American Civil Liberties Union ran this Ad, No President Is Above the Law, in the NYT on December 22nd. It may be time to give again to the ACLU. For our own protection.
I think the new rallying cry should be "Give me Liberty or Give me George."
This editorial by Robert Steinback, Fear destroys what bin Laden could not, from the Miami Herald was written for me. It expresses my sentiments precisely. In fact, so much so that I have included much of the column:
If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.
Had anyone said our president would invade a country and kill 30,000 of its people claiming a threat that never, in fact, existed, then admit he would have invaded even if he had known there was no threat -- and expect America to be pleased by this -- I would have thought our nation's sensibilities and honor had been eviscerated.
If I had been informed that our nation's leaders would embrace torture as a legitimate tool of warfare, hold prisoners for years without charges and operate secret prisons overseas -- and call such procedures necessary for the nation's security -- I would have laughed at the folly of protecting human rights by destroying them.
If someone had predicted the president's staff would out a CIA agent as revenge against a critic, defy a law against domestic propaganda by bankrolling supposedly independent journalists and commentators, and ridicule a 37-year Marie Corps veteran for questioning U.S. military policy -- and that the populace would be more interested in whether Angelina is about to make Brad a daddy -- I would have called the prediction an absurd fantasy.
That's no America I know, I would have argued. We're too strong, and we've been through too much, to be led down such a twisted path.
What is there to say now?
* * * *
I evidently have a lot poorer insight regarding America's character than I once believed, because I would have expected such actions to provoke -- speaking metaphorically now -- mobs with pitchforks and torches at the White House gate. I would have expected proud defiance of anyone who would suggest that a mere terrorist threat could send this country into spasms of despair and fright so profound that we'd follow a leader who considers the law a nuisance and perfidy a privilege.
Never would I have expected this nation -- which emerged stronger from a civil war and a civil rights movement, won two world wars, endured the Depression, recovered from a disastrous campaign in Southeast Asia and still managed to lead the world in the principles of liberty -- would cower behind anyone just for promising to ``protect us.''
President Bush recently confirmed that he has authorized wiretaps against U.S. citizens on at least 30 occasions and said he'll continue doing it. His justification? He, as president -- or is that king? -- has a right to disregard any law, constitutional tenet or congressional mandate to protect the American people.
Is that America's highest goal -- preventing another terrorist attack? Are there no principles of law and liberty more important than this? . . . A proud, confident republic can hunt down its enemies without trampling legitimate human and constitutional rights.
Ultimately, our best defense against attack -- any attack, of any sort -- is holding fast and fearlessly to the ideals upon which this nation was built. Bush clearly doesn't understand or respect that. Do we?
A while ago, I mentioned a "rumor" from the National Enquirer (see: Save Our Children), about Bush drinking again. Little did I know just how true it was.
Just watch this clip from The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson (via One Good Move), Party On George.
Man, does he look like he fell off the wagon!! It is hysterical. I guess he had a few (too many) cups of kindness, for auld lang syne.
Philip James comments on the "Bush administration's defence of unauthorised phone taps shows a chilling disregard for the rule of law," in a Guardian piece, The American nightmare, which is worth reading in full. He aptly notes that:
While the rest of the world may have lost faith in America long ago, President Bush is counting on the continued support of Americans. He has calculated that, after 9/11, the American people are prepared to trade some constitutional liberties for personal safety. It is a cynical calculation that has worked so far. So far fear has triumphed over hope.
Another article to check out is this one by Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune, Beyond the imperial presidency, in which he says:
President Bush is a bundle of paradoxes. He thinks the scope of the federal government should be limited but the powers of the president should not. He wants judges to interpret the Constitution as the framers did, but doesn't think he should be constrained by their intentions.
* * * *
But the theory boils down to a consistent and self-serving formula: What's good for George W. Bush is good for America, and anything that weakens his power weakens the nation. To call this an imperial presidency is unfair to emperors.
And I'd add, at what point is it wrong to refer to us (U.S.) as a Democracy?
"If we don't discuss the program and the lack of authority for it, we are meeting the enemy -- in the mirror."
