Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
Washington D.C.--How will they decide? Will the Senate just let the bill die? Don't bet on it, they're just allowing debate over the bill so it doesn't appear they let this one through without-a-peep. How many Americans understand the threat to their liberties from these amendments? Imagine that the phone companies would be able to gather information on all us, handing it over to another corrupt presidential administration--whether Democratic or Republican, it wouldn't matter. What the White House and the Republicans in Congress are demanding is the right to spy on all of us, and nobody appears to be moving to restore Habeas corpus anytime soon. All of this is unacceptable. They broke-the-law, now it's time for real investigations into it.
With virtually no solid wins against the White House in an entire year of their majority, the Democrats appear to finally be getting it, but will they pass these amendments anyway after they think no one is watching? It's likely. Yes, Americans are primarily concerned with the economy, and yes, we DO get that it's connected to the fiscal irresponsibility surrounding the war in the Middle East and corruption in the White House, Congress, the Banks, and the private sector. Strangely, presidential candidate John McCain and...well, nearly all-of-the-rest, are still voting for funds for the war rather than winding-it-down. This is what the White House and the rest of the GOP wants, and the Democrats are still very happy to oblige, sir:
The proposed law is controversial because it essentially makes permanent President Bush’s program that secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on telephone calls and e-mails of suspected terrorists without a court warrant as required under the law. The bill also contains a provision, sought by the White House, that would give telephone companies legal protection from dozens of lawsuits now pending against the telcom industry for participating in the president’s terrorist surveillance program without a court warrant. (The Statesman, 01.28.2008)In other words, they want to make an illegal act suddenly legal (voila!), never mind punishing the perpetrators and standing behind the enforcement of law and order. Why not legalize murder? To even voice the desire for this is to be a knowledgeable co-conspirator in a criminal enterprise that violates every precept of this nation, and this includes the Democratic author and sponsors of these amendments. It's criminal treason.
Senator Jay Rockefeller (R-Wv., chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee) has been walking a real tightrope, and it's well-known that he's into AT&T for all those campaign donations. We know why he votes the way he does, and he surely has many other reasons, like saving his family fortune from the rest of us bared-assed heathens. The GOP has other motives, namely the continued seizure-of-power, the enrichment of their backers at the taxpayer's expense, and escaping accountability for the hundreds of laws admittedly violated by the Bush administration and her allies in Congress.
To say that the GOP is in-trouble is to state the obvious, especially when one considers that there are too-many traditional democratic structures in the United States that are going to battle the PAA amendments to FISA whether they pass-or-not. Today, we were lucky: enough of us got off of our asses and let these bastards know how we felt and that we're watching them. We must continue to watch them. We must continue to browbeat them into doing what we want them to, not what a few corrupt businessmen want. A majority of Democratic senators have finally begun to feel the heat as well. That's because their cover truly is blown after a year of allowing the GOP to make fools of them...
The incredible irony is that a Democrat co-wrote the amendments to the current FISA update, and now even he doesn't want it to be passed yet. In his comments before the voting today, Senate majority leader Harry Reid noticed the most bizarre aspect of this whole story with the FISA amendments...the Republicans were filibustering their own bill! Every time an amendment came up that wasn't theirs, they cut-off any debate or voting on it. This is improper parliamentary procedure by any standard. He also noted:
Let's not forget: the question of retroactive immunity wouldn't even be before us if President Bush hadn't ignored Congress and established his own process outside the law. But far from taking responsibility for his actions, the President bullies and threatens the Congress he is supposed to work with. He is like the kid in the schoolyard taking his ball and going home when he doesn't get his way. (TPMmuckraker, 01.28.2008)Yeah, that sounds like a Republican politician, they get fatter with age (especially between-the-ears). What the GOP and the White House feared was coming is here--they're losing time to keep the legitimate forces of law and order at bay. Yet, they all somehow still want this legislation to pass, it's just the details that are the problem. I don't think the Democrats are doing this out of any real patriotic or noble sense, it's just that the public has become very restless about everything. You could get away with more when the economy was stable, and when it is, people become complacent and lazy. They stop paying attention because they don't have to. Americans are realizing that this no-longer works.
The vote was 48-45, blocking cloture (an end to debate) over the newest version of the bill, and news is coming out that Senators Obama and Clinton both voted against cloture. That's great, but they're going to have to vote against the GOP/Rockefeller version of the amendments to be viable candidates. Some attention has become focused on Senator Diane Feinstein's amendment that would allow the FISA court to decide which telecommunications companies were granted immunity. It's not a good proposal at all. This is still the same mentality as that of the original law-breakers, and bars American citizens from any public hearings or trials, with no way to redress the grievance of having their right-to-privacy violated.
Robert Cruickshank's take at CaliforniaProgressReport.com is insightful, and he notes that this has all happened before. At that time, Congress did the right thing--it didn't grant immunity to the telecommunications companies.
