leaving but the odd holes and corners to me

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A summary of the Hamdan decision at SCOTUSblog, Hamdan Summary — And HUGE News

Even more importantly for present purposes, the Court held that Common Article 3 of Geneva applies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda. That is the HUGE part of today’s ruling. The commissions are the least of it. This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons “shall in all circumstances be treated humanely,” and that “[t]o this end,” certain specified acts “are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever”—including “cruel treatment and torture,” and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.”

Some brief and to the point commentary by The Anonymous Liberal A Stunning Rebuke which includes,

As I read that, it’s virtually dispositive of the administration’s arguments with respect the NSA warrantless surveillance program. If the AUMF doesn’t authorize this type of tribunal, it’s hard to see how it could possibly authorize warrantless surveillance in contravention of FISA.

A frothing at the gills right-winger at PoliPundit (no links to the insane) writes,

This morning, the United States of America signed the instrument of surrender with al Queda and all affiliated terror organizations.

and Poli puts up a quote from another crazy from The Corner,

Make no mistake: if this happens, the Supreme Court will have dictated that we now have a treaty with al Qaeda — which no President, no Senate, and no vote of the American people would ever countenance.

These wingers are a little over the top to say the least; one of the many problems of conservatism is the complete embrace of the chicken-little complex. The decision is based on some complex law, but simply means that we in our conflict with al Qaeda are bound by existing law in the way we conduct military operations ( Poli says he was in the military. How unfortunate for the bright brave men and women who had to serve with him). Terrorists may still be tried by commissions, but must be tried according to the rules of war. It is difficult to take seriously people that don’t think you can battle terrorism without sinking to the level of terrorists. The right’s contempt for military traditions and codes of conduct isn’t the least surprising. To them the military has never been about national defense as much as it has been an expression of nationalistic power and personal issues of insecurity. I am glad to see them being so honest about wanting the U.S. to officially lower its moral standing into the muck of torture, cruelty, kidnapping, and puppet show trials. It is at times like this that I question the traditional labeling as the far right fringe embraces attitudes that would make Joseph Stalin proud.

Noted: Another clog in the wingnuttery blog machine – i.e. The Jawa Report says that he is back to blogging after a quite harrowing ordeal,

After nearly two weeks of fighting a cyberterrorist attack launched by Turkish Islamists, and then wrestling with a new server, The Jawa Report is back!

It is a little odd that these pinnacles of paranoia are always suffering cyber attacks from supposed jihadists (Turkey happens to be a member of NATO). If true it doesn’t speak well for the intelligence of terrorists who deem it necessary to strike deep at the heart of the internets 101st Fighting Hypocrites; who have done as much to fight terrorism as Bin Laden and Bush have contributed to world peace. He is “back!” which means that the Iraqi insurgency is now quivering in its boots, Bin Laden will surrender, and all of America’s children will now have health insurance.

No More Mister Nice Blog takes a look at the rantings of Peggy Noonan who is proof of the adage that if your synapses are glued together with silly putty, but you’re a rich white conservative they will not put you in a padded cell no matter what you say,

Bush the Younger would breastfeed the military if he could.

Well I also feel like a gossip site reporting on the on going feud between reality and conservatives; reality according to conservatives isn’t all it is cracked up to be. That being the case they haven’t come up with any attractive alternatives; then there is their math problems. I’m sure we all sympathize, Real GDP Growth for the Past Two Quarters

Actually, it’s 2.75% for the past 5.25 years and the average annual growth rate for Clinton’s 8-years in office was 3.7%. If the OMB forecast turns out to be right – the average for Bush43’s will be only 2.9%. I do hope Mr. Goldberg realizes that 3.7 exceeds 2.9.

We all know Jonah can’t write, but lacking the cognitive ability to distinguish between single digits is cause for concern. Note: In no way am I suggesting that Peggy The Loon or Jonah Goldenboy not be published, on the contrary making little marks on the pretty paper with their crayons keeps them from causing any real damage.

Pirates pursued democracy, helped American colonies survive

Like the American revolutionaries, pirates developed three branches of government with checks and balances. The ship captain was elected, just as the U.S. president; the pirate assembly was comparable to Congress; and the quartermaster resembled a judge in settling shipmate disputes and preventing the captain from overstepping his authority, he said.

Colonists and pirates also were alike in emphasizing written laws, democratic representation and due process, Acosta said. All crew members were allowed to vote, ship charters had to be signed by every man on board, and anyone who lost an eye or a leg was compensated financially, he said.

A wistful look back at the good old days.

From this habitual precedence of my chimney over me, some even think that I have got into a sad rearward way altogether; in short, from standing behind my old- fashioned chimney so much, I have got to be quite behind the age too, as well as running behindhand in everything else. But to tell the truth, I never was a very forward old fellow, nor what my farming neighbors call a forehanded one. Indeed, those rumors about my behindhandedness are so far correct, that I have an odd sauntering way with me sometimes of going about with my hands behind my back. As for my belonging to the rear-guard in general, certain it is, I bring up the rear of my chimney–which, by the way, is this moment before me–and that, too, both in fancy and fact. In brief, my chimney is my superior; my superior, too, in that humbly bowing over with shovel and tongs, I much minister to it; yet never does it minister, or incline over to me; but, if anything, in its settlings, rather leans the other way.

My chimney is grand seignior here–the one great domineering object, not more of the landscape, than of the house; all the rest of which house, in each architectural arrangement, as may shortly appear, is, in the most marked manner, accommodated, not to my wants, but to my chimney’s, which, among other things, has the centre of the house to himself, leaving but the odd holes and corners to me.

from I and My Chimney by Herman Melville

I am the best man in the world, and yet I have already killed three men

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I found this piece via The Reality-Based Community, SWIFT and Europe

European citizens are unlikely to be any happier about foreign authorities going through their financial information than US citizens would be under similar circumstances. Hostile newspaper stories are already beginning to bubble up (e.g. this one from the front page of today’s Irish Times). Even if EU member states have (as is entirely possible) known about the SWIFT arrangement and turned a blind eye, it’s going to be very hard for them to come out and justify it in public.

So while it may be that the way Bush/CIA is using SWIFT may be legal ( disregarding for the moment the constitutional issues involved in not having Congressional oversight) according to U.S. law, the EU may see it differently. Certainly there will be those back water conservatives that could care less what the Europeans think, but the two thousand dollar suit conservatives who do business with the EU are probably not thrilled at any action taken by Bush that may dampen business relationships. Some may be shaking their heads now wondering why Bush didn’t put his all his ducks in a row by checking with the individual European interests that might be effected. Bush’s arrogance has again further isolated us from our most reliable partners in fighting terrorism. The EU, being closer to the threats posed by terrorism has a bigger stake in fighting terrorism then the U.S. so it doesn’t seem that it would be in our best interests to alienate people that we rely on for intelligence and strategic cooperation anymore then we already have. People in Europe do vote and have plenty of experience dealing with governments that claim to be taking away civil liberties in the name of security. Some lowly adviser somewhere in the basement of the State Department or elsewhere probably mentioned this and was ignored, as all advisers are in the Bush administration when they do not tell Sir George and Sir Dick what they want to hear. Like much of what Bush does within his inflatable wall of self delusion, with the usual smattering of applause from the wing-nut cheer-leading squad, is erect multiple obstacles to fighting terrorism for every one that he takes down. The conservative movement seems to really enjoy the idea that Bush has done more to extend the battle against terrorism then to shorten it. The whole wobbly Bush stage production, cheap seats, smoke and  mirrors is the porn of choice for those that think wistfully of the end-times. Every Bush screw-up is really a victory for conservatives, it extends for some indefinite time their theme song “Keep us in Power or Die”. Bill Clinton’s eight years of relative peace and prosperity is something that they hope people will forget in light of the threat of imminent death – the only thing that conservatives have to fear is that people will stop being afraid – from which only the big Daddy of conservatism can save us, while with boring predictability yet another misbegotten plan gets us deeper into the tar pit. Much easier to attack the press which only rolls over like an obedient little puppy for conservatives most of the time.

update: As the sheep herd of conservatism runs around assuring everyone that once again the world is coming to an end because one of Bush’s pet programs has been revealed by the big bad liberal press, remember that the Bush administration revealed that they were watching bank activities back in 2002, Bank-tapping: What’s the big deal?

Repeatedly since 9/11 a barrage of Bush administration press releases, speeches and congressional testimony heralded its aggressive works to target terrorist finances around the world. In a June 2002 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Deputy Treasury Secretary Kenneth W. Dam boasted that the United States was working with private-sector partners internationally on “developing monitoring systems” of bank accounts, noting that such cooperation was necessary because “you can’t bomb a foreign bank account.”

The other major objection is that jihadists were not reading newspapaers in 2002 so they were still using international bank transfers to send money (try not to laugh as hard as the jihadists probably do at conservatives) Commentary: Hawala — swifter than SWIFT

President Bush’s denunciation of the New York Times seemed a tad hyperbolic. Transnational terrorists have studiously avoided getting tangled in the ones and zeros of electronic interception in favor of a time-honored, time-tested, interception-proof system known as Hawala (Arabic for “transfer” or “wire”). It’s an informal funds transfer (IFT) mechanism, swifter than SWIFT that leaves no paper or digital trail.

It is based entirely on trust between two individuals separated by thousands of miles. Hawala is much faster than a normal bank transfer. Originally devised as protection against the dangers of traveling with gold and precious stones and other forms of payment on roads prowled by bandits, today’s system is transnational.

Do conservative get their foreign policy and national security insights from Larry, Moe, or Curley.

Have Your Burger and Eat It, Too

What’s a health-conscious burger lover to do? The real thing tends to have too many calories and too much fat, but meatless burgers seem to lack the flavor and consistency of real beef.

St. Louis-based Solae has come up with a solution, a patent-pending invention called SoleCina that involves both the process and the ingredients to produce either a “hybrid” meat — part soy, part real meat — or a completely meatless food that tastes like chicken, beef, pork or turkey.

