Monday, February 20, 2006

Homeland Insecurity, or this Rabbit Hole looks familiar

One area that has not been protected, and is very vulnerable to attacks, infiltration, etc. are our ports. So what does our government do? Award the contract to manage our major ports to a group from Dubai (United Arab Emirates)--Dubai Ports World. While we hopefully don't believe that all the people of the UAE back what their government does or vows to do, the fact that the UAE has allegedly vowed to destroy Israel is, shall we say, a bit worrisome.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Fact, Fiction or Practice

So here it is Saturday morning, and I am reading articles on and read the following: "...How did we wind up with a President that refers to the Constitution that he swore to protect and defend as “just a goddamned piece of paper” ..." in an article by Steve Osborn "What Happened to my Country"
Coffee spews out of my mouth...what did our President say??? and I search the web, for how did I miss this statement (was I that deep into grading?)...nothing on the NYT website...nothing but comments in blogs, forums and the like..this from Capitol Hill Blue was the only one that gave some information:

Bush on the Constitution: 'It's just a goddamned piece of paper'By DOUG THOMPSONDec 9, 2005, 07:53
. . .Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act.
Several provisions of the act, passed in the shell shocked period immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, caused enough anger that liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had joined forces with prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly and Bob Barr to oppose renewal.
GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.
“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”
“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”
“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”
I’ve talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution “a goddamned piece of paper.” . . .

If Bush said this, then I believe he is no longer fit for office. The Constitution is what makes the USA the first and foremost modern liberal democracy.

But even if he did not say this, his actions belie his disregard for liberal democracy and the Constitution: The secrecy (democracies need to be transparent) , the lies (democracies need to be accountable), the spying on Americans, the disregard for International Treaties (Geneva Conventions, Kyoto Protocal, etc.), redefining terms (such as "torture" or the concept that American military bases are considered American territory, for instance), the usurping of power, the disregard for Americans ( Katrina), ... The rubric that in times of National Security the Constitutional rights of Americans may be abridged has standards.

We need to reclaim our democracy.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Help, America has falling down the Rabbit Hole

Just in the past few weeks, democracy and freedom are slipping further from our grasp.
in no particular order:
*Vice President Cheney accidently shoots someone while hunting, the information does not make the news for for almost 24 hours. Is there going to be an investigation?
*NASA climate scientist, James Hansen is gagged regarding a report on greenhouse gases and global warming by a 24 year old politico--George Deutsch (who fabricated his creditials); the scientist also claims that NOAA is withholding scientific information from Americans re: global warming. (On a side note the politico also asked the web designer to add the word theory after any mention of the "big bang.")
*Attorney General Gonzales defends President's use of illegal wiretaps. We need to remember that Gonzales also wrote the memo that redefined "torture" for the President.
*the President has lied to Congress and the American people about the reason we went into Iraq. The Vice President continues to connect 9/11 and Saddam Hussein.
* Troops are sent to war without the necessary body armor, and the wounded come back to Veterans Hospitals whose funding has been drastically cut. The dead just come back--2263 as of 2/10--mostly unannounced.
*An administration that does not practice human rights and/or equal rights: note their petition of the United Nations to ban sexual minority NGOs from access to the UN (see 1/31 blog entry) or the slowness of response in the Gulf States to Katrina & Wilma.
* The administration that spies on and tries to either limit or instigate peaceful protests
*The president claims to be a compassionate conservative, while drastically cutting funding for Medicare, Medicaid, the poor, and college loans.

See also:
Published on Sunday, February 12, 2006 by the New York TImes
The Trust Gap

We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers — and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.
This has been a central flaw of Mr. Bush's presidency for a long time. But last week produced a flood of evidence that vividly drove home the point.
DOMESTIC SPYING After 9/11, Mr. Bush authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the conversations and e-mail of Americans and others in the United States without obtaining a warrant or allowing Congress or the courts to review the operation. Lawmakers from both parties have raised considerable doubt about the legality of this program, but Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made it clear last Monday at a Senate hearing that Mr. Bush hasn't the slightest intention of changing it.
According to Mr. Gonzales, the administration can be relied upon to police itself and hold the line between national security and civil liberties on its own. Set aside the rather huge problem that our democracy doesn't work that way. It's not clear that this administration knows where the line is, much less that it is capable of defending it. Mr. Gonzales's own dedication to the truth is in considerable doubt. In sworn testimony at his confirmation hearing last year, he dismissed as "hypothetical" a question about whether he believed the president had the authority to conduct warrantless surveillance. In fact, Mr. Gonzales knew Mr. Bush was doing just that, and had signed off on it as White House counsel.
THE PRISON CAMPS It has been nearly two years since the Abu Ghraib scandal illuminated the violence, illegal detentions and other abuses at United States military prison camps. There have been Congressional hearings, court rulings imposing normal judicial procedures on the camps, and a law requiring prisoners to be treated humanely. Yet nothing has changed. Mr. Bush also made it clear that he intends to follow the new law on the treatment of prisoners when his internal moral compass tells him it is the right thing to do.
On Thursday, Tim Golden of The Times reported that United States military authorities had taken to tying up and force-feeding the prisoners who had gone on hunger strikes by the dozens at Guantánamo Bay to protest being held without any semblance of justice. The article said administration officials were concerned that if a prisoner died, it could renew international criticism of Gitmo. They should be concerned. This is not some minor embarrassment. It is a lingering outrage that has undermined American credibility around the world.
According to numerous news reports, the majority of the Gitmo detainees are neither members of Al Qaeda nor fighters captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. The National Journal reported last week that many were handed over to the American forces for bounties by Pakistani and Afghan warlords. Others were just swept up. The military has charged only 10 prisoners with terrorism. Hearings for the rest were not held for three years and then were mostly sham proceedings.
And yet the administration continues to claim that it can be trusted to run these prisons fairly, to decide in secret and on the president's whim who is to be jailed without charges, and to insist that Gitmo is filled with dangerous terrorists.
THE WAR IN IRAQ One of Mr. Bush's biggest "trust me" moments was when he told Americans that the United States had to invade Iraq because it possessed dangerous weapons and posed an immediate threat to America. The White House has blocked a Congressional investigation into whether it exaggerated the intelligence on Iraq, and continues to insist that the decision to invade was based on the consensus of American intelligence agencies.
But the next edition of the journal Foreign Affairs includes an article by the man in charge of intelligence on Iraq until last year, Paul Pillar, who said the administration cherry-picked intelligence to support a decision to invade that had already been made. He said Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made it clear what results they wanted and heeded only the analysts who produced them. Incredibly, Mr. Pillar said, the president never asked for an assessment on the consequences of invading Iraq until a year after the invasion. He said the intelligence community did that analysis on its own and forecast a deeply divided society ripe for civil war.
When the administration did finally ask for an intelligence assessment, Mr. Pillar led the effort, which concluded in August 2004 that Iraq was on the brink of disaster. Officials then leaked his authorship to the columnist Robert Novak and to The Washington Times. The idea was that Mr. Pillar was not to be trusted because he dissented from the party line. Somehow, this sounds like a story we have heard before.
Like many other administrations before it, this one sometimes dissembles clumsily to avoid embarrassment. (We now know, for example, that the White House did not tell the truth about when it learned the levees in New Orleans had failed.) Spin-as-usual is one thing. Striking at the civil liberties, due process and balance of powers that are the heart of American democracy is another.
© 2006 The New York Times

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Wendy Wasserstein

Another woman who passed through this life all to quickly was Wendy Wasserstein. This wonderfully witty playwright wrote from a feminist perspective about modern women's struggles to be the superwoman--professional, romantic, maternal, human.
Her plays captured the many tensions wrought by trying to fit into social norms and fulfilling oneself as a woman...all done with a sense of humour.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Coretta Scott King

As Coretta Scott King lies in state, the first woman, and the first African American to do so in the Rotunda of Georgia's State Capitol it is fitting to remember that she not only carried on her husband's work, but expanded it to include all oppressed people--including homosexuals, the poor, and other minorities.
It is very sad to hear the president of the United States use her name and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s and memory in his State of the Union Address last Tuesday (1/31/06) when in reality he (and his administration) have gone out of their way to cut funding and programs for the poor, are willful homophobes ( see my blog entry for 1/31), and are continuing to promote teaching to the test (non) learning in his much hailed "Leave No Child Behind) as funding is cut for education on all levels.
Bush's use of her name, as he uses 9/11 makes me want to scream: NOT IN THEIR NAMES, NOT IN MINE!

[ For the complete State of the Union address go to:]

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan died this afternoon on her 85th birthday. No matter what you think of some of her political manueverings--such as purging NOW of all lesbians, her coverup of her own domestic violence--she gave Americans the language of liberal feminism, which was radical in itself.
Unfortunately, 43 years from the publication of The Feminine Mystique, we are still very far from equality.

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