from now on you go your way and I go mine

If you work a full time job, the 40 hour work week brought to us courtesy of the New Deal and a rejection of the Gilded Age robber barons, shouldn’t that mean that you make a living. Not necessarily a life of luxury, but good shelter, food, clothing, medical and dental care, and transportation. High Wages, Low Wages, and Morality

It’s unusual for a controversial economic issue to be fought on moral grounds. But ACORN, a public advocacy group, has been winning a higher “living wage” for workers in state after state, city after city, by appealing to voters’ sense of justice.

“It’s probably the best [argument] we have,” says Jen Kern, director of ACORN’s Living Wage Resource Center. A decent income is a moral matter of “fairness,” she says. Those who “play by the rules of the game should be able to support themselves by their work.”

A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you poor,” agrees Paul Sherry, coordinator of the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, a church-based coalition in Cleveland seeking to raise low wages.

According to the father of classical capitalism, Adam Smith, a Scottish professor of moral philosophy at Glasgow University in the 1700s, the “invisible hand” of self-interest ensures the most efficient use of resources in an economy, and public welfare is a byproduct.

Today Americans are mostly content to let market forces – that is, the law of supply and demand – determine the wage levels for the multiplicity of jobs, professions, and positions that make the economy work. It would be extremely difficult for a bureaucratic group to make detailed, comparative judgments as to the real value of various occupations and place a specific wage level on each.

But at some point, the extremes in wages resulting from what is called “free enterprise” begin to violate people’s sense of common justice. They chuckle, then, at the portrayal in a Boston Globe cartoon of two bosses in a fancy office saying to three workers: “Why should you have a minimum wage? We don’t have a maximum wage.”

As it is, an employee working full-time at the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour makes $10,712 a year, about $1,000 above the official poverty level for an individual ($9,654).

At the other end of the scale, the compensation of top corporate executives, on average 431 times the salary of a blue-collar worker in his or her company, is widely seen as excessive. Critics often use the word “obscene” – a moral term – to characterize the tens of millions of dollars they get.

Capitalism in regard to pay is “out of whack,” says Scott Klinger, codirector of Responsible Wealth, a Boston advocacy group concerned over deepening income inequality in the nation.

Mr. Klinger maintains that Adam Smith assumed equal power in a free market among its players. He didn’t see the “enormous concentration” of economic and political power that has enabled the privileged to set the rules of the system. “Supply and demand is not the operative force,” he says.

There are those that think modern labor laws are a nuisance to the free market, impede corporate profits, and diminish profits. I will leave it to those people to explain why someone with on average just a little more education makes 431 times what a worker makes. Should I say that a good living wage is good for America. I think I just did. Capitalism isn’t composed of an empirical formula like carbon dioxide, with the national debt rising $2.19 billion per day since September 30, 2005 now is as good a time as any to start questioning the status quo. Do we want an economy and culture that approaches business and jobs from a humanity centered point of view or one that continues to see it as a game of social-darwinism. It seems like the Right has framed the debate to center around the concern that there’s a few people at the bottom of the economic ladder that are getting some nichols and dimes which they don’t deserve, and there probably are a few, but that’s not the problem. The real problem are the top tier hucksters who screw over thousands of workers and investors, the elite who have never done an honest days work in their lives.

A worker reports on conditions at Pullman:

“About the only difference between slavery at Pullman and what it was down South before the war, is that there the owners took care of the slaves when they were sick and here they don’t.”
— worker to a reporter for the Chicago Herald, 31 May 1890

There is the thinking element of some jobs, but those thinking skills while highly desirable in a technologically advanced economy may be rewarded far out of proportion to their value in the context of the whole system. The best idea in the world, the greatest new gadget, car, or machine tool has no value if it can’t be produced and it can’t be produced without a worker. In fact no wealth is possible without workers doing the production and distribution and the array of job skills associated with those activities. Some how it looks like our society has taken to putting a overarching value on ideas, that are usually derivative ( think Michael Dell and Bill Gates) over the labor that it takes to produce and maintain these often unoriginal products and services. Has Bill gates really done a billion dolars worth of work or had a billion dollars worth of original ideas. There is an irony here in that those that work very hard to elevate people like Dell and Gates to the level of free market-original idea gods are also frequently Ayn Rand fans and adherents of the second rater school of thought. Dell and Gates ( just examples that are easy to identify) are prime members of the second raters club, blessed with good luck, timimg and a ruthless approach to business triumphing over originality and hard work. If the creative forces behind these pinnacles of the quasi-free market walked out tomorrow could their businesses continue. Then to whom do the grand poopahs of the executive suite sell their wares to. If they are only selling to people of there own class, that’s an awfully small market. Isn’t it in everyone’s long term interest to make a fourty hour work week a living wage so that markets are bigger. Should the market make a few millionaires or should the market value everyone’s contribution, not neccessarily with an artificial equality, but with a sense of moral and economic justice. Is a worker at SomeCompany Inc. really 431 times less valuable then Mr/M’s Executive.

Even in 1890, possibly the peak year of prosperity before the First World War, one contemporary estimated that of the 12,500,000 families in the United States, 11,000,000 had an average income of less than $380 a year [about $7,500 in 2002 dollars]. Andrew Carnegie defied any man to show that there was pauperism in the United States, but a few years after he spoke one out of every ten persons who died on the Island of Manhattan was being buried in Potter’s Field. The gap between rich and poor–growing more visible every day–may have been the most glaring cleavage in American society, but it was not the only one….Violent outbursts at the Haymarket riots of 1886 and the great strikes at Homestead and Pullman gave evidence of the savagery of industrial warfare and led many to conjure up visions of a new and bloodier Paris Commune on American soil.

I’m a little sleepy so I’ll just point to this Newsweek article without too much commentary. In my attempt not to be a total hack and ignore anything good that is done on the center-right let me emphasize that many of the heros of the piece are Bush appointees fighting clear abuses of power, the dragging of American moral authority into a muddy ditch….Palace Revolt They were loyal conservatives, and Bush appointees. They fought a quiet battle to rein in the president’s power in the war on terror. And they paid a price for it.

These Justice Department lawyers, backed by their intrepid boss Comey, had stood up to the hard-liners, centered in the office of the vice president, who wanted to give the president virtually unlimited powers in the war on terror. Demanding that the White House stop using what they saw as farfetched rationales for riding rough-shod over the law and the Constitution, Goldsmith and the others fought to bring government spying and interrogation methods within the law. They did so at their peril; ostracized, some were denied promotions, while others left for more comfortable climes in private law firms and academia. Some went so far as to line up private lawyers in 2004, anticipating that the president’s eavesdropping program would draw scrutiny from Congress, if not prosecutors. These government attorneys did not always succeed, but their efforts went a long way toward vindicating the principle of a nation of laws and not men.

Quote of the day courtesy of unfutz,
    “This year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union Address fall on the same day. As Air America Radio pointed out, “It is an ironic juxtaposition: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication, and the other involves a groundhog.”

Answering the question, do we have rules for everything. Some days it seems like we do. Elevator Rules

If you are going up or down one floor, use the stairs! This rule should especially be observed during peak traffic times like morning and afternoon rush.

1. When you have a cart, stroller or large packages
2. When the elevator is empty
3. If you are disabled or injured


“Well, it seems—well, I am up here——” He paused and swallowed several times distractedly. “Oh, yes. Young woman, Colonel Moreland has called up again to ask me to be sure to bring you in to dinner. His son Toby has come all the way from New York to meet you and he’s invited several other young people. For the last time, will you——”

“No,” said Ardita shortly, “I won’t. I came along on this darn cruise with the one idea of going to Palm Beach, and you knew it, and I absolutely refuse to meet any darn old colonel or any darn young Toby or any darn old young people or to set foot in any other darn old town in this crazy state. So you either take me to Palm Beach or else shut up and go away.”

“Very well. This is the last straw. In your infatuation for this man—a man who is notorious for his excesses, a man your father would not have allowed to so much as mention your name—you have reflected the demi-monde rather than the circles in which you have presumably grown up. From now on——”

“I know,” interrupted Ardita ironically, “from now on you go your way and I go mine. I’ve heard that story before. You know I’d like nothing better.”

from the short story The Offshore Pirate by F. Scott Fitzgerald


She had put her hand into his pocket where his hand was

Needlenose has a good round-up of the rock and the other rock that the neocons have placed America between. The promise that invading Iraq would usher in a stable middle-east is past its expiration date. Like many who have had their fantasies snuffed out by reality I’m sure we have years of shrill denial to look forward to from the neocon cheerleaders.
Doubling down on the sweets and flowers

Not long after the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq in 2003, a top aide to L. Paul Bremer III, then the head of the American occupation authority there, excitedly explained that Iraq had just become the front line in Washington’s effort to neutralize Iran as a regional force.

If America could promote a moderate, democratic, American-friendly alternate center of Shiite Islam in Iraq, the official said, it could defang one of its most implacable foes in the Middle East.

. . . So far, though, Iran’s mullahs aren’t feeling much pain from the Americans next door. In fact, officials at all levels of government here say they see the American presence as a source of strength for themselves as they face the Bush administration.

. . . Iranians know that American forces, now stretched thin, are unlikely to invade Iran. And if the United States or Europe were to try a small-scale, targeted attack, the proximity of American forces makes them potential targets for retaliation. Iranians also know the fighting in Iraq has helped raise oil prices, and any attempt to impose sanctions could push prices higher.

In addition, the Iranians have longstanding ties to influential Shiite religious leaders in Iraq, and at least one recently promised that his militia would make real trouble for the Americans if they moved militarily against Iran.

All of those calculations have reduced Iranian fears of going ahead with their nuclear program — a prospect that frightens not just the United States, Europe and Israel, but many of the Sunni Muslim-dominated nations in the region, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

There’s more at the link. I wouldn’t be pissimistic about future moves on the mid-east chess board if we had competent leaders who have proven themselves capable of calculating all the challenges, but we don’t.

Its not really hard to imagine making right-wing hate speech mainstream. Actually since I see, hear, and read it everyday I thought it was officially mainstream. Apparently some corporations who are trying to sell stuff to the upper-middle class are a little nervous about backing fascism-lite with their advertising dollars.
Pajama Party Springs a Leak

Smith hones in on the primary dilemma facing PeePee Media: how to attract affluent, upscale advertisers who tend to shy away from rabid controversy to a blog mall where there are always ugly brawls breaking out near the coin fountain. Smith quotes Roger L. Simon claiming that racism, sexism, and other “stuff universally disliked” will not be verboten in their camp.

Smith: “He must have forgotten about Charles Johnson, whose Little Green Footballs believes all Muslims are terrorists until proven innocent. Slangy, clever, the site is a dysfunctional mix of beautiful photos Johnson takes on coastal bike rides and constitutionally protected hate speech.”

Smith excerpts a choice batch from a LGF hate rally in the comments section, adding drolly, “The screech you hear is the sound of a Lexus backing over a Nikon camera. Is there any corporation in the would that would pay to have its log slapped alongside such calls for slaughter?”

Good question. Too bad he can’t obtain an answer from PeePee’s transparent founders.

“Doesn’t the presence of Footballs make it harder to attract ads to the site? When asked that question, the otherwise loquacious Simon pulls up short. ‘I have no comment on that. You should ask Charles,’ he said.”

As Godwin’s Law (also Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies) prevents me from using the “N” word to describe LGF or a place commonly referred to as freeperville, maybe its encouraging that corporate America knows some bounds and will not overtly pander to you the dirty underbelly of political discourse. If some of these denizens of blogland supposedly do their blogging in bunny slippers it doesn’t make their unamerican values any more palatable.

I think its way past time that we put the threats by terrorism into perspective. The problem with perspective is that its subtle. The current crop of ear binding pundits, righty blog weasels, and vote-for-us or you’ll die political bosses don’t do subtle. Glenn Greenwald picks up on that op-ed I posted about yesterday,
Putting the terrorist threat into perspective

Most people this side of Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter recognize that those reactions were excessive and nowhere near justified by the actual threat which was posed. And yet we don’t seem to be able to apply those lessons to the threat of terrorism, which is causing us to engage in all sorts of extreme measures based on the warped notion that the terrorism threat is — to use George Bush’s formulation — an “unprecedented danger.”

The cause of this irrationality, this inability to view the terrorism threat with any perspective, is not a mystery. Terrorists like Al Qaeda deliberately stage attacks which are designed to instill fear in the population far beyond what is warranted by the actual threat-level posed by the terrorists. That’s the defining tactic and objective of terrorists. Fortunately for the terrorists, in the United States, Al Qaeda has a powerful ally in this goal: the Bush Administration, which for four years has, along with Al Qeada, worked ceaselessly to instill in Americans an overarching and excessive fear of terrorism.

“I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

Orwellian doublespeak update: I just learned from Josh Marshall that in his SOTU speech Bush will claim that one of the big problems facing Americans is that we’re over insured. We’re over insured ?

Guys talking about girls or young women if you prefer. Young men talk about young women the way explorers talk about far off lands, the way physicists talk about distant planets. Only that in the case of men trying to discover women, the subject is not only within reach, but they are like fun house mirrors of each other.
Obviously it is not the similarities that drives the intrique that one has with the other. Those small differences, in between fears of death, have been the driving force for most of literature. In their own ways, Neal Cassady and James Joyce ask the question, how do I solve this mystery.
On reading Neal Cassady’s “The Great Sex Letter” to Jack Kerouac it reminded me of the stream of consciousness style in James Joyce’s “A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man”:


I am sitting in a bar on Market St. I’m drunk, well, not quite, but I soon will be. I am here for 2 reasons; I must wait 5 hours for the bus to Denver & lastly but, most importantly, I’m here (drinking) because, of course, because of a woman & what a woman! To be chronological about it : I was sitting on the bus when it took on more passengers at Indianapolis, Indiana — a perfectly proportioned (beautiful, drunk) gargled & stammered NO! (Paradox of expression, after all, how can one stammer No!!?) She sat — I sweated — She started to speak, I knew it would be generalities, so to tempt her I remained silent. She (her name Patricia) got on the bus at 8 PM (Dark!) I didn’t speak until 10 PM — in the intervening 2 hours I not only of course, determined to make her, but, how to DO IT.


Eileen had long thin cool white hands too because she was a girl. They were like ivory; only soft. That was the meaning of Tower of Ivory but protestants could not understand it and made fun of it. One day he had stood beside her looking into the hotel grounds. A waiter was running up a trail of bunting on the flagstaff and a fox terrier was scampering to and fro on the sunny lawn. She had put her hand into his pocket where his hand was and he had felt how cool and thin and soft her hand was. She had said that pockets were funny things to have: and then all of a sudden she had broken away and had run laughing down the sloping curve of the path. Her fair hair had streamed out behind her like gold in the sun. Tower of Ivory. House of Gold. By thinking of things you could understand them.

