Saturday, October 21, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
How do we know when we've won this war?
In the Senate, there are 9 seats in play:
New Jersey (D incumbent)
Rhode Island (R)
The Democrats will win PA, MN, MT, and OH pretty easily. Santorum has killed his career, Tester is the poster boy for what a real grass roots campaign can do, DeWine is being sunk by the ungodly corrupt Ohio GOP (their outgoing governor, Taft, has a 12% approval rating), and the lead in Minnesota is huge. Rhode Island is also a likely pickup, where the Dem voters will choose the real Democrat over the faux-Democrat Chaffee. I predict we'll hold on to NJ - as screwed up as that state is, the unions will bring in the votes at the end. That would give a gain of 5 seats, making it 50-50, which still means the loss of every tie. So then the Dems need one of VA, MO, or TN. Those are all tough pickups. The racists in southern VA are keeping Allen in the lead, but it's tight. The polls on Ford/Corker in TN are back and forth, and I think MO is too close to call - I'm thinking they're likely to go to a recount.
The wildcard is CT, where Lieberman is making noises about defecting if he wins, and caucusing with the GOP. I'm going to predict that it ends up 50-50, with the Dems snagging one of VA, MO, or TN, but losing CT when Lieberman goes Republican.
As for the House, I'm going for a tidal wave here. Remember, in 2004, if we ignore Texas (oh, how I wish we could), the other 49 states gave the Dems a gain of 1 seat, but the gerrymandering in TX gave them five in that state alone, so they got a net gain. Too many House members are doing stupid things (there's new stories every day - check out TPM Muckraker for details). The Dems need 15 seats to get a 1 seat majority. I'm going to predict a 30-35 seat gain, for a 31-41 seat majority. The people are pissed off. Even if George Bush shoots bin Laden on National TV, while finding 200 million barrels of oil, the Dems will still take the House back, although the majority would be smaller.
Tom HagenJames Baker and Lee Hamilton are heading up a commission on Iraq that, after the elections, will likely issue a report stating the obvious and calling for a change of direction in this misbegotten adventure. W may use the report as cover to escape the ever-widening disaster he created.
In those weeks to come, though, this soulless man will continue sending dedicated, selfless young people off to die for nothing. I can't even imagine what many of them must be thinking, that gnawing question of who will be the next to die or be imprisoned for life in a pain-ravaged shell for this vainglorious fool's hideous mistake. That is unholy and immoral, and that is criminal.
"This morning my administration released the budget numbers for fiscal 2006. These budget numbers are not just estimates; these are the actual results for the fiscal year that ended February the 30th." --George W. Bush, on the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2006.
In a notice dated Wednesday, the Justice Department listed 196 pending habeas cases, some of which cover groups of detainees. The new Military Commissions Act (MCA), it said, provides that "no court, justice, or judge" can consider those petitions or other actions related to treatment or imprisonment filed by anyone designated as an enemy combatant, now or in the future. (h/t Atrios for the link)
They don't waste any time, do they? In their megalomania, Bush and his partners in despotism jumped right on the new bill and began stripping people of their rights before the ink was dry from his X. Before you go all "liberals just want the badguys to go free" on me, let me state that anyone who thinks that about liberals is an idiot of epic proportions.
No one wants that. What those of us who hate this bill and fear what the government will do with it think are funny things like "What if they make a mistake?" Now, I know that the Liar in Chief is infallible, but even he can't be everywhere at once, so what if one of these 196 people was wrongly imprisioned by the SS? We're saying that they don't even have the right to ask "Why am I in jail?" Why are we doing this? Are we so afraid that we can't even answer that simple question? It may be years before these people get their military "trial", and between now and then, they'll be in jail, exposed to torture, and spend years without basic rights that they still hold whether we like it or not (remember that whole "unalienable" thing?). What if we're wrong?
The other complaint I hear from those who support this monstrosity is that "they're not American citizens, so the Constitution (and basic human rights, apparently) does not apply to them." Well, I hate to break it to you folks, but (again from the Post) Historically, the Constitution has been interpreted to apply equally to citizens and noncitizens under U.S. jurisdiction. It's that pesky way the Constitution refers to "people", as if all people had rights, not just white men or something.
Now, I know that people who have advocated that torturing these people is necessary are unlikely to be worried about the imprisionment of someone who hasn't committed a crime - after all, if they didn't do anything wrong, why were they arrested? Huh? The rest of us, thankfully, have at least a vestigial brain.
What if we're wrong?
You have 18 days. Vote.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
What's the purpose of a mission statement? Many of us work for organizations that have one, but it often seems like just a set of nice, rather meaningless words that the Board or CEO can have their secretaries type up nicely in Power Point presentations, and really has no impact on the employees in any substantive way. On the other hand, a real mission statement provides a guiding principle upon which everything the organization does. The mission statement is what separates that organization from the myriad others who deliver similar products or services, if it is truly embraced by those who represent the organization. When choices need to be made, especially the big choices, once considers the mission of the organization, and if it's a good mission, one which truly represents what the organization does and which is not just a vague collection of meaningless words, it will provide guidance and help employees make the right choice.
The mission statement for the United States is written - clearly - in the Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution. They're not all that long - if you haven't read them recently, do so. It really is part of your job as a citizen of this country. And when you read them, don't skim. Read them like you've got a test coming up on the material, because you do.
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.
Think about what the words contained in these two documents mean - really mean.
- We're not free because our government makes us so - we're free because it's the natural state of being.
- Our rights are not granted to us by any living person, but by nature.
- Our rights are unalienable - that means they cannot be taken away from us by someone else, or given away by us to someone else.
- We recognize that to protect our rights against infringement by others, we create a government, which we know will constrain some rights, but on balance, makes us more free, not less.
- Our Constitution does not spell out for us what rights we have - remember, the government cannot grant us rights.
- The Constitution explicitly states what the government cannot do, in addition to a small list of what powers we've granted it.
- The Constitution states, in Amendments IX and X, that anything it doesn't mention is assumed to be a right we posess.
That's the mission statement of the United States of America. Our country is entirely about process - it matters very much how our government, as an agent of the people acts. Its powers are defined by these documents - the Declaration, where we defined our intention to be a nation and the rationale we used to justify that decision, and the Constitution, where we state how we intend to govern our nation. That's it.
Whenever we get scared, or confused, or in times of crisis, or need to make a decision about the direction we, as a nation, should head, this must be where we turn. If we do, we won't compromise our values for a short-term sense of security. We won't lose our moral compass. We won't wander down paths we have to retread in the future with our heads hung in shame.
We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
There is one Illinois Democrat on the list: Jerry Costello of the 12th District (extreme SE Illinois). He's got over $1.5 million in the bank. We're all contributing till it hurts, don't you think the unchallenged and financially comfortable should be doing the same? Below is my letter to his office in Washington, DC. If you live in the district or state of one of the other folks on this list, drop them a line.
Dear (Chief of Staff):
Your name was provided to me by the young woman answering the phones in your office this afternoon. While not a constituent of the Congressman, I am an Illinois Democrat who is working hard in these last few weeks canvassing and participating in GOTV initiatives on behalf of several candidates in northern Illinois (Tammy Duckworth, John Laesch) as we seek to take back the Congress.
There was a report on CQPolitics.com indicating that there are a host of representatives who are not facing credible challenges this year and, in many cases, have substantial campaign war chests. The most recent cash-on-hand report for Congressman Costello indicates $1,516,242. His represents one of the more substantial financial positions of a combined list of 45 Democrats sitting on more than $26 million dollars.
As Governor Dean, Congressman Emanuel and other Democrats in the leadership are asking people to give, give and give, it makes sense that those members of the House who are able to give above and beyond their dues should be doing the same thing that the electorate is; pushing hard to bring about a sea change on November 7th.
I would ask that if Congressman Costello has not done so, he evaluates the possibility of releasing additional funds to the DCCC (who, I believe, are evaluating whether or not to borrow over $10 million dollars we push to the finish line) to help turn the country blue again.
