Recent Entries in Politics

Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzmen (D, NY) suggested ominously, Bush and his gang might decide to ignore orders from the Supreme Court. That, everyone agrees, would be the moment when tyranny would be upon us.

Former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern announced at the session the electrifying news that secret orders had gone out for a Naval battle group to set sail immediately for the Persian Gulf, with a planned ETA off the coast of Iran of Oct. 21--less than three weeks before Election Day.

If Bush and his gang cannot get all their crimes retroactively approved by the current compliant Republican Congress, he and Cheney, fearing impeachment and war crimes prosecution, may have decided to go with a "Hail Mary" strategy--an aerial bombardment of Iran's nuclear facilities just before Election Day designed to rally Americans once more around the already abased and abused Flag.

On Constitution Day: Talk of Impeachment and Rumors of War |

Imagine an America in which school officials could strip search every student in their school based on the unsubstantiated tip that one of them might have a joint. Congress is voting on a bill Tuesday or Wednesday that could make these police state tactics more common.

The Student Teacher Safety Act of 2006 (HR 5295) is a sloppily written bill that would require any school receiving federal funding (essentially every public school) to adopt policies allowing teachers and school officials to conduct random, warrantless searches of every student, at any time, for essentially any reason they want. All they would have to do is say they suspect one of their students might be carrying drugs, and then they could conduct a wide scale search of every student in the building. These searches could be pat-downs, bag searches, or strip searches depending on how far school administrators wanted to go. Although courts would have the power to overturn policies that went "too far", it could take years - possibly decades - to safeguard the rights of students in every school.

Disconnecting searches from individualized suspicion is what led to the Goose Creek scandal in 2003. That South Carolina city sent a machine-gun toting SWAT team into a high school because the principal suspected one of the students might be selling marijuana. 150 terrified students were handcuffed and forced to the floor at gunpoint as drug dogs tore through their book bags. No drugs or guns were ever found.

Drug Policy Alliance: Congress Considering Strip Searching Students

Publish something sharply critical of Israeli government policies and you'll find out. If you're lucky, you'll merely discover that you've been uninvited to some dinner parties. If you're less lucky, you'll be the subject of an all-out attack by neoconservative pundits and accused of rabid anti-Semitism.

This, at least, is what happened to Ken Roth. Roth â.. whose father fled Nazi Germany â.. is executive director of Human Rights Watch, America's largest and most respected human rights organization. (Disclosure: I have worked in the past as a paid consultant for the group.) In July, after the Israeli offensive in Lebanon began, Human Rights Watch did the same thing it has done in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, East Timor, Sierra Leone, Congo, Uganda and countless other conflict zones around the globe: It sent researchers to monitor the conflict and report on any abuses committed by either side.

Rosa Brooks: Criticize Israel? You're an Anti-Semite! - Los Angeles Times

Well, no big surprise here.

Did US want Israel to attack Syria? |

The White House, and in particular White House advisors who belong to the neoconservative movement, allegedly encouraged Israel to attack Syria as an expansion of its action against Hizbullah, in Lebanon. The progressive opinion and news site reported Monday that Israeli sources say Israel's "leadership balked at the scheme."

  After Fidel

Castro has survived nine U.S. presidents, the collapse of his Soviet benefactor, and four decades of American attempts to undermine his government. By jailing or executing his most dangerous rivals, frustrating attempts by the Cuban people to generate the capital needed to challenge state power from within, and creating a siege mentality across the island, Castro has institutionalized himself as Cuba's supreme leader. Castro and the United States have essentially worked together to isolate the Cuban people. In the process, Castro has created a remarkably durable cult of personality.

After Fidel

An American Bar Association report released on Monday has strongly criticized President Bush's "signing statements" that assert his right to by pass laws passed by Congress.

The ABA says Bush has challenged provisions of laws than all previous presidents put together. The group believes such a practice is a major threat to the Constitution's system of checks and balances. It has urged Congress to introduce a legislation that would allow the court to review these "signing statements."

A report published by The Washington Post on Monday quotes the ABA president, Michael S. Greco, as saying, "The president is indicating that he will not either enforce part or the entirety of congressional bills."

