June 21, 2008 archive

Five Reasons Why FISA Bill May be Worse Than You Think

The House passed FISA bill is bad legislation for many reasons, but these are the five biggest problems I see.

Politically Unnecessary

When addressing a bill with so many substantive issues I hate to start out with the politics of the matter but in this case it seems necessary. There can be no doubt the Democrats who support this bill do so in the belief that their support will protect them from charges they are soft on terrorism. That belief is misplaced. In the upcoming election the only card the Republicans have to play is the fear card. Every Democrat will have to face the “soft on terrorism” charge irrespective of how they vote on this or any other piece of legislation. Why? Because the fear card is premised on a lie, and that lie will be repeated over and over again.

Behind the FISA Outrage




The Rights of Man, or as Jefferson put it:  

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.

These rights are not bestowed by governments or politicians. These rights are not theirs to give and take.

These unalienable rights are what make all men and women more than serfs and chattel to the Ruling Class. These rights are the difference between a free people and a servile people cowering in fear at the whims of their faceless rulers and governments.

These rights are not granted by governments, they are ours. They cannot grant them….but they can pass laws and take actions that take them away. A Congress just did. As the President did before them…by secretly spying on the free citizens of our representative democracy. These rights are not theirs to take or even to abridge. They are stealing from us.

This country was founded specifically to establish these rights. For two hundred and thirty years Americans have fought and died for these rights. Generation after generation these rights have been defended to the death against foreign powers, foreign TYRANTS who would take them away. Blood has been spilled, lives have been sacrificed, children have been orphaned for these rights. These rights are what America is.

And now they are being willingly surrendered by those who We The People elected to protect them. For no good reason.

Fighting for civil and constitutional rights, at every possible opportunity, is much much more than fighting against any particular law. It is the fight for Human Dignity, the fight for the individual, the fight for freedom from the historically inevitable totalitarian urges of those who hold power.

To some, to those who cannot understand the outrage and ‘hysteria,’ this is just another bad bill. To those who value freedom and dignity, it is just the latest assault on our rights by a government that has come to serve itself, not those who elected it to power….a bill that serves their interests, covers their asses, serves their corporate donors…. not the interests of The People.

When such a self-serving flimsy excuse as this is used to abridge the rights…and thus the freedom and dignity…of an ostensibly free people, there WILL be outrage.

As the bumper sticker so succinctly says: If you are NOT outraged, you are not paying attention.

Please Give Us A Second Chance

After all…. we’re not democratic Democrats. We’d never lie to you. You can trust us. Honest.

APNewsBreak: US asks to rewrite detainee evidence


Published: June 20, 2008, Filed at 8:43 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration wants to rewrite the official evidence against Guantanamo Bay detainees, allowing it to shore up its cases before they come under scrutiny by civilian judges for the first time.

The government has stood behind the evidence for years. Military review boards relied on it to justify holding hundreds of prisoners indefinitely without charge. Justice Department attorneys said it was thoroughly and fairly reviewed.

Now that federal judges are about to review the evidence, however, the government says it needs to make changes.

The decision follows last week’s Supreme Court ruling, which held that detainees have the right to challenge their detention in civilian court, not just before secret military panels. At a closed-door meeting with judges and defense attorneys this week, government lawyers said they needed time to add new evidence and make other changes to evidentiary documents known as ”factual returns.”

Attorneys for the detainees criticized the idea, saying the government is basically asking for a last-minute do-over.

”It’s sort of an admission that the original returns were defective,” said attorney David Remes, who represents many detainees and attended Wednesday’s meeting. ”It’s also an admission that the government thinks it needs to beef up the evidence.”

Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin declined to comment on the plan. The discussions were confirmed by several attorneys and officials who attended or were briefed on the meeting with the judges and defense lawyers.

”It’s a totally fishy maneuver that suggests that the government wants, at the 11th hour, to get its ducks in a row,” said Jonathan Hafetz, an attorney representing several detainees. He was briefed on the plan.

(There’s more, if you can stomach it…)

When contacted for her reaction to the Bush administrations request, Speaker of The House Nancy Pelosi looked up from a kneeling position and said “impeachment is off the table…”. And winked.

a few pieces of silver . . .

A man writes a book. About a culture of deception. And those enshrined in that culture wonder how that man, Scott McClellan, could go from . . .

“. . . a loyal and trusted staff member to an embittered person who makes biting accusations.”


Yesterday, in McClellan’s rather limp Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment on Capitol Hill, the New York Times writes,

…the book, with Mr. McClellan’s lacerating criticism of his former colleagues, has generated a rich discussion about the obligations of political loyalty… The man who once regularly and seemingly by rote defended Mr. Bush in the White House press room was attacked by the committee’s ranking Republican, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, who grilled Mr. McClellan as ferociously as any reporter had in his three years as press secretary.