The company said both versions taste — and feel to the mouth — much like real meat, but are much healthier. For example, a hybrid burger dubbed the “Better Burger” by Solae has two-third the calories and half the fat and saturated fat as a burger of comparable size.

I had a few soy burgers years ago and wasn’t impressed, maybe they have come up with a better recipe. One that doesn’t taste like old cereal would be a good start.

A New Assault on Workers’ Rights

The pending decisions in Kentucky River could be Yeshiva on steroids for workers in every state, occupation and industry who have ever given incidental direction to a colleague or coworker in the performance of their job. The United States is already paying a high economic, social and political price for its failure to protect workers’ freedom to form unions; the Bush labor board’s rulings may be about to make a bad situation dramatically worse.

For America’s workers, the stakes could not be higher. When it comes to wages, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment, collective bargaining plays a critical role. It raises wages, not only for union members, but for all workers. It reduces race and gender pay gaps by bringing the wages of women and workers of color closer to parity with white males.

In the United States, the only industrialized nation without universal public health insurance, collective bargaining enables workers and their families to have decent affordable health care; only 2.5% of union members lack health insurance coverage, versus 15% of non-union workers. Retirement income security has become virtually non-existent for workers who lack the protection of a union contract, but is still widespread for union members. Workers without a union contract rarely have recourse if their employer disciplines or fires them unjustly; union members are nearly always protected against wrongful discipline or discharge by strong contract language. Collective bargaining gives workers a voice in their workplace and dignity on the job.

“Perhaps,” said he, “my dear Candide, we shall be fortunate enough to enter the town, sword in hand, and recover my sister Cunegund.”

“Ah! that would crown my wishes,” replied Candide; “for I intended to marry her; and I hope I shall still be able to effect it.”

“Insolent fellow!” cried the Baron. “You! you have the impudence to marry my sister, who bears seventy-two quarterings! Really, I think you have an insufferable degree of assurance to dare so much as to mention such an audacious design to me.”

Candide, thunderstruck at the oddness of this speech, answered:

“Reverend Father, all the quarterings in the world are of no signification. I have delivered your sister from a Jew and an Inquisitor; she is under many obligations to me, and she is resolved to give me her hand. My master, Pangloss, always told me that mankind are by nature equal. Therefore, you may depend upon it that I will marry your sister.”

“We shall see to that, villain!” said the Jesuit, Baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh, and struck him across the face with the flat side of his sword. Candide in an instant drew his rapier and plunged it up to the hilt in the Jesuit’s body; but in pulling it out reeking hot, he burst into tears.

“Good God!” cried he, “I have killed my old master, my friend, my brother-in-law. I am the best man in the world, and yet I have already killed three men, and of these three, two were priests.”

from Candide by Voltaire

Why is the Deliverator so equipped? Because people rely on him.

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Conservatives and Bush supporters in particular seem to start their day not with toast and coffee or any other normal routine, but rather work up a mouth full of bile and look around to see who they will accuse of treason that day. Nothing new in the sociopolitical minset of the far right, Joseph McCarthy once said of the 20th century’s greatest president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s term as “twenty years of treason”. As most people that have made it at least half way through high school know we have three branches of government. According to his oath of office the president is bound by the constitution to adhere to laws passed by Congress. The only option the president has is to veto laws he does not like thus forcing Congress to try and override his veto. Once a law has been passed the president has no choice under our current system of government other then enforce the law or appeal to the Supreme Court in the event that he finds the law unconstitutional. Circumventing this process in any way is a very fundamental and treacherous undermining of our system of government. I didn’t miss this story the first time around, but in light of yet another episode in the grandiose exercise of power where Congress was not allowed full oversight of an intelligence program ( Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror) it may be a good time to revisit this attack on the foundations of this democratic republic, The Biggest Legal Story You’ve Probably Missed

One of the most under-reported and misunderstood legal stories of our time is the story of the White House’s use of “signing statements” to try to undercut the effect of the legislation the President is triggering into law (but which he doesn’t necessarily agree with). The strategy and tactic is particularly disturbing because it comes from an Administration that has made expanded executive-branch power (and concomittantly blatant disrespect for the other two branches of government) a cornerstone of its philosophy of governance.

The signing statements gambit is rather clever. On the surface it sounds like for example in the case of anti-torture legislation that Bush is outlawing torture( which was already against the law, but that is another story), but his signing statement says he can torture if he feels he needs to. Yet the courts do not get to review the whole process because conservatives in Congress have and will continue to look for what is best for the public face of the republican party rather then uphold the principles on which our system of government rests. How this is not treason by the president aided and abetted by one party rule. The thinking or lack of same requires the kind of ideological pretzel twisting that we have all come to expect from conservatives not since Bush came to office, but since the days of McCarthy.

That darn liberal press is at it again, misquoting Rep.John Murtha (D-PA), Murtha claims he was misquoted

‘That was in reference to international polls. It was not so much his own conjecture, but a conclusion drawn from polls in various countries.’

“So this alleged and most controversial statement written by Baier appears to have taken his comments out of context.”

