"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt
On Friday, both President Bush and Condoleezza Rice said they couldn't confirm whether or not the NSA was spying on Americans because it would compromise National Security. Today Bush decided it was necessary to do the opposite by admitting to the criminal activity (while not admitting that the activity was in fact criminal, mind you) during his weekly radio address (video thanks to Canofun).
FISA makes it a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison, to conduct electronic surveillance except as provided for by statute. The only defense is for law government agents engaged in official duties conducting "surveillance authorized by and conducted pursuant to a search warrant or court order." [50 U.S.C. § 1809]
SENATOR RUSS FEINGOLD: Well, they relate in this sense, is that there's a pattern here of the president refusing to listen to arguments about protecting innocent Americans. In the Patriot Act, we have a couple of provisions that make sure they can't go after innocent Americans' library records and medical records and business records.
Every single member of the Senate, including all of the Republicans, voted for those provisions. The president says no, he'd rather let the law expire than have those protections in there. Now that relates to the other point which is that he apparently feels even if he doesn't have authority from Congress that he can go ahead and do all this stuff anyway under some inherent power.
So what that really means, if you take his argument all the way, is he doesn't even need the USA Patriot Act because he thinks he has some kind of an inherent authority to make up the law himself. And I'll tell you something, this president and no other president is above the law and that's exactly what he was just telling us he was.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: What am I missing here? It can't be as obvious and as blatant and as you paint it or I would imagine that this country might be in a bit more uproar.
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) blast the Bush Administration for illegally spying on the American public (video).
Please make note of the Democratic presidential-hopefuls who have yet to speak out on the NSA's domestic spying: Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry. No one in this trio would have my support in the primaries regardless of whether or not they took a stand on this one particular issue, but for anyone still on the fence concerning these three -- maybe this will help solidify your position.
The Copley News Service announced it was suspending syndicated columnist Doug Bandow while investigating his acceptance of payments from Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff to write positive stories about Abramoff's clients.
"We are suspending Doug Bandow's column immediately," Glenda Winders, vice president and editor of CNS, said in a statement Friday. "We want to make sure we have all the facts before we take final action, but it has never been our policy to distribute work paid for by third parties whose role is not disclosed by the columnist."
On Thursday, Bandow resigned from the Cato Institute after confirming a report by BusinessWeek Online that said Abramoff paid him for writing between a dozen and 24 articles over nearly a decade. The Washington think-tank's Web site Friday referred to Bandow as a "former senior fellow."
Look, the problem here, again, is not one of just spying on Americans, as repulsively totalitarian as that is. It's that the administration adopted John Yoo's theory of presidential infallibility. But, of course, it wasn't really John Yoo's theory at all; it was Dick Cheney's muse, Richard Nixon who said, "when the President does it, that means it's not illegal."
This was not some off the cuff statement. It was based upon a serious constitutional theory -- that the congress or the judiciary (and by inference the laws they promulgate and interpret) have no authority over an equal branch of government. The president, in the pursuit of his duties as president, is not subject to the laws. Citizens can offer their judgment of his performance every four years at the ballot box.
So here we are, on the edge of a very slippery slope...
In the name of "National Security" is the president above the rule of law? I would argue emphatically no. But I'm guessing our Republican controlled House and Senate will not share such sentiment. Unless of course, we the people can make a loud enough roar that Congress realizes that the wrong response on this issue could cost them their job in '06.
This is against the law. I have put references to the relevant statute below the fold; the brief version is: the law forbids warrantless surveillance of US citizens, and it provides procedures to be followed in emergencies that do not leave enough time for federal agents to get a warrant. If the NY Times report is correct, the government did not follow these procedures. It therefore acted illegally.
Bush's order is arguably unconstitutional as well: it seems to violate the fourth amendment, and it certainly violates the requirement (Article II, sec. 3) that the President "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."
I am normally extremely wary of talking about impeachment. I think that impeachment is a trauma for the country, and that it should only be considered in extreme cases. Moreover, I think that the fact that Clinton was impeached raises the bar as far as impeaching Bush: two traumas in a row is really not good for the country, and even though my reluctance to go through a second impeachment benefits the very Republicans who needlessly inflicted the first on us, I don't care. It's bad for the country, and that matters most.
But I have a high bar, not a nonexistent one. And for a President to order violations of the law meets my criteria for impeachment. This is exactly what got Nixon in trouble: he ordered his subordinates to obstruct justice. To the extent that the two cases differ, the differences make what Bush did worse: after all, it's not as though warrants are hard to get, or the law makes no provision for emergencies. Bush could have followed the law had he wanted to. He chose to set it aside.
And this is something that no American should tolerate. We claim to have a government of laws, not of men. That claim means nothing if we are not prepared to act when a President (or anyone else) places himself above the law. If the New York Times report is true, then Bush should be impeached.
Who cares about whether the Patriot Act gets renewed? Want to abuse our civil liberties? Just do it.
Who cares about the Geneva Conventions. Want to torture prisoners? Just do it.
Who cares about rules concerning the identity of CIA agents. Want to reveal the name of a covert operative? Just do it.
Who cares about whether the intelligence concerning WMDS is accurate. Want to invade Iraq? Just do it.
Who cares about qualifications to serve on the nation's highest court. Want to nominate a personal friend with no qualifications? Just do it.
And the latest outrage, which I read about in "The New York Times" this morning, who cares about needing a court order to eavesdrop on American citizens. Want to wiretap their phone conversations? Just do it. What a joke. A very cruel, very sad joke.
In a crucial vote early Friday, the bill's Senate supporters were not able to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a threatened filibuster by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and their allies. The final vote was 52-47.
1) A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
2) A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government. Oppressive, dictatorial control.
3) A political theory advocating an authoritarian hierarchical government, as opposed to democracy or liberalism.
Congressional Republicans made progress on twin tracks Wednesday toward their end-of-year budget goals, passing a bill freezing or cutting back spending on medical research and education and nearing agreement on cuts to the Medicaid health care program for the poor.
The first measure, a $602 billion bill funding a wide variety of health, education and labor programs, passed the House on a 215-213 vote. It would cut federal aid to education for the first time in a decade, and spread about $1.4 billion in cuts across the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.
Cut taxes, cut funding, rinse, lather, and repeat...
Watching the talking heads vapidly spinning the latest approval ratings as a positive sign for Team Bush, I can't help but oscillate between feelings of outright contempt for their selling out of our nation to stay on "who's who list" of the Washington cocktail party circuit; to relief that finally, an overwhelming majority of the American public will realize that both the emperor and the defense industry owned media that props him up, have no clothes; to ultimately, falling into despair, thinking that they never will...
Please, somebody make it stop. I'm ready to get off this ride.
The lack of new material in Bush's speech complicated the second act in yesterday's double feature. Jack Murtha, the Democratic congressman who has been rebutting each of the four Iraq speeches, had little to work with. "He keeps saying the same thing over and over," Murtha protested during his regular televised rebuttal.
Rebuffing Democratic calls for a shake-up over Iraq war strategy and speculation about rifts within the White House, Bush said he had no intention of removing Rumsfeld as defense secretary, crediting him with doing a "heck of a job."
Congressman Murtha: We go to war because of national security interests. We don't go to war to start democracies in other countries. We go to war for one reason and they keep mischaracterizing why we went to war by telling a history that turns out not to be true (video).
Yet, this is the eighth year in a row that Congress has failed to enact even a small increase in the minimum wage. By freezing it at an inadequate $5.15 and ignoring the effects of inflation, Congress has essentially given a pay cut to these workers. In fact, if the minimum wage in 2005 was worth what it was worth in 1968 (its peak value), it would be $8.88 an hour.
This year, for the first time in the 16 years the coalition has published "Out of Reach," it determined that there is no place in the country where a full-time worker earning minimum wage can afford to rent even a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent.
Take a look at John Harris. This clueless motherfucker has no idea of the pain which can come from his arrogance. We are no longer a passive audience. This is just the beginning of a seachange at how people look at the media and choose how to receive information. Harris can put his dick in the air and piss at people, but they can piss back in large enough numbers to the point where he drowns.
Sure, he can fire Dan Froomkin, who will promptly set up his own, unedited blog, sell ads and be far more widely read than he is now. Just like Howard Stern has deplained to satellite radio, Froomkin, who has another job, can walk away from the Post and keep his audience. He, like Paul Krugman, are no longer beholden to their nominal employer, because they have built an audience which is mobile.
Too many newspapers are willing to bend to the conventional wisdom that conservatives and their blogs have to be paid attention to. The reality is that conservative blogs are a very small part of the right wing network, but liberal blogs have a much wider influence.
In the midst of Bush refuting claims of being an isolated president, Brian Williams describes the lengths that were taken to block out shouts of protesters while the interview was taking place (video).
Mathews and Shuster review the Plamegate saga from soup to nuts -- without the corporate media spin. I'm not quite sure what to make of this, other than that the American public are being prepped for a soon to be released Rove or -- dare I say -- Cheney indictment (video).
Representative John Murtha (D-PA) reiterates his call for a troop redeployment within six months; stating "we have become the enemy" and that it has long been evident that the insurgency in Iraq cannot be stopped by military force. In response to Senator Joe Lieberman's (D-CT) statements concerning the undermining of Bush's credibility by speaking out against the president in a time of war, Murtha points out that Bush himself has undermined his credibility by starting a war for reasons that have been proven to be false. Murtha also asserts our military is broken and that we could not meet another global threat for any sustained period without first redeploying the troops out of Iraq (video).
It's being reported as an accident, which it may very well be. But I have to say, I find it fascinating that the authorities are not even hinting at the possibility of it being a terrorist act. I mean, was that not your gut reaction when you first saw the headline?
Though the White House doesn't know that its jig is up, everyone else does. Americans see that New Orleans is in as sorry shape today as it was under Brownie three months ago. The bipartisan 9/11 commissioners confirm that homeland security remains a pork pit. Condi Rice's daily clarifications of her clarifications about American torture policies are contradicted by new reports of horrors before her latest circumlocutions leave her mouth. And the president's latest Iraq speeches - most recently about the "success" stories of Najaf and Mosul - still don't stand up to the most rudimentary fact checking.
This is why the most revealing poll number in the Times/CBS survey released last week was Mr. Bush's approval rating for the one area where things are going relatively well, the economy: 38 percent, only 2 points higher than his rating on Iraq. It's a measure of the national cynicism bequeathed by the Bush culture that seeing anything, even falling prices at the pump, is no longer believing.