In the 1970s, Congress refused to grant immunity to telecoms that had engaged in an earlier round of illegal spying - the FBI and NSA-led Project SHAMROCK. Out of these debates grew the 1978 FISA law that was supposed to provide the legal framework for foreign intelligence wiretapping. Telecom immunity as being debated today would represent a direct attack on the intent of the FISA law itself. (CaliforniaProgressReport.com, 01.28.2008)Historically, the Republicans have spread their corruption, grabbed as much from the public-trough as they could, and tried to take as many of our rights away as possible when they held power. Unlike some Democratic politicians, they're excessive and go too far. As a result, the inevitable public groundswells come, and the Democrats have to manage the clean-up job. It's America, this is our political cycle.
Rob Cruickshank's take at CaliforniaProgressReport.com, 01.28.2008:
A full transcript of Senator Reid's statement:
The Statesman Today on the Blocking of Passage of the FISA Amendments: http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-blogs/washington/secrecy/entries/2008/01/28/democrats_kill_republican_atte.html
Friday, January 25, 2008
The PAA amendments to FISA were hastily passed in August of 2007. The aim of White House allies--seemingly everywhere in Washington and the mainstream media--is to make the recent provisions permanent, granting the executive branch the ability to circumvent the courts in obtaining surveillance warrants. This is not what the public wants, and it's partly reflected in the historic-lows they're experiencing in the polls. Habeas corpus also has yet to be restored.
The Senate Judiciary version supported by SJC chair Patrick Leahy would not have granted retroactive ('after-the-fact') immunity for such telecom carriers as AT&T for cooperating with the illegal requests of the White House in a warrantless NSA surveillance program. The law is very clear on this--you have to have a warrant. However, the Leahy amendments would still grant certain kinds of warrantless surveillance within the continental United States and practically render the FISA court impotent. This bill was killed by a 60-36 vote to table it, a motion that the 12 Democrats voted for. They are:
Thomas R. Carper (D-De.) (202) 224-2441 (and: http://carper.senate.gov/)
Dan Inouye (D-Hawaii) (202) 224-3934
Tim Johnson (D-Sd.) (202) 224-5842
Mary Landrieu (D-La.) (202)224-5824
Clare McCaskill (D-Mo.) (202) 224-6154
Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) (202) 224-4654
Bill Nelson (D-Fl.) (202) 224-5274
Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) (202) 224-6551
Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) (202) 224-2353
Ken Salazar (D-Co.) (202) 224-5852
Jay Rockefeller (D-Wv./AT&T) (e-mail the pig @ http://rockefeller.senate.gov/services/email.cfm)
I'm faxing Senator Bayh in a few moments and asking him if he's lost his mind. It would be wise for all Americans who value their basic liberties and their right to privacy to do the same. And what of Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in all of this? They skipped the vote, presumably to campaign and to avoid the surveillance bill during a key-part of their party's nomination process for the presidential race. So much for Senator Obama's credentials as a constitutional law professor, but at least he understands the loopholes.
Where do both presidential candidates actually stand? The bets are on that Obama and Clinton are going to disappoint all of us as they usually have (and will continue to), but there is a possibility that Barack Obama could seize-the-moment with an unpredictable move against passage of the Republican/White House-approved version of the bill on Monday evening (4:30 PM ET). He would gain the trust of most of the American public by doing so. Additionally, if Senator Clinton receives prior-knowledge of how he's going to vote, it's a virtual certainty that she will vote the same way to remain competative. It's understandable that the White House would want the immediate passage of their version of the bill with the early nomination process almost at a close. Interestingly, back in October, Clinton stated to Talking Points that she would support a filibuster of the Senate FISA bill that the GOP was pushing at the time:
Q: Can you discuss your position on the reauthorization of the FISA bill?
HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton]: I am troubled by the concerns that have been raised by the recent legislation reported out of the Intelligence Committee. I haven't seen it [Ed.--Like the war authorization bill in 2002?] so I can't express an opinion about it. But I don't trust the Bush Administration with our civil rights and liberties. So I'm going to study it very hard. As matters stand now, I could not support it and I would support a filibuster absent additional information coming forward that would convince me differently. (TPMelectioncentral.com, 10.23.2007)
Is she convinced? One has to wonder where Senator Obama's and Clinton's heads are at on the current versions of the bill, which aren't substantially different from the versions at the time of the questions and their responses in October. Will they waffle? Do some birds migrate? Considering the political pressures, it's hard to tell what side either presidential hopeful will come down on at this writing. Talking Points also queried Senator Obama back around October 23rd of last year and he stated this through a spokesperson:
"Senator Obama has serious concerns about many provisions in this bill, especially the provision on giving retroactive immunity to the telephone companies. He is hopeful that this bill can be improved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But if the bill comes to the Senate floor in its current form, he would support a filibuster of it."(TPelectioncentral.com, 10.23.2007)This is not a 'left' or a 'right' issue, but one of what defines us as Americans: the Consitution and the Bill of Rights are our identity, they are sacrosanct. Without their protections, we're no longer Americans, and no longer unique in the world for guarding basic liberties. Without the protections of the courts and the Bill of Rights, America ceases to exist.
