Balancing Outrage

(FP’ed 3:49 AM EDT, Friday October 20, 2007

How do you make rage work for you?
– promoted by exmearden

Isn’t the title a bit of an oxymoron? I think so. But if that’s true, then we’ve just spent the last 6 years trying to find a way to live out an oxymoron. I wonder if others feel that way.

Here’s a couple of things that kicked off my outrage meter today, but you could probably choose any day in the last 6 years and find multiple events on each one that would serve the purpose.

First of all, there is the general degradation of our personhood and dialogue that happens when our tv “pundits” are engaged in calling a presidential candidate a Vaginal-American. And no, I’m not a “Hillary-supporter.” But that’s not the point. This is an outrage to ALL women.

And secondly, there was the “man-who-would-be-king” smirking about World War III as if it was a joke on all of us. I know we’re all used to this by now, but isn’t that part of the problem? We’ve been hearing this kind of idiocy for 6 years now and, for our own emotional survival, we’ve had to ramp down the reaction.

There are days, when I think that this is all some evil plot to get us so wearied of outrage that the next step towards wherever crazy place they want to take us becomes all the much more easy to go. So in reaction, I want to ramp up the outrage.

And then there are days when I just can’t take it anymore and I need an escape. The outrage feels like its poisioning my soul and I want to crawl into some cynical bubble where I don’t expect anything better. But that is the end of hope, and I worry about going there.

I’ve been wondering the last few days how someone like Nelson Mandella kept his hope alive over all those years in prison; being powerless to change things himself while watching his people be degraded and massacred. I don’t know that I understand how he did it, but in reading his biography, I know that he paid attention to those with whom he came in contact daily, including his jailers, and offered his heart to them. Perhaps that is his legacy to us today.

The Power of Doing Nothing

There is a passage in today’s WaPo article on the Senate capitulation on FISA that demonstrates how little Democrats understand of the power of the Congress to do nothing:

An adroit Republican parliamentary maneuver ultimately sank the bill. GOP leaders offered a motion that would have sent it back to the House intelligence and Judiciary committees with a requirement that they add language specifying that nothing in the measure would apply to surveilling the communications of bin Laden, al-Qaeda or other foreign terrorist organizations.

Approval of the motion would have restarted the legislative process, effectively killing the measure by delay. Democratic leaders scrambled to persuade their members to oppose it, but with Republicans accusing Democrats of being weak on terrorism, a “no” vote proved too hard to sell, and so the bill was pulled from the floor.

Stacey Bernards, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), called the Republican maneuver “a cheap shot, totally political.”

Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, called it a “perfect storm” of progressive Democrats who did not think the bill protected basic constitutional rights and of Republicans who took advantage of the lack of unity. “It was too precipitous a process, and it ended up in a train wreck,” she said. “It was total meltdown.”

I love the ACLU and Caroline Frederickson in particular. They do great work. But from the perspective of a progressive and the ACLU, WHICH OPPOSED the House bill (because of the question of bypassing indivudualized warrants for surveillance, adopting instead a “basket” approach), the failure of this bill SHOULD BE great news.

Like Iraq funding, the FISA extension past the February date when the current capitulation bill expires, is a problem for the Bush administration, not the Congress. IF the Congress passes nothing, then the law will revert to the original FISA law that prevailed prior to this summer’s capitulation. There is nothing wrong with that, DESPITE the gnashing of teeth from the Bush administration. IF there were, they would not block THIS BILL.

If the Democrats, PARTICULARLY the Progressive Caucus, sticks to its guns, it will either get a good bill, or no bill at all. OF course the preference is a good bill. But after that, no bill at all is eminently preferable to a BAD bill. Frankly, the House bill was not a good bill imo. Nor was it a good bill in the ACLU’s opinion. Its demise is nothing to lament. So long as Democrats understand the power of doing nothing.

Pony Party, Are you America??

Colbert ’08

Stephen Colbert is running for President.

Colbert said he planned to run in South Carolina, “and South Carolina alone.” The state, one of the key early primaries, is also Colbert’s native state. Earlier this week, South Carolina public television station ETV invited Colbert to announce his candidacy on its air.

The comedian said he would run as both a Democrat and Republican. He earlier explained the strategy: “I can lose twice.” He claimed three running mate possibilities: Colbert-Huckabee, Colbert-Putin or Colbert-Colbert.

In a guest column for Maureen Dowd in Sunday’s New York Times, Colbert wrote: “I am not ready to announce yet — even though it’s clear that the voters are desperate for a white, male, middle-aged, Jesus-trumpeting alternative.”

I bought “I Am America (and So Can You)” this weekend, and have begun reading it….it reads like an episode of the show.  Very funny, so far. 

All recommends to Stephen, none for the ponies, please!!

Without further ado, the floor is yours…


Docudharma Times Thursday Oct. 18

levitra senza ricetta Sicilia This is an Open Thread

enter site From President Bush’s Press Conference yesterday

Newsweek’s Richard Wolffe asked Bush exactly the question I would have asked:

Dan Froomkin Washington Post

“QUESTION: Thank you, sir. A simple question.

“BUSH: Yes?

“QUESTION: What’s your definition of —

“BUSH: It may require a simple answer.


“QUESTION: What’s your definition of the word torture?

“BUSH: Of what?

“QUESTION: The word torture, what’s your definition?

“BUSH: That’s defined in U.S. law, and we don’t torture For Larry Craig and his never ending exit USA

Putting Poor Children Second

Published: October 18, 2007

President Bush’s justification for vetoing a bill to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or S-chip, is that he wants to “put poor children first” rather than extend coverage to middle-class children. That explanation would be more believable if Mr. Bush had actually been putting poor children first. On far too many occasions, the president has sacrificed the interests of poor children to what he deems higher budgetary or ideological priorities. Congress should not allow Mr. Bush to do the same with S-chip.

Senate and Bush Agree On Terms of Spying Bill

A commercial flight carrying Bhutto from Dubai touched about 1:45 p.m. local time in Karachi, where tens of thousands of supporters were gathering to give her a rousing welcome.Some Telecom Companies Would Receive Immunity

By Jonathan Weisman and Ellen Nakashima

Washington Post Staff Writers

Thursday, October 18, 2007; Page A01

Senate Democrats and Republicans reached agreement with the Bush administration yesterday on the terms of new legislation to control the federal government’s domestic surveillance program, which includes a highly controversial grant of legal immunity to telecommunications companies that have assisted the program, according to congressional sources.

Disclosure of the deal followed a decision by House Democratic leaders to pull a competing version of the measure from the floor because they lacked the votes to prevail over Republican opponents and GOP parliamentary maneuvers.

Mukasey pledges Justice Dept. reform

By Richard B. Schmitt, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

October 18, 2007

WASHINGTON — Atty. Gen.-designate Michael B. Mukasey promised Wednesday to infuse the Justice Department with a renewed sense of integrity and independence, saying that he would not allow partisan politics to affect the cases he brings or the prosecutors he hires, and that he would quit if he thought the White House was ignoring his advice.

His statements amounted to a repudiation of the tenure of his predecessor, Alberto R. Gonzales, and appeared to put him at arm’s length from President Bush, who selected the retired federal judge to lead the department over the remaining 15 months of his presidency.

follow url Asia

Benazir Bhutto returns to Pakistan

KARACHI, Pakistan – Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan on Thursday, ending eight years of exile and launching what she hopes will be a remarkable political comeback

A commercial flight carrying Bhutto from Dubai touched about 1:45 p.m. local time in Karachi, where tens of thousands of supporters were gathering to give her a rousing welcome.

China summons U.S. envoy over Dalai Lama award

BEIJING (Reuters) – China slammed the United States on Thursday for awarding the Dalai Lama one of its highest honors and summoned the U.S. ambassador in Beijing to complain, saying its actions had “gravely undermined” relations.

