Democracy Has Prevailed.

December 31, 2005

More Gristle for Gnawing

Via the dailykos, I found this op-ed this morning. The diarist at kos says:
My own local paper, bless their hearts, is finally coming around.

Here's the latest in LTE, Op-Ed, etc. from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, in the east end of Los Angeles County, where a notoriously conservative editorial staff has finally HAD ENOUGH!
Ok, then. What does the editorial from this "notoriously conservative" staff have to say?

Let's take a look. First at a real lie from our president:
MARK Twain, prophet that he was, once decried a woeful decay in the fine art of lying. Judging by the fibs of recent presidents, the decay continues.

One of the first rules of skilled fibbing is to avoid leaving evidence lying around that might expose your deception. President Bush has left evidence on the White House Web site. There we can see Bush promoting the Patriot Act at an April 2004 appearance in Buffalo and assuring us that his administration does not conduct wiretaps on Americans without court approval.

"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires - a wiretap requires a court order," he says. "Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think `Patriot Act,' constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

Knowing what we know now, that sounds like the biggest presidential whopper since Bill Clinton assured us that he did not have "sexual relations with that woman."

Two years before Buffalo, Bush authorized the National Security Agency to turn its mighty electronic ears on thousands of phone calls and e-mails between the United States and abroad without bothering to get a warrant. He does not deny violating the now-famous Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978. Instead, he argued in a news conference following the disclosures by The New York Times, that he does not have to obey the FISA.
At least when Clinton uttered the now infamous "I did not have sexual relations..." line, our civil liberties were not at risk. But on the other hand to the sex-obsessed, extra-marital blowjobs are so much worse than warrantless electronic surveillances.

In any case, this is followed by an interesting rhetorical question:
He argues, echoing other presidents, that the special circumstances of the "war on terror" authorize him to take any steps he needs to keep Americans safe. But, one wonders, if the president can do whatever he wants, why do we need a Patriot Act?
Indeed, isn't that the reason the Founding Fathers came up with the Constitution and Bill of Rights? To set limits on the power of the government? If Bush can do whatever he wants in his war on terror, why do we even need the Constitution?

He's only trying to protect us, right? None of us wants to see another 9/11, right? It follows that anyone who makes it harder for him to protect us from another 9/11 and if (god forbid) another 9/11 were to occur, that person would be partly responsible for that attack, right? In fact he (or she, in the case of Maria) would have actually helped the attack to occur, right? And isn't aiding and abetting The Enemy treason? So why shouldn't Our President just lock up all the traitors who are making it harder for him to protect the rest of us from another 9/11? They're just as bad as the terrorists, aren't they?

Ok, and now coming back to reality...

The end is the real kicker for the op-ed:
When Clinton did not like FISA law, he sought changes from Congress. Bush chose instead to defy the law and consult privately with a few members of the Senate. At least one of them, West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller, says the White House ignored his serious concerns.

Which brings us back to the central question Bush has yet to answer: Why did he not follow the laws that Congress has passed?

The great balance of liberty versus national security should not be a partisan issue. Many principled conservatives have raised this issue, as they should. For those who still are not sure, I offer this advice: Don't grant powers to President Bush that you would not want to grant to President Hillary Clinton.[emphasis added]
Don't get me wrong, I do not want to see Senator Clinton in the Oval Office, but the point is well taken.

If the President can do whatever he (or she) wants in this never ending war on terror, the United States of America will cease to be a nation of laws, but a nation of one man.


December 30, 2005

John Dean on Bush: Impeachable

Some more gristle for the right-thinking members of God's Own Party to gnaw on. John Dean in writing at says this:
There can be no serious question that warrantless wiretapping, in violation of the law, is impeachable. After all, Nixon was charged in Article II of his bill of impeachment with illegal wiretapping for what he, too, claimed were national security reasons.
It's a few paragraphs down the page. I wanted to get to the good part (about the impeachable acts of the 43rd President of the United States of America) right away. But how does Dean support that point, you ask? Here you go:
Through the FBI, Nixon had wiretapped five members of his national security staff, two newsmen, and a staffer at the Department of Defense. These people were targeted because Nixon's plans for dealing with Vietnam -- we were at war at the time -- were ending up on the front page of the New York Times.

Nixon had a plausible national security justification for the wiretaps: To stop the leaks, which had meant that not only the public, but America's enemies, were privy to its plans. But the use of the information from the wiretaps went far beyond that justification: A few juicy tidbits were used for political purposes. Accordingly, Congress believed the wiretapping, combined with the misuse of the information it had gathered, to be an impeachable offense.

Following Nixon's resignation, Senator Frank Church chaired a committee that investigated the uses and abuses of the intelligence derived from the wiretaps. From his report on electronic surveillance, emerged the proposal to create the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The Act both set limits on electronic surveillance, and created a secret court within the Department of Justice - the FISA Court -- that could, within these limits, grant law enforcement's requests to engage in electronic surveillance.

The legislative history of FISA makes it very clear that Congress sought to create laws to govern the uses of warrantless wiretaps. Thus, Bush's authorization of wiretapping without any application to the FISA Court violated the law.[emphasis added]
See kids? The issue is not, as Fred Honsberger put it this afternoon on his radio show, about making sure the President can "go after known terrorists" but whether the president, who took an oath to "Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,"actually broke the law while "going after the terrorists." The Honzman's clear implication, of course, is that we traitors who are complaining about Bush really don't want him to "go after the terrorists." We're the traitors for demanding that he follow the Constitution.

Dean continues:
No one questions the ends here. No one doubts another terror attack is coming; it is only a question of when. No one questions the preeminent importance of detecting and preventing such an attack.

What is at issue here, instead, is Bush's means of achieving his ends: his decision not only to bypass Congress, but to violate the law it had already established in this area.
I've heard an argument bubble up out of the cesspool of offensive evasions that pass for republican debating points these days. Some right wing blowhard will spout that "lib'ruls used to complain that Bush didn't do enough to defend the country before 9/11 (he/she/Ann Coulter might even bring up the PDB from August, 2001 at this point) and now they're complaining that he's doing too much!"

Allow me to reiterate: it's not about anything other than the fact that George Bush, 43rd President of the United States of America instructed the National Security Agency to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance on citizens of the United States of America, in direct violation of FISA and the 4th Amendment.

I'll keep saying it until it happens:


Torturing Children: Defy the Gag Order on this Information

From KOS:

The British government is trying to prevent the publication of memos which detail how information procured by torture in Uzbekistan is being used by the US and the UK. Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan and author of the memos Craig Murray explains:
With Tony Blair and Jack Straw cornered on extraordinary rendition, the UK government is particularly anxious to suppress all evidence of our complicity in obtaining intelligence extracted by foreign torturers.

The British Foreign Office is now seeking to block publication of Craig Murray's forthcoming book, which documents his time as Ambassador to Uzbekistan. The Foreign Office has demanded that Craig Murray remove all references to two especially damning British government documents, indicating that our government was knowingly receiving information extracted by the Uzbeks through torture, and return every copy that he has in his possession.
In a big "fuck you" to the British government, UK bloggers have done a coordinated leak of the documents being supressed today.
In case those sites are shut down by the British government, Kos has republished the documents here.

They contain such "gems" as this:
At the Khuderbegainov trial I met an old man from Andizhan. Two of his children had been tortured in front of him until he signed a confession on the family’s links with Bin Laden. Tears were streaming down his face. I have no doubt they had as much connection with Bin Laden as I do. This is the standard of the Uzbek intelligence services.

Go read them for yourself.

Santorum to Speak at Justice Sunday III!

Take a look.
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has joined the list of distinguished speakers for Family Research Council's simulcast television program, "Justice Sunday III -- Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land!" The program is set for Sunday, Jan. 8 at Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and will broadcast live in churches across the nation in addition to being carried on hundreds of radio stations, via satellite and webcast on . Justice Sunday III will help ensure that the voices of people of faith are heard in the great national debate on the courts and the future of our country.
I wonder if they'll ask him about his flip-flop on Intelligent Design.


Shake-up at KDKA!

I just read this a few minutes ago.
Three of KDKA Radio's primary on-air hosts -- Mike Pintek, Paul Alexander and Mike Romigh -- have been let go in a staff shake-up.

The changes, the first phase of an extensive overhaul at the news/talk station, also included a pink slip for news reporter Kyle Anthony.
It's never good news to hear that someone's lost a job (any chance of slipping the next pink slip to Fred Honsberger?), but I am curious to see how this will change things over at KDKA.

I have to admit, I've never been much of a fan of Mike Romigh. There were many times when I'd cringe hearing him "debate" Fred Honsberger on Thursay afternoons. There was so much more he could have said to The Honzman (heck, he coulda just looked here) that I had to wonder whether his heart was really in the fight in the first place.

In any event, I wish all those guys well. I am sure they'll land on their feet.

But the REALLY interesting part of the article is tucked in the end:
One possibility for the 8 p.m. to midnight shift previously held by Mr. Romigh is John McIntire. Mr. Clark said that if Mr. McIntire, who hosts a weekly Saturday night show on KDKA, was interested in the slot, "we would consider him, but no final decision has been made."


(I know they already employ John McIntire for the Saturday 7-12 slot. So the cry to "hire McIntire" is a bit redundant. It rhymes so well, though. Doncha think??)

Here's the link to the KDKARadio contact page. If you want to hear a real lefty voice on the air in Pittsburgh, contact KDKA and tell them the best thing they could do for the 8-12 slot would be to HIRE MCINTIRE.

Let us know what they say. I'll try to keep everyone posted on whatever I know.




December 29, 2005


Democracy for Pittsburgh (local coalition group for Democracy for America) usually features candidate forums at every meetup. The December meeting featured a few candidates who really stood out (in my humble opinion). I mention it now because December 31st is nearly upon us and this is your last chance to make a contribution to candidates for the 2005 year.

I therefore ask you to consider contributing anything that you can to any or all of the following candidates:

Georgia Berner, Candidate running for U.S. Congress in Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District ( )

Georgia Berner is an innovative CEO of a prominent and growing manufacturing company in New Castle, PA who is running for Congress in Pennsylvania's fourth congressional district against Melissa Hart (a horrid little conservative Republican who is for torture and corruption). Georgia's campaign is really gaining momentum and she could really use your help in keeping that momentum going. (Did I mention that Georgia is a pro-choice candidate, one of the few, if not the only one running in this race?) I was impressed with Georgia's down to earth style and common sense approach -- plus, this is a woman who knows how to CREATE JOBS.

Tom Kovach, Candidate running for U.S. Congress in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District (

Tom Kovach is part of a growing trend of "Fighting Dems" (Navy Vet). He's running a real grassroots campaign. As he puts it, "This is the people's campaign. We aren't interested in support or donations from big business and WILL show special interests that we, the people, can build a campaign and win without the big bucks shoveled out to our opponent by the likes of Dick Cheney and Tom DeLay. We are strong, experienced grassroots Democrats who want to send a message to our party that Dems shouldn't try to pace the Republicans in fundraising. Campaigning can be done with quarters and we'll prove it!" His issues page is heavy on restoring our economic well being and supporting a safe, fast and fair exit strategy for Iraq. Take my word for it that Tom's a dynamic speaker -- or better still, meet him yourself.

William Sargent, Candidate for State House in the 42nd Legislative District of Pennsylvania, (

William Sargent is one more "Fighting Dem" (He flew missions over Afghanistan and Iraq and is currently a Reservist). William intends to be a true “CITIZEN LEGISLATOR.” As he puts it, “Professional politicians have run Harrisburg for far too long, and the time has come to make a change. As an Air Force Reservist I represented the United States as a citizen soldier, and when elected I will serve my district as a citizen legislator, not a politician. As Pennsylvanians, we are in the midst of a crippling economic crisis stemming from ever-increasing property taxes, stagnant local and national economies, a decline in manufacturing jobs, and the rising cost of energy. We can no longer afford ineffectual leadership in Harrisburg.” I found him to be a riveting speaker.

Steve Karas, Candidate for State House in the 34th Legislative District of Pennsylvania, (

Steve Karas is a member of Democracy for Pittsburgh and you can read his platform here. It includes such items as reducing both the benefits and size of the legislature to reasonable levels and allowing any citizen to gather signatures and offer ballot referendums. Steve's a great guy who can use your support.

Chuck Pennacchio, Candidate for U.S. Senate -- Pennsylvania, (

And, if you've read this blog at all, you know I support CHUCK PENNACCHIO for US Senate. Pennacchio is everything that Bobby Casey, Jr. is not: a true progressive. He's the Blue State Candidate that we need for the Blue State of Pennsylvania (Poll shows Casey's support will plummet as voters learn he opposes choice).


Event Date: Wednesday, January 4, 2006
Event Time: 7:00 PM
Venue Name: Mario’s South Side Saloon (upstairs)
Address: 1514 E Carson St
City: Pittsburgh
State: PA
Zip Code: 15203
R.S.V.P. for this meeting here.


UPDATE: 2 Political Junkies is NOT Democracy for Pittsburgh's blog. 2PJ is David's and my blog. David is free to post all he wants for whomever he wants (even Bob "I put my own self to sleep when I speak" Casey if he chooses to).

The website for Democracy for Pittsburgh is:

If you go there you'll notice that I blog there as well. HOWEVER, when I do blog there, I feel that I am blogging on behalf of the group and so I do not personally advocate on behalf of any candidates there. Once a candidate is endorsed by the group, then and only then, do I feel that it is perfectly legitimate to push for particular candidates on DfP's website. I hope this clears up any misunderstanding.

Simple Math

I want one!


Absolutely Funny is saluting the year in political humor here. They have such categories as The 25 Dumbest Media Quotes of 2005 and the Top 10 Bushisms of 2005

I think that I may have to agree with their #1 Bushism as my favorite as well:

"You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." --to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005
Although this is a close second:

"I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?" --in a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a U.N. Security Council meeting, September 14, 2005
However, I must say that in the category of The Funniest Pictures of 2005, I do have an Absolute favorite:


(Gee, I sure hope they don't get some kind of cease and desist letter for posting that.)

December 28, 2005

Bob Barr on Bush

Take a look at this op-ed from former Congressman Bob Barr.

His opening:
Two of the most powerful moments of political déjà vu I have ever experienced took place recently in the context of the Bush administration's defense of presidentially ordered electronic spying on American citizens.

First, in the best tradition of former President Bill Clinton's classic, "it-all-depends-on-what-the-meaning-of-is-is" defense, President Bush responded to a question at a White House news conference about what now appears to be a clear violation of federal electronic monitoring laws by trying to argue that he had not ordered the National Security Agency to "monitor" phone and e-mail communications of American citizens without court order; he had merely ordered them to "detect" improper communications. [emphasis added]
Like his fellow liberals, Bob Barr must hate George Bush so much that he'll say anything to try to bring down his administration.

Why is Bob Barr seeking to undermine our President and our resolve? Doesn't he know we're at war?

He must be some sort of terrorist sympathizer.


Is there anything that Bush Can't F up? Illegal wiretaps may allow terrorists to go free

From the New York Times:

Defense Lawyers in Terror Cases Plan Challenges Over Spy Efforts

Defense lawyers in some of the country's biggest terrorism cases say they plan to bring legal challenges to determine whether the National Security Agency used illegal wiretaps against several dozen Muslim men tied to Al Qaeda.

