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St. Sebastian's Day
Pistachio House, Tacoma

My Dear Friends,

For eight years now, I have been constantly reminded, nearly every day, of the words that New York Boss Mark Hannah reportedly uttered of Theodore Roosevelt, "I can't believe that goddam cowboy is President of the United States". Indeed.

Today, the cowboy ambles home to Texas. Praise God.

I'm staying home today, with millions around the country and the world, to watch this moment. Of course, I've been watching Presidential inaugurals since 1977, so that's not particularly new.

However, (and however you feel about Mr Obama's politics) this is an amazing moment in the history of my country. For centuries his were a people enslaved, and then freed to poverty and powerlessness, a bloody stain on our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, and they now celebrate - we now celebrate - the inauguration of one of their own as President.

It was only forty years ago that African Americans were allowed to march in an inaugural parade.

It is one of the miracles of genius of our democracy that we can have these peaceful transfers of power from one president to another, from one party to another, and now from one people to another.

It awes me.

And there are three million or more people in the bitter January cold of our capital to witness it.

This is the biggest party our country has ever thrown. I for one, plan to enjoy it.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

Besides,
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.


(Langston Hughes)

Edited to add: Aretha Franklin is sheer genius.

Edited to add: Congratulations, Mr. President.

Vote!

23 Sep 2008 18:44
thomryng: A Sepia Man in a Hat (Do you have a flag?)
Well, let's see if the looming end of our industrial civilization has changed anybody's vote. This is the second in a series of polls to see who the people reading my blog prefer for U.S. President.

All candidates who are on the ballot in enough states to win a majority in the U.S. Electoral College are listed.

[Poll #1265852]

Poll will remain open for 24 hours (more or less). I'll post another one next week.
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From: Minister of the Treasury Paulson
Subject: REQUEST FOR URGENT CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

n.b. several versions of this have come across my (virtual) desk. This is my favourite.

... and therefore I believe the President and Vice President of the United States must be impeached.

(bet you thought I'd forgotten!)

Vote!

17 Sep 2008 09:41
thomryng: A Sepia Man in a Hat (Do you have a flag?)
I thought it might be fun to run a series of polls and we draw closer to the actual election to see who the people reading my blog prefer for U.S. President.

All candidates who are on the ballot in enough states to win a majority in the U.S. Electoral College are listed.

[Poll #1261270]

Edited to add: Poll will remain open for 24 hours. I'll post another one next week.


Edited to add: Poll closed!
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First off, I'm glad to see that somebody reminded Senator Obama that his opponent in the fall is Senator McCain, the Bush record, and Governor Palin, in that order.

Senator Obama would be wise to let Senator Biden go after Governor Palin and to leave well enough alone himself.

Despite the spin, the Governor is no newbie:

Far from being a reprise of Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Palin was a clear-eyed politician who, from the day she took office, knew exactly what she had to do and whose toes she would step on to do it.

The surprise is not that she has been in office for such a short time but that she has succeeded in each of her objectives. She has exposed corruption; given the state a bigger share in Alaska's energy wealth; and negotiated a deal involving big corporate players, the US and Canadian governments, Canadian provincial governments, and native tribes - the result of which was a £13 billion deal to launch the pipeline and increase the amount of domestic energy available to consumers. This deal makes the charge of having "no international experience" particularly absurd.

Read the whole article and wake up to the fact that Senator McCain learned strategy at Annapolis. Palin is no Quayle.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] redoubtable1 for this link: http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/sliming_palin.html.

Let's get the facts right and not waste time on repeating false rumours that end up making us look foolish.

We must fight them on the issues and on the record of the previous eight years.

Let me repeat that.

We must fight them on the issues and on the record of the previous eight years.

Don't throw this away, people. There's a lot more at stake than pride or even righteous anger.

Edited to add: I'm shutting down the comments on this one for the moment.
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Part the first, wherein the author establishes his bona fides

I am a lifelong Democrat. Growing up in Chicago with a father in the pipefitter's union pretty much set me on that course, but I was not an indifferent Democrat.

In high school, I worked on Gary Hart's presidential campaign. I handed out flyers in Chicago neighbourhoods that under any other circumstance could be dangerous to my physical well-being.

I supported Paul Tsongas and Bill Clinton. I've worked for campaigns, national and local, calling constituents and stuffing envelopes and even speechwriting.

For a while, I served on my County's Central Committee.

Over the years, I've had my arguments on policy and philosophy with other party members, but we've always come together on issues relating to social justice, civil rights, and (more recently) fiscal sanity.

While he is not the Second Coming (contrary to what some supporters may think), Senator Barack Obama is the Necessary Man. He has the skills and vision to put this country back on the correct path, a path that under this current administration has been forsaken.

He has the charisma of Bobby Kennedy and the wonkitude of President Clinton, and he is clearly what our country badly needs right now.

And as much as I may joke that Joe Biden is the reincarnation of Gerald Ford, I respect his background and his service in the Senate.

I am proud to be a Democrat, and I'm proud of our candidates.

Part the second, wherein the author chides his fellow party members

Having said that, however, I am profoundly ashamed of some members of my party.

When Senator McCain chose Governor Palin as his running mate on the Republican ticket, a great many of my fellow Democrats lost their collective minds.

The knee-jerk contempt and unalloyed vitriol that has been unleashed against the Governor is horrifying.

Attacking the Governor's record, ethical behaviour in office, and political views are required to the proper functioning of our adversarial democracy. This is not the issue.

What shames me deeply are the ad hominem attacks. The nasty, Rove-worthy snipes against her personal life and her family life, inlcuding words and phrases that reveal more about the screeder than the screedee.

You know the ones. Retarded breeder. Welfare queen. Hick. Skanky. White trash. The ridiculous charge of "faking a pregnancy".

For God's sake, people, can you hear yourselves? This is as bad as, if not worse than, the right-wing nutjob smear campaigns unleased against then-President Clinton. And it's exactly the kind of personal-destruction politics against which Senator Obama is campaigning.

This is not frakkin' high school, people. Grow up.

Part the third, wherein the author issues a grave warning

This election is ours to lose. And those using this sort of language against the Governor are doing their very best to lose it for us.

Senator McCain is many things, but he is not a stupid man. His choice of Governor Palin was brilliant strategy. Never mind the shallow "Hillary voters will flock to her" bit. That was never the plan.

Look for a moment at Senator McCain's problems with his party. Right now, the Republican party is a loose alliance of three very different factions: old-school conservatives, the Evangelical right, and the NeoCons.

They can't agree on policy, much less a candidate, which is why McCain got the nomination at all.

But Governor Palin is all three of these. And she's young.

She can unify the Republican base behind McCain the way few other people could have.

And, like it or not, your personal attacks on Sarah "just plain folks" Palin are going to backfire. Have backfired. Look at the poll numbers, people.

When you get up on your high horse (or ivory tower) and insult the family and lifestyle of Governor Palin, most of America thinks you're insulting their families and lifestyles.

She is middle-America. And the more you attack her for being who she is (instead of what she's done), the more middle-America thinks you're attacking them.

Remember Adlai Stevenson? How well did the perception of disdain for ordinary rural and suburban Americans work out for that campaign?

The more you make Governor Palin the focus of the media and of this campaign, the more you firm up the Republican base and drive the middle to the right.

Focus on Senator McCain. Focus on the spectre of continuing the past eight years of horror and the cheap sale of our liberties. Focus on winning. For America.
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You decide.





McCain/Palin or Tigh/Roslin?

Well, it certainly confirms something I've long suspected.

SPOILER ALERT )
This evening, President Bill Clinton will address the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

His speech will be broadcast all over the nation.

So it is with some wry amusement that I note today is the Feast of Saint Monica.

Clearly, somebody in scheduling at the DNC has a sense of humour.
I encourage all my fellow Washingtonians to vote today for the party and candidate of your choice!


Find your caucus site
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Courtesy [livejournal.com profile] singingbarista, we have this lovely site that tells you who to vote for based on a laundry list of policy questions.

Here are my results:

1. Theoretical Ideal Candidate (100%)
2. Barack Obama (69%)
3. Ron Paul (69%)
4. Christopher Dodd (63%)
5. Dennis Kucinich (61%)
6. Alan Augustson (campaign suspended) (59%)
7. Al Gore (not announced) (57%)
8. John Edwards (56%)
9. Wesley Clark (not running, endorsed Clinton) (53%)
10. Joseph Biden (53%)

Visit the 2008 Presidential Candidate Selector

For the record, Senator Hillary Clinton came in 11th.

I'd like to draw your attention to the top two picks, who conveniently enough tied. They are not even in the same party. How does that work?
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Grendel

22 Aug 2007 06:42
thomryng: A Sepia Man in a Hat (Patriotic Pretzel)
Okay, it's official. Karl Rove is off his meds.

“Let’s face it, I mean, I’m a myth,” Mr. Rove told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” when asked about his critics. “You know, I’m Beowulf, you know, I’m Grendel. I don’t know who I am. But they’re after me.”

Wow. Self-aggrandizement and paranoia. Or how about this one?

Mr. Rove said the Constitution prevented him from complying with a Congressional subpoena to describe his part in the firings of United States attorneys.

When Mr. Wallace argued that executive privilege did not prevent him from answering a reporter’s questions (“Why did you push to fire some U.S. attorneys in the president’s second term?”), Mr. Rove turned testy. “I know you don’t understand you’re being an agent of Congress when you ask me that question,” he said. “But you are.”

Mike Wallace as a Congressional "agent"? Is Karl Rove living in an Indiana Jones world of shadowy myth and secret Nazi agents? Which part does Mr Rove play in this drama?

Well, he claims he was just following orders:

Bob Schieffer... asked Mr. Rove why he was subjecting himself to Sunday morning second-guessing.

“Somebody else made the decision for me,” he said. “I’m just doing what I was instructed to do.”

Hmm. Maybe he got the Grendel thing right after all.

Source

(... and therefore I believe the President and Vice President of the United States must be impeached.)
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Recently, I ran across Peggy Noonan's Wall Street Journal editorial A Separate Peace. Though it was published in 2005, I think the years since have only strengthened the evidence supporting her assertion:

I think there is an unspoken subtext in our national political culture right now. In fact I think it's a subtext to our society. I think that a lot of people are carrying around in their heads, unarticulated and even in some cases unnoticed, a sense that the wheels are coming off the trolley and the trolley off the tracks. That in some deep and fundamental way things have broken down and can't be fixed, or won't be fixed any time soon.

As has become obvious in the past years, the Unitary Executive theory endorsed by President Bush differs little from the reality of Rome's Principate. The Republic is under assault from within. Although the Democrats in Congress are now trying to assert Congressional prerogatives, particularly in the US Attorneys scandal [AP], it may well be too little too late.

The White House defiantly stuck by Gonzales on the perjury matter and flatly denied that FBI Director Robert S. Mueller on Thursday contradicted the attorney general's sworn testimony on internal Bush administration dissent over the president's secretive wiretapping program.

This administration has such contempt for Congress, that they order their people to ignore Congressional subpoenas and laugh off obvious prevarication and perjury committed by their officers in front of Congressional committees.

Most telling is this final paragraph from the AP story I cited above:

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee approved a contempt citation against two other Bush confidants, Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers. The full House is expected to vote on the citation in the fall, but the Justice Department has said it won't prosecute the two.

The system is broken, so much so that Congress is considering adding inherent contempt back into its arsenal for the first time since the Great Depression.

[I note that Wikipedia's article on Contempt of Congress is listed as "unverifiable" since it "does not cite any references or sources". This, of course, is balderdash, as the article's primary source is Congress's Contempt Power: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure, a PDF written by the Congressional Research Service for the use of Congress that runs 65 pages with no less than 402 footnotes.

It seems pretty well cited to me.]

Our system has been battered before. Take a look at the Grant administration, or those of Harding or Nixon. Look at the Civil War, the Depression, or Vietnam/Watergate. Look at slavery and segregation. And on the cultural and civility front, we're miles ahead of the Andrew Jackson era. It's been simply decades since anybody was stabbed in the US Senate Chamber. You want yellow journalism? FOX is nothing next to the newspapers for which that phrase was coined in the lead-up to the Spanish-American War.

Somehow, we always bounced back. Somewhere, we always believed that the system could be fixed, and if we couldn't fix it there were men and women in our Constitutional Republic who could and would.

Yet, the feeling in much of the country this time seems to be - not so much. Why?


(... and therefore I believe the President and Vice President of the United States must be impeached.)

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

WHEN IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. [George, George]

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. [Signing Statements]

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. [Immigration, Land]

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. ["consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power"]

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance. [DHS]

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: [Defiance of International Law]

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: [Extrajudicial Prisoners, Guantánamo]

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences: [Extraordinary Rendition]

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: [Unitary Executive]

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

WE, THEREFORE, THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. [Treason]

— John Hancock

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

How many more violations can you find? Enjoy your Independence Day.

(... and therefore I believe the President and Vice President of the United States must be impeached.)

First, read this: Bush commutes Libby's prison sentence.

Now for some reaction:

"This decision to commute the sentence of a man who compromised our national security cements the legacy of an Administration characterized by a politics of cynicism and division, one that has consistently placed itself and its ideology above the law." (Sen. Barack Obama)

"Only a president clinically incapable of understanding that mistakes have consequences could take the action he did today. ... In George Bush's America, it is apparently okay to misuse intelligence for political gain, mislead prosecutors and lie to the FBI." (Sen. John Edwards)

"This administration clearly believes its officials are above the law." (Gov. Bill Richardson [NM])

I, on the other hand, can't decide whether I'm angry or amused. How blatant can they be before the "opposition" starts opposing?

If only Dick Cheney would shoot a guy... oh, wait. Never mind.
Congress united on Iraq pull-out

The US Senate has voted to approve a bill which requires US troops to start withdrawing from Iraq by October.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6597079.stm
Excellent editorial in The Guardian.

"It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere - while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: "dogs go on with their doggy life ... How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster."

"As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war" - a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president - without US citizens realising it yet - the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.

"That means a hollowness has been expanding under the foundation of all these still- free-looking institutions - and this foundation can give way...."

Discuss.
"The Legislative Branch has no oversight responsibility over the White House." (Tony Snow, White House Press Secretary, 22 March 2007)

I confess myself disappointed - this is perfectly ludicrous. Certainly they can come up with a less feeble response than this?

Or perhaps not.

Edited to add: Wikipedia on Congressional Oversight.

And if that's too complicated for the President, perhaps he should check out the US government's site for children, Ask Ben: "One of the most important implied powers is Congress’s authority to investigate and oversee the executive branch and its agencies, such as the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice."
Well, that's just swell. The President of the United States has just told the United States Senate to get stuffed.

In short, here's the scoop: Attorney General Alberto "The Waterboarding Kid" Gonzales fired a number of US Attorneys for "poor performance", apparently with White House approval.

It turns out that that these particular US Attorneys all had very good ratings and almost all had good to great performance evaluations.

It also turns out that every one of them either refused to back down from ethical investigations against Republicans or refused to pursue unwarranted investigations against Democrats.

It's pretty clear that Gonzales lied to Congress when they first tried to investigate this stupidity.

The White House and the Attorney General's office are only handing over some of the papers requested by the Senate, and now the President has said that no officials of the Executive branch will respond to Congressional subpoenas.

And who pursues the scofflaws who refuse to appear before Congress? Why, that would be...




wait for it...




the Attorney General's office.

If this all plays out the way the principals are indicating they're going to play it, then Congress will only have one option remaining.

Impeachment.

Stay tuned.
Taking a quick break for breakfast. Thought I'd better post this before I forgot again.

So last night in a bout of insomnia, my brain wandered freely and wide over the internets, and I came upon the site of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party. Now why can't we have political parties like that in this country? Or are the established parties already so insane as to defy parody?

From here, I came (eventually) to the 1999 policies of the McGillicuddy Serious Party of New Zealand. Now here's a party! The core of their philiosophy is Funism - the most fun for the most people - and their governmental program is based on accomplishing this through The Great Leap Backwards™.

Again, why can't we have political parties like that in this country?

Darn it, I think it's time to resurrect the sadly defunct Whig Party and start writing a manifesto!

(Why Whigs? They were a major party, once; their name is really kind of silly; it's time to reclaim the letter W.)

While I very much admire the McGillicuddy Serious Party's basic philosophy, we will need to make some changes to account for American insensibilites and to bring it up to date for these trying times.

Frankly, that's way more work than I want to do right now. That will require, I suspect, a new barbeque, much beer, and a select group of Whigs. So I'm thinking Spring some time.

For now, I'll simply propose a plank for the platform, as it were, on a minor issue.

Proposed Plank 0001: Male Head Covering

Hats are a civilizing influence on the male of the species, therefore the Whig Party will seek to enact local and national laws strongly encouraging men to wear hats in public. This may include such enforcement provisions as tax exemption for haberdasheries and for television and film productions where all male characters wear hats in public. Men shall not be compelled to wear hats, but they'll look pretty silly if they don't. For the purposes of these laws, baseball caps are not hats. They are appropriate only when actually playing baseball or golf, or perhaps while gardening.
I can hardly wait for somebody to write the plank on the reinstitution of duelling.
I came to work yesterday, though once again there was no school due to ice on the ground. Growing up in Chicago, where an overnight foot of snow wasn't enough to close my high school, I am consistently amazed at how little winter is required to shut down western Washington.

There was no heat in the building. By noon, I was shivering so hard that it was difficult to work with Adobe InDesign - the mouse was just shaking all over the place. My Principal, the only other person working in the building, took me to lunch. We didn't get back until about 4:00PM. Fortunately, I'd e-mailed the advertisement to the newspaper before we left.

This morning, it snowed again. Initially, we were going to open two hours late. I got the cancellation call when I was already on my way to work. Today, though it was just me and the janitor, at least the building was heated. I updated the web site and worked on some more details for Catholic Schools Week - I'm assuming that we won't get another Ice Age between now and then.

The bus slid all over the road on the way here, so I stuck it out until midafternoon in hopes that it would get a little warmer. This strategy was only marginally successful. Home now, and desperately trying to warm up. Hmmm. Perhaps some tea...

In one bit of spectacularly good news, Senator Barack Obama has formed a Presidential Exploratory Committee. This can only be good for the state and level of discourse in this country. It's 1968 all over again (hopefully sans assassination this time).
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WASHINGTON -- President Bush quietly has claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant.

Bush asserted the new authority Dec. 20 after signing legislation that overhauls some postal regulations. He then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open mail under emergency conditions, contrary to existing law and contradicting the bill he had just signed, according to experts who have reviewed it.

Full story: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003508676_mail04.html

Happy "New" Year!
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... though there were an awful lot of questions. There is nothing in the description with which I disagree.


Third Way Liberal

You scored 66% Personal Liberty and 36% Economic Liberty!
A third way liberal believes in little to moderate government intervention on personal matters and moderate to high government intervention on economic matters. They tend to be opposed to war, police powers, victimless crimes, and what they may consider to be a corporate state or rogue capitalism. They generally support personal liberty and believes in a social safety net or welfare state. They support self-ownership and privacy. Third way liberals are essentially the "mainstream" left and left of center.










My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Personal
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Economic




Link: The Politics Test written by brainpolice.


Discuss.
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CNN reports: Rumsfeld resigns.

Nothing I like better than the smell of Congressional subpoenas in the morning...

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

WHEN IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. [George, George]

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. [Signing Statements]

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. [Immigration, Land]

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. ["consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power"]

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance. [DHS]

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: [Defiance of International Law]

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: [Extrajudicial Prisoners, Guantánamo]

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences: [Extraordinary Rendition]

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: [Unitary Executive]

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

WE, THEREFORE, THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. [Treason]


I'm sure I've missed numerous examples. A general overview of many of these topics may be found here: War!

Enjoy your Independence Day.

Edited to add: Here's a lovely little birthday present for you, America, from your Unitary Executive. C.I.A. Closes Unit Focused on Capture of bin Laden.

Score one for the Supreme Court.

"In a 5-3 decision this morning (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld), the United States Supreme Court ruled that neither Congress's post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), nor the inherent powers of the President gave the President the authoirty to establish military tribunals on Guantanamo Bay to try and convict alleged enemy combatants in the war on terror. The Court found the commissions illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva Convention." (KOS)

The Opinion (PDF)

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As the last polling stations closed on the West Coast, exit polls showed Kerry ahead in ten of eleven battleground states -- including commanding leads in Ohio and Florida -- and winning by a million and a half votes nationally. The exit polls even showed Kerry breathing down Bush's neck in supposed GOP strongholds Virginia and North Carolina. Against these numbers, the statistical likelihood of Bush winning was less than one in 450,000. ''Either the exit polls, by and large, are completely wrong,'' a Fox News analyst declared, ''or George Bush loses.''

But as the evening progressed, official tallies began to show implausible disparities -- as much as 9.5 percent -- with the exit polls. In ten of the eleven battleground states, the tallied margins departed from what the polls had predicted. In every case, the shift favored Bush.


Source: Rolling Stone, article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Extensively footnoted and absolutely terrifying.

The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. (Josef Stalin)

Discuss.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

FBI spies on Journalists

"The FBI acknowledged late Monday that it is increasingly seeking reporters' phone records in leak investigations. 'It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration,' said a senior federal official."

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.

Warrantless wiretaps—and more!

"On Thursday, news accounts revealed that AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth have been sharing the telephone records of millions of Americans with the National Security Agency. According to USA Today, the NSA is using this information to create a database of every phone call being made within the nation's borders."

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Innocent until proven guilty?

"A federal magistrate judge yesterday recommended rejecting a petition by the sole remaining enemy combatant being held on U.S. soil, finding that Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri had not offered persuasive evidence rebutting the government's allegations against him."

Not charges, mind you. Allegations.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Indefinite detention based upon suspicion

"Despite the clear language of the Constitution that prohibits detention without trial, the Bush administration insists that it can indefinitely hold Padilla—or anyone else it chooses—as an 'enemy combatant' without trial or even formal charges."

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

CIA torture camps investigated by EU

"One of the crimes committed by the CIA in these renditions is a violation of U.S. Code 2441, the War Crimes Act of 1996 condemning torture—and the international Covenant Against Torture."
As in insane. Froot-loopy. Utter bonkers.

New Yorker Magazine reports in its April 17 issue that

The administration of President George W. Bush is planning a massive bombing campaign against Iran, including use of bunker-buster nuclear bombs



Source: DKos

Please e-mail your Congresscritters (House information here, Senate here).

I wish to God I were making this up.
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(ten points to anyone identifying the source of the subject line)

Libby fingers Bush:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide told prosecutors that his boss said President Bush authorized the leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq, according to court papers filed by prosecutors in the CIA leak case.

Source: CNN

Now can we impeach him? Please?

Impeachment links
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IMPEACH

29 Mar 2006 08:53
thomryng: A Sepia Man in a Hat (Patriotic Pretzel)
The Case for Impeachment (Harper's Magazine)

The I-word goes public (Salon)

‘Impeach Bush’ chorus grows (Sunday Times of London)

Five Vermont Towns Vote to Impeach Bush (AP)

House Resolution 635

Creating a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment.

Currently stuck in committee. Likely to stay there.

Near Paul Revere Country, Anti-Bush Cries Get Louder (Washington Post)

Impeach the MotherF***er Already (probably not work safe)

The Conyers Report
WASHINGTON -- When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

The bill contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers ....

Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."


Source: Boston Globe

Edited to add: Oh, and we're broke, too.

Huzzah.
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A lazy Sunday morning made lazier by our intention to go to the later, 11:30 Mass.

Last night, [livejournal.com profile] jaynefury and I saw "V for Vendetta". I understand there has been some controversy about this film, particularly from Britain, and especially from those who read the graphic novel.

I am neither British, nor have read the novel (yet), so I cannot answer many of the complaints levelled against the film and the filmmakers. I would simply like to offer two opinions on the film.

One: This film was obviously made for a contemporary post-911 American audience. I think it spoke solidly and well about the Bush Regime and what Justice O'Connor called degenerating into dictatorship.

(Incidentally, if anyone can find the text of Justice O'Connor's March 10th speech at Georgetown University, I'd be grateful.)

Two: Natalie Portman can act. Who knew?

On a lighter note, Pooh sticks!
So there's a bit of good news on the UAE ports deal. Lest anyone feels the urge to engage in some irrational exuberance, I will remind you of some other things perpetrated by our government in the past week or so.

Congress reauthorizes the USA PATRIOT Act

And hey kids! This time parts of it never expire! Not to mention, as the article says, "Some critics of the final legislation contended that it gives too much power to the executive branch." No kidding.

Congress ignores the fact that the President broke the law

How does this even make sense? The President ordered wiretapping, illegally neglecting to notify the Congressional committees and Courts specifically set up to monitor this sort of thing. The Congressional solution? Well, rather than conduct an investigation, they're setting up another oversight committee, presumably so the President has somebody else he can ignore.

Torture?

We know they torture prisoners, but we'll continue to send them people we've captured. Provided they promise to play nice, of course.


There's more, but it's just making me depressed.

The President thinks he's a king, and Congress is just rolling over for him.
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Many US territories have their own Olympic Teams: US Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico for starters.

Other than an Olympic Team, what else do they have in common? No right to vote for US President and no representation in Congress for starters.

Hey! That sounds just like Washington DC!
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When you've got an hour or so, go watch the speech Al Gore gave yesterday.

C-SPAN

Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared witches and burnt women."

The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung (sic) as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.

Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.

Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?

It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.

We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens' right not only to life but also to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is therefore vital in our current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to safeguard our Constitution against the present danger posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the Executive Branch and the President's apparent belief that he need not live under the rule of law.


The Whole Text )

A call to action:

We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens' right not only to life but also to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is therefore vital in our current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to safeguard our Constitution against the present danger posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the Executive Branch and the President's apparent belief that he need not live under the rule of law.
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SO. this article was posted by my old HS friend Dean Esmay on his blog. To summarize, he believes that the person or persons who leaked the information to the NYTimes that the President had authorized illegal wiretaps on US citizens should be brought up on High Treason.

Unfortunately, the ability to comment on this story has been suspended. Lacking any other means to ask the question, I post it here in hope he'll stumble upon it.

So Dean, your argument is basically that this ruling was treasonous as well?

Or am I misunderstanding?
For those politically-minded friends who are not in favour of an imperial presidency, some resources:

This site neatly and comprehensively punctures the GOP talking points on the wiretapping scandal.

These timelines help you remember who said what when about the assorted administration scandals.

Here's a scandal I bet you've forgotten, but it turns out Congressman Duke Cunningham was wired...

A little more on the Bush-Abramoff connection.

And then there's the whole Christiane Amanpour thing... just weird.
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What?

22 Nov 2005 16:24
thomryng: Sunset over Byzantium (Sunset over Byzantium)
Confessions extracted under torture admissible in US courts.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4461642.stm

Discuss.
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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of [This message contains a banned expression, please delete this expression.], or prohibiting the [This message contains a banned expression, please delete this expression.] exercise thereof; or abridging the [This message contains a banned expression, please delete this expression.] of speech, or of the press; or the [This message contains a banned expression, please delete this expression.] of the people peaceably to assemble, and to [This message contains a banned expression, please delete this expression.] the Government for a [This message contains a banned expression, please delete this expression.].

Reference: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4088702.stm
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