I got a good laugh at that part… hahahahahahahahaha… the idea… bwahahahahahahahaha… that reporters had grilled anybody ferociously in… snort snort laughinginginginginging…. in seven plus years. To whom does the New York Times refer?  One can only… chortle giggle gha giggle… wonder.

Let me wipe the tears from my eyes… further, according to the New York Times…

…Committee Democrats, on the other hand, were much gentler, treating Mr. McClellan as if he were an author promoting a book in an interview.

Makes one dizzy doesn’t it? But this is what blew me away…

Rep. Smith said, “Scott McClellan alone will have to wrestle with whether it was worth selling out the president and his friends for a few pieces of silver.”

“What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” was written by Scott McClellan for money. Huh. Now that is rich. Isn’t it??? Rep. Smith, a money grubbing, power mongering, lying, despicable Washington politician who shills ONLY for the interests of the monied and powerful deplores the greed of Scott McClellan. And double huh.

Pony Party: Your Morning Art

Hope y’all are having a great Saturday! Remember, don’t rec pony party hang out chit chat and then go read some of the excellent offerings on our recent and rec’d list.

FISA From Here (Well Almost)

Not really an essay, but some thoughts on where FISA goes after Congress passes and Bush signs it.

1.  This does not kill lawsuits.  It changes them.  The fight now becomes whether the New FISA is constitutional under the 4th Amendment.  The Fourth Amendment is pretty clear.  It requires probable cause and a search warrant.  Neither is required under this version.  Now, there are exceptions to the 4th amdmt. rule.  You can look at them at Wikipedia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F… None seem to really cover this area and, clearly, stuff you say over your phone or through emails and even searches you do on the internet do carry with them a reasonable expectation of privacy.

2.  So EFF and/or the ACLU attacks the statute.  But to attack it may require inquiries as to what is really happening, what the dragnet or data mine actually does.  And that, not the 4th Amdt. may be the rub.  It’s called the state secrets doctrine and may do more to end these cases than anything else.  However, there are some good opinions out there that say no state secrets since much of the details of program were disclosed by Bush.

3.  So it stays in court, the attorney general’s office defends against the lawsuit.  Who controls the AG’s office?  The president.  Who is president?  Perhaps Obama.  If the AG ultimately agrees the New FISA is Uncon, the Constitution is preserved.  That is why it is important to watch what Obama says and does now.

4.  Will the Supreme Court have an opportunity to ultimately defy the executive branch/A.G’s office and court’s own power to determine probable cause and find the bill Constitutional ?  It would surely be an ironic ending–the legislative and judicial branches, so eminently ignored by the executive now, will ultimately be the one responsible for breaking the Constitution.

Just a touch of irony

I’m sure you’re aware that folks like Lou Dobbs have decided that all that is wrong with the US can be traced to those crazy Mexicans who keep invading our country to take advantage of the so-called “perks” that accrue to folks who happen to live in this land of dreams fulfilled.

Well, I wonder what the likes of Dobbs would have to say about a story in the Dallas Morning News that tells us about this:

With gasoline prices hovering near $4 per gallon, Texans along the U.S.-Mexico border have discovered a cheaper alternative: Mexico.

Mexican service stations all along the border report brisk sales in recent weeks as fuel prices in Texas continue to climb…

In Mexico, gasoline is about a dollar cheaper a gallon because the government subsidizes it.


Docudharma Times Saturday June 21

For the consciousness of the nation

Wait! First You Have To Have One

That Leaves Out The Democratic Leadership

Saturday’s Headlines:

Travelers Shift to Rail as Cost of Fuel Rises

China stages torch relay in Tibet

Protesters lay siege to government complex

Mugabe’s men bring rape and torture to Harare suburbs

Mann prosecutors show coup contract to court  

Europe warms to GM crops as possible solution to food crisis

European judges condemn tests set to outlaw mavericks

Gaza cease-fire: will it give Hamas greater clout?

UN nuke chief urges Syria to cooperate

Mexico’s central bank, citing inflation fears, boosts key interest rate

Big Gains for Iraq Security, but Questions Linger


Published: June 21, 2008

BAGHDAD – What’s going right? And can it last?

Violence in all of Iraq is the lowest since March 2004. The two largest cities, Baghdad and Basra, are calmer than they have been for years. The third largest, Mosul, is in the midst of a major security operation. On Thursday, Iraqi forces swept unopposed through the southern city of Amara, which has been controlled by Shiite militias. There is a sense that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government has more political traction than any of its predecessors.