What Murtha should have said was that Bush and conservatives policies are as big a threat to world to world peace as Al-Quida. That would have been both true and accurate. Just think if Bush and his supporters continue to do as well fighting terrorism as they’ve done in getting us bogged down in Iraq and responding to natural disasters, we’re screwed.

Back to treason and those that have formed a kind of rabid lynch mob, who are as usual projecting. The entirety of the the conservative fringe case against the new York and L.A. Times rests on one thing, one argument, the infallibility and monarch like powers of an alcoholic who thinks he hears God’s voice telling him what to do. There may be treason in the air, but it is not coming from the press, Bank Shot

But, you know, this raises the same type of questions. Most importantly, the absence of congressional authorization. You know, the president is allowed to enforce the laws, he‘s not allowed to make them. He requires authorization from Congress. This is a constant theme.

And when Secretary Snow says the American people expect us to do things like that, unfortunately, it‘s true that every single week we have a new massive databank or a new, you know, surveillance program being revealed that has

Again, do not hold your breath waiting for conservatives to actually grapple with the issue at hand. Is the bank surveillance program legal, especially regards international banking transactions? It probably is. The issue is that the president of this democracy just can’t run whatever little secret programs he dreams up on any given day without congressional oversight. Power like that corrupts and it is being used by characters that most of us know are corrupt, Bank-tapping: What’s the big deal?

Repeatedly since 9/11 a barrage of Bush administration press releases, speeches and congressional testimony heralded its aggressive works to target terrorist finances around the world. In a June 2002 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Deputy Treasury Secretary Kenneth W. Dam boasted that the United States was working with private-sector partners internationally on “developing monitoring systems” of bank accounts, noting that such cooperation was necessary because “you can’t bomb a foreign bank account.”

But then, I do not take these complaints against the news media at face value. Instead, this is yet another round in a long-running campaign by the Bush administration to portray the news media as unpatriotic and therefore unworthy of public consumption.

In between practicing their noose making techniques in Mom’s basement that is really what the current shrill right-wing chorus is all about, that they have full and utter control of how reality is crafted. It is OK for Bush to leak. It is not OK for the press to report the administration’s abuse of power. It is OK for the administration to contradict itself every five minutes, it is not OK for the press to report that they do. It is far past time that conservatives or more aptly the blind nationalists to learn something about good old citizenship, about patriotism. For the right-wing nationalists to stop gnawing at the foundations of our government and our free press and take a long hard look inside. Is time for them to stop back peddling the most bizarre rationales for every attack they and their president make on our system of government and the institutions that make us unique in the world. Everyday there is some new foaming at the mouth attack on what is good and idealistic about America and new ways to weaken us as a culture of laws and justice. It is as though they have managed to spend all there lives in a haze, they don’t see the constitution and an informed populace as strengths, but as a weakness that can only be overcome with authority. Cold hard unthinking unjust authority is the right-wing nationalists answer to every question, every challenge that faces America. If America has a rot eating away at its core values, just look to your right and you’ll find it. How Would a Patriot Act?

Why is the Deliverator so equipped? Because people rely on him. He is a
role model. This is America. People do whatever the fuck they feel like
doing, you got a problem with that? Because they have a right to. And
because they have guns and no one can fucking stop them. As a result, this
country has one of the worst economies in the world. When it gets down to it
– talking trade balances here – once we’ve brain-drained all our technology
into other countries, once things have evened out, they’re making cars in
Bolivia and microwave ovens in Tadzhikistan and selling them here – once our
edge in natural resources has been made irrelevant by giant Hong Kong ships
and dirigibles that can ship North Dakota all the way to New Zealand for a
nickel – once the Invisible Hand has taken all those historical inequities
and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani
brickmaker would consider to be prosperity – y’know what? There’s only four
things we do better than anyone else
music
movies
microcode (software)
high-speed pizza delivery

excerpt from Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Spirit, that made those heroes dare To die, and leave their children free

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It is unfortunate if not a tragic failure of Bush supporters that the only two defenses they can come up with for Bush’s newest claims to dictator like powers are that if you do not let him shirk the law then you are in grave danger. If you support going through proper legal and legislative proceedings rather then presidential activism then you are pro terrorist. Simply put, conservatives think every American is a bed wetting coward who is not capable of thinking or acting rationally.

The program, however, is a significant departure from typical practice in how the government acquires Americans’ financial records. Treasury officials did not seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions, instead relying on broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records from the cooperative, known as Swift.

Once again conservatives refuse to or are not capable of facing the issue head on. It may be that the expansion of this program is necessary. Many Americans are willing, some all too willing to give up at least temporarily, some civil liberties if it means catching some of the bad guys. Though at this point after landing us in a tar pit in the middle-east that seems to have had two contradictory goals, acting as terrorists fly paper and at the same time saving the Iraqi people we all know that Bush and his administrations are not pillars of honor or integrity. With their well established track record of lies, half truths, spin and ineptitude the public is being asked to go along with another scheme hatched out of the light of the court and the people’s representatives. Historically this may remind people of many things, but the workings of an enlightened liberal democracy is not one of them.

