's time to deliver, or leave office. Retroactive immunity isn't delivering, and their will be a price to pay, and it will be a big one.
Wired magazine's blog on the walk-out: http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/02/democrats-confr.html
"Bush Criticizes Congress on Terror Bill," 02.14.2008: http://enews.earthlink.net/article/nat?guid=20080214/47b3cad0_3ca6_1552620080214-1893195281
"FISA Faceoff: Republicans walk out," February 14th, 2008:
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Washington D.C.--As most expected, the Senate bent-over-backwards once again for the White House on FISA and retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies. If we were silly enough to believe the GOP's argument, it's all about an urgent need to "give law enforcement the tools to fight terrorists." It is not. The real issue is that the telecommunications companies cooperated with the Bush administration beginning in 2002, facilitating an illegal domestic spying operation without a warrants.
The problem is, the House has already passed a similar piece of legislation that doesn't feature retroactive immunity. Also predictable was today's demands by the president for the House to "meet the deadline" and pass the legislation immediately, never mind negotiating. This is not the normal demeanor of a President of the United States, it is the commands of a Monarch.
Will the House of Representatives give the White House and the GOP what they want? It's almost a certainty since there is no opposition party within the current brew of Democratic incumbents (exceptions notwithstanding). Will a renewal of the Protect America Act quell all lawsuits involving illegal surveillance of American citizens if it survives the reconciliation process with the House? This is difficult to tell at this point in the process--the bill isn't a law yet. It's an unknown. History will record that Senator Hillary Clinton did not vote to grant retroactive immunity to nearly every single telecommunication company in their illegal pact with the Bush White House--she did not vote at all. Obama voted earlier Tuesday against telecom immunity, and also did not vote. Here are the Senators who have to go:
Evan Bayh (D-IN) [Ed.-my emphasis], Tom Carper (D-DE), Robert Casey (D-PA), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Mary Landrieu (D-LA) Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Jim Webb (D-VA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) (blog.wired.com, 02.12.2008)The rest of the Democratic senators voted against the legislation that contained retroactive immunity for A.T.&T., Verizon, Sprint, Southern Bell, etc. . What have the Democrats got left? Excuses. We know why Jay Rockefeller created the provisions for immunity--he's tight with A.T.&T. What of the others? They have a lot of explaining to do to their angry constituents, and that would include the entire political and cultural spectrum outside of neoconservative and authoritarian circles.
As the current majority party, the Democrats cannot claim the same reasons for failure when they were in-the-minority. At this point, failure is self-inflicted and profoundly suspect. I repeat, it is suspect. This has been a primary feature of the now storied history of the 110th Congress, soon to be the next-to-worst Congress in our history. While the stunning victories of the Bush administration would not have been possible without Democratic acquiescence--like Vietnam--none of it would have been possible at all without the GOP. But mere skill and strategy don't tend to figure-in with Republicans. It takes a mountain of money to deny the laws of physics for another generation.
And just hours ago, Republicans made another victory by ending all possibilities for another extension of the existing 1978 version of the FISA law that already grants a reasonable degree of immunity to the telecommunications companies, but--tsk-tsk--requires a warrant, therefore the public "isn't being protected." So much for smaller government, traditional conservatism is also dead. The Democratic move would have meant a 21-day extension of current FISA statutes, nothing. The vote was 191-229, and was unexpected:
House Democratic majority leader Steny Hoyer asserted to reporters that even if the foreign intelligence surveillance law expires, Americans will not be in danger and the intelligence community will be able to continue intercepting communications of suspected terrorists. ...At the same time, Congressman Hoyer renewed allegations that Senate Republicans "slow walked" progress of the legislation in that chamber, to put the House in the position of having no alternative but to accept the unacceptable provisions. (Voice of America News, 02.13.2008)In other words, this was coordinated. The problem is, there are Democrats taking marching orders from the GOP. Something else is compelling these representatives to vote the way they do, in perfect tandem with the most lawless administration (and party) in American history. The question is, what is it, and did it require taking an oath of secrecy under the umbrella of national security?
The truth is, allowing lawsuits against the telecommunications companies would expose solid evidence of Bush administration wrong-doing. There is more-than-ample smoke for aggressive independent investigations. The arguments to pass the legislation so quickly is also baldly partisan, but again, they have their fans in the DNC. The terms "liberal" and "conservative" have little meaning in the real world outside of CNN and Fox News, or on television in general.
What are representatives being told behind-the-scenes on the Hill by the Bush administration, and why are they so willing to believe it? Every single Republican senator voted for this measure (authored by a Democrat named Rockefeller) that could be the greatest threat to civil liberties since the first American Civil War. No surprise there, and Habeas Corpus is still suspended. Heading-up the rear, the president went on-the-attack and renewed his scare-mongering by suggesting that newer attacks will make September 11th, 2001 "pale in comparison."
Bush called on the image of planes crashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 2001 as he pressured lawmakers to rewrite the intelligence rules governing how phone calls and e-mails are monitored for terrorist activity. Democrats and others fear the changes Bush and his Republican allies support would unduly encroach on civil liberties. The House is considering the Senate version of the bill that Bush favors, one that includes retroactive protection from lawsuits for telecommunications companies that cooperated with government eavesdropping following the Sept. 11 attacks. The House bill does not provide telecom immunity. (AP, 02.13.2008)Who said Karl Rove doesn't keep-in-touch, and what do the Democrats fear? If it's not getting reelected, they're making all the wrong moves. 2006 was no historical-error, and more fundamental changes in voter behavior can be taken as a given.
"Bush Warns of Attacks While Backing Bill," February 13th, 2008: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hJKgeE0Z-SivATjok-utYBdh9wDwD8UPNHHG1
Voice of America, February 13th, 2008:
Wired's blog on the renewal of the "Protect America Act," February 12th, 2008: