Friday, June 30, 2006

George Bush smacked down by SCOTUS

Bill Press notes:

Bush said he could do whatever he wanted to in conducting the war on terror, with no further congressional authority.

The Supreme Court said he’s wrong.

Bush said detainees in the war on terror have no rights.

The Supreme Court said he’s wrong.

Bush said, in the war on terror, the United States is not bound by the Geneva Conventions.

The Supreme Court said he’s wrong.

Bush said we could round up suspects and hold them for years, without a trial, without counsel, without charges being filed against them.

And the Supreme Court said he’s wrong.



Even the conservative Supreme Court realizes Bush has overreached.

The Obscenity of a Painless War

"Let's Whup Up on Those Dirty Islamofascists --
But I, um, 'Gave at the Office'"

We have lamented previously (here and here) the obscenity of conducting a war that is virtually painless to the average citizen. We are spending gazillions of dollars and considerable blood for a cause our president proclaims noble. Meanwhile, however, he calls for more tax rollbacks. The financial burden of the war, therefore, falls on our children and grandchildren.


Rick DeMent in a comment at Oh!Pinion seems to share my disgust for the conduct and financing of Bush's war:
I just wish that all of those people who “support the troops” by putting little yellow ribbon magnets on their SUVs would be willing to “support the troops” by ponying up some more cash in the form of a tax increase or maybe a check box on their income tax forms that said, yes I am willing to support the “cost of freedom by including XXX over and above my tax bill” I wonder how many people would actually contribute voluntarily?

"tax cuts" "Iraq War" "George W. Bush" "Republican Congress" "right-wing bloggers" "Cost of War" taxes

Justices Reject Bush Plan to Try Detainees

SCOTUS gets it right.

From the New York Times:
(snip)
The decision was such a sweeping and categorical defeat for the administration that it left human rights lawyers who have pressed this and other cases on behalf of Guantánamo detainees almost speechless with surprise and delight, using words like "fantastic," "amazing" and "remarkable."
(snip)
"The ruling marked the most significant setback yet for the administration's broad expansions of presidential power."
The use of "conservative" and "liberal" in regard to the issues of the 21st Century is just meaningless. The 3 most "conservative" justices voted to invest in the executive virtually unlimited power. The more "liberal" justices voted to uphold the traditional, constitutional separation of powers and distrust of a too-powerful executive.


It may have been a defeat for Bush, but it was a victory for Madison, Jefferson, Paine, et al! And ol' Pat Henry's bones are rattling with glee.

"The executive is bound to comply with the rule of law that prevails in this jurisdiction..."

The Constitution which at any time exists, 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all.


"Lord, please give John Paul Stevens many more years of productive work on the Supreme Court! I know you have to take him eventually, but please, please, wait at least 935 days."


Hamdan detainees Rumsfeld "War on Terror" "Hamdan v. Rumsfeld" Guantanamo Gitmo

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

By the light of burning flags...

An epidemic of flag burning has evidently struck. The brave Republicans are standing tall to stop this major catastophe. Check it out:

From Zenyenta:
I guess there's no hope that we'll be able to cut down on this absolute epidemic of flag burning that's taking over our streets and neighborhoods. Right?
From J.D. Henderson:
Unlike other nations, no American soldiers have ever died defending our flag. What they gave all to defend is the Constitution, and it cheapens the sacrifice of our soldiers to claim that they risked, or lost, their precious lives for a mere symbolic piece of cloth. They did not. They served the idea of self-government, and were willing to risk their lives to defend the ideals of our Republic as set down in writing. They defended the freedom to disagree. Including the freedom to, yes, burn the symbol of all we hold true.
From Oh!Pinion:
Desecrating the Constitution in a half-baked scheme to protect the symbol reveals a deplorable lack of appreciation for what’s most important.
From a regular guy usually on the other side:
Burning the flag as an act of protest, however offensive it may be to veterans like myself who offered to place ourselves between it and its enemies, is an inherently political statement. I don't believe that our govenment should go any farther down the road of regulating our political speech.
From Dana Milbank:
The Citizens Flag Alliance, a group pushing for the Senate this week to pass a flag-burning amendment to the Constitution, just reported an alarming, 33 percent increase in the number of flag-desecration incidents this year.
From History Mike:
If protesters decide that they can best communicate their points with a burning flag, so be it. I will boo them loudly and go about my business knowing that they have likely turned off 95 percent of people who might otherwise listen to what they say.


From Bill Press:

If Republicans hate Cuba, China, Iran, and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – Why do they want the United States to be so much like them?

"If a jerk burns a flag, America is not threatened. If a jerk burns a flag, democracy is not under siege. If a jerk burns a flag, freedom is not at risk
and we are not threatened.
My colleagues, we are offended; and to change our Constitution because someone offends us is, in itself, unconscionable,"

-- Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-New York).

Monday, June 26, 2006

The New York Times Responds

Letter From Keller on NYT's Banking Records Report
The following are excerpts from a letter Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, has sent to readers who have written to him about The Times's publication of information about the government's examination of international banking records:
I don't always have time to answer my mail as fully as etiquette demands, but our story about the government's surveillance of international banking records has generated some questions and concerns that I take very seriously. As the editor responsible for the difficult decision to publish that story, I'd like to offer a personal response.

Some of the incoming mail quotes the angry words of conservative bloggers and TV or radio pundits who say that drawing attention to the government's anti-terror measures is unpatriotic and dangerous. (I could ask, if that's the case, why they are drawing so much attention to the story themselves by yelling about it on the airwaves and the Internet.) Some comes from readers who have considered the story in question and wonder whether publishing such material is wise. And some comes from readers who are grateful for the information and think it is valuable to have a public debate about the lengths to which our government has gone in combatting the threat of terror.

It's an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. Who are the editors of The New York Times (or the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and other publications that also ran the banking story) to disregard the wishes of the President and his appointees? And yet the people who invented this country saw an aggressive, independent press as a protective measure against the abuse of power in a democracy, and an essential ingredient for self-government. They rejected the idea that it is wise, or patriotic, to always take the President at his word, or to surrender to the government important decisions about what to publish.

The power that has been given us is not something to be taken lightly. The responsibility of it weighs most heavily on us when an issue involves national security, and especially national security in times of war. I've only participated in a few such cases, but they are among the most agonizing decisions I've faced as an editor.

----snip----

Since September 11, 2001, our government has launched broad and secret anti-terror monitoring programs without seeking authorizing legislation and without fully briefing the Congress. Most Americans seem to support extraordinary measures in defense against this extraordinary threat, but some officials who have been involved in these programs have spoken to the Times about their discomfort over the legality of the government's actions and over the adequacy of oversight. We believe The Times and others in the press have served the public interest by accurately reporting on these programs so that the public can have an informed view of them.

---snip----

The Administration case for holding the story had two parts, roughly speaking: first that the program is good — that it is legal, that there are safeguards against abuse of privacy, and that it has been valuable in deterring and prosecuting terrorists. And, second, that exposing this program would put its usefulness at risk.

It's not our job to pass judgment on whether this program is legal or effective, but the story cites strong arguments from proponents that this is the case. While some experts familiar with the program have doubts about its legality, which has never been tested in the courts, and while some bank officials worry that a temporary program has taken on an air of permanence, we cited considerable evidence that the program helps catch and prosecute financers of terror, and we have not identified any serious abuses of privacy so far. A reasonable person, informed about this program, might well decide to applaud it. That said, we hesitate to preempt the role of legislators and courts, and ultimately the electorate, which cannot consider a program if they don't know about it.

---snip====

A secondary argument against publishing the banking story was that publication would lead terrorists to change tactics. But that argument was made in a half-hearted way. It has been widely reported — indeed, trumpeted by the Treasury Department — that the U.S. makes every effort to track international financing of terror. Terror financiers know this, which is why they have already moved as much as they can to cruder methods. But they also continue to use the international banking system, because it is immeasurably more efficient than toting suitcases of cash.