No, this is not a quote from the usual "Liberal rag." This editorial is from the financial business (conservative) magazine, Barron's, Unwarranted Executive Power, which excoriates Bush for committing a potentiatly "Impeachable Offense" (via BuzzFlash). A few snippets:
AS THE YEAR WAS DRAWING TO A CLOSE, we picked up our New York Times and learned that the Bush administration has been fighting terrorism by intercepting communications in America without warrants. It was worrisome on its face, but in justifying their actions, officials have made a bad situation much worse: Administration lawyers and the president himself have tortured the Constitution and extracted a suspension of the separation of powers.
. . .
Surely the "strict constructionists" on the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary eventually will point out what a stretch this is. The most important presidential responsibility under Article II is that he must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." That includes following the requirements of laws that limit executive power. There's not much fidelity in an executive who debates and lobbies Congress to shape a law to his liking and then goes beyond its writ.
Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later. The members of the House Judiciary Committee who staged the impeachment of President Clinton ought to be as outraged at this situation. They ought to investigate it, consider it carefully and report either a bill that would change the wiretap laws to suit the president or a bill of impeachment.
It is important to be clear that an impeachment case, if it comes to that, would not be about wiretapping, or about a possible Constitutional right not to be wiretapped. It would be about the power of Congress to set wiretapping rules by law, and it is about the obligation of the president to follow the rules in the Acts that he and his predecessors signed into law.
Some ancillary responsibility, however, must be attached to those members of the House and Senate who were informed, inadequately, about the wiretapping and did nothing to regulate it. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, told Vice President Dick Cheney in 2003 that he was "unable to fully evaluate, much less endorse these activities." But the senator was so respectful of the administration's injunction of secrecy that he wrote it out in longhand rather than give it to someone to type. Only last week, after the cat was out of the bag, did he do what he should have done in 2003 -- make his misgivings public and demand more information.
Published reports quote sources saying that 14 members of Congress were notified of the wiretapping. If some had misgivings, apparently they were scared of being called names, as the president did last week when he said: "It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy."
The Democratic Daily Blog provides its The Festivus Airing of Grievances. It's worth reading the List.
As the post explains:
Today is Festivus, the nondenominational holiday made famous on Seinfeld. The Festivus celebration includes The Airing of Grievances in which each participate at the Festivus Dinner tells each other all the instances where they disappointed him or her that year. In the spirit of George Lakoff’s “strict father” model for Republican leadership style, for Festivus this year I rant to one and all about all the ways in which George Bush has disappointed . . ."
Another list: Balloon Juice (& thanks for the picture).
And, of course, there's even a Festivus - The website for the rest of us.
As I sit here, in front of my Christmas Tree, listening to a selection of holiday music, Mandy, this one is for you:
Bah, Humbug - The horrors of December in a one-party state
David Sirota recently posted a piece at the Huffington Post, The Most Important Question of All in Bush's Domestic Spying Scandal, probing some of the underlying issues related to the spy scandal. As he observes:
So the question reporters should be asking the White House isn't why the president thinks there should be domestic efforts to track and stop terrorists. The vast majority of Americans think that. The question reporters should be asking is "Why did the President order domestic surveillance operations without obtaining constitutionally-required warrants?" That is behavior that most Americans who believe in the Constitution likely do not support at all.
* * * *
Make no mistake about it - this is an especially poignant question considering that, under the Patriot Act's weakened standards, the government can now circumvent the traditional (and more rigorous) judicial system and obtain a warrant directly from a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. Remember, this is a court almost completely skewed in favor of the government. . . . [T]he President has tried to deflect attention by repeatedly saying he needed to order these operations to protect Americans. Fine – but it still doesn't answer the real question. If the surveillance operations he ordered were so crucial and so important to protecting our country, how come he didn't get a warrant? Surely something so critical to our security would have easily elicited a warrant from a FISA court already inclined to issue warrants in the first place, right?
And that gets us right back to the most important question: why would the President deliberately circumvent a court that was already wholly inclined to grant him domestic surveillance warrants? The answer is obvious, though as yet largely unstated in the mainstream media: because the President was likely ordering surveillance operations that were so outrageous, so unrelated to the War on Terror, and, to put it in Constitutional terms, so "unreasonable" that even a FISA court would not have granted them.
This opinion piece by Marianne Means, We are a democracy, not a monarchy, from the Salt Lake Tribune, also addresses the issues at stake.
After thinking about it, maybe the right word is autocracy.
