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When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. - Sinclair Lewis

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

People Rule

At least, in a democracy, the will of the people must be followed. 62% of Americans now believe the Iraqi occupation was a mistake; in 1973, 60% of Americans said that the Vietnam war was a mistake. What's going to happen now? People are dying every day. Iraqis are suffereing a great loss, only to be repeated the next day. And the Democrats, swept into Congress pretty much on anti-Iraq occupation sentiments, must now solve this issue. If they don't, they again have failed the American people but they haven't even been sworn in yet so I'll wait and see. Now Bush Inc is going to tell the American people their new plan for Iraq in January, bumped from later this month. I bet you any money that they are going to send more troops and repeat the same taling points about our "troops standing down when the Iraqis stand up". The only thing I'll miss this time around will be that tiny catchphrase, slogan, "Stay The Course". Their idea of a timeline is leaving this botched occupation to the next President which is a sickening thought. Now Shrub is talking to his different groups, the State Department, the Defense Department, after the scorthcing Iraq Study Group released their findings. I'm sure that the cronies will be impartial about the same old, same old. Regardless of what the spin is, everyone is looking at the Democrats now to see what they are going to do. Now anything they pass with the word "timeline" in it will be vetoed by Bush Inc; all of a sudden he'll find that veto pen that has made its way onto the floor. So we'll need the help and support of the Repukes if we have any chance of overriding that veto. Yes, grim, but the Repukes have to, at some point, acknlowdge the need for a timeline. The People have spoken. Will our servants listen?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Top Things I'm Thankful For This Year

I'm thankful for Ned Lamont. He had a message of change and decided to inject that into the 2006 mid-term elections when it wasn't popular to do so. He gave everyone hope that things can change for the better; that entrenched incumbents must face their record. Thank you Ned Lamont. You rock.

I'm thankful that I'm able to bitch, moan, whine, and complain about the situation in this country. I'm a proud American and a proud dissident.

I'm thankful for all the people I have met through my humble blog. People in particular, you Bryan and you Shelly. It's good to connect and exchange ideas.

I'm thankful that no matter how bad my situation is, whether it be financial or personal, I'm able to survive and never experience the harsh reality of poverty.

I'm thankful for our Bill of Rights. That's what makes this country so great. Our rights as US citizens to say what we want (even if it's unpopular) and believe in what we want to believe in.

I'm thankful for the many Americans who voted Democratic. We might (*might*) see change soon when it comes to this horrible foreign policy.

I'm thankful for my education. Despite college costs increasing again (yes, again), I'm able to attend school and hopefully, when everything isn't outsourced, maintain a decent standard of living.

I'm thankful for the "netroots", those who blog daily, and those who do real investigative work on their blogs. You guys are fantastic. I don't know where you find the time! ;-)

I'm thankful for the fact that I'll be dining on some food later today. Many won't be as fortunate.

I'm thankful that I'm an American. I love this country alot. I just hate what these bastards are doing to it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Been Busy...

To all my hardcore followers, I've been a little busy I'm afraid and this blog is a low on the totem pole when it comes to priority. In addition to these damn papers, I have been volunteering for the Lamont campaign on the weekends since I live so damn close. Enjoy these Ned Lamont campaign ads.

So with that said, Happy Halloween and get out and vote! You know they're going to try and steal it but we can beat them if we all vote en masse.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Has Blair Come To?

I was almost elated when I read that the head of the British Armed Forces, General Sir Richard Dannatt, called for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq. It seems that the whole "Coalition of the Willing" is waking up to the grave mistakes that Bush Inc dragged them into. It's sad that Blair had to follow, really. Overall he seems decent but he has just been Bush's bitch all the way through and that he contributed to his ultimate demise. Each day, the news out of Iraq is not good. The violence there will last for decades, if that, but we can help subside the rise in violence now but eliminating our presence there. Unlike General Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of Staff of the US Army, General Peter Schoomaker, has recently come out saying that troops will sustain current levels until 2010. This is akin to Bush saying that Iraq will be left for other Presidents to decide. I ask: Who is the decider in all of this? Is it not Bush Inc who has committed us to an endless "war" in the name of "terra"? Surely that is too much to ask of the whole cabal, to come up with a strategy. I can't say I have much hope if the Democrats take control of the House and/or the Senate. There will be a lot of talk, no doubt, but I don't foresee anything beyond that. My hope is that good anti-war candidates like Ned Lamont will help give the people a bullhorn and will place it right next to the ears of those who continue to say "stay the course".

Watching Blair Inc crash and burn is no fun ride. I can't say I get enjoyment out of it, just sadness. Sadness that it has to come to this for our political servants to actually acknowledge that there is an issue. General Sir Richard Dannatt sure has guts though to come out and make these statements. He pretty much wrapped it up when he said that "whatever consent we may have had in the first place, may have turned to tolerance and has largely turned to intolerance,...I don't say that the difficulties we are experiencing round the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them." The White House spin-master, Tony Snow-job, spun this every wich way saying it was "taken out of contex". Senator John Warner recently said that the "situation [in Iraq] is simply drifting sideways"1. In response, Bush Inc said "I want you to notice what he did say is: 'If the plan is now not working, the plan that's in place isn't working, America needs to adjust.' I completely agree". Adjust? What does that mean?! If a Democrat, any Democrat, said this then they are supporting a cut-and-run policy, which means them "terra-ists" will win because "adjusting" means moving away from "stay the course".

I think of the Labour MPs resigning because Blair wouldn't commit to a date in which he would leave and how Jack Straw was canned from his Foreign Secretary position because he opposed any military action against Iraq and the "Bush is crap" comment from MP John Prescott. People are fed up with this crap and are doing something about it. Our political leaders here in the US of A can learn a lesson from our neighbors across the pond.

1 http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/10/12/iraq.strategy/

Monday, October 02, 2006

Your Litmus Test?

I am still struggling with coming to terms with this atrocious torture bill that passed both the House and the Senate last week. You would think an important bill such as this would not be ramrodded through the Congress but it was and passed, along with a few straggling fake Democrats. But, perhaps the Repukes are nervous because there's a chance that the Democrats will control the House and, possibly, the Senate in this year's elections and decided to push all this stuff through during the last week. Plus, talking about "terra" and Iraq doesn't hurt them either.

What disturbs me the most is the broad undefined language that is used in the torture bill. Take, for example, the following:
Habeas Corpus(a) IN GENERAL.—No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States is a party as a source of rights in any court of the United States or its States or territories."
Habeas Corpus dates be to the Magna Carta which states: "...no free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed except by the lawful judgment of their peers or by the law of the land.". Simply put, this states that a perosn being detained may not bring up Geneva Conventions violations. So water boarding, crushing testicals, all that, which is torture, can't be brought up.
(26) WRONGFULLY AIDING THE ENEMY.—Any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States, or one of the co-belligerents of the enemy, shall be punished as a military commission under this chapter may direct.
This begs the question: Who is "any person"? It can be said that those defending the detainees are "knowingly and intentionally" aiding an enemy thus making them punishable. You see, this is not defined. Any person can be anybody who disagrees with the agenda.
(2) PROHIBITION ON GRAVE BREACHES.—The provisions of section 2441 of title 18, United States Code, as amended by this section, fully satisfy the obligation under Article 129 of the Third Geneva Convention for the United States to provide effective penal sanctions for grave breaches which are encompassed in common Article 3 in the context of an armed conflict not of an international character. No foreign or international source of law shall supply a basis for a rule of decision in the courts of the United States in interpreting the prohibitions enumerated in subsection (d) of such section 2441." "(3) INTERPRETATION BY THE PRESIDENT.— (A) As provided by the Constitution and by this section, the President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and to promulgate higher standards and administrative regulations for violations of treaty obligations which are not grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. (B) The President shall issue interpretations described by subparagraph (A) by Executive Order published in the Federal Register. (C) Any Executive Order published under this paragraph shall be authoritative (except as to grave breaches of common Article 3) as a matter of United States law, in the same manner as other administrative regulations."
Okay, read this again slowly. This allows Bush Inc to interpret the meaning of and the execution of the GENEVE CONVENTIONS! And, from what Bush Inc has said, waterboarding isn't torture but a necessary tool for the war on "terra".
"(c) DETERMINATION OF UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT STATUS DISPOSITIVE.—A finding, whether before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense that a person is an unlawful enemy combatant is dispositive for purposes of jurisdiction for trial by military commission under this chapter."
Once a military tribunal finds one to be an "enemy combatant", then that person is considered one. There is no appeal that can be sought and there is absolutly no review on this. Whatever the tribunal says, goes.

This also undoes certain provisions in the War Crimes Act. Under the new privision in this piece of crap, civilians such as the CIA and the White House would be exempt from prosecution. Amended are several sections that are prohibited (rape, murder, et cetra...gee thanks guys) but techniques not listed (like waterboarding) allow civilian CIA officals to use them without fearing persecution. In my opinion waterboarding and forms like it are torture. Check out this YouTube clip on waterboarding and tell me what you think in the comments section. These people need to be held accountable for this, every single one of them. In the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, the Supreme Court ruled that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions is the minimum standard for detainee treatment. This Article states that detainees must be "treated humanely", must avoid "curel treatment...outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment" and must go through "the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."1

I urge you to read the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Okay, I didn't read every single word but I did skim it. You must do this. This is being done in "our" name, yours and mine and our citizens.

This is from the Center for Constitutional Rights:

Recent mass detentions of non-citizens in this country give us reason to fear that this unchecked authority will lead to rampant racial and religious profiling, prolonged detention without reason, physical and psychological abuse. The Government's own investigations have produced evidence that:
  • Shortly after September 11, 2001, hundreds of non-citizens were swept up in the United States and detained in connection to the terrorism investigation without any evidence to connect them to terrorism or crime.

  • These men were arrested and detained based on their Muslim faith, their Arab or South Asian descent, and their immigration status, rather than any evidence to connect them to terrorism.

  • The "9-11 detainees" were imprisoned in the United States until they were cleared of any connection to terrorism by the FBI. This clearance usually took months, and some detainees were held for over a year.

  • During the detention period, many men were held in the most restrictive confinement that exists in the federal system. They were locked down 23 to 24 hours a day, hand-cuffed and shackled, deprived of sleep, beaten and verbally harassed, and denied the opportunity to practice their religion.

  • Since the men were released, at least two federal court judges have ruled that the treatment of the detainees would constitute violations of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

If here "what could the Democrats do? They're the minority." True, but they also could have unanimously voted against this piece of filth legislation that is being used as a political "dirty bomb". If all Democrats united and voted against and denouced this as trash, I would be satisfied. But they didn't. 34 Democrats in the House crossed over and 12 in the Senate signed off the torture. They are gutless, spineless creatures who care not what the governemtn does but, rather, what the thrity second attack ads says about them. They deserve to be challenege in a primary (sadly it's late for that) and harassed every day that they're in office. Reid, as the minority leader, should have called for a filibuster. If the Democrats united, the filibuster would have been sustained and this tourture bill wouldn't have made it through. Nothing was done. Now torture is legal in this Country and it's being done in all our names. I often hear and read why people come here. People come here for the rights, the Bill of Rights that garentees us freedoms without government encrochment. But now, bit by bit, our freedoms are being stripped and dragged through the mud. It started with "freespeech zones" and works itself up to the USA Fascist Act. My only hope now is that the Supreme Court of the United States rules this torture bill unconsitutional and lambastes our gutless servants who don't care about us, the people, but with power. If the Democrats take the House and/or Senate I'm not expecting them to undo this. My full faith depends on the Courts. Oh my..

This brings me back to the title: what's your litmus test? Usually I vote based on my conscience (i.e. not party loyalty). I have been supporting good, progressive anti-war candidates (for example, I supported the underdog candidate Ned Lamont who was successful in his primary challenge against LIEber/LOSERman). I refuse to vote for someone who supports this war crime in Iraq. With this torture bill, I now have another limus test that I can apply. There is no excuse whatsoever for voting for this. Please tell me if you apply a litmus test and why in the comments section. It's my new feature called "Shout Back" where you, the reader, answer the questions posed. So please, by all means, "Shout Back" if you can.

First, I give you the Hall of Shame:

U.S. House Roll Call
U.S. Senate Roll Call

1 http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060918/brecher

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Millionaires Only

In case you haven't heard, Johnathan Tasini was beaten in the Democratic Primary by Hilliary Clinton on Tuesday. I know that was a while back but bear with me, I've been a little swamped lately. Unfortunately, in our great political system where only Democrats and Republicans can win, someone must also be rich enough to combat the filthy, corrupt corporate money machine that spews out money faster than it is created. The turnout was abysmal, running at about twenty-two percent. What the hell is wrong with people? Still, Tasini was able to tap into 17% of the total vote. Not bad for an anti-war candidate who didn't have the name recognition and money to properly campaign against Clinton.