To me it seems like Cassady, the modern cad with a plan, internalizes much of the outer world, while Joyce takes his infactuation and places it in the context of a larger world that is he trying to take in. Cassady’s Patricia is more sensual fleshy creature placed at the center, while Joyce’s Eileen is in Joyce’s mind descending from the canvas, slowly becoming flesh and blood. James is surprised by how cool and thin and soft her hand was. While Cassady already knows and proceeds to say the things that will allow him to obtain what he desires.

whether he himself was the possessor of an inestimable privilege, or the victim of a fantastic dream

Heresy I tell you heresy, talk about turning political correctness on its ear, professor Joseph Ellis, via Brillant at Breakfast, Finding a Place for 9/11 in American History

IN recent weeks, President Bush and his administration have mounted a spirited defense of his Iraq policy, the Patriot Act and, especially, a program to wiretap civilians, often reaching back into American history for precedents to justify these actions. It is clear that the president believes that he is acting to protect the security of the American people. It is equally clear that both his belief and the executive authority he claims to justify its use derive from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

A myriad of contested questions are obviously at issue here — foreign policy questions about the danger posed by Iraq, constitutional questions about the proper limits on executive authority, even political questions about the president’s motives in attacking Iraq. But all of those debates are playing out under the shadow of Sept. 11 and the tremendous changes that it prompted in both foreign and domestic policy.

Whether or not we can regard Sept. 11 as history, I would like to raise two historical questions about the terrorist attacks of that horrific day. My goal is not to offer definitive answers but rather to invite a serious debate about whether Sept. 11 deserves the historical significance it has achieved.

My first question: where does Sept. 11 rank in the grand sweep of American history as a threat to national security? By my calculations it does not make the top tier of the list, which requires the threat to pose a serious challenge to the survival of the American republic.

Here is my version of the top tier: the War for Independence, where defeat meant no United States of America; the War of 1812, when the national capital was burned to the ground; the Civil War, which threatened the survival of the Union; World War II, which represented a totalitarian threat to democracy and capitalism; the cold war, most specifically the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, which made nuclear annihilation a distinct possibility.

Sept. 11 does not rise to that level of threat because, while it places lives and lifestyles at risk, it does not threaten the survival of the American republic, even though the terrorists would like us to believe so.

Its not just the terrorists would like us to believe this is the case, but the far right thinks its to their advantage for the majority of the public to live in fear. Bush was doing a pretty horrendous job before 9-11 with his poll numbers only raising after 9-11 solely on the strength of the public’s noble desire to show unity in the face of a terrible tragedy. The only thing related to 9-11 that could merit the importance of the American Revolution, the War of !812, or WWII is the idea that 9-11 planted in the national psychi is the possibility that if a band of extremists could pull off 9-11they could committ some kind of nuclear attack that could effect the survival of the nation. Its ironic that with the possible exception of going after Bin laden in Afghanistan, the Bush administration’s focus has been on the least of the possible threats to the nation, the war in Iraq. Even the administration has pretty much settled on a shoe horned humanitarian rationale for invading Iraq even though they still occasionally refer to it as the front in the war on terror – Orwell speak at best. Iraq was not a major player in the world of terrorism export the way Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt were and still are. This is not to say in the least that the lose of life on 9-11 should be discounted. Remember that the Oklahoma City bombing was a horrific act committed by Americans against their fellow citizens. Risks are an inherent part of an open democratic society. Even closed societies that prize order and secuirty above freedom suffer acts of sabotage as any reading of the history of the Third Reich or the Soviet Union will attest, something to think about as Bush makes an inexcusable power grab over Congress and the rule of law, using fear and the illusion of security as his tools of political gamesmanship.

Bush and the Cultivation of Fear

Believing there should be constraints on unchecked executive power is not the same as being weak-kneed about the war against terrorism. Critics are suggesting that President Bush should have gone through normal procedures for conducting such surveillance or asked Congress to provide clear legal authority for the National Security Agency activity. They are not contending that such surveillance shouldn’t be conducted at all. No leading Democrat has argued for barring this kind of potentially useful technique.

On some level we’ve all encountered people, teachers, parents, bosses, co-workers, etc. that given a little power become little soup nazi-like characters. That in mind, given even more power, a little less restraint equals a little more absurdity……ACLU Releases Government Photos

For example, more than two dozen government surveillance photographs show 22-year-old Caitlin Childs of Atlanta, a strict vegetarian, and other vegans picketing against meat eating, in December 2003. They staged their protest outside a HoneyBaked Ham store on Buford Highway in DeKalb County.

An undercover DeKalb County Homeland Security detective was assigned to conduct surveillance of the protest and the protestors, and take the photographs. The detective arrested Childs and another protester after he saw Childs approach him and write down, on a piece of paper, the license plate number of his unmarked government car.

and this from last year, FBI Pushing Patriot Act Powers

Under the Patriot Act, the FBI issues more than 30,000 national security letters allowing the investigations each year, a hundredfold increase over historic norms, The Washington Post reported Sunday, quoting unnamed government sources.

The security letters, which were first used in the 1970s, allow access to people’s phone and e-mail records, as well as financial data and the internet sites they surf. The 2001 Patriot Act removed the requirement that the records sought be those of someone under suspicion.

As a result, FBI agents can review the digital records of a citizen as long as the bureau can certify that the person’s records are “relevant” to a terrorist investigation.

Its a dirty business, but someone has to do it, so I read a few posts from the far right zealot’s blogs yesterday and many are repeating the meme that Democrats are attacking Bush because they don’t want him to spy on terrorists. Issues of honor and integrity have thus been jettisoned by the right-wing blogoviks concerning the debate over Bush versus the Constitution and FISA. Not one Democratic Senator or Congressman has said that they object to spying on suspected terrorists, not one. That could be the reason that I could not find any evidence on their sites that there is a Democrat that holds that position. When I was in 7th grade, if I had handed in a paper to my history or literature teacher that made such an assertion and did not present a supporting citation, such as a quote with a name and date, I’d get an “F”. So I would like to bestow a symbolic “F” on the right-wing blogs in presenting a fair and accurate portrait of the debate over the NSA scandal and warrantless domestic spying. describes their site as “your one-stop destination for audio and video learning. Browse over 10,000 educational audio books, MP3 downloads, podcasts, and DVD videos.” Your first or second thought is how much. Well most of it costs, but there are a remarkable number of free lectures and videos. Some of the free ones are downloadable. I snapped this one up to listen to in the car ( local radio is a joke) Our Bodies, Our Technologies by Ray Kurzweil

How close are we to a world in which the abilities of machines are indistinguishable from those of the species that invented them?

and this The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells, MP3 format

tells the tale of a man who encounters a mysterious green door that seems to appear at various times in his life in different places about London.

Well, I don’t resort to that explanation now. I have got over my intervening doubts. I believe now, as I believed at the moment of telling, that Wallace did to the very best of his ability strip the truth of his secret for me. But whether he himself saw, or only thought he saw, whether he himself was the possessor of an inestimable privilege, or the victim of a fantastic dream, I cannot pretend to guess. Even the facts of his death, which ended my doubts forever, throw no light on that. That much the reader must judge for himself.

from Transcript of The Door in the Wall transcription by Sean Puckett

Nothing- but a ghostly, eerie chuckle that might have been the wind

I wrote , “While I’m sure that General Hayden the former NSA Director is a fine American” and there I go again trying to be fair and it just gets thrown back in my face, Former NSA Director Hayden Lied To Congress And Broke The Law

The Bush administration has pulled out all the stops in attempting to defend the NSA’s warrantless domestic spying program. After speeches by President Bush and Attorney General Gonzales, Deputy Director of National Intelligence and former NSA Director General Michael Hayden took another crack at the defense in a speech on Monday. He’s not exactly the ideal choice to restore the administration’s credibility.

As Think Progress documented back in December, Hayden misled Congress. In his 10/17/02 testimony, he told a committee investigating the 9/11 attacks that any surveillance of persons in the United States was done consistent with FISA.

At the time of his statements, Hayden was fully aware of the presidential order to conduct warrantless domestic spying issued the previous year. But Hayden didn’t feel as though he needed to share that with Congress. Apparently, Hayden believed that he had been legally authorized to conduct the surveillance, but told Congress that he had no authority to do exactly what he was doing. The Fraud and False Statements statute (18 U.S.C. 1001) make Hayden’s misleading statements to Congress illegal.

Hayden’s fate lies with the tale of another spymaster, Nixon-era CIA Director Richard Helms.

Helm’s was eventually found guilty of lying to Congress.

I think its pretty cool that the Whitehouse, in the Internet Age, has managed to so far hide certain images of Bush with Jack Abramhoff,

When we went to the page for the photograph of President Bush and Abramoff, the page in question had disappeared from the site. Indeed, in the sequence of photographs from the event in question, each had a unique identification number in perfect consecutive order. All were there on the site, in sequence, with the exception of the one that was apparently that of President Bush and Abramoff.

I wonder if Josh felt he had become part of some Tom Clancy novel,

I decided to take one more go at Reflections. I talked to company president Joanne Amos. We went back and forth over various questions about whether photographs at the site were available to the public and why some had been removed. When she, at length, asked me who it was in the picture with the president. I told her we believed it was Jack Abramoff.

Amos very straightforwardly told me that the photographs had been removed and that they had been removed because they showed Abramoff and the president in the same picture. The photos were, she told me, “not relevant.”

When I asked her who had instructed her to remove the photos, she told me she was the president of the company. She did it. It was “her business decision” to remove the photographs. She told me she had done so within the last month.

and Via Truthdig at least part of the answer as to why the President of Reflections Photography scrubbed the photo(s), from The Daily Delay

UPDATE III: Okay, from commenter Earl below, courtesy of, looks like a total of $4,000 to the RNC and $2,000 to the Bush campaign from Joanne Amos, and $4,150 to the RNC and $2,000 to the Bush campaign from Steven Amos, who I believe is Joanne’s brother and business partner. (Earl had double counted some donations below, I think.) That’s a total of $12,150 from the Amos/Reflections Photography family. Pretty soon, we’ll be adding up to real money.

Well it looks like democracy in action, given a choice the Palestinians choose the radical-right….How do you like your democracy now, Mr. Bush?

Jan. 27, 2006 | The stunning victory of the militant Muslim fundamentalist Hamas Party in the Palestinian elections underlines the central contradictions in the Bush administration’s policies toward the Middle East. Bush pushes for elections, confusing them with democracy, but seems blind to the dangers of right-wing populism. At the same time, he continually undermines the moderate and secular forces in the region by acting high-handedly or allowing his clients to do so. As a result, Sunni fundamentalist parties, some with ties to violent cells, have emerged as key players in Iraq, Egypt and Palestine.

Democracy depends not just on elections but on a rule of law, on stable institutions, on basic economic security for the population, and on checks and balances that forestall a tyranny of the majority. Elections in the absence of this key societal context can produce authoritarian regimes and abuses as easily as they can produce genuine people power.

I wish I could enjoy a gotctha moment here, but I can’t considering how Bush has cluster f*cked the entire region and America. Hamas’s win and the win of Islamic extremists in Iran can be traced back to Iraq or should we say the GI Bush Action Figure approach to the middle-east. The Neocon Action Figure Team sees the middle-east as a shoot out on main St instead of a complex board game, failing to see that moving your Knight to King’s pawn might seem like a good idea, but the neocons have not thought ahead two moves. Visions of sugar plums and Bostonian democracy in the streets of Baghdad or the slums of Palestinian settlements do not pass for a foreign policy. Where are the realists with a plan who eskew rose colored glasses. In other words, the neocons and their think tanks have not been calculating the consequences of their actions, remember Cheney’s prediction, ” Now, I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” Bush will be gone in three years while America pays the price for his failure of insight and statesmanship.

Homework help. Its come to my attention that since I put up the long excerpt from Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”, some internet searchers are looking for the meaning of the shadows. light, and dark. Keeping in mind that this short story has probably been assigned reading for millions of students with probably as many interpretations, here’s a capsule version of Hemingway’s use of symbolism and metaphor:
Light: youth, hope for the future, temporary comfort and/or solace
dark: death, isolation, despair, deafness-or any malady that has come with age
shadows: fear, old age, loneliness, maybe that middle between youth and old age
the cafe: waiting station, a canvas where a slow sweep of the eye sees the contrasts, cold consolation-better then home, maybe.
One idea worth exploring is the idea of youth, the young waiter as a symbol of confidence without wisdom and how it is one of life’s sad joke’s on every generation – though in many ways its a conventional wisdom to say that age brings wisdom since we all know an old fool.

Got a Light? A Ritual Gone in a Puff of Smoke

Sure, we’ll all live longer, but how will this affect the future of flirting?

No smoking in bars, if the city pushes such legislation through, means no excuse to approach a stranger, unless you count You look familiar , which doesn’t count.

Why, just earlier on this night, at Rumors restaurant and bar south of Dupont Circle . . .

“Girl comes up and she says, ‘Can I bum a smoke?’ and it was obviously a pretext,” says a guy named Jason Ewart, 29. The girl talked to Ewart awhile after that, one of those classic Washington dialogues about law school.

“Dude!” says Ewart’s friend across the table. “She had to justify getting a cigarette!”

“She did stay longer than necessary,” says a third guy.



Henry Bolton stopped suddenly in his pacing, shuddered. It was if a cold draft had hurried through the slightly opened window to grip him. Or as if the eyes of some hypnotic prowler had bored into his body. He whirled toward the open window.

But Bolton was a fraction of a second late. He did not see the pale, colorless eyes that dropped below the sash of the window. The wispy, whitish hair of the intruder blended into the dimness of the night.

There was nothing to indicate that a prowler had been about. Nothing- but a ghostly, eerie chuckle that might have been the wind. Or might not.

That awesome whisper made Bolton snap erect. The big deputy whirled toward a push button on the wall, poked at it excitedly.

“I’ve been ready for this,” he grated.

Outside, a slight gray figure hurried from his listening post. He scrambled over the roof tops, chuckling softly. He was nondescript little man, half invisible in his drab attire. Wildcat Gordon might have been on vacation, but there was one figure that crooks feared more than they did the dynamic police commissioner.

The Whisperer, elusive, ruthless “supercrook” who preyed on crime, had deemed the foulness on the water front worthy of his attention.

excerpt from THE BAND OF FEAR by Clifford Goodrich

Wing-Nuts and their Unhinged Hatred of Michael Moore

Michael Moore, the entertainer/documentarian/satirist like him or not has apparently touched a nerve among the fascist-lite crowd, how else could one explain the lengths that they have gone to, to try and discredit him. One blogger even went to the trouble of inventing 59 Deceits that Moore was supposedly guilty of. While I’m not especially a fan of Moore’s I do find the stereotpying of him as some far left nut not substantiated by the facts. During the Democratic primaries, who did he endorse, another target of the fanatical right, Howard Dean ? No. He endorsed retired General Wesley Clark. Clark would hardly be the choice of the far left. I won’t get into listing the so-called lies that Moore has been accused of in his quasi-documentary Fahrenheit 911 because this series of articles at Daily Kos saves me the trouble and debunks them.

Debunking the 59 Deceits: Deceits 1-2 and here Deceits 3-7, and Moore does a fair job of defending himself and the facts presented in Fahrenheit 9/11 here, Factual Back-Up For Fahrenheit 9/11: Section One
Liking people or not liking them should never blind someone to facts, if the facts don’t support one’s dislike for a person that’s still OK, just chalk it up to personalities, but one shouldn’t extend that dislike to demonizing someone based on distortions and one’s own fears and insecurities. Found this at Main and Central, Framing For Tomorrow

Using M.R.I. scanners, neuroscientists have now tracked what happens in the politically partisan brain when it tries to digest damning facts about favored candidates or criticisms of them. The process is almost entirely emotional and unconscious, the researchers report, and there are flares of activity in the brain’s pleasure centers when unwelcome information is being rejected.

Everything we know about cognition suggests that, when faced with a contradiction, we use the rational regions of our brain to think about it, but that was not the case here,” said Dr. Drew Westen, a psychologist at Emory and lead author of the study, to be presented Saturday at meetings of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Palm Springs, Calif.

Lots of us liberals and progressives stubbornly believe that if you present people with the facts, they will make the right decision — do the right thing. But Lakoff has argued, and not always getting a receptive audience, that that notion is false.”It’s in our inheritance from the enlightenment. Where, in the enlightenment that everybody is a rational person, all you have to do is just tell them the facts, they’ll reason to the right conclusion.” But that is wrong.

I think most of us have had those conversations where the person spreading the false information does not want to be bothered with facts, they’re the modern day equivalent of the flat earthers.

We were discussing our department — manpower-wise –and promotion-wise —

‘Villains honoring villains’

“Bluntly stated,” Silver’s first e-mail read, “the Delaware North Companies — with $1.6 Billion in annual revenues — is quickly taking control of America’s National Parks, and The Yosemite Fund is perhaps the best example where private philanthropy is used as a substitute for Federal funding so as to help advance a larger privatization agenda.” When you combine these things, “you get the Yosemite Fund conferring upon Delaware North its “Corporate Protector of the Year” Award.”

On reading George Orwell’s 1984 some may get the impression that it’s too out there, too strange, but in many ways its here and the story about Delaware North Companies is a fairly good example.

“Through its GreenPath initiative, Delaware North has eliminated toxic chemicals, and instituted a phenomenal recycling program that reduces waste and preserves the environment and its resources,” Hansen said.

On the same day, a US Forest Service news release announced the issuing of a 158-page concessionaire prospectus entitled “A Prospectus for the Delivery of Visitor Services, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.”

The document noted that “Offered opportunities include food service, retail sales, educational book sales, and optional museum and theater operation at Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center; retail sales, educational book sales, and optional mobile food and sundries vending at Johnston Ridge Observatory; and options to provide mobile food and sundries vending at other locations along SR504, and to develop rustic lodging and/or RV camping facilities … Applicants whose proposals provide the Required Services specified for a complex will also be offered the opportunity to provide outfitter and guide services within the MSHNVM, including motorized and non-motorized winter activities, hiking tours, climbing tours, mountain biking tours and helicopter tours.”

Ironic that I found this today courtesy of Ezra Klein, Quote of the Day 2: Small Government Conservative Edition

From Bush’s interview with the WSJ again:

We’re spending over a billion now on technology, and I’m going to remind the American people that the way to achieve a national objective, which is less dependency on foreign oil, and improve the quality of our environment, is for the government to encourage research and development and new technologies that have got marketplace applications.

People that are turning our national parks and forests into theme parks are not good stewarts of the environment. When Bush says that domestic spying is some kind of terrorists surveillance program, that too is Orwellian. Has the phrase “rule of law” lost its meaning…

This president and his administration, however, don’t seem to care if their denials are plausible; they just keep disputing that which is undeniably obvious. And on top of their often dubious and duplicitous positions, they say they intend to keep doing whatever it is they’ve done in the past, attributing to their actions rights and privileges that have never been heard of before, and are not derived from any constitutionally-designated powers,nor do they comport with any legislative imperatives.
The president contends, for example, that he has the right to wiretaps that may involve oversight of domestic sources without first going to the FISA Court for permission. He asserts he has the inherent power through the Constitution to pursue such warrant-less surveillance and backs up that shaky premise with the notion that it follows seamlessly from the moment Congress granted him the use of force should it become necessary in dealing with Iraq. Both assertions stand on weak ground, and putting Attorney General Gonzales front and center to support the president’s actions is not the least bit reassuring, given the fact that he has proven to be less of a legal star than an administration flunky.
It is often said that it is the president’s job to protect the nation as stipulated in the Oath of Office. But the “preserve and protect” section of the oath refers to the Constitution; that’s the core problem when special powers are claimed by the executive. The Constitution assigns powers to the three branches of government, and the language is quite clear. There are no extra-curricular powers the president may assume at his whim.

And you would think that after Mike Brown and Katrina, after the no bid Halliburton contracts, the bungled and corrupt rebuilding efforts in Iraq, the largest deficit spending spree in American history, the Abramhoff scandal, that the current administration or gang of scoundrels, would ease up the cronyism and general malfeasance. That the Bush gang would have a little humility after sending off over 2000 Americans to die for WMD that didn’t exists without the proper body armor for over two years. You would be mistaken. Cronies, chums and Bush surrogates get government posts

On Wednesday, January 4, while the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal continued to unwind, sending shockwaves through the nation’s capital, the Bush Administration announced a handful of recess appointments. Included on the list of appointees — who do not have to face confirmation by the Senate — was a host of Bush cronies who don’t appear ready for primetime.

Julie L. Myers, a niece of former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Richard B. Myers and the wife of the chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, was appointed to head the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau at the Department of Homeland Security. Critics from both parties maintained that Meyers “lacked experience in immigration matters,” the Washington Post’s Thomas B. Edsall reported.

Tracy A. Henke was appointed executive director of the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness. The Washington Post noted that Henke “had been accused in her politically appointed post at the Justice Department of demanding that information about racial disparities in police treatment of blacks in traffic cases be deleted from a news release.”

In a 2002 speech Kirsanow said that affirmative action had “metastasized into a racial spoils system consisting of preferences, quotas and set-asides.”

Former Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate (twice defeated) Ellen R. Sauerbrey — an outspoken opponent of abortion rights and family planning — whose nomination had been bottled up in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was named assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration. On Thursday, January 5, the New York Times pointed out that Sauerbrey “has zero experience in emergency management and refugee resettlement.”

