“To preserve their [the people’s] independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our selection between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude” – Thomas Jefferson
Compliments of the day. I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.
I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion USD. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.
I am working with Mr. Phil Gramm, lobbyist for UBS, who (God willing) will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a former U.S. congressional leader and the architect of the PALIN / McCain Financial Doctrine, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. As such, you can be assured that this transaction is 100% safe.
This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.
Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.
Yours Faithfully in the Name of God,
Minister of Treasury Paulson
We are facing a financial crisis as profound as any we have faced since the Great Depression.
Congress and the President are currently debating a bailout of our financial institutions with a price tag of $700 billion in taxpayer dollars. We cannot underestimate our responsibility in taking such an enormous step.
Fast Facts, Shocks and their Aftermath from the Shock Doctrine Short Film
* 50,000 tortured
* 80,000 imprisoned
* Public spending cut by 50%
* Incomes for the rich up 83%
* 45% of population in poverty
Wars – Falklands War, 1982
* 910 people die
* Thatcher’s popularity doubles
* She privatizes gas, steel, airlines, telephones
* She declares war on unions
* Thousands are injured
* Unemployment triples
* Number of poor increases by 100%
* China 1989 – hundreds killed
* Thousands jailed and tortured
* China becomes sweatshop to the world
* China embraces “free market” capitalism
* Factory wages: $1/day
* Yeltsin attacks parliament
* Hundreds killed
* Parliament burned
* Opposition arrested
* 72 million impoverished
* 17 new billionaires created
Terrorist Attacks – New York, 2001
* Attacks launch “War on Terror.” It is privatized.
* US spy agencies outsource 70% of their budgets
* Pentagon increases budget for contractors by $137 billion/year
* Department of Homeland Security spends $130 billion on private contractors
Invasions – Iraq, 2003
* The most privatized war in modern history
* US decrees 200 state companies will be privatized
* Hundreds of thousands killed
* 4 million displaced
Natural Disasters – Sri Lanka, 2004
* 35,000 dead
* Coastline handed over to hotels and industry
* Nearly 1 million displaced
* Fishing people forbidden to rebuild homes by the sea
A video emerged this week of a dinner party that George Bush gave for some members of the press. During the course of this dinner, President Bush took stage with a cowboy hat on and through his merriment and laughter, sung this song:
Yes you’re all gonna miss me, The way you used to quiz me, But soon I’ll touch the brown, brown grass of home.
I spent my days clearing brush
I clear my head of all the fuss
But the fuss you made over harriet and brownie
Down the lane I look and here comes Scooter
Finally free of the prosecutor
And then I wait and look around me
At the oval walls that surround me
I realize I was only dreaming
For there’s Condi and Dick, my old compadre,
Talking to me about some oil rich Saudi,
But soon I’ll touch the brown brown grass of home.”
That old White house is behind me,
I am once again carefree,
Don’t have to worry ’bout a crisis in Pyongyang.
Down the lane I look, Dick Cheney is strolling
With documents he’d been withholding,
It’s good to touch the brown brown grass of home.”
Re-read the song he sang at this black tie dinner. Hear the laughter in his voice and the applause he received after this performance and then ask yourself, is this what America really stands for?
We should never forget.
[Thank you Kathy H.]
Fascinating interview with renowned author Naomi Wolf, perhaps best known for her early 1990s feminist classic “The Beauty Myth”, considered by many to be one of the most important works of the 20th century.
Wolf discusses her new book “The End of America”, already on the New York Times bestseller list. The book identifies ten classic steps common to all dictatorships — including those of Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin. Alarmingly, Wolf makes the case that each of these ten steps is occurring in post 9/11 America today. The book is a call to action for young and concerned Americans and this interview intimately frames this important discussion.
According to new revelations from telecommunications company Qwest, the origins of the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretap program predated the 9/11 attacks by seven months. That would mean the terror attacks became a convenient post-facto rationalization for what the White House already wanted to do. But — former CIA analyst Ray McGovern asks — what did Nancy Pelosi and other senior Democrats know then and what will they do about it now?
Naomi Klein sits down with Bill Maher to discuss her new book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.
Calling it the “mission statement of the Bush administration,” Klein says that politicians are seeing themselves as facilitators between disasters and their friends in the private sector. Each time there’s a disaster, says Klein, politicians use the “shock” felt by the citizenry to “push through a further privatization agenda” with little opposition.
Jose Padilla was convicted of federal terrorism support charges Thursday after being held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant in a case that came to symbolize the Bush administration’s zeal to stop homegrown terror.
