A NOT SO FUNNY TRUTH reveals itself. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth are words as foreign to George Bush as his oath to preserve, defend and protect the Constitution of the United States. Leaders in congress were briefed, but not really briefed. What is implicit in word ends up not explicit in fact. The president has authority to spy on Americans granted him by resolution of Congress, but he doesn't. Tom Daschle is quite clear about that in an editorial in the Washington Post today. MORE
AT SOME POINT Cheney must have said, “That’s FISAble,” when asked if all this spying on us
NSA surveillance is legal. Then Cheney came to his senses. “If we do
it, it has to be legal.” So began the lesson plan. Cheney would pull
out the old books and school the pup Bush slobbering at his boot tops.
And now Bush the Plato to Cheney’s Aristotle sees shadows on the cave
wall and educates us as to the darkness of our age. Jim Hoagland has a bit about The Miseducation of George Bush. MORE
I'm not a lawyer, so it's kind of hard for me to kind of get bogged down in the law. (Applause.) I'm not going to play like one, either. (Laughter.) Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way.George Bush April 20, 2004
YOU WHO DOUBT the King President should listen to Yoo who knows all. John Yoo has a message for you. You who don’t recognize the King’s President’s authority should accept what Yoo has known all along. The King the President can do no wrong.
A NOT TOO SUBTLE MESSAGE Yoo knew this long along and you better remember it. The President knows who you Yoo is. You who know what you should have nothing to worry about and you who don’t we won’t have to worry about too much longer.
DOES ANYBODY have a watch or calendar? Is this 1974 or 1984? Are we moving forward? Or backward? Is time now running out? For who? Or is it whom? Who is the unimpeachable source on this story? And who has unimpeachable "authority?"
JOB WANTED Strong, decisive type. PsychoSociopath Go getter go get Osama someday preferred. Must not take no for an answer. Must be willing to sell people, arguments short McKrap TM 24/7. No obstacle in Constitution will stand in way of successful not so successfulbusinessman candidate businessmanwith friends for president of up and coming country company. No military service, okay. Must be willing to relocate all Constitutional power in White House. English as foreign language skill helpful. Paranoia Ability to work with others a plus. Must be willing to take entire month of August off to work long hours to achieve defined goals. Come climb the September Eleventh pile of rubble again climb the ladder of success with us.
WE ARE NOW spied on to protect "us" from "them." Welcome to the Not So Fun House where the mirrors reveal things are not as they seem.
A CASE OF NATIONAL Attention Deficit Disorder? How did we get to this point? With the rise of Bush perhaps is revealed a large case of national Attention Deficit Disorder. This ADD revealed itself first in Bush's um election when counting the actual votes just would have taken too long. We needed results as soon as possible. Look what we got. Can't wait for threats to emerge? Look what we got. That detainee might have info, let's get it however we can as quick as we can even if the results aren't quite true! Look what we got! We've got laws, but they take too long to comply with. Look what we got. What we got was screwed. We now live a mutual national delusion of one man. The number of spy agencies multiplies to keep “us” safe from “them.”
WORDS HAVE MEANING At least they used to. Those who counsel a strict construction of the constitution who now suggest Bush did not step all over the Constitution with his recent traipse over the Fourth Amendment and his trespass with the NSA spying incidents in the the domestic sphere are fooling themselves. Not to mention jumping through hoops of inconsistent logic. Or running in circles as they chase the tail or is it the the tale of the President? A certain duplicity reveals itself. What is untold when told later may tell us there is more here than what the President claims is "limited."
SAYING SOMETHING IS SO does not make it so. We live with a president who consistently believes restating his premise proves his premise. At some point people are going to have to take George Bush seriously both for what he says and what he does. That point is now. Casual asides reveal a more serious center, slightly off center. If one can say three examples prove a point, consider the famous or is it infamous citation of George Bush and his approach to his job. It would be a lot easier if this were a dictatorship, as long as he was the dictator. Said not once, but three separate times. Consider that Bush has declared he has on thirty separate times given the same order to the NSA to spy on citizens. Dictator? You decide. Some cynics would day dictator is term two syllables to long for what Bush has done here.
THOSE PESKY LAWS Orcinus considers “the problem:” These "annoying" laws exist for a reason fundamental to the very foundations of modern society: This is a nation of laws, not men. And while it's easy and convenient to discard those principles in the flimsy context of a movie, doing so in real life has profound and lasting complications. I think what you can say is that the Bush team is cynically manipulating public sentiment for the sake of pushing the limits of presidential power. It's a brilliant move, really, tapping into an aspect of the psyche that has been preconditioned by a hoary myth that has been perpetuated over the years by Hollywood: the notion that the action-driven hero's instincts for "saving lives" are superior to careful reasoning and principled restraint. But it sure is weird for a bunch of people who make a living out of deriding "Hollywood values."
THE HERETIK SUGGESTS we may end our national delusion if we stop feeding it with watching shows like 24. Can it be done? Even I confess I am sickly drawn to it. We see the fantasy. How many of us really want to live it?
WHAT'S OUT THERE BLOWING IN THE WIND? CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION Democrats and Republicans called separately yesterday for congressional investigations into President Bush's decision after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to allow domestic eavesdropping without court approval. "The president has, I think, made up a law that we never passed," said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.).
PUBLIC ENEMY? Joe Keohane offers a synopsis and review of the newly re-issued Sinclair Lewis novel It Can’t Happen Here written in the all to familiar 1930s: PICTURE THIS: A folksy, self-consciously plainspoken Southern politician rises to power during a period of profound unrest in America. The nation is facing one of the half-dozen or so of its worst existential crises to date, and the people, once sunny, confident, and striving, are now scared, angry, and disillusioned. This politician, a ''Professional Common Man,'' executes his rise by relentlessly attacking the liberal media, fancy-talking intellectuals, shiftless progressives, pinkos, promiscuity, and welfare hangers-on, all the while clamoring for a return to traditional values, to love of country, to the pie-scented days of old when things made sense and Americans were indisputably American. He speaks almost entirely in ''noble but slippery abstractions''-Liberty, Freedom, Equality-and people love him, even if they can't fully articulate why without resorting to abstractions themselves. Through a combination of factors-his easy bearing chief among them (along with massive cash donations from Big Business; disorganization in the liberal opposition; a stuffy, aloof opponent; and support from religious fanatics who feel they've been unfairly marginalized)-he wins the presidential election.
THE HERETIK HAS PREVIOUSLY stated a belief in a certain circularity to history and a skepticism of progress. We face the same monsters again and again, the problems are as old as Proteus, the enemy returns like the multiplying heads of the Hydra, the face we see against us morphs in the mirror.
MORE ON WHAT WE ARE LOOKING AT NEW TECH BEHIND NSA SNOOP CASE?There's more to the NSA domestic spying case than the current storyline -- that much is clear. The idea that the Bush Administration needed to bypass the courts to get wiretaps quickly makes no sense; under the current system, you can start eavesdropping, and get a warrant later. The notion that disclosing the surveillance would somehow tip off potential terrorists is laughable, too; Al Qaeda types know they're being monitored. That's all assuming, of course, that the wiretaps in this case are the same as in any other. But maybe they're not. Maybe there's something different about this surveillance. It could be in its scope, as Laura suggests. But I'm guessing -- and this is just a guess -- that the real difference is in the technology of the wiretaps themselves.
TODAY’S LINE from Condoleezza Rice on Meet The Press is a preview of what you can expect to hear from the President and anyone making his case for spying without a warrant on citizens.[C&L video] The president has the authority. . .
Tim, the president has authorities under FISA, which we are using and using actively. He also has constitutional authorities that derive from his role as commander in chief and his need to protect the country. He has acted within his constitutional authority and within statutory authority. . . Tim, again, I'm not a lawyer, but the president has constitutional authority and he has statutory authorities.
RICE REPEATEDLY SAID she was not a lawyer, yet offered a “legal” explanation for the President's acts. He has the authority. Constitutional authority. Statutory authority. Yet he crossed constitutional lines and he disregarded statutes. But he has the authority. Because his lawyers offered him independent advice. Or something. Stir this in with numerous mentions of September Eleventh, September Eleventh and you will have the gumbo the White House will serve up to disguise its treading upon the fourth amendment. The cynical may count up the number of times Rice recites she is not a lawyer, but others may find this simply hard to stomach.