Even the Libertarian Party is angry over this, and they have sent letters to all 'pro-FISA senators' urging that they vote against making the warrantless wiretapping provisions permanent. The ACLU's Caroline Fredrickson has also gone as far as to remark that:
“Under Democratic leadership, the Senate will now continue its debate on surveillance with a bill that resembles something from the administration’s playbook. Six months after being hoodwinked into passing the Protect America Act, Americans are still waiting for Congress to grow a spine. (ACLU.org, 01.24.2008)Still rooting-for Harry Reid and the Senate Judiciary Committee's version? I'm not, it still allows for warrantless surveillance. If nothing gets passed, that's fine, and the PAA amendments to FISA can sunset as they should. There is hope--not every Democrat in the Senate or the House voted for these questionable bills, and minds can be changed if the right pressure is applied by we, the people.
There is a presidential candidate who supports the ending of warrantless surveillance of all of us: John Edwards (http://blog.johnedwards.com/story/2008/1/24/144856/068), a candidate who is staunchly opposed to the PAA provisions. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Ct.) appears poised to have his filibuster, yet it could all be avoided if Senate majority leader Harry Reid simply told the body that S.2248 was dead and not up for further discussion--but he won't do it. What does he fear? A second civil war?
Time to remove Harry Reid as Senate majority leader: http://www.usalone.com/step_down_harry.php
Barack and Hillary on warrantless surveillance and extending the PAA
Give em' holy hell: www.senate.gov
Yes, even the Libertarians get it:
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Now the Commander in Chief and his administration are telling the whole world that they're considering a ridiculous and ill-fated move of sending a few thousand American troops into Pakistan to track and fight al-Qaeda and the revitalized Taliban. You can hear all the retired and active Joint Chiefs groaning over this just as Field Marshal von Paulus did when Hitler sacrificed his beloved 6th Army at Stalingrad for an equally worthless cause made of vapor and lies. The brass knows that it's just more military adventurism from an alcoholic pen-pusher's desk, but orders are orders. Today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked by journalists who were paid to ask him about operations into Pakistan (they should ask about illegal ops into Iran, ongoing for over four-years, but they weren't paid to ask that question, and therefore didn't):
For several years the focus of U.S. concern about al-Qaida elements in Pakistan was their support for Taliban extremists who have received training in western Pakistan and then infiltrated into Afghanistan to foment violence. More recently, al-Qaida in Pakistan has posed more of a threat to the Pakistani government, seeking to destabilize the government of a nuclear-armed Muslim nation. ( 'US Willing to Send Troops to Pakistan,' AP, 01.24.2008)And yet, there really wasn't a lot of concern until ten-years-ago when Clinton and the State Department realized that they had created a monster. The executive branch and Congress might consider defunding the Pakistani intelligence community (ISI, or 'Inter-Services Intelligence') and President Mousharraf (looking strikingly similar to the late Sonny Bono), the very people who created al-Qaeda and the Taliban. ISI has a boss called the CIA, who has a boss called the State Department, who has a boss called the President of the United States (Cheney).
Back in the late-1990s, Pakistan was working towards destabilizing India through support of uprisings in the disputed state of Kashmir, and they were also meddling with the internal-affairs of Afghanistan. They would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids. Osama bin Laden and the Taliban were only too happy to oblige the Kashmiris' accommodations and camps to train in, with a wink and material support from Pakistani intelligence. Scooby-snacks for everyone:
The I.S.I.'s reliance on Mr. bin Laden's camps for training came to light in August 1998, when the United States launched a cruise missile attack against Al Qaeda terrorist camps near Khost, Afghanistan, in response to the bombings of two American Embassies in East Africa. The casualties included several members of a Kashmiri militant group supported by Pakistan who were believed to be training in the Qaeda camps, American officials said.Let's look at the first sentence 'Since the attacks on the World Trade Center...' . 'Since' is the key word here--meaning, until the attacks of 9/11, elements of the government of Pakistan supported the Taliban, knew of Osama bin Laden's support from them, and probably knew a whole lot more about Mousharraf than anyone wants to know. Where's the missing poker-player here? No, his last name isn't Foggo. The CIA's hand is in all of this, but that goes way back a million-years-ago during the fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, as well as the operations in the Balkans with Muslim extremists as the bag men (as seen in the pages of Soldier of Fortune). This is about American State Department policy.