I can appreciate that other conscientious people could have gone through the process I've outlined above and come to a different conclusion. But nobody should think that we made this decision casually, with any animus toward the current Administration, or without fully weighing the issues.
Read the complete letter.

It's interesting to hear the so-called conservatives arguing that we should just trust the President. The framers were very deliberate about limiting the powers of George Washington, for heaven's sake, and George W. Bush is no George Washington.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Potential Democratic Presidents

Let's Pick a Good'un!!

Cold Flute has occasionally blogged about our prospective Presidential candidates. We should all be paying close attention to these folks and beginning the process of choosing the one who can best lead our nation out of the wilderness. I lean toward Gore or Edwards, but I would fight for any of them against any Bush Enabler. Here's what Cold Flute has had to say about some of our candidates. I may have missed a post or two - let me know. He plans to write about Bill Richardson and/or Evan Bayh soon.

Senator Joe Biden
Governor Tom Vilsack
Senator Russ Feingold (Feingold 2)
Governor Mark Warner
Senator Hillary Clinton (Clinton 2)
Senator Christopher Dodd
Senator John Edwards
Vice President Al Gore
General Wesley Clark

------------------------------
Here are a few websites for prospective candidates.
Americans for Bayh
Bayh's All America site
America for Richardson
Senator John Kerry
Edwards' One America site
Vilsack's Heartland PAC
Warner's Forward Together
Draft Al Gore
Biden's Unite Our States
Clark's Securing America
-----------------------------
Al Gore's MLK Day Speech

The Right and Left Wings Misuse Jefferson

Jefferson and the Wall of Separation

I have expressed my dismay earlier at how both extremes and lily-livers in the middle get it wrong on the separation of church and state. I opened the Rome News-Tribune today to find an article by Dr. Gregory Tomlin of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on Jefferson and the "Wall of Separation" that does a good job of explaining Jefferson's words and practice on this topic. While I believe the larger populations of Catholics, Mormons, Jews, agnostics, atheists, Muslims, and others among us requires a greater separation of church and state than our founders practiced, it is patently absurd to use the Jefferson "wall" as an excuse to pretend religion doesn't exist or to deny or ignore the importance of the Judeo-Christian tradition to our history. Read Tomlin's complete article here. Here's a teaser:
In the debate on separation of church and state, scholars from all sides have employed Thomas Jefferson in their arsenals, some citing his willingness to attend prayer services in federal buildings and others citing his contempt for organized religion and his opposition to the state's interference in his own religious thought life.

But ... one should not judge the matter of Jefferson's opinions on religion or church-state separation before testing his thoughts, rather than the thoughts of men 200 years removed from his life and work.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day


Charles Shaw - Daddy

Last December I wrote about my father, Charles Columbus Shaw, on the nineteenth anniversary of his death. Now, on Fathers Day, he is, of course, on my mind again. Daddy was a Methodist pastor, and a good preacher.

Today my current pastor, David Campbell, gave an excellent sermon for this special day. As he often manages to do, he elicited an unexpected tear as he recounted the story of adoptive parents and compared their unconditional love to that of our heavenly Abba/Father/Daddy who "adopts" (Romans 8) us.

My Daddy was an amazing human being, with a variety of faults and foibles, but with an abiding faith and unconditional love for his children.

Here is what I wrote last December.

We had a nice lunch here today. Mama joined us. Sheila spread the table with "Lillian's Favorite Chicken" (boneless breast coated with ranch dressing, topped with mozzarella and parmesan and broiled), a wonderful salad of assorted greens and veggies, steamed squash and onions and broccoli, brown rice, fresh cantaloupe, and strawberries, ice cream and angel food for dessert. The girls gave me presents and a hug. I hope I have been half the dad to them that my Dad was to me.