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since fleeing his predominantly Buddhist homeland in 1959 after a failed uprising against Communist rule, received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush on Wednesday. Middle East

Iraq: Grenade injures 6 schoolboys

By BUSHRA JUHI, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD – An insurgent threw a hand grenade into a school compound in central Basra Thursday, wounding six boys, one seriously, according to police.

The morning attack took place on the grounds of a private middle- and high-school complex in the Kut al-Hajaj area of Basra, according to a police officer who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. Basra is Iraq’s second-largest city, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad

Iran human rights activist held

Frances Harrison

BBC News

Human rights groups both inside Iran and abroad have condemned the arrest of one of the country’s most outspoken and high profile human rights activists.

Journalist Emadeddin Baghi was arrested on Sunday when he responded to a court summons and has been denied bail.

The watchdog Reporters Without Borders has called for his release.

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London museum cancels scientist’s talk after race row

LONDON (Reuters) – London’s Science Museum has cancelled a talk by a Nobel prize-winning geneticist who suggested black people were less intelligent than white people.

Dr James Watson, winner of a Nobel prize for his part in discovering the structure of DNA, had been due to speak at the museum on Friday.

Watson, an American, sparked uproar by telling Britain’s Sunday Times he was “inherently gloomy about the prospects of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really.”

Charges in Russia reporter murder

Russian prosecutors say a total of nine people, including a security service official, have been charged over the murder of reporter Anna Politkovskaya.

Ms Politkovskaya was shot dead near her flat in Moscow in 2006.

She won fame by exposing atrocities against Chechen civilians by Russian-backed security forces.

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Sudan rivals try to resolve split

South Sudan’s leader Salva Kiir is travelling to meet the president in an effort to resolve a crisis that has threatened to tear the country apart.

Mr Kiir’s ex-rebel group withdrew its ministers from government last week saying elements of a 2005 north-south peace pact were being ignored.

President Omar al-Bashir agreed in part to a request for a cabinet reshuffle.

Obama’s Kenyan cousin bids to duplicate his rise to power

By Steve Bloomfield in Alego Usonga, Kenya

Published: 18 October 2007

Among the family portraits in Sarah Hussein Obama’s modest house in a remote corner of Kenya, are election posters of her two grandsons. The first poster shows the familiar smiling face of the US presidential hopeful Barack. Her second politico grandchild Nicholas is not so well known, but that could change, at least in Kenya, after elections in which he is bidding for a seat in parliament.

Nicholas Rajula, to give him his full name, has seen his popularity boosted by his famous familial connections. When Obama visited Kenya last year, the country – and this western region of Nyanza in particular – was swept up in Obama-mania. Babies were christened Obama, the primary school was named after him, even the local Senator beer was rebranded to celebrate the area’s most famous son.

It is time to free Iraq

The Iraq war was sold as vital to the national security interests of the United States and to liberate the Iraqi people from oppression.  Everyone on the planet now knows that Iraq posed no threat to anyone in our country and lacked the means to protect itself from foreign invasion.  Whether our intelligence gathering was worthless or our politicians were dishonest is beyond the point.  We cannot resurrect all the Iraqis that have died because of our arrogance and aggression.  But what of the lofty goal to free the Iraqi people?  The last time I checked, occupation by foreign forces and inability to control your own territory does not qualify as freedom.  The time has come for the people of Iraq to declare their independence from America and every other foreign entity operating with impunity within its borders.

Have you read our Declaration of Independence lately?  You may recall it started with the following lofty paragraph:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The time for the people of Iraq to dissolve its political bands to the United States.  Our excuses for staying another minute within their borders are worthless.  It is not our place to comment on the effectiveness or wisdom of their political structures.  It is not our place to tell them which companies or countries to sell their oil.  It is not our place to vet any part of their political, social, economic, religious, military, or diplomatic processes.  Any suggestion to the contrary is pure, unadulterated arrogance on our part.  The Iraqis should take a page from our history and demand the independence they were promised by the United States.  After all, we called the invasion of their country ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom.’ 

