Saturday, July 15


Oh heavens, what a lot of evil is done while couching it in deceptively favorable terms.

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Good for WaPo. They nail what's wrong with Arlen Specter's weasely bill caving in to Bush claims of unlimited executive power.

This bill is not a compromise but a full-fledged capitulation on the part of the legislative branch to executive claims of power. Mr. Specter has not been briefed on the NSA's program. Yet he's proposing revolutionary changes to the very fiber of the law of domestic surveillance -- changes not advocated by key legislators who have detailed knowledge of the program. This week a remarkable congressional debate began on how terrorists should face trial, with Congress finally asserting its role in reining in overbroad assertions of presidential power. What a tragedy it would be if at the same time, it acceded to those powers on the fundamental rights of Americans.

Wouldn't it have been remarkable to see Democrats in 1998 passing a bill to make it legal for the president to lie about his sex life? But then, retroactive enabling legislation is so quintessentially Republican.

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Is there anyone in the United States except those inside the Bush administration, their sycophants in the Republican Congress, and their cheerleaders in the wingnut media and their followers (think Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, Coulter, Ingraham) who believes that torture, rendition, secret prisons and holding "enemy combatants" without legal recourse, and in defiance of the Geneva Convention, are in the best interests of American soldiers, or compatible with the traditional U.S. values and the Constitution that formerly made this nation a beacon of freedom and justice in the world?

The top lawyers from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines contradicted the Bush administration on Thursday on how to bring terror suspects to trial, endorsing an approach that extends more human and legal rights to detainees than one that administration lawyers have pressed Congress to authorize.
While another hearing this week featured sharp exchanges between administration lawyers and senators from both parties — Mr. Graham told the lawyers that they should “forget about” the tribunals President Bush tried to set up — the hearing with the military lawyers consisted mostly of senators and witnesses affirming their shared views.

Senator Warner told the military lawyers that “there’s certainly no consensus here to just rubber-stamp what’s in place.”

When Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the committee, suggested that “none of you believe we should simply ratify” the president’s approach, he was met with a string of nods from the uniformed lawyers on the panel.

And when Mr. McCain asked if Secretary England had done the right thing in declaring that the Geneva Conventions extended to detainees, the panel nodded again.

“This panel has got it right,” Senator Graham said.

Mr. McCain cautioned against narrowing the protections granted to detainees, arguing that the debate was not about extending rights to terrorists, but promoting a high standard. “America’s image in the world is suffering,” he said.

“We will have more wars, and there will be more Americans who are taken captive,” said Mr. McCain, who was a prisoner of war for six years in Vietnam. “If we somehow carve out exceptions to treaties to which we are signatories, then it will make it very easy for our enemies to do the same in the case of American prisoners.”

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Oh. My God. The Middle East is exploding in violence. Hezbollah and Israel are in open warfare along the Lebanese border and coast, exchanging rocket strikes, and armed gunmen dressed in Iraqi police uniforms have kidnapped the head of the Iraq Olympic Committee and about 20 others one day after the Iraqi Olympic wrestling coach was murdered.

And our pResident continues to deny reality. In a press conference with Russia's Putin in the leadup to the G8, the following exchange:

Under domestic pressure to make public criticism of Russia’s alleged backsliding on democracy, Mr Bush largely limited himself to acknowledging that the two men had discussed their “governing philosophies”.

He added: “I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world like Iraq where there’s a free press and free religion, and I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia would do the same thing.”

But in a jibe at the violence and turmoil in the country, Mr Putin replied that Russia would “certainly not want to have the same kind” of democracy as Iraq.

Amid laughter, Mr Bush said: “Just wait.”

Bush clearly believes that fifty years from now there will be a "Bush Memorial" in Washington, D.C. honoring his successful vision of spreading democracy throughout the world at the end of a gun. Plaqes will bear evidence of the wisdom of his words: "Bring it on." "You see, not only did the attacks help accelerate a recession, the attacks reminded us that we are at war." —George W. Bush, on the Sept. 11 attacks, Washington, D.C., June 8, 2005. "And the second way to defeat the terrorists is to spread freedom. You see, the best way to defeat a society that is — doesn't have hope, a society where people become so angry they're willing to become suiciders, is to spread freedom, is to spread democracy." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., June 8, 2005. "Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 17, 2004. "We actually misnamed the war on terror. It ought to be the Struggle Against Ideological Extremists Who Do Not Believe in Free Societies Who Happen to Use Terror as a Weapon to Try to Shake the Conscience of the Free World." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2004.

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." —George W. Bush, Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005.

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Wednesday, July 12


What a fabulous family vacation, driving a van full of Motherlodes and Sages through ten U.S. states plus the District of Columbia! I'm completely out of touch with the news of the day, which I hope to catch up on as quickly as possible. But the long break was welcome and much-needed. I'm almost reluctant to dive back into politics and the ugliness that's confronted us for the past six years. But what can we do? Every voice, every vote counts, and the midterm elections are just over four months away.

"This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny" reads the engraving on the wall in the bottom picture (shot at the FDR Memorial). Have those words ever been more true?