Since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, the Pakistani government, led by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has turned against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in favor of the United States. One element in that shift was General Musharraf's decision to oust the chief of the intelligence service, Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, who may have been reluctant to join an American-led coalition against the Taliban government that his organization helped bring to power. ('A NATION CHALLENGED: THE SPIES; Pakistani Intelligence Had Ties To Al Qaeda, U.S. Officials Say,' The New York Times, 10.29.2001)
Like the pirates-of-old, our own intelligence community has created a number of these extremist-groups and left them hanging once the short-term goals were met. Besides, if you run out of enemies as we did with the ending of the Cold War, you just create a few straw men. This material abandonment left the Islamic extremists feeling angry and betrayed as most employees do when they're laid-off, and the bills were piling-up. Once were privateers, later were pirates. Once were freedom fighters, now are terrorists. Justice denied, becomes something else...something toxic, something extremist. But enough about the dying neocon ideology...
The message from the White House is that the Pakistani government is doing a fine job fighting internal-threats (like Bhutto), but aren't, and therefore need help crushing the people who helped bring them to power (and anyone who might resist our influence in the region). The rub is that the logistics aren't there, and American troops are already stretched-too-thin in the Middle East. Added to this mix is the fact that a number of coalition allies are going to be gone during this year--take any troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and you begin to lose the tenuous control of each of the occupied nations. And somehow--according to the more paranoid elements on the internet--we can expect a military coup here in the U.S. any day now. Where are the troops to do this exactly? Everyone has an answer ('Blackwater'--get real), it's just that they're all wrong. The president has made it clear that no troops are leaving the region anytime soon, but we can assume that the last 'surge' was intended to allow for adventures into Taliban-controlled Pakistan. We've already been doing this for some time, so one could call these few-thousand troops counterinsurgency 'reinforcements.'
Taking troops from currently occupied nations can have a snowballing effect: insurgents move-in while American and other foreign troops are removed from certain areas of duty--and that's forgetting tensions between the Kurdish PKK and Turkey in the north. Then, there are the areas once kept stable by the British...who no-longer occupy those areas. Another problem posed by the presence of U.S. troops in Pakistan would be the reaction of nearby nations, like China, Russia, Turkey, and a number of former Soviet satellite-states like Azerbaijan (not to mention India--I played my 'Risk'). Is the Bush administration doing some of this as a threat to all of us to 'back-off'? It's a questions worthy of discussion. We have no reason to take this administration at its word on anything. The problem after that--if we all agree what they're doing is actually true--is what to do about it.
Is it all about Bush and Cheney? Of course it isn't, they always needed enablers in Congress and the courts. Not so long ago, someone wrote a very penetrating letter to The New York Times on our tendency towards military adventurism as a nation and a culture. That it's a sign of decline should be inescapable to anyone paying even a scant amount of attention:
As some observers have commented, the remarkable exercise of our sophisticated weaponry in the Persian Gulf created a high level of euphoria among our citizenry because it was a demonstration of power at a time when most people agree that our country is losing ground to foreign industrial and financial competition, and lacks the quality of education essential to halt this loss. This fits the picture painted by Mr. Kennedy.
It is far easier for our political leaders, many of whom rightly predicted that a war in the Persian Gulf would not achieve political stability and progress toward lasting peace and democracy for that region, to go along with the self-deception that the gulf war was a great success and to approve yet another Pentagon budget of close to $300 billion to buy still more advanced weaponry for unspecified needs.
('Does Military Adventurism Proclaim Our National Decline?' (op ed.), The New York Times, 07.28.1991)
That was in 1991, now nearly seventeen-years-ago when all of us who were against the war warned that another one almost exactly like it would come. We were wrong: this one is far-and-away worse, and under a president with the same first and last-name. We were close, very close in our predictions, and we hate to be right about any of it. Is the current President Bush threatening us all with chaos unleashed if we attempt to impeach him--that there will be consequences to pay? Are the president and vice president threatening Congress in classified meetings through phony intelligence threat estimates? What would surprise us anymore?
'Frederick S. Lightfoot, July 10, 1991' (The New York Times, July 29th, 1991):
'US Willing to Send Troops to Pakistan'-(AP, January 24th, 2008):
SITE METER--Granted, I wasn't serious about ('aboot' in Canada) giving anyone a chicklet (TM), but it was a military man who answered my question, possibly a big-shot. He read a long time, and he was probably sitting a few-doors-down from Ronald Roughead. Or was it the retired Colonel himself? Doubtful, he's retired, and what would someone lobbying for SAIC be doing working at the Army's Inspector General Agency?
Some words of advice to the IGA: INVESTIGATE SHIRLINGTON LIMO AND CHRISTOPHER D. BAKER, AND START DOING A THOROUGH JOB OF IT. START DRAGGING CONGRESSMEN BEFORE HEARINGS ON ILLEGAL LOBBYING. RANDALL CUNNINGHAM IS ONE-OF-MANY CRIMINALS. Just my two-cents.
