and the light of his soul flickered with shame

Thoughts from Kansas, FISA gutted to protect the President?

Balkinization asks “Mother of Mercy, Is This the End of FISA?!,” as Senator Specter proposes a law that, rather than addressing the legality of the current system, would simply let FISA warrants be issued for anyone at all:

the bill would permit domestic electronic surveillance targeted at U.S. persons merely upon a showing of “probable cause” that the surveillance program as a whole — not even the particular targeted surveillance — will intercept communications of anyone who has “had communication” with a foreign power or agent of a foreign power, as long as the government is seeking to monitor or detect that foreign power (or agent)!

How many people are there who have no probable chance of ever talking to someone who has talked to someone who might have called another country or had communication with some bad person. (Foreign agent and foreign power are defined in FISA, and Congress already broadened those definitions after 9/11).

And even if such a person existed, what is there to prevent the President from using this new law as toilet paper once he’s done with the FISA that already exists?

If you were thinking that the changes would lower the standards for FISA or twist FISA and the 4th Amendment to the point of being comical, The Anonymous Liberal beat you to the punch, Specter’s Trojan Horse

So instead of having to demonstrate that probable cause exists on a warrant by warrant basis, the government would only have to demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe the program as a whole will intercept at least one communication involving a foreign power or agent of a foreign power or someone who has communicated with such a person. That’s a comically weak standard, so weak that I doubt any conceivable surveillance program would fail to meet it, including dragnet-style data-mining programs.

from People for the American Way,

Demand a Special Prosecutor Investigate the White House for Illegal Spying

Millions of Americans are outraged by the White House’s warrantless domestic surveillance and its disdain for constitutional checks and balances. Join us in a call for a thorough, independent investigation of these practices. Calling for a Special Prosecutor is an important first step in a People For the American Way campaign to encourage public vigilance in pursuit of government transparency, accountability and oversight.

Sign the petition and pass on the good word!

As in stop complaining and do something.

Bush Team Squeezes Farmers, Stifles Dissent

McGavin, ‘A Christmas Story’ father, dies at 83

The husky, tough-talking performer went on to become one of the busiest actors in television and film, starring in five TV series, including “Mike Hammer,” and endearing holiday audiences with his role as the grouchy dad in the 1983 comedy classic “A Christmas Story.”

….He also starred alongside Don Knotts, who died Friday night, in the 1976 family comedy “No Deposit, No Return.”

I thought McGavin was great. He was great at playing gruff or tough guy with a heart of gold. He even admitted that he played some parts a little tonque and cheek, not being sure that he should take the character as seriously as written.

Doesn’t seem like a week can go by without the neocons weakening the nation in one way or another, some governors of both parties have noticed, Bush Policies Are Weakening National Guard, Governors Say

Tens of thousands of National Guard members have been sent to Iraq, along with much of the equipment needed to deal with natural disasters and terrorist threats in the United States, the governors said here at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

The National Guard, which traces its roots to the colonial militia, has a dual federal-state role. Governors normally command the Guard in their states, but Guard members deployed overseas in support of a federal mission are under the control of the president.

The governors said they would present their concerns to President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday. In a preview of their message, all 50 governors signed a letter to the president opposing any cuts in the size of the National Guard.

German Intelligence Gave U.S. Iraqi Defense Plan, Report Says

In providing the Iraqi document, German intelligence officials offered more significant assistance to the United States than their government has publicly acknowledged. The plan gave the American military an extraordinary window into Iraq’s top-level deliberations, including where and how Mr. Hussein planned to deploy his most loyal troops.

The German role is not the only instance in which nations that publicly cautioned against the war privately facilitated it. Egypt and Saudi Arabia, for example, provided more help than they have disclosed. Egypt gave access for refueling planes, while Saudi Arabia allowed American special operations forces to initiate attacks from its territory, United States military officials say.

My first thought was that this would explain , in addition to very well trained troops why the initial invasion wave was so successful. It would also highlight how miserably the administration did after that initial success in evaluating the resistance of the insurgency where there was no inside information.

He saw that he was good. He recalled with a thrill of joy the respectful comments of his fellows upon his conduct.

Nevertheless, the ghost of his flight from the first engagement appeared to him and danced. There were small shoutings in his brain about these matters. For a moment he blushed, and the light of his soul flickered with shame.

A specter of reproach came to him. There loomed the dogging memory of the tattered soldier–he who, gored by bullets and faint of blood, had fretted concerning an imagined wound in another; he who had loaned his last of strength and intellect for the tall soldier; he who, blind with weariness and pain, had been deserted in the field.

from The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane