Saturday, December 31, 2005

My Kind of Vacation

Since becoming President, Bushie has spent a total of 365 days (that's a year) on vacation on his ranch in Crawford.

Nice work if you can get it.

Some New Year Resolutions for 2006

That our President spends some time listening to all sides of an issue, not just those who agree with him.

That the Iraqis can take over their country and the US can leave - which will please Iraqis as well as Americans.

That somebody comes to their senses and Rumsfeld finds employment someplace where he can do no harm.

That no more businesses mess up their employees' pensions.

That the US agrees to the Kyoto Accord standards.

That the Patriot Act dies a well deserved death.

That the US government realize that it shouldn't be spying on its own citizens without warrants.

And going for the whole enchillada, I would hope that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld would realize how badly they've screwed everything up, resign en masse. Ok, well, maybe not that - because the field of people who would take over isn't much better.

Friday, December 30, 2005

What a Tool!

Great quote from Bushie the other day -- "We know that a two-minute phone conversation between somebody linked to al Qaeda here and an operative overseas could lead directly to the loss of thousands of lives. To save American lives, we must be able to act fast and to detect these conversations so we can prevent new attacks."

That's what NSA has always done - spying on foreign citizens. Oh wait, or did you mean to infer that the operative overseas was an American citizen? In that case, do you think anyone over there has bothered to let Bush know that with the Patriot Act, they CAN act fast and detect those conversations? The Patriot Act's Secret Court can set up a warrant that is so vague and long lasting as to be applied to pretty much anything.

As noted on the Slate site:
. . . secret court that granted search warrants so long as a pleading before a closed court asserted that the "primary purpose" of the search or wire tap was to gather foreign intelligence. The warrant needn't be based on a suspicion of criminal behavior. But the target had to be "linked to foreign espionage." In theory, American citizens were safe unless they were suspected "agents of a foreign power." A good indicator of the objectivity of the FISA court: It rejected only five of the 14,000 warrant applications it received before 2001, although it recently became clear that many of those warrants were based on false allegations. The FISA court is not supposed to second-guess the government. These are not adversarial proceedings. Nor does the FISA court maintain ongoing oversight over the surveillance. Patriot amends FISA to allow searches when "a significant purpose" is intelligence-gathering. Not "primary," but significant. Now you can be subject to secret searches authorized by a secret court so long as there is any foreign intelligence component (and increasingly, drug-related offenses are deemed to have a terrorist component). Moreover, the party to be searched need not be connected to foreign espionage anymore. It's enough that the government may merely learn something about a terror investigation. . . .

When All Else Fails, Look to Nixon for Inspiration

Yeah, that can't go wrong.

In light of the revelations that our own government has been secretly spying on us (in addition to the publically announced spying they said they'd do through the non-Patriot Act), the government had only one choice!

To come clean with the public and ask for its support?

nah, of course not!

A Justice Dept. offical told CNN that "he Justice Department has opened an investigation of the unauthorized disclosure of classified information related to the NSA."

Ok, now you'll want to compile that list of names into an official enemy's list,
And then sneak into the doctors' offices of anyone who may be on that list,
But this time, for goodness sake, DON'T tape it!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Do Those Terrorists Have No Mercy?!

There's a 9/11 small business loan program that was set up to help small businesses who lost business because of terrorist attacks. Among them?

a South Dakota country radio station
a Virgin Islands perfume shop
a Utah dog boutique
a Oregon winery
29 Dunkin' Donuts shops
54 Subway sandwich shops

Your first thought of course is - shame on those people for trying to steal from the fund. But hey, guess what. The loans were provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA) out of the 9/11 fund without most of the lenders knowing where it came from.

Perhaps while spying on us, the Administration has discovered that terrrorists planned on driving these businesses out of business in some vile master plan.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I've Got it! I Know What Happened!

If you've been following the news lately, you've probably missed the best story of the month - a woman who filed a restraining order against David Letterman because "after she began sending Letterman 'thoughts of love'" after his show began in 1993, he responded in code words and gestures, asking her to come east. Nestler said Letterman asked her to be his wife during a televised 'teaser' for his show by saying, 'Marry me, Oprah.' Her letter said Oprah was the first of many code names for her and that the coded vocabulary increased and changed with time."

Don't you see, THIS IS THE ANSWER! Apparently Saddam Hussein was sending coded words and gestures to Bush asking that the US invade Iraq and overthrow him.