Thanking you in advance for your consideration,
He ends his piece with:
With Bush's signing of this bill today, the worst kind of barbarism is made "legitimate" and consecrated in our laws.
We commit horrors, our government sanctifies the acts, and we speak of them openly -- and even with pride and righteousness. In terms of the moral principles that are implicated, there is not much lower to go.
Now we simply wait to see to what extent the powers in this new law are implemented, and who the particular targets will be. And we wait to see just how lightless, how evil, and how endless our nightmare will be.
Perhaps nothing more clearly identifies what is at risk in this election, and indeed in all elections.
Our country was not, to steal a phrase, founded by fearful men. But it was founded as all things are - by imperfect people, and it has been governed by imperfect people, who, at times, have chosen to give in to their fear and choose the wrong path.
However, as Keith Olbermann said so well:
Adams and his party were swept from office, and the Alien and Sedition Acts erased.
Many of the very people Wilson silenced, survived him, and…
…one of them even ran to succeed him, and got 900-thousand votes… though his Presidential campaign was conducted entirely… from his jail cell.
And Roosevelt's internment of the Japanese was not merely the worst blight on his record, but it would necessitate a formal apology from the government of the United States, to the citizens of the United States, whose lives it ruined.
When we've chosen the wrong path, as a country, we've recognized it, perhaps belatedly. Those leaders who've decided that the Constitution was only valid in peacetime, those who chose to silence the objections of their fellow citizens out of fear - they've paid a price. They've lost elections, they've lost respect, their record, no matter how impressive otherwise, has been forever blemished. George Bush will never lose another election, but he looks often at how history will perceive him, and in this, history will judge him harshly. Moreso than Adams, or Wilson, or Roosevelt, for he cannot even ask the historians to group this tragedy in amongst a career of works that bettered humanity. He, and those who have supported him during his reign of hate and fear and weakness, are lost.
So, what does this have to do with the day nineteen days from now? We don't have to let this stand. We don't have to suffer from an "endless nightmare". We have the power to reclaim our nation for the free, for the proud, for the brave. We can elect people who will choose a different path, who will repeal this law. Who will recognizer the value in freedom. Who will see the Constitution for what it is - not a quaint, outdated, guide to the good times - but as the defining document of our nation, and as a rock to cling to even in the worst times, so that when the bad times pass, we can look at ourselves in the mirror and know that we did the right thing.
The simple truth is that the money doesn't matter. Diebold doesn't matter. The negative TV ads don't matter. What matters is whether or not enough Americans show up on November Seventh and vote to protect and defend their country, their Constitution, and (for those who believe in such things) their souls. There is nothing George Bush can do to us if we, as a nation, remember that we hold the power.
Rep. John Shimkus has acknowledged that GOP leadership mishandled the Mark Foley matter....But we know this: Shimkus is a decent, honorable man.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
From Cheney (on Limbaugh):
Well, I think there’s some natural level of concern out there because in fact, you know, it wasn’t over instantaneously. It’s been a little over three years now since we went into Iraq, so I don’t think it’s surprising that people are concerned. On the other hand, this government has only been in office about five months, five or six months now. They’re off to a good start. It is difficult, no question about it, but we’ve now got over 300,000 Iraqis trained and equipped as part of their security forces. They’ve had three national elections with higher turnout than we have here in the United States. If you look at the general overall situation, they’re doing remarkably well.
The first half of the title is an old lawyer saying, and it is certainly true. So is my addendum, this case involved some horrific laws.
Here is a good breakdown on the case, with solid legal analysis. Ms. Stewart clearly violated her "agreements" with the government, but the imposition of such restrictions on counsel virtually nullify the notion of "effective assistance." She violated these restrictive agreements by 1) meeting and discussing with her clients and 2) making a statement to the media on a matter of public interest.
This prosecution involves so many things beyond one defendant--constitutional rights to counsel and of free speech, the propriety of surveillance and attorney-client privilege. Beyond that, the Bush Justice Department has fired a rather clear shot across the bow of the defense bar. That "shot" says that you represent "terrorists" at your own risk.