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Washington D.C.--Today's rare glimpse of the vice president all appears to have begun over a letter written by Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) urging the White House to allow for more time to consider provisions of a bill to extend the government's abilities to wiretap domestically. Reid and others want oversight provisions and more. In an unsurprising move, the ever reclusive Vice President crawled-out of his secret bunker and issued an ultimatum to Congress today demanding that spying on American citizens--as well as foreigners--be made permanent. What the vice president and president want is the addition of a feature in the sunsetting "Protect America Act" (Public Law 110-55), a bill that was rashly passed by the 110th Congress at the end of August of 2007, and against the will of the public.
The White House has vowed to veto any version of the renewed act that doesn't include specific provisions. What does Cheney want? The Bush administration (Cheney) wants a provision that gives retroactive immunity to the telecoms (all-but-one complied without warrants) over aiding in perhaps thousands of FISA violations under an illegal NSA wiretapping program that failed to obtain warrants from the oversight court. Blah-blah-blah, "9/11," blah-blah-blah, "war on terrorism," and more blah-blah-blahs, were the reasons given to offer law-breaking communications corporations like AT&T, Verizon, Southern Bell (SBC), MCI, and many others (some unknown at this writing). Does haste make waste? My Grandmother always said it did:
"We're reminding Congress that they must act now," Cheney told the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. The law, which authorizes the administration to eavesdrop on phone calls and see the e-mail to and from suspected terrorists, expires on Feb. 1. Congress is bickering over terms of its extension. On Tuesday, Senate Republicans blocked an effort by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to extend the stopgap Protect America Act without expanding it, raising stakes for an expected showdown in the Senate later this week on a new version of the law. (AP, 01.23.2008)And so, we've established that Richard Cheney didn't have such a great Grandma and that it actually does appear that Democrats in the Senate are trying to kill the Protect America Act (or make it reasonable). Sunsetting the PAA would be the traditionally American thing to do when a law threatens the liberties of its citizens and so clearly violates the Constitution of the United States, but Congress appears to be taking-its-time. This is acceptable. At least the Democrats are finally beginning to understand what a threat this all poses to them and the rest of us. Yet, somehow, Cheney seems to think he can operate without any mandate--he should, he's been doing so for almost eight-years now.
The 2008 elections loom large on the horizon. Is Senator Reid just trying to give Democratic incumbents the appearance of an opposition party, or is this a real shift from their timid and co-conspiratorial behavior from 2000-on? Nonetheless, the vice president's speech is being heavily-hyped by our corporate media in an attempt to drown-out all other voices on the issue, just as they did to the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
As usual, Cheney's speech was made on unconsecrated ground, where nobody with any sense would laugh or balk at the vice president's statements today: the Heritage Foundation, where expressing common sense and reason are career-liabilities. None of this matters, action speaks louder than words. Congress is likely to capitulate on this issue unless we nearly break-their-hands forcing them to let the Protect America Act sunset and die after February 1st, 2008. Will they, or won't they? Regardless of the desire to scratch the immunity provision on-the-part of the Democratic majority, they still want to extend the program of spying on Americans, just with oversight by Congress.
But is the threat that bad, is it real? How could you even prove it was until there was an attack? It's all about instilling fear, and most incumbents are thinking on the same level as the White House: milk the war on terrorism for political-points. In-addition, the public isn't taking Congress or the White House at their word as they did in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, which a simple glance at the polls has made clear since as early as late-2004 (about the time that the NYT discovered the warrantless surveillance programs).
Economic woes are only going to exacerbate the dislike for incumbents, especially if they don't start delivering broad-based reforms. The next sweeping-out of Congress could very well mean an end to this political generation and the rise of a new one. Several interconnected DC-scandals could finish the job. The Democrats understand this dynamic of the mandate better than the GOP, and the pressures must be immense at this writing. Preserving Democratic-gains made from the 2006 midterms will require giving the public something, and something will have to go.