This, however, is sickening. It seems that only a millionaire with enough guts to run has a chance, if that, to beat an entrenched incumbent. It's sad that Clinton didn't face her Iraqi, pro-"war" vote. She needs to. Along with all the other Democrats and Republicans who were/are cheering on the President every step of the way. She didn't want to debated him, most likely because the "war" would be a major issue. She "cut and ran" from her opponent because she knew that the political machine will take care of her. My hope is that one day she will face her vote and recant that. If she plans to run in 08, go for it but make it know that I, and many others I have spoken with, refuse to support a pro-"war" Democrat. I can't do it. Even coming into '06, Iraq is the first and foremost issue. I'm fortunate that my Democrat Representative is anti-war and is part of the " Get out of Iraq" Congressional Caucus. I will proudly vote for him. If the Democrats wish to succeed in 2006 and 2008, they need to pay attention and unify on the important issues. 65% of the public now disapproves of the way Dubya is handling the "war" and 51% says that we made a mistake going in. Now I've seen polls with varying numbers but the point is that people are fed up. The Democrats need not wait until 80, 90, or 95% of the population disapproves of the mess.

However, in some cases this can also be a good thing. Anti-war candidate Ned Lamont was able to topple an eighteen-year incumbant. Ned Lamont was able to tap into the discontent with LOSERman, is a millionaire and has tremendous grassroots support. Ned Lamont is the real deal, as they say, and those who think otherwise or don't know much about him should check him out. In this case, we lucked out. His victory in August restored my faith that change can happen for the better and that it is us who control what happens. His victory in November will only strengthen the anti-war message; instead of a Bush Inc lapdog, we will soon have a Senator who speaks for all of us when we say "Out of Iraq NOW!".

Will the Democrats unite? Or fall like a house of cards??

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Time to Unite

Out of three possible bills, the Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Republican Senator Arlen Specter, passed a bill that is fully supported by the White House and will be voted on sometime next week by the full Senate. This bill gives Bush Inc everything they want. It allows Bush Inc to continue to wiretap without warrants at the discretion of the Attorney General, now Alberto "Torture" Gonzales. The other bills apparently were "un-American". A bill sponsored by DeWine (who's facing Sharrod Brown in November), seeks to give Bush Inc the right to freely wiretap without warrants but the only caveat is that Bush Inc will have to report to Congress every forty-five days and tell them what's going on. Well, Bush Inc can't have that. The third bill, supported by Democrats, called for Bush Inc to fully abide by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; i.e. Bush Inc will have to get warrants. But, like everything else, that gets rejected and the co-sponsor of that bill, Arlen Specter, changes his mind and does a 180.

The FISA court is a rubber-stamp; something I don't have much confidence in. But I'd rather have some court looking over the information than Bush Inc deciding who gets tapped and who doesn't. If this Specter bill passes the Senate, Bush Inc will jump with joy over their new powers.
First, it requires (if the Attorney General requests it, which he will) that all pending cases challenging the legality of the NSA program (which includes the EFF and ACLU cases) be transferred to the secret FISA court. Thus, the insufficiently deferential federal judges would have these cases taken away from them. Second, it would make judicial review of the administration's behavior virtually impossible, as it specifically prohibits (Sec. 702(b)(2)) the FISA court from "requir(ing) the disclosure of national security information . . . without the approval of the Director of National Intelligence of the Attorney General." That all but prevents any discovery in these lawsuits. Third, it quite oddly authorizes (Sec. 702(b)(6)) the FISA court to "dismiss a challenge to the legality of an electronic surveillance program for any reason" (emphasis added). Arguably, that provision broadens the authority of the court to dismiss any such lawsuit for the most discretionary of reasons, even beyond the already wide parameters of the "state secrets" doctrine.

Cite: http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/07/defeating-specter-bill.html

So now it's time for the Democrats to stand up and filibuster this horrid bill. Most likely, the Repukes will vote in lockstep; the bill will easily pass without a filibuster. But the required 60 votes to break a filibuster will not be achieved if the Democrats stand united. I don't want to see thirty of the vote for it, ten vote against it and the rest abstain. That's crap. They do that with Iraq and they did it with A-LIE-TO. During the A-LIE-TO-buster, I phoned, faxed and emailed all of the Dem Senators. I even phoned up Lincoln Chafee. I did this only to be utterly disappointed, again, by the party. I'm going to be doing this again but will not give my hopes up. If the Democrats succeed, a glimmer of hope may be restored. But if they wimp out, I'll be pissed off. Stand up Democrats and VOTE for the right thing.