The crush of political news has been overwhelming in the past week or so, but so has the holiday crush, so blogging has been off.
A quick overview of the spy scandals:
First came the news that the Pentagon was spying on suspicious anti-war, peace-loving terrorists, such as the Quakers, Is the Pentagon spying on Americans?, and student groups opposed to the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual military personnel, AMERICAblog.
Then came the news from the NYT that "President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying." Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say.
Next up, was the revelation that the Times held the story for over a year, delaying publication at the request of the White House. The original publication date would have been right before the election. See: At the Times, a Scoop Deferred.
The import of that is noted by Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, Bush's Snoopgate, who put it well:
Finally we have a Washington scandal that goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power. President Bush came out swinging on Snoopgate—he made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
No wonder Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I learned this week that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story. The Times will not comment on the meeting,
but one can only imagine the president’s desperation.
The problem was not that the disclosures would compromise national security, as Bush claimed at his press conference. . . . No, Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker. He insists he had “legal authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing force.” But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law.
See also: "All the news that's fit to print" -- except when it's about us. Discussions at firedoglake and Eschaton are also worth reading to see the issues involved.
Yesterday's NYT gave the latest installment of the spy scandal, in F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show, reporting that "[c]ounterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief . . ." The FBI targeted "a handful of groups, including PETA, the environmental group Greenpeace and the Catholic Workers group, which promotes antipoverty efforts and social causes."
* * * *
“But out of the gobbledygook, comes a very clear thing: [unclear] you can’t trust the government; you can’t believe what they say; and you can’t rely on their judgment; and the – the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this, because it shows that people do things the President wants to do even though it’s wrong, and the President can be wrong.”
-- White House aide H.R. Haldeman , June 14, 1971, responding to the publication of the Pentagon Papers in the New York Times the day before.
Philly Daily News Blogger Attytood provides an excellent summary, with a historical reflection (as well as the above quote) in How the New York Times forgot the lessons of the Pentagon Papers case:
History doesn't change all that much. What changes more is the way that everyday people -- the masses and the mass media who are supposed to represent them -- respond to the predictable actions and abuses of those who are in power.
But the record is clear: America is well-served by an aggressive press; poorly served when editors are willing to bend to the wishes and whims of the White House. Surely, there are matters of national security that should not be published or aired. . . . But the majority of the time, the administration isn't trying to preserve legitimate secrets, but rather trying to preserve its own power, pure and simple. It's true today with the government's spying on domestic phone calls and email without court approval. And it was certainly true with the Pentagon Papers in 1971.
* * * *
In his speech, No President Is Above the Law, Senator Robert Byrd warns:
The President claims that these powers are within his role as Commander in Chief. Make no mistake, the powers granted to the Commander in Chief are specifically those as head of the Armed Forces. These warrantless searches are conducted not against a foreign power, but against unsuspecting and unknowing American citizens. They are conducted against individuals living on American soil, not in Iraq or Afghanistan. There is nothing within the powers granted in the Commander in Chief clause that grants the President the ability to conduct clandestine surveillance of American civilians. We must not allow such groundless, foolish claims to stand.
The President claims a boundless authority through the resolution that authorized the war on those who perpetrated the September 11th attacks. But that resolution does not give the President unchecked power to spy on our own people. That resolution does not give the Administration the power to create covert prisons for secret prisoners. That resolution does not authorize the torture of prisoners to extract information from them. That resolution does not authorize running black-hole secret prisons in foreign countries to get around U.S. law. That resolution does not give the President the powers reserved only for kings and potentates.
I continue to be shocked and astounded by the breadth with which the Administration undermines the constitutional protections afforded to the people, and the arrogance with which it rebukes the powers held by the Legislative and Judicial Branches. The President has cast off federal law, enacted by Congress, often bearing his own signature, as mere formality. He has rebuffed the rule of law, and he has trivialized and trampled upon the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed to Americans by the United States Constitution.
We are supposed to accept these dirty little secrets. We are told that it is irresponsible to draw attention to President Bush's gross abuse of power and Constitutional violations. But what is truly irresponsible is to neglect to uphold the rule of law. We listened to the President speak last night on the potential for democracy in Iraq. He claims to want to instill in the Iraqi people a tangible freedom and a working democracy, at the same time he violates our own U.S. laws and checks and balances? President Bush called the recent Iraqi election "a landmark day in the history of liberty." I dare say in this country we may have reached our own sort of landmark. Never have the promises and protections of Liberty seemed so illusory. Never have the freedoms we cherish seemed so imperiled.
These renegade assaults on the Constitution and our system of laws strike at the very core of our values, and foster a sense of mistrust and apprehension about the reach of government.
I am reminded of Thomas Payne's famous words, "These are the times that try men's souls."
Following up on this post It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas from last week, I thought it was time for the next installment in the Foolish Follies for the Holidays.
Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) made a great contribution when he recited a poem on the House floor concerning the fabricated "War on Christmas:"
Twas the week before Christmas and all through the House
No bills were passed ‘bout which Fox News could grouse;
Tax cuts for the wealthy were passed with great cheer,
So vacations in St. Barts soon would be near;
Katrina kids were nestled all snug in motel beds,
While visions of school and home danced in their heads;
In Iraq our soldiers needed supplies and a plan,
Plus nuclear weapons were being built in Iran;
Gas prices shot up, consumer confidence fell;
Americans feared we were on a fast track to…well…
Wait--- we need a distraction--- something divisive and wily;
A fabrication straight from the mouth of O’Reilly
We can pretend that Christmas is under attack
Hold a vote to save it--- then pat ourselves on the back;
Silent Night, First Noel, Away in the Manger
Wake up Congress, they’re in no danger!
This time of year we see Christmas every where we go,
From churches, to homes, to schools, and yes…even Costco;
What we have is an attempt to divide and destroy,
When this is the season to unite us with joy
At Christmas time we’re taught to unite,
We don’t need a made-up reason to fight
So on O’Reilly, on Hannity, on Coulter, and those right wing blogs;
You should just sit back, relax…have a few egg nogs!
‘Tis the holiday season: enjoy it a pinch
With all our real problems, do we honestly need another Grinch?
So to my friends and my colleagues I say with delight,
A merry Christmas to all,
and to Bill O’Reilly…Happy Holidays.
If you'd prefer a visual effect, Keith Olbermann did a montaged video version of Dingell's recitation, which can be found at Daily Dissent.
I'm a few days off, but I just wanted to mention Richard Pryor, who died on Saturday, December 11. I was a great fan of Pryor. I was a little young for Lenny Bruce, but I read as much of his material as I could. Richard Pryor was definitely in the same creative, crazy, comedic genius mold as Lenny Bruce.
CNN has a write up, Comedian Richard Pryor dies at 65 , with a few clips of interviews included.
One of his greatest TV skits, from SNL, was "the Interview" with Chevy Chase (and yes, it was 30 years ago). You can check it out here: I'm Just Sayin': R.I.P. Richard.
I also have his 9-CD Collection, which has all his classic stuff, And It's Deep Too: Richard Pryor. It's a treasure.
Textbooks in Pakistan until recently contained this poem, entitled "The leader."
Patient and steady with all he must bear,
Ready to accept every challenge with care,
Easy in manner, yet solid as steel,
Strong in his faith, refreshingly real,
Isn't afraid to propose what is bold,
Doesn't conform to the usual mold,
Eyes that have foresight, for hindsight wont do
Never back down when he sees what is true
Tells it all straight, and means it all too
Bracing for war, but praying for peace
Using his power so evil will cease:
So much a leader and worthy of trust,
Here stands a man who will do what he must.
As described by the Guardian, "At first sight it is little more than a poetic polemic about the virtues of an effective leader. But a poem has been removed from school textbooks in Pakistan after it became clear that the first letter of each line spelt out 'President George W Bush'." The article, Veiled ode to George Bush deleted from Pakistani textbooks, states that the poem was "[p]enned by an anonymous writer, The Leader embarrassed education officials in the country after it found its way into an English textbook for 16-year-olds."
Anonymous writer, huh. My guess is Harriet Miers. She needs something to fill her time now that she's not up for the Supreme Court vacancy.
Worst. President. Ever.
Now, let's see. Who could that be? As Yahoo News asks, IS GEORGE BUSH THE WORST PRESIDENT -- EVER?, noting:
Poor James Buchanan, the 15th president, is generally considered the worst president in history. . . . he was a confused, indecisive president, who may have made the Civil War inevitable by trying to appease or negotiate with the South. His most recent biographer, Jean Clark, writing for the prestigious American Presidents Series, concluded this year that his actions probably constituted treason. It also did not help that his administration was as corrupt as any in history, and he was widely believed to be homosexual.
Whatever his sexual preferences, his real failures were in refusing to move after South Carolina announced secession from the Union and attacked Fort Sumter, and in supporting both the legality of the pro-slavery constitution of Kansas and the Supreme Court ruling in the Dred Scott class declaring that escaped slaves were not people but property.
* * * *
The History News Network at George Mason University has just polled historians informally on the Bush record. Four hundred and fifteen, about a third of those contacted, answered -- maybe they were all crazed liberals -- making the project as unofficial as it was interesting. These were the results: 338 said they believed Bush was failing, while 77 said he was succeeding. Fifty said they thought he was the worst president ever. Worse than Buchanan.
* * * *
This is what those historians said -- and it should be noted that some of the criticism about deficit spending and misuse of the military came from self-identified conservatives -- about the Bush record:
He has taken the country into an unwinnable war and alienated friend and foe alike in the process;
He is bankrupting the country with a combination of aggressive military spending and reduced taxation of the rich;
He has deliberately and dangerously attacked separation of church and state;
He has repeatedly "misled," to use a kind word, the American people on affairs domestic and foreign;
He has proved to be incompetent in affairs domestic (New Orleans) and foreign (Iraq and the battle against al-Qaida);
He has sacrificed American employment (including the toleration of pension and benefit elimination) to increase overall productivity;
He is ignorantly hostile to science and technological progress;
He has tolerated or ignored one of the republic's oldest problems, corporate cheating in supplying the military in wartime.
That about sums it up. I think he's the winner.
Long ago & far away, before I became a corporate, healthcare attorney, I wanted to be a lawyer so that I could help people. Ahh, for those days of innocence, when I really believed that a lawyer could be a social worker with authority and could change things for the better. My professional life has strayed far from those days, but I still believe that we are a community of humankind, and so still need to help each other. Still a bit naive, I suppose. But that's OK. I prefer that to the alternative.
I began my legal career as a law clerk for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals and spent a number of years at a large firm as a corporate litigator (which is the euphemism for trial attorney at a big firm who doesn't get into court very much). Over the years, I have watched the Supreme Court shift to the right. I remember when I thought that Justice Rehnquist was the epitome of conservative, right wingism. I thought that he was particularly dangerous because he was extremely intelligent and crafty. He moved the Court slowly, but surely, rightward. It's amazing that by the time that he died, he wasn't considered so conservative any more. The Court (and the country) has moved so far to the right, that he was close to moderate by today's standards.
With Justices like Thomas, Scalia and now possibly Alito, sitting on that "honorable" court, it makes me very sad. My hero was William O. Douglas and I admired Brennan and Marshall. Law and justice was supposed to be the refuge for the individual against the big powers that be.
Today, the Philadelphia Inquirer has an article, Alito opinions reveal pattern of conservatism, analyzing the opinions of Judge Alito from his 3rd Circuit days. Not a pretty picture. As the article states:
During his 15 years on the federal bench, Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. has worked quietly but resolutely to weave a conservative legal agenda into the fabric of the nation's laws.
A Knight Ridder review of Alito's 311 published judicial opinions - each of singular legal or public-policy importance - found a clear pattern. Although Alito's opinions are rarely written with obvious ideology, he has seldom sided with a criminal defendant, a foreigner facing deportation, an employee alleging discrimination, or consumers suing big businesses.
* * * *
Tim Lewis, a former 3rd Circuit Judge and law school classmate of mine, is quoted in the article, saying that he believes that Judge Alito's judicial philosophy is acceptable, but as the Inquirer noted, "a Knight Ridder review of Alito's record revealed decisions so consistent that it appears results do matter to him."
Based upon my readings of his opinions and views, it sounds like Judge Alito never saw a prosecutor or employer that he didn't like. Big business, the Christian right and the government are happy as clams that he's around. On the other hand, those less fortunate, criminal defendants, employees subjected to workplace discrimination, immigrants -- forget about it.
I realize that much of the focus has been on Roe vs. Wade, which for any woman is an extremely important right. However, I think that Alito can so erode rights in many legal areas even beyond the pro Choice arena that I despair for us and our humanity.
