Saturday, August 19, 2006

No, George, you can't have more executive powers until you show us you know how to use the ones we gave you.

Patterico Pontificates

Our pal Glenn Greenwald, who opposes untrammeled executive power, appears to be hunky-dory with untrammeled judicial power, as long as it is exercised to reach a result he likes.

As I argued last night, Judge Taylor’s NSA opinion is a legal disaster. It is conclusory and overblown. It utterly fails to engage (or even acknowledge) the most serious arguments made by the Bush Administration.

But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of a prominent Constitutional Scholar who shares an IP address with his biggest fans, including Thomas Ellers, Ellison, Ryan, and Wilson. In a comment on, our Scholar says:

Although I agree with all of the conclusions the court reached, the opinion is horrible in how it analyzes those issues and defends its conclusions in several important respects.

On Salon he says:

[C]ommentators of every ideological stripe have quickly agreed that this opinion is argumentatively weak and thus vulnerable on appeal with respect to several critical issues. The court, for instance, barely explains why warrantless eavesdropping violates the Fourth Amendment, and its discussion of why such eavesdropping violates the First Amendment borders on the incoherent.

Seems to me that if something is obvious to at least the intended audience; lawyers and other folks that should be familiar with the constitution, belaboring it is needless.

If the judge's dismissal was curt, even telegraphic, it's because the Administration presented no arguments that would require any particular display of reason. On my blog, I refer to it as a "bitchslapping."

Consider that the bulk of the objections here and elsewhere are not that the ruling was incorrect, but that she gave insufficient consideration; that she was plain disrespectful. Why, the term "uppity" springs to mind that this - this WOMAN would dare disrespect our President and his Exeuspecial Atomic Manhood.

She's BACK-Talkin' the Presnent! Horrors! Calamity! The First Nuclear Family is at Risk! And she won't explain to the President WHY warrantless wiretapping is WRONG!

Nope. She shouldn't have to. She merely informs him that it is provably and indispuatably a violation of the 4th amendment and Congress's expressed will (FISA) with no other evidence than the president's own words.

Read it for yourself. There are some particularly dry dismissals of the State's Secrets privilidge claimed by the governement, and one can almost hear "loose lips sink ships." She patiently explains that in order for a claim of state secrets privildge to be sustained, the facts in dispute actually have to be... secret.

I think that anyone who NEEDS explaination of such very basic facts should be immediatly deported as being too damn ignorant to be a citizen. I further believe that anyone who presumes on an ignorant citizenry to support such a clear violation of their rights deserves to be impeached.

And that is aside from the whole aspect of being a conscious liar and lawbreaker, of course. That troubles me. The thought of George Bush being president makes me concerned about direct risks to my personal pink ass, just as I would be concerned about someone who thought that it was OK to golf during a thunderstorm because they were too important to be struck by lightning. I'd be even more concerned about those who nodded and said, "OK, then, a quick 9 seems like fun to me."

Judicial power is far from "untrammeled." Congress can pass any damn-fool law it cares to, so long as it is, in fact, Constitutional. Goddess knows they have. I'm sure we could all pick favorite examples of the phenomenon. About half passed by liberal idiots and about half by the other sort. I mean, there's a bridge in Alaska that comes to mind. Or the bipartisan support for the penny, which costs us more than it's worth to make and keep in circulation.

"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself" - Mark Twain.

Within the broad parameters of the Constitution - and they ARE quite broad and allow for more than adequate executive power - the Executive is free to pursue it's policies largely unhindered - unless those polices directly conflict with Constitutionally-protected rights. Moreover, raising the objection is in itself costly and time-consuming enough to filter out most insignificant issues.

Now, read your Constitution. I cannot think of a single Bush policy more obviously in violation of both the literal and the spiritual Constitution as the very idea of "warrantless wiretapping." It would have taken a very high standard of proof and extremely compelling arguments for any competent judge to be seen in public taking this seriously.

There are several things that are obvious first steps that would have to be documented as insufficient remedies to the concerns the president asserts.

FISA itself was put in place as a means to address exactly these sorts of national security contingencies and is in itself a wee teense suspicious sounding, with it's secret courts.

The fact that Congress found it to be a national security necessity to go that far in the face of some fairly obvious liberal and libertarian objections is a compelling evidence for the necessity. Nonetheless, it was not "carte blanche" and apparently the Administration's lawyers argued that FISA is, in itself unconsitutional, which was met with an impatient judicial shrug. "Congress did it TOO" is really not the acme of constitutional argumentation.

I've considered the idea that FISA might be too cumbersome for exigent circumstances, because, well, that seemed all too probable and many were and contiue to make that assertion.

I looked into it, and from my perspective and ability to know, that seems truly to be a red herring. The warrants issued seem to be in rough line with the number of cases the FBI and other agencies could be seriously pursuing.

But even if the procedure were too cumbersome, it would be well within the power of Congress, and possibly just the President, to streamline it. In reading the full opinion, I see the good justice concurs.

Considering that there's a 72 hour grace period, and the fact that you have the information to know who to listen to means you have most of the information the forms should ask, it seems to me that the creation of the warrant application is a straightforward "mail merge" operation. A keystroke macro. That would be my very FIRST suggestion, and if that most elementary procedure has not been taken, the Administration should not be wasting the court's time or the precious, irreplaceable photons this discussion consumes.

All obvious remedies would have to be tried and found inadequate before it's appropriate to consider testing the bounds of constitutional restraint, if for no other reason than the obvious need to keep such an operation secret - or at least secret enough to be kept out of doubt.

Let us not forget that the Constitution is the "flag" our team is defending. It's THE OTHER SIDE that hates our freedoms, and even if you don't value them for yourself, value them as a continued finger to the face of whatever Ayatollah you particularly despise.

And finally, the Administration said to a sitting federal judge, in essence, that "we could prove the legality of this operation, but then we'd have to kill you."

Yes, I can see how that sort of argument might cause a testy reaction. Even in, say, Justice Alito.

She showed commendable judicial restraint in not observing the bleeding obvious - that in repetedly confirming, bragging and talking up the NSA program, he had completely eliminated it as a tool for intelligence-gathering. From that moment on, any apparent leads from it must be presumed to be disinformation.

And lo, the FBI has complained that all they get from it is crap - exactly what you would expect from a blown intelligence operation.

Given that fact that is obvious to anyone with the intelligence bacground conferred by a John LeCarre novel, one has to wonder exactly why the president wishes to continue survaillaince? I can think of two possiblities - first, to prevent independant parties from gathering real intelligence from offshore sources that might bring his policies into contention. Second, to use the fact that one had communicated with a potential terrorist to be sufficient to survail or imprison someon on the presumption of terrorist complicity. And third, to listen in on the DCCC.

But neither I nor the judge really need to consider why the president wants warrentless wiretaps. Hell, EVERY cop and every prosecutor WANTS them. For that very reason, the constitution was written to frustrate their desires. Every single president carried them out until FISA was enacted, knowing that it was both unconstitutional and illegal. Nixon, at least, had the grace to resign when busted for such things; as John Dean observed in regard to this matter, "Bush is the first President to publicly admit to an impeachable offense." I'd consider John Dean's standing on the issue of impeachable offenses to be fairly uninpeachable.

There is a certain basic skepticism of the purity of human motives that we have a right to expect of our judiciary, and if they err, we expect them to err on the side of a conserving individual liberties and the Constitution.

When the Cubs or the Mets lose, the first thought isn't that the umpire was crooked. If they WIN, you might need to watch the game twice to see if there were some funny calls.

Xposted to DKos, TPMcafe.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Online Autism Screening Test

Wired 9.12: Take The AQ Test

Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at Cambridge's Autism Research Centre have created the Autism-Spectrum Quotient, or AQ, as a measure of the extent of autistic traits in adults. In the first major trial using the test, the average score in the control group was 16.4. Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher. The test is not a means for making a diagnosis, however, and many who score above 32 and even meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger's report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives.

It's an old chestnut, I know - but worthwhile. I score a solid 37.

Of course, in looking at the questions themselves and the traits they measure, one has to wonder. To re-quote:

...many who score above 32 and even meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger's report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives.
In other words, if your child shows moderate issues with socialization, strange "obsessive behaviors" and doesn't much care for being around people - you should take a deep breath and relax. Odds are pretty good that if you don't have a conniption about it and cause them all sorts of trauma, they will grow up to be perfectly normal aspies.

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It's now official....

Iraq War longer than WWII in…

...and as Iraq is roughly the size of Poland or France derisory comparisons of Bush to Hitler may now commence.

It was long ago clear that it was ridiculous to compare him with FDR, with Churchill - goodness, it's a stretch even to cite him in the same breath as Neville Chamberlain.

But he doesn't measure up to the other side, either.

I'm actually trying to think of a comparable historical figure.

Oh, yeah. King Pyrrhus of Epirus.

UPDATE: a household member counts him as being more sucessful, on the whole, than Guy Fawks.

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Sheehan Redoux

Yet another Gold Star mom who would like to pin her son's ribbons to the inside of the President's sigmoid colon.

U.S. Tour of Duty

Damned activist judges! How DARE they support the Constitution?

Daily Kos: Judge Declares: No Heriditary Kings in America!:
"Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has made a forceful statement in support of liberty and against unbridled executive power today. In her opinion in ACLU v. NSA she holds:

The Government appears to argue here that, pursuant to the penumbra of Constitutional language in Article II, and particularly because the President is designated Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, he has been granted the inherent power to violate not only the laws of the Congress but the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, itself. We must first note that the Office of the Chief Executive has itself been created, with its powers, by the Constitution. There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all 'inherent powers' must derive from that Constitution.

GW must be saying 'ouch.'"

The Freepers are up in arms, of course, but in Left Blogostan the trolls are in full rout. You see, the injunction itself was stated in partcularly robust terms. "Bitchslapping" comes to mind.

Judge Anna Diggs Taylor’s opinion HERE. She writes:

In this case, the President has acted, undisputedly, as FISA forbids. FISA is the expressed statutory policy of our Congress. The presidential power, therefore, was exercised at its lowest ebb and cannot be sustained.