Even the loyal viewers of the propaganda network owned by Rupert Murdoch know the beginning of the next paragraph of our Declaration of Independence.  Even politicians professing fealty to the Republic know the words by heart. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I wonder how many of our so-called modern patriots can recite the rest of the paragraph?  The gist is simple.  When a form of government no longer protects the unalienable rights of its citizens, it is the right of the people to abolish that government and replace it with one better suited to meet the needs of the people. 

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

No one in good conscience can honestly claim that the intrusive and patronizing “partnership” between the United States and Iraq serves the people of Iraq any better than the government of Great Britain served the citizens of the thirteen American colonies.  Not one damn person reading my words would tolerate the privations of the people of Iraq.  You would not stand for an army of occupation on your soil.  You would not accept a few hours of electricity a day, a failed health care system, untreated sewage in your rivers and streets, food shortages, massive unemployment, and constant threats of violence.  You would not sit quietly if a foreign power rewrote your laws to suit its political and economic interests.  These evils are not sufferable and should not be tolerated by the people of Iraq.  It is their right and duty to throw us out and create whatever government they feel best safeguards their own future security.  Any talk of political expedience, strategic advantage, or economic benefit for the United States to continue the occupation of Iraq explicitly violates our own founding principles and the basis for our declaration of independence from the King of England.  There is no justification for the government of Iraq, long established by British fiat, to have been “changed for light and transient causes.”  The ever shifting justifications for the invasion of Iraq will go down in the annals of human history as the epitome of transient causes. There is even less than no justification for our continued occupation of Iraq.

Our declaration of independence goes on to list 27 grievances against the King of England.  It is a long list and every American should read them to be reminded of why we created our democracy in the first place. However, I will mention a few of these grievances as they directly pertain to Iraq.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

I suppose you do not need to be reminded of “Shock and Awe,” Fallujah, Ramadi, Abu Ghraib, the thousands of documented and undocumented violent deaths on the streets of Iraq, failure to protect Iraqi national treasures and heritage, refugee crisis, skyrocketing infant mortality rate, and looming specter of rampant infectious disease.  It should be the responsibility of every American to confront the consequences of our invasion by reading the recent reports of the International Committee of the Red Cross, World Health Organization, United Nations, and various human rights organizations (e.g., Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International). 

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

Most rational people would consider over 150,000 soldiers and tens of thousands of heavily armed private security contractors to more than satisfy this grievance, particularly more than four years after our president declared the mission of freeing the Iraqi people accomplished.  Reponsible people the world over questioned our continued military occupation long ago; irresponsible and callous Americans still find excuses to claim that the occupation keeps them safe from terrorists, insurgents, criminals, and other evil agents.

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

Name one trial by jury in Iraq.  All trials have been conducted by judges using procedures and standards set up by our Department of Justice.  That would be the very same Department of Justice that approved the use of torture, denied jurisdiction and habeas corpus to detainees, engaged in partisan pursuits, and failed to comply with Congressional oversight.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

More than 30 foreign private security companies, with tens of thousands of heavily armed mercenaries, roam the streets of Iraq.  Apparently, the Iraqi government has no power to expell these mercenaries, or compel restitution for any acts committed on Iraqi soil.

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

A few US soldiers have been tried for killing unarmed Iraqis by small arms fire.  None have been tried or convicted of killing civilians with bombs or high caliber weapons fired from US aircraft.  None of the armed foreign mercenaries (aka: security contractors) have been held personally or financially accountable for the deaths of Iraqis.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us …

I would like to believe that the sectarian violence in Iraq was completely organic to the country, reflecting long-standing personal and tribal conflicts.  However, our turning a blind eye to the infiltration of Iraqi security and police forces by members of Shiite militias and our arming of Sunni militias sounds too much like “excitement” for my tastes.

