This morning during a CNN Wolf Blitzer interview, that smug and consummate self-congratulating moralizer, Second Lady Lynn Cheney, assured the American public that all of the Bush-Cheney admin’s alleged law breaking (e.g., using NSA and the Pentagon to spy on American citizens or using torture to gain information from detainees) has, legal or not, kept us safe. That’s kind of like the wife of a mafia don observing how little violent crime there is in that part of the city controlled by her husband. The Bush Protection Plan for America is increasingly based on the adminstration’s demands for larger and larger civil rights kickbacks. In other words, Bush will protect us just so long as we keep giving up our constitutionally protected civil rights. If we bellyache about it, it’s suggested it might be bad for our collective health–courtesy of either terrorists or admin goons operating off the books. So we allow fear to dominate our lives, to buy one more day of peace, to keep our families out of harm’s way, no matter what it costs to achieve that. In the old days, they called it a “protection racket.” Am I missing something here? Even Bush apologists George Will and Cokie Roberts (interviewed by George Stephanopolous on ABC today) are getting extremely alarmed at Bush’s “capacious” (Will’s word) reading of executive power. On the same program, Sam Donaldson pointed out that the powers claimed by Bush are beginning to look more and more like the power claimed by Saddam Hussein, not like the power reserved for the executive by the Founders, who loathed the depredations of the monarchies they rebelled against. We have a president. Accountable to the citizens and two other branches of government. We do not have a king or a mafia don in charge of our nation. Or do we?
From Ernest Partridge:
So what do you think of Simon’s hypothesis?*
Seems to me that the implication of Simon’s qualm is that the left should do all it can to support and sustain USAPATRIOT lest the post-catastrophe fallout fall on the left. Sorry, I don’t buy that. The best way to oppose USAPATRIOT is to oppose it.
The Simon hypothesis attributes a subtlety and complication of Bushite thought-processes that strike me as far beyond their demonstrated capacities. Besides, the more complicated the scheming, the more likely the backfire. Iraq has proven that. If we are hit by another catastrophe — a loose nuke, bio-attack, or whatever — this week’s Senate vote will be the last thing on the public’s mind, and any attempt to hang the responsibility for the attack on this vote will be too much of a stretch for the public to swallow.
If this “defeat” in the Senate is what it seems to be on the surface, by all means let’s make the most of it. Treat it as an authentic setback for the Bushistas. In politics, perception is reality.
With all due respect to Jonathan Simon — and his contribution to “the cause” has been considerable — I believe that in this case we can score one for our side.
After all, as Freud said, sometimes a cigar is simply a cigar.
The Crisis Papers
*I say “hypothesis” rather than “theory,” and choose to confine the use of “theory” to its scientific sense (as a comprehensive “model” of reality, comprised of facts, laws, etc.). Using “theory” in its popular sense (as a “hunch”) gives support to the creationist’s claim that “evolution is only a theory, not a fact.” It’s a hopeless gesture, I know, but it’s got to start somewhere. EP
Jonathan Simon responds:
Thanks for giving me a crack at Ernest’s take on this. I am indeed concerned that an opening has been deliberately and strategically created for the next 9-11; the eerie comments from Sen. Hatch and other right-wingers seem to support that reading. An inadvertent opening would be just as damaging, however.
As far as subtlety of thought, I don’t see that self-sabotage requires all that much, and it certainly has been undertaken before. It’s a simple syllogism really: “war on terror” good for ratings and power, and brutal for dissent; “war on terror” requires periodic “terror” to keep the seltzer from going flat; with safeguards filibustered and voted down by civil liberties hair-splitters, the next benificent 9-11 is “invited” (Hatch’s word) and certainly not the regime’s fault; PDQ.
I don’t credit the regime with much in the way of subtely of thought and, yes, their corner-cutting in certain areas has managed to backfire to a cretain extent. Nonetheless, they managed to get us into Iraq through deception and, last I checked, we were still there-a classic fait accompli. And it is precisely the breakdown of measured and logical thought and process after an incident like 9-11 that makes such things as the Patriot Act and Iraq possible. It is naive, I think, to believe that we could not see such madness again.
I agree with Ernest that supporting the Patriot Act is quite Listonian, and my advocacy for such a course was prompted by the initial shock of my realization of what a dangerous window was being opened and how Frist and Co. seemed to be salivating at the prospect. Let’s take the victory as such and celebrate.
