There is no evidence that the tongue is connected to the brain

Officials: Car Bomb Plot Bears Al Qaeda’s Trademark

British authorities tell ABC News a “crystal clear” surveillance photo of the driver of the silver Mercedes, discovered early Friday morning, bears “a close resemblance” to one of the associates of an al Qaeda operative now behind bars.

Officials say a surveillance camera caught the suspect “staggering from the Mercedes” shortly after parking it outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub in Piccadilly Circus at the heart of London’s nightclub and theater district.

Pure luck that the explosives didn’t go off. The perpetrator, according to this ABC report had tried to detonate them twice. He had been under surveillance and arrested just a few days before, but was released due to lack of evidence. The materials he used weren’t particularly exotic. For all the talk we’ve heard for years now about WMD the terrorists most effective tools so far have been box cutters, automatic rifles and improvised explosives. And as sure as the sun rises the shrill hysteria of the wing-nuttery has ratcheted up to level ten. This is from a right-wing Republican blog called Newsbusters’ comment section. It called don’t blame the actual terrorist blame anyone that doesn’t believe every Muslim in the world is out to get us.

I’m Going with the Gut on London Bombings, Posted by Ken Shepherd on June 29, 2007 – 18:10.

Dave R Says:
June 29, 2007 – 23:43

M J B,

It’s pretty much too late for the once Great & Mighty British Empire. They are essentially burnt toast, as Tony Blair’s ten years of liberal immigration policies have screwed the UK in just about about every direction possible.

Unless the new residents of No. 10 Downing Street take drastic action, and damned soon, the subjects of the British Isles will be living under an Islamic Caliphate before I leave this earth.

I’m 43 as of last March.

BTW-I’ll believe Gordon is as committed as Blair was to wiping out the Islamo-fascists (and he wasn’t really all that committed) when I see it, as I never buy what is said by politicians. So far, I ain’t impressed, as surrendering in Iraq would bring about attacks on the UK that will make what happened yesterday look like child’s-play.

Help Fred Thompson defeat the RINOs along with the Hitllary/Obama axis & win the White House in ’08.

Surrender? Who would surrender to who? Honestly. The commenter hasn’t noticed that most of the deaths in Iraq are Muslim’s killing other Muslims because Bush and his brilliant brain trust at neocon central didn’t see that removing Saddam without a real plan would create a  leadership vacuum in which religious and tribal factions would fight for power. The only reason there are some loosely affiliated al-Queda in Iraq now is because Bush let them in. Saddam was a sociopath, but at least he kept the jihadist out of the country. Good ol Dave R and the other Newsbuster readers don’t want to be bothered with the messy complex details as its so much easier for them to shut down their synapses and genuflect for their fake cowboy in the Whitehouse and deny any accountability for the outcome of the failed policies they endorsed. A few years ago it was if we leave Iraq they’ll attack us, now that the west has had several plots its if we leave Iraq we’ll have even more attacks. They keep moving the goal posts so they never have to admit they’ve created a generation of new recruits by over reacting, by focusing on Iraq instead of terrorism. Dave R and the other commenters at Newsbusters are the 80 percenters, The Murdoch Factor

In October 2003, the nonpartisan Program on International Policy Attitudes published a study titled “Misperceptions, the media and the Iraq war.” It found that 60 percent of Americans believed at least one of the following: clear evidence had been found of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda; W.M.D. had been found in Iraq; world public opinion favored the U.S. going to war with Iraq.

The prevalence of these misperceptions, however, depended crucially on where people got their news. Only 23 percent of those who got their information mainly from PBS or NPR believed any of these untrue things, but the number was 80 percent among those relying primarily on Fox News. In particular, two-thirds of Fox devotees believed that the U.S. had “found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with the Al Qaeda terrorist organization.”

Here we are almost six years after 9-11, after we’ve had the Senate Intelligence Report on 9-11 and the Duelfer Report and the Right cannot distinguish between actual al-Queda related terrorists and Iraq. Put another way let’s say the the most extreme of the rabid Right got their way and Bush used a nuke or two to make Iraq into one giant sterile lifeless sandbox; that means the Right believes that al-Queda terrorism would end. Does any rational person believe with Iraq completely out of the picture that plots like that in London yesterday would end. No, because Iraq is not the front in the so-called terror war. That Bush keeps saying it and the Righties keep believing is the reason America cannot trust Republicans and their delusions with our national security.

Police: Benoit killed wife, son, left Bibles by their bodies
This a terrible tragedy. The more so because it involved the death of a child. Maybe Benoit had a behavioral disorder exacerbated by steroids. The Right has commented on the story to some degree, but they have focused on the steroid angle. What if instead of leaving Bibles by the bodies Benoit had left copies of the Koran. It doesn’t take much imagination to know what part of the story the Right would have zeroed in on, but no Benoit just left some Bibles. If they would have been Koran’s it would have been another case of you see how violent and uncivilized those Muslims are, but they can’t say that about Benoit because he was a Christian and crimes committed by Christians conveniently have their cause assigned to the usual list of suspects – pop culture, steroids, rap music – anything but their religion. Whenever a Muslim commits a crime according to the Right it is always a direct and unassailable result of their religion. No studies are needed, no surveys are cited. Over the course of a few decades a minority of Muslims have attacked Americans and suddenly all Muslims are part of Dave R’s and the Right’s Islamic Caliphate paranoia. There are, if the facts matter any more good ordinary people and sociopaths from every corner of the human race – men, women, short people, Catholics, Asians, people that drive Mercedes, sailors, nurses and presidents. It is as though facing this reality causes them such mental anguish, is so complex and so obvious that the Right can’t bring themselves to admit it. We live is a complex world and the Right doesn’t want to expend the energy and intellectual honesty to comprehend that simple fact.

On radio show, Beck read “ad” for refinery that turns Mexicans into fuel; posted it on website

“There is no evidence that the tongue is connected to the brain” – Frank Tyger


“Your deeds, good or bad, will repay you in kind”

Justices End 96-Year-Old Ban on Price Floors

The decision will give producers significantly more leeway, though not unlimited power, to dictate retail prices and to restrict the flexibility of discounters.