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

Do the Iraqi people have the freedom to sell their oil to whatever countries they choose, including Russia and China?  In case anyone has forgotten, prior to our invasion, most of the Iraqi oil was sold to Russia and China.  Do the Iraqi people have the ability to commission their own contracts, at whatever terms they deem appropriate, to any company they choose?  Are they free to sell their products using any currency they choose?  Here is some legal background on the Iraqi Hydrocarbon Law:

What’s really new about the law is that it would open the Iraqi oil industry’s doors wide open to foreign investment. Under Saddam Hussein, foreign investment was strictly limited, as it is in most major Middle Eastern oil-producing countries. Under the new law, the Iraq National Oil Company would have exclusive control of only about 17 of Iraq’s approximately 80 known oil fields.

The law would also allow the government to negotiate different kinds of exploration and production contracts with foreign oil companies, including Production Sharing Agreements, or PSAs. Energy lawyers favor these because they allow oil companies to secure long-term deals and book oil reserves as assets on their company balance sheets. A report on the future of Iraq’s oil industry from the International Tax and Investment Center, an industry organization whose board includes senior officials of the world’s largest publicly held oil and oil services companies, as well as partners from five Global 100 firms, confirms that’s exactly what the energy industry has been pressing for.

It is time for those of us with a conscience to stand with the people of Iraq and demand their freedom without excuses, conditions, benchmarks, or further delay.  The people of Iraq have been subjected to conditions far worse than the residents of the American colonies.  We need to value their freedoms as much as we value our own.  Show your solidarity for Iraqi freedom by peaceful protests, such as those planned for October 27, letters to the editor, and unrelenting pressure on our elected officials.  The mantra “we do not have the votes” means we lack the conviction to stand up for the principles upon which the United States was founded.  Speaker Pelosi, put on your sharpest heels and drive them into the throat of Steny Hoyer, “Blue Dogs,” Republicans, and anyone else that gets in your way.  (Madam Speaker, at least your recent statements give me reason to hope.)  Senator Reid, put away your tired excuses about trying to protect a thin majority or risk losing it in a year from now.  Excuses are the refuge of cowards.  We owe the people of Iraq their freedom to run their country as they see fit, break it into as many pieces as they feel comfortable, and act in their own best interests, even if those actions are not in the best interest of the United States. 

Let me show you what freedom is not and why I have absolutely no respect for anyone that wants to continue our occupation of Iraq.  The following statements come from Iraqi children interviewed by MSNBC. The children were asked about their favorite and least favorite thing, along with their hopes for the future.  It was their least favorite thing about life in Iraq that stood out.  These are not the words of children who see themselves as liberated by our arrogant invasion and occupation of their country.  These are the words of children growing up believing that we, a country supposedly dedicated to the principles of democracy and freedom, have “destroyed the lives of the people.”  Look at each of their faces and imagine what they have seen.  And just for laughs, go ask your own children what is their favorite and least favorite thing about their lives.  You will not get answers like these:

Muhammed Sabba, age 8.

Least favorite thing: car bombs. 

Rawan Muhammed Fawzi, age 5. 

Least favorite thing: When they are shooting.  The Americans came into our house and looked through our house.  Then they interrogated my mum.

Hussein Abdeen Ali, age 12. 

Least favorite thing:  the situation!  I hope that it will become calm.  You want this horrible situation to stop.

Abdurahman Muhammed Hussein Arradhi, age 10.

Least favorite thing: I hate the day the Americans killed my dad.  That was the worst.

Ahlam Muhammed Feleyah, age 9.

Least favorite thing: I don’t like the Americans because they attacked Iraq.

Ahmed Issam, age 11.

Least favorite thing: All the war and destruction.

Muhammed Talal Muhammed al-Harbi, age 11.

Least favorite thing.  I don’t like the Americans because they murdered my brother a month ago.  His name was Hisham, and he was 24 years old.

Ayah Ali Abderadha, age 11.

Least favorite thing:  The awful situation because we are afraid of going out.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

State of the Onion XXVIII

Art Link

Brain Scan

The Words

The words have control
command I attend
Through my mind they must flow
I am their vessel

They require writing
demand creation
Pushing boldly forward
whenever I pause

The words I give you
that they may be read
and spead their infection
into the future

–Robyn Elaine Serven
–February 16, 2006


I know you have talent.  What sometimes is forgotten is that being practical is a talent.  I have a paucity for that sort of talent in many situations, though it turns out that I’m a pretty darn good cook.  🙂 

Let your talent bloom.  You can share it here.  Encourage others to let it bloom inside them as well.