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/08/04/democrats/print.html”>With each passing day, Congressional Democrats become increasingly responsible for the excesses and abuses which they choose to permit and enable.
Aug. 04, 2007 | [updated below – updated again (with Sen. Dodd interview) – Update III]
It is staggering, and truly disgusting, that even in August, 2007 — almost six years removed from the 9/11 attacks and with the Bush presidency cemented as one of the weakest and most despised in American history — that George W. Bush can “demand” that the Congress jump and re-write legislation at his will, vesting in him still greater surveillance power, by warning them, based solely on his say-so, that if they fail to comply with his demands, the next Terrorist attack will be their fault. And they jump and scamper and comply (Meteor Blades has the list of the 16 Senate Democrats voting in favor; the House will soon follow).
I just finished a discussion panel with ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero which was originally planned to examine his new (superb) book about the work his organization has done for years in battling the endless expansion of executive power and presidential lawbreaking. But the only issue anyone in the room really wanted to discuss — including us — was the outrage unfolding on Capitol Hill. And the anger was almost universally directed where it belongs: at Congressional Democrats, who increasingly bear more and more responsibility for the assaults on our constitutional liberties and unparalleled abuses of government power — many (probably most) of which, it should always be emphasized, remain concealed rather than disclosed.
Examine virtually every Bush scandal and it increasingly bears the mark not merely of Democratic capitulation, but Democratic participation. In August of 2006, the Supreme Court finally asserted the first real limit on Bush’s radical executive power theories in Hamdan, only for Congress, months later, to completely eviscerate those minimal limits — and then go far beyond — by enacting the grotesque Military Commissions Act with the support of substantial numbers of Democrats. What began as a covert and illegal Bush interrogation and detention program became the officially sanctioned, bipartisan policy of the United States.
Grave dangers are posed to our basic constitutional safeguards by the replacement of Sandra Day O’Connor with Sam Alito, whose elevation to the Supreme Court Congressional Democrats chose to permit. Vast abuses and criminality in surveillance remain undisclosed, uninvestigated and unimpeded because Congressional Democrats have stood meekly by while the administration refuses to disclose what it has been doing in how it spies on us. And we remain in Iraq, in direct defiance of the will of the vast majority of the country, because the Democratic Beltway establishment lacks both the courage and the desire to compel an end to that war.
And now Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, with revealing symbolism, cancel their scheduled appearances this morning at Yearly Kos because George Bush ordered them to remain in Washington in order to re-write and expand FISA — a law which he has repeatedly refused to allow to be revised for years and which he has openly and proudly violated. Congressional Democrats know virtually nothing about how the Bush administration has been eavesdropping on our conversations because the administration refused to tell them and they passively accepted this state of affairs.
The intense rush to amend this legislation means that most of them have no idea what they are actually enacting — even less of an idea than they typically have. But what they know is that George Bush and Fox News and the Beltway establishment have told them that they would be irresponsible and weak and unserious if they failed to comply with George Bush’s instructions, and hence, they comply. In the American political landscape, there have been profound changes in public opinion since September of 2001. But in the Beltway, among our political and media establishment, virtually nothing has changed.
I don’t have time this morning to dissect the various excesses and dangers of the new FISA amendments, though Marty Lederman and Steve Benen both do a typically thorough job in that regard. Suffice to say, craven fear, as usual, is the author of this debacle.
There are many mythologies about what are the defining beliefs and motivations of bloggers and their readers and the attendees at Yearly Kos. One of the principal myths is that it is all driven by a familiar and easily defined ideological agenda and/or a partisan attachment to the Democratic Party. That is all false.
The common, defining political principle here — what resonates far more powerfully than any other idea — is a fervent and passionate belief in our country’s constitutional framework, the core liberties it secures, and the checks and balances it offers as a safeguard against tyrannical power. Those who fail to defend that framework, or worse, those who are passively or actively complicit in its further erosion, are all equally culpable. With each day that passes, the radicalism and extremism originally spawned in secret by the Bush presidency becomes less and less his fault and more and more the fault of those who — having discovered what they have been doing and having been given the power to stop it — instead acquiesce to it and, worse, enable and endorse it.
UPDATE: Much of this was undoubtedly the by-product of the Democratic Beltway consultant geniuses who insist that Democrats not resist the President’s instructions on terrorism lest they look “weak.” They need to look “strong,” and they achieve that by giving the President what he wants and thereby generating articles like this one in The Washington Post, the first paragraph of which reports (accurately):
The Senate bowed to White House pressure last night and passed a Republican plan for overhauling the federal government’s terrorist surveillance laws, approving changes that would temporarily give U.S. spy agencies expanded power to eavesdrop on foreign suspects without a court order.
In the mind of the moderate Democratic Beltway centrist consultant, that is how Democrats look Strong — by “bowing to pressure” exerted by one of the weakest and most disliked presidents in modern history. There is nothing like being described as “bowing” and “capitulating” to give an appearance of strength.
And can we please be spared the condescending assurances about how great it is that the law has a six-month sunset provision, since — in 6 months — it will be exactly the same Democrats voting on whether to renew these powers and they will be intimidated by exactly the same threats that if they do not renew it and give the President all of the powers he wants, the Terrorists will kill us and it will be all the fault of the Democrats for disobeying President Bush. The cycle is just going to repeat itself 180 days from now. Why would it be different?
UPDATE II: This afternoon I interviewed Sen. Chris Dodd, who more than any other presidential candidate is attempting to make issues of executive power and constitutional encroachments the centerpiece of his campaign. I’ll post the entire transcript and some commentary in a few days, but for now here is part of the discussion we had concerning last night’s FISA vote in the Senate (Dodd, along with Obama and Clinton, voted against the FISA bill):
GG: Can you describe what you think it is that motivated 16 of your colleagues in the Democratic caucus to vote in favor of this bill?
CD: No, I really can’t . . . We had caucuses during the day, so everyone knew what was there. You had a vote at 10:00 at night, people say I didn’t know what was there, then normally I can understand, but we had a caucus during the day. There was a lot of conversation about it.
GG: So this wasn’t a Patriot Act case where people can claim ignorance because there was a rushed vote? There was a careful assessment of what the terms in this statute were?
CD: Absolutely. In fact, even during the vote, Carl Levin was sitting there, and Carl said: “look, I want everyone to read this” . . . . Most people know about the Gonzales references and the 180 days — there is also a section, as Carl pointed out, that basically says that if they can prove reasonably that you’re out of the country — not that you’re not a citizen, just out of the country [then they can eavesdrop on you] . . . .
But I wish I had a better explanation. Normally after that, we would be in session Monday or Tuesday, around today, people would be talking about it. So I’m a little stunned, and grasping for some answer here. So I really don’t know. . . .
GG: There is this gap in FISA, which everyone, even Russ Feingold, says needs to be filled, which is that if there is a foreign-to-foreign conversation which happens to be routed through the U.S., it requires a warrant — so why not just say “OK, we fixed this gap and here’s our bill and if you veto it, and there’s a terrorist attack, then it’s your responsibility”?
CD: Hello? Sounds pretty reasonable to me. But part of what this comes down to is that too many people in public life are not secure enough in their own beliefs — feel vulnerable to attacks by people who will attack you — and feel unwilling or unable to respond to them with clarity and conviction. And if you lack that clarity and conviction, and if you haven’t been through this in the past, then you’re likely to be a little weaker in the legs.
I also asked Dodd why Democrats repeatedly engage in the same self-destructive behavior — refusing to take a hard-core principled stance against the administration, and instead capitulating just enough to look like losers, but — despite the capitulation — still allowing the vote to be used against them. As always (see e.g., Iraq War Authorization, warrantless eavesdropping, Military Commissions Act), they capitulate in order to prevent the vote from being used against them, even though it ends up being used against them anyway because so many of them vote (with futility) against it, but do so without ever fighting for, explaining or defending their position.
I also asked him why, when they were in the minority, the Democrats were so afraid to filibuster anything, even something as drastic as the Military Commissions Act or the Alito nomination, whereas the Republicans run around filibustering everything they can find and don’t care at all about being called “obstructionist.” Why are the Republicans so aggressive with using their minority tools to block all Democratic initiatives whereas Democrats failed to filibuster for years?
Dodd, by his own candid admission, has no good explanation for the Democrats’ behavior, which repeats itself endlessly. He has no good explanation as to why so many of his Democratic colleagues are so deeply afraid of being attacked by one of the weakest presidents in modern American history.
Although Dodd’s convictions about the constitutional issues are impressively authentic and come from a place of real passion, and although he agreed with most of the criticisms voiced regarding the timidity of Congressional Democrats, I found the interview rather dispiriting, to put it mildly. That was not due to Dodd per se, but because it is clear that Beltway Democrats have no real strategy for doing anything differently or even any real awareness that something different is necessary.
UPDATE III: The House has now also voted in favor of the FISA amendments by a vote of 227-183 (h/t EJ). A total of 41 Democrats voted in favor.