Five justices said the new rule could, in some instances, lead to more competition and better service. But four dissenting justices agreed with the submission of 37 states and consumer groups that the abandonment of the old rule would lead to significantly higher prices and less competition for consumer and other goods.

There simply is no issue under the sun about which Conservatives talk out both sides of their mouths and probably another part of their anatomy as well. Setting prices by collusion with your competitors is monopolistic, ant-competition and many other things, but it is not free market capitalism. Like Bush and a complicit Republican Congress’s decision to take the competitive element out of drug pricing for Medicare this is Republican socialism. The redistribution of income upward to those with the most money and most power. Not to mention an in-your-face case of Republican judicial activism doing an end round of anti-trust legislation that while not perfect was in effect as America under went possibly the largest economic expansion of any nation in history,

The court struck down the 96-year-old rule that resale price maintenance agreements were an automatic, or per se, violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. In its place, the court instructed judges considering such agreements for possible antitrust violations to apply a case-by-case approach, known as a “rule of reason,” to assess their impact on competition.

Which says two things: there is no bottom line consistency in the law. Which in turn means you can count on more lawsuits by businesses directed at other other businesses because the law has been declared  officially ambiguous. These are the great Conservative legal minds at work. The Gun Toting Liberal echoes the same observation, Republican Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Retail Monopolies, Against Small Business, And In Favor Of Lawyers (Of Course)

The new, rewritten law by these GOP activist justices will open up a whole new bag of worms to be considered in the lower courts on a “case-to-case” basis, which will benefit the consumers rather than the lawyers? In essence, what they’ve done here is refused to uphold the existing laws and rewritten them to better clog our civil courts with tons of brand new cases, meaning more lucrative corporate law gigs for lawyers, and an ASSURED transfer of wealth from consumers to monopolistic, big biz, big box retailers, including Big Oil, who ALSO happens to be in the retail “bidness”.

If you still think that Republicans are all about free market capitalism then you’re either delusional or you enjoy being part of their great political charade. I was reading an Independent’s blog that leans Republican today and like a 70’s acid flashback sure enough a commenter warned the blogger not to vote Democrat because they’re all socialists. Talk about not paying attention. Republicans have simply made large corporations the collective in an unholy alliance with government as their combination babysitter accountant price fixer.

Some very good post on the Court’s segregation decision, Lawyers, Guns, and MoneyNotes On The School Integration Cases

Nothing in the text of the Constitution compels these programs to be struck down. Essentially, Roberts’s plurality opinion rests on the assertion that racial classifications intended to perpetuate a caste system should be considered the precise legal equivalent of racial classifications intended to remedy segregation. This is exceptionally unpersuasive, and also makes it almost impossible to actually remedy the ongoing de facto segregation of American school systems, much of which has roots in various forms of state discrimination (not just formal apartheid in the South, but the drawing of arbitrary school district lines to create segregated systems, local ordinances encouraging residential segregation, etc.)

Balkinization sees some hope in Justice Kennedy’s limiting concurrence – The Parents Involved decision– Swann Song or Bakke for our times?

Kennedy acknowledges that racial diversity and avoiding racial isolation in schools are compelling interests that might justify racially conscious school assignment policies. On this question he disagrees with the plurality and agrees with the dissenters.

[ ]..The final thing worth noting about the opinion is that because Kennedy takes a position in between the plurality and the dissenters, his position may end up serving the same function as Justice Powell’s Bakke opinion did. It will set the boundaries of future debate about the scope of race conscious policies. All this, of course, depends on new appointments to the Court. But if the Court’s composition does not change in the near future (or if Justice Stevens retires and is replaced by a liberal justice), Kennedy’s approach will be what everyone will be talking about and working around.

Republican icon Ann Coulter has never been particularly relevant. She yells incoherent insults from the cheap seats and its gotten her enough attention and money to be able to afford sitting around expensive Miami Beach night clubs  snickering at the rubes gullible enough to buy her books – Watch Ann Coulter lose it

She’s on the verge of losing it, even though she’s hardly being challenged at all. She walks around calling people “fags,” mocking their dead children, wishing that they were murdered, then when people respond by saying “uh, you’re kind of mean,” Ann flips out over the level of venom that’s directed against her.

All she ever contributed to the national discourse was lies, hate, and ignorance. “Your deeds, good or bad, will repay you in kind.” – Galatians VI (King James Version)

The Whitehouse exerts executive privilege in not responding to Congressional subpoenas,

WASHINGTON (Thursday, June 28) – The White House on Thursday asserted executive privilege in response to congressional subpoenas seeking information relating to investigations into the firings of several U.S. Attorneys and politicization within the Department of Justice. Below is Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy’s comment on the White House’s claim, as well as his remarks from the Committee’s business meeting this morning.

The right-wing Captain’s Quarter’s draws a bizarre circle of logic and contradicts himself, The White House Gets Tough With Congress, And Vice Versa, Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 28, 2007 4:14 PM

This still strikes me as a scandal in search of any real wrongdoing. Despite having chewed on this for months, Congress has found only incompetence. No one thinks that the President or the Attorney General can’t dismiss prosecutors, regardless of how badly they did it. Critics of the administration want to find nefarious plots to cover up the administration’s supposed crimes, but even the terminated attorneys don’t claim that. One, David Yglesias, alleges that Pete Domenici (R-NM) got him fired for not aggressively pursuing corruption charges against two Democrats, which might be more properly pursued in the Senate Ethics Committee.