Won’t you share your words or art, your sounds or visions, your thoughts scientific or philosophic, the comedy or tragedy of your days, the stories of doing and making?  And be excellent to one another!

Notes on starting a small farm

Thinking out loud is what you’ll find here, along with some handy links and reference material.  If you’ve thought about starting your own small farm you may find the links handy. 

Cornell has started a Small Farms Program for New York.  There’s an upcoming goat and sheep symposium  next week at Morrison Hall.  Recently they posted a Guide to Farming in NYS which is aimed at newbies like me.

Find your own cooperative extension for information and cheap or even free plants and trees!

Agricultural Building Plans need to add a shed or hay loft?  Here’s how to do it.  No need to pay an architect and this way you’ll be sure to build it right.  Just bring the plans to the building department if required so they can look for discrepancies with local codes. is an online community aimed at helping you learn via other people’s experiences.  I’ve already learned a lot on there, maybe you will too.

Making Maple Syrup has pictures and is quite thorough.

All about horses caring for them, selecting the right ones, etc.

MotherEarth News a site I will be spending much time on as it covers organic gardening, sustainable practices and much more.

JustFood Farming in NYC, yes it can be done.

ArboristSite all about trees, jam packed with info.

I’ll be doing updates when I find more information.

Naomi Wolf: Letter to a Young Patriot

Just passing this on from the excellent Information Clearing House. Visit here:

Your comments are welcome.

FISA: Rockefeller’s Bill OKs Bush’s Telco Immunity Demand

According to the Washington Post, the Senate and Bush Agree On Terms of Spying Bill. The bill gives in to Bush’s demand and telecommunications companies are to be given full immunity.

The draft Senate bill has the support of the intelligence committee’s chairman, order cialis on line John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), and Bush’s director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell. It will include full immunity for those companies that can demonstrate to a court that they acted pursuant to a legal directive in helping the government with surveillance in the United States.

Such a demonstration, which the bill says could be made in secret, would wipe out a series of pending lawsuits alleging violations of privacy rights by telecommunications companies that provided telephone records, summaries of e-mail traffic and other information to the government after Sept. 11, 2001, without receiving court warrants. Bush had repeatedly threatened to veto any legislation that lacked this provision.

The Fourth Amendment will never be the same again.

So, telcos can present secret evidence and have lawsuits dismissed. But, if a directive is unconstitutional, can it still be considered a legal directive?

Expect the Senate Democrats to be hailing this telco immunity bill as a great compromise, because it includes some token of court review and a sunset clause.

Senate Democrats successfully pressed for a requirement that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court review the government’s procedures for deciding who is to be the subject of warrantless surveillance. They also insisted that the legislation be renewed in six years, Democratic congressional officials said. The Bush administration had sought less stringent oversight by the court and wanted the law to be permanent.

So, according to the WaPo article, the Senate’s Judiciary Committee must also approve the bill, but Chair Pat Leahy (D-VT) and ranking member Arlen “Magic Bullet” Specter (R-PA) wants to see “documents underlying the warrantless surveillance program” before “endorsing any immunity clause”. Of course, their subpoena demanding the documents has been ignored by the Bush administration since June, so don’t expect much more than a speed bump there.

So, of course, is any one of our elected representatives asking why immunity is needed if no law was broken?

Cross-posted on Daily Kos.

The Stars Hollow Gazette

I advise everyone I know to buy a tuxedo.  Don’t rent.

For one thing they’re exceptionally cheap, cheaper than real clothes.  Mine cost me $150 at a Men’s Warehouse Store and came with a pair of pants and alterations.  They rent it for $75 a day.  A good jacket costs the same but without the pants and even though I don’t buy into your 20th Century notions of modesty I am particular about how I appear in public.

Call it vanity.