Chilling dissent

Recently National Public Radio’s show Living on Earth broadcast a segment called “Big Brother,” that explored the FBI’s program that spies on environmental activists. “Living on Earth” regularly focuses on a broad array of environmental issues, and guest host Jeff Young, sitting in for the regular host Steve Curwood, setup the segment by noting that the passage of the U.S. Patriot Act “expand[ed] the government’s power to monitor U.S. citizens in its fight against terrorism.”

According to FOIA documents obtained by the ACLU, “those expanded powers are being used to monitor environmental and animal rights groups,” Young pointed out.

Young and his guest, Ann Beeson, the associate legal director of the ACLU, talked about how right wing think tanks are providing grist for FBI investigations:

YOUNG: You know, another thing I noticed is in the pages that I would call general background-type information on groups like Greenpeace, the FBI seemed to rely pretty heavily on research done by a couple of think tanks that are very conservative, pro-business, anti-regulation in their mindset and their mission. There’s the Capital Research Center (profile, grants) … and a couple of others who generated a lot of that information that the FBI apparently relied on. What do you make of that connection there?

Whenever I hear of some group, regardless of ideology, claiming that the government is spying on them my first reaction is one of doubt. There’s just so much paranoia in the world that I tend to wait for some kind of proof of those claims. In the current controversy over Bush’s domestic spying program there have been accusations of using those powers against certain political or social groups for example, which I was a little dubious of. It turns out that in some regards its true.
Whats atonishing about this is that the FBI is taking its leads from so-called think tanks with a clear political agenda. While there have been some despicable acts committed by a hand full of environmental extremists, for the most part environmentalists as a group are peaceful hard working citizens; they are in fact our friends and neighbors. via The Christian Science Monitor, ACLU accuses FBI of ‘spying’ on activists

“Since when did feeding the homeless become a terrorist activity?” asked ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson. “When the FBI and local law enforcement target groups like [Colorado-based] Food Not Bombs under the guise of fighting terrorism, many Americans who oppose government policies will be discouraged from speaking out and exercising their rights.”

Artcyclopedia: The Fine Art Search Engine

Do-It-Yourself Deity

Sure, sure. Look, kid — I put in
a good word for you with Sheldrake,
in Personnel.

(perking up)
Mr. Sheldrake?

That’s right. We were discussing
our department — manpower-wise —
and promotion-wise —
(finds the galoshes
behind a chair)
— and I told him what a bright boy
you were. They’re always on the
lookout for young executives.
Thank you, Mr. Kirkeby.

(starting toward door)
You’re on your way up, Buddy-boy.
And you’re practically out of liquor.

from the screenplay THE APARTMENT by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond

A tiny spot of blood was the only positive clue

I’m sure that Louis XI of France (1461-1483) and his menions were as politically manipulative as their modern counterparts, but Louis did not have to worry about television or the internet catching him talking out of both sides of his mouth. Intel Chief: Spy Program Could Have Stopped 9/11 Attacks

After the attacks, Hayden used his authority as NSA director to increase coverage of terrorism targets and share information with counterterrorism officials across the government. An executive order that gave Hayden this authority was separate from the eavesdropping program, which President Bush approved months after the attacks, allowing the agency to perform warrantless electronic surveillance of al Qaeda subjects in the United States.

The warrantless eavesdropping program was authorized by the president, senior government lawyers at the White House, the Justice Department and three top lawyers at the NSA picked by Hayden.

“That authorization was based on an intelligence community assessment of a serious and continuing threat to the homeland,” said Hayden. “The lawfulness of the actual authorization was reviewed by lawyers at the Department of Justice and the White House, and was approved by the attorney general.”

This would be the equivalent of Louis XI turning to a court appointed astrologers who said it was okie dokie because the other court appointed astrologers said it was and the moon was up in the house of the sacred chimp.

Louis XI was a superstitious man who surrounded himself with astrologers. Interested in science, he once pardoned a man sentenced to death on condition that he serve as a guinea pig in a gallstone operation

The most obvious problem with the General’s assertion is that if the technology was available to prevent 9-11 and it wasn’t used, why wasn’t it. Why didn’t the general go to the president or the Senate Intelligence Committee and tell them a wide ranging program of data mining might prevent a terrorists attack. The general has unwittingly given credence to the tin foil theory that the government ( Bush ) allowed 9-11 to happen or was more probably negligent. The general even had “probable cause” according to the infamous presidential daily brief, The following is a redacted text of the presidential daily briefing from August 6, 2001

Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S. Bin Laden implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and “bringthe fighting to America.” :

After U.S. missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladentold followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a [deleted text] service.

An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told [deleted text] service at the same time that Bin Laden was planning to exploit the operative’saccess to the U.S. to mount a terrorist strike.

The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Laden’s first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the U.S. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own U.S. attack.

As myself and others have pointed out several times the NSA actually ratcheted up its domestic surveillance program before 9-11.

“The president personally and directly authorized new operations, like the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, that almost certainly would never have been approved under normal circumstances and that raised serious legal or political questions,” Risen wrote in the book. “Because of the fevered climate created throughout the government by the president and his senior advisers, Bush sent signals of what he wanted done, without explicit presidential orders” and “the most ambitious got the message.”

The NSA’s domestic surveillance activities that began in early 2001 reached a boiling point shortly after 9/11, when senior administration officials and top intelligence officials asked the NSA to share that data with other intelligence officials who worked for the FBI and the CIA to hunt down terrorists that might be in the United States. However the NSA, on advice from its lawyers, destroyed the records, fearing the agency could be subjected to lawsuits by American citizens identified in the agency’s raw intelligence reports.

The declassified report says that the “Director of the National Security Agency is obligated by law to keep Congress fully and currently formed of intelligence activities.” But that didn’t happen. When news of the NSA’s clandestine domestic spying operation, which President Bush said he had authorized in 2002, was uncovered last month by the New York Times, Democratic and Republican members of Congress appeared outraged, claiming that they were never informed of the covert surveillance operation. It’s unclear whether the executive order signed by Bush removes the NSA Director from his duty to brief members of Congress about the agency’s intelligence gathering programs.

In this document-pdf, entitled – National Security Agency/Central Security Service Transition 2001 it references the Legal Standards for the Intelligence Community in Conducting Electronic Surveillance

(U) Electronic surveillance is conducted by elements of the Intelligence Community for foreign intelligence and foreign counterintelligence purposes. Because of its potential intrusiveness and the implications for the privacy of United States persons,1 such surveillance is subject to strict regulation by statute2 and Executive Order3 and close scrutiny. The applicable legal standards for the collection, retention, or dissemination of information concerning U.S. persons reflect a careful balancing between the needs of the government for such intelligence and the protection of the rights of U.S. persons, consistent with the reasonableness standard of the Fourth Amendment,4 as determined by factual circumstance.

Remember that the issue is not spying on foreign persons, and certainly not terrorists, members of both parties in Congress have expressed concern over the legality of these operations directed by the executive branch concerning domestic spying without a warrant.

