MyWAG
Sunday, January 29, 2006
  Administration's Lawyers and Lies

It seems that maybe, just maybe the Bush Administration will be called on it’s assertion that it’s Domestic Spying Program is legal. Newsweek has an excellent article, Palace Revolt details some of the infighting regarding whether W is a boy King or not.

 

The administrations own NSC was by-passed by Vice’s people. I’ve heard this before, but this really lays it on the table.

 

 

 
Thursday, January 26, 2006
  Lesson's Learned

The Presidential press conference today provided Democrats with a perfect sound bite, given to us by W hisself: LESSONS LEARNED.

 

Have we learned our lessons:

-Iraq

-Katrina

-No Child Left Behind

-Part D, Medicare nightmare

 

Have we learned our lessons:

-No tax increases...massive govt borrowing

-Republican control of congress...corruption

-Republican philosophy...say anything to get elected

           less govt                   (less democratic govt)

           govt our of your life  (and into your family, Schiavo)

           family values            (only for their type of family)

 

Learn your lessons:

VOTE FOR COMPETENCY IN 2006

 
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
  Bush, the What?

This, from the WaPo is worth a look...2 looks even.

 

Please, may the prevailing political winds blow this info at least until the elections of 2006. Our country really needs a break from Bush and his cronies. It’s sad enough that we have to put up with his choices on the SCOTUS, except Harriet.

 

 

Bush the Incompetent

By Harold Meyerson
Wednesday, January 25, 2006; A19

Incompetence is not one of the seven deadly sins, and it's hardly the worst attribute that can be ascribed to George W. Bush. But it is this president's defining attribute. Historians, looking back at the hash that his administration has made of his war in Iraq, his response to Hurricane Katrina and his Medicare drug plan, will have to grapple with how one president could so cosmically botch so many big things -- particularly when most of them were the president's own initiatives.

 

 
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
  Warrants, we don't need no stinkin' warrants...

This whole post is copied from Glenn Greenwold.

It may turn your stomach, so be prepared. I hope that the boy king will notice that people are slowly chopping down his arguments supporting his right to do as he pleases.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Administration's new FISA defense is factually false

In light of Gen. Hayden's new claim yesterday that the reason the Bush Administration decided to eavesdrop outside of FISA is because the "probable cause" standard for obtaining a FISA warrant was too onerous (and prevented them from obtaining warrants they needed to eavesdrop), there is a fact which I have not seen discussed anywhere but which now appears extremely significant, at least to me.

In
June, 2002, Republican Sen. Michael DeWine of OhioS. 2659) which would have eliminated the exact barrier to FISA which Gen. Hayden yesterday said is what necessitated the Administration bypassing FISA. Specifically, DeWine's legislation proposed: introduced legislation (


to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to modify the standard of proof for issuance of orders regarding non-United States persons from probable cause to reasonable suspicion. . . .


In other words, DeWine's bill, had it become law, would have eliminated the "probable cause" barrier (at least for non-U.S. persons) which the Administration is now pointing to as the reason why it had to circumvent FISA.

During that time, the Administration was asked to advise Congress as to its position on this proposed amendment to loosen the standard for obtaining FISA warrants, and in response, they submitted a Statement from James A. Baker, the Justice Department lawyer who oversees that DoJ's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, which is the group that "prepares and presents all applications for electronic surveillance and physical search under the Act to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court or Court)." If anyone would be familiar with problems in obtaining FISA warrants, it would be Baker.

And yet, look at what Baker said in his Statement. He began by effusively praising the Patriot Act on the ground that the 72-hour window provided by the Patriot Act had given the Administration the speed and flexibility it needed in order to engage in eavesdropping:


The reforms in those measures (the PATRIOT Act) have affected every single application made by the Department for electronic surveillance or physical search of suspected terrorists and have enabled the government to become quicker, more flexible, and more focused in going "up" on those suspected terrorists in the United States.

One simple but important change that Congress made was to lengthen the time period for us to bring to court applications in support of Attorney General-authorized emergency FISAs. This modification has allowed us to make full and effective use of FISA's pre-existing emergency provisions to ensure that the government acts swiftly to respond to terrorist threats. Again, we are grateful for the tools Congress provided us last fall for the fight against terrorism. Thank you.


And then, regarding DeWine's specific proposal to lower the evidentiary standard required for a FISA warrant, Baker said that:


The Department of Justice has been studying Sen. DeWine's proposed legislation. Because the proposed change raises both significant legal and practical issues, the Administration at this time is not prepared to support it.


So, in June, 2002, the Administration refused to support elimination of the very barrier ("probable cause") which Gen. Hayden claimed yesterday necessitated the circumvention of FISA. In doing so, the Administration identified two independent reasons for opposing this amendment. One reason was that the Justice Department was not aware of any problems which the Administration was having in getting the warrants it needed under FISA:


The practical concern involves an assessment of whether the current "probable cause" standard has hamstrung our ability to use FISA surveillance to protect our nation. We have been aggressive in seeking FISA warrants and, thanks to Congress's passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, we have been able to use our expanded FISA tools more effectively to combat terrorist activities. It may not be the case that the probable cause standard has caused any difficulties in our ability to seek the FISA warrants we require, and we will need to engage in a significant review to determine the effect a change in the standard would have on our ongoing operations. If the current standard has not posed an obstacle, then there may be little to gain from the lower standard and, as I previously stated, perhaps much to lose.


So as of June, 2002 -- many months after the FISA bypass program was ordered -- the DoJ official who was responsible for overseeing the FISA warrant program was not aware (at least when he submitted this Statement) of any difficulties in obtaining warrants under the FISA "probable cause" standard, and for that reason, the Administration would not even support DeWine's amendment. If - as the Administration is now claiming - they had such significant difficulties obtaining the warrants they wanted for eavesdropping that they had to go outside of FISA, surely Baker - who was in charge of obtaining those warrants - would have been aware of them. And, if the Administration was really having the problems under FISA, they would have supported DeWine's Amendment. But they didn't.

The second concern the Administration expressed with DeWine's amendment was that it was quite possibly unconstitutional:


The Department's Office of Legal Counsel is analyzing relevant Supreme Court precedent to determine whether a "reasonable suspicion" standard for electronic surveillance and physical searches would, in the FISA context, pass constitutional muster. The issue is not clear cut, and the review process must be thorough because of what is at stake, namely, our ability to conduct investigations that are vital to protecting national security. If we err in our analysis and courts were ultimately to find a "reasonable suspicion" standard unconstitutional, we could potentially put at risk ongoing investigations and prosecutions.


By that time, the Administration had already been engaging in eavesdropping outside of the parameters of FISA, and yet the DoJ itself was expressing serious doubts about the constitutionality of that eavesdropping and even warned that engaging in it might harm national security because it would jeopardize prosecutions against terrorists. Put another way, the DoJ was concerned that it might be unconstitutional to eavesdrop with a lower standard than probable cause even as the Administration was doing exactly that.

Two other points to note about this failed DeWine Amendment that are extremely important:

(1) Congress refused to enact the DeWine Amendment and thus refused to lower the FISA standard from "probable cause" to "reasonable suspicion." It is the height of absurdity for the Administration to now suggest that Congress actually approved of this change and gave it authorization to do just that -- when Congress obviously had no idea it was being done and refused to pass that change into law when it had the chance.

(2) DeWine's amendment would have lowered the standard for obtaining a FISA warrant only for non-U.S. persons -- whereas for "U.S. persons," the standard would have continued to be "probable cause." And, DeWine's amendment would not have eliminated judicial oversight, since the Administration still would have needed approval of the FISA court for these warrants.

That means that, in 2 different respects, DeWine's FISA amendment was much, much less draconian than what the Administration was already secretly doing (i.e., lowering the evidentiary standard but (i) eliminating judicial oversight, and (ii) applying these changes not just to non-U.S. persons but also to U.S. persons). Thus, Congress refused to approve -- and the DoJ even refused to endorse -- a program much less extreme and draconian than the Administration's secret FISA bypass program.

This has extremely significant implications for the Administration's claims made yesterday through Gen. Hayden as to why it was necessary to bypass FISA. The Administration's claim that the "probable cause" component of FISA was preventing it from engaging in the eavesdropping it needed is the opposite of what it told Congress when refusing to support the DeWine Amendment. And its claim that Congress knew of and approved of its FISA-bypassing eavesdrop program is plainly negated by the fact that the same Congress was debating whether such changes should be effectuated and then refused to approve much less extreme changes to FISA than what the Administration secretly implemented on its own (and which it now claims Congress authorized).

