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2006 January — Why Now?
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Posts from — January 2006

State of the Union


Too many Americans don’t have one, or the window to throw it out.

January 31, 2006   Comments Off on State of the Union

Free Speech?

Rep. Lynn Woolsey [D-CA] gave Cindy Sheehan a ticket for the gallery in the House for the State of the Union speech. Ms. Sheehan was arrested and removed from the Capitol prior to the speech for violating the ban on demonstrating in the Capitol. She was wearing a t-shirt with an anti-war slogan on it.

Well, we certainly can’t tolerate free speech in the House chambers. Lobbying by former members of Congress on the House floor is fine, but citizens wearing t-shirts with words on them in the balcony is illegal.[/maximum sarcasm]

Update: Beverly Young, wife of Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young [R-FL], was ejected some time afterward because she was wearing a “Support the Troops” t-shirt. Young is upset that the rules were applied to his wife.

Glenn Greenwald points out that the latest court ruling on the law specifically exempts t-shirts.

Maybe Ms. Sheehan will let Ms. Young join her lawsuit?

Update 2: Charges against Sheehan to be dropped:

“We screwed up,” a top Capitol Police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said Sheehan didn’t violate any rules or laws.

January 31, 2006   Comments Off on Free Speech?

Joe Biden!?

The irrepressible snarkmeister, Tbogg, noticed an op-ed on MSNBC that advocated Joe Biden as the savior of the Democratic Party.

The Case for Joe Biden is actually a Newsweek “web exclusive” by Ron Goldstein, who is identified as “a veteran of 10 Democratic presidential campaigns dating back to 1976” and “president of Free Media Inc in New York”. [Not to be picky but 10 campaigns in 7 campaign cycles is a bit odd.]

Anyway, Ron thinks: “Biden’s tough, compassionate, experienced, left-of-center political profile may be just the answer for the Democrats and the country.”

Ron, has anyone explained the recent bankruptcy bill that Joe backed to you? This is the “conservative” attempt to see if we can recreate the 19th century London of Charles Dickens in the US, complete with poor houses and debtors’ prisons. Why Democrats would be willing to back a man who has failed them on such an important issue is beyond my understanding, as is the designation as “left-of-center”. Is Ghengis Khan now the center? Were you with any of the winners in your 10 campaigns, like Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton?

January 31, 2006   Comments Off on Joe Biden!?

Enough Is Enough

My Democratic Senator Bill Nelson voted against the confirmation of Samuel Alito, but I will not vote for him this November because his vote was negated by his earlier vote for cloture. If everyone who voted against Alito had also voted against cloture, Alito’s nomination would have been blocked.

Alito supports the imperial presidency and these people know it. Alito supports the government and big business over the rights of the individual and these people know it. Alito is a prime example of “pre-7/4 thinking” and these people know it.

Some will say that if I don’t vote for Bill Nelson this November I’m helping Katherine Harris to win. So what? What difference would it have made for my rights if Katherine Harris had been in the Senate rather than Bill Nelson? Both would have helped Samuel Alito to be appointed to the Supreme Court to steal my rights and make a king of the President.

This vote wasn’t about legislative matters, this was about fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution being eroded. This isn’t a policy question, it is a basic question about what America means. Why support people who don’t care?

Any individual only has limited resources available for politics: time, money, and their vote. They shouldn’t waste any of those on people who refuse to do the right thing. I’m not going to compromise when my basic rights are being brought into question and put at risk.

Senator Obama talked about the need to explain the situation to the people. Sorry, Senator, but that’s something that is required for elections, not for business before the Senate. There were only 100 people who had to understand what Alito really stood for, not an electorate. Those 100 people represented the electorate and were supposed to be acting in the best interest of the people. First you do what you know to be the best thing for the people you represent then you can explain why you did it. Refusing to do what you know is right because you are unsure of how to explain it makes you unsuitable to lead. Don’t expect people to follow when you refuse to act like a leader.