However, I think it remains critical to make it absolutely clear to the public that this window was opened (whatever comes through it) by Frist’s (and Bush’s) refusal to allow a temporary extension of the protections while civil liberty-based concerns were addressed-not by the senators raising those concerns.
I do not think as Ernest does that in the aftermath of the next 9-11, “this week’s Senate vote will be the last thing on the public’s mind, and any attempt to hang the responsibility for the attack on this vote will be too much of a stretch for the public to swallow.” If we learned one thing from 9-11 it’s that nothing is too sacred or solemn or traumatic to be beyond the reach of the spinners and scorekeepers, especially of the right. Whether or not 9-11 was an inside job, political and structural hay was being made before the week was out (probably before the clock struck noon) and it has not stopped being made. The scorekeepers never sleep and the connection between this vote and the next attack is already being built.
I ask again why Frist (and Bush and the House and all those seemingly so concerned about America’s sudden vulnerability) would not, as good patriots, in a heartbeat, make sure the ostensibly essential protections of the Patriot Act remained temporarily in force? Why did he pull it off the table with apparent glee? I agree that at this point, if Frist is seen to be calling Feingold’s bluff, the opponents should stand strong.
But if 12/31/05 passes and Frist and Bush do not cave and put forward a temporary extension, which is certainly within their unilateral power, then it will be of the utmost importance to establish that their failure to do so was the proximate cause of any ensuing catastrophe; because you have to know that they will be out in full force setting it up the other way and we have seen how receptive the public is to their bullshit when sufficiently traumatized. The email below to Senator Feingold further elaborates this position.
With respectful partial disagreement with Ernest, but great appreciation for his views and work.
From Beth F.:
My friends, this was put together by the Katrina Survivors Forum at DU. Please don’t let the House recess until they take care of funding the reconstruction. Enjoy the video and please send it everywhere. Peace, Beth and Doug
Watch “Do They Know Its Christmas?”
Click on the link, then on the orange ‘download’ button, then on the ‘Download the file now’ link. Note: Downloads have been ‘sticky’ today. If you have trouble, please try back later/tomorrow. We are seeking additional hosts!
Our American brothers and sisters need:
Food. Housing. Jobs. Healthcare. Hope!
Tell Congress: We will not forget.
Release Funds to Hurricane Survivors Now!
Call Congress Toll Free: 1-800-426-8073
This is the LAST week before Christmas Break to get Congress to act.
Our Goal: Get the link to this video onto 100’s of websites and into 100,000’s of email inboxes. Please help!! Send the link far and wide!!
“Mental defectives” to be kept from air travel
CQ HOMELAND SECURITY – INTELLIGENCE
Dec. 9, 2005 – 8:57 p.m.
TSA Wants Access to Veterans’ Files to Add ‘Mental Defectives’ to Watch List
By Jeff Stein, National Security Editor
Is there an efficient, legal way to keep crazy people off airplanes altogether, like the manic depressive man shot dead at the Miami airport last week?
As it turns out, the government was taking steps in that direction almost a month before Rigoberto Alpizar was plugged by U.S. air marshals after he ran down the Jetway with a bundle in his hands while saying, according to the government, that he had a bomb.
A Nov. 15 notice put out by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is always thinking about new ways to keep potentially dangerous people off our airliners, states TSA is looking for contractors to add a number of new databases for screening passengers and airport workers.
Up first are the files of the Defense Department (DoD) and Veterans Administration (VA), which the TSA says it wants scoured for “mental defectives.”
The 52-47 roll call by which the Senate voted to reject reauthorization of several provisions of the USA Patriot Act. Score one for the republic!??
No, no Mark, please pierce this veil:
Ask yourself one simple question: Why did Bill Frist pull the Patriot Act rather than allow a temporary extension in its curent form while civil liberties concerns were worked out? (he said, for the record: definitely not; the House wouldn’t approve it and the President wouldn’t sign it)
After all, Orrin Hatch just got finished saying that failing to renew would be “interpreted by our enemies as somehow inviting or even enabling further terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.” (N.B., this is very different from saying failing to renew would “diminish surveillance capacity which would lead to greater capacity for or likelihood of terrorist attacks” Nope, this is saying the failure to renew, without practical consequence, but strictly as a symbolic event, would “invite” terrorists to attack; i.e., could be next week). How then could the same leadership say “what the hell, we’ll let it lapse?” Don’t they care about America’s safety?