Why they support torturers?
Why they support people who've started a war which has killed hundreds of thousands of people?
Why they support people who take money from them (unless they're the uber-rich) to give to those who have more?
Why do they support people who actively and intentionally violate the Constitution?
Why do they support people who are getting rid of the most fundamental bases of jurisprudence, which have helped protect people's rights for nearly 800 years?
Why are they willing to turn power over to people who lie about their religious beliefs only so they can gain more power?
Why are they so scared of being free?
I won't do it, of course, if only because their answers would leave me in the corner, sucking my thumb and crying. I try not to judge people before I know them, but, man, people who vote to support these evil, evil, evil people make it really hard.
From David Limbaugh:
Bush did employ a multilateral approach to Iraq -- painstakingly working with and through the United Nations and building a coalition as large as reasonable nations would cooperate to make it -- until the U.N. and France, Germany and Russia wrongfully refused to cooperate. Ultimately, he decided he shouldn't undermine our national interests for the sake of appeasing Old Europe. So he attacked with a multilateral, but not a unanimous coalition.
Now THAT'S funny.
1. Being an election judge makes for a very long day. We report to the polls at 5 am, and can't leave the polling place until 8 or 9 pm, depending on how smoothly things go.
2. Most counties in Illinois use optical scan ballots (like the Scantron forms you may have used in school). It provides easy tabulation with a proven technology, but also produces a paper trail for verifiable recounts. Everyone doesn't use them, however, and it's all about money.
3. I'll make $90 for the 15-16 hours of work, or roughly $5.63-$6/hr. Whoo hoo!
4. The referendum on the ballot that asks our representative to support the impeachment of one Liar in Chief and his assistant, Darth, is only in the city of Champaign. Oddly enough, the Republicans at the session thought such a concept was laughable. I did not explain to them that the President's interpretation of the Constitution was what would be laughable, if it wasn't so tragic.
5. It sounds like, locally, there is almost no interest in the election, which shocked me. Here at the Thinker, we're endorsing David Gill to beat Tim Johnson in the Illinois 15th. Johnson is another rubber-stamp Republican, and he can go far, far away.
6. If you want to work as a judge, at least locally, they're way short. Might be worth checking with your local county clerk to see if they need help. One way we can fight voter fraud is to be there at the polls with the voters.
U.S. Says Shift Is Not A Step Toward Arms; Experts Say It Could Be
By Marc Kaufman
President Bush has signed a new National Space Policy that rejects future arms-control agreements that might limit U.S. flexibility in space and asserts a right to deny access to space to anyone "hostile to U.S. interests."
The document, the first full revision of overall space policy in 10 years, emphasizes security issues, encourages private enterprise in space, and characterizes the role of U.S. space diplomacy largely in terms of persuading other nations to support U.S. policy.
RIP: The Fairness Doctrine
The "Fairness Doctrine" was an FCC policy framed in 1949 (connected to legislation dating back to 1937) that required broadcast licensees to be, to use an unfortunate phrase, "fair and balanced" in their coverage of public interest issues. Persons attacked were also to be given a chance to respond to their critics. The reasoning was simple--the airwaves were public, and licensees were public trustees rather than partisan advocates.
Reagan-era deregulation killed the Fairness Doctrine, and as a result, we have the meeting of the "public trustees" pictured below. The concerns remain valid today, as broadcasting is unlike other businesses. If I want to start a newspaper, I can, I just need machines and paper and ink and writers (I don't know where to find any of those though). Radio? Not a chance. Broadcast frequencies are scarce, rationed and more and more held by a very small group of corporate license holders. Rotsa ruck.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
George, your word is ... "questioning."
Here it is in a sentence:
"This bill will allow the Central Intelligence Agency to continue its program for questioning key terrorist leaders and operatives.."
George: Oh that's easy, I know questioning....