— Glenn Greenwald
Citing executive privilege, President George W. Bush on Wednesday rejected a subpoena for his close adviser Karl Rove to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee in a probe over fired federal prosecutors.
The committee had subpoenaed Rove to testify at a hearing on Thursday morning in its investigation of the firing last year of nine federal prosecutors, which critics said was prompted by partisan politics.
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
It is time to think about the “unthinkable.”
What do you need to do to get fired in the Bush Administration?
by Matthew Rothschild
“Americans have been waiting months for Mr. Bush to fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who long ago proved that he was incompetent and more recently has proved that he can’t tell the truth. Mr. Bush refused to fire him after it was clear Mr. Gonzales lied about his role in the political purge of nine federal prosecutors. And he is still refusing to do so….
Recent events have put a great deal more pressure on President George W. Bush, who has shown little regard for the constitutional system bequeathed to us by the Founders. Having bragged about being commander in chief of the “first war of the 21st century,” one he began under false pretenses, success in Iraq is now a pipedream.
By Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity & Dr. Justin Frank
By Eugene Robinson
It’s way past bedtime for Gonzo. At this point, every day Alberto Gonzales continues as attorney general means more dishonor for the office and the nation — and higher blood pressure for Senate Judiciary Committee members trying desperately to get a straight answer out of the man.
By Dan Eggen and Paul Kane
The House Judiciary Committee voted yesterday to issue contempt citations for two of President Bush’s closest aides, moving nearer to a constitutional confrontation with the White House over access to information about the Justice Department’s dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys.
By David Rieff
At first glance, it seems difficult to imagine how Cardinal Roger M. Mahony can survive the pedophile scandal. Far from putting the matter to rest, the $660-million settlement that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay the victims of the abuse — child rape, alas, is often the more accurate term — can only lead to further wonder, and worry, about the cardinal’s conduct throughout the course of the scandal.
The White House, by proclaiming that it will not let the Justice Department pursue contempt charges against a former White House official who failed to comply with a congressional subpoena for information regarding the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, has declared the executive branch to be superior, rather than co-equal, to the other two branches of government. Congress must look for other avenues of redress to protect its oversight role.
This morning, John Yoo, a Berkeley law school professor and former lawyer for the Bush administration, writes* on the WSJ op-ed page that the Democrats’ attack on Bush’s assertion of executive privilege shows a blatant disregard for the Constitution. And he says that President Clinton’s “personal recklessness” — he asserted the privilege during the Monica Lewinsky scandal — “undermined executive privilege for all future presidents. (via WSJ blog)
By Dan Eggen and Amy Goldstein
Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.
Here’s the LINK to watch Bill Moyers’ introduction report on Impeachment with John Nichols and Bruce Fein.
Democrats do nothing, thereby themselves thwarting the Constitution and allowing to stand the idea that impeachment is appropriate when a President lies about his sex life but not when a Vice President operates entirely outside of the law.
A 70-year-old US woman has been left bruised and bloody after an unexpected clash with police who came to caution her for not watering her lawn.
Trouble flared when Utah pensioner Betty Perry, 70, refused to give her name after being upbraided because her garden breached local regulations.
A divided federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit Friday challenging President Bush’s domestic spying program without ruling on the issue of whether warrantless wiretapping is legal.
At its finest moments the Republican Party has been a vocal and unsparing advocate for human rights. “Though force can protect in emergency,” insisted Dwight D. Eisenhower, the party’s great warrior-president, “only justice, fairness, consideration, and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.” But under the current administration, those designated as enemies have no rights, neither under the laws of war nor under any notion of criminal justice. A radical rupture has occurred; American legal tradition has been swept aside and, with it, long-established precedents for dealing with adversaries in wartime—even those accused of heinous crimes.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. announced that he will be holding a full committee hearing next week titled, “The Use and Misuse of Presidential Clemency Power for Executive Branch Officials.” The hearing will be held next Wednesday, July 11, at 10:15 am in the committee’s hearing room, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building.
When Presidents Pardon Their Own Crimes
By DAVID SWANSON
George Mason (1725-1792), the father of the Bill of Rights (1791-2002), argued at the Constitutional Convention in favor of providing the House of Representatives the power of impeachment by pointing out that the President might use his pardoning power to “pardon crimes which were advised by himself” or, before indictment or conviction, “to stop inquiry and prevent detection.”
Tough enough to execute Karla Fay Tucker — and then laugh about it. Tough enough to sign a death warrant for a man whose lawyer slept through the trial — and then snicker when asked about it in a debate. Even tough enough to execute a great-grandmother who murdered her husband — after he abused her. A friend of mine at the time asked Bush to commute her sentence, telling him, “Betty Lou ain’t a threat to no one she ain’t married to.” No dice.
