Or, Four so-called “Justices” of our Extreme Court court Injustice in the Military Tribunal Case

Media reports have been overflowing with almost giddy accounts of how the Supreme Court thwarted the President’s use of secret military tribunals. Citing the complete lack of due process, fairness, procedural safeguards and need, not to mention the possible torture tainted “evidence” used in them, such tribunals violate not only the binding Geneva Conventions on warfare, but also numerous fundamental and critical principles of the US Constitution itself.

Utterly missed in all the hoopla is the fact that three Republican so-called “Justices” voted in favor of violating nearly every aspect of our governing legal and moral codes concerning trials. In fact, it was actually four votes out of nine in favor considering that Chief “Justice” Roberts, who temporarily abstained for this one case, had already declared as a lower court judge that he didn’t care about such human rights abuses.

It makes one wonder were those four got their law degrees. Fidel Castro University? Mobutu Law School? As Monty Pythonites say, “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition,” but apparently the black robes on those four conceal a desire to return to those days when guilt was determined in advance and “proved” on the torture rack with confessions.

For those who do the math, that means President Bush is just one future appointee away from reversing the decision. And, that assumes he won’t simply ignore the court’s ruling or get his lapdogs in Congress to pass a law saying it’s okay to ignore the Constitution and international law.

Too bad the media did not notice the closeness of the vote which made the whole thing scary, not hopeful.



Or, the Administration's War on a Free Press

Bush/Cheney are attacking a newspaper, the New York Times, with the level of vitriolic rhetoric they usually reserve for Clintons, Carters, Kennedys and bin Laden. The reason for the attack of course is because the Times once again has uncovered more efforts by Bushites to eliminate other fundamental Constitutional rights. And, as always, nothing generates more instant hatred by Bush/Cheney than being caught in crimes, corruption, lies, blatant hypocrisy, or gross incompetence once again.

Bush/Cheney, as always, disguise their pathology toward the press, by (a) claiming they didn’t do whatever they have been caught red-handed doing and (b) claiming everyone else did it too, and (c) claiming they absolutely had to destroy the Constitution in order to save it.

The thrust of the current emasculation of a free press is the argument, as always, that it somehow helps terrorists. There is never any specifics as to whether any terrorists were ever actually uncovered by illegal searches despite literally years of efforts, hundreds of thousands of man hours diverted and billions spent. There is never any proof offered that exposing crimes by Bush/Cheney has ever actually helped any terrorist get away with anything or that no other tactics which are legal would work. Bush/Cheney have learned that facts do not matter. Simply scare the hell out of the voter and they will acquiesce to anything.

In one sense, it comes down to who to trust. In that regard, how many times have Bush/Cheney proven themselves to be so addicted to self serving greed, pillage, aggression, arrogance, intolerance, bias, partisanship, pettiness, deceit, denial, cronyism, indifference, waste, and utter incompetence on a scale that boggles imagination? It has become almost impossible to imagine the situation being worse than if Osama himself was hiding in the West Wing?

Does the Times make mistakes? Sure, everyone does, but the difference is that the Times admits them like adults are supposed to do when they are discovered. The difference is that reporters and editors at the Times are governed by ethics and rules which they believe cannot be conveniently ignored. The difference is that when the Times makes a mistake, it knows it will likely have to pay for it in some fashion.

Frankly, less lives are likely to be lost keeping Bush/Cheney accountable for their actions by allowing the Times to function as a watchdog, then by giving Bush/Cheney the unfettered power they so fervently desire to be dictator. In this time of danger, our safety is safer with the Times.



Or, The Best One Sentence Platform for the Democratic Party

The June 26, 2006 issue of Nation featured a piece by Bernie Horn entitled “Progressive Values 101" calling for a need to more succinctly articulate the Progressive philosophy. It’s becoming obvious that simply pointing out the vast multitude of ways Bushites are jeopardizing the country, even highlighting attacks on its most fundamental principles, is not adequate. Unfortunately, there are far too many battles being fought on far, far too many fronts, which risks dissipation of focus. Worse, a simple litany of the incompetence, cronyism, waste, greed, delusions, bias, injustice, lies and naked aggression, especially a long one, tends to turn off the listeners who automatically presume the other side does the same things.

Mr. Horn went on to elaborate his own boiled down version of what Progressivism is explaining the interplay of “freedom,” “opportunity” and “security.” It resonated with me, but still stuck me as far too complicated to sway those voters with short attention spans who bought wholesale into Bush’s so-called “Compassionate Conservatism,” “Moral Values” and “War Against Terrorism.” Besides, the Bushites too continually allege they themselves are for Freedom, Opportunity and Security. As usual, they have just redefined or shifted emphasis on the same words. It has proven far to easy for those now in control to pervert the debate and hide the facts, especially whenever there potential ambiguity is present.