By Juan A. Lozano, Associated Press
HOUSTON — A federal judge has vacated the conviction of Enron founder Kenneth Lay, who died in July, wiping out a jury's verdict that he committed fraud and conspiracy in the months before his company's collapse.
Lay was convicted of 10 counts of fraud, conspiracy and lying to banks in two separate cases on May 25. Enron's collapse in 2001 wiped out thousands of jobs, more than $60 billion in market value and more than $2 billion in pension plans.
Lay died of heart disease July 5 while vacationing with his wife, Linda, in Aspen, Colo. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake, in a ruling Tuesday, agreed with Lay's lawyers that his death required erasing his convictions. They cited a 2004 ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found a defendant's death pending appeal extinguished his entire case because he didn't have a full opportunity to challenge the conviction and the government shouldn't be able to punish a dead defendant or his estate.
One key legal question is whether the order will be recognized by the courts of Lay's current venue:
And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Satan--from the Hebrew for "accuser," Σατανάς in Greek, ruler of demons. Satan has been portrayed as a fallen angel
Oh the humanity! NANCY PELOSI!! The Nancy=Satan equation seems to be about the only card the wingers have to play. The National Republican Congressional Committee (headed by odious pedophile protector Tom Reynolds) has been spending huge money here, with ads in IL-8 targeting Melissa Bean (a barely even moderate pro-business Dem, beloved by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce!). The ads morph her into--NANCY PELOSI!! A SAN FRANCISCO LIBERAL!!!! (see "Satan").
Isn't it remarkable how much fear an Italian grandmother from Baltimore can cause? After all, Sean Hannity did say it would be worth fighting and DYING to stop Nancy from becoming speaker.
Monday, October 16, 2006
We have had several new visitors recently, and welcome all (Bartcop readers and WCPT listeners, among others)
To distract our attentions from the daily calamities, we are counting down the days to
Judgment Election Day by using great athlete's jersey numbers. For example, with three days left, no one could seriously argue that #3 should be celebrated by honoring anyone other than -- Babe Ruth Tony Eason.
Today, we bring you a post from a blog entitled "Just One Minute". They're discussing how bad the poll numbers look for the GOP, and how the right-wing base isn't energized nearly as much as the liberals this year. The post itself isn't outrageous, but then there's the comments:
hrtshpdbox brings us the following: And Bush is right on Iraq, of course, even while the general public becomes muddle-headed; if the only thing the war achieved was killing Zarqawi then it's an unqualified success, considering the harm he intended to inflict on the United States. No, Bush almost always gets it right, and his stubborness in the face of all the equivocation around him might very well have made us more safe, but the fault lies in his allowing the above "issues" [Schiavo, Harriet Miers, the Dubai Ports, Immigration, Foley - Ed.] to even be framed as pertinent in voters minds. His tax cuts worked, dammit, and we've got a strong economy with low inflation. Low unemployment, shrinking deficits. And no terrorist attacks at home. That Bush (and, by extension, Rove, who could only manage a squeaker victory over a candidate who ran on his war record despite various treasonous acts) is unable to use his bully pulpit to rouse the common sense in people, that's the problem. But, lest bitter recriminations begin too early, I'd add that the election hasn't happened yet, and there's perhaps still time...
kate adds this to the party: If Bush could have taken on his enemies, especially the MSM, they would have been discredited and less enboldened to be such enthusiastic and partisan participants in this campaign.
It's hard to support a President who won't fight back. It is totally demoralizing.
MikeM agrees with kate: Does Bush even care if the GOP retains control of the House and Senate? Maybe OUR guy ought to poke his finger in the other guy's face and call him out for once... Bush has more strengths than weaknesses but his normal political stance seems to put a lot of weight on his heels.
I'd quote more of them, but you get the drift. These people live in a world where Bush is most always right. Where he doesn't attack his politcal enemies, but instead sits back on his heels and takes it from them. Clearly, these are Schmidlap's "stupid" - I don't know anything about them personally, but they are, at best, gloriously out of touch with anything even vaguely resembling reality. I'm sure they're anxiously awaiting 11/8, when they can rewrite history to show that their side won.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former FDA chief Lester Crawford was charged Monday with lying about his ownership of stock in companies regulated by his agency. The Justice Department accused the former head of the Food and Drug Administration with falsely reporting that he had sold stock in companies when he continued holding onto shares in the firms governed by FDA rules.
