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Friday, January 27, 2006

i do believe in terror! i do believe in terror!

fafblog has it: Q & A: Our Omnipotent President

i wasn’t using my civil rights anyway

posted by roj at 7:16 am  

Friday, January 27, 2006

it’s 2006. do you know where your constitution is?

it’s a different world indeed.

THE PRESIDENT: May I — if I might, you said that I have to circumvent it. There — wait a minute. That’s a — there’s something — it’s like saying, you know, you’re breaking the law. I’m not. See, that’s what you’ve got to understand. I am upholding my duty, and at the same time, doing so under the law and with the Constitution behind me. That’s just very important for you to understand.

Secondly, the FISA law was written in 1978. We’re having this discussion in 2006. It’s a different world. And FISA is still an important tool. It’s an important tool. And we still use that tool. But also — and we — look — I said, look, is it possible to conduct this program under the old law? And people said, it doesn’t work in order to be able to do the job we expect us to do.

And so that’s why I made the decision I made. And you know, “circumventing” is a loaded word, and I refuse to accept it, because I believe what I’m doing is legally right.

two things i want to bring up about this statement from the president.

1) “it doesn’t work” “under the old law” – by which he is apparently referring to the 1978 fisa. if it doesn’t work, then maybe it’s not supposed to work.

2) the us constitution was written in 1787 (well, maybe some of it a little before that. we’ll be safe and say it was ratified in 1787). so if the president is willing to ignore a 1978 law when it becomes inconvenient, what are his chances of respecting a 1787 law?

the thing is that the president doesn’t get to make these “decisions” – there are other branches of government that get to decide what laws are laws and how they apply.

and, we set an important example for our children. once upon a time there was an outcry in washington about how the children would say that oral sex isn’t sex because the president said so… so now they can say that laws don’t matter because the president said so, right?

posted by roj at 6:59 am  

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

bush on peace and politics

another episode in what might become a real series here, “it sounds good when you say it out loud

“A political party, in order to be viable, is one that professes peace, in my judgement, in order that it will keep the peace,” Bush told the newspaper in an interview Wednesday morning, before polls closed in the election

bush, our war president, admits defeat and that his republican party is not viable?

posted by roj at 10:18 pm  

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

wire taps – does the “domestic” matter?

i’m a relatively simple person, and i’m hearing a lot of spin about the “domestic wire tap program” and the counter-spin about how it’s an “terrorist surveillance program”… so i’m going to break it down in light of a little document that the president of the united states is sworn to uphold – that silly little inconvenient thing called the united states constitution.

the part that’s easy to figure out is this one… it’s called the fourth amendment to the united states constitution, and it reads, in full:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

now, the relevant word, for the purpose of this missive is “people.” you see, i think the people that wrote and ratified this document made a distinction between “people” and “citizens.” and i think the disctinction between the two words is pretty simple to understand: “people” are “people” and “citizens” are a subset of people that qualify as citizens. and i think that disctinction is evidenced in several places in the constitution:

article I, section 2

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

this says, to me anyway, that there are persons who are not citizens of the united states – and that those persons are not qualified to be representatives in congress.

article I, section 3

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

here again, there are people who are not citizens, and they are not qualified to be senators in congress.

article II, section 1

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

and here, we have something even more explicit – persons come in three flavors, they could be “natural born citizens” or they could be just plain “citizens,” or they could be non-citizens, and that distinction determines their eligibility to be president of the united states.

so, now that i have, hopefully, demonstrated that there is a constitutional distinction between “person” and “citizen,” let’s look at that annoying fourth amendment again in light of the political spin in the air these days…

what the fourth amendment does NOT say is that “the right of the citizens to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…” it says “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”

so, the question i have for all the constitutional scholars out there that chew on this a lot more than i do is simple:

doesn’t this mean that all people are protected from the united states government, and that all searches should be supported by a warrant?

and, to advance this based on bush’s recent comments on the subject, i have another question for the lawyers…

What I’m talking about is the intercept of certain communications emanating between somebody inside the United States and outside the United States; and one of the numbers would be reasonably suspected to be an al Qaeda link or affiliate.