Consider the latest caricatures of Mr. Maliki put up on posters by the followers of Moktada al-Sadr, the fiery cleric who commands deep loyalty among poor Shiites.

Frustrated Burmese Organize Aid Forays

Ad Hoc Groups Formed In Cyclone’s Aftermath, But Causes May Widen

Washington Post Foreign Service

Saturday, June 21, 2008; Page A01

RANGOON — Seven weeks after huge swaths of Burma were savaged by a cyclone and tidal wave, a new and remarkable citizen movement is delivering emergency supplies to survivors neglected by the military government’s haphazard relief effort.

The scores of ad hoc Burmese groups, many of them based here in the country’s largest city, are not overtly political. But they are reviving a kind of social activism that has been largely repressed by successive military rulers here.


White House Dismissed Legal Advice On Detainees

By Michael Abramowitz

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, June 21, 2008; Page A01  

Senior lawyers inside and outside the Bush administration repeatedly warned the White House that it was risking judicial scrutiny of its detention policies in Guantanamo Bay if it did not pursue a more pragmatic legal strategy that considered the likely reaction of the Supreme Court. But such advice, issued periodically over the past six years, was ignored or discounted, according to current and former administration officials familiar with the debates.

In August 2006, for example, the top lawyer at the State Department told senior officials at the White House that unless they won a congressional mandate that broadly supported their system of detaining terrorism suspects, their goal of keeping the detainees locked up was in jeopardy. “I can virtually guarantee you, without a legislative basis, federal courts are not going to be willing to uphold the indefinite detention of unlawful combatants,” John B. Bellinger III warned in an e-mail.

Shari’a and The Muslim World: An Interview With Author Noah Feldman

Photobucket The topic below was originally posted on my blog Thursday, June 19th, when the interview took place.

Shari’a is a code of law based on the Koran. In the Muslim world, many want to replace corrupt autocratic regimes with the Shari’a and establish traditional Islamic states. Western countries regard the Shari’a as a threat. Islamic parties are winning elections on it. Militants have used the Shari’a to justify acts of terrorism. Meanwhile, secular minded people find their most severe provisions repugnant.

In his latest book, The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State (Princeton University Press), Noah Feldman tells the story behind the populist movement in the Muslim world to establish the Shari’a. Feldman addresses questions about why the Shari’a is popular in spite of its harsh code and whether the Islamic state can succeed.

F*ck Obama, I’m voting for Nader

I hate being right about people.  Especially when I’m being less than charitable.  I was always a bit leery about Obama and his flowery bullcrap.

Somehow everyone else would listen to his words and think that this guy could do no wrong.  I’d listen to him and hear weasel words like ‘combat’ troops (I’m going to withdraw ‘combat’ troops). Translation: We’re not leaving Iraq if BHO is president.

He capitulates on FISA. He won’t consider impeachment.  He votes for the Patriot Act reauthorization. Over and over he hands Bush a blank check for Iraq.  He wants to expand the military; in a country that already spends nearly 50-60% of it’s discretionary funds on the military machine this man wants to expand it.

Some of the people over at the Big Orange are waking up.  However they’ll still vote for BHO.  We’re the majority; if we decide to actually vote our consciences then Nader can really be president.  At the very least it’ll scare Barack to move back towards the left as he sees the poll numbers shift.

Random Japan

Unclear on the concept

It was reported that cops in Fukuoka busted a 41-year-old woman for lending her Taspo cigarette ID card to her teenage son so that he could buy smokes from a vending machine.

A Saitama couple suffered serious burns while cleaning a remote-controlled toy car in their condo when the man lit a cigarette that ignited the flammable cleanser.

A reputed high-ranking member of the Inagawa-kai crime syndicate was arrested for fatally stabbing a member of his own organization with whom he’d been having “internal trouble.”

Gang ho!

A 62-year-old education counselor in Saitama who was arrested for fondling a 16-year-old high school student at a local fast food store said he “gave in to temptation.”

It was revealed that a repeat shoplifter who refused to give his name to authorities is being referred to as “No. 57, Gyotoku Police Station detention, Chiba Prefecture.”

A 25-year-old Sagawa Express deliveryman was busted for stealing an ¥18 million Bulgari watch after one of his co-workers became suspicious of the man’s new timepiece.

I am so ashamed of my country, and it just keeps getting worse

I came of age in the time of Nixon and Vietnam.  I learned then that our government was not to be trusted, that they lie to us whenever it’s convenient and that there is nothing pure about their motives.  I also learned to suspect that elements of our government played an active role in the assassination of John Kennedy and possibly others.  I’m not saying they did, just that I’ve pondered that possibility for most of my life and not without reason.  I still have to wonder.  The possibility that our government is that fucking evil shouldn’t seem like such a stretch to anybody these days.


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