Let Congress hear from you TOMORROW!

Operation Flabbergasted: Let’s Watergate Bush (UPDATE 1)
by smintheus
Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 09:39:29 PM PDT

This cannot stand. In ordering the NSA to spy secretly on America, George Bush has: overturned United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18, which prohibits domestic spying by the NSA; violated the federal act which created the FISA court to oversee covert domestic investigations; and trampled upon the Fourth Amendment guarantee against warrantless searches. It cannot stand for a day, much less a month while Congress is in recess.

On Friday, when Sen. Specter said he’d make investigating the allegations a top priority in January, it was barely possible to pretend that they might be false. But by Saturday’s radio address, when Bush defended his policy and insisted it would continue, we had entered a full-blown constitutional crisis. George Bush would love for Congress to back down from a fight next week, to go home grumbling “Wait until next year.”

Operation Flabbergasted We cannot let that happen. We have to ensure that by Monday, all hell has broken loose in D.C.

Read more.

Bush names vote-suppression goon to FEC

From Bob F.:

Bush to nominate voter suppression specialist to the FEC by david blue
Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 07:21:48 AM PDT

A big hat tip to Rick Hasen who noticed this White House press release (buried in the Friday night trash). President Bush is going to nominate Hans von Spakovsky to the Federal Election Commission. Who?

Well, Hans von Spakovsky is a long-time activist in “voting integrity.” Translated, he is a long-time activist in keeping people away from the polls.

http://www.newyorker.com/printables/fact/040920fa_fact

His ideas led to the notorious purge of Florida’s voting rolls before the 2000 election in which thousands of mostly-eligible, mostly-Democratic, and mostly-minority voters were removed from the voting lists. Von Spakovsky also was a volunteer for Bush in the Florida recount. Want more? It’s all here. This guy is a disaster. There is no way he should be on the FEC.

FEC Commissioners are subject to Senate approval, so write or call your Senator.

UPDATE: Several commenters have asked which Senate committee holds hearings on FEC nominees. It is the Committee on Rules and Administration.

Chair is Trent Lott; ranking Dem is Christopher Dodd. Other Dems are Byrd, Inouye, Feinstein, Schumer, Dayton, Durbin, and Ben Nelson; other Republicans are Ted Stevens, Mitch McConnell, Thad Cochran, Santorum, K.B. Hutchison, Frist, Chambliss, Bennett, and Hagel. Some heavy hitters on both sides.

Maoists: You can run but you can't hide!

Agents’ visit chills UNIVERSITY OF Mass/ Dartmouth senior
By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer

NEW BEDFORD — A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung’s tome on Communism called “The Little Red Book.”

Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library’s interlibrary loan program.

The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand’s class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents’ home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.

The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book is on a “watch list,” and that his background, which included significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further.

Read more.

The Bush "Protection" Plan

Hi, Mark:

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?

M.Briggs

Ernest Partridge and Jonathan Simon: An Exchange

From Ernest Partridge:

Mark,

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.

Ernest Partridge
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:

Hi Mark-

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.

Jonathan Simon

Make Congress help Katrina's victims before Christmas!

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!!

Would it apply to Air Force One?

“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.”

Read more.

On second thought, better brace yourself

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

Score one for the republic!

Washington Post
Senate Roll Call: Patriot Act
Forbes

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 »

BREAKING: Diebold now dumped in Volusia County, FL!

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!…

Read more.