So at least does Halliburton get the contract to build the federal prison for all the Bush administration criminals?
Her juvenile piece complains about how "liberal" students are being mean to right-wingers who appear on college campuses. Case in point, the kerfuffle at Columbia between some student protestors and Beer Guts Across the Border (oops, I'm sorry--the "Minute Men.") I saw the video, and certainly campus security was lax and things got out of control. Look, I don't advocate threatening or assaulting wingnuts (with a possible exception for cream-pieing Ann Coulter) but this is a campus security issue. Mary decides to make it constitutional.
Regular readers know I have a pet peeve about things misusing the constitution. Mary, since you don't seem to understand the First Amendment, let me explain it to you. It reads "Congress shall make no law..." Do you know what Congress is, Mary? That means that this language applies only against the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT [editor's note: before the angry letters start coming, it is the 14th Amendment, not the 1st, that guarantees free speech with regard to state governments and their sub-units] The federal government, Mary, not private universities or student agitators. I would also add that the 1st amendment guarantees the right to speak--nowhere does it mention a right to be heard. You finish your drivel by saying that
They need to remember that the First Amendment gives the right of free speech to all the people--and they need universities and university presidents to remind them of that fact.I'm sure they would, Mary, if federal agents were going to arrest any speakers. I would also remind you that it gives you the freedom from federal arrest to write really stupid things and demonstrate that you have ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE what you are writing about.
Article II, Section 1: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors...
See that one, Tony? The STATE LEGISLATURE is supposed to define how the electors (in say, FLORIDA) are chosen--NOT YOU.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
So, the Constitution rather explicitly states its position on every issue - if the Constitution doesn't grant the power to the government, the people (or the states) have it. If it doesn't describe whether the people have a certain right - they do. I realize that 200+ years of jurisprudence can be confusing to wade through, which is why it's useful that we can always go back and read the original.
Recently, the paper published a piece by Geoffrey Stone of the Unversity of Chicago Law School on what makes a "liberal." Naturally, that brought out all the mouthbreathers..
A liberal is someone who wants to salve his guilt with your money.
The left regards the United States as evil and hence unworthy of defense, which is why the left opposes the war on terror.
A liberal is a person who is open-minded but only to his way of thinking, and he thinks that anything goes as long as it benefits him. He is not into anything traditional because it may not go along with his way of life. To a liberal, God is not in the picture because in essence he is god, he wants to do his own thing and he joins with people who think like him.
A liberal is a person who believes government is responsible for his well-being from birth to grave. A liberal believes he has no personal responsibility for his own welfare or actions. A liberal believes there are no limits to his rights.
Good God, and PLEASE, all of you..
BAGHDAD -- For the first time in more than a month, 19-year-old Mustafa al-Adhami ventured out of his home recently in his hardscrabble neighborhood...For Sunnis in Iraq, our destiny holds only two options: We either find a way to leave this country or we will be killed."The next statement is even more telling (except for the debatable recreation value of beard trimming.)
With that dire outlook, al-Adhami has become part of a growing population of young people who are living solitary lives as a result of the intractable violence plaguing the capital. As grisly insurgent bombings and sectarian killings keep mounting, many in Baghdad's younger generation wonder whether they are watching their youth slip away to a protracted war.
Most nights he whiles away his free time trimming his beard, watching television if the electricity is running and lying around thinking about how much better his life was a few years ago.But..they had elections! Freedom! Hard work, makin' progress..and dying amidst hopelessness and despair.
Nothing like wanton violence and uncontrollable mayhem to get in the way of "reconciliation."
Anyway, speaking about his boss, the Incurious One: “He reminds me of one of those guys at the gym who plays about 40 chessboards at once.”
What the hell does that even mean?