Is there any way to set forth a truly simple litmus test of the Progressive versus the Bushite philosophies? It needs to be something which cannot be perverted. It needs to be something that holds up in 10 second commercials either for or against.

I believe there is. It’s an even more fundamental summation of Progressive philosophy than Mr. Horn’s three principles, one that encompasses nearly all that Progressives, old style Liberals and even the Democratic Party platform itself seem to stand for. It’s the “Golden Rule.” Nothing more. And, more importantly, nothing less.

Think about it. Is there anything in Progressive philosophy that cannot be encompassed in the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” phrase? Everything from caring for the ill, the aged, the young, the poor and the downtrodden to trying diplomacy before bombing fits well within it. It is the foundation for women's rights, civil rights, balancing of powers, judicial review and all our other rights. It’s a justification for impeachment, since the Golden Rule implies accountability. And, it does not preclude saving jobs, saving money or self defense. Even more esoteric concepts, such as leaving the environment we all live in pristine and protecting its flora and fauna for the future, in their essence, are within the ideal that both we as individuals and our government should strive to be Good Samaritans.

The Good Samaritan parable comes from the Bible (showing us once again that Middle Eastern tribes have much to teach us if we do not constantly declare them enemies.) It also is a staple of multiple religions taught from Sunday School onward. Nevertheless, one does not have to be religious to appreciate its applicability to society as a whole regardless of faith. Better yet, it is a concept everyone instantly understands and can easily apply to almost any proposal by any politician of any stripe.

Best of all, Progressives can proclaim they want to apply the Golden Rule while the Bushites want only to shorten it to “Gold... Rule[s]” and “Do unto others....[first].”

In physics, they are still searching for the universal theory that applies. We are more fortunate in politics. There is already one available and it belongs to the Progressives. Therefore, let us go forth and loudly demand that only Good Samaritans should hold office and they better damned well be able to prove it in everything they have said and done.



Or, The Bush Administration says “Trust Me” Once Again

When the revelation was uncovered that the Republican Administration had been secretly conducting warrantless spying on apparently billions of financial transactions, Treasury Secretary Snow attempted June 23 to justify it by saying, “If people are sending money to help al-Qaida, we want to know about it.”

Substitute the words “Democrats” or “protestors” or “the ACLU” or anyone else hated by Republicans for the perennial bogeyman “al-Qaida.” Now re-read the same sentence? Does the phrase still sound as comforting?

If those in charge can use that or any other tool for the one purpose, what is to prevent them from using it to accomplish other Republican goals? Given that many Republicans already periodically refer to Democrats, protestors and the ACLU as “traitors” aiding the “enemy” by merely existing, given that the Administration has already diverted funds from the search for Osama bin Laden to pursue instead purely political goals, and given that Republicans still argue even torture is an acceptable means to accomplish their ends, what possible restraint is there to keep them from utilizing the same allegedly useful financial data mining technique to insure they stay in office in perpetuity?

That would be a mighty small leap for them. After all, does anyone need to be reminded which political party leader paid for “plumbers” to burglarize the other party’s campaign headquarters investigate “leaks.” How many times does history have to repeat itself before people listen?

The point is that no one, not Democrats, not even sainted Mother Teresa, should have such incredible powers without judicial and Congressional oversight and without providing the minuscule amount of evidence needed to establish probable cause first.



Or, When did we become the Soviet Union - the very thing we once despised and feared the most?

When did we develop secret police and those secret courts? When did we start spying on millions of countrymen without even probable cause? When did we start sending people to secret prisons without any trials or even sentences? Good grief, when did outright torture become acceptable?

When did we resort to stamping almost everything as top secret, especially anything showing incompetence or corruption of the party in power? When did all our old friends suddenly get labeled as enemies? When did the press become little more than a shill for the strongman in charge? When did we begin drowning out all voices of dissent? When did all those fat bald guys standing next to the strongman get the authority to call for freedom elsewhere while trampling it at home? When did the one man controlling the bureaucracy and the military also proclaim the legislating bodies and the courts had no power over him?

When did we become a one party system with elections being a joke or outright rigged? When did the rich party leaders start successfully diverting much of the nation’s economic productiveness into their personal pockets and pleasure palaces? When did political corruption become the norm, arrogantly so?

When did we stop caring about supporting our troops with the best armor and gear? When did they become just cannon fodder for the egos of the leader? When did it become okay to be an aggressor nation invading other countries without being attacked first? When did we conclude tanks and troops should be first choice before diplomacy? Why are all the party hacks and loyalists getting those ridiculous “medals of freedom” to hang on their suits? When did double speak and outright lies start getting ignored? When did fiction start trumping facts and politics vetoing science?