On this note, Senator Harry Reid seems to be leading-the-charge against the immunity provisions, so we must assume that it's becoming a mainstream issue within the Senate itself. The reality is that it's been senators like Russell Feingold (D-Wi.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Christopher Dodd (D-Ct.), who have been keeping this issue alive. Other than Arlen Specter, there have been no progressive voices coming from GOP incumbents on this issue. Surely, civil libertarians of all-stripes are pelting Congress with angry e-mails, phone calls, and letters as this is being written. If they aren't, they'd better start doing it immediately, criminals cannot reform themselves. For that matter, they cannot be trusted to investigate or arrest themselves. Going widely unreported by the mainstream press are the actions by Sen. Christopher Dodd who is threatening once again to filibuster the bill in the Senate. What are his chances of succeeding? Not bad:
Efforts to pass the Senate FISA bill stalled in December when Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) pledged to filibuster any measure that provided phone companies with immunity. Reid pulled the bill from the floor so the Senate could finish its other work. Dodd on Wednesday again said that he would work to defeat any efforts that included such protections. “I’m just not going to give them a free pass,” Dodd said. Before filibustering, he said he would support an amendment that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) plans to offer that would strengthen the FISA court and does not include immunity for the carriers. Leahy’s amendment is based on the bill passed by the Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. He would not say on Wednesday whether he would support a filibuster by Dodd. (theHill.com, 01.23.2008)If the Democratic Party wishes to retain the Congress after this next election cycle, they must stand firm on this issue and block any attempts by the GOP to force passage of this legislation. As Republicans aren't in the majority, it will be the fault of the Democratic one if this legislation is renewed in a form acceptable to the White House. The rule of law has been thwarted long enough by the GOP and her operatives within the State. Predictably, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) is calling for a 'compromise' that replaces the telecom carriers as the defendant in all of the telecom lawsuits (nearly all alleging unlawful and unconstitutional violations of privacy) with the government. Ask any honest former-prosecutor if this is acceptable (meaning, 'not Arlen Specter, Rudolf Giuliani or Thomas DiBagio').
Retroactive immunity is like letting the primary accomplices to a major crime off-the-hook so that they can commit the same crimes again-and-again for a future administration, presumably Republican. Granting immunity will absolve this administration and her allies of an unknown number of high crimes, possibly even treason, and it will create dangerous precedents. It should be clear to anyone that Sen. Specter is acting-on-behalf of his party, doing his best to protect the GOP from a long-delayed justice. This is un-American in every respect.
Are Senator Reid and others in Congress starting to listen to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)? EFF's contention back on December 5th, 2007 was that Congress shouldn't rush things--exactly the opposite of what the White House is calling for. This mess has been ongoing since December of 2005 when the existence of the NSA's warrantless surveillance program was revealed in The New York Times. They had been sitting on it for a year. We can wait to pass this bill until it resembles something Americans can be proud of.
'EFF Calls on Senate Judiciary Committee and Full Senate to Take More Time and Not Let Telephone Companies Off the Hook: http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2007/12/05
The Hill (yes, the Hill) on the wiretapping battle, 01.24.2008: http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/battle-over-wiretapping-is-heating-up-on-the-hill-2008-01-24.html
The sound of our liberties dying, 01.23.2008 (AP): http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jRICMUBI8QvePywA5BLklcJJApcAD8UBQAT80
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Fredland--When someone like Richard M. Nixon refers to you as 'stupid,' you have to take it seriously. Fred didn't, and now he looks more the fool. Considering that Karl Rove and his former U.S. Attorney pupil Tim Griffin were part of the effort to force Fred on the American people, we can all assume they're going to gravitate to whoever the winners are at this moment. Rove and company might have to leap-frog from one GOP hopeful to another--they had best be careful it's not someone they burglarized.
That man would the shell-shocked John McCain, current waterboy for the Bush administration and their war crimes in the Middle East. It appears that all of those break-ins of the campaign offices of Thompson's running mates in 2007 yielded as much useful data as the Watergate job. Goodbye to a very ugly, stupid, whore-mongering half-man. We don't have to hear about you anymore. Now, if Giuliani can realize it isn't 1993, he might be able to swallow his ego and also admit that the public doesn't like him, and quit too.
[Ed., 09.19.2008-It should be noted that around this time Palfrey began talking more about Larry Flynt's list--that John McCain, Fred Thompson, and Dick Cheney were found in the phone records. Palfrey also began corroborating it in comments. All three appear to have been fashioned out of mud, just like Richard Nixon.]
Monday, January 21, 2008
'Sam' sent me several 'CEASE AND DESIST' e-mails, but wouldn't identify themselves through their clumsy pseudonymn. One can imagine why with all of the lawsuits cutting-loose these days. We are--after all--a litigious society, and that's OK. To Sam & Co.: You're assholes. If you had any balls or credibility at all, you'd reveal who you are. I'm not intimidated.
Sam, if you're part of the prosecution team under D.C. 's U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor, you're harassing me under the color of authority. That's a major crime, but realize that there is nothing that's going to cause the removal of the material published on this site about the 'Hookergate' scandal--a scandal that's really about institutionalized and illegal lobbying of Congress. Congress--being a slut--is known to happily oblige as much as possible, regardless of who's in power.
It is a political event, and the media are colluding in covering it all up. The use of women to obtain government contracts is being sidelined so it doesn't affect the GOP so badly in 2008, but it's not going away. Rep. Louis Slaughter has called for further inquiries into Shirlington Limousine, the other government contractor involved in the Cunningham scandal. U.S. Attorney scandal? You bet there's a connection, the exposures are coming. Shirlington Limousine and Christopher D. Baker could possibly be the crux of several scandals, which is why investigations are being blocked.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
I kept waiting for his involvement to be more meaningful. This is a bit of a spoiler, but Sheriff Bell is not really very personally involved in the action of the film whatsoever. He's more of a Narrator. Except he doesn't really ever narrate what is going on. He just sort of pops up here and there with little bits of background information on some of the characters and places and tools [Ed.--Yes, actual tools.] used in the story. It's clever, but it's definitely one of those things that needs to roll around in the mind.