The first snow arrived in Philadelphia last night, with a dusting that ushered in the upcoming "Holiday" season. And with it, although the weather outside might be "frightful," the irony and hypocrisy of the Right is just too delightful.
The (Not So) Religious Right has been preaching its gospel of Christmas: our way or go directly to hell. Non-Christians and sinners beware!! They have declared war on the phrase "Happy Holidays," and have been braying (not praying) and bullying government agencies and various businesses that the only correct expression permitted is "Merry Christmas."
With this backdrop in mind, first, there was the episode with Bill O'Reilly. I'm sure no one has escaped hearing the O'Reilly rants about the attack on Christmas by "liberals," chastising anyone using that godless term, Happy Holidays. He was so busy that he neglected to notice his very own O'Reilly Factor "Holiday" ornament on the Fox News Online store. This earned him MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann: "Today's worst person in the world!" award. Video available at Crooks and Liars. Once Fox realized its "faux pas," it changed it to "Christmas" ornament, but Media Matters has a picture with the original wording: Fox betrays Christmas crusade, sells "Holiday."
Now the Bushes have beat O'Reilly.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has this article, Have President Bush, First Lady And Republican National Committee Joined 'War On Christmas'?, on their website. They state, with more than a little sarcasm:
The White House's 2005 holiday card is just out, and it doesn't mention the word "Christmas" once.
The card, mailed under the auspices of the Republican National Committee and signed by the president and his wife, reads, "With best wishes for a holiday season of hope and happiness 2005." It also includes a passage from the Old Testament Book of Psalms.
The front cover is an artist's rendition of the White House and grounds covered with snow while the presidential pets, two dogs and a cat, frolic on the lawn. It contains no religious symbolism.
* * * *
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. A treat like this is just like an early Christmas present. Enjoy!!
(White House "Holiday" Card)
As noted in the title (pun intended), Wal-Mart again shows why it deserves every bad word spoken about it. The St. Petersburg Times details the (mis)treatment by Wal-Mart of a black employee of a roofing materials company, in Racial profiling feared at Wal-Mart.
As the article explains: "GAF Materials Corp. is handing out gift cards from Target as a reward to select employees this holiday season. That's because Wal-Mart, the discount store that held the business for years, last week called sheriff's deputies to apprehend a GAF manager on a bogus bad check rap while he was trying to buy this year's gift card supply."
The article goes on the report that a white, female employee of the company had purchased the gift cards for years without incident at the Wal-Mart store. Further, when a VP of the company called the Wal-Mart store for an explanation of the incident, the Wal-Mart store manager "got very defiant. He would not apologize and eventually hung up on me."
Wal-Mart is the Worst.
I didn't post anything this week, so I'm making up for it this week-end.
Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, was Stephen Colbert's guest on the Colbert Report. She was there to promote her book, a Dictionary of Republicanisms, Liberal (via One Good Move). She proudly wears the "Liberal" Label.
The Nation also has an article on the book, Dictionary of Republicanisms, which was put together based upon reader submissions. The article has some sample definitions. They are good. Here are a few of my favorites:
faith n. The stubborn belief that God approves of Republican moral values despite the preponderance of textual evidence to the contrary [Matthew Polly, Topeka, Kans.].
God n. Senior presidential adviser [Martin Richard, Belgrade, Mont.].
neoconservatives n. Nerds with Napoleonic complexes [Matthew Polly, Topeka, Kans.].
woman n. 1. Person who can be trusted to bear a child but can't be trusted to decide whether or not she wishes to have the child. 2. Person who must have all decisions regarding her reproductive functions made by men with whom she wouldn't want to have sex in the first place [Denise Clay, Philadelphia, Pa.].
Check out this headline from today's MSNBC: Officials: CIA missile strike kills al-Qaida No. 3.
Great news, right?
Then read this:
HBO BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT
May 06, 2005
BILL MAHER: So I guess you read in the paper yesterday, as we all did, that apparently we have captured the number-three man in Al Qaeda. Does it seem to you that this is about the fifth time we've captured the “number-three man”? In Al Queda? I mean, how many number-three men do they have over there in Al Qaeda?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: It's very hard to tell. And the problem is that we haven't captured the number-one man, though we have thousands of troops there looking for him.
