Saturday, December 31, 2005

Should Bush be Impeached ? Probably.

President Bush swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and that Constitution prohibits government eavesdropping. The few exceptions are defined by law, in particular, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In authorizing eavesdropping without a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the president violated both the law and the Constitution. It's as simple as that.

His excuses don't hold water. He sought no warrants, and did not even use the law's provisions for emergencies. He did not ask the Congress for legislation to fix the problems he cites as justification for his failure to follow the law

I tend to favor censure. An impeahment might make him a martyr and the Right already has a martyr complex. Censure would leave him an embarrassed and neutered lame duck. A spectacle of power mad hubris reduced to the real G.W. Bush, an impotent insecure underachiever that bet the house and put the next generation under a mountain of debt, an effective governement, and a theocratic mess in the middle-east. Iraq-Iran-Turkey-The Kurds will be the new Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a smoldering war of IEDs and suicide bombers for the next fifty years.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Internment Camp Malkin bends over for Bush

Michelle links to this article, Justice Dept. Opens Domestic Spying Probe
The surveillance program, which Bush acknowledged authorizing, bypassed a nearly 30-year-old secret court established to handle highly sensitive investigations involving espionage and terrorism.

For anyone that has seen Enemy of the State knows what the NSA does. Every other government in the world eavesdrops on each other; it would be shocking to learn that Al-Quida doesn't think we spy on them. The only news is that Bush has illegally turned this technology on Americans. he could have gone to the FISA courts and choose not to. Bush could have gone to Congress, in secret session and had the law changed, but choose not to.
Malkin writes about the NSA leak investigation:
2) Look for the Plamegate apologists to argue that the NSA leaks were "good" leaks, justified in the name of safeguarding civil liberties and the national interest, and should therefore be exempt from criminal prosecution.

Well Michelle, if your jumping off point is the rule of law, as you stated here:
The New York Times, for what it's worth, reports that Sen. Hutchison's tactics are part of a coordinated GOP strategy to "blunt leak charges." If that is true (contrary to the unhinged Left, I'm not on the White House talking points e-mail list), I really object to that--and so should every other rule-of-law Republican. Perjury and obstruction of justice are serious crimes, whether committed by D's, R's, or otherwise. Period.

Then I'm sure that you agree that while an investigation into the NSA leakers or whistleblowers may be in order, then an investigation of Bush is also called for. Furthermore, that since AG Alberto Gonzales has been the point man in excusing the apparent lawlessness by Bush and Company by invoking the nonexsistant powers that were never granted in the AUMF...
Congress Denied Bush War Powers in U.S. , then you'll agree that Alberto should recuse himself. Michelle, being consistantly for the rule of law also then agrees with the sentiments expressed by the American Civil Liberties Union., Justice Dept. Probing Domestic Spying Leak
"It's pretty stunning that, rather than focus on whether the president broke his oath of office and broke federal law, they are going after the whistleblowers," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Romero said a special prosecutor from outside the Justice Department needs to be appointed. "This confirms many of the fears about Gonzales' appointment — that he would not be sufficiently independent from the president and that he would play the role of a crony," he said.

From my reading, Malkin and the right-wing noise machine aren't really concerned about the rule of law, they're more concerned with getting a gotcha comparable to two administration officials exposing the identity of a CIA agent and every contact she ever had and blowing enough smoke to obfuscate the facts in regards to Bush doing an end run around Congress and the Constitution. Stop bending over for BushCo Michelle, its very unseemly.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Calling All Bloggers: These Documents need publishing
The UK government has been quick to deny that we practice, or tolerate the practice of Torture. So it is perhaps not suprising that they are determined that you should not see the following documents:

What are these documents?
The first document is a series of Telegrams that Craig sent to the Foreign Office, outlining his growing concern and disgust at our use of intelligence passed to the UK by the Uzbek security services.