A second watch will surely be in order. I suspect that when the DVD comes out, I'll probably watch with the Closed Captions ON so that I can tell what is being said. Old Joe is getting old and I don't always hear so well anymore. As far as this being a Coen bros. film, don't come looking for O' Brother Where Art Thou?, or Raising Arizona. There are very few laughs [Ed.--Sounds like 'Blood Simple,' their first movie, and the 'Man Who Wasn't There,' with Billy Bob Thornton.], and the ones that are present are mostly the nervous kind. One recognizable aspect from the Coens' other work in No Country is their use of iconography.
The characters certainly are larger than life, especially that of Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem). Chigurh is the bad motherfucker of the piece, and he is the mother of all bad motherfuckers. Any fan of bad motherfuckers should see this film just for this characterization. You will not be disappointed. I don't really want to give too much away, but No Country isn't much of a populist film. If you like stories that make you think, this one will be special to you. I can't think of much higher praise than that.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Baltimore, Maryland--He's been doing it since as early as 1949, and he got to do it again this year without being molested by Sam Porpora or a bunch of punks. It appears that Mr. Porpora is still claiming his false title of being the 'real Poe toaster,' but the legend itself was allowed to continue into another year.
Each year the anonymous toaster comes in his nondescript outfit, leaving three red roses and a partially-emptied bottle of cognac at the original site of Edgar Allan Poe's grave at the cemetery of Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Here's to keeping a mystery alive, we need them. There's no mystery to the fact that the Poe toaster isn't Sam Porpora, one only needs to know how to count-backwards. This isn't 'The Gold Bug,' it's a demented old man clutching pathetically at fame.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Florence, South Carolina--That we are. Senator John McCain is a man who has truly lost what was left of his PTSD-addled mind. The Hanoi Hilton won. Having just authorized his most recent 'OK' vote for more-and-more spending for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan just wasn't enough for shell-shocked John McCain, that other Vietnam War hero who isn't named 'Randall Cunningham.' And he went as far as to allude to Randy in his comments to prospective South Carolina voters. Wasn't that nice? According to John McCain, Cunningham's kind of corruption won't happen 'when [he's] president.' Sure. Fine words, but does he mean it and is he even capable of achieving such lofty goals without disbanding the GOP as a national party? Face it America: it's in the DNA of the Republican Party to collude with corrupt Big Business and dirty banking, and they have no intentions of changing (and neither do many of you).
But what about his comments on federal spending? We all know that Senator McCain has been an avid supporter of the war--especially when it's going well--and has continued to vote for appropriations to continue it, alongside all his fellow incumbents currently occupying Congress (Democrats and Republicans). Back in July, there was the publicized 'Graham-McCain amendment' to the July appropriations (H.R. 1585) for the war. Since then, it seems the president keeps asking mom for more allowance, and mom is real enabler--even when she's out of money.
The proposed amendment for longer military leaves went nowhere, which is what it was designed to do. Yet, it did give McCain that hint of possibly being on-the-side of the American public (he's not) who are still majorally against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who have even greater numbers when it comes to a possible war with Iran. We don't want one (McCain does, as well as a decades-long occupation of Iraq). The public has spoken about its disenchantment with the war, and Congress has done its best throughout 2007 and recent days in 2008 to avoid hearing it. The problem is, eventually they have to listen. The laws of physics aren't going to be suspended anytime soon.
Graham-McCain and other legislative and speech-making gambits have had another purpose, a subtext-of-sorts: to give John McCain the appearance of being against the war while he has been voting for every appropriations bill to keep it going. That makes his own politics and attempts at a mixed-message congruent with the president's wishes and agenda. This is also true of the voting records of Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, and the majority of the incumbents in Congress at this writing. Somehow, the senator came down with a case of amnesia today, forgetting he helped authorize most of the aforementioned 'overspending' he's acting so upset over:
McCain blamed overspending in part for the nation's economic troubles. "As a Republican, I stand before you embarrassed. Embarrassed that we let that spending get out of control, and it led to corruption. Now we have former members of Congress residing in prison," McCain told a town-hall style meeting at the Carolina Hospital East Campus in Florence. "If I'm president, it's going to stop." "I'm not too astonished," by the bleak news, McCain added. "We let spending get totally out of control, and it continues today, and I'm sorry to tell you this."(AP, 01.18.2007)The honorable thing would be to resign and not run for president. The average citizen should also understand that Senator McCain has either voted for more appropriations, or been absent from voting on Iraq and several other issues. He has a 56% truancy, he doesn't show up for over half of the votes he's supposed to. A significant number of them are hot-button issues, but the most important have been plans for withdrawal from Iraq--he just doesn't want to be pinned-down on it in the public mind when the war is unpopular. I'd be embarrassed too if I were a Republican, but who's that stupid these days?