So far, though, incompetence and cronyism is all they’ve found, and they have no probable cause to pursue executive-branch materials or testimony. (emphasis mine)

He lists one example of probable cause to proceed with an investigation and simultaneously says there is no probable cause while also conveniently side stepping the other facts as we know them. The issue is not in the least about the President’s right to hire and fire U.S, attorney’s which the Captain fails to acknowledge. Right-wing playbook rule invoked – any wrong doing by Republicans followed by an investigation is automatically termed a fishing expedition. Which is the same thing as saying that if a police officer that sees a bloody shirt on a front lawn and gets a warrant to search the house he’s just on a fishing expedition, he doesn’t really have probable cause that a crime has occurred – bloody shirts on lawns are quite common. Again ignoring U.S. attorney scandal, CBS Evening News did not report on Goodling’s testimony

During her testimony, Goodling stated that she may have “crossed the line” by taking “inappropriate political considerations into account” in hiring career Justice Department officials, potentially a violation of the law. Goodling, a former aide to Gonzales, also suggested that former Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty had lied under oath and that Gonzales may have done so as well during his testimony on the scandal.

A Justice Department official has testified she may have violated the law and that other officials who testified probably lied. Nope in Republican world no probable cause to continue an investigation or issue supeonas. The Whitehouse isn’t cooperating because they’re pure as the driven snow and their feelings are hurt that someone thinks they might have used a political litmus test as the major criteria for which attorneys stayed and which got the boot. Ex-Justice Aide Admits Politics Affected Hiring

Monica M. Goodling, the former Justice official, told a House panel that she regretted favoring applicants with Republican credentials for lower level prosecutor jobs or prestigious postings at Justice headquarters, actions that could violate federal employment laws.

“I may have gone too far in asking political questions of applicants for career positions and I may have taken inappropriate political considerations into account,” Ms. Goodling said. “And I regret those mistakes.”

[ ]…Ms. Goodling testified under a grant of immunity from prosecution, which the Judiciary panel issued after two months of wrangling, because her lawyers said she would refuse to answer questions on grounds that to do so would violate her constitutional right against self-incrimination.

Last I heard you don’t seek immunity from prosecution because your answers are just part of a fishing expedition.

Talking Points memo timeline of events in the U.S. Attornet scandal.

Rudy Tutti conspiracy theories redux, Giuliani’s 9/11 Conspiracy Theory

They saw an absurd quality, a mendacious quality in many of our political leaders and business leaders

White House, Cheney, DoJ subpoenaed

The Senate Judiciary Committee, acting under bipartisan authorization, yesterday subpoenaed the White House, the Justice Department and Vice President Dick Cheney for records on the administration’s controversial warrantless surveillance program.

Not breaking news, but a few things caught my attention. For one a few Republicans actually took action rather then issuing the usual patented boiler plate about their grave concerns,

Senate Judiciary members authorized the subpoenas last week on a 13-3 vote, with ranking member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) backing Leahy. The chairman urged the White House that it should not view the investigation as driven by partisanship.

In this post So the subpoenas are out. What are we looking at? by Kagro X links to this write up by Fox-Lite otherwise known as CNN, Panel demands White House eavesdropping documents

“We’re aware of the committee’s action and will respond appropriately,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. “It’s unfortunate that congressional Democrats continue to choose the route of confrontation.”

When you’re eight years old you tend to start snickering about half way through while saying something this absurd. If the Whitehouse had some modicum of respect for the law and the people’s representatives “confrontation” wouldn’t be necessary. If the Whitehouse honestly feels no shame in their Stalin-like appraoch to governance and secrecy that suggests some degree of sociopathetic dysfunction. Kagro X lays out the possible immediate outcomes of the subpoenas,

1. Move to hold the targets of the subpoenas in statutory contempt of Congress

2. Move to hold the targets in inherent contempt of Congress

3. Extend the deadline for compliance and make threats regarding either #1 or #2 above

4. Come to some negotiated settlement with the “administration” — i.e., closed door, no transcript testimony, limited document release, etc.

The somewhat bi-partisan nature of the subpoena signals that the Senate is ready to play some hardball. If the Whitehouse has the same impression we might be spared the usual legal wrangling that has marked Bush and Cheney’s attitude since they refused to testify under oath to the 9-11 Commission – Bush, Cheney meet with 9/11 panel

But the administration initially opposed the creation of the commission. The White House relented amid pressure from some 9/11 family members and it later backed down from its opposition to an extension of time for the commission.

The commission now has until July 26 to finalize its report, but that report may not be released publicly at that time, pending a security review by the White House.
No transcript

Bush and Cheney did not testify before the panel — they were not under oath and there was to be no recording made of the session nor a stenographer in the room.

That was when we had a Republican Congress. Two years is ancient history and most people have either forgotten about this extraordinary contempt Bush and Cheney showed to a public that was anxious to learn the unvarnished truth about 9-11, but to the genuflecting Right it was just business as usual and  how nice of Bush and Cheney to even take time to be questioned. I wonder why Cheney even showed up since he’s not a member of the executive.

Glenn Greenwald in his commentary on this story from the NYT,How did the Bush administration use its secret eavesdropping powers?

To his credit, Shane did raise the other towering, still unresolved question — namely, what exactly was the administration doing that prompted John Ashcroft, James Comey and others to conclude that the President was breaking the law and threaten to resign over it? Given that such behavior — whatever it was — was unquestionably illegal even under the view of the President’s own DOJ, and given that this program, at least allegedly, was abandoned more than three years ago, there is no conceivable basis for continuing to conceal from Americans what our government was doing back then. Yet there is very little impetus to find out.

And this lack of impetus will continue to plague us as long as this notion persits, bolstered today by Shane’s article, that there is reason to believe that the Bush administration only used its illegal powers against the Terrorists, not with any improper motives or for improper purposes. The point is that we ought not have to assume or speculate about that matter. We ought to know, and Congress ought to force the administration to disclose this.

This is a running motif of the Bushites – believe us when we say that what we do is legal and for your own good. Then on the other hand refuse to cooperate with investigations, refuse to comply with their own executive orders, refuse to offer testimony under oath while swearing they have nothing to hide.

Caught on tape, Cheney “It’s really a function of the last 50 years or so that the vice president’s become an important part of the executive branch.”
If there are legitimate Constitutional questions here (I don’t think there are) then Dick needs to make up his mind which branch of government he belongs to and stick with it rather then waffling back and and forth. That’s what, you know someone with any integrity would do.