In case you missed this, the Rolling Stone has an unbelievable piece, called The Man Who Sold the War. The article reports on John Rendon, a self professed "information warrior and a perception manager."
As the Rolling Stone reports, "To explain his philosophy, Rendon paraphrased a journalist he knew from his days as a staffer on the presidential campaigns of George McGovern and Jimmy Carter: "This is probably best described in the words of Hunter S. Thompson, when he wrote, 'When things turn weird, the weird turn pro.'"
"As the acknowledged general of such propaganda warfare, Rendon insists that the work he does is for the good of all Americans. "For us, it's a question of patriotism," he says. "It's not a question of politics, and that's an important distinction. I feel very strongly about that personally. If brave men and women are going to be put in harm's way, they deserve support." But in Iraq, American troops and Iraqi civilians were put in harm's way, in large part, by the false information spread by Rendon and the men he trained in information warfare. And given the rapid growth of what is known as the "security-intelligence complex" in Washington, covert perception managers are likely to play an increasingly influential role in the wars of the future."
He's a Minister of Propaganda. This must be the vogue these days.
Attytood also comments, in Expert: America is losing the war of fake ideas!, on an op-ed piece in the LA Times by a retired Air Force brigadier general who was an assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight in the late 90's, Walter Jajko, who advocates in favor of the use of paid propaganda, or happy news, in the Iraqi press. As he says: "A permanent leadership is needed in the form of a new Cabinet department that can knock together heads to force integrated influence activities — a Ministry of Propaganda, if you will."
As Attytood reflects, there was another one of those, not all so long ago. His name was Joseph Goebbels.
"You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in their struggle for independence"
Famous quotes by Charles Beard
The Colbert Report is up and down on the Comedy scale for me. I think part of my problem with it is that I've never watched any of those conservative talk show nutcases, such as Bill O'Reilly, that Colbert's on air personality is based on, so some of the irony is lost on me.
However, this skit on the resignation of Randy "Duke" Cunningham is truly funny.
Check it out: Top Gun.
The Cartoon of the Day is last Sunday's Doonesbury, which depicticted Bush's opposition to recent anti-torture legislation and compared it to his frat days at Yale. As this article from Yale Daily News notes, Cartoon on Bush recalls Yale frat hazing:
"Cartoonist Garry Trudeau '70 said he thinks a little-known fact about President George W. Bush '68's past -- that his first mention in The New York Times occurred in 1967 when, as former president of the Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter at Yale, Bush defended the fraternity's practice of branding its pledges with a red-hot coat hanger -- deserves more national attention."
The article continues:
"At the time, it caused quite a stir on campus, even generating some national attention," Trudeau said.
The News article, published Nov. 3, 1967, featured a photograph of a half-inch high "D" burned into a pledge's naked backside. Trudeau drew his first cartoon for the News for the story -- a picture of smiling pledges, naked and bent over at the waist, with a figure holding a DKE branding iron standing over them.
In a News story the next day, Bush is quoted calling the branding "insignificant." He said he did not understand how the News "can assume Yale has to be so haughty not to allow this type of pledging to go on."
Trudeau's recent cartoon comes on the heels of the controversy over Sen. John McCain's Anti-Torture Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill. The amendment, which would outlaw torture and "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody," passed in the Senate 90-9 on Oct. 5, but Bush has threatened to use his first-ever veto on the bill if McCain's provision is included in the final passage.
Trudeau said he drew parallels between Bush's connection to fraternity hazing and his national policy today because he feels that it reveals a lot about the President's philosophy.
"While you can't draw a direct line between a 19-year-old's fraternity activities and national policy … this is part of a larger picture of this administration's belief that the ends justify the means," Trudeau said. "I don't think [Bush] gives much thought to what it means to torture people or how it makes us look in the eyes of the world."
The 1967 Yale Daily News article provided a look into the covert hazing practices of fraternities in general, but focused on the DKE branding. Some pledges at the time told the News their branding was preceded by a physical beating.
"By that time, my body was so numb [from the beatings] that the iron felt good, like a match was being held close to my body," an anonymous DKE pledge told the News in 1967.
While the article provoked outrage in the Greek community, most of those who complained expressed anger that fraternities' reputations were being called into question, though few charged that the story was fabricated.
"Once the article came out, nobody denied its truth," Trudeau said. "It became simply a question of characterization."
(Thanks to Martha)