And I hope other Dads out there have had days as good as mine, but I doubt many have. I am truly a lucky man.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Two Good Posts

The Median Sib has two interesting posts this morning. One is a sobering poem of greeting to a newborn. The other is a tribute to a wonderful father written by our Prime Sib to her husband.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Five Favorites from the Questing Parson

Friday Five: The Questing Parson


I log on, coffee in hand, and see an e-mail from "Blogarithm". The Questing Parson has posted.

The rascal. What reaction will he wrest from me today? He always messes with my emotions.

Sometimes a smile. Sometimes a sigh. Sometimes a chuckle. Sometimes a tear.

Today's QP post is a favorite I'd like to share with you. While I'm at it, I'll pick a few more to make an uplifting Friday Five.

If you check them out, you'll be glad you did.

You Call Me Beautiful

Riding With A Blonde

Drinking From the Same Fountain

The Best Things

The Day Sarah Came Home


Bonus:
Love Sat Beside Me

And I didn't even mention the Lenten series or the usefulness of the neighbor's tools. The parson's computer is definitely such a tool.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Republicans on Today's "War on Terror" debate

From the Washington Post
"I can't help but feel through eyes of a combat-wounded Marine in Vietnam, if someone was shot, you tried to save his life. . . . While you were in combat, you had a sense of urgency to end the slaughter, and around here we don't have that sense of urgency," said Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest (Md.), a usually soft-spoken Republican who has urged his leaders to challenge the White House on Iraq. "To me, the administration does not act like there's a war going on. The Congress certainly doesn't act like there's a war going on. If you're raising money to keep the majority, if you're thinking about gay marriage, if you're doing all this other peripheral stuff, what does that say to the guy who's about ready to drive over a land mine?"
(snip)
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), who supports the war, called the resolution "strategically nebulous and morally obtuse."
(snip)
Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) called the entire exercise "a dumb idea" that will highlight precisely the issue that is threatening Republican political fortunes.
"When the country is war-weary, when the violence is still playing out on TV, I don't know why we want to highlight all that," he said.
(snip)
Gilchrest, who won the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his Marine service in Vietnam in the 1960s, believes political considerations have already played too large a role in the debate. In November, after Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) announced his support for a rapid withdrawal from Iraq, Republican leaders hastily pushed a resolution to the House floor calling for immediate pull-out. But the cursory two-hour debate was noteworthy less for serious policy discourse than for the suggestion by the House's newest member, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), that Murtha, a decorated war veteran, was a coward.

"It was ludicrous," Gilchrest said. "It had nothing to do with saving lives. It had nothing to do with the war. It was one-upsmanship against the Democrats."

(snip)

"This is nothing more or less than really a charade," said Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. (R-N.C.), who made headlines in the run-up to the Iraq invasion by changing french fries to "freedom fries" in the House dining room but has since turned strongly against the war.

Monday, June 12, 2006

(Donkey Path) Haditha: Beyond the Hype

I haven't written about Haditha yet. I read today a post by Craig at Donkey Path that resonated with my thoughts. What do you think?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Point of View

Oh!Pinion speculates on the following question.
How does the U.S. end up in blunder wars that become deadly, costly, no-win quagmires? And, how does the U.S. end up with leaders like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who get us into theses messes?

Check it out.

The blindered worldview of the neo-cons not only ignores the POV of the rest of the world, they consider it somehow disloyal to take this obvious and logical step to understanding any relationship.

Friday, June 09, 2006

"Fair Game"

Brannon and I happened upon Ann Coulter on Hannity (gag) and Colmes last night. She regurgitated the venom proudly. Hannity (gag) defended the %$#@^% by repeating, repeating, repeating, unfortunate word choices by various Democrats. The woman is shameless. She does not deny the meaning of her words but defends them. Just as Bush repeated, repeated, repeated, his trifecta joke. Bill Press addresses the hypocrisy of the venomous Ms. Coulter here. George W. Bush began politically exploiting the tragedy of 2001, part of his "trifecta*", while the ruins were still smouldering. Now his pet dragon is projecting Bush's sleazy behavior onto women who, I believe rightly, worked through their grief to get a very reluctant President to support a "9-11" commission, and then to get that commission's recommendations implemented by a reluctant administration.

Agree or disagree? Fine. I'll hear your arguments.

Question their grief? You are the 20th hijacker, gliding in on your scaly wings to add your fiery breath to the terrorist flames.

Perhaps I should ignore the @^$#@%^. I can't. I have to say it again. This woman is evil.

---

For those unfamiliar with Bush's tasteless joke:
"Lucky me! I hit the trifecta," Bush said to his budget director shortly after the terrorist attacks of 2001, referring to the recession, the war, and the attacks. He later repeated the joke many times to the laughter of his Republican friends. You can find the quote on the White House website.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Something We Can All Cheer!

Today we can celebrate a brief moment of national unity: We got Al-Zarqawi.



Congratulations to our brave troops on this achievement! This will be a significant blow to the foreign terrorists in Iraq. I hope the "treasure trove" of materials that were taken will help root out the rest of the Al Qaeda and their brethren in Iraq and elsewhere. For once Bush is being reasonably restrained in his reaction. He knows that this does not end the on-going sectarian civil violence in Iraq or the anti-US indigenous Iraqi insurgency, but it should be a big setback to the guys who actually attacked us in 2001.

A Chip, no, Boulder, on Her Coulter

Just when you think she reached the nadir of compassion, Ann Coulter reminds us that she is pure evil and is capable of cruelty that knows no bounds. The heroine of the Republican Party, who describes those of us who disagree with her as "Godless", describes widows of the 2001 terrorist attacks - again, those that disagree with Coulter - as "witches" and speculates that their late husbands may have been intending to divorce them. I try not to give the Dominatrix of the Right my little bit of the attention she seeks but occasionally men of conscience must proclaim: here is evil.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I Heard it on NPR

Mentos and Diet Coke. Wow!!

Sheila heard about this on NPR today and had to check it out when she got home. No political ramifications that I can imagine. No particular spiritual or ethical point. I doubt you will gain knowledge of great use to your life and relationships. I can think of no way to make money off of it. The only redeeming value of the following is that it is a whole lot of fun.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

NOW Congress gets mad!

I deplore the corruption of which Congressman William Jefferson is accused. I agree however with Hastert and Co. that the executive has overstepped its constitutional powers in this case. (See S.W. Anderson's post and his links) But for Hastert and his buddies to get all het up over this case after their acquiescence to Bush's other crimes is absurd. When I opened the Rome News-Tribune this morning to find R.J. Matson's editorial cartoon (below) it expressed my opinion of this Republican Congress (and silent Democrats) perfectly. Click on the cartoon to check out Matson's 'toons from Roll Call and elsewhere. Matson is incisive.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Was the Election of 2004 Stolen?

Crooked Election(s)
I believe the 2000 Presidential Election was crooked. George W. Bush was illegally chosen by five unscrupulous jurists who had the audacity to declare that their ruling should not be used as precedent. Their ruling will be labeled a crass political move by the historians of the future. There is no legitimate question that Al Gore was the choice of the larger number of Floridian voters and of all American voters in that election. We will never know for sure what an official count would have shown after the pre-election and election day shenanigans of the Republicans, since the normal recount procedures were short-circuited by the Republican machine and the court. I believe Gore would have won despite all that with a fair recount.

After the 2004 election I believed the American people had narrowly, unfortunately, regrettably, lamentably, sadly, but factually legitimated the erstwhile illegitimate presidency of the junior Bush. It turns out I may have been too trusting of news organization vigilence and the safeguards that I thought were instituted after the debacle of four years earlier.
I heard on CNN tonight that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has written a critique of the 2004 election in Rolling Stone. Read the story and check out his sources.