(U) In the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and Executive Order (E.O.) 12333, Congress and the Executive have codified this balancing. Both documents reflect a deference to U.S. persons’ rights by closely regulating the conduct of electronic surveillance that either targets U.S. persons or may result in the acquisition of information to, from, or about U.S. persons. For example, in order to conduct electronic surveillance against a U.S. person located within the United States, FISA requires the intelligence agency to obtain a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. If the United States person is abroad, the Executive Order requires that the Attorney General approve such surveillance. In both instances, generally speaking there must be probable cause 5 that the target is an agent of a foreign power. 6 In addition, the information sought by the surveillance must be foreign intelligence that cannot be obtained by other less intrusive collection techniques.

This should be tattooed on the forehead of every journalist and right-wing pundit in America, ” that either targets U.S. persons or may result in the acquisition of information to, from, or about U.S. persons”. Its about the rule of law and respect for the American people. Lets take a look at the executive order part, the part that Bush and his political appointee, the Attorney General are leaning on to save their hoohaas.

For example, in order to conduct electronic surveillance against a U.S. person located within the United States, FISA requires the intelligence agency to obtain a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. If the United States person is abroad, the Executive Order requires that the Attorney General approve such surveillance. In both instances, generally speaking there must be probable cause 5 that the target is an agent of a foreign power.

The Whitehouse is on solid ground when it claims the right to spy on an American who is abroad. When it comes to electronic surveillance of a US citizen in the US, FISA is the Holy Grail. Period.

As alluded to above, FISA is the statutory regime governing electronic surveillance within the United States for foreign intelligence purposes.

This whole interview between Jim Lehrer and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont is interesting and the Senator brings up a very salient point: Is the NSA program legal?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: That’s the FISA law. You know, we go by the –it’s well laid out. In fact, laid out by Justice Jackson. It says that if the – the president’s authority —

JIM LEHRER: The late Justice Jackson back in World War II.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Yes. It said that the president’s authority is at its lowest ebb once Congress has acted. Congress has acted, laid out very specifically. Nobody has suggested the president couldn’t have gone to the FISA court if he really had reason.

And yet, we hear people like Michael Chertoff, the head of the homeland security, suggesting that thousands of Americans had been wiretapped and been spied upon.

Are you telling me that there are thousands of Americans calling Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida members around the world?

and they get into the AUMF justification used by Bush and Gonzales:

The war powers resolution

JIM LEHRER: The attorney general just said this surveillance was authorized by the resolution passed by the Congress to use military force after 9/11, that the war powers that you and the members of Congress gave the president all includes this sort of thing.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Well, of course, it does not. I was there when that happened. I remember just briefly before we passed the resolution to go after Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Them coming up and saying, by the way, could we expand this to give us other powers beyond the law? We said no.

The White House never came back after that to ask for any further powers. We gave them the authority to go after Osama bin Laden. In fact, many of us, both Republicans and Democrats, were terribly disappointed when we found out that instead of catching Osama bin Laden when we had a chance to catch Osama bin Laden, our most elite forces were yanked out of Afghanistan and sent into Iraq.

Ouch, thats gotta sting. Unka Karl Rove probably couldn’t sleep that night trying to think of ways to smear Senator Leahy.

Breaking Newz:In 2002, Justice Department said eavesdropping law working well

A July 2002 Justice Department statement to a Senate committee appears to contradict several key arguments that the Bush administration is making to defend its eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without court warrants.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law governing such operations, was working well, the department said in 2002. A “significant review” would be needed to determine whether FISA’s legal requirements for obtaining warrants should be loosened because they hampered counterterrorism efforts, the department said then.
President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other top officials now argue that warrantless eavesdropping is necessary in part because complying with the FISA law is too burdensome and impedes the government’s ability to rapidly track communications between suspected terrorists.

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.- Abraham Lincoln

Rejecting Bin Laden And Cheney

It was something of a political anthropology overload: to witness on the same day Osama the moral troglodyte emerging from his cave, and Dick the collector of indictments emerging from his bunker, both delivering ideological sermons. Neither was very convincing or appealing. Their deadly, supposedly divinely sanctioned, combination of arrogance and violence has elicited the rejection and active political resistance of virtually the entire world. And in any case, both these guys are already in some trouble with the law.

update: I did want to add the disclaimer or stipulation to the Rejecting article that until Hamas gives up violence.terrorism as a means to an end, then they’re part of the problem, not the solution. If thse elections are a turning point for them and they take a more progessive approach in dealing with Israel thats great, but I won’t believe it until I see it.

A tiny spot of blood was the only positive clue to the identity of Clark Douglas’ murderer— but Dr. Feather knew how to make that bloodspot talk!

from the short story CLUE IN CRIMSON by Ray Cummings

makes us older human beings, with our inward turmoil, feel a certain awe in the presence of a little child

While I’m sure that General Hayden the former NSA Director is a fine American, perhaps he has an unhealthy respect for authority with the resulting affinity for hogwash despersement, The “Bad Law” defense

If FISA worked just as well, why wouldn’t I use FISA? To save typing? No. There is an operational impact here, and I have two paths in front of me, both of them lawful, one FISA, one the presidential — the president’s authorization. And we go down this path because our operational judgment is it is much more effective. So we do it for that reason.

To appreciate just how illegal this non-FISA “second path” for eavesdropping is, one can just read Section 1809 of FISA, which expressly provides that “[a] person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally – (1) engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute. . . .” And Section 2511(2)(f) provides that FISA “shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . may be conducted.”

The Administration’s new FISA defense is factually false
It looks like the general was not briefed as thoroughly as he should have, now the administration is stuck with defending either the old excuse for warrantless searches or the new one. In at least one case they’ve been caught twisting the law and in the other case twisting , breaking, and lying.

This has extremely significant implications for the Administration’s claims made yesterday through Gen. Hayden as to why it was necessary to bypass FISA. The Administration’s claim that the “probable cause” component of FISA was preventing it from engaging in the eavesdropping it needed is the opposite of what it told Congress when refusing to support the DeWine Amendment. And its claim that Congress knew of and approved of its FISA-bypassing eavesdrop program is plainly negated by the fact that the same Congress was debating whether such changes should be effectuated and then refused to approve much less extreme changes to FISA than what the Administration secretly implemented on its own (and which it now claims Congress authorized).

This may seem to some to be unrelated to the NSA controversy, yet to many people it speaks to lack of openness that time after time has not been used to guard against unreasonable breaches of executive confidentiality, but to hide a certain level of deviousness and incompetence that charactrizes this administration and its Congressional handmaidens………White House Declines to Provide Storm Papers

Mr. Duffy said the administration had also declined to provide storm-related e-mail correspondence and other communications involving White House staff members. Mr. Rapuano has given briefings to the committees, but the sessions were closed to the public and were not considered formal testimony.

“The White House and the administration are cooperating with both the House and Senate,” Mr. Duffy said. “But we have also maintained the president’s ability to get advice and have conversations with his top advisers that remain confidential.”

Yet even Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, objected when administration officials who were not part of the president’s staff said they could not testify about communications with the White House.

“I completely disagree with that practice,” Ms. Collins, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in an interview Tuesday.

According to Mr. Lieberman, Michael D. Brown, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, cited such a restriction on Monday, as agency lawyers had advised him not to say whether he had spoken to President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney or to comment on the substance of any conversations with any other high-level White House officials.

That would be the same Mike Brown of whom Bush said, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” after hurricane Katrina.

Update to the post I did about the ancient Chinese map, “Chinese Columbus” Map Likely Fake, Experts Say

But experts have dismissed the map as a fake.

They say the map resembles a French 17th-century world map with its depiction of California as an island.