Nearly 20 current and former government officials and industry executives discussed aspects of the Swift operation with The New York Times on condition of anonymity because the program remains classified. Some of those officials expressed reservations about the program, saying that what they viewed as an urgent, temporary measure had become permanent nearly five years later without specific Congressional approval or formal authorization.

Someone needs to come up with some kind of special scorecard to keep track of the hypocrisy of Bush and his supporters. For me at least the contradictions fly by so frequently it has become difficult to remember them all,

Intelligence officials paid particular attention to transfers to or from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates because most of the 9/11 hijackers were from those countries.

So Bush and his supporters who thought it was a great idea for the United Arab Emirates to control U.S. ports in ten different cities are the same people that warranted special intelligence observation, Bush, Congress clash over ports sale

“I don’t understand why it’s OK for a British company to operate our ports but not a company from the Middle East when we’ve already determined security is not an issue,” Bush told reporters aboard Air Force One after Frist urged the administration to block the deal.

The Bush administration argues the deal was properly approved and poses no security threat. Administration officials are scheduled to discuss the sale Thursday with the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the committee’s chairman, Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia.

If I were president I would be monitoring UAE banking transactions too, but it does seem that Bush thought that they were worthy of special observation whiles almost simultaneously thinking they would be perfect for running some American ports. Note that the deal was made and merely as an after thought they went to Congress to discuss it.
One cannot help wonder if a Democratic president had taken such an extraordinarily contradictory positions if the right-wing Bush apologists would be going out of their way to obscure the issues involved with skirting congressional and judicial oversight of his activities. Such pure unadulterated partisanship has at least served some good; it has exposed Bush supporters and their childish thumb sucking loyalty to a bankrupt and morally empty ideology. A political movement where party affiliation trumps loyalty to country and principals almost every time.
Surveillance Disclosure Denounced

“What we did was fully authorized under the law,” Bush said in an angry tone as he leaned forward in his chair and wagged his finger. “And the disclosure of this program is disgraceful. We’re at war with a bunch of people who want to hurt the United States of America, and for people to leak that program, and for a newspaper to publish it, does great harm to the United States of America.”

So leaks are bad. Bush is and has been steadfast is his condemnation of leaks. He is The Decider and Bush has decided leaks are harmful and those that leak should be held accountable, Libby Says President Authorized Leak of Classified Info, Contradicting Prior Bush Statements

According to court documents released in the Scooter Libby case, the former chief of staff to the Vice President received “the specific permission of President Bush” to leak a highly classified intelligence document:

Defendant testified that the Vice President later advised him that the President had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE. Defendant testified that he also spoke to David Addington, then Counsel to the Vice President, whom defendant considered to be an expert in national security law, and Mr. Addington opined that Presidential authorization to publicly disclose a document amounted to a declassification of the document

.

Later in the WaPo article Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) sums up the issue,

“Allowing law enforcement to examine bank records in order to stop the flow of money to terrorists makes a lot of sense, and this program appears to allow for just that. The real question here, as with so many other programs run by this Administration, is whether they are obeying the laws we have on the books to protect Americans from unnecessary invasions of their privacy.”

What is this administration’s problem with Congressional oversight. We either have a democracy with three co-equal branches of government with each providing checks and balances on the other or we do not. The right-wing zealots, including Bush and Cheney can attack the messenger all day and try to obfuscate the issues involved or they can at least pretend to be responsible guardians of American values. They have obviously chosen the later.

Bush Is Not Incompetent

The idea that Bush is incompetent is a curious one. Consider the following (incomplete) list of major initiatives the Bush administration, with a loyal conservative Congress, has accomplished:

* Centralizing power within the executive branch to an unprecedented degree
* Starting two major wars, one started with questionable intelligence and in a manner with which the military disagreed
* Placing on the Supreme Court two far-right justices, and stacking the lower federal courts with many more
* Cutting taxes during wartime, an unprecedented event
* Passing a number of controversial bills such as the PATRIOT Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, the Medicare Drug bill, the Bankruptcy bill and a number of massive tax cuts
* Rolling back and refusing to enforce a host of basic regulatory protections
* Appointing industry officials to oversee regulatory agencies
* Establishing a greater role for religion through faith-based initiatives
* Passing Orwellian-titled legislation assaulting the environment — “The Healthy Forests Act” and the “Clear Skies Initiative” — to deforest public lands, and put more pollution in our skies
* Winning re-election and solidifying his party’s grip on Congress

These aren’t signs of incompetence. As should be painfully clear, the Bush administration has been overwhelmingly competent in advancing its conservative vision. It has been all too effective in achieving its goals by determinedly pursuing a conservative philosophy.

It’s not Bush the man who has been so harmful, it’s the conservative agenda.