Kennedy says:
"After carefully examining the evidence, I've become convinced that the president's party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004."
He quotes Lou Harris, the well-known pollster:
''Ohio was as dirty an election as America has ever seen,'' Lou Harris, the father of modern political polling, told me. ''You look at the turnout and votes in individual precincts, compared to the historic patterns in those counties, and you can tell where the discrepancies are. They stand out like a sore thumb.''
------

Meanwhile the American people have caught on to Bush and Company. The latest approval/disapproval poll I've seen is 31-63! His favorables have stabilized at about 30 but the unfavorables continue to grow. A Quinnipac poll rates him, by far, the worst president since WWII. I am glad to say that I was part of 6% of the people who saw through him even in September of 2001. Rove will come up with some unethical ploy(s) to try to pull Bush and his congressional co-horts out of the fire before November, but I'm not sure it will work this time.

Alien Invasion

Proper Procedures


This post by my Median Sib reminded me of the following story.

We occasionally have a tiny illegal alien decide to further his education at our institution. Somehow mouse interest groups haven't attained sufficient influence within the current administration to attain legal admittance, even via student visa, so the janitors wage cruel battle against the little intruders.

Last year a wee sleekit made his appearance in my classroom. With the help of volunteer ten-year-old vigilantes we herded him toward the hall doorway where I intended to confine him in a big "bug-box" so that my science classes could observe him before he would be deported to his own nation. Instead he brazenly squirted between my legs and into the hall and thence two doors up the hall and into the Blonde’s classroom.

The Blonde is an unabashed Rodent Bigot. She set out numerous traps.

Our earliest arrival at school almost daily is the enthusiastic Blonde. True to form, she arrived shortly after six the next morn to find our tiny would-be-student stuck fast to the glue-trap and grumpy about it. The Blonde was anxious to have the unwelcome learner expelled, but refused to do it herself, unwilling to share an enclosed space of any size with the mouse. She summoned help with an enthusiastic vocalization that would have done Caruso proud.

No man being handy, another Fourth Grade Educator, the Nature Girl, came running. NG patiently unstuck the frightened visitor, digit by digit.
Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie, O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
She cradled it in her hands, carried the rescued rodent to the edge of the forest, bid him farewell, and sent him off to find his folk.

I tell this story in order to model for my Median Sib a proper response to univited guests. :-)

Our Nature Girl, by the by, raises (and races) hissing cockroaches in her classroom and feeds 'possums and foxes and 'coons in her backyard! What a girl!

And here's Burns' reaction to disturbing the peace of a "Wee Sleekit"

To a Mouse on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough
November, 1785, by Robert Burns

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Th need na start awa sae hasty,

Wi' bickering brattle!

I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,

Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken nature's social union,

An' justifies that ill opinion,

Which makes thee startle

At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,

An' fellow mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;

What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!

A daimen icker in a thrave

'S a sma'request;

I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,

An' never miss't!


Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!

It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!

An' naething, now, to big a new ane,

O' foggage green!

An' bleak December's winds ensuin,

Baith snell an' keen!


Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,

An' weary winter comin fast,

An' cozie here, beneath the blast,

Thou thought to dwell--

Till crash! the cruel coulter past

Out thro' thy cell.


That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,

Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!

Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,

But house or hald,

To thole the winter's sleety dribble,

An' cranreuch cauld!


But Mousie, thou are no the lane,

In proving foresight may be vain;

The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men

Gang aft agley,

An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,

For promis'd joy!


Still thou art blest, compared wi' me

The present only toucheth thee:

But och! I backward cast my e'e,

On prospects drear!

An forward, tho' I canna see,

I guess an' fear!

Can you spell "P-a-r-i-m-u-t-u-e-l"?

Who Will Win, Place, or Show at the National Spelling Bee?
Christopher at Among the Hills shares my disgust that the National Spelling Bee has become another sporting event (read that "wagering opportunity") to some folks:
G-a-m-b-l-i-n-g on the Spellers