The lawyers said in interviews that they wanted to learn whether the men were monitored by the agency and, if so, whether the government withheld critical information or misled judges and defense lawyers about how and why the men were singled out.

The expected legal challenges, in cases from Florida, Ohio, Oregon and Virginia, add another dimension to the growing controversy over the agency's domestic surveillance program and could jeopardize some of the Bush administration's most important courtroom victories in terror cases, legal analysts say.

The question of whether the N.S.A. program was used in criminal prosecutions and whether it improperly influenced them raises "fascinating and difficult questions," said Carl W. Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who has studied terrorism prosecutions."


Government officials with knowledge of the program have not ruled out the possibility that it was used in other criminal cases, and a number of defense lawyers said in interviews that circumstantial evidence had led them to question whether the security agency identified their clients through wiretaps.

The first challenge is likely to come in Florida, where lawyers for two men charged with Jose Padilla, who is jailed as an enemy combatant, plan to file a motion as early as next week to determine if the N.S.A. program was used to gain incriminating information on their clients and their suspected ties to Al Qaeda. Kenneth Swartz, one of the lawyers in the case, said, "I think they absolutely have an obligation to tell us" whether the agency was wiretapping the defendants.


"If I'm a defense attorney," one prosecutor said, "the first thing I'm going to say in court is, 'This was an illegal wiretap.' "
You see, kiddies, when you break the law and subvert the Constitution all kinds of bad things happen.

Do I need to remind anyone that Clinton actually caught, tried and convicted those who bombed the WTC in 93?

Meanwhile, The Gang Who Can't Shoot Straight may have hopelessly damaged cases against terrorists by their insistence on doing everything their way, Constitution and laws be damned.

So I ask:

What can't Bush fuck up???

Conservative Business Magazine, Barron's, Excoriates Bush for Committing a Potentially Impeachable Offense

In case you missed it over the holidays, that bastion of commie pinko liberalism, Barron's, more than mentions the "i" word.

The article is online here (requires registration) but you can read it in its entirety here.

Unwarranted Executive Power
The pursuit of terrorism does not authorize the president to make up new laws


Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later. The members of the House Judiciary Committee who staged the impeachment of President Clinton ought to be as outraged at this situation. They ought to investigate it, consider it carefully and report either a bill that would change the wiretap laws to suit the president or a bill of impeachment.

It is important to be clear that an impeachment case, if it comes to that, would not be about wiretapping, or about a possible Constitutional right not to be wiretapped. It would be about the power of Congress to set wiretapping rules by law, and it is about the obligation of the president to follow the rules in the Acts that he and his predecessors signed into law.


Published reports quote sources saying that 14 members of Congress were notified of the wiretapping. If some had misgivings, apparently they were scared of being called names, as the president did last week when he said: "It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy.

"Wrong. If we don't discuss the program and the lack of authority for it, we are meeting the enemy -- in the mirror.

That's no America I know...

A friend e-mailed in a link to a great column in the Miami Herald. You can find it here. Robert Steinback deserves some sort of medal for this one. He writes:
One wonders if Osama bin Laden didn't win after all. He ruined the America that existed on 9/11. But he had help.

If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.

Had anyone said our president would invade a country and kill 30,000 of its people claiming a threat that never, in fact, existed, then admit he would have invaded even if he had known there was no threat -- and expect America to be pleased by this -- I would have thought our nation's sensibilities and honor had been eviscerated.

If I had been informed that our nation's leaders would embrace torture as a legitimate tool of warfare, hold prisoners for years without charges and operate secret prisons overseas -- and call such procedures necessary for the nation's security -- I would have laughed at the folly of protecting human rights by destroying them.

If someone had predicted the president's staff would out a CIA agent as revenge against a critic, defy a law against domestic propaganda by bankrolling supposedly independent journalists and commentators, and ridicule a 37-year Marine Corps veteran for questioning U.S. military policy -- and that the populace would be more interested in whether Angelina is about to make Brad a daddy -- I would have called the prediction an absurd fantasy.

That's no America I know, I would have argued. We're too strong, and we've been through too much, to be led down such a twisted path.
And yet, all of that's true, isn't it?

Go read the column.

Word of the day:


December 27, 2005

More gristle for the wingnuts to gnaw on

I found this via dailykos. It's from UPI. It's short so I'll reprint it entirely.

Bush was denied wiretaps, bypassed them

WASHINGTON, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. President George Bush decided to skip seeking warrants for international wiretaps because the court was challenging him at an unprecedented rate.

A review of Justice Department reports to Congress by Hearst newspapers shows the 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than the four previous presidential administrations combined.

The 11-judge court that authorizes FISA wiretaps modified only two search warrant orders out of the 13,102 applications approved over the first 22 years of the court's operation.

But since 2001, the judges have modified 179 of the 5,645 requests for surveillance by the Bush administration, the report said. A total of 173 of those court-ordered "substantive modifications" took place in 2003 and 2004. And, the judges also rejected or deferred at least six requests for warrants during those two years -- the first outright rejection of a wiretap request in the court's history.

Yea, that's what you do when you respect the rule of law. If it gets in your way, just go around it.


Brian O'Neill Agrees

I don't know if Brian O'Neill is a reader of this blog, but it's nice to know that he and I are on the same page on this Santorum thing. I wrote this yesterday and now take a look at his column today. Here's how it starts:
Oh ye of little faith, do not be too hard on U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum for his abandonment of the Thomas More Law Center.

The Republican from Pennsylvania is looking at a tough re-election fight next year. That's why some are scornful of Mr. Santorum's announcement last week that he's withdrawing his affiliation with the public interest law firm that bills itself "as the sword and the shield for people of faith.''
It takes little time for O'Neill to get to the heart of the matter.
It only took a losing court fight in his home state to put him on the path to enlightenment. Mr. Santorum now says the center "made a huge mistake'' in backing the Dover Area school board in its failed effort to move the notion of "intelligent design'' into science classrooms. Mr. Santorum told The Philadelphia Inquirer he is cutting ties with the firm.

Many see that as a curious turn. "The evolution of a flip-flop,'' one critic called it. Earlier in the year, Mr. Santorum had commended the school district for having "taken a step in the right direction by engaging in the debate and attempting to teach the controversy of evolution.''

But if Mr. Santorum wishes to grant himself retroactive naivete, who are we to judge? Perhaps he honestly didn't know this case was steeped in religion from the start.
By the way, that "evolution of a flip-flop" came from a blog called "Panda's Thumb." It's comment #64218 from someone named "Fross." As far as I can tell "Fross" used to have a blog called (you guessed it) "Fross' Blog." I know this doesn't add to the importance of O'Neill's column in any way - I'm just showing off my google-skills.

O'Neill then does the funny. Check it out:
Let us not waste our time today debating the unknowable. Let us rather increase it. We don't know how many precedents for Santorum-like disavowals of previous affiliations may exist. Consider these possibilities:

"It has recently come to my attention that the University of Notre Dame is a leading Roman Catholic institution of higher learning, and I am, evidently, the son of Norwegian Lutheran immigrants. I therefore see no choice but to submit my resignation as coach of the football team.

-- Regretfully,

Knute Rockne.
And so on...

Kudos to Brian O'Neill

Oh and by the way:


December 26, 2005

More Trouble for Rick Santorum

Via the York Daily Record, I found a troubling press release from the American Family Associate of Pennsylvania. Troubling, that is, for Lil Ricky Santorum. You can find it here. The first sentence says it all:
Senator Rick Santorum’s agreement with Judge John Jones’ decision concerning the Dover Area School District’s policy pertaining to Evolution and Intelligent Design is yet another example of why conservatives can no longer trust the Senator, a statewide traditional values group said today. [emphasis added]

The Daily Record fills in some of the blanks.
The association's president, Diane Gramley, said Santorum - who is expected to face a tough re-election challenge next year from state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr. - should heed her organization's remarks.

"It's a warning that he needs to be careful," Gramley said. "That he's beginning to lose his conservative base."
Then there's this. Can someone PLEASE say flip-flop?
Gramley criticized Santorum for changing his position.

"He's almost made a 180-degree turn on this issue," she said.

In August, after President Bush said he supported teaching intelligent design in science class, Santorum said he didn't agree.

Rather, he said he supports "teaching the controversy" over evolutionary theory.

"As far as intelligent design is concerned, I really don't believe it has risen to the level of a scientific theory at this point that we would want to teach it alongside of evolution," the Pennsylvania senator said during an NPR interview in August.

But in a 2002 Washington Times op-ed article, Santorum wrote that intelligent design "is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."

Gramley said Santorum's change of view is an indication that "he may be diverting from his conservative positions," in order to court more moderate voters.
Gee, ya think???

December 25, 2005

Even on Christmas, Jack Kelly distorts

Take a look at today's P-G. In it there's yet another defense of the increasingly indefensible Bush Administration by National Security correspondent Jack Kelly. Too bad much (if not all) of it is just crap.

Basically his argument can by summed up with this:
A grave crime was exposed Dec. 16 when New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau published a story revealing President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to listen in on conversations between al-Qaida suspects abroad and people in the United States without first obtaining a warrant.

"We're seeing clearly now that [President] Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator," wrote Newsweek's Jonathan Alter.

But the scandal was not the program Mr. Risen and Mr. Lichtblau wrote about. The scandal is that they wrote about it.
This is a typical Kelly response. Odd, though - coming as it does from an employee of a newspaper.

In writing this, Kelly makes a number of distortions. He trots out this well-worn quotation:
"The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has the inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes," said Jamie Gorelick, deputy attorney general under President Clinton, in testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 14, 1994.

"It's important to understand that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities," she said.
First off, take a careful look at what Gorelick said. She said that:
"...the president has the inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes..." [emphasis added]
Can someone please tell Jack Kelly that that that's not what Bush ordered the NSA to do? There's a huge difference between a physical search and an electronic search. Or doesn't the P-G's "national security correspondent" understand this?

In any case when Gorelick testified in July of 1994, FISA did not cover physical searches at all. So to use this quotation to support the claim that Bush's use of the NSA is not "unprecedented" because Clinton also did it, is plainly dishonest.

But Kelly does more damage to his own credibility. Let's take a look at Gorelick's actual testimony that day:
At the outset, let me emphasize two very important points. First, the Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the President has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General.
But this follows immediately:
Second, the Administration and the Attorney General support, in principle, legislation establishing judicial warrant procedures under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for physical searches undertaken for intelligence purposes. However, whether specific legislation on this subject is desirable for the practical benefits it might add to intelligence collection, or undesirable as too much of a restriction on the President’s authority to collect intelligence necessary for the national security, depends on how the legislation is crafted.
Whah??? The Clinton Administration supported legislation establishing warrant procedures for physical searches under FISA? Jack Kelly carefully omitted that part, didn't he? And take a look at what he else quotes from Gorelick's testimony. Right after his first paragraph, he goes with this:
"It's important to understand that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities," she said.
The implication is that it happened right after after the first paragraph (we already know that that's not true). Where does it come from in Gorelick's testimony? It's a couple of paragraphs away. Now take a look at the context:
That being said, the Department of Justice believes that Congress can legislate in the area of physical searches as it has done with respect to electronic surveillances, and we are prepared to support appropriate legislation. A bill that strikes the proper balance between adequate intelligence to guarantee our nation’s security, on one hand, and the preservation of basic civil rights on the other will be an important addition to our commitment to democratic control of intelligence functions. Such a bill would also provide additional assurances to the dedicated men and women who serve this country in intelligence positions that their activities are proper and necessary.

In considering legislation of this type, however, it is important to understand that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the President in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities.
Please note, Jack, that Gorelick made a distinction between physical searches and electronic searches. Something you did not when you were selectively quoting her.

The legislation incorporating physical searches into FISA was passed in 1995 and from that point on, the Clinton Administration did not hold that it had the "inherent authority" to do the searches you claim it claims.

By the way, electronic searches were restricted by FISA since it's inception. Another thing you failed to inform your readers.

Next thing he uses is a New York Times article from 1982. He writes:
Mr. Risen and Mr. Lichtblau chose not to mention the following story, which appeared in The New York Times on Nov. 7, 1982: "A federal appeals court has ruled that the National Security Agency may lawfully intercept messages between United States citizens and people overseas, even if there is no cause to believe the Americans are foreign agents, and then provide summaries of these messages to the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
This was new to me. It took a few minutes to find out that Jack Kelly is referenceing Jabara v Webster (sorry about the cache search - it's all I could find). Unfortunately I think the NYT got it wrong on this one. I am not a lawyer, but if I am reading the decision correctly, the circuit court overturned a lower court ruling about Mr Jabara's claim that the FBI violated his 4th Amendment rights in receiving the messages intercepted by the NSA. This is from the decision:
On November 1, 1971, the FBI, without a warrant, requested the NSA to supply it with the contents of Jabara's telegraphic communications sent overseas, and the NSA complied by furnishing the FBI with summaries of six of such communications.

Defendants contend that the fourth amendment does not apply to and limit NSA's gathering of foreign intelligence. They also contend that, in any event, the facts surrounding the acquisition by the NSA of overseas telegraphic communications such as those sent by Jabara are subject to the state secret privilege.

Jabara, however, does not even contend on this appeal that the interception by the NSA violated his fourth amendment rights; we may therefore take as a given that the information was legally in the hands of the NSA. What Jabara does contend, and the district court agreed, is that his rights were violated when the NSA turned over the information, without a warrant, to the FBI. Defendants, on the other hand, contend that, since the NSA had lawfully intercepted and had made a record of the content of Jabara's communications, the fourth amendment was not implicated when the FBI requested and obtained the summaries from the NSA. This is so, defendants contend, because there simply was no "search" or "seizure" when this information was turned over to another agency of the government. [emphasis added]
As far as I can tell, the 6th Circuit Court overturned the lower court ruling because that lower court used a too narrow definition of what was relevant and necessary information for the FBI to use to ask the NSA for the searches. I could be wrong, though. I'll wait for the legal types to chime in on this one (anyone with any legal insight on this, please e-mail me).

But since Jabara himself didn't assert in this case that his 4th Amendment rights were violated by the NSA, I can't see how this decision can be used to "prove" that Bush didn't violate the 4th Amendment by ordering the NSA to conduct warrantless searches of American Citizens.

It's that last phrase that tells the tale of Jack Kelly's lies. Check out these paragraphs:
Even the feckless Jimmy Carter issued on May 23, 1979, an executive order authorizing the attorney general "to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order." President Carter cited as the authority for issuing his order the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that Congress had passed the year before, and which Mr. Alter and other hyperventilating hypocrites claim President Bush has violated.

In a 2002 case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review -- the special court that hears appeals in FISA cases -- said the president "did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information."
First off, we've already posted on Carter's executive order (here). Gee Jack, I thought you read this blog - my mistake. But take a look at Kelly's text. Nowhere in there is there the phrase "American citizens" or "United States Citizens." The order that Carter signed allowed the AG to conduct those searches as long as he was able to certify that no US Citizens were being surveilled.

Again the issue is not "warrantless searches" but "warrantless searches against US citizens."

Any time you hear someone say it's the former and not the latter, tell them they're lying.

Jack Kelly - you're lying.

December 24, 2005

Joe Conason Explains it All

Over at, Joe Conason has more than a few things to say about those folks (and you know who you are) who can still somehow defend Bush's surveillance program. He begins:
Notwithstanding the haughty pretensions of this imperial president -- who never apologizes and rarely explains -- the officials, scribes and courtiers of the Bush administration are busy fashioning excuses for the illegal-surveillance scandal. Advanced by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as well as the likes of Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh, these sophistries range from the absurdly illogical to the blatantly misleading.
Later on...
In his signature style, Drudge has sought to suggest that Bush has done nothing that Democratic presidents didn't do, which may reflect his own continuing obsession with Bill Clinton. The Internet gossip's headline this week blared, "Clinton Executive Order: Secret Search on Americans Without Court Order..." He went on to link to a National Review Online article that made much of a Clinton order in 1994 authorizing warrantless searches. But it is important to connect the dots, as the president would say, in Drudge's ellipsis points. The Clinton executive order permitted such searches only under certain very limited circumstances that are legal under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the very statute that Bush has admitted ignoring.

The Center for American Progress noted Wednesday what Drudge left out and what the National Review's Byron York elided -- namely, the difference between search or surveillance operations conducted against foreigners and those conducted against American citizens. ("Some people," York later noted in chiding exaggerations on both sides of the issue, "have said that Bill Clinton signed an executive order authorizing such surveillance; he did not.")

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act restrictions were designed to protect Americans, not to hobble U.S. counterintelligence aimed at foreign spies and terrorists.

That was why Clinton's order authorized the attorney general "to approve physical searches, without a court order, to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year" -- but only if the attorney general "makes the certifications required" by Section 302(a)(1) of FISA. That section requires the attorney general to certify that the search or surveillance in question would not invade the property or premises of "a United States person," meaning a citizen or someone living here legally. By leaving out the same qualification, Drudge made the same incorrect implication about an order signed by Jimmy Carter in 1979. Then again, as Drudge has occasionally boasted, his reporting is 80 percent correct -- but sometimes that omitted 20 percent can make all the difference.

Huh. The spying was BIGGER than what Bush said it was

Imagine that. The man lied. Again.

Take a look.
The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President Bush approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity, according to current and former government officials.

The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries, they said.

More on Santorum and ID

So he DID support it before he opposed it!

From this editorial in the Scranton Times, I was able to find this op-ed piece in Ronald Reagan's favorite "news" paper, the Washington Times. Let's start with the editorial. It begins like this:
Like the famous Galapagos Islands finches that have been observed evolving in a single generation in response to environmental conditions, Sen. Rick Santorum has evolved in a single political season.

The senator, who once claimed in The Washington Times that intelligent design “is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes,” announced Thursday that he is resigning as an adviser to the right-wing group that recently attempted to force that very baloney down the throat of a federal court.
The Times is far too nice. As I posted here recently, Lil Ricky isn't "evolving" as much as he's putting politics above principle - again. Even though I can't agree with him, I'd respect him more if he were to stick to his principles and let the chips fall where they may.

On to the op-ed piece in 2002. Here's what he said:
Therefore, intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes.
But let's remember what came out of the Philadelphia Inquirer recently:
But Santorum denied that his remarks were contradictory, saying he disagreed with the board for mandating the teaching of intelligent design, rather than just the controversy surrounding evolution.
But wait, didn't he say that ID was a legitimate theory? Where in his 2002 op-ed is even the suggestion about teaching the controversy rather than the theory itself?

Rick Santorum - You just can't trust him.

December 23, 2005

...and there's more

Via ThinkProgress, USNews is reporting this:
In search of a terrorist nuclear bomb, the federal government since 9/11 has run a far-reaching, top secret program to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses, plus similar sites in at least five other cities, U.S. News has learned. In numerous cases, the monitoring required investigators to go on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program. Some participants were threatened with loss of their jobs when they questioned the legality of the operation, according to these accounts.
I'll let that sink in for a second.

Let me inject a prediction here. I predict that all of the defense of this "program" will be centered around how the places being surveilled were public and that the law allows surveillance of public. I am sure we'll hear about how (to quote the article) if a deliveryman can access the site, so can the government. But please note that in the above list, homes were also searched. Private homes. Take a look:
In Bush's America, private homes were searched without a warrant.
I know I shouldn't have to post this, but here it is anyway:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
See that word "houses" in there? It means "homes." And see that phrase "...and no warrants shall issue, but upon probably cause supported by oath or affirmation..."? That means that the government can not do what it did.

And before anyone tries the assert that such a search is constitutional, Take a look at Kyllo v United States. It's my understanding (and I'm not a lawyer) that the case entailed a warrantless infrared search of a home that was suspected of housing a marijuana garden under hot lights. The question before the court was whether the search required a warrant (again, this is my understanding). In any event, the decision was written by Antonin Scalia and this can be found in it:
Where, as here, the Government uses a device that is not in general public use, to explore details of the home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion, the surveillance is a "search" and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant.
Antonin Scalia wrote a decision that stood in the way of Our President's efforts to protect us from the terrorist who want to kill us. That commie bastard terrorist sympathizer!

Rick Santorum and ID (did he support it before he opposed it?)

And when will the local Pittsburgh Punditocracy begin to call him a flip-flopper on it?

I caught this in the Philadelphia Inquirer today:
The lead defense counsel for the Dover Area School District said yesterday that he was surprised at Sen. Rick Santorum's apparent about-face on intelligent design and questioned the timing of his highly critical comments on the federal lawsuit decided this week.

Richard Thompson, chief counsel for the Thomas More Law Center, attributed Santorum's comments, and his sudden resignation Wednesday from the Christian law center's board, to political pressure in a tight Senate race.
The article goes on with some obvious weasel words from our junior senator:
But Santorum denied that his remarks were contradictory, saying he disagreed with the board for mandating the teaching of intelligent design, rather than just the controversy surrounding evolution.

Santorum's communications director, Robert L. Traynham, said the senator stood by the statements made on Wednesday and had nothing more to say on the matter.

Traynham said Santorum was dissociating himself from the law center, which promotes itself as a defender of "Christian values," because it was "time to move on."

"He has a busy plate, and it was not the best use of his time," Traynham said.

Santorum's remarks came a day after a federal judge in Harrisburg ruled that the Dover district had violated the Constitution when it imposed intelligent design as part of the biology curriculum.
Notice the weasel words: He was against mandating the teaching of ID, and only wanted teachers to teach the "controversy" surrounding Darwin. But it should not be a surprise to learn that the only "controversy" surrounding Darwin is that Darwinists refuse to accept Intelligent Design as a valid scientific theory. So by mandating the teaching of "the controversy" Santorum is also guaranteeing the teaching of ID - all while still being able to deny doing anything of the sort.


But I am getting off the subject - sorry.

Take a look at the end of the piece:
Former school board member Jim Cashman, who voted for the intelligent-design policy, said the critical statements suggested Santorum was trying to be "politically correct."

"I'm a little disappointed," said Cashman, one of eight pro-intelligent design board members who were ousted in the November election. "He's trying to come to the center more, and that bothers me. He used to be more conservative."
If anything this is, as implied by the first paragraph of the Inquirer piece, another example of Santorum's placing "politics over principle."

Here's another example. Remember waaaaay back when Arlen Specter was running against Congressman Pat Toomey for the Republican nomination? The main conservative criticism of Specter was that he placed "politics over principle." True conservatives were supporting Toomey and were annoyed at Rick for not doing the same. We wrote then:
It seems like a lifetime ago, but I once met Congressman Pat Toomey. The PAC of the lawfirm I used to work for hosted a meet-n-greet with the Congressman. During the meeting, Toomey spelled out basically the same criticism (of favoring politics over principle) when discussing Senator Spector. When one of the more conservative attorneys in the room (a member of the Federalist Society, no less) asked about getting Senator Santorum's endorsement due to their close ideological stands, the Congressman laid out the same argument above. If Senator Santorum moved one inch in the direction of aiding Congressman Toomey, he'd loose his position in the party by the end of the day.

The point that both Toomey and McNickle make is that Senator Man-on-Dog wouldn't have lost his Senate seat had he endorsed Toomey - just his position in the party. All to work for an incumbent already described as favoring politics over principle.

I'm not sure anyone else in the room that day caught the irony of Toomey's situation. And honestly I kinda felt bad for the guy. He should have been welcomed with open arms by Lil Ricky. Instead he got fucked by one of the Senate's leading anti-gay legislators.
And remember last November? Bush's poll numbers had tanked and although the leader of the free-world was visiting our State, Lil Ricky had "other" plans? Read about it here.

Now the same thing has happened to the supporters of Intelligent Design - when it becomes politically expedient, Lil Ricky has other obligations.

Rick Santorum - Politics over Principle

If not now, when?

So we now know that Bush:

  • Sought War Powers INSIDE the US

  • Personally approved spying on US citizens without warrants

  • Cherry-picked prewar intelligence to start a preemptive war against a country that posed no threat to the US

  • Had to have his arm twisted to come out against torture

  • Terrorized US citizens by issuing numerous Terror Alerts before the 2004 election (but NONE since)

  • Declares that the "War on Terror" gives him authority to do whatever he wants

  • So now can we impeach the fucker?

    More Questions about King George's Authority

    John at AmericaBlog asks:
    So can Bush assassinate New York Times reporters?

    Seriously. I'd like to know what limit, if any, there is to Bush's commander-in-chief powers. Bush said that the New York Times jeopardized national security and the war on terror by publishing its story revealing that he broke the law by spying on Americans. So, can Bush have New York Times reporters arrested and executed for treason? Or at the very least, when the NYT executive editor met with Bush at the White House to discuss whether or not to run the story, could Bush have simply had the NYT editor shot?

    I'm serious, I want to know. We've been told that Bush can do anything he wants so long as it's to help the war on terror, so are there any limits?
    And, The Rude Pundit asks a similar question (Warning: not for the weak of heart or the hypocritical).

    What Happened to the Terror Alerts?

    From Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:
    Every so often a reader writes in and asks this question. And it's a pretty good one. So here goes: When was the last time there was a major terror alert? They were something like a regular occurence for the eighteen months or so before the 2004 election. And through 2004 the administration pushed the line that al Qaida was aiming to disrupt the elections themselves. But as near I can tell there hasn't been a single one since election day.

    Through 2004, of course, critics of the administration routinely questioned whether the frequency and timing of the various terror alerts were not all or in part for political effect.

    How do we explain what appears to be a night and day difference between the year prior to November 2004 and the year since in terms of terror alerts and scares?

    Bush's War Against the US: Bush Sought War Powers IN the US

    (The Most Dangerous Man in the World)

    Those of you who see Bush for what he is may not be surprised. Those of you who will shrug this off or try to say that, "Clinton did it first" would not be swayed if Bush ate a baby live on TV.

    From the Washington Post:

    Daschle: Congress Denied Bush War Powers in U.S.

    WASHINGTON--The Bush administration requested, and Congress rejected, war-making authority "in the United States'' in negotiations over the joint resolution passed days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to an opinion article by former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., in Friday's Washington Post.

    Daschle's disclosure challenges a central legal argument offered by the White House in defense of the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. It suggests that Congress refused explicitly to grant authority that the Bush administration now asserts is implicit in the resolution.

    The Justice Department acknowledged yesterday, in a letter to Congress, that the president's October 2001 eavesdropping order did not comply with "the 'procedures' of" the law that has regulated domestic espionage since 1978. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, established a secret intelligence court and made it a criminal offense to conduct electronic surveillance without a warrant from that court, "except as authorized by statute."


    Yesterday's letter, signed by Assistant Attorney General William Moschella, asserted that Congress implicitly created an exception to FISA's warrant requirement by authorizing President Bush to use military force in response to the destruction of the World Trade Center and a wing of the Pentagon. The congressional resolution of Sept. 18, 2001, formally titled "Authorization for the Use of Military Force," made no reference to surveillance or to the president's intelligence-gathering powers, and the Bush administration made no public claim of new authority until news accounts disclosed the secret NSA operation.


    "Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words 'in the United States and' after 'appropriate force' in the agreed-upon text," Daschle wrote. "This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas -- where we all understood he wanted authority to act -- but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused."

    Daschle wrote that Congress also rejected draft language from the White House that would have authorized the use of force to "deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States," not only against those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.

    UPDATE: In addition to the above article, Tom Daschle also has an op-ed on this subject in WAPO called, "Power We Didn't Grant."

    Bush's Report Card

    Admittedly unscientific AOL poll.

    Overall, did President Bush win or lose this year?
    He lost 64%

    He won 27%
    He came out even 9%
    (Total Votes: 357,529 )

    How do you think he will do in 2006?
    Worse 46%

    Better 35%
    The same 19%
    Total Votes: 356,970
    (Total Votes: 357,529 )

    How would you grade him on Iraq?
    F 52%

    A 16%
    B 14%
    D 11%
    C 7%
    (Total Votes: 309,554)

    December 22, 2005

    FISA Judges react

    Yesterday I posted this. It's a story about a FISA judge who resigned in protest Bush's secret surveillance program.

    Well via washingtonmonthly, I found this article at the Washington Post.

    Seems that Georgie's got some 'splainin' to do:
    The presiding judge of a secret court that oversees government surveillance in espionage and terrorism cases is arranging a classified briefing for her fellow judges to address their concerns about the legality of President Bush's domestic spying program, according to several intelligence and government sources.

    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.
    I loved the part where the judges involved want to know why the administration believed the authorization-free surveillance was legal. Looks like they already think it was not. Then there's these interesting hints in the text:
    Bush administration officials believe it is not possible, in a large-scale eavesdropping effort, to provide the kind of evidence the court requires to approve a warrant. Sources knowledgeable about the program said there is no way to secure a FISA warrant when the goal is to listen in on a vast array of communications in the hopes of finding something that sounds suspicious. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said the White House had tried but failed to find a way.

    One government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the administration complained bitterly that the FISA process demanded too much: to name a target and give a reason to spy on it.

    "For FISA, they had to put down a written justification for the wiretap," said the official. "They couldn't dream one up."
    Whuuh? The administration complained that it had to name a target and give a reason that it wanted to spy on it? What sort of democracy do we have here?

    Looks like they wanted to be able to listen in wherever/whenever they wanted, keep it completely secret and not have to justify it to anyone ever. Too bad there were laws against that sort of thing. No problem, they just ignored the law and spied anyway. Any complaints would be chalked up to "irresponsible acts that help the enemy."

    Worst President ever.
    Impeach the bastard.

    December 21, 2005

    Time for a Little Fun

    Saw this over at A Bit Of Cotton Doesn't Equal Fluff :

    4 things meme!

    1. Web Development Director
    2. Director of Special Global Events
    3. Used Record Store Clerk/Buyer
    4. Prep/Short Order Cook

    1. Rosemary's Baby
    2. Pulp Fiction
    3. Dogma
    4. The Fifth Element

    1. Pittsburgh, PA
    2. NY, NY
    3. Brooklyn, NY
    4. Lock 4 (North Charleroi), PA

    1. Daily Show
    2. Countdown with Keith Olbermann
    3. Seinfeld
    4. Pittsburgh City Council (comedy/tragedy)

    1. Rome, Italy
    2. Washington, DC
    3. By some lake in Ontario being eaten alive by vicious GIANT Canadian mosquitoes and ending up in the emergency room
    4. Disney World, FL (never recovered from getting stuck in "It's a Small World After All" ride)


    1. Mexican
    2. Greek Diner
    3. Any Diner
    4. Chinese

    1. New York (OK, I'd rather wait until after the strike)
    2. Rome
    3. Venice
    4. in a country that gave a shit when the preznit shat on their constitution

    But I heard at New Republic/Drudge/FOX News that Clinton/Carter did the same thing/worse...

    Since we got the same 'argument" from two different trolls on two different posts in the past 12 hours, here's the answer which I posted to one already:

    Nice way to miss the obvious! What you're missing in the National Review article is that this was DEBATED in the open at the time. That Clinton SOUGHT Congressional APPROVAL. That he actually sought real Congressional AUTHORIZATION. That Gorelick did TESTIFY before Congress and that The Washington Post was able to quote that testimony the next day. Clinton did not act like a THIEF IN THE NIGHT telling partial truths to an extreme minority of Congress and keeping them from seeking any legal opinion.

    And that the outcome of that OPEN DEBATE was an executive order that DID NOT INVOLVE WARRANTLESS SPYING ON AMERICANS (and was not secret):

    From Think Progress:

    Fact Check: Clinton/Carter Executive Orders Did Not Authorize Warrantless Searches of Americans

    The top of the Drudge Report claims “CLINTON EXECUTIVE ORDER: SECRET SEARCH ON AMERICANS WITHOUT COURT ORDER…” It’s not true. Here’s the breakdown –

    What Drudge says:
    Clinton, February 9, 1995: “The Attorney General is authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order”

    What Clinton actually signed:
    Section 1. Pursuant to section 302(a)(1) [50 U.S.C. 1822(a)] of the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance] Act, the Attorney General is authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order, to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year, if the Attorney General makes the certifications required by that section.
    That section requires the Attorney General to certify is the search will not involve “the premises, information, material, or property of a United States person.” That means U.S. citizens or anyone inside of the United States.

    The entire controversy about Bush’s program is that, for the first time ever, allows warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens and other people inside of the United States. Clinton’s 1995 executive order did not authorize that. ****

    Drudge pulls the same trick with Carter.

    What Drudge says:
    Jimmy Carter Signed Executive Order on May 23, 1979: “Attorney General is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order.”

    What Carter’s executive order actually says:
    1-101. Pursuant to Section 102(a)(1) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1802(a)), the Attorney General is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order, but only if the Attorney General makes the certifications required by that Section.
    What the Attorney General has to certify under that section is that the surveillance will not contain “the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party.” So again, no U.S. persons are involved. ****

    And, more from from Daily KOS:
    ****You don't have to be a lawyer to understand that Clinton allowed warrantless searches if and only if the AG followed section 302(a)(1). What does section 1822(a) require?

  • the "physical search is solely directed at premises, information, material, or property used exclusively by, or under the open and exclusive control of, a foreign power or powers." Translation: You can't search American citizens.

  • and there is "no substantial likelihood that the physical search will involve the premises, information, material, or property of a United States person." Translation: You can't search American citizens.

  • ****Here, Carter refers to "electronic surveillance," rather than "physical searches" like Clinton. But again, Carter limits the warrantless surveillance to the requirements of Section 1802(a). That section requires:

  • the electronic surveillance is solely directed at communications exclusively between or among foreign powers. Translation: You can't spy on American citizens.

  • there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party. Translation: You can't spy on American citizens.

  • So sorry, folks: NO CIGAR (pun intended).

    Some Guesses from the Experts

    I found a pair of articles at that, while admittedly educated guesses, point to something deeply sinister going on in DC.

    The first article.
    A few current and former signals intelligence guys have been checking in since this NSA domestic spying story broke. Their reactions range between midly creeped out and completely pissed off.

    All of the sigint specialists emphasized repeatedly that keeping tabs on Americans is way beyond the bounds of what they ordinarily do -- no matter what the conspiracy crowd may think.

    "It's drilled into you from minute one that you should not ever, ever, ever, under any fucking circumstances turn this massive apparatus on an American citizen," one source says. "You do a lot of weird shit. But at least you don't fuck with your own people."
    From that article, I found this one:
    There's more to the NSA domestic spying case than the current storyline -- that much is clear. The idea that the Bush Administration needed to bypass the courts to get wiretaps quickly makes no sense; under the current system, you can start eavesdropping, and get a warrant later. The notion that disclosing the surveillance would somehow tip off potential terrorists is laughable, too; Al Qaeda types know they're being monitored.

    That's all assuming, of course, that the wiretaps in this case are the same as in any other. But maybe they're not. Maybe there's something different about this surveillance. It could be in its scope, as Laura suggests. But I'm guessing -- and this is just a guess -- that the real difference is in the technology of the wiretaps themselves.
    "Laura" refers to another signal intelligence-blogger. She wrote on 12/18:
    There's something else about the Bush/NSA warrantless, oversight-less spying on Americans that doesn't make sense. The case Bush cited yesterday - of two San Diego based hijackers al Hazmi and al-Mihdhar and their overseas communications -- as a justification for going around the FISA court to use the NSA to spy on Americans making calls overseas -- really makes no sense.


    Because it's pretty clear if you were tapping Mr. Al Mihdhar's calls to Germany and Mr. Al-Hazmi's calls to Germany and Afghanistan, that pretty soon, you would want to tap their calls to each other, in San Diego, or their calls with Mr. Atta, who was in Florida.

    In other words, you would want to tap the calls between US based persons.

    Why? Because what you're really worried about is what those potential terrorist cells are planning to do in the US.

    So presumably, you would have to go to the FISA court at that point. (Bush hasn't admitted to the NSA being used to tap US to US calls -- yet).

    But that's not how it worked. The way Bush did the NSA warrantless spying on Americans was no fine instrument. It was a blunt instrument. As the NYT reports today (Sunday), Bush ordered every communication to and from Afghanistan monitored by the NSA after September 11.
    Back a step...

    The second article ends this way:
    So maybe the NSA wiretaps were using a new kind of capability; one that terror suspects might not have know about; one that might have even made the FISA court uncomfortable, somehow.

    It's a lot of mights and maybes, I know. But the current threads of this story are so thin, it's time to start considering some alternatives.
    I realize alot of this is guess work, but when the experts are saying it, some attention should probably be paid.

    This is a dirty smelly mess. The President ordered the NSA to circumvent the law - and then admitted to it. Impeach the bastard.

    FISA Judge Resigns

    Via the DailyKos, I found this article in the Washington Post. The article begins:
    A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.

    U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.

    Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work.
    But there's something very interesting further down.
    Revelation of the program last week by the New York Times also spurred considerable debate among federal judges, including some who serve on the secret FISA court. For more than a quarter-century, that court had been seen as the only body that could legally authorize secret surveillance of espionage and terrorism suspects, and only when the Justice Department could show probable cause that its targets were foreign governments or their agents.

    Robertson indicated privately to colleagues in recent conversations that he was concerned that information gained from warrantless NSA surveillance could have then been used to obtain FISA warrants. FISA court Presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who had been briefed on the spying program by the administration, raised the same concern in 2004 and insisted that the Justice Department certify in writing that it was not occurring.

    "They just don't know if the product of wiretaps were used for FISA warrants -- to kind of cleanse the information," said one source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the FISA warrants. "What I've heard some of the judges say is they feel they've participated in a Potemkin court."
    So not only did our American Caesar needlessly circumvent the law, but some of the very judges that would have issued the FISA warrants were concerned that they were being manipulated by the whole illegal process.