All Headline News - American Bar Association Criticizes Bush's Challenges To Legislation - July 25, 2006

A death counter for the current conflict in Israel and Lebanon.


Isreali/Lebanese Coffin Counter

  Bush's Baghdad Palace

Among the many secrets the American government cannot keep, one of its biggest (104 acres) and most expensive ($592 million) is the American Embassy being built in Baghdad. Surrounded by fifteen-foot-thick walls, almost as large as the Vatican on a scale comparable to the Mall of America, to which it seems to have a certain spiritual affinity, this is no simple object to hide.

... we know much of what is going on in the place, where there will soon be twenty-one buildings, 619 apartments with very fancy digs for the big shots, restaurants, shops, gym facilities, a swimming pool, a food court, a beauty salon, a movie theater (we can't say if it's a multiplex) and, as the Times of London reports, "a swish club for evening functions." This should be ideal for announcing the various new milestones marking the trudge of the Iraqi people toward democracy and freedom.

USA Today has learned that the "massive new embassy, being built on the banks of the Tigris River, is designed to be entirely self-sufficient and won't be dependent on Iraq's unreliable public utilities." Thus, there will be no reason or excuse for any of the thousands of Americans working in this space, which is about the size of eighty football fields, to share the daily life experience of an Iraqi or even come in accidental contact with one.

Bush's Baghdad Palace

Japan ratcheted up the rhetoric against North Korea over its missile tests last week as a top government spokesman said Monday that Tokyo should consider whether its Constitution would allow pre-emptive military strikes. A U.S. envoy reiterated his call for the countries involved to take a unified stand in condemning the launchings.

Japan has reacted more strongly than other countries in the region to North Korea's missile tests, fanning simmering rage here over Pyongyang's past abductions of Japanese citizens and a test launch eight years ago that sent a missile sailing over Japan's main island.

On Monday, Japanese officials made some of their most forceful comments yet when Shinzo Abe, the chief cabinet secretary and leading government spokesman, said Japan needed to consider whether the nation's pacifist Constitution would allow pre-emptive attacks on North Korean missile sites as an act of self-defense.

Tokyo talks of military strike on North Korea - Asia - Pacific - International Herald Tribune

Apparently so...

Mike Ferner: Has This Country Gone Completely Insane?

This afternoon, drinking a cup of coffee while sitting in the Jesse Brown V.A. Medical Center on Chicagoâ..s south side, a Veterans Administration cop walked up to me and said, "OK, youâ had your 15 minutes, itâ..s time to go."

"Huh?", I asked intelligently, not quite sure what he was talking about.

"You canâ..t be in here protesting," officer Adkins said, pointing to my Veterans For Peace shirt.

"Well, Iâ..m not protesting, Iâ..m having a cup of coffee," I returned, thinking that logic would convince Adkins to go back to his earlier duties of guarding against serious terrorists.

The supreme court yesterday rolled back the sweeping powers appropriated by the Bush administration in the war on terror, ruling it could not order military trials for Guantanamo detainees without the protections of the Geneva Convention and US law.

The 5-3 decision in the case brought by Salim Ahmed Hamden, the driver for Osama bin Laden, was seen as a rejection of the central premise that Mr Bush as wartime president has legal authority that exceeds the powers of international treaties, US courts, and Congress.

In compelling the administration to comply with the Geneva Convention at its war crimes trials, the court also implicitly outlawed some of the other controversial practices in the war on terror such as torture and rendition, lawyers for the 460 detainees at Guantanamo said.

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Supreme court rejects Bush terror powers

Are there any legal limits to what the executive branch can do in the name of national security, or is it anything goes?

In separate federal lawsuits challenging the warrantless surveillance of American citizens, the Bush administration argues that courts must dismiss cases claiming that the National Security Agency has broken the law because those claims implicate "state secrets."

Wired News: Secrecy Mustn't Crush Rule of Law

Ooooh, a "vile life-support system for a mane of blonde hair".

The York Daily Record - Coulter mangles Dover case

There is an irony buried deep under the vitriol, idiocy, slander, vileness, ignorance, stupidity and simply breathtaking inanity that passes for the contribution to the public discourse of an alleged carbon-based life-form that goes by the name of Ann Coulter.

Of course, you've heard about this vile life-support system for a mane of blonde hair. She's been all over the media, spreading her poison, the vaguely human counterpart of a Gila monster, except with colder blood. It's amusing that one of her complaints about what she calls the liberal media establishment is that it gives short-shrift to morons like herself who seek airtime to inflict a toxic stew of idiocies masquerading as ideas upon an unsuspecting public.

Her latest missive - I won't name it because it doesn't need the publicity - is yet another of her fact-free exercises in what comedian Stephen Colbert calls truthiness, which is essentially cattle excrement that tries to pass itself off as truth.

She's received a lot of airtime to discuss her idiotic remarks about the women who were widowed in the Sept. 11 attacks. I'm guessing she's mostly jealous of these women because they have demonstrated the ability to have a relationship with a man that didn't end with them killing and eating him.

The Washington Post has obtained a cable, marked "sensitive," that it says shows that just before President Bush left on a surprise trip last Monday to the Green Zone in Baghdad for an upbeat assessment of the situation there, "the U.S. Embassy in Iraq painted a starkly different portrait of increasing danger and hardship faced by its Iraqi employees."

This cable outlines, the Post reported Sunday, "the daily-worsening conditions for those who live outside the heavily guarded international zone: harassment, threats and the employees' constant fears that their neighbors will discover they work for the U.S. government."

It's actually far worse than that, as the details published below indicate, which include references to abductions, threats to women's rights, and "ethnic cleansing."

'Wash Post' Obtains Shocking Memo from U.S. Embassy in Baghdad

We're fighting a war against radical Islamist terrorists with ongoing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, we're drowning in debt from our growing record trade and budget deficits and we're watching our public education system fail a generation of students. Congress has yet to act on an effective solution to our illegal immigration crisis as millions of illegal aliens flood our borders every year, and our nation's borders and ports are still woefully insecure, four and a half years after the September 11 attacks. - Dobbs: Gay marriage amendment sheer nonsense - Jun 7, 2006

The Senate on Wednesday rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, dealing a defeat to President Bush and Republicans who hope to use the measure to energize conservative voters on Election Day. Supporters knew they wouldn't achieve the two-thirds vote needed to approve a constitutional amendment, but they had predicted a majority of votes. Instead, they fell one short, 49-48.

Gay & Lesbian Issues Full Coverage on Yahoo! News

George W Bush, the US president, will promote a constitutional ban on gay marriage on the eve of a Senate vote next week, weighing in on an issue that could rally his wavering conservative base in an election year.

Though the proposed constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage stands little chance of passing, it is one of several hot-button causes Republicans are championing to appeal to right-wing voters ahead of November's congressional ballot.

Bush planned to use his weekly radio address on Saturday and a White House speech yesterday to push for the amendment that would allow states to recognise only marriages between men and women, administration officials said. - world/north_america

In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser argued that the National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists, according to two senior intelligence officials.

But N.S.A. lawyers, trained in the agency's strict rules against domestic spying and reluctant to approve any warrantless eavesdropping, insisted that it should be limited to communications into and out of the country, said the officials, who were granted anonymity to discuss the debate inside the Bush administration late in 2001.

The N.S.A.'s position ultimately prevailed. Details have not emerged publicly of how the director of the agency at the time, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, designed the program, persuaded wary N.S.A. officers to accept it and sold the White House on its limits.

Cheney Pushed U.S. to Widen Eavesdropping - New York Times

A blistering comedy â..tributeâ. to President Bush by Comedy Centralâ..s faux talk-show host Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent Dinner Saturday night left George and Laura Bush unsmiling at its close.

Earlier, the president had delivered his talk to the 2,700 attendees, including many celebrities and top officials, with the help of a Bush impersonator.

Colbert, who spoke in the guise of his talk-show character, who ostensibly supports the president strongly, urged Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, â..and reality has a well-known liberal bias.â.

He attacked those in the press who claim that the shake-up at the White House was merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. â..This administration is soaring, not sinking,â. he said. â..If anything, they are re-arranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.â.

Colbert Lampoons Bush at White House Correspondents Dinner -- President Not Amused?

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