They’re remarkably durable.  After I discovered that people picking you up and tossing you in the hotel swimming pool means you’re a cool kid, I’ve had mine doused twice.  Costs the same $20 to clean as if I dropped my elbow in the salad dressing (that only happened once).  There is a reason they call it a Dinner Jacket, it’s a full body bib.

And for some reason people associate this penguin jacket with so many things.  I use mine like a costume at Halloween.  One year in fact I was at a party in Greenwich, The Fourth Annual Masquerade Ball.  I remember it for a couple of reasons but one is I have the Commemorative Champagne Sports Squeeze Bottle on my mantle.

My costume was my tux and a few copies of lorem ipsum printed in teeny tiny print like a contract, in red.  At the appropriate moment I’d whip it out and say- “No, I came here tonight especially to talk to you.”

Then I’d take a Montblanc (another $20 prop, you have to be stupid to pay more than that for a pen) I’d loaded with red ink and slide it across the bar.

For some reason that creeped people out.

Has Everyone Drunk the Kool-Aid? New AG Nominee Is Right-Wing Nut

Crossposted at Invictus

So Federal Judge Michael B. Mukasey said he was against torture in his confirmation hearing, and the liberals are ready to fall all over him. His confirmation as Bush’s new attorney general is presumably a given. Never mind that he refused to comment on the secret 2005 Bush Administration memorandums authorizing harsh, “enhanced” interrogation techniques by the CIA. Listen to Mukasey get all huffy at his nomination hearing today:

When Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, suggested in his questioning that the 2005 opinions might authorize torture, Mr. Mukasey stopped him. “You characterize it as torture,” he said. “I do not know of such a policy and I hope not to find them.”

Nor would he comment in detail on the legality of the so-called warrantless wiretap program that was authorized by President Bush shortly after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been harshly criticized by civil liberties groups and lawmakers from both parties as possibly unconstitutional.

“I am not familiar with that program,” said Mr. Mukasey, who knew enough about the program to refer to it as the Terrorist Surveillance Program, the name preferred by the White House.

Why, even Glenn Greenwald has nice things to say about this best-of-a-bad-bunch rightwinger, because Mukasey bucked the Administration by allowing accused “dirty bomb” plotter and U.S. torture victim, Jose Padilla, the right to talk with his attorneys, or to challenge the evidence against him. Never mind that Mukasey upheld the indefinite detention of “enemy combatants” like Padilla. Never mind that Mukasey wants to initiate an entire new “national security court” for Bush’s “war on terror”, explaining that “conventional legal rules” are not “adapted to deal with a terrorist threat”. Of course, Greenwald allows, “Judge Mukasey’s respect for the Constitution and the rule of law should not be overstated.”

Now that’s an understatement.

Mukasey is an adviser (along with his white-collar criminal defense attorney son) to arch-militarist and scary GOP presidential candidate Rudy Guiliani. He wrote a paean to the Patriot Act in the Wall Street Journal, where he red-baited the American Library Association, and then threw out this sinister challenge to the primacy of the Bill of Rights:

A bill of rights was omitted from the original Constitution over the objections of Patrick Henry and others. It may well be that those who drafted the original Constitution understood that if you give equal prominence to the provisions creating the government and the provisions guaranteeing rights against the government–God-given rights, no less, according to the Declaration of Independence–then citizens will feel that much less inclined to sacrifice in behalf of their government, and that much more inclined simply to go where their rights and their interests seem to take them.

So, as the historian Walter Berns has argued, the built-in message–the hidden message in the structure of the Constitution–is that the government it establishes is entitled, at least in the first instance, to receive from its citizens the benefit of the doubt.

So, conventional opinion says Mukasey is a good guy, better than Gonzales, someone who will not politicize the Justice Department, is against torture, and also independent from the Bush circle — hell, even Chuck Schumer likes the guy (he even suggested Mukasey to Bush as a possible Supreme Court nominee a while back). But if there ever was a poster boy for the degradation of political discourse and sensibility, and the failure of two-party politics in the age of American adventurism and imperial hubris abroad, it’s Michael B. Mukasey.