By Paul Begala
‘I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.’I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war.
I accuse you of fabricating in the minds of your own people, a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.
I accuse you of firing the generals who told you that the plans for Iraq were disastrously insufficient.
I accuse you of causing in Iraq the needless deaths of 3,586 of our brothers and sons, and sisters and daughters, and friends and neighbors.
I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely-motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but to stifle dissent.
I accuse you of fomenting fear among your own people, of creating the very terror you claim to have fought.
I accuse you of exploiting that unreasoning fear, the natural fear of your own people who just want to live their lives in peace, as a political tool to slander your critics and libel your opponents.
I accuse you of handing part of this Republic over to a Vice President who is without conscience, and letting him run roughshod over it.
And I accuse you now, Mr. Bush, of giving, through that Vice President, carte blanche to Mr. Libby, to help defame Ambassador Joseph Wilson by any means necessary, to lie to Grand Juries and Special Counsel and before a court, in order to protect the mechanisms and particulars of that defamation, with your guarantee that Libby would never see prison, and, in so doing, as Ambassador Wilson himself phrased it here last night, of becoming an accessory to the obstruction of justice.
July 3, 2007
Call out the Instigator
Because there’s something in the air
We got to get together sooner or later
Because the revolution’s here
You know it’s right!
I’m not backing off. I tried to remove myself from the political realm of the US, what BushCo is turning into an Evil Empire, but the blatant audacity of George commuting Scooter’s sentence (he’s not ruling out a full pardon —and you know he will) has dragged me kicking and screaming back in. I can’t sit back and let this BushCo drag our country further down into the murky quagmire of Fascism and violence, taking the rest of the world with them!
WHO knew that mocking the Constitution could be nearly as funny as shooting a hunting buddy in the face? Among other comic dividends, Dick Cheney’s legal theory that the vice president is not part of the executive branch yielded a priceless weeklong series on “The Daily Show” and an online “Doonesbury Poll,” conducted at Slate, to name Mr. Cheney’s indeterminate branch of government.
The Vice President’s Record of Willfully Violating the Law, And Wrongly Claiming Authority to Do So
By JOHN W. DEAN
I’ve always thought Cheney was way out there — the most Voldemort-like official I’ve run across. But even in my harshest musings about the vice president, I never imagined that he would declare himself not only above the law, not only above the president, but actually his own dark planet — a separate entity from the White House.
by Maureen Dowd
Cheney Power Grab: Says White House Rules Don’t Apply to Him
Vice President Dick Cheney has asserted his office is not a part of the executive branch of the U.S. government, and therefore not bound by a presidential order governing the protection of classified information by government agencies, according to a new letter from Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., to Cheney.
Cheney in charge
An executive order commands everyone in the executive branch to report on handling of classified material, but Dick Cheney has not done so since 2002. Keith Olbermann talks with Richard Wolffe of Newsweek. Click to view video
The two-star Army General who led the first military investigation into human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has bluntly questioned the integrity of former US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, suggesting he misled the US Congress by downplaying his own prior knowledge of what had happened.
Major General Antonio Taguba also claimed in an interview with The New Yorker magazine published yesterday that President George Bush also “had to be aware” of the atrocities despite saying at the time of the scandal that he had been out of the loop until he saw images in the US media.
June 19, 2007
You won’t see these stories on television, but Marian Wright Edelman and Dr. Irwin Redlener could talk to you all day and all night about children whose lives have been lost or ruined because they didn’t have health insurance.
Former US Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski was quoted as saying in Spain’s El País newspaper that she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation. Karpinski, who ran the prison until early 2004, said she saw a memorandum signed by Rumsfeld detailing the use of harsh interrogation methods.
Give Me Liberty
by Nat Hentoff
A Slap in the Face of the Crawford Caligula
by Chris Floyd
It is a tragedy that we have come to this point at all: that a federal court has been forced to consider the “question” of whether a president has the arbitrary power to stick people in military dungeons without charges for as long as he likes.
Civil libertarians are hailing a two-to-one federal appeals court ruling that rejects George W. Bush’s right to snatch civilians off the streets of America and hold them indefinitely as “enemy combatants.” But the ruling by a three-judge panel may have been a fluke since the two justices in the majority were Clinton appointees and the full appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, is dominated by Republicans. This uncertain balance between judges who favor “unalienable rights” and those who want to give Bush all the power he wants underscores the fragility of the American Republic.