Text of the Injunction.

“IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants, its agents, employees, representatives, and any other persons or entities in active concert or participation with Defendants, are permanently enjoined from directly or indirectly utilizing the Terrorist Surveillance Program (hereinafter “TSP”) in any way, including, but not limited to, conducting warrantless wiretaps of telephone and internet communications, in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (hereinafter “FISA”) and Title III;

“IT IS FURTHER ORDERED AND DECLARED that the TSP violates the Separation of Powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III;

“IT IS ALSO ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED with respect to Plaintiffs’ data-mining claim and is DENIED regarding Plaintiffs’ remaining claims;

“IT IS ALSO ORDERED that Plaintiffs’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is GRANTED in its entirety.


But when a judge "bitchslaps" someone, they tend to be very, very sure of the ground on which they stand. In this case, the grounds were irrefutable and the defense presented by the admistration was utterly pathetic.

They tried to say that they could have proven their case - but for concerns of National Security.

I genuinly pity the poor creature they sent in to say that to a sitting judge.

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The Portland Chamber of Commerce and the City of Las Vegas Thank You For Your Efforts.

Coffee, Tea, or Should We Feel Your Pregnant Wife’s Breasts Before Throwing You in a Cell at the Airport and Then Lying About Why We Put You There? by Nicholas Monahan

"TSA ... VIGILANT, EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT" The Motto of the Transportation Safety Administration

Congressional Delegation, Nevada
Congressional Delegation, California
Congressional Delegation, Oregon
To whom it may concern:

1. Do you consider this a satisfactory incident resolution?
2. Do you consider the allegations made by the complainant to be refutable? If so, does the evidence needed to refute it exist?
3. Would you consider a public body search of a pregnant woman to be appropriate, or an emotional reaction to it to be unreasonable?
4. Even if all details of the incident report as given are completely true, what changes to procedure will you be implementing to prevent unfortunate reactions by stressed travelers?
5. Would you consider the overall incident to be indicative of a properly functioning, efficient and professional operation?
6. What does it say about TSA security that it can be apparently be so easily distracted by the breasts of a pregnant woman?
  1. a. Upon review, how many persons passed by with light or no screening while this incident was taking place?
  2. b. Is the use of decoys and distractions covered in TSA training?
  3. c. For what period of time, and to what degree did a potential security gap exist while this situation unfolded?
7. Upon consideration, do you think the average person who witnessed this event or read this account would feel more or less secure in their person than without the protection TSA provides?

As a Citizen of Nevada, anything that impacts transportation is of concern to me, as it directly affects our economy. Furthermore, if it seems to me likely or even that I will be singled out by security for being "insufficiently docile" and arbitrarily punished despite the results of the screening, I will likely choose other means of transportation or not travel recreationally.

This consideration applies with equal force to California, and presumably to the State of Oregon. Frankly, the participation of Portland Police in this incident, if as described, shows a distressing lack of awareness for the potential price of offending the dignity and personal security of travelers.

"Security" that inconveniences the public and makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure misses the point. Any casino in Nevada has better and more effective security than this, and it is accomplished under similar conditions with little or no intrusion upon the customers.

Security that actively creates a climate of fear and apprehension produces a climate in which detection of of would-be terrorists and troublemakers by body-language "tells" is nearly impossible. If everyone is sweaty, tense and apprehensive, you have created ideal camouflage for the would-be terrorist, rather than subtly creating conditions where such behaviors become conspicuous.

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Xpost: Dkos Diary

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

BBC NEWS | Health | Autism 'affects all of the brain'

BBC NEWS | Health | Autism 'affects all of the brain'

It' s research conclusions like this that make me want to bang my head against the wall... chanting in 4/4 aspie rhythm:

"They. Pay. People. To. Do. This."

On the other hand, the aspies doing the research may well privately email to tell me that studies like these are an indignity they must endure in order to convince people too stupid to be WORTHY of tying their shoelaces to continue funding the actual research that's going on.

By the way - the trick is not teaching an aspie to tie his shoes; it's convincing the aspie that wearing such uncomfortable and inconvenient contraptions is worthwhile, when simple noncompliance will get you slippers or velcro slippers.

By the way, as reported, this study does not "prove" faulty wiring between areas of the brain. It does not even suggest that. All it suggests is that those areas of the brain pass informaton based on different criteria.

Why? I dunno. But if you consider thinking of it as a "disorder" when clearly so very many of the very smartest and intellectually productive people in the history of the world show every evidence of having such traits, "curing it" might not be such a brilliant idea. It could amount to the species blowing it's brains out.

Professor Simon Baron Cohen, head of the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge, said: "This new study is important in highlighting atypical functioning in both social and non-social domains, by people with autism spectrum conditions.

Goddes forbid that atypical function be permitted, much less condoned!

But as my Psych 101 teacher informed me - "Function" is the key word. Put anyone in a context they cannot handle, and they will cease to function. The trick is to have as broad a range of contexts as possible - and the sense to avoid those that you cannot, all the "shoulds" and "musts" in the world be damned. - clearly yanking the chains of the True Believers -:

LAURA LEE DONOHO: "I propose a Giuliani - Romney ticket. As a southerner I understand my part of the country very well and I know we will support a Giuliani-Romney ticket in a New York Minute."

Hmm. What do the rest of you think?

Which Presidential pairing would you prefer in 2008?
Free polls from
Um... speaking as someone who would like to vote for an actual Republican of integrety, who has no obvious skeletons in his closet....

None of the above.

Speaking as someone who honestly feels that the Republican Party deserves to wander in the wilderness until Newt "Moses" Gingrich is safely dead - either works for me.

I mean, if these two tickets represent the best strategic thinking of what remains of the the Republican Right, I may actually go so far as to lay twenty bucks down on the 2008 elections now, while I can get the juicy odds.

Kung Fu Monkey: "Wait, Aren't You Scared?"

Kung Fu Monkey: "Wait, Aren't You Scared?":

Errr, no. And if you are, you frankly should be a little goddam embarrassed.

MAJOR SNIPPAGE of a fine rant indeed.

Maybe it's just, I cast my eyes back on the last century ...

FDR: Oh, I'm sorry, was wiping out our entire Pacific fleet supposed to intimidate us? We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and right now we're coming to kick your ass with brand new destroyers riveted by waitresses. How's that going to feel?

CHURCHILL: Yeah, you keep bombing us. We'll be in the pub, flipping you off. I'm slapping Rolls-Royce engines into untested flying coffins to knock you out of the skies, and then I'm sending angry Welshmen to burn your country from the Rhine to the Polish border.

US. NOW: BE AFRAID!! Oh God, the Brown Bad people could strike any moment! They could strike ... NOW!! AHHHH. Okay, how about .. NOW!! AAGAGAHAHAHHAG! Quick, do whatever we tell you, and believe whatever we tell you, or YOU WILL BE KILLED BY BROWN PEOPLE!! PUT DOWN THAT SIPPY CUP!!

... and I'm just a little tired of being on the wrong side of that historical arc.
Fucking A!

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In other news; Scientists report cause and effect still operative despite White House skepticism.

Pressure grows for release of Hicks - World -
"FIVE and a half weeks ago, after being told to pack his bags and that his father was on the phone, David Hicks thought he was heading home after 4½ years in Guantanamo Bay.

He was badly mistaken and, according to his father Terry Hicks, devastated when he found out the real story.

'I had to spend the first half an hour calming him down, getting him on the straight and narrow. He was very upset. He was so stressed out,' Mr Hicks said yesterday.

'I think it was quite deliberate. They are trying to wear him down. But he's not going to break down enough to say he's guilty. He's not that far gone.'"

"Why do they hate us" is becoming a bleakly rhetorical question. This is an example of why.

It would seem to me self evident that if there were a case to be made, it would have been made. If the young man in question was really a terrorist, simply knowing his name should have led so some information, perhaps an arrest or two by now, by virtue of good old fashioned police work.

You know, the sort of proven approaches sane people suggested in the first place as the most logical and effective way of finding out what happened on 9/11 and who to hold accountable for it. Not only does it work, it is the only approach that has produced any positive results at all.

The only result that is predictable from keeping this young man in Gitmo can be discerned by reading the concluding paragraphs:

While Mr Hicks and his son's US lawyer, Major Michael Mori, said they doubted Hicks would come home this year, Government members yesterday expressed their frustration at Hicks's 4½ year wait for justice.

The Liberal senator George Brandis said the Government had "always been of the view that the matter of Mr Hicks should be brought to a conclusion more promptly than it has been".

The Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce said: "The process has been long enough now in the US."

There is considerable disquiet in Coalition ranks about Hicks. Those on the moderate wing of the party - as well as the Sydney MP Danna Vale - believe he should be returned immediately.

Others are angry with the US for taking so long to bring him to trial and for giving false assurances he was to get a fair trial with the original military commission.

I wonder what that foreshadows for ongoing co-operation with US "anti-terrorism" efforts?

In other news; Scientists report cause and effect still operative despite White House skepticism.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Is there anything more helpless and irresponsible than a warblogger on a reality binge?

Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: Defeatism and attacks on the Commander-in-Chief during a time of war

Defeatism and attacks on the Commander-in-Chief during a time of war

We have a rule in our country that "attacking the Commander-in-Chief during a time of war" helps The Terrorists and emboldens our enemies. Joe Lieberman put it this way: "in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril."

The problem, of course, is that it's impossible to comment intelligently on the Iraq mess from ANY position on the political spectrum without "undermining the president's credibility." That is what happens when the only consistent, predictable feature of a stated policy is total, comprehensive, obvious failure.

Glenn cites a stellar cast of warbloggers, all of which castigate Bush for insufficient ruthlessness.

Meanwhile, from the Sharp End; a different perspective related to Doug Thompson by a close friend and US Flag officer:

After a record of service that extends from Vietnam to Panama to Desert Storm and, finally, to the invasion of Iraq, he says the will to serve his country is gone.

"This country used to stand for things that meant something," he said. "Not now. Honor, justice, loyalty, pride: None of these words have any meaning now."

A sane man might pause and consider how that came to be, just as he might pause and consider the evident fact that we are widely hated to be persuasive evidence that we may possibly have done some hateful things we should avoid doing in the future.

But the far "floss your brain after reading" right wing is NOT criticizing Bushco for the reasons you might expect, for being comprehensivly wrong about everything and thereby fucking up comprehensively. Oh, on the contrary! They WERE right. They just weren’t Right HARD ENOUGH!

Daily Pundit - in a post recommended by Instapundit: "Read the whole thing, especially if you work in the White House."

Bush's proud words of five years ago stand revealed as hollow and meaningless. What happened?

What happened was one of the biggest failures of leadership in Presidential history. Bush supporters will claim that Bush was done in by a liberal media and the ferocious hatred of liberals and leftwingers, but that is one of the things true leadership is all about: Managing and overcoming opposition in order to achieve the necessary goals - in this case, the destruction of world Islamist terrorism and the regimes that support it.

Bush turned out to be singularly ill-equipped for this task, both by skill and by temperament. His public relations management was curiously hesitant and badly timed, and, of course, his inabilty to speak effectively in public was a gigantic handicap. His temperament, it eventually became clear, was hesitant, overly calculating, timid, and "compassionate."

Compassion has its place, but not in warfighting. The Bush we know would not have pulled the trigger on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He abdicated the hard decisions in favor of political maneuvering and meaningless gestures.

As for me? I've moved on. The first administration of the first century of the American Third Millennium will, in my estimation, be remembered as one of the biggest failures of that century. Bush's great failure was, not invading Iraq, but not weathering the adversity that followed through acts of real leadership, and then pressing on with the necessary military destruction of the other regimes he, himself, named as most dangerous five years ago.

I'm hoping we can get through the next two years without any major disasters, and then I'm looking to elect a real war leader to the White House - somebody with a warrior's temperament and a leader's skills. George Bush has neither. He is a dangerous failure, and America will be well rid of him.

How can I even freaking BEGIN to illustrate What Is Wrong With This? Well, I have two immediate observations: the first of which is, or should be obvious:

The definition of insanity is to repeat the same unsuccessful actions in hope of a different outcome.

That's why I picked this observation; the others imply what this maroon actually stated directly; that the failure of Bush’s policies is the fault of Bush not being resolute enough.

While it is inarguable that the Administration has reached new heights in allowing wishful thinking to triumph over reality, it should be pointed out that over time, literal HOSTS of equally greedy aggressors with no such handicap have tried and ultimately failed to rule the area we now call Iraq. For some, competence, effective leadership and good governance subsequent to the looting bought them hundreds, even thousands of years of domination - but in the end, they are all gone.

The US has managed to set a new world speed for failure in the region, overtaking the British Empire in this regard. But the entire region is littered with the bones of the presumptuous; Soviet bones, British Bones, Assyrian Bones - those sands consume all who would presume to seize and rule them by force. Sooner or later, the presumptious are forced out by the next generation of greedy bastards.

Those who wish to rule the single most strategic crossroads in the entire world, one which always has and always will directly affect every single nation on three continents had best at the very least be a clear moral and practical superior to that which they aim to replace. Or in other words, the only way you can rule is if the people who live there and those who depend upon that ancient crossroads let you.

Which leads me to the second observation, which should be equally and glaringly obvious, especially to those who brag about the granite values of the Ten Commandments.

You cannot gain the ethical and moral high ground by cheating, lying, stealing and murdering innocents, or indeed, anyone.

In even contemplating this war, and contemplating the means by which a state of war could be achieved it follows that this administration planned to Bear False Witness to the American people, to Congress, to the press and of course, to the very soldiers they relied upon to lay their lives down. Furthermore, they consciously decided to knowingly violate every single principle of decent behavior so clearly laid out in The Big Ten.

There is no serious argument that the intent of the war was to gain a strategic presence straddling the Tigris and the Euphrates. Liberating it is one thing. KEEPING it is Theft. Trying to say the one is the other... See Commandment Above. Also note Covetiousness and Envy.

When you kill people in order to slake your greed, to gain things that you can only gain if those who held them are dead, that is Murder.

Of course, even hinting that the CinC's "gut instincts" should be valued above the Very Unambiguous and Quite Literal Word of God would be "Putting Other Gods Before Me."

I mean to say, that if you are a Literalist Christian, there are very few passages LESS ambiguous than these. There is some wiggle room about the precise meaning here and there, at least among the unlettered and Evangelical Literalists, but no room at all exists for George Herbert Walker Bush and God in the same church. Worship the first and you are disobeying the other as a matter of doctrinal and biblical fact.

This is why I spurn all churches and all doctrines, personally; I find that they tend to confuse conformaty to their group morality with the fundamental ethics that should, but rarely do relate to the morals expressed.

Perhaps least of all, but nonetheless of presumably damnedable significance to those who consider the promise of damnation significant; When George Herbert Walker Bush took the Oath of Office, promising to Uphold And Defend the Constitution of the United States against all Enemies, Foreign and Domestic - he took the Lord's Name In Vain.

That would be true of everyone who has sworn that oath and failed to uphold and defend the Constitution.

SELAH. Or more than likely… not.

tag: Ethics, What Would Jesus Do, george w. bush, iraq, lies, miserable failure, oil, big oil, oil war, war profiteering, vote, voting, warblogs, warbloggers, civilization, ethical warfare, just war, instapundit, religion, Christianism, Christian, dick cheney, presidential ambitions, bearing false witness, have no other gods before Me, murder, thou shalt not kill, you will not do murder, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not take My name in vain

George Allen: Calling a Spade a Spade.


News breaking out of Virginia is that Senator George Allen called a person a 'macaca' while on the campaign trail. The person was dark skinned and, as it happens, working for Jim Webb's campaign.

There has been some question as to what this word 'macaca' means, so I took some time to fire off some searches on Google.

Could a good Virginia Patriot like George Allen betray a tinge of racial bias? Tell me it isn't so!

TELL me, George!

Oh, dear me.

Could there be a better illustration of the inherent stupidity required to be a racicst than casually tossing a racial slur into a camera lens aimed by a non-white employee of the opposing campaign?

This comes perilously close to "too damn stupid to live." And certainly too damn stupid to be President.

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Jesus' General opens a Cute Offensive

Kitten War
I should freaking know better!

JG has entered some warriors into the great Kitten War site and wishes your support.

As a matter of curiosity I clicked.

I don't usually mention being multiple as usually it's not relevant, but in this case I found myself sitting there, hunched over the keyboard and vaguely sure I must be sitting on someones lap, or perhaps a phone book, clicking madly and saying "dat one! Dat one! Oooooh! DAT one!"

This is what we in the field refer to as a "multiple moment," when some unexpected thing causes a spontaneous switch. It can be a good thing, like kittens, or a bad thing, like Benny Hill or a multiple injury accident, but it brings a spontaneous, visceral response, generally in the form of a brand new personality sitting where what we laugingly refer to as "I" was a moment before.

Tip for being a sane multiple: Go with the flow. Nobody was ever harmed by spending a moment or two being a delighted child. Frankly, it's something more folks should remember to do more often.

As for the "multiple injury accident;" should you find yourself in such a situation, and suddenly feel that you are about a mile behind your own eyeballs, watching as your body somehow reacts to the situation in a very precise and co-ordinated way to extract you or others from peril - don't worry if you have suddenly gone insane. It's called "dissociation," and it's a survival thing.

"Crazy" is a judgement call made by those who feel everyone should react predictably, all the time, even if that would mean behaving as usefully as the First Blond in a horror movie. Clearly, this is a definition that is not all that useful to you in the moment. React now; worry about what people may think later.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

...but you can't fool all of the people, all of the time.

A devastating reaction roundup by Dan Froomkin to Dick Cheney's latest machinations.
White House Briefing -- News on President George W Bush and the Bush Administration

By insinuating that the sizeable majority of American voters who oppose the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy, Vice President Cheney on Wednesday may have crossed the line that separates legitimate political discourse from hysteria.

Cheney's comments came in a highly unusual conference call with reporters, part of an extensively orchestrated and largely successful Republican effort to spin the obviously anti-Bush message of Ned Lamont's victory over presidential enabler Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary.

In making the case that Lieberman's defeat was actually an enormous boost for Republicans, the customarily furtive vice president let loose not with compelling argument, but unsupported invective.

Voters who supported Lamont's antiwar campaign in the Democratic primary were giving "the Al Qaeda types" exactly what they wanted, Cheney said. And as a result the Democratic Party, he asserted, now stands for a wholesale retreat in the broader campaign against terror.

For once, the MSM seems to be unimpressed.

The Trenton Times writes: "Leave it to Vice President Dick Cheney to turn the results of a fair and honest election into some kind of sinister scenario. . . .

"Actually, comments such as the above are more of a sad reflection on the state of the Bush-Cheney administration, which just doesn't get it. Americans are fed up with the war in Iraq, from the false pretense for going to war to the tragically inept handling of the effort after the fall of Baghdad. Meantime, terrorist groups continue to prowl and plot, as evidenced by last week's arrest of 24 terror suspects in London, while this country spends enormous resources and sheds the blood of so many brave Americans in a war that has no end in sight."

Frankly, the Administration has over promised and under delivered on every single important issue it has used reporters to peddle.

Over the last several years, I've watched usually fairly intelligent people contort themselves into knots trying to explain and justify what they assumed must - somehow - make sense. And now, one by one, reporter-by-reporter, editorialist-by-editorialist, the irrefutable truth has become apparent.

This administration exploits the honesty and the presumption of honor any proper president is due.

But then, some of us figured out that two entirely questionable elections have pretty much settled the matter that neither honesty nor honor were parts of the president-select's character or intent.

And that is the point where I realized that anyone presuming that the Administrations stated values would manifest in anything they might reasonably expect were doomed to disappointment.

As more and more policies proved to have the exact opposite effect to the stated intent, you would think more people would have picked up on this, but critical thinking is not a strong point of our public educational institutions and that has been the case for at least half a century, as a matter of policy.

Perhaps we need to rethink the amount of time we spend so carefully not thinking.

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Signing statements evidence of more pervasive Constitutional issue.

While the President's usage of signing statements is the focus of much commentary, a number of members of the facility of Georgetown Law feel that the statements are merely evidence pointing toward a far more dubious proposition than a debatable concern over the constitutionality of particular aspects of particular omnibus bills.

Georgetown Law Faculty Blog: Untangling the Debate on Signing Statements:

"The final, and most important, problem with the practice in this Administration, as we emphasized above, is not the signing statements themselves, nor the simple fact that the President might be engaged in nonenforcement, but instead the substance of many of the Administration's constitutional objections: e.g., the extremely broad theories of the Commander-in-Chief Clause and the 'unitary executive' that underlie many of the signing statements and other distorted statutory constructions. If those constitutional objections were well-taken, and were publicly disclosed and debated, the signing statements themselves would present far fewer problems. But many of us believe that the Administration is wrong on the merits; and it is that substantive concern, along with the concerns about the lack of transparency and about the use of nonenforcement as a tactic of first resort, that should be at the heart of this debate.

Unfortunately, the ABA Task Force Report has glossed over this important question of the substantive meaning of Executive prerogatives. In what seems like a misguided effort to fulfill its goal of nonpartisanship, the Report states “[o]ur recommendations are not intended to be, and should not be viewed as, an attack on the current President.” But criticism of a particular President’s abuse of power, far from being partisan, is an obligation of the legal profession."
Worth reading in it's entirety; twice.

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"Signing Statements" Last straw for many conservatives.

Just a Goddam Piece of Paper

Click to download full size image to use as you will.

I stumbled across the following response to a Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial as I browsed google hits to my pages, pointing to infamous Bush quote that the Constitution is just "a goddamed piece of paper."

The Post-Intelligencer has been a solid bastian of political and social conservatism for as long as I can remember. I grew up reading the PI on weekdays and the Orogonian on Sundays, actually.

The editorial board is conservative to a fault. Always has been. Probably always will be. So when the PI comes out against presidential signing statements, it would be a terrible mistake to consider their objection to be evidence that they have somehow embraced John Dean's brand of liberal politics.

Indeed, they object from the very roots of fundimental, Constitutional Conservatism:

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Nation Of Laws: Ignoring Congress


The Bush administration's disregard for the Constitution is showing.

An American Bar Association panel issued a report Monday on the administration's practice of negating new laws with signing statements that create so many exceptions the president turns congressional intent upside down. The panel, which includes prominent conservatives, said the administration has taken the practice so far that some actions are "contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers."

As the White House argues, the practice isn't new. But the administration has turned the use of signing statements into a part of its broad attempt to restore presidential powers to pre-Watergate levels or beyond. By the panel's count, the Bush signing statements challenge about 800 provisions of law, more than in all U.S. history.

It's no coincidence Bush has only one veto. Panel member Bruce Fein, who served in the Reagan administration, told The Washington Post a signing statement "is an absolute veto, because the Congress has no power to override him." As another panel member, former FBI Director William Sessions, wrote in a P-I Op-Ed July 12, "Our country's framers intended that no single person would have complete and unilateral control over government." Disobeying that principle threatens liberty.

You can read the full discussion here. In reading it, I got the impression that there are now two sorts of Conservatives; ones who have read the Constitution, and those who have not.

Those are referred to as "Liberals" by those who think of the Constitution as an impediment to "their side" retaining control of government. I, however, would never have in my wildest dreams considered William Sessions to be a Liberal. And while I suppose it's possible for a former Reagan Administration member to have been or have become a Liberal in the intervening years, it's not anything I'd bet money on.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Sound Off

Comment to review:
What is it with the right-wingnuts who refuse to admit the plain truth that Bush is simply and forthrightly flouting American law? They whine "Clinton this" and "Clinton that" as if that makes criminal activity somehow acceptable. True, several presidents have made use of signing statements, but Bush has used them in a far greater number and far greater frequency than any other president before him.

Over 212 years, 42 presidents issued “signing statements” objecting to a grand total of 600 provisions of new laws. George W. Bush has done that more than 800 times in just over five and a half years in office.

No other president before him, however, has used signing or issuing statements in the manner the Bush typically does: "Everyone must follow the law as written except for me and my buddies who would otherwise be jailed for criminal activity." Bush uses issuing statements as a pre-emptive pardon for constant criminality. That is not a left-wing whine: it is simply a statement of fact that the right wingers choose to ignore.

From the New York Times:


Most presidents used signing statements to get legal objections on the record for judges to consider in any court challenge. For Mr. Bush, they are far more: part of a strategy to expand presidential powers at the expense of Congress and the courts. His signing statements have become notices to Congress that he simply does not intend to follow the law, especially any attempt to hold him accountable for his actions.

...All serve the “unitary executive theory” cherished by some of Mr. Bush’s most extreme advisers, including Vice President Dick Cheney and his legal staff. This theory says that the president — and not Congress or the courts — has the sole power to decide how to carry out his duties. According to a study by a bipartisan panel of the American Bar Association, Mr. Bush objected to 500 provisions of new laws just in his first term — the majority of them because they conflicted with the unitary executive theory. The A.B.A. said that theory was specifically mentioned 82 times.

End Quote

(Emphasis mine.)

Right-wingers have despised the Constitution since it was first ratified and have done everything they can since then to destroy it. At times they have nearly succeeded and this time they are closer than ever to the complete destruction of American democracy.

The Constitution IS what makes America "America". Not the flag. Not Jesus. Not even a political party. An attack on the Constitution is exactly equal to an attack on America itself. Period. When the President (or any elected offical) uses extraordinary measures to circumvent it and the rule of law, one is forced to call his actions what they are: anti-American, anti-democracy and likely criminal or in the very least, complicit in criminal activity.

When Bush refers to the Constitution as "just a goddam piece of paper" and that "things would be much easier if [he] was a dictator", that tells you exactly how little respect he has for America, its Constitution and its system of laws.

His attitude alone makes him by definition anti-American. His actions confirm his anti-American and anti-democracy sentiments.

YOU can't go around saying, "well, I don't like such-and-such a law, so I'll just ignore it and me and my buddies will do as we damnwell please." See how long you stay out of jail.

Or do you despise the very thing that makes America "America" that you will blindly follow Dumya's lead right off the cliff into moral and ethical reprehensibility? Most assuredly, attacking and ignoring the Constitution is the most anti-American act any person could commit -- especially when he swore on a Bible to "protect, uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America", which is the promisory condition to faithful execution of the office.

It also amply demonstrates how little respect he has for the Bible, let alone the Constitution. Worse than being disrespectful, he demonstrably disdains both.

Like Leona Helmsley said, "Taxes are for the little people", Dumbya is right out in the open with his notion that the American system of laws is "only for the little people".

I think not. Sauce for the goose is gravy for the gander.

If the rest of us have to follow duly-enacted American law, then the President should be THE example of upholding the law... not the First Lawbreaker or First Law-Ignorer, which has been his MO for over 30 years. He has a long, long, documented history of flouting or outright breaking the law.

Anyone who sees and rationalizes continuous criminal activity and cheers the perpetrator on likely has criminal intent as well. I am absolutely sure that anyone who sees the destruction of the Constitution and the American system of laws as a good thing is nothing less than anti-American and an enemy of the Constitution, no different than any other sort of terrorist. Homegrown or foreign, an enemy of the Constitution is by definition an enemy of America.

Again, when I volunteered for the military, I promised to "protect, uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic". The oath of service, just like its civilian counterparts, the oath of office, holds defense and protection of the Constitution as first and foremost. Neither the flag, nor Jesus, nor magnets on gas-swilling SUV's was anywhere in it or any of the things that Republicans think make you "American". The Constitution features first in all such oaths because it IS the definitive of what "America" is.

GW and members of Congress swear a similar oath which also holds the Constitution as the first and foremost thing to be defended. When a president continually flouts and even attacks and diminishes the Constitution he swore to protect, uphold and defend, that proves just how lightly he undertook the oath and promise to the American people. Remember, Bush said with his own lips that it's "just a goddam piece of paper".

By his own demonstration, it's crystal-clear that he was willing to mouth whatever ceremonial words with his hand on a Bible that it took to secure a grip on power -- for the purpose of destroying exactly that which gave him power in the first place. He lied to his employers, the American people, and he lied to G'd. While the right-wingers think that this is perfectly okay, I differ now and firmly believe that G'd will differ when Duhbya stands before Him to 'splain himself for lying.

I have put this design on many products at cafepress and priced them to compete with DIY iron-ons, simply for your convenience.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Some wise lyrics quoted by an old Foole

Kung Foole Proverbs:

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy - Pete Seeger (1967)
It was back in nineteen forty-two,
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in-a Loozianna,
One night by the light of the moon.
The captain told us to ford a river,
That's how it all begun.
We were -- knee deep in the Big Muddy,
But the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, are you sure,
This is the best way back to the base?"
"Sergeant, go on! I forded this river
'Bout a mile above this place.
It'll be a little soggy but just keep slogging.
We'll soon be on dry ground."
We were -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, with all this equipment
No man will be able to swim."
"Sergeant, don't be a Nervous Nellie,"
The Captain said to him.
"All we need is a little determination;
Men, follow me, I'll lead on."
We were -- neck deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.

All at once, the moon clouded over,
We heard a gurgling cry.
A few seconds later, the captain's helmet
Was all that floated by.
The Sergeant said, "Turn around men!
I'm in charge from now on."
And we just made it out of the Big Muddy
With the captain dead and gone.

We stripped and dived and found his body
Stuck in the old quicksand.
I guess he didn't know that the water was deeper
Than the place he'd once before been.
Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
'Bout a half mile from where we'd gone.
We were lucky to escape from the Big Muddy
When the big fool said to push on.

Well, I'm not going to point any moral;
I'll leave that for yourself
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking
You'd like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We're -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep! Neck deep! Soon even a
Tall man'll be over his head, we're
Waist deep in the Big Muddy!
And the big fool says to push on!
- Ancient Kung Foole Proverb by Pete Seeger (1967


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