    Conyers Introduces Bills to Censure Bush/Cheney and to Create Select Committee to Investigate Possible Crimes/ Make Recommendations Re Impeachment

    Congressman John Conyers has introduced three new pieces of legislation aimed at censuring President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and at creating a fact-finding committee that could be a first step toward impeachment.

    Ask your Congress Member to support these efforts! (Click here )

    That link will take you to a newly revised After Downing Street site, where you'll find at the top an extensive new report produced by the House Judiciary Committee and titled "The Constitution in Crisis: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Cover-ups in the Iraq War."

    More Spygate Fallout

    From the New York Times:
    Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls

    A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil, officials say.

    From the Washington Post:

    Spy Court Judge Quits In Protest

    A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.


    Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work.

    Robertson, who was appointed to the federal bench in Washington by President Bill Clinton in 1994 and was later selected by then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist to serve on the FISA court, declined to comment when reached at his office late yesterday.

    Rick Santorum (R-Va) Declares Bush King!

    (It's Good to be the King, Part II)

    From AmericaBlog:

    Rick Santorum: President can do "whatever is necessary"
    by John in DC - 12/20/2005 09:59:00 AM

    Really Rick? So that would include taking people's guns away, having background checks at gun shows, keeping permanent federal records on gunowners, repealing the 2nd Amendment? You said "whatever is necessary"?

    Just wait until the first shopping mall is attacked by some Saudi with a machine gun, then kiss your guns goodbye. And the best part is that Congress won't have to fire a shot, so to speak - Bush will do it all by executive order and pro-gun Republicans like Rick Santorum will say "hey, whatever is necessary."

    From the Philly Inquirer:
    "The senator recognizes that in times of war, the President has the constitutional oversight or the constitutional ability to do whatever is necessary to protect the American people," Santorum spokesman Robert L. Traynham said. "He fully supports the President's ability to protect American lives by going this step in terms of listening in on conversations."

    December 20, 2005

    "It's Good to be the King!"

    (Variations on a Theme)



    What Does Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa) Say About Illegal Domestic Spying?

    His constituents might like to know...

    Opponent Tom Kovach has a very clear position stated here and thinks you might want to ask Murphy for his thoughts on this issue.

    Klink Klunk?

    MEDIA girl and Gort42 think that Bob Casey, Jr. is starting to look awfully Klinkish. (Many mentions of Chuck Pennacchio.)

    The Real Reason Why Bush Broke the Law (Like he needs a reason)

    Many have wondered why, when FISA Courts approve nearly every wiretap and when you can ask for a wiretap retroactively, Bush went to the extraordinary lengths of just breaking the law and subverting the Constitution that he swore to uphold.

    Looks like a little digging by Shock at Daily KOS has come up with the answer in an old article in the Washington Post.

    Apparently the courts had already rebuffed Ashcroft about bad wiretaps in 2002:

    The secretive federal court that approves spying on terror suspects in the United States has refused to give the Justice Department broad new powers, saying the government had misused the law and misled the court dozens of times, according to an extraordinary legal ruling released yesterday.

    A May 17 opinion by the court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) alleges that Justice Department and FBI officials supplied erroneous information to the court in more than 75 applications for search warrants and wiretaps, including one signed by then-FBI Director Louis J. Freeh.

    Authorities also improperly shared intelligence information with agents and prosecutors handling criminal cases in New York on at least four occasions, the judges said.


    The documents released yesterday also provide a rare glimpse into the workings of the almost entirely secret FISA court, composed of a rotating panel of federal judges from around the United States and, until yesterday, had never jointly approved the release of one of its opinions. Ironically, the Justice Department itself had opposed the release.

    Stewart Baker, former general counsel of the National Security Agency, called the opinion a "a public rebuke. ...

    Read the entire story here.


    From Kagro X at Daily KOS:

    IMPEACH: The Guerrilla Marketing Movement

    What I'm proposing is this: Go into your word processors right now, and type out the word "IMPEACH." Go ahead, use caps. Center it. Bold it. Make it 72 point. Turn the page to landscape if you like, and make it bigger.

    You've got a sign. Print it out. Xerox it. Put it up on a lamp post. On a supermarket bulletin board. Inside a newspaper vending machine. Anywhere.

    You've joined the movement.

    How does it feel? Want more? Would you be willing to spend a little money on it?

    Pick up a pack of Avery labels down at the office supply store. Print out a page worth of stickers that say the same thing. IMPEACH.Not impeach Bush.

    Not impeach Cheney. Not Chimpeach. Just IMPEACH.Everyone will know what you're talking about.

    Everyone will know who you're talking about, even if you're talking about Cheney and not Bush. They'll still get it. Stick those stickers anywhere you like, and that you won't get in trouble for. Go ahead. Anywhere.

    Got more money than that, and want to spend it?Go the "freeway blogger" route. Print it out banner-sized. IMPEACH -- greeting every commuter on their way to work.

    Grander still? Got the money for a vinyl banner? Do we know printers who'll give us a bulk rate? What if we got together to cut a deal on 500 such banners? The cheapest possible printing -- black on white. Just a big IMPEACH. Nothing else. Yard signs? Billboards? Moving billboards?
    Read the entire post and the other ideas in the comments section here.


    Billy Valentine - Portrait of a Fascist

    I normally wouldn't waste my time responding to such an obvious troll, but our favorite gay-bashing, misogynist, anti-choice sidewalk counselor, Billy Valentine, left some comments here that point out a frightening streak of fascism. If we can assume he's not in his own political wilderness and that there are others like him, then this country is in deep shit indeed.

    First some definitions.

    Fascism - A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

    In Mr Valentine's case, I can't speak on the racism or "stringent economic controls," but everything else about him seems pretty fascistic to me.

    My evidence?

    The comment on this posting.

    The Other Political Junkie outlined a case for impeachment based, in part, on the authorization of the seemingly illegal wiretapping and other abuses of power by the current resident of the White House. And Mr Valentine's response? I'll reprint it in full:
    Wow. Impeachment? You are so far out in left field.. there's no hope of bringing you back to reality.

    Republicans control the White House, Senate, House of Reps, the majority of state legislatures, and the majority of Governors.

    And, with the help of Roberts and Alito, we are inches away from a Supreme Court that will shove OUR social agenda down YOUR throat.

    Impeachment? How about a reality check.
    While it may be correct to assume that because of the right-wing control of the federal legislature impeachment may be a long way off. But, if anything, that's more evidence of the further (some might say "absolut") corruption of the GOP. A blue stained dress and "that all depends on what the definition of 'is' is" and they impeach a sitting president. Another president admits to authorizing the NSA to ignore federal law and the best defense that that "Law and Order/Traditional American Values" party can do is to trot out a weak and dishonest rationalization that Congress authorized Bush to do what he wants, when he wants and wherever he wants in his war on terror.

    Sounds more than a bit fascistic to me.

    And then there's Billy Valentine. Read his words carefully. Look at what he says and what he doesn't say. There's no concern about the legality of the NSA authorization, no concern about the threat to civil liberties. Heck even Bob Barr is outraged at that one. He said this on CNN:
    What's wrong with it is several-fold. One, it's bad policy for our government to be spying on American citizens through the National Security Agency. Secondly, it's bad to be spying on Americans without court oversight. And thirdly, it's bad to be spying on Americans apparently in violation of federal laws against doing it without court order.
    But not a trace of this in made it out of Mr Valentine's bile duct. All this is seemingly OK with him as long as the Supreme Court (with newcomers Roberts and Alito) gets to shove his wing-nut agenda down the country's throat.

    And what would that agenda be? I am guessing it goes something like this:
    Might makes right, the powerful can and should ignore the law whever it wants to, and anyone who disagrees needs a reality check.
    Welcome to Billy Valentine's America.

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