Too bad Hussein didn't think of getting a restraining order.

Iraq - Iran, We Were Only Off by One Letter

One of Jon Stewart & The Daily Show's best bits is the comparison of what was going on in Iran vs. Iraq and that we really meant to invade the former, but just got it off by one letter.

Iran - supporter of terrorism, trying to build a nuclear (really big and bad WMD) bomb, and other acts hinting at, well, not being a friend to the west, US or really anybody but itself.

Iraq - led by a guy who mocked US president's father.

Which one did we invade?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All

I'd like to use my Christmas weekend post to take a break from watching our civil liberties go down the drain and thank all those people and organizations who continue to help people around the globe.

A special thank you for the organizations who I or friends and family have had the opportunity to be a part of in the past few years. It's just a partial list, and I encourage everyone to add to it. There are many people and groups to thank. It's a great time to remember all those who work for positive change in the world.

The Red Cross - a paternal favorite
Whitman Walker
Heifer International
Children of the Night
Medicine sans Frontiers
Salvation Army and Goodwill
Habitat for Humanity
Bread for the City
World Wildlife Fund
World Land Trust

Friday, December 23, 2005

Patriot's Final Act in 2005

Senate agreed with House for a 1 month extension. After trying to bully the Senate and hinting he'd rather not sign an extension than let the bill expire, Bush signed the extension. Calling the shots these days seems to be Wisconsin's Republican Sensenbrenner. His great quote for wanting to change the extension from 6 months to 1 (no, it's not so there wouldn't be time for actually debating the issue--no, he'd never argue that.) ... "They came pretty close to wrecking everybody's Christmas. I didn't want to put the entire Congress in the position of them wrecking everybody's Independence Day."

Yes indeed. The Act will come up for debate again before it can actually be debated because Sensenbrenner doesn't want to ruin our Independence Day. Hey Jimmy Boy, thanks a lot. I'd much rather you just ruin the Constitution instead.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster Attacks the Heathen Pat

Ok, close one eye and pretend that Pat is the "midget" in the image. It's not hard to imagine, after all, Patsy is a mental midget.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Rules!

Ok Pat, you're in trouble now! Intelligent Design isn't to be mocked. How dare you try and take a strangle-hold on it be teaching only one creation theory. As the leader of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster reminds us, "Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him."

I'd be careful Pat, you don't want the Flying Spaghetti Monster coming after you!

(Although I, personally, would pay to watch that.)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Bouncing the Patriot Act Around

Well, so much for six months vs. three months. Now the House has tossed 1 month into the ring and the act bounces back to the Senate to act on. The light's burning in the Capitol dome tonight.

This seems to be a Republican attempt via Sensenbrenner to get the Senate to renew the whole sucker now, instead of debating the issue for six months (God forbid we actually debate the idea of tossing the Constitution into the dumpster again).

It'll be interesting to see if those spines keep up or cave in the next few days.

Finding Your Spine in DC - it's Contageous!

In the past couple of days, we've told Ted Stevens he can't use the war to smuggle money into Alaska or oil refineries into the Arctic, told Bush that the Patriot Act may not be fully patriotic, and even questioned his need to spy on us more than we thought he was already.

What's going on here in DC these days? It's almost as though a spinal straightening virus has broken out in town.

A couple of days ago a judge on Bush's secret (ok, maybe not so secret anymore) Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court resigned over the legality of Bushie's secret spy on Americans program. Well that seems to have spread a bit over there. According to this morning's Post,

"Several members of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said in interviews that they want to know why the administration believed secretly listening in on telephone calls and reading e-mails of U.S. citizens without court authorization was legal. Some of the judges said they are particularly concerned that information gleaned from the president's eavesdropping program may have been improperly used to gain authorized wiretaps from their court."

Spinal Straightenitus -- spread it where you can today.

Six More Months of Patriotism on Our Throats

Well it's better than a flat acceptance of the Patriot Act in full as permanent legislation, which is where things seemed to be heading before Katrina hit, the economy burped and some members of congress began to find their spine.

So now, instead of expiring in whole at the end of the year, the Senate went for a 6 month extension (they had originally suggested 3 months, but Bush blustered some nonsense about unpatriotic behavior and preferring to let it expire than sign a 3 month extension, and they doubled the temporary extension).

Now let's get this right. If the legislation expired at the end of this month the US would be subject to horrible consequences the enormity of which we could barely imagine. But Bush would rather expose us to that than sign a 3 month extension?