BY the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Alas, we have been long led away by ancient prejudices, and made large sacrifices to superstition

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"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."
George Orwell

Everyone, but conservatives who seem to suffer from terminal martyrdom syndrome knows that the New York Times was at least lackadaisical and at times unquestioning cheerleaders of the Bush administrations multitude of lies that landed us in an unnecessary war.Thomas Jefferson in 1787 wrote, "The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." NYT certainly let the nation down when it did not live up to what Jefferson saw as the media's obligation to inform the people so that we could make decisions based on things other then what any administration feeds to the public. With the NSA revelation and the new banking transactions surveillance NYT has started to step up to the plate and fulfill its role as the people's watchdog. It seems that for the umpteenth time the far right fringe does not think that citizens have the right to be informed about what to many seems like more unchecked unitary authority used in another heavy handed manner by the Bush administration. This program may be legal, it may be useful, but leave it to the conservative chicken-littles to swear that the revelation that the program even exists is a call for hanging.
Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, has sent to readers who have written him about The Times's publication of information about the government's examination of international banking records:

It's an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. Who are the editors of The New York Times (or the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and other publications that also ran the banking story) to disregard the wishes of the President and his appointees? And yet the people who invented this country saw an aggressive, independent press as a protective measure against the abuse of power in a democracy, and an essential ingredient for self-government. They rejected the idea that it is wise, or patriotic, to always take the President at his word, or to surrender to the government important decisions about what to publish.

Don't make any mistake about it, this is exactly what the wing-nut zealots are calling for, that all news must pass inspection by the government. What do we hear everyday from these same people; that radical Islamism is a threat to our freedoms. The great and Grand Pooh-pah of Hypocrisy is surely growing fat as he feeds from the far right, who for the last six years has done more to limit our essential freedoms and weaken our country then the most radical Muslim terrorist. For years big gov'ment was the root of all evil and now suddenly big gov'ment cannot only do no wrong, but to even question it is unpatriotic. This isn't the new patriotism this is patriotism lifted directly out of the old Soviet Politburo and just about every despotic regime that has ever existed. Justice William O. Douglas, concurring in New York Times v. United States (1971),

These disclosures may have a serious impact. But that is no basis for sanctioning a previous restraint on the press. . . . The dominant purpose of the First Amendment was to prohibit the widespread practice of governmental suppression of embarrassing information. A debate of large proportions goes on in the Nation over our posture in Vietnam. Open debate and discussion of public issues are vital to our national health.

Conservatives see democracy, and this is nothing new, as a hindrance to power and control. Justice Potter Stewart, on the role of a free press (1975),

The Free Press guarantee is, in essence, a structural provision of the Constitution. Most of the other provisions in the Bill of Rights protect specific liberties or specific rights of individuals. . . . In contrast, the Free Press Clause extends protection to an institution.

Conservatives are all too often free press proponents in the way that they are sunshine patriots like Bush and Cheney, they are pro free press when it suits their purposes, when they own the press, when the press kindly regurgitates what they're told. We the people, and one has to realize that inside the elimnationist mind of the conservative that they are the only people, we may never even be given the opportunity to decide whether this newest program is legal, just like the NSA program because the courts will never be allowed to review it,

While some experts familiar with the program have doubts about its legality, which has never been tested in the courts, and while some bank officials worry that a temporary program has taken on an air of permanence, we cited considerable evidence that the program helps catch and prosecute financers of terror, and we have not identified any serious abuses of privacy so far. A reasonable person, informed about this program, might well decide to applaud it. That said, we hesitate to preempt the role of legislators and courts, and ultimately the electorate, which cannot consider a program if they don't know about it.

Here we go again. Its the trust us school of government, a government of men. Sorry that form of government is not in my constitution. My government is a government of laws. How many rights does the conservative juggernaut get to trample on before we're utterly completely safe or we have no rights in the name of the holy shrine of national security. You have to give conservatives credit, they are the busy little dung beetles, when they're not using the constitution to line the bird cage they're out selling favors like some kind of Wall Street prostitute,   E-mails detail effort inside DeLay office to help Abramoff

"Do you think you could call that friend and set up a meeting," then-DeLay staffer Tony Rudy wrote to fellow House aide Thomas Pyle in a Dec. 29, 2000, e-mail titled "Gale Norton-Interior Secretary." President Bush had nominated Norton to the post the day before.

Rudy wrote Abramoff that same day promising he had "good news" about securing a meeting with Norton, forwarding information about the environmental group Norton had founded, according to e-mails obtained by investigators and reviewed by The Associated Press. Rudy's message to Abramoff was sent from Congress' official e-mail system.

Within months, Abramoff clients donated heavily to the Norton-founded group and to DeLay's personal charity. The Coushatta Indian tribe, for instance, wrote checks in March 2001 for

.
Some people are trying to rescue the art of irony and I wish them well, Premature Anti-Blogofascism. Personally I choose not to hate TNR, I will just ignore them until they start to to write something worth reading.