so, can some lawyer step up and explain to me how you get from “reasonably suspected” to “probable cause,” as would apparently be required by the fourth amendment?

posted by roj at 7:40 am  

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

inviting the opposition

lessig (who has the distinct advantage of having a one-name name in certain spheres, though slightly smaller spheres than cher or britney or elton or dubya) has invited the opposition to dinner

personally, i think it’s a wonderful idea. i don’t see a lot of action on the wiki, but i’ve suggested that open debate might be a way to diffuse these issues a bit more, and this is, if still in the realm of the geeks, an invitation to debate.

can we find someone, rich of charisma, informed of issues, and sharp of rhetoric to champion this cause in a forum with more substance than a 30-second talking head segment?

is there such a forum?

posted by roj at 8:34 pm  

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

defending warrantless search

so my attorney general had a few things to say today, among them this gem:

“As far as I’m concerned, we have briefed the Congress,” he [Gonzales] said. “They’re aware of the scope of the program.”

the best explanation the administration can cook up to explain why the fourth amendment only applies when it’s convenient is “we told you we were doing it, so it’s ok”?

which might, in classic political rhetoric be interpreted as “i’m going to go home and beat my wife now.”

oddly enough, some constitutionally-aware people had something to say back…

[image from cnn]

posted by roj at 7:58 pm  

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

the republican “culture of life” shrinks

for a long time, i’ve responded to the republican party’s so-called “culture of life” with the query or assertion that this culture of life appears to apply only from the period from conception to birth and at any time after brain death. republicans are so interested in stepping up to preserve the lives of the unborn that they’ll have big rallies and wave around signs and pictures. if you’re fortunate enough to be braindead, our president will even cut short his precious vacation to keep you alive.

surely, this is a party that values life (although some iraqis might disagree…).

then again, there’s the intentional testing of chemical weapons… err. i mean, pesticides… on pregnant women.

Congress required that EPA ensure that pesticides are never tested upon pregnant women and children. But the final rule would allow manufacturers to conduct testing of pesticides upon both pregnant women and children so long as there is no “intent” at the outset of the study to submit the results to EPA. Additionally, the plan would allow pesticides to be tested upon pregnant women and children in studies intended for submission at exposure levels up to the current legal limits – even though the National Academy of Sciences found that in some cases this level of exposure could present acute risks to children.

so much for the “culture of life” as it applies to the unborn. i guess you need to pray for brain death.

posted by roj at 8:24 am  

Saturday, January 21, 2006

now all we need to do is burn the reichstag

an interesting piece in an interesting place.

President George W. Bush has signed executive orders giving him sole authority to impose martial law, suspend habeas corpus and ignore the Posse Comitatus Act that prohibits deployment of U.S. troops on American streets. This would give him absolute dictatorial power over the government with no checks and balances.

so, if this story is correct (and why wouldn’t it be), then all the paperwork is already in place. the lawyers have crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s and all we have to do is wait for a hint of terrorism on american soil

i’ve generally considered the bush administration and the fear-based “war efforts” more aligned with italian fascism, so i do hesitate, if only for a moment, to invoke the symbolism of the reichstag.

that said, it seems more and more apparent that the america in which i live has tred on that slope just a bit too far. so far, the evidence of specific racism (an obvious defining characteristic of the nazi phenomenon) just hasn’t appeared (the bush administration doesn’t appear to fear or loathe people of any color – just poor people). so, no, bush is not a nazi. he is a third-world strongman and petty dictator that happens to have a first-world military machine at his disposal.

adolf hitler on benito mussolini, mein kampf

I conceived the profoundest admiration for the great man south of the Alps, who, full of ardent love for his people, made no pacts with the enemies of Italy, but strove for their annihilation by all ways and means.

bin laden doesn’t need weapons of mass destruction to destroy america; he only needs united states president george w. bush.

posted by roj at 9:45 pm  

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

happy birthday, ben

rock on, old man

“sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor liberty to purchase power”

posted by roj at 12:01 am  

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hugh Thompson


posted by roj at 2:10 pm  
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