For all those who bring up the “nuclear option”, so what? The Republicans breaking the rules to get their way is not exactly news. Does anyone other than Senator Byrd think the Senate still functions in a collegial fashion. The Republicans corrupt everything they touch and have no more respect for rules, than they have for laws or the Constitution.

You can’t housebreak a puppy without discipline. Senator Nelson, you’ve just had your nose whacked with a rolled ballot.

Update 1: Bob Geiger has a list of the enemies of the people, the so-called Democrats who voted for cloture. Not a second, not a penny, and not a vote should be wasted on any of them.

Update 2: Dave Neiwert of Orcinus lets Maria Cantwell know he feels like I do.

January 31, 2006   Comments Off on Enough Is Enough

Pre-SOTU News

The jury for Ken Lay’s trial was picked today, so he probably won’t be at the speech.

Al Qaeda’s number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, took time out from his busy schedule to call the Shrubbery a “loser” and say:

“My first message is to the butcher of Washington, Bush: You are not just defeated and lying about it, but you are, with God’s help, a loser,” he said. “You are bad luck to your people; you brought them disasters and catastrophes, and you will bring them even more disasters.”

It’s amazing how these people on the run manage to find television studios.

He didn’t say if he would be at the speech.

It looks like the Treasury has a cash flow problem and needs to borrow $188 billion to cover its bills during the first quarter. They also need to raise the debt limit above the current $8.184 trillion.

They are too busy scrounging for aluminum cans to be at the speech.

For some reason radioactive gas is used in aircraft ignition systems. They found out in Jacksonville, Florida when a tank of the gas exploded at the local Unison Industries plant.

Like every other accidental radiation leak in memory: “the amount of exposure is no more than an x-ray”, and the decontamination of everyone and everything is “just a precaution”.

No one from the plant will be at the speech as the glowing would be distracting.

January 30, 2006   Comments Off on Pre-SOTU News


* 1649 – King Charles I of England is beheaded.
* 1661 – Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England is formally executed – after having been dead for two years (it’s never too late for revisionism).
* 1835 – A mentally ill man named Richard Lawrence attempts to assassinate President Andrew Jackson in the United States Capitol — the first assassination attempt against a President. Both of Lawrence’s pistols misfire, and Jackson proceeds to beat his would-be assassin with his cane.
* 1889 – Archduke Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian crown, was found dead with his mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera in Mayerling. How they died remains a mystery.
* 1933 – Adolf Hitler is sworn in as Chancellor of Germany.
* 1948 – Indian pacifist and leader Mohandas Gandhi is assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist.
* 1968 – Vietnam War: The Tet Offensive begins when Viet Cong forces launch series of a surprise attacks in South Vietnam.
* 1969 – The Beatles’ last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London. The impromptu concert is broken up by the police.
* 1972 – Bloody Sunday: United Kingdom British Paratroopers kill fourteen Roman Catholic civil rights /anti internment marchers in Northern Ireland- Bloody Sunday
* 2003 – Belgium legally recognizes same-sex marriage.
* 2005 – Amid violence and threats to boycott the results, Iraq holds an election for its National Assembly, the country’s first free election since 1953.

* 1882 – Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd. President of the United States (d. 1945)
* 1912 – Barbara W. Tuchman, American historian (d. 1989)
* 1922 – Dick Martin, American comedian
* 1930 – Samuel J. Byck, American attempted assassin of Richard Nixon
* 1941 – Dick Cheney, oil executive
* 1962 – King Abdullah II of Jordan
* 1962 – Mary Kay Letourneau, American teacher

January 30, 2006   Comments Off on Today

Closed Session

I’m sure that everyone remembers when, with great regret, Harry Reid had to invoke Rule 21 to take the Senate into closed session to find out why Senator Pat Roberts hadn’t seemed to moved forward on “Phase Two” of the investigation of the pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

Well, it’s nearly February and there is still no report. While I realize that the Alito nomination is important, and there needs to be an investigation into the illegal wiretapping, maybe it’s time for the Senate to go into closed session to clean up old business and find out when Senator Roberts is going to schedule oversight hearings in the Intelligence Committee over the activities of NSA.