I have heard it asserted by some, that as America hath flourished under her former connexion with Great-Britain, that the same connexion is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk, that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty. But even this is admitting more than is true, for I answer roundly, that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European power had any thing to do with her. The commerce, by which she hath enriched herself are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe.
But she has protected us, say some. That she hath engrossed us is true, and defended the continent at our expence as well as her own is admitted, and she would have defended Turkey from the same motive, viz. the sake of trade and dominion.
Alas, we have been long led away by ancient prejudices, and made large sacrifices to superstition. We have boasted the protection of Great-Britain, without considering, that her motive was interest not attachment; that she did not protect us from our enemies on our account, but from her enemies on her own account, from those who had no quarrel with us on any other account, and who will always be our enemies on the same account. Let Britain wave her pretensions to the continent, or the continent throw off the dependance, and we should be at peace with France and Spain were they at war with Britain. The miseries of Hanover last war ought to warn us against connexions.

from Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1737–1809)

Newton got beaned by the apple good. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

watchout2.jpg
It's another wonderful day in the neighborhood as the morally vacant of conservatism teach us how to scrap together bits and pieces of barely plausible fabrications to drag a Marine veteran through their homemade gutter, Duncan Hunter and the Swiftboating of Jack Murtha and They're Gonna Swiftboat Murtha. None of these people are self policing as the Fox opinion pundits would have us believe. If some folks disagree with Rep. Murtha then fine. Why not state the issue they disagree with and explain their points with some supporting evidence. It seems like genuine heroes like Rep. Murtha and Senator Kerry threaten their tiny bubble of reality. Democratic veterans carry a certain moral weight because of their deeds and accomplishments, which cast a shadow over the wingnutterys never ending commercial message that the military is not the nation's defenders against foreign enemies, but the embodiment of conservative militarism. In the conservative mindset the military is a tool of international elimination-ism and all members should be suitably indoctrinated especially when serving under a conservative president that flicked his fork tonque and sent 2,500 Americans to their deaths.The fact the Democrats have not only served, but served above and beyond the call of duty is like having a pebble in their jack boots. That reality is too much for conservatives to bare. So rather then deal with real issues they all emerge from thier cocoon-like bunkers to do their version of tabloid rag politcs.

Speaking of lying America into war, Warnings on WMD 'Fabricator' Were Ignored, Ex-CIA Aide Says

In late January 2003, as Secretary of State Colin Powell prepared to argue the Bush administration's case against Iraq at the United Nations, veteran CIA officer Tyler Drumheller sat down with a classified draft of Powell's speech to look for errors. He found a whopper: a claim about mobile biological labs built by Iraq for germ warfare.

Drumheller instantly recognized the source, an Iraqi defector suspected of being mentally unstable and a liar. The CIA officer took his pen, he recounted in an interview, and crossed out the whole paragraph.

A few days later, the lines were back in the speech. Powell stood before the U.N. Security Council on Feb. 5 and said: "We have first-hand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails."

The sentence took Drumheller completely by surprise.

These two current events should cause some people to stop and wonder about priorities. To wonder about America and its future. We have a political movement that scanning the landscape of political issues has no qualms what so ever about continuing a conservative tradition of character assassination against veterans and choosing to cover up and pile on the lies about still other lies that has cost American and Iraqi blood and the nation almost 9 billion dollars a month.

update: came across this post at Daily Kos, a copy of an e-mail sent by a conservative expressing his thoughts about the death of Jane  Hamsher's Mom,

Condolensces regarding Jane's mom

        "Actually f–k that whore! And f–k you bitches!! LMAO!!! Especially your censore whore intern!!"

Base Rally Backs 8 Accused Troops
Frequently we hear calls for withholding judgement until guilt is proved and while that is a noble idea it may be carried too far when after someone is charged with a crime based on the available evidence there is a demand for their release and the automatic assumption that a trial isn't even necessary. I found this a little disturbing,

"I think they should all be freed — it's unjust what's happening to them," said Jani Tubis, 46, a real estate agent from San Diego. "They were just doing their job."

This opinion is not based on the facts or morality, but an appeal to emotions. The sentiment expressed, even if was meant not to creates the impression that even if those charged did commit murder they should be exempt from the rule of military conduct and discipline. I sympathize with these troops families, but the cause of justice would be best served if those accused were given the best legal council and then let justice run its course.

James Dobson Unmasked

Hey Andy, did you hear about this one? Tell me, are you locked in the punch?
Hey Andy, are you goofing on Elvis? Hey baby, are we losing touch?
If you believed they put a man on the moon, man on the moon
If you believe there's nothing up my sleeve, then nothing is cool

Moses went walking with the staff of wood. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Newton got beaned by the apple good. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Egypt was troubled by the horrible asp. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Mister Charles Darwin had the gall to ask. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

from Man On The Moon by R.E.M. (Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe)