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

It's Just So Hard to Govern When Your Party Controls Everything

Come on Bushie boy - who's to blame for your programs going all wicky-wacky this year? The Senate? the House? Try again. But when your beloved Spy on Anyone Whenever I Want plan starts to fall apart, what's a boy to do? Well of course you round up all the usual suspects and those rebellious Republicans and let them have it. As bushie said, "The senators obstructing the Patriot Act need to understand that the expiration of this vital law will endanger America and will leave us in a weaker position in the fight against brutal killers."

Yes, of course, THAT'S IT! Call them sissies. Call them wimps.

Or, maybe call them the only folks around right now on the Hill with the guts to stand up for what this country stands for. Bushie, killing the patient to save it went out with the dark ages.

Reindeer 1 - Teddy 0

Poor Ted Stevens. Apparently the Democrats are really feeling their oats these days. They just shut down his beloved Arctic drilling bill. A defense appropriations bill (Ted knows where to stick his pork) failed to pass because of the oil drilling in Alaska wildlife refuge provision. And once again Bill Frist got stuck with some rebellious Republicans (Chafee - RI and DeWine - OH). Poor Billy just can't keep all of his ducks in a row. Looks like there are some folks up there who are actually trying to think for themselves Billy Boy.

But, Wait, You're Republicans!

What do Larry E. Craig (R-ID), Chuck Hagel (R-NB), John E. Sununu (R-NH) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have in common, aside from being Republicans, conservative ones at that? They're conservative enough to know that the Patriot Act is subverting the US Constitution and is NOT what our founding fathers stood for.

When conservative Republicans are on your side, it's time to wonder, but also be grateful. I'd like to see a few more on this side. And as they think about it, I think they'll start to realize that what their constituents want and what Fisk & Bushies want are not the same thing at all.

When You Absolutely, Positvely, Can't Stand Subverting the Constitution Anymore

You can always resign in protest. As did US District Court Judge James Robertson, who until yesterday was one of 11 judges in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Apparently Robertson had finally had enough and resigned in protest over Bush's no longer quite so secret domestic spying initiative.

Well done James. Unfortunately, your career in government is probably toast for the next three years, but I'm willing to bet you can sign on as a consultant to a good group out there somewhere.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Hey, Pat, Now What?

Well when Dover's electorate dumped the creationists bunch from their school board, Pat Robertson warned that God would abandon them since they'd kicked him out of their town. Well now that a US District court judge has ruled on Dover's [un]intelligent design in biology classes that "teaching intelligent design would violate the Constitutional separation of church and state," I can't wait to see what Pat will call down upon them in the name of the Lord.

I wonder how long it might be before the Lord decides he's just a bit tired of Pat's claiming to speak for Him - now that's a wrath I'd pay to watch.

No More 9/11s, Apparently That's What's Wrong With Us

Thanks Dick.

In an interview for Nightline, the Chenster said "What I'm concerned that as we get farther and farther from 9/11...we seem to have people less and less committed to doing everything that's necessary to defend the country."

So the veep's a bit upset that we're not still running around in mass panic. Sorry man, personally I would love to still be mired in a mass panic that clouds my judgment over the basics of American society's civil liberties. Those were the days, huh Chenster. Got pretty much any laws you wanted passed without debate.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

WTG Doonesbury

Usually I just love Doonesbury. On days like today, I ADORE it. Sunday's paper has a doctor advising a man he's got TB. The patient is asked if he's a creationist and responds yes, but why does the doctor need to know? Doctor replies, "Because I need to know whether you want me to treat the TB bug as it was before antibiotics ... or as the multiple drug-resistent strain it has since evolved into."

Am I just dreaming, or have we found a way to get rid of the creationists using their own prejudices?

Bush Isn't Stalin. Why Would He Want to Be?

Today's Washington Post Outlook section has an interesting piece by Vladimir Bukovsky entitled "Torture's Long Shadow" that begins:

One nasty morning Comrade Stalin discovered that his favorite pipe was missing. Naturally, he called in his henchman, Lavrenti Beria, and instructed him to find the pipe. A few hours later, Stalin found it in his desk and called off the search. "But, Comrade Stalin," stammered Beria, "five suspects have already confessed to stealing it." This joke, whispered among those who trusted each other when I was a kid in Moscow in the 1950s, is perhaps the best contribution I can make to the current argument in Washington about legislation banning torture and inhumane treatment of suspected terrorists captured abroad.

We aren't Stalin's Soviet Russia, and I can't think of many people, especially the Republicans, who would suggest that is something to which we want to aspire. So let's step back a moment and look at where our government is looking for its inspiration. The founding fathers - Washington, Jefferson, Madison, or repressive and fatally flawed police states?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Well Done Onion - Happy Holidays to All!

The Onion's running a great satire on an activist judge cancelling Christmas. Check it out.

al-Zaqawi We'll Let Go - But Watch Those Quakers!

NBC News discovered that last year a small group of activists meeting at a Quaker Meeting House in Florida to protest military recruiting at local high schools was considered a threat by the defense Department. It got logged as a "suspicious incident" (one of over 1,500 logged in 10 months).

Now who can blame them. After all, al-Zaqawi only wants to kill all Americans. Those Quakers want to stop the neo-cons. They had to be stopped!

Bush Lies, Patriot Act Dies?

It's one of those you really have to look for the silver lining, making lemonade out of lemons kind of things, but, it seems that some folks in Congress have rediscovered their spines. After having it shoved in their faces that this administration can NOT be trusted to protect our liberties while neo-conning their way in the world, a couple of senators announced that the NSA news might impact their Patriot Act votes.

Senator Spector (R-PA): if the news is true then it would be "very problesome, if not devastating" to renew the act.

Senator Schumer (D-NY) and someone who should have known better to begin with: "Today's revelation that the government listened in on thousands of phone conversations without getting a warrant is shocking and has greatly influenced my vote."

Does This Man Even Understand the Concept of Truth Anymore?

When asked by Jim Lehrer about signing a secret order in 2002 for the NSA to spy ON AMERICAN CITIZENS, Bush said,"After 9/11, I told the American people I would do everything in my power to protect the country, within the law, and that's exactly how I conduct my presidency."

Ok, well, for one thing, it is ILLEGAL for the NSA to spy on Americans. No domestic covert operations for these guys.

How does Bush slither out of admitting he's lying even now? By saying he couldn't discuss specifics about the order because "it would compromise our ability to protect the people."

Dear Mr. President - how about protecting me a little less? At this rate, he's going to protect us into a police state!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Damn Straight I'm a Liberal

Conservatives call Liberals a whole lot of things. But maybe they need to look in the mirror.

A Conservative who wants to define what a family is would call a Liberal anti-family. The Liberal on the other hand, thinks a family can define itself.

A Conservative who would claim that Liberals have no morals are really saying that Liberals don't have the same morals as conservatives. Instead, we think again that it's a family issue and the government should stay out of it. Personally, I think turning your back on someone because they strayed from your morality is immoral.

Conservatives say we're anti-religion. But which side thinks that there's only one religion in the country. Even going with one nation under God. Whose God? Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Jewish, and on and on and on. I'm not even sure Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell's Gods are one and the same.

And one of my favorites - the Conservative droning on and on about taxes. How many of these people benefit from tax breaks for all sorts of things. Let's say from now on, if you don't like taxes, fine, don't pay them. But we get to take away anything from your life that is funded by our taxes. And remember, when you're homeless, living on the steam grates in the winter is just bad planning, you get soaking wet.

Forget the Patriot Act, Just Spy on Us Straight Out

Here we were being worried about how the Patriot Act might continue to be used to spy on Americans. And all the while Bush had his National Security Agency (NSA, whose charter is to spy on ANYBODY EXCEPT AMERICANS) spying on us. Check this out from today's Washington Post.

President Bush signed a secret order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in the United States, despite previous legal prohibitions against such domestic spying, sources with knowledge of the program said last night.

The super-secretive NSA, which has generally been barred from domestic spying except in narrow circumstances involving foreign nationals, has monitored the e-mail, telephone calls and other communications of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of people under the program, the New York Times disclosed last night.

Of course, since they are only looking for people with connections to " al Qaeda and other terrorist groups overseas," they haven't spied on you personally. Because if there's one thing our government is good at, it's telling the difference between people who are connected to al Qaeda (Saddam) and those who aren't (Saddam... oh, hey, wait. They got that one wrong, didn't they).

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Uh..oh, THAT Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Sorry.

Yes, indeed. CNN just announced that Iraqi security troops actually caught Abu Musab al-Zaqawi last year and released him because they didn't know who he was. Uh... you know those "Most Wanted" pics? Yeah, well there's a reason we use them.

Oops, What We Meant to Say Was "Just Say NO to Torture"

Nothing quite so amusing as watching the head of the real axis of evil (Bushie, Chenster & Rummy) run away from his make 'em suffer torture policy in the face of legislation from someone who knows about serving and torture. I'm not a crazed fan for John McCain, but I give him tons of props for this move.

Well done elections so far in Iraq

And interesting comments from Iraqis interviewed after voting. "This is for us, it does not mean we want the Americans to stay." Hopefully we'll make all happy soon.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Supporting the Troops

Isn't it about time we end this stupidity. Is it "supporting the troops" to

-send in too few troops so we can’t hold ground taken?
-start a pre-emptive war with no postwar planning?
-send them into war without the armor that they need?

Or, is it supporting the troops to insist that we don't send our men and women off to die and be injured for an neo-con ideal of how the world should be shaped? (yes, yes, it's about time we dump the whole WMD and Saddam/Osama best friends fake outs)

There's a Reason You Don't Feel Safer Today

If you haven't checked out the 9/11 commission's report card on the government's response, you should. While Bush's minions are busy trying to ensure that the FBI can see what books I'm reading whenever they want, and while federal anti-terrorist funds have been going to provide bullet-proof vests for dogs and air conditioned cabs for garbage trucks, the Bushies have missed a few things they might want to take care of.

As Katrina showed very clearly, "Incident command system" - communications and centralized command systems, are non existent. They get a "C" from the commission. Also gaining a "C" are
-- slow progress & deficiencies at FBI and its new national security service
--no permanent group of governments established to coordinate counterterrorism strategy as a coalition.
--poor plans for ensuring transportation security
--poor detection for explosives at commercial airports (well that's not that important)

And rating a "D"?
--no national ranking of vulnterabilities, no assessment of what are our biggest risks and vulnerabilities. (yes, we're pumping millions of dollars into local economies to put where they wish because we have no idea what is a risk and what is vulnerable. so we get AC in garbage trucks.)
--little progress in working with other nations on watch lists & passport security. (hmm, it's almost as though we don't play well with other nations anymore - then again, the isolationists in US are excited about that. Until the next terrorist gets through on a plane from Germany because they didn't work with us to screen her out).
--interagency intelligence sharing (again, why would anyone think THAT could be important)
--interagency information sharing (well if they're not sharing intelligence, why would they share basic info)
--no funding, staff or leadership for new Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board (big surprise there. I bet the bushies are freaked out they didn't get an "F" here and are worried about something having gone at least partially right)
--securing weapons of mass destruction (yup, the reason we went to war gets a "D" in how we've accomplished it. Way to Go Bushies!)
--more effort needed for scholarship, exchange and library programs with Arab world to encourage culture and secular education (ah who cares about that. It's not as though there's a bunch of young men & women out there who are becoming suicide bombers for lack of other options in their world...)

And for the piece de resistance - Earning an "F" from the commission are:
--Radio spectrum - Congress has failed to set aside a special frequency for first responders, many of whom died on 9/11 because of poor communication. And again, no lesson even learned from Katrina here? How many lessons do the Bushies need before they figure this one out? PEOPLE NEED TO BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER IN AN EMERGENCY YOU MORONS.
--Homeland security funds allocated by well, the old boy's network and not on where the risks are. Fortunately Ted Stevens' Alaska will be protected. On the other hand, good luck NYC, but it's not as though anybody will try anything there.
--No consolidated watch list in airline prescreening procedures. (catching a pattern here? the main lessons we should have learned from 9/11 seem to be the ones that Bushies are getting "F"s on)
--Detention and "we don't condone torture" strategy - 'nuff said

Yeah, I feel safe, sitting here at my computer about 2 miles from the White House, and at work, 3 blocks from the Capitol dome. Safe as all get out.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Patriot Attacks

A new report has been released showing that 30,000 - that is THIRTY THOUSAND National Security Letters are issued by the government EACH YEAR these days under the [Un]Patriot Act.
If you don't know what a National Security Letter (NSL) is - it's what lets them see your private information without letting you know they're doing it.

Keep on thinking that they're not coming after you.

Neo Con Tries to Slither out of Going to Hell

Now that he's at the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz is talking the talk of feeding and caring for the world. He's suddenly concerned about the state of things past his front door. He did his let's control the world and go go go, fight fight fight - pushing us into a war in Iraq without ever mentioning those student deferments that kept him out of the army. Hey Pauly girl, the thing you'll have to teach us sometime is how you and your non-military service co-horts manage to get people to support your military endeavors.

Anyway, now that he's over at the World Bank, helping to, in his words, "free the world of poverty," he doesn't like to talk about Iraq so much. Or how we got into the mess.

Keep feeding the poor Pauly, and who knows, you just might be able to slither out of going to hell when you die.

But I doubt it.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Death to Christmas!

Apparently Bush's psycho conservative cronies are up in arms because the White House Christmas card this year (as they have for many years now) says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

I can see their point. After all, as I was coming home tonight, dodging the sidewalk Christmas ornament sellers, the poinsetta sellers, the guy playing Christmas carols on his guitar outside the metro, and past the drug store selling tons of green and red paraphernalia, I thought to myself, "whatever happened to Christmas in this country? It's as though it doesn't even exist anymore!"

Who's That Looking Over Your Shoulder? Why Uncle Sam

The Senate & House have agreed to most parts of the Patriot Act PERMANENT, and extends roving wiretaps and freebie government access to your library, business and hospital records.

Let's hear it for Sen. Feingold of Wisconsin (who voted against the original bill in 2001) who is threatening a filibuster. Probably won't happen, but at least somebody is making some noise about it.

This is where we are - so coddled in our lives that we're just not going to pay attention to this rollback of our liberties. Well until the government is digging into our personal records. Oh, wait, there's that great secrecy veil. They don't have to tell you that they're looking.

Heck, maybe they're looking at your records now. What makes you think they aren't?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Mission Accomplished?

Since landing in his jet pilot costume on April 30, 2003 to congratulate everyone on accomplishing the mission of kicking out Sadaam, the US has lost 2,108 troops killed; 15,881 wounded.

Just keeping this in mind.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Too many good quotes going unshared

So I've set up a Notable Quotables blog to capture some of the witless wisdom (and some actually good quotes) from our fellow citizens.

Feeling Lucky?

Thirty thousand requests are issued per year for the records of everyday Americans under the Patriot Act.

That's better odds than you winning the lottery.

Feeling lucky?

Be a Real American Patriot

Do what you can to help kill the most anti-American, anti-freedom, piece of legislation in decades, the Patriot Act. Now I know, it looks like it's going to sail through and be renewed, but that doesn't mean we stop the fight. Keep informed and let your rep and Senators know how you feel.

At Some Point, Don't We All Just Wake Up from Dreams Like This?

Saddam Hussein has decided that he's not going to come back to court, saying "I will not be in a court without justice. Go to hell, all you agents of America." This after he walked out of the court with his lawyers yesterday.

We're "not torturing" suspects around the world, as the CIA and DOD gather some major frequent flyer points. We've got the House renewing the Patriot Act, which the Bush justice department calls a "critical tool" in the efforts to "protect the American people." The Senate, for their part, approved an amended act that would make all but two provisions of it PERMANENT. That's right. Permanent.

So, while Saddam can decide day to day whether he feels like being judged for his crimes, Americans - you and I - are getting to watch our rights erode before our eyes. And don't worry about being notified if the government is searching for info on you. With a renewed Patriot Act, they still don't have to tell you. They get to keep the use of secret orders to look into our medical, financial and library records (oops, guess I should have returned that copy of Black Beauty in 2nd grade).

The Witless WIsdom of Rumsfeld

Is Rummy actually stupider than Bush? Is it actually possible? You be the judge.

Rummy on Bin Laden:
"We do know of certain knowledge that he is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead." (well you can't quibble with THAT, can you).

on Afghanistan:
"It's an enormous country. You know, it's bigger than Texas. Or, as big, I guess. I haven't looked lately. But it is a very big place." (maybe we can drop him by parachute (if we must) over Afghanistan to check out the geography. Or maybe we could just assume that the Secy of Defense has seen a map.)

on War (and probably why he never served):
"Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war."

on Knowledge (or lack of knowledge? it's hard to tell):
"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."

on being a big picture kinda guy:
"I'm not into this detail stuff. I'm more concepty."
"I don't do quagmires."
"I don't do diplomacy."
"I don't do foreign policy."
"I don't do predictions."
"I don't do numbers."
Not certain, but maybe that means he does do windows. We'll need to check on that.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Dirty Rice

Pitty poor Condi - off in Europe trying to explain her boss's "we don't torture" policy to countries where the "we don't torture" detainment planes land or fly over. Apparently the German parliament (you remember Germany - the country that started two world wars in the 20th century) wants to know what the US military was doing with the 400+ flights that landed in Germany or passed through their airspace.

Hey Germany, we OWN your butts now. So just sit there and smile while we use your country any which way we want. Right Condi? I mean, who are WE to be lectured on humanity by Germans!

Ya gotta give Condi credit. Her argument? That we CAN'T HANDLE the truth. That they NEED us on that wall. If we weren't off not torturing people on those planes, Europe would be swarming with terrorists if it weren't for us giving them free rides once and a while.

And when Amnesty International said that US "we don't torture" planes had made 50 landings in Ireland, Condi responded by saying that that airport had not been used for "anything untoward." Well good to know they moved the guys out of the airport terminals before not torturing them. I mean really, nothing like watching prisoners not being tortured to really throw a damper on the pre-holiday travel crowd.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

An Afternoon Wasted with Tom Lehrer

Ah, not wasted at all. For anyone who hasn't ever heard one of Lehrer's albums, check some out today. Musical humor from the 50s-60s that is as relevant (ok, more) now than ever.

Like the MLF Tango -
Why shouldn't they have nuclear warheads?
England says no, but they all are soreheads.
I say a bygone should be a bygone,
Let's make peace the way we did in Stanleyville and Saigon.

Or when George Murphy (an old actor) won a Senatorship in California -
The movies that you've seen
On your television screen
Show his legislative talents at a glance

Hmmm, sound like anybody we know today?

So go out and dance the machism tango or poison some pigeons in the park and have a good weekend with Tom.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Our Hero and His Friend

Ok, I know, it's an old pic, and we've all seen it, but as long as I'm doing cheap shots today. I have to include this one.

Rummy Isn't Forgotten

What with all the Bush & Chenster bashing going on in this blog, folks might naturally wonder "hey, what about donald 'you'll eat it and like it' rumsfeld?" Well we wouldn't want to forget Rummy. As much as we really would like to. Would love to forget this man exists.

I was sharing a SuperShuttle ride to the airport after the most recent mis-innauguration. There were two 50-60-ish couples riding along. They'd been in town for the festivities, and the two women were simply agog at how handsome they thought Rumsfeld was. I honestly think it was a good argument for air sickness bags being stocked in vans on the way to the airport as well as on planes.

But I digress. The Slate has not forgotten Rummy, in fact, they have a page devoted to his poetry. And if you were wondering what that rambling nonsense out of his mouth is, well I think the Slate is right. It MUST be poems. It certainly doesn't qualify as reality.

Cheap Shots

Ok, I admit it, these are cheap shots. But does that mean we can't enjoy them?

From the lips of George W. Bush

Dec. 1, 2005 - on Condoms (or is it condems?)
"We're workin' with our partners to expand prevention efforts, that emphasize abstinence, being faithful in marriage, and using condems correctly.

Nov. 29, 2005 - in El Paso
"This is an urban environment. Right over here is Juarez. And people are able to easily come into the border - into Texas, in this part of - in part of the border."

Nov. 19, 2005 - Osan Air Base, Osan, S. Korea
"You're serving the cause of liberty on distant frontiers, and I bring a message from home. Your Commander-in-Chief is proud of you, and so is the American people."

Nov. 8, 2005 - US - S. Korean relations
"As a matter of fact, I know relations between our governments is good."

Oct. 4, 2005 - on Harriet Miers' nomination
"I think it's important to bring somebody from outside the system, the judicial system, somebody that hasn't been on the bench and, therefore, there's not a lot of opinions for people to look at."

Sept. 20, 2005 - from Gulfport, Mississippi
"We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job. That's what I'm telling you."

Sept. 5, 2005 - from Poplarville, Mississippi
"I can't wait to join you in the joy of welcoming neighbors back into neighborhoods, and small businesses up and running, and cutting those ribbons that somebody is creating new jobs."

June 29, 2005 - on visiting Denmark
"I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep on the soil of a friend."

And my personal favorite: - seeing a map of Brazil on Nov. 6, 2005
"Wow, Brazil is big."

Killing Tookie Williams

For those who haven't been paying attention to this little drama, Tookie Williams was the founder of the Crips gang in 1971 (as in Crips vs. Bloods). He's been in prison for murder for a while and is sentenced to die on the 13th. While in prison, Williams wrote a series of children's books on staying out of gangs and initiated gang truces in a few cities. Williams continues to claim his innocence, and apparently Ahnuld is using that as part of the reason for refusing clemency. Having not reviewed evidence one way or the other, I'm going to set aside the claims of guilty or innocent and stick with one thought.

How does it serve the public to kill a man who is now working to keep kids out of gangs? If prison is about rehabilitation, do we kill once rehabilitated? Or do we say, ok, life in prison is it. In return for the good you're doing and will hopefully continue to do, we won't kill you?

A police spokesman says that there is no evidence Williams is still involved in the gangs, stating that "his name doesn't come up."

Should Tookie get a reprieve to life in prison?

Buy the Press You Want

Ok, we're all cynical enough here to say that the press is bought and paid for in the US in a variety of ways (through the companies that own them, through personal or editorial bias, etc.). So why should there be any uproar over the Pentagon paying Iraqi reporters and editors to put stories in their papers that are positive to the US?

Are we shocked, SHOCKED, I say, to find that there is gambling going on in here?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

And a Happy AIDS Day to You Too

Forty Million People are infected with HIV across the globe on this date. Three million of them will die of AIDS this year. Half of those infected live in Africa (which only has 10% of the world's population). The fastest growing infection rate is in the Ukraine.

Twenty years ago I first signed up to work with a local AIDS organization. I worked as a "buddy" to a PWA (person with AIDS). I worked with three buddies before taking a break from this work. I watched them die, as I watched dozens of others in the 80s and 90s die from this disease.

In the 21st century, AIDS is no longer a death sentence for those who have access. To doctors, hospitals, medicines, even the simplist things like a refrigerator to store some meds, or watches to know when to take them. Of that 40 million people who are infected as of this hour - anybody want to take a guess as to how many have access to those things?

The disease that struck fear into the hearts of homophobes across the US is now infecting and killing straight women more than any other group. When rumors persist that having sex with a virgin can "cure" a man of AIDS, when prostitution and drug abuse are treated only as criminal acts, we help those numbers to grow. Passing out condoms in school is not potentially saving a life, it's encouraging kids to have sex. Passing out clean needles to junkies is not stopping AIDS transmission, it's encouraging drug use.

And sticking one's righeous head in the sand as millions continue to die is nothing less than murder.

Plan for Victory

Hey, I'm just excited to see Bush finally using the word "plan" in his discussions of Iraq. Ok, so some might quibble that the time to think about a plan would have been before going in, not a couple of years afterwards. But let's give W some credit here for realizing that a plan is a good thing.

So now we have a Plan for Victory. What is that plan?

Well according to the White House's PDF file of the plan, it is:
Short Term: - An Iraq that is making steadk progress in fighting terrorists and neutralizing the insurgency, meeting political milestones; building democratic institutions; standing up roburst security forces to gather intelligence, destroy terrorist networks, and maintain security; and tackling key economic reforms to lay the foundation for a sound economy.

OK, so in the short term we seem to believe that economic reforms that lay the foundation for a sound economy are an afterthought. And in the medium term?

An Iraq that is in the lead defeating terrorists and insurgents and providing its own security, with a constitutional, elected government in place, providing an inspiring example to reformers in the region, and well on its way to achieving its economic potential.

Hmmm. Economic potential that is believed by capitalist to drive current democracies again seems to be an afterthought. Are we not a capitalist nation seeking like democracies? Maybe in the longer term plan?

-- An Iraq that has defeated the terrorists and neutralized the insurgency.
-- An Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, where Iraqis have the institutions and resources they need to govern themselves justly and provide security for their country.
-- An Iraq that is a partern in the global war on terror and the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, integrated into the international community, an engine for regional economic growth, and proving the fruits of democratic governance to the region.

Ok, so in the short, medium and long term, we really, REALLY want those insurgents and terrorists out of there. And that should be easy to achieve because there isn't a long-running democracy in the world that has problems with insurgents or terrorists (the IRA troubles? Just a difference of opinion, I'm sure.)

But hey, once the terrorists and insurgents are put down (I mean really, the USSR, Saudi Arabia, China, they all managed to keep terrorists & insurgents down), democracy will be free to grow, just like it does in ... wait. No, that doesn't seem right.

Hey, I'm sure there's a way this plan works out. There must be. It's a plan!

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