Here’s how: the war on “terrorism,” set off by 9-11, has, as we know, been very good to the right, the executive, the military, and Bush. When it was “fresh,” his approval was 90% (not for doing anything in particular but just for being there), and he was beyond the pale of criticism. A long series of lies and blunders later, his approval is sub-40 and the criticisms and inquiries are coming fast and furious.
Well the “war on terror” kind of loses its steam if you don’t have any “terror” around to stoke it. But you can’t simply turn on the “terror” spigot (and, whether or not you accept the evidence that 9-11 was an inside job, it is clear that the regime, if not the reservoir of “terror” itself, at least has its fingers on the spigot), four or five years into Bush’s watch with the regime fully empowered by the Patriot Act to guard us. No, that would not do at all.
But hey, if we can lapse the Patriot Act and hang it on Russ Feingold and the Dems and the Civil Libertarians, there’s our opening fellas. The city is in flames, the radiation is in the air, blackened anthrax-infected bodies are rotting in the streets (or perhaps just an ominous tickle on the scale of, say, Madrid): who is actually going to listen to those alternative media folks saying “yeah but it was Frist who pulled it off the table?”
Nope, it will be a righteous and oblivious chorus (study the murder of Cinna the poet in Julius Caesar to see how that works) at long last convinced that civil liberties are a luxury we just can’t afford and ready once again to vote for the candidate who can sing the most “patriotic” song and against anyone who says “yeah but” or otherwise equivocates.
We have seen this already and it was but a dress rehearsal for the night that is to come.
So, Mark, think this through again. The word needs to start going out immediately if there is to be any chance at all of withstanding the post-event tsunami. I wish we could truly celebrate the events in the Senate today, but to these haunted eyes it looks unmistakeably like an immense trap for the unwary, a stake through the heart of dissent, liberty and democracy, with enormous collateral benefits for the ruling party, laid by a regime which has nothing but contempt for its people.
Yours with deepest and most urgent concern–Jonathan
Senate Roll Call: Patriot Act
The 52-47 roll call by which the Senate voted to reject reauthorization of several provisions of the USA Patriot Act. Sixty votes were needed to overcome a filibuster of the bill. On this vote, a “yes” vote …
Critics of Patriot Act Gaining Momentum in Senate Los Angeles Times
Anti-terror Patriot Act renewal blocked in US Senate Reuters.uk
Bloomberg – CNET News.com – ABC News – BBC News – all 1,338 related Â»
Volusia County, FL Dumps Diebold Too!
Opts for Transparent, Accountable Elections (Instead of Diebold Elections) After a Protracted Battle…
This just in…After various protracted legal battles (funded by the National Federation for the Blind, which had received a $1 million “donation” from Diebold previously) and along with the news out of Leon County, Florida, Volusia County has now come to their senses and also decided to dump Diebold voting machines!…
Dear Mark Crispin Miller:
2005 has been a remarkable year for the media reform movement. Together, weâ€™ve proven to the politicians and industry moguls that people wonâ€™t stand idle while powerful interests make policies in our name but without our consent.
Your activism helped save federal funding and thwart partisan attacks on public broadcasting. You exposed fake news and â€œpayola pundits.â€ You helped protect the right of local communities across the country to bring universal, affordable Internet access to their citizens. Thousands of you put activist toolkits to work in your communities, participated in town meetings on the future of the media, and packed the house in St. Louis at the National Conference for Media Reform.
Iâ€™m writing today to ask you to do one more thing in 2005:
This simple action will take only a moment, and it wonâ€™t cost you a penny. But it might be the single most important thing you can do to help grow the media reform movement.
Despite the gains we made in the past year, greedy corporate media continue to lead our nation down a perilous path. The narrow range of political debate, the lack of government and corporate accountability, and the obsession with celebrity and sensationalism have left the public dangerously misinformed about the most crucial issues of the day. More and more journalists are being shown the door as their corporate employers opt to â€œsynergizeâ€ operations by replacing reporting with â€œinfotainment.â€
We need to push back in 2006 with an army of 500,000 activists â€” ready to sound the alarm when the FCC tries again to rewrite the rules to let Big Media control more local outlets in every city. We must confront the Bush administrationâ€™s relentless campaign to silence independent and skeptical journalism. We must make sure Congress passes a new Telecom Act thatâ€™s better than the old one â€“ which gave us the Clear Channel colossus while handing Big Media billions of dollars in public assets for free. This time, the future of the Internet is at stake.
Iâ€™m sure, like me, you have friends and colleagues who are deeply concerned about the direction our country is heading. Maybe they wonder why they canâ€™t find people like them or the issues they care about on TV. Maybe theyâ€™re mad about their cable bill being too high or having no high-speed Internet access. Probably, like so many people Iâ€™ve met throughout America, they see the problems of the media but feel helpless to change them.
We started Free Press to give more people a voice in the momentous policy decisions shaping the future of all communications. We need more people to join the debate and build a media system that truly looks like America.
Thanks for all of your help this year and in the year to come.
Robert W. McChesney
P.S. We need all of the help we can get. So donâ€™t hesitate to invite three, five, even 10 friends or more to sign up as Free Press e-activists today.
to fund those tax cuts for the billionaires….
Our friends at the National Head Start Association are mobilizing against across-the-board budget cuts to important domestic programs, including Head Start.
Please join this effort and take action today.
To fund tax cuts for millionaires, Congress is poised TODAY to remove 35,000 kids from HeadStart â€“ widely regarded as one of the governmentâ€™s most successful programs at lifting people out of poverty.
Two years ago, TrueMajorityACTION members swung into action and successfully stopped proposed cuts then. Amazingly, the budgeteers have chosen the Holiday Season to launch yet another attack on Head Start. So our friends at the National Head Start Association are mounting another defense of the kids living in poverty who benefit from this program.
Please take just a minute to check this out and take action. Itâ€™s fast, easy and the right thing to do this season.
Here is a message from the National Head Start Association on this effort:
Congress is considering imposing an across-the-board spending cut to ALL programs. There are any number of bills they may try to slip the cuts onto as Congress works to finish its business and leave town for the year. Our country is better than this — we can’t allow further cuts to the programs that millions of vulnerable Americans count on. Across-the-board budget cuts deserve an “up or down vote” on their own merits – not by trying to slip them in by adding them to popular, â€œmust passâ€ bills.
Contact your congressspeople and ask them to fight the inclusion of across-the-board cuts in ANY bill. This is NOT the way to cut deficits – on the backs of poor and at-risk Americans!
The table below reflects estimates of how many Head Start children will have to be cut as a result of a one percent across-the-board cut in spending. The cuts could be as much as two percent, which would double the number of children and families affected in your state. Please help us fight this injustice! The cuts could be included on any bill that comes to the House and Senate floor today, tomorrow, or over the weekend.
Associate Director, Government Affairs
National Head Start Association
ESTIMATED ENROLLMENT CUTS FROM FY 2005 TO FY 2006 WITH 1% ACROSS-THE-BOARD CUT
ESTIMATED CUTS IN ENROLLMENT FROM STATE/TERRITORY
FY 2005 TO FY 2006
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA -132
NEW HAMPSHIRE -63
NEW JERSEY -586
NEW MEXICO -289
NEW YORK -1,910
NORTH CAROLINA -740
NORTH DAKOTA -91
RHODE ISLAND -122
SOUTH CAROLINA -474
SOUTH DAKOTA -110
WEST VIRGINIA -296
Here’s the message we’ll send to your Congresspeople:
The across-the-board spending cuts being debated in Congress donâ€™t differentiate between waste and programs known to deliver strong results. The cuts include programs like Head Start, one of governmentâ€™s most successful anti-poverty efforts.
America cannot continue to weaken our domestic infrastructure; please vote against any legislation that includes across-the-board spending cuts.
(We’ll put your name and address here.)
Thanks! Please forward this widely or use the following link to spread the word: Tell-A-Friend
I have a strategy suggestion in this regard, Mark. The post-Watergate reforms occurred because so many new people, not beholden to the machines running either political party, were swept in. They caused the leadership absolute fits– and produced campaign finance and intelligence reform that endured.
I am only donating to incumbents who supported voting rights in 2000 and/or 2004. Most of my contributions go to challengers where the incumbent is a Republican. When I send in the contribution, I attach a note in Dutch uncle-ese saying that I expect them to support the right to vote.
If we can get a freshman class of 30 genuinely independent people who owe their victory to election reform activists, it could change the tone in Congress.