Legal expert: White House stonewalling may force Congress to charge president with criminal offenses

Olbermann went on to joke that the attempt to pin down Cheney’s real nature is starting to sound like a game of 20 Questions. Turley laughed and said, “The position adopted by Mr. Addington and Mr. Cheney, to put it bluntly, was absurd. … In past administrations, if someone like Mr. Addington made such a moronic argument as this one, they would be out of a job the next week. … I think that what it really shows is the lack of sort of adult supervision within the administration.”

“A large part of the public sentiment was my own, … They saw an absurd quality, a mendacious quality in many of our political leaders and business leaders.” – Joseph Heller


George and Dick packed and leaving 2008.

“When the light is crooked, the shadow is crooked”

Bush Nominee Needs a Refresher Course In Civics by Cynthia Tucker

Hans von Spakovsky is among the GOP hacks who perverted the U.S. Department of Justice – trashing constitutional principles, rewarding partisanship over competence and converting the entire machinery into an arm of the Republican Party. His specialty was suppressing voting by Americans of color, who are more likely to support Democrats; he played a starring role in a nationwide effort to disenfranchise poor blacks, Latinos and Native Americans. Now, Mr. von Spakovsky is seeking Senate approval for a six-year term on the Federal Election Commission, which enforces federal campaign finance laws. (President Bush gave Mr. von Spakovsky a recess appointment in January 2006, but he must have Senate confirmation for a full term.) The vote ought to be easy: No, no and no way.

Six former Justice Department career professionals wrote this letter about Spakovsky,

As former career professionals in the Voting Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, we urge you to reject the nomination of Hans A.von Spakovsky to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Prior to his current role as a recess appointee to the FEC, Mr. von Spakovsky oversaw the Voting Section as Voting Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division from early in 2003 until December, 2005. While he was at the Civil Rights Division, Mr. von Spakovsky played a major role in the implementation of practices which injected partisan political factors into decision-making on enforcement matters and into the hiring process, and included repeated efforts to intimidate career staff. Moreover, he was the point person for undermining the Civil Rights Division’s mandate to protect voting rights.

Like all appointments made by BushCo the prime consideration is not competence or professionalism, but how can they advance their agenda, suppress votes and twist the law to mean what ever they think it should mean for their convenience on any given day. Recent perfect example, Cheney’s chief of staff rebukes Kerry on VP’s secrecy oversight

“Dear Senator Kerry,” Addington writes. “The executive order on classified national security information — Executive Order 12958 as amended in 2003 — makes clear that the Vice President is treated like the President and distinguishes the two of them from ‘agencies.'”

Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington wrote this in a to Senator Kerry (D-MA) to defend Cheney’s choice to ignore an executive order on the oversight of classified information. Cheney is not an “agency”? And only agencies are covered by Executive Order 12958. Wrong Dave, that’s not the issue and Senator Kerry has to quote the law back to the VP’s COS.

Kerry said Addington was wrong on that point because the executive order governing the handling of classified material covers “any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information.”

Legalistic to be sure, but certainly not outside the reading comprehension abilities of the average person. Addington then goes on to say it doesn’t matter anyway because of the special status of the vice-president – the newly invented fourth branch of government,

“Constitutional issues in government are generally best left for discussion when unavoidable disputes arise in a specific context instead of in theoretical discussions,” Addington adds. “Given that the executive order treats the Vice President like the President rather than like an “agency,” it is not necessary in these circumstances to address the subject of any alternative reasoning, based on the law and the history of the legislative functions of the vice presidency and the more modern functions of the vice presidency, to reach the same conclusions that the vice president is not an ‘agency’ with respect to which ISOO has a role.”

Kerry re-iterated his request that Cheney’s office define its place in government. If Cheney intends to ignore two centuries of constitutional precedent in declaring himself outside the executive branch, Kerry asks that he at least provide a justification for that decision.

Apparently Bush and Cheney get to decide what branch of government the VP belongs to depending on what will let them slip by once again without being held accountable to the American public for for their actions. Maybe Cheney’s role is better described as a gaping black hole of dark matter. From his hole Cheney may do what he wishes with classified information, order up ways to bypass the Geneva Conventions and have secret energy task force meetings and ignore the laws which he swore to uphold. The Cheese Stands Alone

Cheney has refused to comply with an order governing the care of classified documents; his office concluded that the order does not apply because he is not “an entity within the executive branch.”

That’s quite opposite the argument Cheney made in 2001, when he said that a congressional probe into the workings of his energy task force “would unconstitutionally interfere with the functioning of the executive branch.” Cheney has, in effect, declared himself to be neither fish nor fowl but an exotic, extraconstitutional beast who answers to no one.

As if to demonstrate his status as the fourth branch, Cheney left the White House yesterday and made his way to the Capitol, escorted by eight police motorcycles, three police cruisers, two armored limousines, and five SUVs and minivans packed with aides and armed Secret Service agents.

Despite the obvious renewed temptation is describe Cheney as the real power behind the throne I agree with tristero writing at Hullabaloo it is Bush’s show and that George is not the innocent young prince being manipulated by forces of the dark side, Bush Is His Own Bush

As we have seen many times in the past, notably with Woodward, the press has a habit telling us it’s not Bush who makes bad or heartless decisions. It’s always someone else, like a frat boy caught with drugs who blames his girlfriend. Today’s article, as well as the entire series, goes out of its way to push the notion that Bush’s genuine “compassionate conservatism” was thrust aside time and again by the scheming machinations of The Evil Bald One. One could easily infer from the series that, if Cheney were removed (see this piece in Salon), much of the war-mongering and trashing of the America Constitution would stop, and that Bush would demonstrate a far more moderate, conciliatory streak.

Not a chance. Bush is no “compassionate conservative” for two very simple reasons, First, and foremost, there is no such thing. And if there was, Bush is far too much of a sociopath to have so much as an ounce of compassion for anyone but himself.

We all know the good cop bad cop routine and at least some in the media use this scenario when Bush is backed into yet another corner, but that is not what George and Dick are playing. They’re playing bad cop and really evil cop. True, when Bush comes out and mumbles through another speech in which he plays the fake good ol boy he seems less evil then Cheney, but Bush signs off on everything. If there is a difference between Bush and Cheney you would need a special laser device and a team of NASA engineers to measure it. There are many reasons to see that Bush and Cheney are on the same page, but the simplest and most direct one is the 2004 elections. If Bush was actually a “compassionate conservative” that was his chance to dump Cheney and actual start on that “compassionate conservative” legacy, but he didn’t.

“When the light is crooked, the shadow is crooked” – Yiddish proverb.

Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony

For those that say Bush and Cheney are the consummate bunglers and can’t improve anything, Afghan opium production soars

Afghanistan produced dramatically more opium in 2006, increasing its yield by nearly 50 per cent from a year earlier and pushing global opium production to a record high, a UN report said Tuesday.

The annual report also found that the estimated level of global drug use has remained more or less unchanged for the third year, although cannabis use continues to decline in North America.

Afghanistan’s opium production increased from about 4,500 tonnes in 2005 to 6,700 tonnes in 2006, according to the 2007 World Drug Report released by the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Opium is the main ingredient for heroin.

In 2006, Afghanistan accounted for 92 per cent of global illicit opium production, up from 70 per cent in 2000 and 52 per cent a decade earlier. The higher yields in Afghanistan brought global opium production to a record high of nearly 7,300 tonnes last year, a 43 per cent increase over 2005.

If they could serve another term that would make a memorable bumper sticker to note just one of their many missions accomplished: Vote Bush/Cheney we pushed opium production to record highs.

As crazy as it sounds some of the Right are giving this story some credence, including neocon brain trust Michael Leeden: Murdoch’s Muckraker Invents Iranian Invasion

Marty Lederman writes about Bush’s continued use of signing statements, So Much for the President’s Assent to the McCain Amendment

The President signed the Defense Appropriations bill on Friday. In his signing statement he did at least two notable things.

First, with respect to several provisions of the bill, the President signaled his intention to reserve his authority, as Commander in Chief, to ignore statutory mandates.

When the president signs a the law and ignores it or interprets it in a way that Congress did not intend he is no longer acting as president he is acting as a legislator. Signing statement are some some gimmick meant for him to hide behind anymore then Cheney’s claim that he represents some shadowy fourth branch of government. Bush has only two Constitutional options, veto the law or sign it and obey his oath of office. Almost guaranteed for the next twenty four hours the bulk of the press will report he signed the bill end of story. Stay tuned for more on Paris Hilton, that s really whats important.

Three Bad Rulings

Nor did the court’s concern for free speech extend to actually allowing free speech in the oddball case of an Alaska student who was suspended from high school in 2002 after he unfurled a banner reading “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” while the Olympic torch passed. The ruling by Chief Justice Roberts said public officials did not violate the student’s rights by punishing him for words that promote a drug message at an off-campus event. This oblique reference to drugs hardly justifies such mangling of sound precedent and the First Amendment.

If you’re a student the court has decided that the school’s authority is long a chain and streches all the way from school to off-campus events. I wonder what the Court would have decided if the banner read God Tortured his only son for your sins. The Robert’s Court is clearly intent on legislating from the bench. So blatant hypocrisy continues to be the Menthos of conservative intelligentsia making the erosion of your most basic rights seem minty fresh. I Need a Bong Hit. And Not in That Good Pro-Drug-Message Sort of Way.

In Morse, Roberts goes to great lengths to insert meaning into the silliness of the words on the student banner. He insists the phrase “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” can be read as “celebrating drug use”; indeed to get there he needed only insert the imaginary words, “bong hits [are a good thing].” When did we enter into the era of constitutional interpretation through inserting pretend words? The sign could have as easily been read to say “bong hits [will kill you].”

We know what you said that you meant, but we read it as what we think you meant when you said “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”. Maybe the Righties on the Court are at least quasi-intellectuals. How else to explain what a weird funny message on a banner actually means and be so utterly sincere about your interpretation.

Having effortlessly decoded the unintended pro-drug message behind the student speech in Morse, the chief then takes the issue ad in FEC at face value. The commercial that Wisconsin Right to Life wanted to run—which didn’t say “don’t elect Russ Feingold” but asked you to think darn hard about what Feingold did and to let him know that he is a bad, bad man—is protected “core political speech,” regardless of its effect on viewers or the integrity of elections.

Attention students: You can still be political at school. But the Constitution stops protecting you the moment you cross the line into merely weird.

Satire is now against the law, I guess if John Stewart were eighteen he’d have to film his show in Canada. Any non-serious political signage is a bad bad thing and anyone out there with an odd sense of humor better watch your step.

King Arthur: I am your king.
Woman: Well I didn’t vote for you.
King Arthur: You don’t vote for kings.
Woman: Well how’d you become king then?
[Angelic music plays… ]
King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.
Dennis: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

At any almost anytime between the war in Vietnam and the day Dubya became president I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a tour in the military or even a career. One aspect of conservative leadership of the military is that it has taught us a lesson about unquestioned unchallenged authority. I’m not talking about mutiny, there’s an incredible gulf of difference between airing legitimate differences of opinion and disobeying your civilian or military superiors. We obviously need to challenge the status quo of the way the military is run. Jeff Huber explains more at Kos, Judging the Generals, Part II

This educational process, according to Hanley, is in keeping with well-established practices of careerism in the military officer corps.  “You advance in the military by making your mind conform to that of your boss,” he says. “To express a dissenting view on policy–no matter how beneficent or perceptive–is to risk being regarded as someone who is disloyal in outlook if not in deed.”

Oldest Wooden School House wallpaper

The Oldest Wooden School House in the U.S. 

It also served as the home for the school master and his wife who occupied the upstairs. Talk about living a modest life. As you may already know the concept of public education in the U.S. was an idea of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson had some ideas about education that remained controversial for the next two hundred years and in some ways still are. He believed that education should be free from religious biases, and available to everyone regardless of race, religion or social status. While there were public schools in Jefferson’s day the nationwide movement for public education didn’t really start until Horace Mann in Massachusetts and Henry Barnard in Connecticut who believed that we could not create a future of good citizens and a united society without a public education system. Mann in particular thought that education was a major way to lower the rate of crime and poverty, thoughts that are have proven to be true. The most educated Americans commit the the least crime or at least the less street crime.

“A human being is not attaining his full heights until he is educated.” – Horace Mann

a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime

Regulation? Baa humbug. Conservatives and most of the media have convinced many American that regulation is bad for business and consumers. While welcome friends on many issues libertarians have told us that government doesn’t really have to regulate business because ultimately business will act in the best interest of the community if just left alone; this is the point where optimism and faith in one’s fellow man reaches a certain level of absurdity. Slave Labor, Poisoned Toys Give Global Capitalism a Black Eye

And then there are the poisonous products–the killer toothpaste containing diethylene glycol found at a Dollar Store in Miami. The questionably “organic” herbs and food products. William Hubbard, the former deputy commissioner of the FDA who now runs an organization called Coalition for a Stronger FDA told NPR about the Chinese food shipments FDA officials turn back at ports after labeling them as “filthy”–that’s the term of art for smelly, decomposing, chemical-laden and otherwise obviously unfit food. On NPR, Hubbard described how an inspector found an herbal tea factory where herbal tea was processed by driving trucks over it: “‘To speed up the drying process, they would lay the tea leaves out on a huge warehouse floor and drive trucks over them so that the exhaust would more rapidly dry the leaves out,’ Hubbard says. ‘And the problem there is that the Chinese use leaded gasoline, so they were essentially spewing the lead over all these leaves.'”

And, “That lead-contaminated herbal tea would only be caught by FDA inspectors at the border if they knew to look for it, Hubbard says.”

As food imports to our country have exploded, with China leading the way, the FDA’s food inspection unit is shrinking. Hubbard estimates that 1 percent of food imports are actually inspected by FDA officials. And funding for food inspection has shrunk from half to one-quarter of the agency’s budget since he started his career in the 1970s.

No one wants to over regulate or be a complete protectionists, but incidents like this add up and what we’ll have action, but we’ll also have a degree of over reaction. Sensible well maintained agencies that are staffed with professionals can stop the merry-go-round of too much and not enough regulation. We’re obviously on that arc in the curve under the Bush administration where a few dead pets and people are just an acceptable price to pay so that the corporations that are infatuated with cheap labor and imports can make add a few more bucks to the bottom line.

Even after years of being something of a well traveled netizen and thinking I’ve seen or heard it all people still come up with some new odd, interesting and even amazing themed sites. Running From Camera – this gentleman finds someplace to set up his camera and sets the timer. Only he doesn’t pose with his cockatoo or the same old sofa, he starts to run as far as he can before the camera timer winds down and takes his photo.

Librarians Describe Life Under An FBI Gag Order

Life in an FBI muzzle is no fun. Two Connecticut librarians on Sunday described what it was like to be slapped with an FBI national security letter and accompanying gag order. It sounded like a spy movie or, gulp, something that happens under a repressive foreign government.

Like habeas corpus one of the cornerstones to our justice system was the ability to face a jusry of your pears. These librarians couldn’t even attend their own hearing, they could only watch the proceedings on a monitor miles away because they were considered under the ironically named Patriot Act to be security threats. But hey you can still spend your pat check at Wal-Mart.

I wasn’t crazy about Nancy Pelosi’s statement around the last election that impeachment was off the table. A sentiment also echoed by Howard Dean. But things have changed. While there isn’t a big majority of Democrats in either House there are enough to know that there are some guardians of democracy at the gate and that even as arrogant and power mad as Bush and Cheney are that they would take note that its a different game. They apparently need a bound copy of the Constitution slapped upside their pointed heads or they need impeachment proceedings to start to wake them from their mental bunkers. Sure Rethuglicans will scream and cry and jump up and down on their Lazy Boy recliners, but Bush and Cheney have no one but themselves to blame. Democrats didn’t force Bush to ignore the Geneva Conventions, to sell the invasion of Iraq like it was some new improved deodorant. Nor did Democrats force Bush, Cheney, Rove and Alberto Gonzales to use the Justice Department as a political tool of the RNC. They criminalized politics not Democrats. The RNC and the Bush administration has simply become Organized Conservative Crime Inc. and threats and finger wagging isn’t going to stop zealots bent on having their way. Pushing the Envelope on Presidential Power

Cheney and his allies, according to more than two dozen current and former officials, pioneered a novel distinction between forbidden “torture” and permitted use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading” methods of questioning. They did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government.

Michelle Malkin builds a human rights straw-man and feels no shame…

She writes in her AEI mouth-piece blog as follows:

“Question: Will these photos be blared across the front pages of the international media with as much disgust and condemnation as the photos of Abu Ghraib or the manufactured Gitmo Koran-flushing riots?

The Right manages to fit that blame America doggerel into his about every word they write. I think they even put it in their chocolate chip cookie recipes. They’re welcome to keep doing so, but it is a glaring reminder that the Right thinks Republicans and the rabid Right are America, so when those of us that are not as rabid as M’s Malkin point out how abominable their behavior is, according to their ever present straw man, we’re criticizing America. No point of fact is that Republicans are not America, Bush is not America, Bush’s policies are not the military. The Right who keeps saying they have all the BIG IDEAS can’t make these simple elementary distinctions of reality. That being the case conservatives are many things, but they are not capable of sustaining and nurturing a democracy. This is not even a case that requires Occam’s razor, conservatism is a misguided and frequently dangerous political movement within America, it is not America. Be brave Michelle and cohorts, stop hiding your unhinged political views behind the flag or a uniform you’ve never worn.

