Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I have a fantasy that at one of these moments, a candidate will say, "You know what, Tim, I'm not going to answer that question. This is serious business. And you, sir, are a disgrace. You have in front of you a group of accomplished, talented leaders, one of whom will in all likelihood be the next president of the United States. You can ask them whatever you want. And you choose to engage in this ridiculous gotcha game, thinking up inane questions you hope will trick us into saying something controversial or stupid. Your fondest hope is that the answer to your question will destroy someone's campaign. You're not a journalist, you're the worst kind of hack, someone whose efforts not only don't contribute to a better informed electorate, they make everyone dumber. So no, I'm not going to stand here and try to come up with the most politically safe Bible verse to cite. Is that the best you can do?"
I have high hopes that the burgeoning popularity of the blogosphere really will give rise to a new activism that can somehow wrest our national dialogue away from the death grip of the pundit elite in Washington. We CAN do better.
That we are even having a debate about this question, and that it is not a foregone conclusion that someone who claims not to know whether waterboarding is torture cannot possibly be confirmed as Attorney General, is a testament to the moral degradation of our country, and of our political discourse.
Imagine what we would think of a country where candidates for high office and nominees for the highest law enforcement position in the country had earnest debates about whether or not the rack was torture ("hey, I do stretching exercises before I go jogging, and it doesn't hurt me!"), or whether disembowelling living prisoners shocked the conscience ("I had my appendix out, and I'm doing just fine!") We would think that the people who said such things had utterly lost their humanity. Yet for some reason, altogether too many of our fellow citizens seem to think that it is perfectly acceptable for politicians and their appointees to have the same debates about waterboarding. I suspect that future generations, and the current inhabitants of other countries, will regard this the same way we would regard people who took it to be an open question whether the rack was torture: with abhorrence.
Using 9/11 to "justify" telecom amnesty is not only manipulative, but also completely misleading. Telecoms did not merely break the law in the intense days and weeks following the 9/11 attacks. Had they done only that, there would almost certainly be no issue. Indeed, the lead counsel in the AT&T case, Cindy Cohn, said in the podcast interview I conducted with her last week that had telecoms enabled illegal surveillance only in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks -- but then thereafter demanded that the surveillance be conducted legally -- EFF almost certainly would not have sued at all.
But that isn't what happened. Both the Bush administration and the telecoms jointly broke the law for years. Even as we moved further and further away from the 9/11 attacks, neither the administration nor the telecoms bothered to comply with the law. The administration was too interested in affirming the theory that the President could exercise power without limits, and the telecoms were too busy reaping the great profits from their increasingly close relationship with the Government.
The 9/11 attacks could be a coherent (though not persuasive) defense to lawless surveillance on September 13, 2001 or even on October 13, 2001 -- but not throughout 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and into 2007. That is nothing more than deliberate lawbreaking motivated by limitless power (in the case of Bush) and swelling profits (in the case of telecoms). Rockefeller's exploitation of 9/11 and "patriotism" to justify years of illegal spying is shameless in the extreme, and the only thing "unfair and unwise" is to pass laws with no purpose other than to relieve the lawbreakers of all consequences.
Not only that, but I believe there's evidence that this illegal surveillance was actually going on for months BEFORE 9/11. There's certainly no excuse for that!
Additionally, regarding your point that we need to go after Bush instead of private industry that would affect jobs:
But Rockefeller knows this is untrue. Lawsuits against the government almost certainly cannot proceed. The Bush administration continuously invokes the "state secrets" privilege to compel courts to dismiss any such suits brought against the Government. Worse, because no individual citizens can prove that they were subjected to this illegal surveillance -- because Rockefeller and his friends in the administraiton have ensured that it all has stayed completely secret -- no plaintiff, as the Sixth Circuit has ruled, has "standing" to proceed in NSA lawsuits against the Government.
Thus, amnesty for lawbreaking telecoms would not mean that "we hold government officials accountable for mistakes or wrongdoing." It would mean the opposite. The Cheney-Rockefeller amnesty would strangle to death the sole remaining mechanism for obtaining a judicial ruling as to whether Bush broke the law with his various illegal NSA spying programs. It would be the final nail in the coffin in the attempt to ensure accountability for this lawbreaking.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Some juicy snippets:
Methinks the Reagan Coalition is heading for D-I-V-O-R-C-E. The moneyed interests supporting the GOP were happy to cater to the religious Right as long as the Christionistas were swinging elections in their favor. But if Money decides that God is a loser, watch the GOP discover the joys of secularism.
Actually, I do dispute the virtue of "moral clarity." "Moral Clarity" all too often is just Bigotry wearing Virtue's T-shirt.
Amen and Hallelujah, sister! Do read the whole thing, and just ignore that agonized howling that reminds you of Megan from The Exorcist when she was splashed with tap water. It burns! It burns!
Well said, Bill & ex Demo. It's too bad that Mr. Bush never hired a PR department.
Keep in mind that Mr. Bush HAS destroyed America's image abroad. Before Bush America was well known as being a paper tiger. A poor friend and a worthless enemy. Much like the UN.
Al Q & Co gambled on that image and on a Clintonesque response to the 9/11 attack. Al Q lost. Thanks to Bush America does have some credibility internationally and the Middle East might just become a better place for it.
But don't worry. If a Dem wins in '08 they'll fix that.
Posted by: Greg | October 18, 2007 at 12:06 AM
Got that? It's too bad that Mr. Bush never hired a PR department.
To which a non-wingnut responded:
Where do you do your research?
Posted by: Ricky Bones | October 29, 2007 at 08:17 AM
"Research"!! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!! TBogg shows us how it's done.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Because they've clearly gone mad. Exhibit A: We're in the middle of a disastrous war in Iraq, the military and political situation in Afghanistan is steadily worsening, and the administration's interrogation and detention tactics have inflamed anti-Americanism and fueled extremist movements around the globe. Sane people, confronting such a situation, do their best to tamp down tensions, rebuild shattered alliances, find common ground with hostile parties and give our military a little breathing space. But crazy people? They look around and decide it's a great time to start another war.
I might take issue with the use of the term "gone mad" which suggests that this is some kind of recent development. I'm quite certain that Bush and Cheney both are whackjobs whose pathology took root a long, long time ago.
A friend of mine is about to wrap up a fabulous gig in the south of France where she functioned as a hostess for the last six months to various groups of artists and writers at a retreat. Too bad, right? While I'm learning to do this image-thing here at my blog, I thought I might add this cheery picture of sunflowers she sent me. Later, I'll be posting some of her artwork as well as my own.
Danae Dobson: Dobson’s daughter delivered a tribute to him during the banquet — kind of. She seemed to damn him with faint praise. She mentioned seeing the popular YouTube video of actor David Hasselhoff, drunk out of his mind, trying to eat a hamburger off the floor. She said she was glad her dad was not like that. I think we’re all glad not to have “The Hoff” for a dad, but isn’t that setting the bar awfully low?
I’d like to think that Thompson stinks so much that we don’t have to worry about him getting the GOP nomination and the presidency – but one look at who’s sitting in the White House now should dispel that.
One final thought: I’d like to give a shout-out to Lambda Rising, an iconic gay bookstore not far from the Hilton Washington, where the Values Voter Summit took place. Walking by the store during a break Saturday afternoon, I was amused to see a sign in the window reading, “Attention, Values Voters! Show your badge and get 20 percent off.” It’s good to know that the entrepreneurial spirit lives, and my guess is that most of the guys from the “ex-gay” ministry booth were down there the minute the conference ended.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Good morning, fellow travelers! I've been attempting to teach myself a thing or two about posting images here at my new home - you know, trying to spruce the place up a bit - and this seemed a good one to start with. I have been driving myself nuts with ideas about creating and posting images here, to the point that last night was almost sleepless! Yeeesh.
Deep breath. Okay. Baby steps, Ann!
What's going on in your neck of the woods?
Thursday, October 25, 2007
The sooner people realize that critical thinking is an asset rather than a liability, the better off we will all be.
AMEN! A friend of mine had to travel to Abilene once some years ago, and she reported to me that she saw a sign outside one of the churches there that read: "When you have an open mind, your brains fall out." I am awfully tired of hearing from people who can't seem to tell the difference between patriotism and jingoism, between spirituality and religiosity**, between impassioned debate and a circle jerk. But down here in redder-than-red Texas, critical thinking can be hard to come by. Thank God for the blogosphere!
**For the best evah discussion on this topic, please don't miss the entire series called "The Wisdom of Doubt" by Barbara O'Brien over at Mahablog.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Enter Chris Dodd. Bless his heart, he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting the Democratic presidential nomination, and maybe that has freed him to act more boldly, but whatever - He has taken a stand and deserves our support. Furthermore, we really must press the Clinton and Obama campaigns to show a little spine and support him also. This is with regard to the bill currently oozing its way through Congress that would give retroactive immunity to telecom companies that deliberately and knowingly broke the law in support of the Bush administration's spying on American citizens. Please. It doesn't get any clearer than this: The Bush administration broke the law, with the full compliance of telecom companies, and they are PAYING CONGRESS to pass a law that will get them off the hook for this. I urge you to read Glenn Greenwald on this subject, and follow his lead in calling these numbers:
* Clinton Presidential: (703) 469-2008
* Clinton Senate: (202) 224-4451
* Obama Presidential: (866) 675-2008
* Obama Senate: (202) 224-2854
Clinton and Obama need to hear from us. Now.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Of course, Huckabee was probably less concerned with being right, and more concerned with impressing the religious right. And their standards for accuracy are pretty low.
And this under "Yeah, yeah, we know Michael Moore is fat."
And this under "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" (Thanks Al Franken!)
Monday, October 22, 2007
I write much like I paint, in the abstract. Sometimes with gaudy uncontrolled splashes and swirls that might go anywhere - sometimes with precision and focus on minute detail that could be called, um, well, rather rigid - if one were so inclined to label such things.
I love collages - mixed media, as it were. I'm sure that will be refected here too, with lots of links and, if I can figure out how to do it, pictures.
Over the weekend, I checked out a movie from my local library on my son's recommendation: Little Miss Sunshine. Hilarious!he said. He was right. Dear God, I love Alan Arkin and he did not disappoint. His character is a cranky, drug-addled, sex-crazed grandpa who was kicked out of his retirement home for unspecified bad behavior. I can relate! Cranky, sure. Drug-addled, you bet. Sex-crazed, aren't we all? Okay, so I'm not a grandpa, or a grandma either, BUT - I have just been kicked out of, while not a Retirement Home per se, a place of comparable - how shall I say - mental stimulation. A good thing, probably, for all concerned - else I and my fellow left-of-Nixon brethren might have suffered the same fate as McMurphy at the hands of Nurse Ratched.
Twas time to move on.
So, welcome to my new house. I'll be sending out invitations soon for a truly awesome housewarming party - bring a dish!