Undeniably, this bit of mischief was entirely successful

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Blogging can be a drain, but I really only think that the few hours a week that I take what I have to say too seriously. It is not that I don't take my ideological commitments seriously, it is rather that there are millions of blogs and I think it is a mistake to think that I will change the world with my broken cobbled prose. Still the act of blogging itself is serious as a forum, an outlet, a steam vent. In real life a few words spoken rather then written a blog would surely quickly escalate into a heated argument in which nothing would be solved and both parties would feel slighted if not outright hostile. It is not that blogs solve anything, but they do allow the blogger to complete their thoughts, their arguments without interruption, to ask important questions, battle the urban conservative myths among many other things. That in itself is a tremendous service to the common man that feels he or she has something of at least small value to contribute to the world's narrative. I would easily stand up for someone of contrary opinion to have their say on the "internets", though mostly out of principle, but partly because the fringe, like most members of PJ media do a wonderful job of exposing themselves. Godwin's law or not, reading right-wing blogs and their support of the current ruling party one gets an historically unprecedented front row seat at the reinvention of fascism. No this is not Hitler's fascism, that has been thoroughly discredited. What we see is the Fascists Lite of modern Conservatism. The unquestioning blind faith in the unitary power and privilege of the office of president, contempt for human rights and U.S. treaty obligations, disdain for most provisions of the constitution especially the 4th amendment, blaming their failures on anyone who disagrees with them, portraying the enemies of the U.S. as more numerous and more dangerous then they actually are ( the real danger is quite real and serious and doesn't require the chicken-little rantings of conservatives), the shrill and very emotional insistence that their disinformation is quite real and that the facts and those that insist on the facts are lies and liars respectively, the supremacy of the military ( not to be confused with supporting and being sympathetic to those in harms way) otherwise known as militarism, and a twisted kind of sexism where women are allowed to offer up shrill support, but ultimately must know their place – one step below men. Not to get all semantic, but it is not a vast right-wing conspiracy as Eric Alterman once pointed out, it is all out there in the open. Sure some of it on AM radio, direct mail, and organization meetings, but clearly and unequivocally on right-wing conservative blogs.
Anyway, what got me thinking about blogs and their scale of importance was this article from Wired, 'Bad' Words Earn Blogger Big Fine

A media watchdog group protested the conviction of an Italian blogger for defamation, warning Friday that such a verdict could lead to censorship of blogs in Italy.

Blogger Roberto Mancini, 59, was convicted of defamation last month in Aosta, northern Italy, and sentenced to pay $16,900 in fines and damages.

Four people, including two journalists, had filed a complaint against him over the content of his blog, which reports on local news in sarcastic and sometimes crude terms.

"It looks like the blogger is being punished for his bad language and not because he posted false information, which is unacceptable," Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said in a statement Friday.

The group also said Mancini wrongly was held responsible for comments posted by readers.

Some right-wing blogs like Freeperville, lgf, and Limp Protein (pardon me if I didn't get those names right) have a community of commenters who's derangement is encouraged and those commenters make up the bulk of the site's content so maybe the case could be made that some sites are responsible for defamation, but still that is a dangerous road to go down with freedom of speech ultimately taking another one on the chin.

Very acute observation here, Bush and Republicans Close Their Eyes Hoping Iraq Will Go Away

Meanwhile the world looks at us in utter astonishment. Where's our famous pragmatism? Where are the people who know what they're doing? Who are these people in power? And what is this obsession about public relations and talking points? Do talking points win war? Unfortunately, they sometimes can win elections.

This appeal to emotions, the tact to simply speak louder, the Bill O'Reilly school of conservatism has worked quite well. If you should disagree and dare to yell back your're an unamerr'can lefty moonbat. Facts, statistics, anything measurable is left gasping for air on the floor, a victim of being out shouted.

The nation gets a fair share of bizarre stories out of Florida. A state that used to be great and has slipped into Fox news paradise with the help of one of the most Female Athletes Celebrated at the Lowe

GAME FACE tells extraordinary stories about how sports have shaped the identities of women and girls. Gottesman searched for nearly a decade for images that span genres—documentary, conceptual, vernacular, sports action—as well as subject, time, place, age, and race. They depict women participating in every sport from ping-pong to pole-vaulting, from hunting to hardball. And they range in style and substance, from sepia-toned portraits of a corseted lady with a bicycle in the 1890s, to a full-color action shot of today’s muscle-rippling soccer star Brandi Chastain savoring, without inhibition, her team’s sudden-death World Cup victory.

"Well, what's the gossip? You usually hear pretty much everything
that goes on around the nooks and crannies in this town, I hear.
What's the last from the gossips' corner, auntie?"

Fanny dropped her eyes, and the spark was concealed, but a movement of
her lower lip betokened a tendency to laugh, as she replied. "There
hasn't been much gossip lately, except the report that Lucy Morgan and
Fred Kinney are engaged–and that's quite old, by this time."

Undeniably, this bit of mischief was entirely successful, for there
was a clatter upon George's plate. "What–what do you think you're
talking about?" he gasped.

Miss Fanny looked up innocently. "About the report of Lucy Morgan's
engagement to Fred Kinney."

George turned dumbly to his mother, and Isabel shook her head
reassuringly. "People are always starting rumours," she said. "I
haven't paid any attention to this one."

"But you–you've heard it?" he stammered.

"Oh, one hears all sorts of nonsense, dear. I haven't the slightest
idea that it's true."

"Then you have heard it!"

"I wouldn't let it take my appetite," his father suggested drily.
"There are plenty of girls in the world!"

from The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington