Dumb and Dumberer


From AP:

A lovers’ dispute over a cell phone ended suddenly when the woman swallowed the phone whole, police said.
Wanna bet she asks Santa for a new phone?

Sometimes, I'm just so damned proud of my gender. This, however, is NOT one of those times.

Bushie Spying Went Much Farther Than So Far Admitted, Says The Times

USA Today, ironically, has the story.

Presidential Pardons

Apparently Mr. Bush feels particularly sympathy for moonshiners.

No, don't ask me why. I have NO idea.

bin Laden's Niece Poses for GQ: Love Me Because I'm Beautiful



Osama bin Laden's niece, in an interview with GQ magazine in which she appears scantily clad, says she has nothing in common with the al-Qaeda leader and simply wants acceptance by Americans.

" I want to be embraced, because my values are like yours," Waah Dufour says in the interview.
I'm sorry to hear that, Ms. Dufour.

OK, I Dinked It

Tomorrow or so, I'll try to fix the right-hand er... imbalance.

Oops, Sorry Folks -

I abandoned a new template but it seems to have become the Man Who Came to Dinner (and wouldn't leave). Let me see if I can rinky-dink it.


Congress Stood Up to Bush in 2005?

I might be inclined to argue this one, but... from WaPo (and I'd love to hear your response to it):

After four years in which Congress repeatedly lay down while President Bush dictated his priorities, 2005 will go down as the year legislators stood up.
This week's uprising against a four-year extension of the USA Patriot Act was the latest example of a new willingness by lawmakers in both parties to challenge Bush and his notions of expansive executive power.

Since this spring, Congress has forced Bush to scrap plans for a broad restructuring of Social Security, accept tighter restrictions on the treatment of detainees and rewrite his immigration plan. Lawmakers have rebuffed Bush's call to make permanent his first-term tax cuts and helped force the president to speak more candidly about setbacks in Iraq.

"What you have seen is a Congress, which has been AWOL through intimidation or lack of unity, get off the sidelines and jump in with both feet," especially on the national security front, said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

What is most striking is that the pushback is coming not just from Democrats and moderate Republicans, who often disagree with Bush, but also from mainstream conservatives.

MSNBC Poll: 85% Say Bush Should Be Impeached


WaPo: Tom Daschle Says Congress Denied Bush the War Powers He Cites to Spy on US Citizens

I was waiting for something like this; it comes to us from Daschle, former Dem minority leader in the Senate before a rigged election in SD took him out (gotta love Diebold and dear Jeff Gannon who was involved in the dirty dealings there).

From today's WaPo:

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 Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) in today'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."
There is one other statutory authority for wiretapping, which covers conventional criminal cases. That law describes itself, along with FISA, as "the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . may be conducted."


More on Sourpuss Tax Dollar Multimillionaire Senator Ted Stevens

Also from the Carpetbagger Report, which I found pretty interesting considering how Stevens' behaved yesterday (even more poorly than usual; he's a crazy old crank with serious delusions of grandeur at his state's expense and his wallet's expansion):

All Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) wanted for Christmas was for the Senate to approve his plan to drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil. No such luck. The question then becomes what Stevens is prepared to do about it.

First, he apparently plans to do some traveling in order to spite everyone who voted against ANWR drilling.
    "I'm going to go to every one of your states, and I'm going to tell them what you've done," said Stevens, the leading advocate of drilling in Alaska. "This was wrong."
Second, Stevens has to decide whether to even stay in the Senate at all. After losing the ANWR vote last night, Stevens complained, "This has been the saddest day of my life. It's a day I don't want to remember. I say goodbye to the Senate tonight. Thank you very much."

Did that "say goodbye to the Senate" line mean that Stevens will no longer grace the chamber with his presence? According to MSNBC (via Atrios), it seems like a real possibility.
Hey, Ted, don't let the door hit you in the derriere on your way out the door. The Senate would be a better place with you gone. But who will sell out the last unblemished molecule in Alaska for your profit when you're gone?

More Than Half a Million and Climbing

Vote to Impeach (dot org) has 615,265 signatures so far.

Of course, according to Mr. Bush, we're just a small, insignificant focus group.

Carpetbagger Report: Court Bitch Slaps Bushies on Jose Padilla

From The Carpetbagger Report:

The legal background on alleged "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla is a long and bizarre tale. It's important, though, particularly after yesterday.

Padilla, an American citizen, was first "arrested" in Chicago in May 2002 under suspicion that he was involved with a plan to detonate a radiological "dirty bomb." Padilla was named an enemy combatant in the war on terror, which meant, as far as the administration was concerned, that he had no right to counsel and could be held indefinitely without being charged with a crime. His case ultimately went to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals — the most conservative court in the nation — which ruled in the Bush administration's favor. Padilla, the 4th Circuit said, could be held however the administration wanted.

As Kevin Drum explained well last night, Padilla could appeal to the Supreme Court, where the Bush administration believed it was likely to lose. To avoid that embarrassing setback, the government asked the 4th Circuit to reverse itself. The appeals court was not amused.
Padilla, you may recall, is the fellow the Bushies want us to believe went from Taco Bell's 3rd shift to Al Qaeda mastermind in no time flat. Right.

Skippy: "Fun with Google"

From my favorite bush kangaroo:

keeps on getting better.

addendum: sign the petition!
Hop(aroo) to it, people.

Jersey: We Break Kneecaps Real Good Here

Or, as Reuters put it, New Jersey, land without sarcasm (too hard to understand):

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - New Jersey, trying to overcome its reputation for corruption, traffic and toxic waste dumps, has rejected dozens of sardonic and sarcastic entries in a contest for a new tourist slogan.

A list of five possible slogans released on Wednesday leaves out "New Jersey: We can always use another relative on the payroll," and "Come to New Jersey: It's not as bad as it smells."

Voters get to pick the winner in the competition launched after Gov. Richard Codey nixed "New Jersey: We'll Win You Over," created by a consultant who was paid $260,000.
A quarter million plus for THAT? Geez.

Really Nice of Them

Congress just said fuck you to millions in desperate need of fuel assistance during a season just 30 hours old that has already produced bitter temperatures throughout the country (we've been doing the sub-zero thing a LOT here and we basically had to close a bunch of the place down for the winter; it's that or just sign every check over to the gas company).


WASHINGTON - Millions of low-income families will face a bleak winter because Congress failed to deliver home-heating funds, Northeast lawmakers warned Thursday.

"It was the wrong choice for the American people in this cold holiday season," said Sen. Jack Reed (news, bio, voting record), D-R.I., who led a Senate fight for fuel assistance.

Home-heat advocates had been hopeful as late as Wednesday night that the Senate would approve two spending bills providing $4.1 billion in fuel assistance. But $2 billion in energy aid was stripped from a defense appropriations bill along with a GOP-backed provision to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

That left just $2.1 billion for this winter's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, slightly below last year's funding.

Santa Worm - Ho Ho Hooie


With the holidays upon us, the name of Santa Claus is being used for evil rather than good by worm developers, who have targeted major instant-messaging systems with a holiday-themed virus.

The IM.GiftCom.All worm has made an appearance on several messaging networks, including America Online, Microsoft MSN, and Yahoo.

The worm attempts to dupe you into believing that a friend has sent you a link to a harmless file. If you click on the file, you see an image of Santa. While viewing it, the worm attempts to install a rootkit on your system.

Rootkits are frequently used to circumvent security software and give an attacker remote control of a machine. Once the attacker is inside your system, the worm harvests your instant-message contact lists for subsequent infections.
I tell you, the worm that took my network down Thanksgiving week was a real peckerwood. Never saw a worm work that effectively.

Bush's Impeachable Offense

From Salon:

Yes, the president committed a federal crime by wiretapping Americans, say constitutional scholars, former intelligence officers and politicians. What's missing is the political will to impeach him.

Well, at least a few folks reading here would be willing to carry the ball. I'm game (and, until I get a shower tonight, fairly gamey as well - phew, stinky poo!).

Tom DeLay's Personal Financier, Jack Abramoff, Clears Way to Become Government Witness

And this government isn't going to want to go after Tommy Boy because he's played ball with them right nicely.

WaPo: Department of Homeland Security's Mission Was Thwarted From Start

Uh huh. DHS is just supposed to sit there holding its ass while we contract everything out to Halliburton and Bechtel. Got ya.

Spy Court Judges to Bush: What the (Bleep) Are You Doing?

OK, so? I paraphrased (colorfully).


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.

"The questions are obvious," said U.S. District Judge Dee Benson of Utah. "What have you been doing, and how might it affect the reliability and credibility of the information we're getting in our court?"

Note to FDA: Why Do You Allow Lead In Candy?

Go figure:

The U.S. government's Food and Drug Administration proposed on Thursday a stricter recommended limit on the amount of lead, a highly toxic metal, allowable in certain Mexican-style children's candies.

The list includes spicy lollipops widely sold in many Hispanic neighborhoods in the United States. The FDA now recommends that candies likely to be eaten by small children not contain more lead than one-tenth of a part per million, an 80 percent reduction from the previous, decade-old recommended level of one-half part per million.

The amount of lead represented by the new level does not pose a significant risk to small children, the agency said.
I have a theory. The FDA, long a useless bitch whore to the drug industry, believes that lead is good for Hispanic children because it kills brain cells and may get them to vote for Bush and men like him.

When Rick Santorum Speaks....

Idiots everywhere feel they are vindicated, that they are NOT the village idiot because the junior Senator from Pennsylvania is this great country's village idiot (and James Sensenbrenner is vying for the same position).

Now Santorum has rethought - without a brain, never a wise idea - his position on "intelligent design". Yeah, I know. From the man who brought us "it will lead to man on dog sex and cousins marrying their rapists and child molesters stalking the Bush twins".

From Santorum Exposed (keep it zipped, Ricky, there are enough little village idiots Santorums already):

Yesterday, one day after the Dover Area School District was told by a federal judge that their new "more balanced approach to teaching evolution" was unconstitutional, Rick's point of view seems to have, um, grown an opposable thumb. Here's how today's Philadelphia Inquirer describes it:
    And, he (Santorum) said in an interview, he disagreed with the board for mandating the teaching of intelligent design, rather than just the controversy surrounding evolution.

    Santorum - who sits on the advisory board of the Thomas More Law Center, which defended the school board in court - said the case offered "a bad set of facts" to test the concept that theories other than evolution should be taught in science classrooms.

    "I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did," Santorum said.

    ...Santorum said his statements are not contradictory, nor has his position changed.
An idiot and a whore of the right wing. A bad, untalented and ugly whore, at that.

Dictators are Bad - Whether Named Hussein, Il-Sung, or Dumbya

Oops, typo on Dubya. My bad (bite me).

From CBS News, and I'd agree with most of it:

The President of the United States has enormous powers. During wartime, he has even greater powers, as he should. But he doesn't have "unlimited powers." Countries in which the rulers have unlimited powers are known as dictatorships, and those are the kinds of governments that we are supposedly against. So, when I heard the president use as an excuse for eavesdropping on U.S. citizens the fact that he just felt it was necessary, it didn't seem like a good enough reason. We already have a system in which there is a special court set up to issue secret warrants for this purpose. These warrants can be granted quickly, and are rarely turned down. If time is of the essence, the president can even get these warrants after the fact. The only thing is, if you get a warrant, there will be a record of whom you have eavesdropped on.

This warrant system came about after the Vietnam War when it was discovered that the federal government had been spying on people whose positions on the war were different from the administration's, and on people the government just didn't like. One of the presidents involved in these tapings was Richard Nixon, and he had an infamous "enemies list," and he felt he had a right to spy on whomever he wanted. As I recall, Nixon got into a lot of trouble...

A few days after it was revealed that the government was secretly spying on U.S. citizens without warrants, President Bush used words like "unexcusable" and "shameful." I was happily surprised that he took this position, but when I read closer, I saw that he was saying that what was "unexcusable" and "shameful" was the media's telling the American people that this spying was going on.

The problem with all this secret taping is that once it gets started, it can get out of control. Since all of this is so secretive, how are we — or Congress — to know who's listening in on what conversations?

Note to Andrea Koppel, Who Has Made This WRONG Statement at Least 3 Times Before

Patrick Leahy, dearie, is not an Independent senator from Vermont. He's the sole Democratic Senator from Vermont.

Now go back to pouffing your lip gloss and touching up your roots.

[Ed. note: Andrea is Ted's daughter, but nowhere NEAR as smart. She's a correspondent for CNN when she's not on regular maternity leave, like Soleduh O'Brien.]

House Blocks Senate's Patriot Act Compromise

News from CNN that the House has put the kibosh on the 6-month extension of the ever-so-inappropriately named Patriot Act to make it a 5-week extension, too. The reason? James Sensenbrenner said he didn't want to make the president unhappy.

Poor, poor, poor Mr. Bush.

Sensenbrenner is a pig, which is an insult to all porcine players.

Tom DeLay: A Portrait of Evil... Er, Everything Wrong with Politics Today

Sorry, but evil applies just as well. That man has to be the smarmiest human being I've ever had the delight not to know personally.

Daily Kos has a brief profile of a baaa.....aaaaa......aaaaaa.....aaaaa....aaaaad man.

Snip snip:

Tom DeLay, 11/16/1995:
    The time has come that the American people know exactly what their Representatives are doing here in Washington. Are they feeding at the public trough, taking lobbyist-paid vacations, getting wined and dined by special interest groups? Or are they working hard to represent their constituents?

Tom DeLay, 12/21/2005:
    Over the past six years, the former House majority leader or his associates have visited places of luxury most Americans have never seen, often getting there aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists and other special interests.
    What a difference a decade makes.

Newsday: Good News for Type 1 Diabetes

This actually is relatively good news. While I'm not a sufferer, I know several who are.

So England is Going to Begin Monitoring Every Single Car on the Road....

Cheney, Condi, and Rummy must be going nuts trying to find a way to better them.

Be careful of your next GYN or prostate exam. An anal mind probe may be on its way to your... um... anus. Not my anus.... Your anus.

Money to Rebuild Goes to Well-Heeled White New Orleanians

Blacks who do apply face an 87% rejection rate.

Our tax dollars at work keeping well-heeled whites rich and well, yes, white.

Here's The Times' article on the matter. (Anal) Registration required, but of course, at the paper of record for well-heeled white people.

War on Christmas

[Ed note: Yeah, right. So why does Faux News and Bush the Reborn offer "happy holidays" gear?]

Jesus' General, JC Christian, is on the case.


Linda Tripp is SLINGING bratwurst. She is NOT bratwurst.

Thanks to Buzzflash for the link.

Speaking of Which...

The Patriot Act got extended six months. Just to protect us, of course.

Meanwhile, I'm still replaying Ted Stevens' (R-Sellout Alaska) apoplexy yesterday that he isn't going to make another pile of millions drilling in ANWR. Poor, poor dear. He should get something communicable... ho ho ho.

NewsWeek Says We'll Hear a LOT More about Impeachment

Here, from Howie Fineman:

I am told by a very good source, there was a lot of wishing out loud in the White House Situation Room about expanding the National Security Agency’s ability to instantly monitor phone calls and e-mails between American callers and possible terror suspects abroad. “We talked a lot about how useful that would be,” said this source, who was “in the room” in the critical period after the attacks.

Well, as the world now knows, the NSA — at the prompting of Vice President Cheney and on official (secret) orders from President Bush — was doing just that. And yet, as I understand it, many of the people in the White House’s own Situation Room — including leaders of the national security adviser’s top staff and officials of the FBI — had no idea that it was happening.

As best I can tell — and this really isn’t my beat — the only people who knew about the NSA’s new (and now so controversial) warrant-less eavesdropping program early on were Bush, Cheney, NSA chief Michael Hayden, his top deputies, top leaders of the CIA, and lawyers at the Justice Department and the White House counsel’s office hurriedly called in to sprinkle holy water on it.
uh huh


Some thoughts on where all of this is headed:
* The president says that his highest duty is to protect the American people and our homeland. And it is true that, as commander-in-chief, he has sweeping powers to, as his oath says, “faithfully execute the office” of president. But the entity he swore to “preserve, protect and defend” isn’t the homeland per se — but the Constitution itself.

*The Patriot Act will be extended, but it’s just the beginning, not the end, of the never-ending argument between the Bill of Rights and national security. The act primarily covers the activities of the FBI; the sheer volume of intelligence-gathering across the government has yet to become apparent, and voters will blanch when they see it all laid before them.

* The department most likely to get in trouble on this: the Pentagon, which doesn’t have a tradition of limiting inquiries, and which, in the name of protecting domestic military installations, will want to look at everyone.

* If you thought the Samuel Alito hearings were going to be contentious, wait till you see them now. Sen. Arlen Specter, the prickly but brilliant chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said that the issue of warrant-less spying by the NSA — and the larger question of the reach of the president’s wartime powers — is now fair game for the Alito hearings. Alito is going to try to beg off but won’t be allowed to. And members who might have been afraid to vote against Alito on the abortion issue might now have another, politically less risky, reason to do so.

* Arguably the most interesting — and influential — Republicans in the Senate right now are the libertarians. They’re suspicious of the Patriot Act and, I am guessing, pivotal in any discussion of the NSA and others' spy efforts. Most are Westerners (Craig, Hagel, Murkowski) and the other is Sen. John Sununu. He is from New Hampshire, which, as anyone who has spent time there understands, is the Wild West of the East Coast. All you have to do is look at its license plate slogan: “Live Free or Die.” It’ll be interesting to see how other nominal small-government conservatives — Sen. George Allen of Virginia comes to mind — handle the issue.
* For months now, I have been getting e-mails demanding that my various employers (Newsweek, NBC News and MSNBC.com) include in their poll questionnaires the issue of whether Bush should be impeached. They used to demand this on the strength of the WMD issue, on the theory that the president had “lied us into war.” Now the Bush foes will base their case on his having signed off on the NSA’s warrant-less wiretaps. He and Cheney will argue his inherent powers and will cite Supreme Court cases and the resolution that authorized him to make war on the Taliban and al-Qaida. They will respond by calling him Nixon 2.0 and have already hauled forth no less an authority than John Dean to testify to the president’s dictatorial perfidy. The “I-word” is out there, and, I predict, you are going to hear more of it next year — much more

Howie's right on at least one point; the Senate dealt out the Patriot Act today. More's the pity.


Does anyone else see my right sidebar way down at the end of the blog?

So far, I'm the only one of five, but I doubt I'm actually the only one.

Thank you.

The Echelon Myth

This is the one purported by the nutwing - no less than G. Gordon lost-his-Liddy, the hand-over-a-burning flame to prove he's macho and not short, pudgy, and losing his hair - to say that if you're upset about Bush spying, well, Clinton spied far more.

But as Think Progress tells us - and so does short-term history, Echelon is a myth. This is another big lie.

Prominent right-wing bloggers – including Michelle Malkin, the Corner, Wizbang and Free Republic — are pushing the argument that President Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program isn’t news because the Clinton administration did the same thing.

The right-wing outlet NewsMax sums up the basic argument:
    During the 1990’s under President Clinton, the National Security Agency monitored millions of private phone calls placed by U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries under a super secret program code-named Echelon…all of it done without a court order, let alone a catalyst like the 9/11 attacks.
That’s flatly false. The Clinton administration program, code-named Echelon, complied with FISA. Before any conversations of U.S. persons were targeted, a FISA warrant was obtained. CIA director George

Tenet testified to this before Congress on 4/12/00:
    I’m here today to discuss specific issues about and allegations regarding Signals Intelligence activities and the so-called Echelon Program of the National Security Agency…

    There is a rigorous regime of checks and balances which we, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the FBI scrupulously adhere to whenever conversations of U.S. persons are involved, whether directly or indirectly. We do not collect against U.S. persons unless they are agents of a foreign power as that term is defined in the law. We do not target their conversations for collection in the United States unless a FISA warrant has been obtained from the FISA court by the Justice Department.
Meanwhile, the position of the Bush administration is that they can bypass the FISA court and every other court, even when they are monitoring the communications of U.S. persons. It is the difference between following the law and breaking it.

Spending Cuts All Born on Backs of Poor and Middle Class

Nice that Cheney came to break the 50-50 split in the Senate that led to the spending cuts bill being passed.

Thanks to Grinch Cheney, tens of millions of Americans who have underwritten health care will pay much more for basic services ($20-$160 for each visit compared to $3), funding for student loans is cut back severely (Rumsfeld is hoping for more military recruits), and native-born US citizens need to show proof of citizenship to get treatment (many older blacks alive today do not have such proof, for example), and support to get child support for abandoned children is cut (about $8 billion is expected NOT to be collected there). Welfare changes, too, are much, much harsher.


where did my banner go?

See what happens when you turn pagan in this political climate?

Recharge It!

The ecosystem will thank you if you move to rechargeable batteries.


Torture, the New American Pastime

MissM provides us links to some good material on our fascination with torture, so long as we're the one administering it to Muslims rather than getting it.

Here's a Slate article on the "Get Out of Torture Free Card" subject and this links to the Thomas library concerning Senators Graham, Kyl, and others.

"Illegal and Selfish" NY Transit Strike

Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a billionaire unlike the workers themselves, laid it on thick today. For the second day straight, he tied up traffic being chaffeured across the Brooklyn Bridge so he could make a showboat walk back across the bridge with others. Nice.

But as much as everyone wants to resolve the strike and as much of an inconvenience as it represents this week before Christmas, I do wish people would also take the longer view.

What transit workers are fighting for - all the union hyperbole aside - or against is the effective destruction of their union and a good benefit package. What gets missed in this is that it is the city, rather than the union, who has refused to budge. The city of New York demands a two-tier union system that makes newer workers accept a much-diminished retirement and health care package over what is already provided for longer term workers.

History shows that once rights are taken away, they do not come back.

So while everyone is shouting about the selfish transit workers, stop to think when the last time was you saw a really good employee benefits package that some court wasn't willing to denude to make the corporation's stockholders richer still. That's what this strike is about.

I don't like unions myself, but I think we need them at this time in the country. To kill them means to kill the chance of having anything guaranteed by an employer stand up in court.

Happy Solstice

I think I'm turning into a pagan.

But the winter solstice arrived just now at 1:35 PM ET.

May you all keep warm and survive the winter, and may the political weather change as well. I'd be just as happy to see the Bushies frozen out in the cold, considering their disastrous energy and so many other policies.

More on Bush's Dirty Little Spy Games

Also from WaPo:

The clash over the secret domestic spying program is one slice of a broader struggle over the power of the presidency that has animated the Bush administration. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney came to office convinced that the authority of the presidency had eroded and have spent the past five years trying to reclaim it.

From shielding energy policy deliberations to setting up military tribunals without court involvement, Bush, with Cheney's encouragement, has taken what scholars call a more expansive view of his role than any commander in chief in decades. With few exceptions, Congress and the courts have largely stayed out of the way, deferential to the argument that a president needs free rein, especially in wartime.

More politics newsBut the disclosure of Bush's eavesdropping program has revived the issue, and Congress appears to be growing restive about surrendering so much of its authority. Democrats and even key Republicans maintain Bush went too far -- and may have even violated the law -- by authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens' overseas telephone calls in search of terrorist plots without obtaining warrants from a secret intelligence court.
This damned well SHOULD be a broad fight. This is at the fundamental (cough) core of the ideals on which this country was founded. Mr. Bush and Dictator Cheney have made it clear that they treat the Bill of Rights as a mud rug and the U.S. Constitution has a rough draft.

Did Spy Judge Quit in Protest to Bush's Domestic Spying Abuse?

That's what the Washington Post indicates here:

U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John D. 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.


New Ohio Bill Would Allow Arrests in Public for "No Reason"


A bill on Gov. Bob Taft's desk right now is drawing a lot of criticism, NewsChannel5 reported.

One state representative said it resembles Gestapo-style tactics of government, and there could be changes coming on the streets of Ohio's small towns and big cities.

The Ohio Patriot Act has made it to the Taft's desk, and with the stroke of a pen, it would most likely become the toughest terrorism bill in the country. The lengthy piece of legislation would let police arrest people in public places who will not give their names, address and birth dates, even if they are not doing anything wrong.

WEWS reported it would also pave the way for everyone entering critical transportation sites such as, train stations, airports and bus stations to show ID.

"It brings us frighteningly close to a show me your papers society," said Carrie Davis of the ACLU, which opposes the Ohio Patriot Act.

There are many others who oppose the bill as well.

"The variety of people who opposed to this is not just a group of the usual suspects. We have people far right to the left opposing the bill who think it is a bad idea," said Al McGinty, NewsChannel5's terrorism expert.

Today's Intelligent Design Decision

I think the judge was right on the mark. I notice, too, that CNN's poll on the question had 70% feeling that intelligent design did not belong in a biology class.

I don't think just the mention of intelligent design is necessarily a bad thing; unlike the rightest nutwing, I don't think ideas and critical thought KILLS. But when it's specifically a science class, well... let's keep it to science.

I do, however, suspect this poor judge has gone right to the top of the seriously deranged winger hit list.

Pat Robertson Funds Effort to Keep Illinois From Making Pharmacists Fill Birth Control Rx

Lovely old tool, he is.

A group founded by evangelist Pat Robertson is suing to stop Illinois from requiring pharmacies to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception, saying the rule violates a druggist's right to refuse on religious and moral grounds.

How Spy Program Plays in Peoria

Editor & Publisher (again) has the story:

In recent days, E&P has monitored the overwhelmingly critical response, at major metro editorial pages, to current revelations about the Bush administration's domestic spying program. Even conservatives such as George Will have raised issues about it, but he's another inside-the-Beltway guy. How is the story "playing in Peoria"?

We mean, literally.

It turns out, not all that differently. Here is a lengthy excerpt from the Tuesday editorial in the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star.*
    An unrepentant, even defiant President Bush has admitted to authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct secret electronic eavesdropping on more than 30 occasions involving thousands of citizens, bypassing the court established by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to deal with such circumstances. He defended those actions, proclaiming that the procedure has only been used against those with "a clear link" to al-Qaida. Bush said the Constitution and Congress, when it green-lighted his request to wage war, give him such latitude, which he will continue to exercise.Americans who appreciate what this nation stands for should respectfully disagree with the president's generous and arguably self-serving interpretation of the Constitution, which does not give any occupant of the Oval Office absolute, unilateral power, even in wartime.

    Second, to suggest that this is "a vital tool in our war against the terrorists" is stretching reality. Indeed, there is nothing the president has done that he couldn't have within the already established rules. Yes, this is a different kind of war and Uncle Sam needs the bureaucratic flexibility to react quickly and discreetly. But the Justice Department already could move immediately to initiate electronic surveillance, with 72 hours to seek a judge's retroactive OK. Even without that, it can take just a few hours to get the permission of the FISA court, which operates behind closed doors. In practice, presidential petitions for wiretaps are rarely denied.

Graham and others are right to be worried about the integrity of the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans against unreasonable search and seizure. The president maintains there was oversight because congressional leaders were briefed. But it's not like he was seeking their permission. Moreover, if any congressman had revealed the existence of the program by objecting to it in any public way, wouldn't that have amounted to an illegal disclosure of classified information?

More Bushie-Paid Columnists Outed

From Editor and Publisher:

First, Copley News Service suspended Doug Bandow's syndicated column. Now two newspapers say they will no longer publish opinion pieces by another conservative commentator who has admitted taking payments from indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff to write opinion pieces favorable to Abramoff's clients.Reuters reports that The Manchester Union Leader and the Washington Times both said they did not know that Peter Ferrara took payments for his pieces.

"Anybody who misrepresents or doesn't voluntarily reveal that they are being paid to write the article by an interested obviously has fallen below the standard that we would hold any published author to," Washington Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley told Reuters.

Ferrara told BusinessWeek Online last week that he takes payments from lobbyists "all the time" to write articles favorable to their clients and did not see anything wrong with that. He did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Tom DeLay: Living Large and Luxurious on Donors' Money

This man - and I use the term lightly with Reprehensible Tom DeLay - is so low that a snake can look down on him with no problem at all.

As Tom DeLay became a king of campaign fundraising, he lived like one too. He visited cliff-top Caribbean resorts, golf courses designed by PGA champions and four-star restaurants — all courtesy of donors who bankrolled his political money empire.

Over the past six years, the former House majority leader and his associates have visited places of luxury most Americans have never seen, often getting there aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists and other special interests.

Public documents reviewed by The Associated Press tell the story: at least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts; 100 flights aboard company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two.

Instead of his personal expense, the meals and trips for DeLay and his associates were paid with donations collected by the campaign committees, political action committees and children's charity the Texas Republican created during his rise to the top of Congress. His lawyer says the expenses are part of DeLay's effort to raise money from Republicans and to spread the GOP message.

Put them together and a lifestyle emerges.
You ain't fucking kidding.

More Bush Spying on Anyone Who Disagrees With His Horrible Policies

Story here.

Are you sick of this yet? I certainly am.


Vermont Governor Calls for "Swift Return" of Iraqi Troops

Story here.

I don't agree with Jim Douglas often - I find him too much of a Bushie, although I won't quite call him a toady - but on this point, I concur.

Vermont has lost more soldiers per capita in Iraq than any other state. Like many, most of our soldiers have been those with few other employment options.

Editor & Publisher: New Orleans Remains Horrifically Devastated

... and the press moved on far too quickly, no longer showing you how very awful it is there and how many people live in terrible squalor, far worse than before, because they have no other option.

"Not Since Nixon"

An important USA Today editorial:

After initially refusing to discuss whether he had authorized domestic spying without court approval, President Bush decided to come clean. He acknowledged over the weekend that such spying had taken place, much as it was described in Friday's New York Times. He argued that it was vital to thwart an enemy that knows no boundaries. (Related: Opposing view)
The question this disclosure raises is not why an administration would resort to extraordinary tactics during extraordinary times by engaging in domestic intelligence gathering. The deadly nature and sophistication of al-Qaeda provide compelling answers to that.

It is, rather, why an administration would skirt existing procedures for engaging in domestic intelligence gathering while showing such blatant disregard for the restraints on presidential power that the Founding Fathers imposed...

Not since the days when Richard Nixon was fighting the Cold War, the Vietnam War and a rising tide of domestic unrest has an administration felt so emboldened by circumstances to put itself above the law and expand its powers unilaterally. Then, as now, a decision to go around the law in the name of national security or preserving presidential prerogatives can quickly descend into widespread abuses...

The administration has also turned its wrath on a familiar target: the news media. In his Saturday radio address, Bush said the disclosure by The Times had provided information that terrorists could use to put Americans at further risk.

Because so much about this domestic spying episode is cloaked in secrecy, it is hard to fully evaluate this claim. (The Times said it had held off publishing its story for a year — an eternity in the competitive news business — to evaluate the national security implications.) Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that the issue of whether U.S. agents conduct their intelligence gathering with court warrants or without them would be of much interest to terrorists. They must surely assume that the U.S. government is aggressively trying to find them.

These terrorists are evil people. They do not care much for our democratic way of life. It would be a tragedy if we, and not they, undermined it.

Bipartisan Call for Wiretap Probe

From CNN/wire:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Three Democratic and two Republican senators have sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate's Judiciary and Intelligence committees, asking for an "immediate inquiry" into President Bush's authorization of a secret wiretapping program.

"We write to express our profound concern about recent revelations that the United States government may have engaged in domestic electronic surveillance without appropriate legal authority," says the letter, which was signed by Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin and Ron Wyden, as well as GOP Sens. Chuck Hagel and Olympia Snowe.

"These allegations, which the president, at least in part, confirmed this weekend, require immediate inquiry and action by the Senate," said the letter, which was sent Monday.
IMHO, ALL senators should have been behind this, and certainly the chinless wonders responsible for impeaching Bill Clinton (et tu Lindsey Graham?).

What's Heaven Like, Barbara Walters

I swear Babs (Barbara WaWa) is getting loonier and loonier. Yes, I know 90% of Americans believe in some kind of an afterlife, and most of those, in Heaven.

Likewise, I was raised to believe (although with my family's pentecostal roots, there was also plenty of "This life is hell and heaven is our reward from it") in it; I think I still believe in something, that at least a kind of energy can continue on.

Results of Last Iraq Election In: They DON'T Want Democracy Bush Style

That's what CNN is reporting. Vote shows people there want a theocracy, much like the extremists here want.

Rumsfeld: Catching Bin Laden "Still a Priority"

"I think it is interesting that we haven't heard from him in a year, close to a year," he said. "I don't know what it means. I suspect that in any event if he's alive and functioning that he's probably spending a major fraction of his time trying to avoid being caught.

"I have trouble believing that he's able to operate sufficiently to be in a position of major command over a worldwide al Qaeda operation, but I could be wrong. We just don't know."

Right. And becoming 6 feet tall is still a priority of mine.

I'll let you know if mine comes true. As for Donny's? Well...

Decidedly Off Topic But...

Here's the Dork Contest (John Bolton isn't a nominee) and the Scared of Santa photo contest.

NY Transit Strike

Nice work, Bloomberg, Pataki and Bushies.

You've consistently made any action by any unions punishable. This one involves the breaking of a union by trying to create a two-tier system that would have long-time workers covered by one set of rules and rights and the more junior workers covered by very little at all. And when they say no to union breaking, you call them "terrorists" and people "ready to harm Americans, starting with New Yorkers".

Very nice.

I'm not a big union lover, but I'm sick and tired of contracts being broken by corporations right and left and all rights and responsibilities employers should follow instead being taken from the American worker. If you happen to think this can't hurt you or someone you care about, I'm afraid to say you may be quite mistaken.

3,000 Troops Out of Afghanistan

[Update from Editor: Er.. make that DoD Secretary Donald "True Grit" Rumsfeld. If you want a real experience, watch a copy of "Catch 22" - or better yet, reread the novel - while you think about how the Bushies and Rumsfeld run the military. I did the other night, and it was grimly hilarious.]

That's what Rumself announced today.

Unfortunately, everything we hear of Afghanistan indicates things there are far worse than they were before we attacked on October 8, 2001. Oh yeah, and Osama's bin Forgotten is still loose - imagine that!

CNN Reader Mail

Is filled with people angry over Bush and spying.

About damned time.

So Cheney Rushes Home

admittedly to pummel, threaten, and demean those asking for an investigation and ready to "cast" tie-breaking votes to push through Bush Rule.

What better a time to have the extension of the Patriot Act sitting on the table than a time when it's becoming apparent even to the most slow-to-catch-on citizens that Bush and Cheney have been waging war AGAINST American ideals and our spirit of freedom? I'm sorry but I've read the original Patriot Act and I've read extensively about how the Patriot Act has been used and abused (we paid for Michael Jackson's child porn investigation which ended in dismissal, we "liberated" bootleg copies of Revenge of the Sith, and we've put more docile pot smokers in jail than we have any real terrorists with this act). Don't pee on my leg and say it's raining, and don't force the Patriot Act down by throat and tell me this administration loves freedom and glory.

Conyers Calls for Censure of Bush and Cheney and Bilateral House of Reps and Senate Hearings

Shakespeare's Sister has the most welcome news here.

To send the word to your Congress critter that you want - no, DEMAND - a full investigation, here's the place to start.

There is also the Censure Bush group. Links to more information about these developments can be found there.

The Word Impeachment

It's actually broken out in Washington, DC this week, and got even louder after Mr. Bush came out swinging at the press for revealing - after holding it back for a year - the fact that he's permitted domestic surveillance of American citizens, something that as much as Mr. Bush spins it, is still NOT allowed.

And regardless of what the talking (but just reciting) heads say, Republicans signed onto a call for investigations into Bush's actions. It's hardly JUST Democrats.