Tuesday, December 27, 2005

OK, Enough Whining. Time for Solutions!

Here's a cheering thought for the holidays: Some practical suggestiong for repairing the horrendous messs the US is in and by extension, all the rest of the world (that's you honey!). Read, take heart, but remember:

It can only happen when ACTION is taken. Blog, write, call. Put pressure on the folks who's salaries YOU pay.

That an interesting New Year is upon us if certain. Be part of what may make it happy.

Blue Ibis

Big Lies: Who told the worst political untruth of 2005? It’s a shame the list of contenders is so long.

By Eleanor Clift
Dec. 22, 2005

Every holiday season, we on "The McLaughlin Group" hand out news awards. Some categories, like "Biggest Winner," are easy (My choice was Chief Justice John Roberts, with the oil companies as runner-up). Others are a struggle to fill, like who to insult with the “Overrated” award.

In compiling this year’s list, I had the highest number of entries for the category, “Biggest Lie.” I chose the White House declaration that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby had nothing to do with leaking the identity of a covert CIA agent. They were the principal participants in the effort to discredit former ambassador Joe Wilson because he had raised doubts about one of the pillars of their argument for war, namely that Iraq had tried to buy yellowcake uranium to make a bomb.

Read the whole article here.

Comment: It's a strangely schizophrenic state for the United States to be in: on one side, you have Bush, Cheney and the gang loudly proclaiming "their reality," and on the other, you have more and more mainstream media outlets loudly proclaiming that Bush, Cheney, and the whole White House gang are out and out liars.

Two years ago, almost NONE of the mainstream media sources were calling Bush and Cheney liars; that was the purview of the alternative news sites and bloggers. But the issues have grown so large, so frightening that even the moderates and former Bush supporters are joining the general clamor for something to be done.

There's a problem, however, as Eleanor Clift points out above:
"The polls show that a majority of Americans no longer trust this team, which is why Bush and Cheney are hitting back hard at their critics. ... We have no mechanism to deal with a president who has lost the trust and confidence of the American people and has three years remaining in office. Impeachment is a nonissue; it’s not going to happen with Republicans in control of the House and Senate."

Recent polls (uncooked ones, that is) show that over 80 % of the American People want Bush impeached. But, as we pointed out a day or so ago, that's not the answer. If you impeach Bush, you get Cheney, if you impeach Cheney, you get Hastert, if you impeach Hastert, you get Stevens.

What we need is a way to get rid of an entire government.

The problem seems to be that our Founding Fathers did not include in their deliberations, any situation such as the United States is faced with today: a gang that has fixed elections, assassinated opposition, blackmailed and stacked the Congress to pass laws that essentially create a dictatorship.

Some other democratic governments have made provisions for just such contingencies. Typically, when parliaments vote 'no confidence,' or where it fails to vote confidence, a government must either: 1. resign, or 2. seek a parliamentary dissolution and request a General Election. We think that such provisions still leave something to be desired in that there is no way to factor in the voice of the people

In view of the situation, we here at Signs do have an idea. Since it is now obvious that 80 % or more of the American people want Bush OUT, it is not very likely that any of them will be voting Republican in the next congressional elections. If a Republican majority is returned to Congress, we can then be almost certain of vote rigging. So, the thing to do first is deluge all state governments with demands for voting systems that have a paper trail to ensure that no more elections are stolen.

Then, the people must put their energy into demanding new legislation. This legislation should be a bill introduced in Congress to the effect that a petition of citizens can invoke a national referendum of confidence/no confidence. Such a referendum will be 1 person = 1 vote, no "electoral college," no steps between the will of the people and the representatives of the people. If the will of the people is "no confidence" in the reigning government, they must all resign and a new election will be held. There ought to also be new legislation regarding elections, election financing, Congressional perks and power brokering.

So, here are some general ideas:

Government Should Be In The Hands Of Those Who Wish To Serve And Who Are Qualified By A Thorough Psychological Testing Program As Well As Extensive Background Investigation by something equivalent to a Grand Jury. Governing powers should certainly never be in the hands of those who are evaluated according to "electability" in terms of looks, or budget. Government should be made undesirable to those who seek money and power. Honor and the High Regard of the People should be the main rewards of statesmanship. Therefore, the following should be enacted as Constitutional Amendments:

A. Outlaw Expensive Political Campaigns. The Top Five qualified candidates should be given equal media representation gratis so that each can clearly state their positions and platforms. Money must be divorced from power in a Democracy.

