What we got here is a failure to communicate. Some men you can’t reach…

It looks like all that talk about cleaning up their act just means putting a new old face in charge…For Boehner, Reform Begins Corruption Continues at Home

That’s right, the new ethically pure, reformist, anti-corruption Congressional Republicans will be led by a Republican from Ohio. Boehner is a member of a male-only country club with a $75,000 initiation fee. Maybe that cleaned out his bank account, which is why he had to take almost $14,000 in free trips from the lobbyist-connected Ripon Society. He also has a history as a bag man for the tobacco lobby during his days as a capo for Newt Gingrich, even going so far as to disburse checks from tobacco lobbyists to Republican members on the floor of the United States Congress.

and here…..Boehner can rely on K Street Cabinet

The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill on more connections between Cunningham alleged co-conspirator Brent Wilkes and the DeLay-connected Alexander Strategy Group

A capsule history of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance scandal is that the NYT broke the story followed by six weeks of Bush and right-wing blogs talking about how great it was and even giving it a name “terrorist surveillance program”. Let’s leave aside for the moment that the debate is not about spying on America’s enemies, domestic or foreign. If the program is as cute and innocent as a basket of puppies then why hasn’t the administration been more forthcoming in private closed session with members of the Senate Senate Intelligence Committee . The very reason that the Intelligence Committee exists is oversight. The executive branch of government has no inherent right implicitly or explicitly to conduct intelligence activities free of oversight from the people’s representatives. Democrats and Bush Aides Spar in Senate Over U.S. Spying

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, compared the administration’s public disclosures of information about the N.S.A. program in the six weeks since it was initially reported to what he described as a similarly misleading use of intelligence prior to the war in Iraq.

“I am deeply troubled by what I see as the administration’s continued effort to selectively release intelligence information that supports its policy or political agenda while withholding equally pertinent information that does not do that,” Mr. Rockefeller said.

Mr. Negroponte and other senior intelligence officials noted that President Bush and Vice President Cheney had made the decision to limit briefings on the N.S.A. program to just eight members of Congress: leaders of the Senate and House and of the intelligence committees from both parties.

“This was not about domestic surveillance,” he said. “It was about dealing with the terrorist threat in the most agile and effective way possible.”

Let me translate Negroponte’s point. While the executive branch and the intelligence community is accountable to Congress keeping you guys informed cramps our style and if we told you untold thousands of terrorists would get away. Since terrorists are dumb, but not dumb as rocks its a sure bet to assume they know they’re being spyed on.

In one pointed exchange, Senator Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, a Democrat, asked Mr. Negroponte whether there were any other intelligence programs that had not been revealed to the full intelligence committees.

The intelligence chief hesitated, then replied, “Senator, I don’t know if I can answer that in open session.”

A similarly revealing sparring session came when Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, pressed the intelligence officials about whether a controversial Pentagon data-mining program called Total Information Awareness had been effectively transferred to the intelligence agencies after being shut down by Congress.

If these guys can’t figure out a way to protect America without undermining the democratic principles and rule of law that make us a free nation then maybe these are not the guys that should be in charge. Remember the children’s fairy tale The Boy Who Cried Wolf as I remember the lesson of the story was not to yell false alarms or to exaggerate dangers. The result might be that one day there will be a very real threat and no one will believe you. Remember this golden oldie from Condi Rice speaking about Iraq:

“The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

That statement, that approach to national security is costing about two American lives a day and about 1.5 billion dollars a week and as we all know there were no WMD or ways to deliver them. I quoted Senator Patrick Leahy in a previous post:

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

Now instead of mushroom clouds we have thousands of Al Queda agents in the US gabbing on the phone and sending a constant stream of e-mails. So many in fact that the Whitehouse can’t abide by the FISA laws that allow for domestic surveillance for the first 72 hours without a warrant and a compliant secret FISA court ready and willing to issue warrants. They also can’t be bothered to put on a clean shirt, shine their shoes and ask Congress to modify the law because that how they do things in Kansas and we ain’t in Kansas anymore. The Boys and Girls who Cried Wolf once too often Administration that won’t let democracy work because they don’t trust democracy.

By way of the Progressive Prof, Senator Russ Feingold (D) finds as much irony as I do about Bush and his Congressional cheerleaders,   “Bush’s pre-1776 mentality”

I’ve seen some strange things in my life, but I cannot describe the feeling I had, sitting on the House floor during Tuesday’s State of the Union speech, listening to the President assert that his executive power is, basically, absolute, and watching several members of Congress stand up and cheer him on. It was surreal and disrespectful to our system of government and to the oath that as elected officials we have all sworn to uphold. Cheering? Clapping? Applause? All for violating the law?
The President and his administration continue their spin and media blitz in attempts to defend the fact that they broke, and continue to break, the law. Their weak and shifting justifications for doing so continue.

Another story of false alarms. Isn’t there a rule in logic and ethics that a certain number of fabrications adds up to zero credibility? Iraq, Niger, And The CIA

Vice President Cheney and his then-Chief of Staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby were personally informed in June 2003 that the CIA no longer considered credible the allegations that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from the African nation of Niger, according to government records and interviews with current and former officials. The new CIA assessment came just as Libby and other senior administration officials were embarking on an effort to discredit an administration critic who had also been saying that the allegations were untrue.

Lesson never build your presidency out of lies, another revealing memo surfaces  Blair-Bush deal before Iraq war revealed in secret memo

A memo of a two-hour meeting between the two leaders at the White House on January 31 2003 – nearly two months before the invasion – reveals that Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme.

 

At the risk of blowing a fuse in any concerned American’s outrage meter,  Female Soldiers Dehydrating Themselves to Avoid Rape

 

Some more listening pleasure for that commute or wait at the bus stop in mp3 or ogg vorbis: The Stolen White Elephant by Mark Twain

In this Mark Twain short story an Indian elephant, en route from India to Britain as a gift to Queen, disappears in New Jersey. The local police department goes into high gear to solve the mystery but it all comes to a tragic end.
(Summary written by Kristen McQuillin)

CAPTAIN (to Luke)
You gonna get used to wearing them
chains aftera while, Luke. But don’t
you never stop listenin’ to them
clinkin’. That’s gonna remind you of
what I been sayin’.

LUKE
Yeah, they sure do make a lot of
cold, hard, noise, Captain.

The Captain feeds his fury staring, then reaches out his
hand and Boss Paul lays the blackjack in it. As the chain
guards finish and stand up, trembling with rage, the Captain
takes a convulsive step forward and brings the sap down behind
Luke’s ear. As Luke tumbles down the littered embankment
toward the men:

CAPTAIN
Don’t you never talk that way to me!
You hear? You hear? Never!

His rage subsides and his voice becomes calm, reasonable.

CAPTAIN
(to the men)
What we got here is a failure to
communicate. Some men you can’t reach,
that is they just don’t listen when
you talk reasonable so you get what
we had here last week, which is the
way he wants it, well he gets it,
and I don’t like it any better than
you men.

from “COOL HAND LUKE” screenplay by Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson
Based on the novel by Donn Pearce