When did the workers get so numbly downtrodden and forbidden to organize? When did the definition of “patriots” get changed 180 degrees from its original defiant challenge of government to blind obedience? When did new laws start getting titles that almost invariably suggest the opposite of the law’s real intent?

When we commence attacking the UN we helped create, sending a clown to the General Assembly doing everything to disrupt debate except pounding with his shoe? When did we stop caring that most of the citizens of the world thought we had become terrorists?

When did we end up alone with Communist China and Cuba as having the most executions? When did we decide something called “Homeland” security is more important than Founding Fathers’ freedoms? When did “Red States” start getting cheers from “red necks”? When Did George Orwell’s Animal Farm stop being prophetic and became reality? Yep, when did we become the Soviet Union?

Better yet, WHY did we get fooled again?

*Thanks and a tip of the hat are owed to The Who's and their lyrics from "Don't Get Fooled Again." Check it out at http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Won't-Get-Fooled-Again-lyrics-The-Who/761EF79AAB42FA9C48256977002E72F9



Or, Why Is Rewarding Bad Behavior and Punishing Obedience Official Bush Policy?

Let’s see. North Korea (which has a dictator who hates our guts, seems far nastier than Sadaam, and admits having nukes) gets left alone completely by Bush except for meaningless rhetoric.

Iran (which has an elected government that hates our guts, is as nasty as Sadaam and is trying to become nuclear armed) gets offered bribes by Bush amid the usual rhetoric.

In contrast, Iraq (which had a typical nasty dictator but had basically given up attempts to develop nukes and allowed UN inspectors to confirm that) gets bombed, invaded, and occupied by Bush with its leader put on trial for his life.

Hmm. Apparently, the loud message and only message Bush wants to deliver is that the way to be totally safe from Bush is to get nukes quick. Gee, why don’t I feel safer?



Or, The Newest Proposal to Spy on Everyone in Your Entire Family

Apparently, the Republican Administration wants to keep even closer tabs on what you are doing in the privacy of your home than it does now. Brian Roehrkasse, a Justice Department Spokesman, seems to have admitted in a June 2, 2006 story by Knight Ridder newspaper reporter, Elise Ackerman, that the Bush administration wants to force internet companies, including your own provider, to keep detailed records for years on everything you happen to visit on the web so that the government can examine them at its leisure. This goes well beyond the spying in bulk on your conversations without any warrants or judicial supervision that has already been disclosed.

Think about that. The Republican Administration fought hard, viciously so, to prevent any records from being kept on who is buying guns. Certain federal gun records on purchasers can only be kept for literally hours, this even after 9/11. Republicans seem to be uninterested in keeping track of who wants to buy armor piercing sniper rifles capable of bringing down airliners. Yet, as to what you and your family members merely look at on the internet, access by government agencies is being demanded. Remember, the government is not seeking to uncover what you do with the information, but merely what you elect to examine in the privacy of your home, which would include your political affiliations and how you happen to feel about the current administration. If this latest incursion into your personal privacy is legally allowed as has been proposed, all would be an open book to bureaucrats and politician’s curiosity, not to mention the ISP technical employees who have been hired off the street to store the data about you and your unsuspecting family.

If you don’t like the risks of identity theft due to the records already on line (or at the Veterans Administration for instance), think what someone with a malicious mind (or for that matter an insurance company deciding on whether to allow you insurance coverage) could do with, say, a list of just the medical web pages you or your family members might be searching.

Plus, as a humorous bonus, you and your internet service provider end up picking up the increased tab to help the government spy on you. Poetic justice for you not protesting.

Attorney General Gonzales, the Bush picked head of the now ironically titled “Justice” Department, has of course proclaimed the usual justifications that it is desperately needed to ferret out terrorists (or pornographers or whatever he thinks sounds good to the voters) and that such criminals could not be caught any other way. (No mention is made of course as to the spectacular lack of success for the billions already spent trying to catch terrorists by similar almost random spying on and data mining of Americans.) He also naturally pretends no one unauthorized could ever have access and that it would never be used for any other purposes. And, he passionately mouths the usual pablum that it would only be accessed after “appropriate legal processes.''

Since however the AG has already publically argued that if Boss Bush wants it, neither Constitution restrictions, Congressional laws, nor Court orders apply, such reassurances by him are not very comforting. That’s even assuming the records scattered around and duplicated somehow could be made safe from outside criminals, hackers, Republican campaign contributors or just deceitful employees.