THE BAR EXAM The right says right on to all Bush has done. He should be doing more of the same. The left calls for impeachment. And others say move on. We live in a strange world where lawyers whisper in private and non lawyers and lawyers shout now in public. On one side the outrage comes from a lack of answers, on the other that authority is even questioned. Some won’t get answers no matter how many questions get asked, but the questions remain. We live in a world where people view freedom differently and what security is remains something few will allow many to question.
MY WIFE IS DONE beating up on traitor Democrats like Biden and Kennedy. She will leave those losers right where they belong with the other frothing rabid dogs. My wife wants to give a beating where the beating belongs. She wants to beat the bushes now, in particular Bush George. She says if he were our son, she would tell him he is onebad son of a bitch. I am no sure how to tell her what that makes her.
SHUT UP she says. Shut up, you bitches. I am pretty sure she spiked the eggnog after she found out the New York Times spiked this spy on citizen story for a whole year. When she heard about all the right and righteous ones on the right who want to put the Times on a spike for treason, I think she downed a whole bottle of Jim Beam while I was working what is left of my upper body at the home gym. The Times has a past it should have lived up to sooner, rather than later, my wife said.
SHUT UP you bitches, she said with some relish. We know treason and have seen it before. I know it was alcohol I was smelling on her breath as she finished up the last of her toast and the editorial in the Washington Post. I enjoyed that brief moment of silence before the damn broke loose. The torrent started to rip Bush’s way.
SHUT UP she says. Shut up, you bitches. I am pretty sure the minister might notice something other than angel’s breath this morning when my angel takes the sacrament. It’s beats the devil out of me how I am going to make her stop her stammering about beating the hell out of that son of a bitch Bush. Don’t you see it’s all related, she yells as she puts on her yellow coat. I am going to drive us now to the meeting house if she doesn’t drive me crazy first. I hope shedoesn’t start up about the lawyers. She would say by by to Bybee in a minute.
SHUT UP she says. Shut up, you bitches. You is a bitch, I heard her say. Rarely am I the one to suffer her attack. And her grammar seemed lost, if only for a moment. My wife collected what I thought was the lost parts of her mind. Then she said. Not you. Yoo, John Yoo is a bitch. I hoped she would be done by the time we got to church, because I was sure all the congregants would hear her and possibly god in high heaven. Yoo is in trouble and I'm glad it's not me.
SHUT UP she says. Shut up, you bitches. Things got more graphic as she stuck her head out the car window. She suggested a solution to the problem which might work for her, but not for me. My wife said we should take all these lawyers who tell Bush breaking the law is all right and we should shove them all up Bush's ass. My wife said that would shut up those bitches for good and might give Bush pause from running his mouth as well. My darling who smiles rarely went quiet, then gave me the oddest grin.
THEN SHE TURNED ON ME and asked me where is Osama? I didn't want to be the one to tell her the reason he hasn't been found.
SAVING LIVES will be the saving line if not the saving grace for a White House looking to save its collective ass. The collective ass would be what the President is trying to make of us but he is saving lives against this the great new collective. We are saving lives in The War Against Everything TM. Check out how may times Scott McLellan says the White House is saving its ass saving lives by breaking the lawspying on citizens by doing what is necessary consistent with the laws of our country and the Constitution. If you haven’t noticed, it’s us against them time again.
OUR CAUSE IS JUST and we are not afraid to look just ridiculous in the fight against them. The new collective we fight against replaces the old collective that was communism. The new collective is the caliphate. Or the dream of the caliphate. The caliphate is the dream of Osama who we can’t catch. Or Zarqawi who we caught, but released. All these Arabs who are Muslims and Muslims who are not Arabs will unite together with Muslims who are secular and not practicing what the others preach to crush us. Our enemies are far more organized than us and even more singleminded than Our Leader when he decided spying on us was the way to save us from them. They who are them only dream of making our nightmare come true.
IT’S ALL PRETTY CLEAR Bush getting caught doing what he shouldn’t have done he wouldn’t have done if the evil doers hadn’t made him do it. Spying? Must be done. Gotta save lives. From them. Patriot Act? Saving lives. From them. And saving time. Because when you are saving lives, the quickest way to do it is to march right over the Constitution. Even FISA courts can't be bothered with. Anybody who doesn’t understand that is unamerican. You are either with us or against us. Blah, blah, blah.
