what branches grow Out of this stony rubbish?

Wired has a good summary of where we are now as far as the various ways and means in which the Bush administration and a complacent, if not complicit Congress have bent, circumvented, or broken the law. As I wrote previously it is important to keep the activities of the NSA separate from those of the FBI. Both agencies have different missions, operate under different internal guide lines, and each has their own restrictions and prerogatives under law. With that in mind it is reasonable to look at the big picture. That we are now in a deeply immersed in a society of paranoia, surveillance, and partisan exploitation of fear. Clearly most Americans want a certain level of protection and it is equally clear to those that believe in democracy first, party politics second, that the administration has erred too far on the side of over reaction. As usual much of the public is more concerned with paying for their kids dental bills and their mortgage at the end of the month then whatever the powers in Washington are up to. Yet there is, according to the polls anyway a large segment of the population that has real concerns about government overstepping its bounds in disregarding Americans constitutional protections against unreasonable searches. Bush has been both reluctant to fully inform Congress, the American people and has been stingy about disseminating information. We're back to the the infamous modus operandi of Bush and most conservatives, trust us and we'll do the right thing. Our founders and our history teach us that many of those in power are easily morally corrupted by said power and we were conceived as a nation of laws for that very reason ( Other then perhaps the first two decades after the Declaration of Independence I don't think any single political movement has enjoyed such unfettered political power as modern conservatives and exercised that power in such malevolent ways). Democrats could be making more noise about the situation, doing more in focusing a national spotlight on Bush and the conservative side of the aisle, but with a few exceptions have failed to fight on against this culture of paranoia as hard as they should. I know the strategy is to play it safe with midterms looming, but as more and more surveillance abuses unfold voters may get so fed up that a certain percentage will stay home thinking why expend an effort on voting for a party that in general been so quiet on these issues of grave impact on the future of our country. As expected most, though not all conservatives are in fact comforted by Big Brother. I can take some personal satisfaction in my life long suspicions that the conservative mistrust of big gov'ment were carefully crafted propaganda to appeal to the Timothy McVeigh crowd and corporate America, but that is cold solace at best. Not that those in power give a damn, but the concerns of moderate minded American could be rather easily assuaged. Just briefly,

Obviously the FBI is abusing its powers under the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act should be amended to include judicial oversight of NSL letters. The FBI leadership should be changed and people with excellent records of competence and respect for constitutional safeguards of civil liberties put in leadership positions.

The president and NSA should be held accountable for any directives that were/are in violation of FISA laws. The president should be censured.

Congress should strongly assert its oversight role in operations regarding national security ( If for no other reason then that of competence; we are spending too much of secuirty assets on chasing down empty rabbit holes). This president and every president is bound to uphold the rule of law and respect the role of Congress and the courts.

Those members of Congress, such as Senator Pat Roberts should be censured for complicity in the administrations usurpation of laws passed by Congress and for failure to carry out his oath of office.

A four member bi-partisan panel from the Senate should be appointed to investigate and give general administrative guidance to the NSA and to report any wrong doing to the Senate Intelligence Committee ( for those that say we shoudn't mind being spied on if we have nothing to hide. If the NSA's activities are all above board they shouldn't mind a little investigation). The FISA Court should be able to review any and all activities regarding the FBI's spying on journalists and recommend legal action against those that have abused the Patriot Act to the DOJ.

Davis Neiwert on the distinction between christians and christianists. The later which has a particularly unamerican political and social agenda.

New Nude Dude Ranch Opens in Arizona

The 30-acre Mira Vista Resort has opened as a "clothing-optional" resort, where nudists can enjoy lounging by the pool, playing tennis, doing yoga or even Pilates.

"It's hard to go back to wearing a bathing suit once you've tried it nude," Dave Landman, one of six new owners, told the Arizona Daily Star.

One, I wish he hadn't used the word "hard". Two, being nude on horseback in the hot western sun will almost always lead to discomforts better left for the imagination.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, 20
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,

from The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot