Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ring out the old.....

As I am wont to do each year as the calendar turns to January, I go through my MS Word and email files, deleting those which are of no real value (most files fall into this category) and archiving those which I believe will hold some interest at a future date. Below is one such document from October, 2004. I directed this missive to the Chicago Tribune, and unlike Loree Kowalis, I was not able to crack through the editorial wall and get it published..... I am presenting it today because 1) I didn't have a blogspot 13 months ago, and 2) There are a few points worth revisiting.

To the editors:

To borrow liberally from Captain Renault in "Casablanca," I am shocked - shocked to find that the Chicago Tribune has decided to endorse George W. Bush for reelection!

After all, it's not as if John Kerry agrees with the editorial board's stances on things like gun control, women's reproductive rights, privacy, large swaths of environmental policy, and tax cuts for the wealthy

I find it most disturbing that the editorial board's single greatest reason for endorsing Bush - namely his "tough stand" against terrorism - is grounded on his taking the fight to the terrorists. It is true that nearly three years ago we had smoking gun evidence of the Taliban's complicity in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The world was behind us and we were right to destroy their ability to harbor and give material aid to terrorists who would plot against us.
But in Iraq there was no evidence of terrorists connected with 9/11, there was some circumstantial evidence of WMDs, but no "smoking gun." In reality there was only the "Butcher of Baghdad." Now that we've unilaterally cut the head off that monster, our military is engaged in a brutal police action, we're neck-deep in an insurgency that is claiming hundreds of lives a month with no end in sight, and there is no clear exit strategy. Meanwhile, the rest of the world stands back and watches in wonder as we cede the moral high ground. We have discovered again that nature not only abhors a vacuum of leadership, but it also abhors vacuous leadership!

I fear that a second Bush term in office will embolden his neoconservative administration in ways that will foster only greater hatred for and fear of our "superpower" status, thus creating a whole new generation of terrorists bent on our destruction, while at the same time further isolating our nation from the fellowship of those countries that might best help us in taking the fight to the terrorists. It is clear to me that John Kerry understands what Bush is either unwilling or unable to contemplate: That terrorism will only be contained by addressing the causes, not the symptoms. Four more years of color-coded warnings and pre-emptive occupations are not the answer.


I don't even want to go into all of the reasons why a Kerry/Edwards administration would have been far more palatable than Bush/Vader. The two subsequent vacancies on the SCotUS are reason enough. Rather, I want to look at the foreign policy debacle that has been wrought by the neoconservative WHIG cabal's insistence that Iraq is a winnable front in the "war on turr."

13 months ago over a thousand U.S. troops had died in Iraq. In the 13 months since, another 1,000 have died. Civilian deaths there continue at a clip comparable to that before the election. The Iraqi constitution is a sham, their elections have brought radical religious shiites aligned with Iran into power, and have further alienated the Sunnis who are fueling the insurgency.

Radical Religious Islam is not pleased that Hosni Mubarak threw the Egyptian face of their movement into jail for five years because he commited the crime of challenging the status quo. Yeppers, the Bush doctrine is spreading like wildfire!!

Meanwhile, for its part, Iran - as if to counter-balance a perceived threat from the U.S. - has elected a government with a president (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) just as wingnutty as our own. Already wearing the "axis of evil" tag as a badge of honor, under Ahmadinejad Iran is actively pursuing full nuclear cycle capability, has a billion dollar contract to purchase surface-to-air missiles from Russia, and wants to wipe Israel off the map, or at the very least move it to Germany or Austria. Israel is rattling its sabre in response, and 2006 could make Bechtel and Halliburton rich beyond the wildest dreams of avarice.

And in a continuing saga of shock and awe, the rest of the world still stands back in wonder as Bush:

  • threatened to veto anti-torture legislation.
  • signed said legislation, but then stated that it doesn't apply to him anyway.
  • has used the NSA in illegal data-mining to spy on U.S. citizens without so much as giving a reach-around to the FISA court.
  • nominated one of the architects of the legal rationale behind said spying as an associate justice of the SCotUS.
  • withdrew the nomination as it came to light that said nominee had never actually read the constitution.
  • threatened to veto anything short of total reauthorization of the Patriot Act, and then claimed that a one month stop-gap reauthorization was a victory.
  • Received a nearly perfect failing grade from the 9/11 committee with regards to administration responsiblities in areas like disaster communications, port-of-entry security, first responders funding, etc.

I haven't even brought Katrina and "Brownie" into play, despite the fact that the administration's inability to deal with a domestic disaster (with all kinds of advance warning) can only reinforce a terrorist's belief that a random attack will wreak simliar havoc.

I could go on and on, but time is the tyrant, and some guys have just exited a blacked-out van and are walking to my door.... More later.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Constitutional queries

I generally abhor suggestions to meddle with the constitution, particularly to deal with the social issue flavor of the month (school prayer, flag burning, etc.) However, I have two suggestions, and would appreciate your comments.


1) Anyone in favor of repealing the 22nd Amendment? Lame ducks are indeed that, as we have seen 2nd-term presidents routinely decline into scandal and insignificance. As Alexander Hamilton wrote, the president "is to be elected for FOUR years; and is to be re-eligible as often as the people of the United States shall think him worthy of their confidence."


2) Can we PLEASE get rid of recess appointments? John Bolton sits at the United Nations on one, and we just had a new batch of cronies put in place that make you wish for Heckuvajob Brownie. Again, as Hamilton says, "The ordinary power of appointment is confined to the President and Senate JOINTLY, and can therefore only be exercised during the session of the Senate; but as it would have been improper to oblige this body to be continually in session for the appointment of officers and as vacancies might happen IN THEIR RECESS, which it might be necessary for the public service to fill without delay, the succeeding clause is evidently intended to authorize the President, SINGLY, to make temporary appointments "during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session."


This clause was not meant to allow presidents to bypass confirmation, and it has long outlived its usefulness.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

One man's view of liberalism

I have been asked about my view of government and why I am a liberal. Well, I haven't always been a liberal. In college, I was quite taken with classical liberalism and libertarianism. I've read Atlas Shrugged multiple times, and I've seen Rush in concert. However, my thinking has evolved a lot as I've grown older. And instead of becoming more conservative, I've become more liberal. A lot more liberal.

To start getting philosophical - I am responsible for every action I take. What I can't control is what happens to me. I'm free to do anything I want, anytime I want. However, there are consequences to every action - if I break a law, there is a price I will pay. So, in essence, I, and everyone else, willingly sacrifice some freedoms in order to provide a stable and safe (as much as possible) society in which to live. I can't build interstates or run a military or produce television shows or acquire food from all over the country or any number of other things all by myself, so I join a society where I can exchange my labor for goods and services (via the accepted exchange of money). In doing so, I accept some responsibility for the welfare of the other members of that society. Therefore, I believe in a shared responsibility that is as fundamental as our freedom - our responsibility that we let no one, regardless of perceived worth, suffer without the basic needs of life. I would list those as food, shelter, clothing, access to quality education, and access to quality health care. What people do with those things is their choice - they don't have to do what the doctor says. They don't have to learn anything in school. But I believe that providing that access is as basic a human responsibility as there is.

I also in no way believe that business, left to it's own devices, would come anywhere near meeting this responsbility. Businesses exist to make money for the owners and stockholders, not to share responsibility for societal needs. There are certainly counter-examples, and one well-known one, Bill Gates, has done incredible things (ask him what his view of taxes is - he actively supports the continuation of the estate tax, for example). But what business is going to provide health care to poor children if there's no one who will pay for it? None. And so those children will grow up less healthy and less likely to be able to manage their own lives.

So, to me, we have to agree that, since we cannot trust businesses and private citizens to meet the needs of so many people, and that we have this responsibility, as I described earlier, that we will set up an entity which will do these things for us - that will provide national infrastructure as well as meet societal responsibilities. And we won't let anyone share in the benefits of such a society without sharing in the responsbility. None of us are self-sufficient, so we all have to share in paying for everyone else.

As I've said before, to me one of the goals of liberalism is to work towards a perfect society. What I've never understood is why everyone doesn't want that. Why should I be content that some still fall through the cracks? In my view, we should all keep working to make the cracks smaller and smaller so that as few people as possible fall through them.

When we talk about the effectiveness of government, there are two different questions being asked - 1) should the government exist in the form it does right now and 2) are the people in the government doing a good job? I believe that the answer to the first question is yes, but the answer to the second question is no. That means the current government is not being effective. In my opinion, it would be far better to replace the people in the government with some that can do the job better than to replace (or remove) the system. The failure of government to serve the citizens of the country is our fault as well as theirs - we elected them, and continue to elect them, even though they fail often.

Some ask what the government has done well. Obviously, different people would differ on what "well" means. What I can say is that governmental programs make my life, and the lives of many of the people I care about, better. Without Social Security Insurance, my parents and grandmother wouldn't be able to afford a place to live or food to eat. Without Medicare, they wouldn't be able to go to a doctor if they were sick. Without Medicare or Medicaid, my sister, who works as a Physical Therapist in a nursing home, would be out of a job because few of the patients would be able to pay for their care. Without the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, or the Department of Education, I, my wife, and many of my friends would not have been able to afford to go to college, do research, or go to graduate school. Without federally guaranteed student loan programs, the schools I, my wife, and my sister teach at would close.

Without government, many of those things might still be possible. Perhaps, but for many reasons, I think things would be very different, and hence very much worse for me and people I care about. None of the people I've discussed are freeloaders, living off their government - and I'm not going to get into a discussion of personal habits.

I feel like this got a little disjointed along the way, so if anyone has any suggestions or comments, I'd love to see them.

It's only been 2 years

Since the SCOTUS reiterated their view of limitations on executive power in time of war. In 2004, the case of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld dealt with the question of whether or not unlawful combatants had the right of habeas corpus:
Justice O'Connor, joined by The Chief Justice, Justice Kennedy, and Justice Breyer, concluded that although Congress authorized the detention of combatants in the narrow circumstances alleged in this case, due process demands that a citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decisionmaker. Pp. 14-15.

Justice Souter, joined by Justice Ginsburg, concluded that Hamdi's detention is unauthorized, but joined with the plurality to conclude that on remand Hamdi should have a meaningful opportunity to offer evidence that he is not an enemy combatant. Pp. 2-3, 15.

O'Connor, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and Kennedy and Breyer, JJ., joined. Souter, J., filed an opinion concurring in part, dissenting in part, and concurring in the judgment, in which Ginsburg, J., joined. Scalia, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens, J., joined. Thomas, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

In delivering the plurality opinion, Justice O'Connor wrote:

In so holding, we necessarily reject the Government's assertion that separation of powers principles mandate a heavily circumscribed role for the courts in such circumstances. Indeed, the position that the courts must forgo any examination of the individual case and focus exclusively on the legality of the broader detention scheme cannot be mandated by any reasonable view of separation of powers, as this approach serves only to condense power into a single branch of government. We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens. Youngstown Sheet & Tube, 343 U. S., at 587. Whatever power the United States Constitution envisions for the Executive in its exchanges with other nations or with enemy organizations in times of conflict, it most assuredly envisions a role for all three branches when individual liberties are at stake. Mistretta v. United States, 488 U. S. 361, 380 (1989) (it was "the central judgment of the Framers of the Constitution that, within our political scheme, the separation of governmental powers into three coordinate Branches is essential to the preservation of liberty"); Home Building & Loan Assn. v. Blaisdell, 290 U. S. 398, 426 (1934) (The war power "is a power to wage war successfully, and thus it permits the harnessing of the entire energies of the people in a supreme cooperative effort to preserve the nation. But even the war power does not remove constitutional limitations safeguarding essential liberties"). Likewise, we have made clear that, unless Congress acts to suspend it, the Great Writ of habeas corpus allows the Judicial Branch to play a necessary role in maintaining this delicate balance of governance, serving as an important judicial check on the Executive's discretion in the realm of detentions. See St. Cyr, 533 U. S., at 301 ("At its historical core, the writ of habeas corpus has served as a means of reviewing the legality of Executive detention, and it is in that context that its protections have been strongest"). Thus, while we do not question that our due process assessment must pay keen attention to the particular burdens faced by the Executive in the context of military action, it would turn our system of checks and balances on its head to suggest that a citizen could not make his way to court with a challenge to the factual basis for his detention by his government, simply because the Executive opposes making available such a challenge. Absent suspension of the writ by Congress, a citizen detained as an enemy combatant is entitled to this process.

Memo from God

From the Desk of God

To: Pat Robertson
Re: Smiting

Dear Pat:

We have discussed this topic previously, and as I recall, I advised you to leave the smiting to me. Here I was, having a perfectly nice New Year, except for that Notre Dame game, and you have to
step in it again. You think I smited the prime minister of Israel over divided lands? As I said in the Book of Joel? Me damn it, Pat, let it go!

First of all, the Book of Joel. Shall we say, umm, that wasn't my best work?
"That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten."

Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it? And that whole "I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land"....don't take that all that seriously. How should I put this..that was, you know, a starter home? It's the valley of Jehoshaphat, for kid's sake! Been there? Hot, dry, dusty, that was so last five milleniums. I've moved on, La Jolla, Vegas, Aspen, that's where to be. Divide that me-forsaken desert up any way you want!

And the kid wants me to remind you to stop bothering him. You think Christmas is easy when you're Christ??? He needs a break and there you are whining all the time. For the love of me, shut up!

Oh, one last thing. I see you're still really straining. I could send one tsunami-sized enema if you want!

You're not looking that well yourself, there, Pat. I'd lay off the smiting talk, and be sure and say hi to cousin Satan for me, won't you? Sure it's hot, but it's a dry heat!

But I love you--even though everyone else thinks you're a great big dick!

Do as I say, not as I do

I find it remarkable that those who love to crow about "original intent" are so willing to trample on provisions of the constitution that so clearly reflect their intent. Nowhere is that more true than in the case of the 4th Amendment, which grew out of colonial anger at the British practice of using "general warrants" for searches. These general warrants could be issued on mere suspicions and allowed blanket, door-to-door searches of entire neighborhoods and of any person, any place at any time. That is why the 4th amendment begins with the presumption that searches are unlawful unless carried out within carefully defined parameters. The usage of an "inherent" authority to override one of the protections resulting from one of the main colonial grievances would certainly be offensive to the framers.


We have a Supreme Court precedent addressing the extent of inherent authority and congressional restrictions, the 1952 Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer decision. Under a claim of inherent authority, Harry Truman ordered steel mills to be seized to avoid a strike during the Korean War. Truman lost. Black's majority opinion is rather perfunctory, but there are some brilliant concurrences. Frankfurter wrote that "absence of authority in the President to deal with a crisis does not imply want of power in the Government. Conversely the fact that power exists in the Government does not vest it in the President. The need for new legislation does not enact it. Nor does it repeal or amend existing law. No authority that has since been given to the President can by any fair process of statutory construction be deemed to withdraw the restriction or change the will of Congress as expressed by a body of enactments."

Douglas adds that "If we sanctioned the present exercise of power by the President, we would be expanding Article II of the Constitution and rewriting it to suit the political conveniences of the present emergency. Article II which vests the "executive Power" in the President defines that power with particularity. Article II, Section 2 makes the Chief Executive the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy. But our history and tradition rebel at the thought that the grant of military power carries with it authority over civilian affairs."

Perhaps most telling is the thoughtful reflection of Justice Jackson, who wrote that "When the President acts pursuant to an express or implied authorization of Congress, his authority is at its maximum, for it includes all that he possesses in his own right plus all that Congress can delegate. …..When the President takes measures incompatible with the expressed or implied will of Congress, his power is at its lowest ebb, for then he can rely only upon his own constitutional powers minus any constitutional powers of Congress over the matter. Courts can sustain exclusive presidential control in such a case only by disabling the Congress from acting upon the subject. Presidential claim to a power at once so conclusive and preclusive must be scrutinized with caution, for what is at stake is the equilibrium established by our constitutional system."


And then of course, let us look back yet another generation to the eloquence of Justice Louis D. Brandeis, dissenting in Olmstead v. United States (1928), where he stated "Whenever a telephone line is tapped, the privacy of the persons at both ends of the line is invaded, and all conversations between them on any subject, and although proper, confidential, and privileged, may be overheard. . . .The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings, and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure, and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the one most valued by civilized men. To protect that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the Government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment."

Just a reminder.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

So, help me use my new gift

Someone who knows my political inclinations gave me a George W. Bush doll and a box of straight pins for Christmas. I'd like everyone who stops by to leave a suggestion for a pin that we can stick into Dubya. An example might be: "Stick a pin in him for lying about there always being judicial oversight for wiretaps."

When I get enough pins in, I'll take a picture.

News--Sharon has major stroke

Israeli PM Sharon apparently has had what is described as a "major" stroke. This is huge.

Talking points

From today's Chicago Tribune:

In a wonderful story headlined "Iraq: Family of 12 killed in U.S. strike on house" we have this little blurb: "One of the officials said some of the seized ordnance had markings showing it to have been made in Iran."

Right below, on the print page, we have this one:

"Iran plans to resume its nuclear research"

Notice a theme here? Hmmm?

Congrats, Grover

First, Katrina...

and then in Grover Norquist's America, where he doesn't "want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

The Sago Coal Mine was cited 273 times for safety violations in the last two years, according to documents compiled by the Labor Department.

Clearing up the FISA doubletalk

"if somebody from al Qaeda is calling you, we'd like to know why."--Drinky McFelon.

Can we put an end to this nonsense?


All you have to do is follow the rules, and the rules are stacked in your favor. You can start your snooping three days before you get a warrant. Warrants are authorized by a panel of judges, all of whom were named to fill this role by the late WILLIAM REHNQUIST. The court's office is IN the Justice Department building. Out of more than 18,000 applications, the court has rejected exactly FOUR. This isn't a hoop to jump through, it is a crack in a sidewalk that you don't even notice as you keep on walking. In fact, the FISA standard is considered by many to be so low that it may not comply with the 4th amendment, and yet the administration says without a second thought that a law providing even minimum oversight doesn't apply to them.

Look very carefully at what is happening--a president claims that an imaginary "war" allows him to ignore constitutional and legislative restrictions at his pleasure. Look carefully, and I hope you are frightened by what you see.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


So, our little spying device - the thing that track who visits our happy little site here - tells us that some friends from the District of Columbia have stopped by to see what we're all about. Well, welcome! Sit a spell, and do some reading. Leave some comments. We're glad you're here.

Fear and Liberty

Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it.
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

The Bush Administration, and those who support it, have argued that violating both the law and the Constitution by spying on Americans is necessary, because without such actions, we'd all be in danger. If that refrain sounds familiar, it should - nearly every speech anyone in the Bush administration has made since September 11, 2001 has centered around the same topic - fear. We were attacked, horrifically and tragically, and every one of us knows how that morning affected our lives. And the President isn't about to let us forget it, not even for a moment. Not in the sense of "let's all band together to help each other and stay safe" that permeated the country in the days following the attacks, but as "if you dare question that I know what I'm doing, thousands of people, including more than likely everyone you care about, will die. Die, I tell you. Horrifically."

And by and large, our country bought into it. Our politicians sure did, passing the PATRIOT Act with barely any objection, and then the Senate let fear turn them into a rubber-stamp for War, and then the Democrats were too scared to have an opinion that they conceded two elections. We once had a president who said "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." We now have a president who talks about boogeymen around every corner, so that we're supposed to be afraid all the time.

Our Declaration of Independence states that life is an inalienable right. However, that is not the defining quality of what makes us American. I could be alive if I was trapped in a gulag in Siberia. I could be kept safe if I was in a box buried 200 feet below the surface of the earth with tubes that provided me food, water, and breathable air. But that's not what the American Revolution was fought for. That's not why millions of men and women have put on uniforms and placed themselves in harm's way. That's not the point of America - to be safe. The point of America is to be free. Our country doesn't exist merely for me to have a place to wake up and go to sleep without being dead. It exists as a place where liberty and freedom underlie everything we do, where our most fundamental social compact requires our government to protect our rights, which were unambiguously spelled out over 200 years ago.

So when the President swore in his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, he wasn't promising to keep us safe, he was promising, to the best of his ability, to keep us free.

Now, we've all heard people, defending the President, say "Well, that sounds fine, but the Constitution isn't a suicide pact."


I'll say that again.


Yes it is. Of course the Constitution is a suicide pact. How could it be any different in a country whose very beginning was ushered in by

Patrick Henry - "Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

John Adams - "Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood."

Adams again - "If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation; the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave."

Benjamin Franklin - "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Thomas Jefferson - "What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

Thomas Paine - "Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing."

It is fundamental to our nation, our culture, and everything that makes us who we are that we be willing to risk death, every day, to protect our freedom. Not just on battlefields, but in our daily lives. Freedom isn't free, folks, and that means we all have to be willing to accept some risk in order that our being alive has some meaning other than genetic reproduction.

So, Mr. President, when you use fear to manipulate the country, when you torture and spy and lie in the name of safety, you are as un-American as anyone could possibly be. You violate your oath of office, your status as a citizen of the United States, and sacrifice your humanity.

Laura, honey, wake up...

Laura, wake up. I really tied one on a while back, I can't even remember what happened. I haven't been that wasted since the National Guard! I know I couldn't find my suit coat, and the lights were real bright, but that's it, the rest is just gonzo. I didn't say anything stupid, did I Pickles? I didn't promise anything, did I? Laura? Laura, wake up!

But Mom????!!!!

Carole Keeton Strayhorn, compTROLLer of Texas, has decided to run for governor as an independent, rather than a Republican. It appears she is running away from the river of Republican slime in Texas.

OK, big deal. Carole Keeton Strayhorn? Who cares about the Texas comptroller? But wait. Who calls her mommy?

Treasure of the W Madness

Badges? We ain't got no
badges! We don't need no
badges! I don't have to show
you any stinking badge!

Paging Diebold....

BAGHDAD, Iraq - An international team began reviewing the hundreds of complaints filed over Iraq’s parliamentary elections, and an Iraqi elections official said Tuesday that results might not be ready for two more weeks.

Hmmm, boys and girls, what is happening here?

The elections were disastrous for the Bushies. The religious Shi'a parties won overwhelmingly, and the U.S. puppets, Chalabi and Allawi, were routed. The Kurds seem quite willing to make their deals with the Shi'a to establish a de facto independent state, leaving the Sunnis with a big handful of nothing. The "government" with its own torture prisons have not a single check on them and have a happy sponsor in Iran waiting in the wings.

Time to Diebold the vote??????

While on the topic...

The President is to be the ``commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States.....In most of these particulars, the power of the President will resemble equally that of the king of Great Britain and of the governor of New York. The most material points of difference are these: First. The President will have only the occasional command of such part of the militia of the nation as by legislative provision may be called into the actual service of the Union. The king of Great Britain and the governor of New York have at all times the entire command of all the militia within their several jurisdictions. In this article, therefore, the power of the President would be inferior to that of either the monarch or the governor. Secondly. The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the DECLARING of war and to the RAISING and REGULATING of fleets and armies, all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.   Federalist #69


John Jay on W's War

…the safety of the people of America against dangers from FOREIGN force depends not only on their forbearing to give JUST causes of war to other nations, but also on their placing and continuing themselves in such a situation as not to INVITE hostility or insult; for it need not be observed that there are PRETENDED as well as just causes of war. It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it; nay, absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans. These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people.      Federalist #4.


I rarely comment on the ads here (except with Doc's observations on a couple of racy ones!) but a frequent recent advertiser is a service I use, endorse and hope the guys that came up with it make gazillions. I'm referring to Netflix. Practically any DVD you want, delivered to your mailbox in 1-2 days, with no late fees. I hated returning movies I hadn't watched to a certain unnamed video giant (rhymes with Clockbuster) or paying their "extended viewing" fees. Now, I pay one set fee per month for as many as I can watch. It is also great for those offbeat documentaries, etc. that you wouldn't rent solo. If you're still trudging to the video store, give it a try.

The President doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to do

Thanks to Balloon Juice and Obsidian Wings for pointing out what Bush said on January 2nd regarding his signing of the "Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pandemic Influenza Act, 2006":
The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks. Further, in light of the principles enunciated by the Supreme Court of the United States in 2001 in Alexander v. Sandoval, and noting that the text and structure of Title X do not create a private right of action to enforce Title X, the executive branch shall construe Title X not to create a private right of action. Finally, given the decision of the Congress reflected in subsections 1005(e) and 1005(h) that the amendments made to section 2241 of title 28, United States Code, shall apply to past, present, and future actions, including applications for writs of habeas corpus, described in that section, and noting that section 1005 does not confer any constitutional right upon an alien detained abroad as an enemy combatant, the executive branch shall construe section 1005 to preclude the Federal courts from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over any existing or future action, including applications for writs of habeas corpus, described in section 1005.

In other words,

Monday, January 02, 2006

Winner, best post of 2005

From Jesus' General, regarding what happens if you go to google and type in the words "Baby Jesus", and certain wingnut reactions to it.

The dialogue continues

Senator Obama,

Thank you for replying to my recent questions about President Bush and his surveillance program. In your response, you stated "While Congress needs to conduct more oversight of the administration's work, I do not think that options such as calling for impeachment of the President serve our ultimate objective, which is getting the country back on the right track."

I agree that our collective goal should be to make this country and world a better place, and I believe that it doesn't matter who's in charge in the government, if our goals can be achieved anyway. And I don't think that disagreement with policy or dissatisfaction with performance are grounds for impeachment - that doesn't rise to the standards of "high crimes or misdemeanors", no matter what the Congress tried to do during the previous Presidential administration.

However, I am gravely concerned about a President and Vice-President that appear to have violated a law, and not just any law, but one which is deeply connected with our civil rights, as enumerated by the Constitution. That they show not only no remorse, but actively defend their actions, demonstrates to me the depth of their disregard for the law and of the freedoms which are so vital to our nation.

I sincerely hope that you and your colleagues in Congress will conduct a full investigation of the President's behavior, and then, if necessary, require him, and any that were complicit in the breaking of the law, to pay the appropriate penalty, as would be expected of any citizen in our country of laws. Whether that penalty rises to the level of impeachment is a judgement that can only be made once all the facts are in, but I urge you to keep all options open until then.

Thank you for your hard work in representing the residents of Illinois and the citizens of the Unites States over the past year, and I wish you even more success in 2006.


Dr. Eric C. Martell
Assistant Professor and Chair
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Millikin University

Impeachment? Not yet...

A message I received from Barack Obama:

Dear Eric:

Thank you for advising me of your concerns about the President's domestic spying program, and your feeling that his executive order may be grounds for impeachment. I understand your mounting frustration.

I fully appreciate and share your strong disagreement with many of the administration's policies and actions, including reports of the President's domestic surveillance program. Although more facts may be forthcoming, from what we have learned, it appears that the President's program is in direct contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Indeed, the concept that the government is spying on Americans is troubling enough without considering the idea that this surveillance is being conducted outside the parameters of the law. It is imperative that the President, and all elected officials, recognize that this is a nation of laws. If the President believes that the nation's FISA laws should be amended, he should present his recommended changes to Congress for evaluation.

I am deeply troubled by this and other on-going efforts to increase the power of the Executive branch at the expense of the strong checks and balances in our three branches of government, and I hope the administration will see that our goal of protecting Americans does not require an abandonment of our obligation to protect their rights as well. Because the White House seems oblivious to this concept, I joined my colleagues in the Senate to filibuster a PATRIOT Act reauthorization bill that failed to strike a more reasonable balance between homeland security and civil liberties.

Homeland security is an important obligation for the federal government, and law enforcement must have a complete set of tools to fight terrorism. Despite the Administration's proclaimed focus on homeland security, however, I know many American see the poor government response after Hurricane Katrina as a sign that the President has failed to fulfill his post-9/11 promises of improved readiness and response. There is no excuse for that, and we need an honest review of our progress, or lack of progress, on this front.

In my view, there is no question that President Bush has pushed the envelope in promoting his policies and programs. Challenges like the war in Iraq and the Gulf Coast tragedy only exacerbate our sense of frustration and concern about the priorities and judgment of this administration. Despite our frustration, our focus must remain on doing what we can in this environment to address the many tests facing America and Illinois, some of which, like Katrina, have posed unprecedented challenges. While Congress needs to conduct more oversight of the administration's work, I do not think that options such as calling for impeachment of the President serve our ultimate objective, which is getting the country back on the right track.

Thank you again for writing. Please know that I will continue to use my position in the Senate to hold this administration accountable for its work, and to oppose those policies with which I disagree.


Barack Obama
United States Senator

For Auld Lang Syne....

Out with the old:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In with the new:

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year, everyone

As the Earth travels around the Sun, we as a society have designated one arbitrary point as the beginning or end of its cycle. We just passed another one. Woot!

From the DailyKos, some selections from a listing of the top 10 dumbest things said on evolution/creation message boards (Well, the top 10 dumbest things said by creationists. I'm not going to go to those boards to see what all everyone said - I'd like my brain to not explode.):

10. I know you think you have fossils that proof stuff, but those fossils are all fake, they're made out of tar and stuff, this is fact not theory. They have factories in China mostly making the fossils.

9. If people came from monkeys, why are there still people?

8. then perhaps you can explain how A fish crawled out of the sea and evolved into a mammal with lungs without dying before he evolved. You scientists make up something to explain all of your theories without ANY proof. You are fools living a lie. And being as Satan is the father of lies, he is your master. Turn or Burn boys!

6. hey, i get so confused when i hear about all this evolution nonsense. was it once upon a time,lifeless matter came to life. became a mything link. then a boy.or was it.once upon a time, a lifeless chunk of wood came to life.became a talking puppet.then a boy. please clear up my confusion.....yo momma

5. DS I'm hoping you won't be like the others and we can have a nice two-way discussion were we each listen to the other persons. As long as you understand that evolutionists have no proof and just the tail on an amoeba is proof of intelligent design and that's my view and I don't really care to read yours.

2. Most mammals contain DNA similaities because mammals eat other mammals.