The second document is a copy of legal advice the Foreign Office sought, to see if they were operating within the Law in accepting torture intelligence, and according to Michael Wood the FCO legal adviser; it is fine, as long as it is not used as evidence.

Faced with this heavy handed censorship by the FCO, in an attempt to cover up our use of and complicity in torture, Craig has decided to fight back, and has asked us all to publish this information, so it cannot be suppressed.

also see Kos here, British torture memos

Judging the case for war and two years later the neocons arguments still fail

Many of the right-wing blogs have been linking to this op-ed in The Chicago Tribune, Judging the case for war and in the cause of trying to see all sides I read it, thinking that maybe there was something new or something I had missed from the rationales that had been and still are passed around after two plus years. What do I find but the same old lies dressed up as new matter-of-facts. Only on the Planet Wingnuttia in the Valley of Denial do any of these assertions still hold up. Thankfully Think Progress has already done a succinct rebuttal of most of the WMD nonsense this unsigned Trib. op-ed tries to promote as truth.
The Bush administration said Iraq had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction. Officials trumpeted reports from U.S. and foreign spy agencies, including an October 2002 CIA assessment: "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons, as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions."

FACT: Bush Administration Rhetoric Was “Significant Shift” From Intelligence Estimate. “The [Senate Intelligence Committee] report said the CIA made a ‘significant shift’ in its position two months after Cheney began stating publicly that Iraq had actively reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. The intelligence estimate, which echoed the administration’s public claims, ‘was not supported by the intelligence’ and relied on misstatements, concealment of doubts and suppression of evidence.” [Washington Post, 7/10/04]

As to the so-called toxic stockpiles, very misleading, Saddam was allowed after the Gulf War to have both high explosives and dual use chemiclas and stockpiles of stuff left from the 80s. Ask Bush I why that was. Fact is that those chemicals were no more a threat to the USA them fertilizer- see Oklahoma City. Things are dangerous or not sometimes just because of the intent of the user, not simply because they are there.
Reasonable minds disagree on whether Iraq's flouting of UN resolutions justified the war. But there can be no credible assertion that either Iraq or the UN met its responsibility to the world. If anything, the administration gravely understated the chicanery, both in Baghdad and at the UN.

In reality Iraq has never defied a Security Council resolution since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. It has generally cooperated with the dictates of the UN body, although sometimes belatedly ,under protest or with reservations. The Baathists thouh, rightly or wrongly many of the resolutions had violations of Iraqi sovereignty. From 1991 to 1998, UN inspectors supervised the destruction of the vast bulk of the chemical and biological weapons, as well as delivery systems, which Iraq accumulated (with the assistance of the US) during the Iran-Iraq war, and they also destroyed all of Iraq’s facilities for making new weapons.
Fact is that Bush did not go to the UN a second time to get a resolution to go to war, Saddam had let inspectors in and Bush pulled them out.
not so fast:
During his major speech in Philadelphia on Iraq on December 12, George Bush flat-out lied to the world.

And so we gave Saddam Hussein the chance to disclose or disarm, and he refused.

Which part is the lie? Both! Saddam both disclosed and disarmed.

Saddam disarmed mostly in 1991 after Gulf War I, and the U.S. knew it because Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, told us after he defected in 1995.

After Bush pushed the UN to adopt Resolution 1441, UN inspectors returned to Iraq and got full access to Iraq's presidential palaces and military sites. Saddam disclosed everything he had, including medium-range Al Samoud missiles that had been upgraded to travel 30km beyond their 150km limit; under pressure from the UN, Saddam "disarmed" (destroyed) them.

Interestingly, Bush told a similar lie on July 14, 2003:

"The fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power..."

Intelligence agencies warned the Clinton and Bush administrations that Hussein was reconstituting his once-impressive program to create nuclear weapons. In part that intel reflected embarrassment over U.S. failure before the Persian Gulf war to grasp how close Iraq was to building nukes.