THE GREAT VICTORY ON TORTURE John McCain “won” on Thursday is now over. Open now the gates of hell and of Guantanamo. Torture is back in business, big time. What the left hand gives, the right takes away. Rights and dignity in McCain’s measure against “torture” sit side by side with a Graham amendment in a single Defense spending bill. Justice and decency are bid for in the dropping of coins from our national treaury, then they drop from sight. Let the victory tour roll on. The Graham Levin amendment limits appeals of detainees for justice and um not incidentally allows “coerced testimony” to be used in military courts.
Thomas B. Wilner, a lawyer who represents a group of Kuwaiti detainees at Guantánamo Bay, said in an interview that the new language would render the McCain restrictions unenforceable at the Cuban prison. "If McCain is one small step forward, enactment of this language would be two giant steps backwards," Mr. Wilner said. Two of the main Senate sponsors of the measure, Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, defended the changes made to the language that the Senate passed last month, 84 to 14. Mr. Graham acknowledged the measure's intention to make it possible to use information obtained by coercive interrogation techniques in military panels that evaluate whether detainees at Guantánamo are being rightfully held as "enemy combatants." He argued that the techniques were not abusive.
LEVIN SHOULD BE PARTICULARLY ASHAMED in this pass the buck pas de deux. In this dance of the damned, he says he had to choose between two bad alternatives. Evil wins when good gives up and chooses the lesser rather than fighting for the better. The New York Times has an editorial out that says Ban All Torture, which is what you would think happened in with the McCain amendment. But what really happened is a case of you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours and don’t look at whether we just scratched the eyes out of some poor bastard or worse.
JUSTICE IS BLIND to what will now go on, but the architects of this minor atrocity will pat each other on the back. Call in the cameras. We have an announcement. Torture is banned, but it isn’t. Are the cameras ready? Done. You scratch my balls, I’ll scratch yours. Such announcements sound like the scratching of fingernails on a chalkboard. Chalk one up for tearing out fingernails. We do not torture, but tortured testimony is cool. Or something
Mr. Addington, who was a primary architect of the presidential order [establishing the military commissions], argued in the debates earlier this year that by explicitly prohibiting evidence obtained by torture, the administration would raise an unnecessary red flag. suggesting at least implicitly that prisoners in American custody were, in fact, being tortured, officials said.
SO THE ADMISSION COMES in the denial. We cannot deny what we do because that would admit what we do. So we slip into darkness, back into the black sea, and our reptilian past.
MORE VOICES IN THE SOUND AND THE FURY EMILY BAZELON The Get Out of Torture Free Card: How will McCain and Graham-Levin-Kyl play out in practice? One reading of the twin provisions is that a government interrogator who tortured a detainee could be prosecuted for violating McCain's ban, even as the testimony he elicited is used to keep that detainee or another one behind bars. Talk about sending mixed signals. In practice, though, it's hard to see how claims of torture will come to light in any of these proceedings.
SOME WILL SAY Bush and more particularly Cheney won on this. No one won. We all lost.
BODY AND SOUL Jeanne has an assignment: This is confusing, and it's meant to be. While the headlines blare that Bush finally agreed that torture and abuse will not be allowed, and that the Army Field Manual will determine how prisoners are treated, it looks like the final agreement will be that torture is forbidden, but if one of our guys happens to do it, he can argue that a "reasonable person" wouldn't have considered an act contrary to the Army Field Manual to actually be unlawful, and if a victim confesses under the stress of that accidentally unlawful treatment, we can still use the information in a tribunal. And if you happen to find yourself in that unhappy position, you will have no right to ask why you're being held.
THE HERETIK SUSPECTS some teachers may offer more assignments of reading Joseph Heller’s Catch 22.
WAPO GETS IT RIGHT well half right, when it says: In short, restoring the rule of law over an administration that deliberately chose lawlessness in its treatment of detainees may be an arduous process. And yet the McCain amendment is a vital, and hard-won, opening move.
THOSE WHO FORGET the bad faith this administration has engaged in may soon see worse. The Post seems to have jumped on the McCain train and neglected to connect how the Graham Levin Kyl amendment kills it.
PESSIMIST at Left Coaster sees the cartoon aspect: What was it Boris Badinov used to say? Ah, yes: "Never underestimate the power of a schnook!"
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH gets the bottom line on this: If passed into law, this would be the first time in American history that Congress has effectively permitted the use of evidence obtained through torture.