B. Outlaw Lobbying And Special Interest Groups. Each Act Of Legislation should be clearly written so that all people can understand it,and no bills should be "conglomerates" where an unpopoular measure can be piggy-backed on a popular one.

C. All Elected Officials should be elected by Majority Vote of the People only. The Electoral College needs to be dismantled.

D. Salaries Of Elected Officials should reflect an average of the incomes of their constituents. In this way, they will have a better idea of how everybody else lives and will be more motivated to solve the problems of the people they serve.

Legislators and government officials should be provided with simple apartments, paid for by the government, where they can live while performing government functions if they must live away from their normal homes while doing so. Expensive residences, parties, cars, trips, and other so-called perks must be outlawed. Entertainment for visiting heads of state from other countries can be handled via special programs for same.

E. Outlaw Honorariums, Speaking Fees, Consulting Fees, Gifts etc, for elected officials while in office. If they can't live on their salaries, how do the expect anyone else to do so?

Such measures as the above are simple and would quickly result in social adjustments relating to government. With individual riches and power eliminated from the government equation, only those who truly seek to serve will be motivated to run for government office.

Naturally it is to be expected that great resistance to such ideas will issue from those possessing great wealth and power. The wealthy and powerful control not only the government, but also religions, social customs and social institutions. They have access to very clever theoreticians who invent very clever theories to justify everything they do. The result of these machinations can be seen all around us today. Never before has humanity been so precariously balanced on the edge of a chasm of fire, from which no one will emerge if we fall in.

Popular Theory holds that, while concentrated wealth may seem unfair, it is "good for economic prosperity." A couple of con-artists once made an Emperor a New set of clothes, too.

We believe in prosperity and comfort and freedom from want for all. Indeed, those who are more industrious and ambitious will naturally have more than others: that is the nature of a free market. We have no issues with that. However, we believe that those individuals who are less "equal" in terms of intellect or ambition, but who are still the majority of humanity, should be able to establish and maintain a basically comfortable and fulfilling lifestyle. The people who are content flipping burgers and collecting the trash should be able to live without stress, too.

Since our current major problems are actually Economic, we think immediate measures must be taken. These measures are based on the ideas of Dr. Ravi Batra, Professor Of Economics at Southern Methodist University.

A. Enact taxation in proportion to benefits received from the government. Since "Defense Of Our Way Of Life" is the Primary Benefit we receive, and is the major part of the Federal Budget, those who have the most to protect should pay the most taxes for that service.

Those who have accumulated great wealth in the United States have been vigorously protected at great expense of life limb by the common people from the time of The Revolutionary War until the present. That is to say, that the wealthy have been protected at the expense of the poor and middle classes and yet, the poor and middle classes are getting poorer and less able to survive while the rich are getting richer and sending more of the sons of the poor and middle classes off to die to enable the rich to get richer. For this reason, such a Wealth Tax should be retroactive when possible.

This Tax should be imposed on net worth including Stocks, Bonds, Real Estate, Precious Metals, Paintings Etc. An Exemption of an amount to equal twice the average cost of living in a given region should be allowed for everyone for personal and living expenses. The next double amount of the average cost of living would be taxed at 2%, the third at 3%, the fourth at 4%, and so on up to 10% of everything above 10 times double the average cost of living.

As can easily be seen, this would instantly remove the tax burden from the poor and Middle Classes entirely.

This Tax Rate would also generate revenues amounting to well over $300 Billion, based on $15 Trillion in total wealth.

This tax would apply to all foreign investors as well. This money should be used to immediately balance the Federal Budget. At the same time, government spending must be frozen and capital controls against moving money out of the country enacted.

Several things would result from this plan.

1. The tax would only fall on those who could afford to pay.

2. It would stimulate those of wealth to divest themselves of speculative paper and invest in actual industry. REAL jobs would be created and expanded.

B. Financial Institutions Must Be Regulated, and not by themselves as is the current situation with the so-called "Fed."

C. Charge Foreign Countries For Defense. It is cheaper for foreign governments to pay the U.S. than to establish and maintain their own standing armies. That is one of the reasons the U.S. has so many military bases all over the world. Ten years agoa, as much as $290. billion of the U.S. Defense Budget was spent on defense abroad. Today, that figure is so unbelievable that the U.S. is in imminent danger of economic collapse.

Following WW II, America offered a sefense umbrella to impoverished allies. At that time it was the world's largest banker. Those surpluses have declined turning America into the world's largest debtor. We can no longer compete in world trade because of our defense spending. Charging 1 To 2 percent of other nation's GNP for defense would bring in hundreds of millions annually. It can be said that the Iraq War is being fought on behalf of Israel, therefore, Israel should pay for it. Any wealthy individuals in the U.S. holding dual Israeli/American citizenship ought to pay double the Wealth Tax: once for the U.S. and once for Israel.

If other countries imposed a wealth tax as well, they would easily be able to bring their books into balance. But, as we have noted above, it is the wealthy who have risen to power on the blood, sweat and tears of the common man with the predictable result of today's embarrassing situation of the U.S. being stuck for the next three years with a president and administration that over 80% of the people do not want. It is the "love of money" for its own sake that has brought this evil on America.

In closing we would like to say: We believe in government of the people, by the people, and for the people - and we desire to see that it does not perish from the Earth!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


A flicker of hope that sanity may yet prevail in the U.S. educational system. Aren't you tired of being the laughingstock of the world on this?

Blue Ibis

Judge rules against 'intelligent design'

Idea shouldn't be taught in science class in public school, judge rules
The Associated Press
Updated: 10:56 a.m. ET Dec. 20, 2005

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the "intelligent design" explanation for the origin of life cannot be taught in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district.

The Dover Area School Board violated the Constitution when it ordered that its biology curriculum must include "intelligent design," the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled.

The school board policy, adopted in October 2004, was believed to have been the first of its kind in the nation. Eight families then sued to have intelligent design removed.

"The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy," Jones wrote, "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."

[It's ironic only if you don't realize these folks are taking a page from the Neocons. They set the pattern. Look at the touted reasoning for the Patriot Act, and then look how it's being applied.]

The board's attorneys said members sought to improve science education by exposing students to alternatives to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection causing gradual changes over time; intelligent-design proponents argue that it cannot fully explain the existence of complex life forms.

The plaintiffs argued that intelligent design amount to a secular repackaging of creationism, which the courts have already ruled cannot be taught in public schools.

The Dover policy had required students to hear a statement about intelligent design before ninth-grade biology lessons on evolution. The statement says Charles Darwin’s theory is "not a fact," has inexplicable "gaps," and refers students to an intelligent-design textbook, "Of Pandas and People," for more information.

Jones said advocates of intelligent design "have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors" and that he didn't believe the concept shouldn't be studied and discussed.

[Bona fide and deeply held beliefs -- also known as "wishful thinking" drives a lot of public policy these days, eh? Try Signs of the Times for a daily run-down on this phenomenon.]

"Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom," he wrote.

The dispute is the latest chapter in a long-running debate over the teaching of evolution dating back to the famous 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, in which Tennessee biology teacher John T. Scopes was fined $100 for violating a state law that forbade teaching evolution. The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed his conviction on the narrow ground that only a jury trial could impose a fine exceeding $50 and the law was repealed in 1967.

Jones heard arguments in the fall during a six-week trial in which expert witnesses for each side debated intelligent design’s scientific merits. Other witnesses, including current and former school board members, disagreed over whether creationism was discussed in board meetings months before the curriculum change was adopted.

The controversy also divided the community in southwest Pennsylvania and galvanized voters to oust eight incumbent school board members who supported the policy in the Nov. 8 school board election. They were replaced by a slate of eight opponents who pledged to remove intelligent design from the science curriculum.

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Achtung!! An SS of Our Very Own

Do you feel safer now? A toe out of line and you could be the next "terrorist suspect" with your own personal security letter courtesy of the FBI and CIFA

I'm running out of the energy to be outraged . . . . . .

Blue Ibis

Testing the limits of wartime powers
Bush’s disclosure on domestic spying raises legal questions


By Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer
The Washington Post
Updated: 12:56 a.m. ET Dec. 18, 2005

In his four-year campaign against al Qaeda, President Bush has turned the U.S. national security apparatus inward to secretly collect information on American citizens on a scale unmatched since the intelligence reforms of the 1970s.

The president's emphatic defense yesterday of warrantless eavesdropping on U.S. citizens and residents marked the third time in as many months that the White House has been obliged to defend a departure from previous restraints on domestic surveillance. In each case, the Bush administration concealed the program's dimensions or existence from the public and from most members of Congress.

Since October, news accounts have disclosed a burgeoning Pentagon campaign for "detecting, identifying and engaging" internal enemies that included a database with information on peace protesters. A debate has roiled over the FBI's use of national security letters to obtain secret access to the personal records of tens of thousands of Americans. And now come revelations of the National Security Agency's interception of telephone calls and e-mails from the United States -- without notice to the federal court that has held jurisdiction over domestic spying since 1978.

Waging an adamant defense

Defiant in the face of criticism, the Bush administration has portrayed each surveillance initiative as a defense of American freedom. Bush said yesterday that his NSA eavesdropping directives were "critical to saving American lives" and "consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution." After years of portraying an offensive waged largely overseas, Bush justified the internal surveillance with new emphasis on "the home front" and the need to hunt down "terrorists here at home."

Bush's constitutional argument, in the eyes of some legal scholars and previous White House advisers, relies on extraordinary claims of presidential war-making power. Bush said yesterday that the lawfulness of his directives was affirmed by the attorney general and White House counsel, a list that omitted the legislative and judicial branches of government. On occasion the Bush administration has explicitly rejected the authority of courts and Congress to impose boundaries on the power of the commander in chief, describing the president's war-making powers in legal briefs as "plenary" -- a term defined as "full," "complete," and "absolute."

["Things would be so much easier if this were a dictatorship. If I get to be the dictator, of course." --GWB]

A high-ranking intelligence official with firsthand knowledge said in an interview yesterday that Vice President Cheney, then-Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet and Michael V. Hayden, then a lieutenant general and director of the National Security Agency, briefed four key members of Congress about the NSA's new domestic surveillance on Oct. 25, 2001, and Nov. 14, 2001, shortly after Bush signed a highly classified directive that eliminated some restrictions on eavesdropping against U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

In describing the briefings, administration officials made clear that Cheney was announcing a decision, not asking permission from Congress. How much the legislators learned is in dispute.

Extent of policy shift disputed

Former senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who chaired the Senate intelligence committee and is the only participant thus far to describe the meetings extensively and on the record, said in interviews Friday night and yesterday that he remembers "no discussion about expanding [NSA eavesdropping] to include conversations of U.S. citizens or conversations that originated or ended in the United States" -- and no mention of the president's intent to bypass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

"I came out of the room with the full sense that we were dealing with a change in technology but not policy," Graham said, with new opportunities to intercept overseas calls that passed through U.S. switches. He believed eavesdropping would continue to be limited to "calls that initiated outside the United States, had a destination outside the United States but that transferred through a U.S.-based communications system."

Graham said the latest disclosures suggest that the president decided to go "beyond foreign communications to using this as a pretext for listening to U.S. citizens' communications. There was no discussion of anything like that in the meeting with Cheney."

The high-ranking intelligence official, who spoke with White House permission but said he was not authorized to be identified by name, said Graham is "misremembering the briefings," which in fact were "very, very comprehensive." The official declined to describe any of the substance of the meetings, but said they were intended "to make sure the Hill knows this program in its entirety, in order to never, ever be faced with the circumstance that someone says, 'I was briefed on this but I had no idea that -- ' and you can fill in the rest."

By Graham's account, the official said, "it appears that we held a briefing to say that nothing is different . . . . Why would we have a meeting in the vice president's office to talk about a change and then tell the members of Congress there is no change?"

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who was also present as then ranking Democrat of the House intelligence panel, said in a statement yesterday evening that the briefing described "President Bush's decision to provide authority to the National Security Agency to conduct unspecified activities." She said she "expressed my strong concerns" but did not elaborate.

Just one in a series of disclosures

The NSA disclosures follow exposure of two other domestic surveillance initiatives that drew shocked reactions from Congress and some members of the public in recent months.

Beginning in October, The Washington Post published articles describing a three-year-old Pentagon agency, the size and budget of which are classified, with wide new authority to undertake domestic investigations and operations against potential threats from U.S. residents and organizations against military personnel and facilities. The Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, began as a small policy-coordination office but has grown to encompass nine directorates and a staff exceeding 1,000. The agency's Talon database, collecting unconfirmed reports of suspicious activity from military bases and organizations around the country, has included "threat reports" of peaceful civilian protests and demonstrations.

CIFA has also been empowered with what the military calls "tasking authority" -- the ability to give operational orders -- over Army, Navy and Air Force units whose combined roster of investigators, about 4,000, is nearly as large as the number of FBI special agents assigned to counterterrorist squads. Pentagon officials said this month they had ordered a review of the program after disclosures, in The Post, NBC News and the washingtonpost.com Web log of William M. Arkin, that CIFA compiled information about U.S. citizens engaging in constitutionally protected political activity such as protests against military recruiting.