* FACT: Duelfer Report: Saddam Was Not Planning to Restart Nuclear Program. “Saddam Husayn ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf war. ISG found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program. Although Saddam clearly assigned a high value to the nuclear progress and talent that had been developed up to the 1991 war, the program ended and the intellectual capital decayed in the succeeding years.” [Duelfer Report, Key Findings]

* FACT: David Kay Said No WMD Stockpiles In Iraq. Weapons Inspector David Kay told the US Senate that “… it is highly unlikely that there were large stockpiles of deployed militarized chemical and biological weapons there… I think there are no large — were no large stockpiles of WMD.” [Kay Testimony, 1/28/04]

update:<blockquote>While these assertions "were powerful arguments for the actions Bush sought," Milbank concluded they "were dubious, if not wrong. Further information revealed that the aircraft lack the range to reach the United States" and "there was no such report by the IAEA." But recent media discussions of Bush's credibility--including in the Washington Post--have rarely mentioned these examples.

Weapons inspections: More recently, Bush has flagrantly misrepresentedthe history of the prewar conflict with Iraq over weapons inspections, telling reporters on July 14, "We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in." In fact, after a Security Council resolution was passed demanding that Iraq allow inspectors in, they were given complete access to the country. The Washington Post (7/15/03), describing Bush's remarkable statement, could only say that his assertion "appeared to contradict the events leading up to war this spring." Joe Conason (, 7/15/03) took note of "the press corps' failure to report his stunning gaffe. The sentence quoted above doesn't appear in today's New York Times report, for example."

Hussein didn't have illicit weapons stockpiles to wield or hand to terrorists. Subsequent investigations have concluded he had the means and intent to rekindle those programs as soon as he escaped UN sanctions.

There is in fact bo reason to believe that some form of sanctions would not have continued. Operation Dessert Fox (1996) in fact throw Iraq into turmoil. According to the IAEA Saddam didn't even have a nuke program. Frankly if he did, so what. The Cold War proved that the threat of nuclear retaliation by the US was a strong deterrent for other nations not to use nukes. North Korea is the most closed off nuclear power in the world and possibly has an unhinged leader, yet they haven''t used nukes, because once they do, North Korea is nuclear dust.
The Trib gets one thing right
The drumbeat of White House warnings before the war made Iraq's terror activities sound more ambitious than subsequent evidence has proven. Based on what we know today, the argument that Hussein was able to foment global terror against this country and its interests was exaggerated.


The notion that invading Iraq would provoke political tremors in a region long ruled by despots is the Bush administration's most successful prewar prediction to date. A more muscular U.S. diplomacy has advanced democracy and assisted freedom movements in the sclerotic Middle East.

Egypt is a hot bed of teorrists sympathizers, but since they are the second largest recipients of American foreign aid, we're more or less bribing them to be on our side. Almost ditto for Pakistan which is ruled by the military which for now is keeping a lid on the radicals. Saudi Arabia, pro western royal family , not democratic, but americans are all too happy to do business there.
Trib, I spoke too soon, they got this right too.
No compelling evidence ties Iraq to Sept. 11, 2001, as the White House implied. Nor is there proof linking Al Qaeda in a significant way to the final years of Hussein's regime. By stripping its rhetoric of the ambiguity present in the intel data, the White House exaggerated this argument for war.

Human Rights Watch estimates that Hussein exterminated 300,000 people. Chemical weapons killed Iraqi Kurds and Iranians; Iraqi Shiites also were slaughtered. Tortures included amputation, rape, piercing hands with drills, burning some victims alive and lowering others into acid baths.

The humans rights rationale is surely the most compelling moral reason, yet its also hypocritical in regards to this administration that is all too ready to have business and diplomatic relations for many other repressive regimes.
and see this post from Mark A.R. Kleiman....... Reality-Based Conservatives--II
The media is too busy covering missing women to bother with 2-3 million deaths in Darfur, but Reeves, a Smith College English professor on unpaid leave, is giving us details on a constant basis. I've been looking for a good update website for Darfur: SudanReeves is it.

Kopel is right to suggest that while prompt action from the west might not stop everything, it could do an awful lot of good. It's appalling that the US pretends to support freedom and human rights, and lets the worst genocide at least since Rwanda and perhaps since the Holocaust to go on without even batting an eyelid. The Bush Administration's opposition to the Darfur Accountability Act, co-sponsored by Republican Sam Brownback and Democrat Jon Corzine, is just one more example of its hypocrisy.

The whole WMD-AL-Quida-9-11 connection/urban myth will never end. It has taken a life of its own. The plain fact is that every time Bush refers to Iraq as the front in the war on terror, he is lying, period. Radical Islamic terrorism is out there in about thirty different countries and Bush isn't getting them in Iraq before they get us here, that is just dangerously delusional nonsense.
also see a post by hilzoy about human trafficking: Moral Values In Action
"Three years ago, President Bush declared that he had "zero tolerance" for trafficking in humans by the government's overseas contractors, and two years ago Congress mandated a similar policy.

But notwithstanding the president's statement and the congressional edict, the Defense Department has yet to adopt a policy to bar human trafficking.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Dancing to the same old tunes.

Perrspectives has a document library up on the NSA issue. Handy for those water-cooler arguments and you forgot some detail.

Secret surveillance up sharply since 9/11
"This is not about monitoring phone calls designed to arrange Little League practice or what to bring to a potluck dinner," he told reporters. "These are designed to monitor calls from very bad people to very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings, and churches."

to which AMERICAblog writes the obvious reply,
Wow, very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings and churches, yet Bush never sought a court order to conduct the snooping because he thought a court wouldn't let him?! Huh? Let me repeat, the people they spied on "have a history of blowing up trains, weddings and churches." If that's true, then any court in the land would haven given Bush a search warrant.

In Mein Kampf Hitler wrote,
“It would never come into average peoples head’s to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously”

I think they just like lying. Its hard for me to relate to personally, but its looks like they are addicted to the Big Lie in the way some people are addicted to gambling or shopping. They do it compulsively, without even trying to think of something more plausable. To stop lying, they would have to stop committing immoral and illegal acts which they feel compelled to lie about. Its a vicious circle and judging from the right-wing web sites, its something that their supportters enjoy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

All-Star: Mark Steyn — Wingnut: Mark Steyn — Team: Wingnutiens leaves the male version of Ann No Morals Coulters on the floor bloodied and beaten. mark likes blood, only it would never dream of putting himself at any kind of physical risk, much like the Fox team of Tony Snow, Brit Hume, Sean Hannity, or Bill O'Reilly who all share a common thirst for blood and a common cowardice.

Authoritarian government and hooters in court

from Paul Bigioni The real threat of fascism
Observing political and economic discourse in North America since the
1970s leads to an inescapable conclusion: the vast bulk of legislative activity favors the interests of large commercial enterprises. Big business is very well off, and successive Canadian and US governments, of whatever political stripe, have made this their primary objective for atleast the last 25 years.

Digging deeper into 20th century history, one finds this steadfast focus on the well-being of big business in other times and places.The exaltation of big business at the expense of the citizen was a central characteristic of government policy in Germany and Italy in the years before those countries were chewed to bits and spat out by fascism. Fascist dictatorships were borne to power in each of these countries by big business and they served the interests of big business with remarkable ferocity. These facts have been lost to the popular consciousness in North America. Fascism could therefore return to us, and we will not even recognize it.

Powell the Disappointer
Continuing his slide into disgrace and eventual irrelevance by chipping away at his own backbone out both sides of his mouth, Colin Powell has decided to come out as both sort of for and sort of against the administration’s secret spy program.

Right wing blogs largely silent on Iraq election disparity - I woudn't say they've been silent, they've just kind of skirted around the issue that democracy is a tough nut and details will be forth coming once they get some more talking points from Unka Karl

Bush defends the rights of the large breasted minority..........White House Aids Playboy Playmate in Court

The administration's top Supreme Court lawyer filed arguments on Smith's behalf and wants to take part when the case is argued before the justices.