A little dose of cynicism might cure an overdose of the Kool-Aid, which has the media snoring, and even leftie liberals prattling over business-as-usual in this dangerously oblivious land.

What I learned from President Bush today

(hatch! @ – promoted by buhdydharma )

I hope you never have to learn what a SigAlert is.

Okay, I’ll tell you: A SigAlert is when traffic gets so bad on an L.A. freeway that even L.A. drivers say, “Damn! This traffic is bad!

I had the opportunity to enjoy a SigAlert this morning. It was not my first SigAlert.

Which – as I found out – gave me something in common with President Bush. Sort of.

See, his press conference this morning – which I had the opportunity to listen to only because it coincided with my time spent enjoying the SigAlert – was, as he told one reporter, not his first rodeo. Nor, evidently, even his second.

I didn’t know President Bush had ever been in a rodeo.

See what you can learn when you’re stuck in traffic?

Speaking of being stuck in traffic, I can now hardly wait to have hot bamboo shoots thrust under my fingernails (which probably doesn’t constitute “torture” by President Bush’s definition, but I don’t know for sure, because when a reporter asked him how he would define “torture,” he said torture was defined in U.S. law, but regardless, he did know for sure that America does not torture).

Why am I looking forward to the bamboo shoots? Well, because they will almost certainly be less excruciating than listening to a Bush press conference while in the middle of a SigAlert – and one thing I know for sure, without even looking it up, is that listening to George Bush embarrass himself in front of the White House press corps while I’m stuck with 100,000 of my closest personal friends on the San Diego Freeway doesn’t qualify as torture, as much as it might feel like it does – because, like the president said today, America does not torture – which, I presume, includes America’s interstate highway system.

And, as far as the whole “U.S. law” thing, I guess I will have to look that up. I’m just not sure which memo to refer to: the old, pre-denunciation-of-torture memo, or the newer, post-first-denunciation-of-torture-but-pre-new-denunciation-of-torture memo. I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Okay, so besides the fact that I learned that President Bush has been in a rodeo (I want photos! Better yet – YouTube! Anyone? Anyone?), and that “America does not torture” (even though I already knew that), I found out that,

There’s a better way to deal with terrorist activities than by sending massive troops into Iraq.

If you’re Turkey.

I mean.

I learned that

We can’t win in Iraq militarily – which is what the president has said all along.

But we’re making progress.

I learned that

The United States cannot impose peace or force people to make hard decisions; it can only encourage the development of a state.


I learned that

Blackwater employees in Iraq make a sacrifice when they provide a valuable service protecting people’s lives.

Oh – and I learned that

Democrats in Congress agree with the president about Iraq.

We pretty much knew that already. But I also learned that

The office of president used to be part of the legislature but now it’s not.

When NBC’s David Gregory asked President Bush what his reaction had been to Israel’s bombing of the nuclear facility in Osirak, Iraq, in 1981, I learned that,

President Bush doesn’t remember what he was doing in 1981.

I wonder why?

I learned that even though he could see into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s soul one time when he met him,

He can’t do the same thing from a picture in the newspaper this morning.

I guess he’ll have to wait to get within shoulder-massaging distance again before he truly knows how Vladie (rhymes with “Laddie”) feels about Iran.

I learned that

If you’re Russian, centralized authority is in your genes.

– not in your soul. It’s a recessive gene, I think, but still.

I learned that

When the President has a picture of himself taken with a foreign leader, he’s walking down the colonnades, and the picture sends a good message.

Like that picture of the president holding hands with Saudi Prince Abdullah, I guess (except for there’s no colonnades – and I’m not sure “Oil is about to hit $80 a barrel” qualifies as a good message).

I learned that

Americans don’t have a right to know whether Syria is a subject of the nonproliferation talks with North Korea.

But probably best of all, I learned that

President Bush is planning to name himself Prime Minister after his term as president expires.

I am very grateful to my president for not torturing me while I was stuck in traffic. I look forward to the opportunity not to be tortured in a similar fashion in the very near future.

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