The Administration is stuck with the excuse given by Gen. Hayden yesterday as to why it had to eavesdrop outside of FISA, but that excuse is plainly contradicted by these events and by the Administration's own statements at the time.

 
Monday, January 23, 2006
 

Tremendous crap being thrown by AG on PBS NewsHours at this time...

...foot to the fire.

I wonder if they have really thought this through.

AG said, “A very limited program�.

Does that mean that a program that wasn’t limited would be unconstitutional? NO. He then stated that the administration has fundamental rights to conduct war.

If so, why fight this on the other points? How many points do you need? What would Nixon have done?

 
  The 'Rhetoric' Party

Once again we see the transformed republican Party for what they are...the Rhetoric Party.

Bush spoke, by phone and not on the WH website, to abortion foes regarding life. (emphasis mine)

"You believe, as I do, that every human life has value, that the strong have a duty to protect the weak, and that the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence apply to everyone, not just to those considered healthy or wanted or convenient," Bush told the abortion foes.

"These principles call us to defend the sick and the dying, persons with disabilities and birth defects, all who are weak and vulnerable, especially unborn children," the president said.

Sick and the dying. What an insult to the people of this country considering Bush’s actions while Texas gov:

The following is a partial copy of a previous post of mine:

W might be running into a little credibility problem concerning his past statements about life.

1. "America stands for liberty, for the pursuit of happiness and for the unalienable right for life. This right to life cannot be granted or denied by government because it does not come from government, it comes from the creator of life."

http://boycottliberalism.com/Bush-quotes.htm

A copy of W’s statement regarding Schiavo:

2. Text of Bush statement in Shiavo case

Associated Press

March 21, 2005 BUSHTEXT0322

President Bush's statement today on signing legislation in the Terri Schiavo case

Today, I signed into law a bill that will allow Federal courts to hear a claim by or on behalf of Terri Schiavo for violation of her rights relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life. In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life. This presumption is especially critical for those like Terri Schiavo who live at the mercy of others. I appreciate the bipartisan action by the Members of Congress to pass this bill. I will continue to stand on the side of those defending life for all Americans, including those with disabilities.

http://www.startribune.com/stories/587/5304369.html

Isn’t there just the tiniest bit of conflict between: “right to life cannot be granted or denied by government� and this: “our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life�.

Check out this further bit of controversy:

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/3073295

Hospitals can end life support

Decision hinges on patient's ability to pay, prognosis

A patient's inability to pay for medical care combined with a prognosis that renders further care futile are two reasons a hospital might suggest cutting off life support, the chief medical officer at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital said Monday.

Miraculously this man received a reprieve from W’s “Right to Kill� law as seen in the following:

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/page1/3094699

A Friendswood man in a persistent vegetative state was transferred to a nursing home in San Antonio on Sunday, ending a battle between St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital and his family over whether to take him off life support.

At 7:30 a.m., Spiro Nikolouzos, 68, was hooked up to a portable ventilator, feeding tube and other support lines and taken by ambulance to Avalon Place, which had rejected his application just nine days before. Facility officials confirmed his arrival about 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

Either he’s lying or we have to get out the hair splitter. It seems that his speeches support broad agendas and rules, while his actual laws don’t reflect his speeches.

If the laws that he signed in Texas don’t reflect his current position it seems that he should offer an explanation/excuse...maybe...the legislature made me do it.

I’m sure there are many bills that are signed that don’t reflect the true positions of a president, but to continue to let stand previous speeches vowing that ‘life can’t be granted or denied by govt’, seems disingenuous at best...

...and an outright lie to anyone without Republican Family Values stuck in their ears.

 
Sunday, January 22, 2006
  Re: The Firestorm (no curses)

Ms. Howell

 

It seems that you really stepped in it.

 

Is this the re-awakening of liberal thought, or just an internet mugging?

 

I love to read and listen to some politicians talk. I love to compare their thoughts and actions. Newt Gingrich was one. He captivated an empty House chamber for many nights with talks of ethics and small govt. He came to power and neglected both.

 

Democrats might be insulted with the coverage of Abramoff in the media because it is being presented in such a bi-partisan fashion. Remember the rules of the House, as quoted by WaPo; Speaker Hastert and his majority of the majority speech.

 

There is power, and one party has control of the buttons. Corporations go with the flow...to power. Don’t offend.

 

Thank you,

Francis Meehan

Clayton, NJ

MyWAG

 
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
  State's Rights

It seems that Republicans won’t be doing their usual cheering for State’s Rights today.

 

Supreme Court Upholds Oregon Suicide Law

By GINA HOLLAND
The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 17, 2006; 10:23 AM

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court, with Chief Justice John Roberts dissenting, upheld Oregon's one-of-a-kind physician-assisted suicide law Tuesday, rejecting a Bush administration attempt to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die.

Justices, on a 6-3 vote, said the 1997 Oregon law used to end the lives of more than 200 seriously ill people trumped federal authority to regulate doctors.

 

I guess the concept of privacy really bothers some people. It was Roberts, Scalia and Thomas who wanted to support more Federal regulation of society. It seems that Republicans now support the dreaded Nanny State. The more things change, the more...

 

This 6-3 victory for the right of people to choose their own end strikes me as part of the core principle of; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 
Thursday, January 12, 2006
  Rhetoric vs. Reality

Our Leader wants us to believe that rhetoric can have consequences in Iraq.

From the Washington Times:

Responding to a 7-year-old in the audience who asked how Americans can help in the war on terror, Mr. Bush said: "One way people can help as we're coming down the pike in the 2006 elections is remember the effect that rhetoric can have on our troops in harm's way and the effect that rhetoric can have in emboldening or weakening an enemy."

I agree with him. Funny, he didn’t say if the effect would be positive or negative.

These things can, and did have a negative effect on our troops:

· “Democracy is untidy�, as stated by Rummy.

· Dismissing General Shinseki’s suggestions about troop levels.

· Wolfowitz...almost any statement regarding Iraq.

· Insurgency denial.

· Post war planning.

· Vice

· Bush...controlled by or listening to only one side of the equation.

· Bubbles

Finally, going to war with rose colored glasses. It’s all about life. Many people have lost their lives and many families have had their futures changed forever because of incompetence by Our Leader, and the people he chose to help him.

 
  GOP and Fiscal Integrity

I just thought this quote from the Washington Post was a hoot. Check the link for the full story. (Emphasis mine.)

 

Clay Johnson III, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, agreed that Congress is not "as aggressive as it needs to be," but not because the GOP dominates the levers of power.

"The executive branch pays more attention to whether we spend money on real needs and whether we get what we pay for than Congress does," said Johnson, who heads the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, an umbrella group of 29 presidentially appointed inspectors general. "That has nothing to do with which party is in charge of what branch."

 

 
  Rise and Fall of True Believers

An excellent recounting of a small part of the beginning of the GOP takeover of the Federal Govt by Robert Scheer, who was unceremoniously dropped by the LAT for being too partisan or too liberal. It’s a shame he wasn’t kept just because he’s a good writer.

Lucky we have the good folks at TruthOut.

 Rise and Fall of True Believers
    By Robert Scheer
    The San Francisco Chronicle

    Wednesday 11 January 2005

    Oh what a tangled web these no-longer-young Republicans weave when first they practice to deceive! The plumb line that runs down through the cesspool of the festering Abramoff-DeLay scandal is the conceit that the scions of the Reagan Revolution, a generation of young Republican activists summoned by God and party, were morally superior creatures, who had only pure ideological motives for cutting the country's social-safety nets in the name of "small government."

 

 
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
  BILLMON IS GREAT

Step up to the Whiskey Bar for some good laughs about how to spin away from Abramoff... http://www.billmon.org/

 

 
Saturday, January 07, 2006
  Re: Delay Will Quit House Leadership Post

Delay Will Quit House Leadership Post

 

Tom says:

In a letter to rank-and-file Republicans, DeLay said, "I have always acted in an ethical manner."

At the same time, "I cannot allow our adversaries to divide and distract our attention," the Texas Republican wrote.

 

What a stand up guy. After redefining the term ethics, Delay seeks to use the “let’s stand and fight the bad guys together argument.”

 

When Tom said: "I have always acted in an ethical manner.", I think we need him to define the term before we listen to the argument.

 

 

 
Guesses concerning politics and life.

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