Fear destroys what bin Laden could not....realizing that reality is not for everyone, some may want to skip the following story.
One wonders if Osama bin Laden didn't win after all. He ruined the America that existed on 9/11. But he had help.
If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.
Had anyone said our president would invade a country and kill 30,000 of its people claiming a threat that never, in fact, existed, then admit he would have invaded even if he had known there was no threat

Monday, December 26, 2005

Naked Ruler

via the newly redesigned The Heretik THE EMPEROR WEARS NO CLOTHES and here
President Bush is a bundle of paradoxes. He thinks the scope of the federal government should be limited but the powers of the president should not. He wants judges to interpret the Constitution as the framers did, but doesn’t think he should be constrained by their intentions.

He attacked Al Gore for trusting government instead of the people, but he insists anyone who wants to defeat terrorism must put absolute faith in the man at the helm of government.

His conservative allies say Bush is acting to uphold the essential prerogatives of his office. Vice President Cheney says the administration’s secret eavesdropping program is justified because “I believe in a strong, robust executive authority, and I think that the world we live in demands it.”

But the theory boils down to a consistent and self-serving formula: What’s good for George W. Bush is good for America, and anything that weakens his power weakens the nation. To call this an imperial presidency is unfair to emperors.

ARFT or The Armed Forces Relief Fund
many of the men and women serving our country are facing personal and financial hardships. Family budgets are strained and those who remain at home face a mounting workload. The large activation of Reserve and National Guard personnel has further strained the resources needed to take care of our troops and their families.

The Agency That Could Be Big Brother
Originally created to spy on foreign adversaries, the N.S.A. was never supposed to be turned inward. Thirty years ago, Senator Frank Church, the Idaho Democrat who was then chairman of the select committee on intelligence, investigated the agency and came away stunned.

"That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people," he said in 1975, "and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide."

He added that if a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A. "could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back."

“In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican” - H. L. Mencken

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Unwarranted Executive Power and the more things change

Come on Barron's tell us what you really think. THOMAS G. DONLAN pulls few punches in Unwarranted Executive Power

AS THE YEAR WAS DRAWING TO A CLOSE, we picked up our New York Times and learned that the Bush administration has been fighting terrorism by intercepting communications in America without warrants. It was worrisome on its face, but in justifying their actions, officials have made a bad situation much worse: Administration lawyers and the president himself have tortured the Constitution and extracted a suspension of the separation of powers.

There has been much twisted pretzel posturing by the Bushies and their apologists. The twisting of arcane case law that allows this or that or specfic circumstances will nicely cloud the issue for Bush and his sheep, but it is nothing but a red-herring.
Surely the "strict constructionists" on the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary eventually will point out what a stretch this is. The most important presidential responsibility under Article II is that he must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." That includes following the requirements of laws that limit executive power. There's not much fidelity in an executive who debates and lobbies Congress to shape a law to his liking and then goes beyond its writ.

Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later.

Tbogg out does himself in A Very Lileks Christmas

There’s bad people out there they envy our stuff,
Because they've no Targets, their life is quite rough..
They want to invade us and make us their slaves.
Live in our ranchstyles, not in their dark caves.

Islamists! Jihadis! and Birkenstocked hipsters!
They'll destroy our pop culture and marry our sisters
No more "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year"
They'l make fun of my matchbook collection, I fear.

Was Scrooge the first paleo-right-winger ? A freeper or LGfer. or maybe a Malkin-man or Coulter-OReilly bit of upstream sludge. Was Strooge the intellectual and spiritual icon of the modern supposedly self made, self sustaining conservative ?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.

External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn't know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often came down handsomely, and Scrooge never did.

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, ``My dear Scrooge, how are you. When will you come to see me.'' No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o'clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blindmen's dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, ``No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master! ''