Bush/Snow vs. Hamilton/Madison

Whom would you trust to tell you just whose responsibility it is to interpret the Constitution of the United States of America, and guard it from all enemies foreign or domestic? Your choices in this particular instance are White House Spokesperson Tony Snow and (p)resident George W. Bush, or founding fathers Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Which party do you choose? According to this brief article at Salon.com, each of these two parties sees the answer to this question very differently. They are almost polar opposites, in fact.

Snow was asked about Bush’s recent signing statements (some of which I touched upon in my last blog entry), “isn’t it the Supreme Court that’s supposed to decide whether laws are unconstitutional or not?”

Check out Snow’s answer at the link above, as well as Madison’s reference to Bush as a tyrant. Man, the Founding Fathers foresaw everything, didn’t they! Definitely worth five or ten minutes of your time…

McCain Pleased?

John McCain should be ashamed of himself. So should Democrats, who owed it to their constituents to stand up against any horrible proposal to legislate torture. According to one law professor at Georgetown University, the “U.S. [is] to be [the] First Nation to Authorize Violations of Geneva.” Makes you swell with pride, doesn’t it? America. What the hell happened to thee? Never in my wildest imagination did I think that there would be more torture in Iraq after Saddam was deposed than when he ruled. This appears to be what we are now known for around the world. Just do a Google search on torture and look what comes up. Then click on the NEWS link just above the search text box and see what comes up. It’s all about America, folks. Shocking.

Aside from that, I don’t know which is more surprising — the fact that our elected officials reached some kind of “compromise” on violating the Geneva Conventions or the fact that some politicians thought it would make any difference at all what actually got legislated. There is nothing that will stop George W. Bush from doing exactly as he pleases when it comes to torture. Check out these examples of signing statements that Bush has added to laws that he has signed. Here’s one of the big ones, particularly relevant to current events:

Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

Bush’s signing statement: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.

Can waive the torture ban. Think about that for a minute. The supposed President of the United States of America looked at the law before him, and decided that there would be times during his tenure that he might have to torture someone. Under this reasoning, Kim Jong-il could, on a whim, take any American he feels might be threatening to North Korea, and torture him for no apparent reason. What is the difference? How do you prove that there was reasonable cause to torture someone? And who makes that decision that someone might have information that needs to be “extracted?”

John McCain, himself subject to years of torture in Vietnam, claimed victory over the recent “concessions” made by George W. Bush. However, there is NOTHING to stop Bush from adding yet another of his infamous signing statements to any related piece of legislation that lands on his desk.

A quote from that same Boston Globe article:

”[Bush] agrees to a compromise with members of Congress, and all of them are there for a public bill-signing ceremony, but then he takes back those compromises — and more often than not, without the Congress or the press or the public knowing what has happened,” said Christopher Kelley, a Miami University of Ohio political science professor who studies executive power.

This is a man drunk with his own power. He sets his own rules. Exhibit B:

Aug. 5: The military cannot add to its files any illegally gathered intelligence, including information obtained about Americans in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches.

Bush’s signing statement: Only the president, as commander in chief, can tell the military whether or not it can use any specific piece of intelligence.

This nightmare has to be over soon. Even if these clowns only have two or four more years, where do we go to get our reputation back? What do true patriots do after these clowns are done chopping away at every ideal upon which this country was founded? Do we apologize to the world? Say we got a little overzealous? Too paranoid? Too exclusionary? Do we say, “we now return you to your regularly scheduled country” and invite the rest of the world to talk with us and work with us once again?

GQ Article about Lamont/Liebermann Race

Ted Lamont’s campaign just forwarded to its supporters a link to a GQ article on the leadup to the Lamont/Liebermann primary. It’s an illuminating read, and one passage in particular I have to totally agree with:

After a month of interviews, I’m convinced many voters generally like Joe and that he could have taken the wind out of Ned’s sails by simply saying he miscalculated in his optimism on the outcome of the war and asked for voters’ forbearance. That he refuses to pay them that respect infuriates people. He may just lose his career over the simple human inability to concede a possible mistake. Interesting.

I think that pretty much sums it up in a nutshell. That right there is the single most important reason that Joe lost the Connecticut Democratic Primary. I believe most Democrats would be willing to overlook his attempts to force some kind of moral regulation on Hollywood or the music industry and could respectfully agree to disagree over some of his votes in the Senate. But it is this stubborn refusal to budge an inch on the notion that red-blooded, patriotic Americans could have a point when they protest the war in Iraq that ultimately gave rise to a Democratic challenger. That’s really all it was. One rather large sentence pushed most Democrats over the line: “It’s time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.” These words are now part of American history, and may be the direct words that led to the very rare circumstance where an incumbent is defeated in his party’s primary by an inexperienced challenger.

It’s the GASOLINE PRICES stupid!

I can’t think of any other reason why the Republicans are feeling more confident about their chances in November other than the curiously-timed drop in fuel prices. It seems like the whole “throw the bums out” mentality is being tempered a bit. But what else could be behind the GOP’s recently higher poll numbers? Could it be the compromise the congress made on torture to appease the cabal that fears they may be tried for war crimes sometime in the future? I supposed it might not matter anyway, as Karl Rove has apparently already served up the notion that there will definitely be an October Surprise. Could it be that we finally caught Bin Laden? Doubtful. He is the best campaign tool the GOP has ever had. This administration has demonized him to the point that 90% of Americans polled believe that to look into the terrorist leader’s eyes means instant death. You think they’re going to let anyone know that they have him locked up somewhere? No, it serves them better for people to think Bin Laden is “somewhere, out there…” Unless, I suppose, the GOP’s poll numbers slide dramatically in the run up to the elections. Talk about a trump card.

I just don’t know what it’s going to take to wake Americans up from their collective stupor. Can it really be all about the gasoline prices? Just keep our Hummers filled up with cheap middle-eastern gasoline and we’re all content? Does no one care about our standing in the world? Isn’t it bad for our national security that so many countries seem to be speaking out against American Imperialism?

It’s hard to believe that just five short years ago, even Iran appeared poised to become a potential ally in the US ‘war on terror’. I guess people have short memories, and that just makes it easier for this government to convince its citizens that everywhere they look, someone could be waiting to kill them. The politics of fear is so very effective.

Diebold Hacking Example

The folks at Princeton University got hold of a Diebold electronic voting machine and have provided a stunning example (WMV video, approx 60MB — Right click on the link and select “Save As”) of how a voting machine can throw a handful of votes to whichever candidate the virus writer chooses. There is some wiggle room for skeptics to balk at this demo. It supposes there are some awfully desperate people out there who would do anything to make sure their candidate won, including finding a way to gain access to a voting machine, making sure the software does what it is supposed to, and hoping that election officials use the same memory card in each machine before setting them up. Coordinated efforts are necessary on some level to affect such a crime, but the bottom line is — it can be done. The possibility that Diebold would be involved in such a broad conspiracy that would allow easy access to these machines and, at the very least, serve to “turn a blind eye” to potential election-day criminals is pretty much unthinkable. This, even though the CEO of Diebold noted that he was committed to delivering Ohio’s electoral votes to Bush in the 2004 election.

These machines are not secure. In order to wipe out any possible threat to election legitimacy, it is high time that Diebold be pushed by our elected officials — Republicans and Democrats alike — to make these machines bulletproof.

Check out the whole story at Salon.com.

The above video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License. Video Credits: Princeton UniversitySchool of Engineering and Applied ScienceWoodrow Wilson School

If All Else Fails, SMEAR!

OK people, get ready for it. According to the Washington Post, “The National Republican Congressional Committee, which this year dispatched a half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads.”

There you have it. This is the big GOP plan to hold onto Senate and House seats in November. These are the same tricks used against John “voted for the war before I voted against it” Kerry, Max “Osama” Cleland, Al “the LiarGore, and other honorable members of government who have served both their country and their constituents with distinction.

And who is heading up what could possibly be the largest, most extensive and most expensive pre-election smear campaign in history? None other than Terry Nelson, the guy behind the NH GOP phone-jamming scandal. Check out this article at Talking Points Memo for all the sleazy details.

Do I even need to get into why the GOP needs to resort to these desparate measures? We’ve all lived it over the past six disasterous years. Everything the GOP touched has turned to crap. Now we see the results of total GOP domination. Pure and utter disaster. Failure on every level. Their last remaining threat toward the American people — “only we can protect you from terror” — now rings hollow. Americans are about to call the GOP’s bluff, realizing that if this administration can’t protect us from the aftermath of a hurricane, how are they to protect us from a dirty bomb in NYC?

So what is left for them to run on? Well, they can’t even run on fear anymore. So the only thing they have is to attack their opponents with any bit of dirt they can find on them. And if the past is any indication of where this all will lead, the truth will be the real victim in all this.

The only way the Democrats are going to be able to combat this coming onslaught is to confront it BEFORE it happens — to step out in the public and spend a good percentage of the Dem’s war chest to get the message out to the public — “here it comes people, the same dirty tricks you have seen year after year… They have nothing left to run on, so you’re about to see the most negative campaign from the GOP you have ever seen… We’re just warning you up front… Please, do your homework….”

I don’t know if it will matter in the end. Even recent history tells us that these attacks can be very successful. It’s just a shame that one party is so scared of its record of failures that it always resorts to lies and voting manipulation to get its way. Imagine what the US would be like if everyone ran on the issues and told the truth. But I guess politics has never been that way, so why start now?