With the Republicans in charge of Congress and the Presidency one would think that these matters could be handled in an expeditious fashion. There’s entirely too lollygagging going on and there are too many issues waiting to be looked at by the major committees in the Senate.

Sooner or later they are going to have to start looking for the billions of dollars the Coalition Provisional Authority lost track of while it was in charge of Iraq.

Since Justice O’Connor has been gracious enough to remain on the court while the approval process is pending, I think there are other issues that really are more pressing than the Alito confirmation. Senator Frist doesn’t seem to have much in the way of organizational skills as he keeps letting things slip behind.

Knowing Senator Reid’s preference for the collegial approach, I hesitate to bring this up, but the Senate really does need to get some real work done, and there do seem to be a number of Senators who want to talk on Mr. Alito, so it may be time for the Senate to review its priorities.

January 29, 2006   Comments Off on Closed Session

Interesting Read

Over at MSNBC they have a long Newsweek article, Palace Revolt, about the battle among the lawyers in the Bush administration over the legality of various actions.

Given the claim that the warrantless wiretap program was vetted by lawyers, it is interesting to find out which lawyers, and that conservative Republican lawyers were unhappy with what was done.

This is a further indication that Alito is out of the mainstream of even Republican lawyers with his views on the Unitary Executive Theory, also known as the Divine Right of Presidents.

January 29, 2006   Comments Off on Interesting Read

A Surprising Win

Listening to the coverage of the victory of the Hamas in the Palestinian elections I beginning to suspect that among those most surprised and least prepared for the results was Hamas.

Fatah has held all of the offices and was in total control since the beginning. Hamas was running its paramilitary operations and social services, but it didn’t have a “shadow cabinet”, members that mirrored the government offices controlled by Fatah. I don’t think Hamas has people ready to take over the government.

I’m getting a definite feeling that Hamas was expecting win enough seats in the legislature to be a respectable minority party and to gain some experience in the government, but had no plans for forming a government.

This may be an example of everyone hating the election results, even the winners.

January 29, 2006   Comments Off on A Surprising Win

That’s Pre 7/4 Thinking

Via Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog I found Larry Stevens on The Lyceum on dealing with the constant references to pre and post 9/11 thinking.

Larry thinks we should respond by pointing out that much of what the Busheviki are selling is pre-7/4 thinking, 7/4 referencing the Fourth of July, 1776.

For a taste of pre-7/4 thinking Mary at Pacific Views has an interesting article, When the Ends Justify the Means, in which we learn that Judge Richard Posner of Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the University of Chicago Law School thinks that as long as warrantless wiretaps produce good results, there’s no reason to bother about their legality.

Apparently Judge Posner would have no problem with dropping a nuclear bomb on Chicago as long as it was to reduce the crime rate. Any innocent people that die would just be called collateral damage and forgotten about in the celebration of the end of crime in the city that no longer existed. Anything you do is fine as long as you have a good excuse.

The courts let the Shrubbery get away with kidnapping people by calling them “enemy combatants”, and now he’s spying on us all. And this is different than what King George was doing in what significant way?

I was in law enforcement. I obtained warrants and arrested people by providing a court with probable cause. It is not a barrier, most of the time it’s hardly a bump in the road. If you can’t come up with the minimal amount of evidence required for probable cause, you are probably on the wrong track. Based on the stories of the FBI chasing down worthless leads I would say that the program is wasting resources, not providing security.

For those who have forgotten, even with all of his resources, King George lost to the “terrorists”.

January 29, 2006   Comments Off on That’s Pre 7/4 Thinking

Happy New Year, 4703

Bingxu – Year of the Red Dog

Happy New Year
Happy New Year

Chinese New Year
[Spring Festival]

January 29, 2006   Comments Off on Happy New Year, 4703

Persian Nukes

We really should do something about this. Maybe we could dig up Eisenhower and burn his bones for convincing the Shah to start a nuclear program as part of Atoms For Peace project in the 1950s. Oh, I’m sorry, you probably didn’t know that this has been going on for almost 50 years.

So, I guess you don’t know about the British and Soviet armies getting annoyed at Reza Shah for objecting to their troop movements across Iran during World War II? Since Iran was officially neutral Reza Shah didn’t think it was right, but the Allies booted him out and replaced him with his son, Mohammed Shah, who didn’t see a problem.

No one has probably ever mentioned the little problem in 1953 with the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh, getting uppity and insisting that the Iranian oil fields belonged to the Iranian people? That required MI6 and the CIA arranging Operation Ajax to remove Mr. Mossadegh, making the Shah an absolute monarch, because you just can’t trust voters.

It was Mohammed Shah, the last Shah, who decided that Iran should used nuclear power and maximize oil exports, the only real source of hard currency for Iran. This was, of course, after US corporations like General Electric and Westinghouse explained the costs and benefits of nuclear power from plants they would be happy to build.

Let’s have a reality check: like religious fundamentalists everywhere the Iranians clerics don’t believe in birth control; the population of Iran is growing rapidly; more people means more electrical demand; the oil is the Iranian economy; all oil used internally is lost profits; the oil won’t last forever.

Knowing what happens when they and other oil producing nations decide to boycott, Iran wants to control as much of the process as possible. They know how they would deal with people who are dependent on their oil, so they don’t want to be put in the same position.

Just because you are a paranoid, religious nutjob, doesn’t mean no one is out to get you, especially when “some people” call you a member of “the axis of evil” and others threaten to bomb you. These people, like Castro and Kim Il Jong, need external threats to retain their grip on their people, and it always seems like there is some idiot willing to oblige.

Iran is a problem because it has some seriously whacked people in its leadership. When external powers threaten Iran the moderates lose ground. If the Iranian moderates had suggested making progress towards improving relations with the US, they would probably be called “unpatriotic”, “un-Iranian”, “French”, and “surrender monkeys”.

If “some people” would just STFU and allow things to happen in the background, some of these problems might just be resolved, but with all of the threats being tossed about, I don’t have much hope.

January 28, 2006   Comments Off on Persian Nukes

Mel Has A Problem

Via Susie I located Scott Maxwell’s column in the Orlando Sentinel, Taking Names.

Scott tells us that Florida’s junior Senator, Republican Mel Martinez, has returned $2,500 he received from Congressman Bob Ney [R-OH] to avoid any problems associated with Mr. Ney’s troubles. However, the Senator is going to keep the $250,000 from the campaign kick-off co-chaired by Jack Abramoff.

No doubt this will all be blamed on a staff member, just like that memo that no Republican would ever write about the Schiavo affair.

You were aware that Martinez was picked by the White House to run for the Senate in Florida, displacing local Republican candidates including “Kruella de” Harris?

January 28, 2006   Comments Off on Mel Has A Problem

Another Crony Diplomat

Jack at Ruminate This provides the background for the latest friction between the US and Canada.

Another Bush crony, US ambassador David Wilkins, manages to annoy the new Canadian Prime Minister, Conservative Stephen Harper, before Mr. Harper even gets settled in his new office.

Mr. Harper complained about other candidates bashing the US during the campaign and said that he was going to improve relations, but Wilkins’s intemperate mouth has put that plan on hold. There definitely differences of option about the Northwest Passage, but they should be dealt with in closed meetings, not in the media.

Good news in public, bad news in private – is that so hard to remember?

January 28, 2006   Comments Off on Another Crony Diplomat