That China is not shown in the center also suggests the Chinese did not make the map, one expert says.

Historians, meanwhile, dismiss the idea that Zheng He, an admiral in the Ming dynasty’s imperial navy, sailed to America. (See National Geographic magazine feature: “China’s Great Armada.”)

“There’s absolutely no evidence that Zheng He’s voyages went anywhere past the east coast of Africa,” said Shih-Shan Henry Tsai, a history professor at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

While Alito may be confirmed its never too late to stand up for American values and principle. from Think Progress

During this morning’s hearing, Sen. Russ Feingold noted that the same lawyers who created the legal justifications for Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program coached Alito about how to answer questions during the confirmation hearings

A petitition to let your Senator know that you’re concerned about Alito’s extremme judicial activism,

Dear Senators,
The Senate must reject President Bush’s attempt to reward right-wing special interests by nominating Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court of the United States. Alito’s record as an ideological activist would make his confirmation a threat to civil rights protections, reproductive and privacy rights, environmental protections, religious liberty, and laws safeguarding workers.
I urge you to vote not to confirm Samuel Alito to a lifetime position on the Supreme Court of the United States.

This is one of those stories that you read and wish would get more attention. Child abuse dressed up as drup treatment

A string of residential drug treatment programs for juveniles based on the “tough love” principle has been abusing children — and occasionally killing them — for three decades now. Some of them have been moved off-shore, and beyond the reach of U.S. regulators, after the authorities here got wind of what was going on.

(It won’t surprise you to know that many of the program operators have strong Republican connections. Mel Sembler, for example, founder of the notorious Straight, Inc., is a major Republican fundraiser and was GWB’s ambassador to Rome; his wife Betty chaired Jeb Bush’s gubernatorial campaign.)

Maia Szalavitz has written a book about it called Help at Any Cost, and according to Mark Kleiman its not being done by a big publishing house so the promotion for the book will be small. Anyone that is interested should contact whoever you usually buy your books from to request that they make it available. I’ll assume at least some of the stray readers that might pass by this page do some of their own blogging, those folks might want to consider mentioning it on your blog, maybe all together we can generate a little buzz. It would help a lot of course if the MSM, like 20/20 for instance would do a story.

“She was perfectly quiet now, but not asleep–only soothed by sweet porridge and warmth into that wide-gazing calm which makes us older human beings, with our inward turmoil, feel a certain awe in the presence of a little child, such as we feel before some quiet majesty or beauty in the earth or sky–before a steady glowing planet, or a full-flowered eglantine, or the bending trees over a silent pathway.” – George Eliot, Silas Marner

They generally turned up a few hours after darkness fell

President Equivacator of Truth opened up his tiresome public relations approach to any and all problems Monday by apparently speaking to a dog made of straw, Bush Says Surveillance Legal and Necessary

Bush on Monday rejected critics’ assertion that he broke the law by authorizing domestic eavesdropping without a warrant, saying he was doing what Congress authorized him to do to protect Americans from terrorist attacks.


“It’s amazing that people say to me, `Well, he’s just breaking the law,” the president said, with Roberts sitting behind him on stage at Kansas State University. “If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?”

President Equivacator may try being amazed at the amazement of those that are paying attention. Congressional Agency Questions Legality of Wiretaps

The Congressional Research Service opinion said that the amended 1947 law requires President Bush to keep all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees “fully and currently informed” of such intelligence activities as the domestic surveillance effort.

Two important issues here. One, and its nothing new, Bush is lying when he says that he has undertaken this spying program with the approval of Congress. To use Bush’s own school yard logic, its amazing that it would put words in Cogress’s mouth that were never spoken or ascribe oversite actions to Congress that they were never able to perform.

The White House has said it informed congressional leaders about the NSA program in more than a dozen briefings, but has refused to provide further details. At a minimum, the briefings included the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence oversight committees and the two ranking Democrats, known collectively as the “Gang of Four,” according to various sources.

“We believe that Congress was appropriately briefed,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said in a statement last night.

There are about 435 Representatives in Congress and 100 Senators and at minimum we have had 4 people get about a dozen briefings, not to mention that the Senate Intelligence Committee has never been allowed any oversite.

When people have been asked in other polls to balance their worries about terrorist threats against their worries about intrusions on privacy, fighting terror is the higher priority.

That is kind of the history of humanity, people have always be too quick to give up their rights in face of threats, real or imagined. That Bush and supporters are all too willing to exploit those fears are a very good example of this cadres Machiavellian approach to politics. It has never been their effort to walk that noble line that balances security and liberty, to inform the populace, to educate and calm the people, but to exploit American public opinion to any electoral advantage they can squeeze out of any issue. There are many factors that go into making a good statesman and using fear and false equivalence is not among them, but it is indicative of extremists political manipulators.
Yet again and we will see it echoed across right-wing pundit-land is the complete and total lie that the issue is about spying on terrorists. Each and every time Bush or one of his minions pulls this straw doll out of their moist pockets, they’re pulling the same public image trick that every despot has learned in public manipulation 101, contort the issue to your advantage no matter how far you have to sink into the sewer…..Daschle: Congress Denied Bush War Powers in U.S.

The Justice Department acknowledged yesterday, in a letter to Congress, that the president’s October 2001 eavesdropping order did not comply with “the ‘procedures’ of” the law that has regulated domestic espionage since 1978. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, established a secret intelligence court and made it a criminal offense to conduct electronic surveillance without a warrant from that court, “except as authorized by statute.”

Bush claims powers that Congress did not give, Bush claims the DOJ said it was OK and DOJ admitted Bush’s procedures didn’t comply with law.

“Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words ‘in the United States and’ after ‘appropriate force’ in the agreed-upon text,” Daschle wrote. “This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas — where we all understood he wanted authority to act — but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused.”

Looking at the new so-called campaign to rescue this Gang of Punks approach to handling an issue that they cannot even acknowledge in honest terms, the Punk Gang’s Brain, Karl Rove: Rove Wrong on Domestic Spying

“This statement is factually false, and Rove has to know that it’s false. Nobody of any note – let alone “some important Democrats”-disagree that it’s “in our national security interest to know” who Al Qaeda is calling and why. Nobody opposes eavesdropping on Al Qaeda, and Rove knows that. And yet, here he is, claiming, falsely, that the NSA scandal is based on a disagreement about whether the Government should be eavesdropping on Al Qaeda, even though no such disagreement exists…

Karl Rove ethics, with the help of a construction crane might some day raise to the level of pond scum. Maybe.

Via blatherWatch, The Northwest Progressive Institute has started a progressive podcast. This is a link to some torrents from The Mike Malloy Show on Air America and The Randi Rhodes Show

. . . . . . . . .
This night, now drawing to its close, was no exception. Nor did he have to wait for the shadows – or the visitors, as he sometimes called them – to put in an appearance. They generally turned up a few hours after darkness fell. Were there without warning, by his side, with silent white faces. He’d got used to their presence after all the years, but he knew he couldn’t trust them. One of these days they’d be bound to break loose. He didn’t know what would happen then. Would they attack him, or would they betray him? There had been times when he’d shouted at them, hit out in all directions to drive them off. He’d kept them at bay for a while. Then they’d be back and stay until dawn. He’d sleep in the end, but usually for only a few hours because he needed to get up and go to work. –
Excerpted from The Return of the Dancing Master by Henning Mankell Copyright © 2000 by Henning Mankell