“What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest that what we mean is a sense of national responsibility … a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. ” – Adlai Stevenson

“Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” – Hermann Goering. Herman inspires more of America’s modern Republican mentality then Jefferson or Madison.

There’s got to be some changes And they have to be made now

VP created new secret document classification, keeps ‘man-size’ safes

A massive piece in Sunday’s Washington Post reveals the true extent of secrecy Vice President Dick Cheney requires.

So clandestine is the Vice President’s work that he has created a new secret document designation: “Treated As: Top Secret/SCI.”

“Across the board, the vice president’s office goes to unusual lengths to avoid transparency,” the Post article says. “Cheney declines to disclose the names or even the size of his staff, generally releases no public calendar and ordered the Secret Service to destroy his visitor logs.”

The WaPO link is to a huge multi-part story that goes into Cheney’s involvement with skirting the Geneva Conventions on torture, dictating tax policy and even diverting water from threatened salmon populations. Maybe he is his own branch of government, Vice-Emperor.

This isn’t news in the sense that just last week Bush said that future plans for Iraq would resemble those of America’s presence in Korea (Iraq Is Korea?Bush’s latest appalling historical analogy). General’s Iraq Progress Report Has Competition
Bush will get some dissenting views, but those are likely to be treated like the Baker Commission recommendations.

“The issue now is when do we start withdrawing troops and at what pace,” one senior administration official said. “Petraeus wants as much time as he can get,” the official said, but added that “the president may not have the leeway” to give him that time.

The reality, officials said, is that starting around April the military will simply run out of troops to maintain the current effort. By then, officials said, Mr. Bush would either have to withdraw roughly one brigade a month, or extend the tours of troops now in Iraq and shorten their time back home before redeployment. The latter, said one White House official, “is not something the president wants to do” and would likely become a centerpiece of the 2008 presidential campaign.

How many times over the last few years have we heard about when they’ll start withdrawing troops. Recommendations that are contrary to what Bush has already decided have a way of becoming just so much background noise that blur the picture. The broadcast media and the right-wing pundits will talk endlessly about meaningless statements issued by this or that official when everyone knows by now that Bush is like a petulant little child that wants what he wants and he wants to stay in Iraq; he isn’t bothered in the least by troop fatalities or extending combat tours. Another reason to just ignore any talk of a troop draw down is the new twist to how the administration is portraying the violence and what is supposedly at stake should troops be redeployed, “everyone the U.S. fights in Iraq is getting labeled Al Qaeda

What is so amazing about this new rhetorical development — not only from our military, but also from our “journalists” — is that, for years, it was too shameless and false even for the Bush administration to use. Even at the height of their propaganda offensives about the war, the furthest Bush officials were willing to go was to use the generic term “terrorists” for everyone we are fighting in Iraq, as in: “we cannot surrender to the terrorists by withdrawing” and “we must stay on the offensive against terrorists.”


But now, support for the war is at an all-time low and war supporters are truly desperate to find a way to stay in Iraq. So the administration has thrown any remnants of rhetorical caution to the wind, overtly calling everyone we are fighting “Al Qaeda.” This strategy was first unveiled by Joe Lieberman when he went on Meet the Press in January and claimed that the U.S. was “attacked on 9/11 by the same enemy that we’re fighting in Iraq today”. Though Lieberman was widely mocked at the time for his incomparable willingness to spew even the most patent falsehoods to justify the occupation, our intrepid political press corps now dutifully follows right along.

According to this article from Wikipedia citing research by the Congressional Research Service,

stated in June 2005: “I still think 80 percent of the Resistance, the day to day activity, is Iraqi – the roadside bombings, mortars, direct weapons fire, rifle fire, automatic weapons fire…[but] the foreign fighters attract the headlines with the suicide bombings, no question.”

There is the possibility that the administration has cooked the books with regards to the number of foreign fighters. Some of whom’s loyalties are not to al-Queda, but to the former Baathists. Bush is going to do with Iraq what Cheney has been doing with his claims of executive privilege and also claiming that he is part of the legislature; Bush will just keep moving the ball, changing the criteria for progress so he can keep doing what he wants to do until his term runs out. Then whatever happens, and there are no clean nice endings to the neocon’s Middle-East saga at this point, there are only varying degrees of tragic endings.

Thousands come one and all
Hear the sound of the battle call
The big men say boys you all have to go
Ask any question and you face the wall

Listen now what I tell you boy
There’s got to be some changes
And they have to be made now
Hear the sound of the battle call
Soon you won’t hear no sound at all

from The War Song bt Bruce Springsteen

We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators

Cheney claims a non-executive privilege He asserts he’s exempt from showing an agency how his office keeps secrets because he’s not fully part of the administration

For the last four years, Vice President Dick Cheney has made the controversial claim that his office is not fully part of the Bush administration in order to exempt it from a presidential order regulating federal agencies’ handling of classified national security information, officials said Thursday.

[ ]….One Cheney staffer familiar with the matter said Thursday that the vice president has not complied with the order because his office has dual functions: It is part of the executive branch — the Bush administration — but also part of the legislative branch, given Cheney’s position as president of the Senate.

As such, the vice president’s office has no legal obligation to abide by the order because it only applies to the executive branch, said the Cheney staffer, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the inner workings of the office and requested anonymity.

Cheney’s position is articulated in the 2004 edition of an annual government directory of senior officials known as the Plum Book:

“The vice presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter. The vice presidency performs functions in both the legislative branch … and in the executive branch.”

The Constitution, at least the last time I checked only recognized three branches of government. Dick has either decided on his own initiative or as an expedient shield that he does not belong to any of those three branches. Has Dick decided that he constitutes a fourth branch ( credit of first use of the term to Atrios or The Carpetbagger as far as I can tell) of government or is it more likely that depending on the latest scandal that he belongs to that branch of government which best provides cover for whatever the Whitehouse is trying to hide this week or a way of side stepping the law. Oversight Committee on the Vice President and Classified Information

Executive Order 12958, which President Bush has amended and endorsed, directs the National Archives to oversee a uniform system for protecting classified information. A key component of the executive order directs the Information Security Oversight Office within the National Archives to inspect federal agencies and White House offices to ensure compliance with the security procedures required by the President. Acting under the authority of the President’s executive order, the National Archives sought to conduct an on-site inspection of the Office of the Vice President in 2004.

The National Archives has informed the Committee that your office intervened to block the inspection. According to a letter that the National Archives sent to your staff in June 2006, you asserted that the Office of the Vice President is not an “entity within the executive branch” and hence is not subject to presidential executive orders.

Judging by the letter from Cheney’s office he is not subject to or bound by Executive Orders from the President of the United States nor is he obligated to respond Congress. How convenient that he feels in some ways he is part of the legislature and yet in others is part of the executive. His Senate roll is well defined and rather narrow, he may preside as President of the Senate, but frequently doesn’t and a president pro temp is appointed in his place and the VP may vote only to break tie votes. Even if we were to assume that Dick Cheney has developed a sudden capacity for sincerity, honestly and a here to fore unknown depth of knowledge about the law, believes that his office and staff compose a a special branch of government he has some explaining to do as to what criteria he applies to determine which branch he belongs. Historically Cheney has taken full advantage of his office as axillary executive according to how he has rationalized his behavior to the courts and to Congress, White House officials had debate before deciding to call visitor records confidential

Over the past year, lawyers for President George W. Bush and Cheney have directed the Secret Service to maintain the confidentiality of visitor entry and exit logs, declaring them to be presidential records, exempt from a law requiring their disclosure to whoever asks to see them.

If Cheney is not part of the executive, then at least his visitor log records would not be subject to even a spurious claim of executive privilege. Cheney lawyer told Secret Service to “eliminate data” on visitors to VP residence

A lawyer for Vice President Dick Cheney told the Secret Service in September to eliminate data on who visited Cheney at his official residence, a newly disclosed letter states.

The Sept. 13, 2006, letter from Cheney’s lawyer says logs for Cheney’s residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory are subject to the A lawyer for Vice President Dick Cheney told the Secret Service in September to eliminate data on who visited Cheney at his official residence, a newly disclosed letter states.

The Sept. 13, 2006, letter from Cheney’s lawyer says logs for Cheney’s residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory are subject to the Presidential Records Act.

Cheney hides behind the Presidential Records Act in 2006, yet when asked about how Cheney could justify not cooperating with the National Archives or fulfilling the vice-president’s obligations under Executive Order 12958 he suddenly belongs to some shadowy branch of government which Dick Cheney and only Dick Cheney knows what rules apply and when.
Remember Cheney’s infamous Energy Task Force and the request for documents by the conservative Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club. At first Cheney and the Whitehouse wouldn’t claim executive privilege, most likely because they wanted to avoid a show down on exactly what is covered by executive privilege, Cheney Task Force Loses Place To Hide

Justice Department lawyers had argued that the White House should not be forced to consider invoking the doctrine, as they have argued that the suit should be dismissed altogether on a variety of grounds. But the appeals court said it could not intervene in the lower court in midcase. As long as the task force refused to claim executive privilege, its separation of powers claim was “hypothetical,” the court wrote.

Another example of why saying that life is like high school is an exaggeration, life is really more like junior high. The Whitehouse by invoking “a variety of grounds” was invoking privilege without invoking it. The court forced their hand. They could have just let in a little sunshine, but instead Cheney did invoke privilege, National Briefing Washington: Appeal Sought On Energy Documents

The Bush administration told a federal appeals court that it would ask the Supreme Court to review a decision that requires Vice President Dick Cheney to give the Sierra Club documents from his task force on energy. Last week, the full United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit let stand a panel’s decision that the government had no basis to ask the appeals court to block a lower court’s ruling that called for disclosure of information. Mr. Cheney has invoked executive privilege in keeping the documents secret.

Court: Cheney can keep secret who was on energy task force

Bush administration lawyers had argued that it was unconstitutional to force the president or the vice president to disclose whom they met with in private. The justices agreed in part, saying the appeals court had failed to consider the “weighty separation of powers issue” raised by the lawsuit.

Cheney couldn’t have invoked privileges unless he believed that he had them and he could not have had any “separation of powers issues” if he belonged to the legislative branch of government. “Executive privledge” as a concept isn’t itself in the Constitution, but has become the phrase used by administrations to describe what they feel is encroachment on executive powers by Congress. The only way that Cheney can justify his behavior is to assert that he constitutes a never before recognized or Constitutionally acknowledges branch of government. “The vice presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter.” If this or any vice-president does not have to answer to the president (executive orders) and doesn’t have to answer to Congress or the courts then he doesn’t have to answer to anyone. Cheney has shown the American people in a series of scandals time and again his contempt for the rule of law. Now in one blinding show of hubris he has put his contempt for democracy, American values and bizarre views of governance on grand display. For that we all owe him our gratitude, as one of the imminent Republican icons Cheney has inadvertently shown a bright light on modern conservatism’s dark delusional underside.

“We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” – Dick Cheney

update: White House Defends Cheney’s Refusal of Oversight

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) said he plans to propose next week, as part of a spending bill for executive operations, a measure to place a hold on funds for Cheney’s office and official home until he clarifies to which branch of the government he belongs. Emanuel acknowledged that the proposal is just a stunt, but he said that if Cheney is not part of the executive branch, he should not receive its funds. “As we say in Chicago, follow the money,” he said.

This game that Cheney is playing and according to this article Bush is backing is dangerous stuff. If Cheney is not part of the executive he should not be provided with a Whitehouse office, staff or funds period until either he acknowledges that he is part of the executive or he takes the matter immediately to the Supreme Court to decide. Like Bush’s unconstitutional use of signing statements the idea to play out the clock for the next eighteen months they are in office. The Stall, Hide and Never be Held Accountable Administration all at taxpayers expense.