The fact that Attorney General Gonzales even proposed this latest scheme of his for spying on you is bad enough. Combined with his refusal to seek actually useful information for combating terrorism such as who has weapons, strongly suggests the real purpose may be more to obtain security for retaining his ruling party in office than security against terrorists.



Or, The constitution of the Constitution is in pretty frail health

Apparently 2/3rds of Americans think it’s perfectly okay in time of “war,” even undeclared wars about which absolutely everything is automatically declared super secret from the public, for the Republicans in charge to monitor all phone calls of all Americans without judicial or congressional oversight or even minimal probable cause. Someone should remind those who don’t seem to care that if it’s okay to do that, then it would also be perfectly okay to open their mail, to access their bank accounts, to hack their computers, to wiretap their confessionals, to invade their doctor’s offices, to videotape their bedrooms, to search their homes. There is really no significant difference of degree between such intrusions as far as the wording of the Constitution is concerned. If one is legal, then there is no boundary.

Someone should remind those who don’t seem to care that if it’s okay for the Republicans in charge to do any of those particular invasions, then it must be okay as well to jail opponents, without trial, without counsel, without visitors, without end and even to torture them. The Republicans have already declared that they think they have the right to do so if they feel like it.

Those who don’t seem to care respond that no one should worry because such violations of privacy don’t happen to good people. They also argue the Republicans in charge would never even think of using such tactics for partisan political purposes.

As Rumsfeld so accurately stated though, “Stuff happens.”



Or, Everything You Wanted to Know about Iraq to Be Crammed in Sixty Seconds”

Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, indicated that they might “spend the day, maybe more than a day, talking about the principles of what we’ve done and why we’ve gone into Iraq, and the goals and views of fighting against terrorism.”

Whoopee. Thousand of lives lost, tens of thousands lives ruined with physical and mental wounds, decades of good will wasted, billions of dollars plundered, maybe a trillion wasted, not to mention atrocities and torture, deliberate lies and misdirection, gross incompetence, constitutional crisis and, yet, the Republicans are only willing to devote maybe a day or so on the subject.

Compare that to all the House time spent on a brain dead woman, on gay bashing, on foreigner bashing, on semen staining a blue dress and on the exceedingly rare flag burning, none of which have relatively much power to adversely affect us in the same way as a War.

A day?? Eight short hours or so to debate a subject so massive as to demand weeks or months, not to mention an impeachment or three?

Keep in mind, the Republican proposal gives the 435 individuals eligible to speak a whole MINUTE, maybe a minute and a half, to discuss what is needed. And, that’s assuming no time off for lunch, collecting bribes, moving to the microphone and assuming no partisan game playing by the Speaker.

Don’t those in charge ever get embarrassed about anything? We need to remind them how utterly ridiculous those restrictions on debate are. We need to remind them how ridiculous it makes the entire country seem. We need to remind them by voting them all out of office this Fall?



Or, Does the President Ever Listen to His Own Speeches”

Bush stated on June 7 he wanted immigrants to learn “the values and history and language of America.”

I’m sincerely hoping he wasn’t referring to just the “values” he and his cohorts appear to practice such as defense of torture, invasions on whim, spying on everyone, evasion of laws, oath breaking, intolerant discrimination, xenophobic paranoia, arrogant lying, blatant hypocrisy, rampant cronyism, political chicanery, close mindedness, opposition to science, religious zealotry, shortsighted wastefulness, unbridled greed, as well as abandonment of the poor, the ill, the aged, the workers, women and veterans.

The one other hopeful note is that perhaps Bush will take his own advice and crack at least a history book or two since he continues to refuse reading science texts or newspapers. And, maybe our “nuklar” President will decide to finally learn the language himself.



Or, Why Some Leaks Seem to Come from Drips in Office

Why does the Administration seemingly only want to investigate and prosecute alleged “national security” leaks which happen to expose crimes, corruption, incompetence or constitutional crises of the Administration?

Why did we spend millions and tie up dozens of Justice Department attorneys for literally years trying to find out who “leaked” the exposure of CIA agent Valerie Plame when the Administration not only knew the answer from the beginning, but was the actual source of the “leak”?

Why was not only a CIA agent deliberately endangered by such a leak, but also all those she worked with and the cover so expensively and time consumingly created?

How is leaking of secret information classified as vital to national security suddenly not so vital merely because declassifying it helps advance partisan political goals? Why was the “declassification” of the secret kept secret?

If a CIA agent’s secret identity is not important to remain secret, then why is it so important to stamp everything else in sight “SECRET” even that which was already printed and available in libraries and on the internet?

Why is it apparently only important to keep things secret from the American voters?

When did “national security” come to mean exclusively "job security" for the current Administration?

Oh, never mind. I think I have answered my own questions.