In November, The Post disclosed an exponentially growing practice of domestic surveillance under the USA Patriot Act, using FBI demands for information known as "national security letters." Created in the 1970s for espionage and terrorism investigations, the letters enabled secret FBI review of the private telephone and financial records of suspected foreign agents. The Bush administration's guidelines after the Patriot Act transformed those letters by permitting clandestine scrutiny of U.S. residents and visitors who are not alleged to be terrorists or spies.

The Post reported that the FBI has issued tens of thousands of national security letters, extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans. Most of the U.S. residents and citizens whose records were screened, the FBI acknowledged, were not suspected of wrongdoing.

Surge in domestic surveillance

The burgeoning use of national security letters coincided with an unannounced decision to deposit all the information they yield into government data banks -- and to share those private records widely, in the federal government and beyond. In late 2003, the Bush administration reversed a long-standing policy requiring agents to destroy their files on innocent American citizens, companies and residents when investigations closed.

Yesterday's acknowledgment of warrantless NSA eavesdropping brought the most forthright statement from the president that his war on terrorism is targeting not only "enemies across the world" but "terrorists here at home." In the "first war of the 21st century," he said, "one of the most critical battlefronts is the home front."

Bush sidestepped some of the implications by citing examples only of foreigners who infiltrated the United States -- Saudi citizens Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers. But the most fundamental changes undertaken in the Bush administration's surveillance policy are the ones that have broadened the powers of the NSA, FBI and Pentagon to spy on "U.S. persons" -- American citizens, permanent residents and corporations -- on American soil.

Anxiety about threats, countermeasures

Roger Cressey, who was principal deputy to the White House counterterrorism chief when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center and a wing of the Pentagon, said "the amount of domestic surveillance is an admission of fundamental gaps in our understanding of what is happening in our country."

Those anxieties about unknown threats have ebbed and flowed since World War I, according to a bipartisan government commission chaired by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. President Woodrow Wilson warned against "the poison of disloyalty" and another loyalty campaign created black lists of accused Communists in the 1950s. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Army and the NSA collected files and eavesdropped on thousands of anti-Vietnam War and civil rights activists.

Congress asserted itself in the 1970s, imposing oversight requirements and passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said FISA "expressly made it a crime for government officials 'acting under color of law' to engage in electronic eavesdropping 'other than pursuant to statute.' " FISA described itself, along with the criminal wiretap statute, as "the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . may be conducted."

No president before Bush mounted a frontal challenge to Congress's authority to limit espionage against Americans. In a Sept. 25, 2002, brief signed by then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, the Justice Department asserted "the Constitution vests in the President inherent authority to conduct warrantless intelligence surveillance (electronic or otherwise) of foreign powers or their agents, and Congress cannot by statute extinguish that constitutional authority."

'We only do it on Tuesdays'

The brief made no distinction between suspected agents who are U.S. citizens and those who are not. Other Bush administration legal arguments have said the "war on terror" is global and indefinite in scope, effectively removing traditional limits of wartime authority to the times and places of imminent or actual battle.

"There is a lot of discussion out there that we shouldn't be dividing Americans and foreigners, but terrorists and non-terrorists," said Gordon Oehler, a former chief of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center who served on last year's special commission assessing U.S. intelligence.

By law, according to University of Chicago scholar Geoffrey Stone, the differences are fundamental: Americans have constitutional protections that are enforceable in court whether their conversations are domestic or international.

[Really?? Tell that to Jose Padilla]

Bush's assertion that eavesdropping takes place only on U.S. calls to overseas phones, Stone said, "is no different, as far as the law is concerned, from saying we only do it on Tuesdays."

Michael J. Woods, who was chief of the FBI's national security law unit when Bush signed the NSA directive, described the ongoing program as "very dangerous." In the immediate aftermath of a devastating attack, he said, the decision was a justifiable emergency response. In 2006, "we ought to be past the time of emergency responses. We ought to have more considered views now. . . . We have time to debate a legal regime and what's appropriate."

Staff writers Charles Lane and Walter Pincus and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

© 2005 MSNBC.com

Sunday, December 11, 2005

WHAAAAAA!!!! Don't tell me what to do!

Okay. There's just nothing to say after finding something like this, other than maybe "please tell me it's a joke". Get me off this continent. Hell, get me off this planet.

Blue Ibis

Bush - Constitution
'Just A Goddamned
Piece Of Paper'

By Doug Thompson
Capitol Hill Blue

Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act.

Several provisions of the act, passed in the shell shocked period immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, caused enough anger that liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had joined forces with prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly and Bob Barr to oppose renewal.

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

"I don't give a goddamn," Bush retorted. "I'm the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way."

"Mr. President," one aide in the meeting said. "There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution."

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face," Bush screamed back. "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"

I've talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution "a goddamned piece of paper."

And, to the Bush Administration, the Constitution of the United States is little more than toilet paper stained from all the shit that this group of power-mad despots have dumped on the freedoms that "goddamned piece of paper" used to guarantee.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, while still White House counsel, wrote that the "Constitution is an outdated document."

Put aside, for a moment, political affiliation or personal beliefs. It doesn't matter if you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent. It doesn't matter if you support the invasion or Iraq or not. Despite our differences, the Constitution has stood for two centuries as the defining document of our government, the final source to determine ­ in the end ­ if something is legal or right.

Every federal official ­ including the President ­ who takes an oath of office swears to "uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says he cringes when someone calls the Constitution a "living document."

""Oh, how I hate the phrase we have-a 'living document,'" Scalia says. "We now have a Constitution that means whatever we want it to mean. The Constitution is not a living organism, for Pete's sake."

As a judge, Scalia says, "I don't have to prove that the Constitution is perfect; I just have to prove that it's better than anything else."

President Bush has proposed seven amendments to the Constitution over the last five years, including a controversial amendment to define marriage as a "union between a man and woman." Members of Congress have proposed some 11,000 amendments over the last decade, ranging from repeal of the right to bear arms to a Constitutional ban on abortion.

Scalia says the danger of tinkering with the Constitution comes from a loss of rights.

"We can take away rights just as we can grant new ones," Scalia warns. "Don't think that it's a one-way street."

And don't buy the White House hype that the USA Patriot Act is a necessary tool to fight terrorism. It is a dangerous law that infringes on the rights of every American citizen and, as one brave aide told President Bush, something that undermines the Constitution of the United States.

But why should Bush care? After all, the Constitution is just "a goddamned piece of paper."

Monday, December 05, 2005

Gobsmacked . . . . .

There are times when you can read/hear things and your brain just can't seem to process what your eyes/ears are presenting to it. As in John McCain, WHO HAS EXPERIENCED BEING TORTURED saying [below]"while he would not compromise on the torture language, said they were in discussions "about other aspects of this to try to get an agreement."


It has been well established that any information gained by this disgusting activity is nearly always useless. People will say anything to stop the infliction of pain.

WHAT IS THERE TO DISCUSS???? WE ARE TALKING ABOUT INFLICTING PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL PAIN ON HUMAN BEINGS! And no weaseling that "we didn't actually do it, Syria/Egypt/toady of your choice did". If the US set up the conditions with their rendition process, they are responsible.

And for a man with his history and experiences, what sort of hold do "they" have on him, that he could be making such absurd statements?

Blue Ibis

P.S. For an insight into how the world can be led into such madness, even though populated by mostly reasonable human beings, see Laura Knight-Jadczyks' new article on Ponerology - the study of evil

McCain: No compromise on torture ban
Arizona senator appears on NBC's 'Meet the Press'

The Associated Press
Updated: 2:02 p.m. ET Dec. 4, 2005

WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain, a prisoner of war who was tortured in Vietnam, said Sunday he will refuse to yield on his demands that the White House agree with his proposed ban on the use of torture to extract information from suspected terrorists.

"I won't," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press" when asked whether he would compromise with the Bush administration. He is insisting on his language that no person in U.S. custody should be subject to "cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment."

The Arizona Republican said he had met several times with the president's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, on the issue, and both McCain and Hadley said Sunday they were working toward an agreement.

Hadley, on ABC's "This Week," repeated President Bush's assertion that the United States does not torture and follows international conventions on the treatment of prisoners.

He added, "We're trying to find a way ... where we can strike the balance between being aggressive to protect the country against the terrorists, and, at the same time, comply with the law."

"We're working it. We're not there yet," he said on "Fox News Sunday."

McCain, while saying he would not compromise on the torture language, said they were in discussions "about other aspects of this to try to get an agreement." He did not elaborate.

McCain, a Navy flier who was captured by the North Vietnamese and tortured during the Vietnam War, sponsored an anti-torture measure that has passed the Senate by a 90-9 vote.

But the White House said it could not accept restrictions that might prevent interrogators from gaining information vital to the nation's security and has threatened a presidential veto of any bill that contained the McCain language.

[Guys, if "We don't torture!", then why threaten the veto? Or even, why do we need this bill in the first place???]

McCain noted that intelligence gained through torture can be unreliable and he said the practice hurts the U.S. reputation abroad.

© 2005 MSNBC.com