Millions, naturally, it's just they're very embarrassed to admit it in public or at parties. Of course, they should feel this way irregardless of the state of the economy at any given point in our history. In any political era, simply being a Republican is adequate criteria for self-embarrassment. But some people insist on it and revel in parading it around. McCain is just a symptom of this sense of denial among so-called conservatives, it being a clutching-at-straws of a dying ideology.
Few strident supporters of the GOP are going to get that light-bulb moment of epiphany where they finally understand that what they believe in has little objective basis in reality and that the frontier mentality might work for some, but not for the many. This is what makes the Bush administration's stimulus plan so amusing. He's arguing for what some Democrats in Congress have prodded him to do all along. Belatedly, he's only halfway getting the picture, somehow thinking that tax cuts are the panacea for everything. The world doesn't resemble the world in the minds of GOP, it requires state intervention, and not the kind that benefits the major shareholders of Lockheed or Halliburton and the rest of America's elites.
What's truly interesting in all of this is George W. Bush's momentary turning away from military Keynesianism ('barracks Keynesianism,' otherwise known as our bloated defense budget, which is similar to what the Soviets had) to a standard Keynesianism that's typified by social spending to stimulate the economy. Also interesting were Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's veiled-barbs on the 17th of January against the 2000 tax cuts for America's wealthiest, noted by the Wall Street Journal in an online op-ed:
Appearing before Congress, Mr. Bernanke told Democrats what he thought they wanted to hear. The former academic economist blessed a "fiscal stimulus package," as long as it is "explicitly temporary." How new federal spending can be "temporary," he didn't say, as if a dollar collected in taxes or borrowed and then spent can be recalled. The "temporary" line was thus a dagger aimed directly at the heart of Mr. Bush's desire to make his tax cuts permanent. The Fed chief did aver that, "Again, I'm not taking a view one way or the other on the desirability of those long-term tax cuts being made permanent." But of course refusing to endorse something is itself a point of view -- a point Democrats were already joyfully repeating yesterday. (Wall Street Journal, online edition, 01.18.2007)The current administration confirms this--cut taxes, and give-out a $145 billion (by 6:00 PM EST it was upped to '$150 billion') rebate to American taxpayers, while retaining the 2000 tax cuts into progressive taxation that provided economic stability for the nation for more than 50 years. During those 50 years, the GOP was in the dog house, confined to being a collared opposition party that had little more than red-baiting for a political tool (and no vision, funny how things don't change--even when they change). For the Republicans, it's just more of the same 'let the working-class pay for everything' MO, and less paid by the ultra-rich. Great, what happens after everyone's spent their checks? Bernanke seems to be saying, 'I don't stand behind your 2000 tax cuts, either in principle or in reality.' Neither does most of America if you ask the right questions, but pollsters have mortgages to pay (sorry, I didn't want to mention that uncomfortable fact).
It all begs-the-question that most die-hard conservatives ask whenever one suggests social spending of almost any sort: 'Yeah, but where's it going to come from?' Coupled with the 2000 tax cuts for the rich, it's hard to imagine where any of the money for all of this is coming from. McCain was smart enough to state the obvious fact that it will only be a 'temporary fix,' but he wants to be president (he still will after January 21st, 2009). Isn't the temporary fix what the GOP is all about? It's funny how it doesn't matter with war and defense spending, it's never an issue for either party overall. Yes, where is it all going to come from?
One thing's certain: the president must be in very big trouble indeed to start throwing money he doesn't have at the public again. He's officially back to what he was before September 11th, 2001, an embattled and ineffectual joke without a plan, Dick Cheney's monkey. George W. Bush and his administration have been an unfortunate and extremist phenomena that clawed its way into office, ensuring the demise of an ideology whose time had come to die. Be careful what you wish for (too late). You have to say one thing about the president: no vision, but he can change without changing. That's quite a trick, and you'll never hear of the president calling the vice president by any nicknames.
Dueling banjos--Bernanke VS. George W. Cheney (Wall Street Journal, January 18th, 2007): http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120062129547799439.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries
US Politics on 'Graham-McCain,' July 2007: http://uspolitics.about.com/od/wariniraq/a/sen_2078_amend.htm
The AP on Senator McCain's Bloviating all over himself (and South Carolina), January, 18th, 2008: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080118/ap_on_el_pr/republicans_economy
When Johnny came marching home, he called for more defense spending (Hurrah! Huraah! McCain's defense spending record in the Senate): http://votesmart.org/voting_category.php?can_id=53270&type=category&category=22&go.x=7&go.y=6
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
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