Tuesday :: Jan 24, 2006

The Power To Win

by pessimist

"Those who expect to reap the blessing of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

There is some question about whether or not Americans would understand this comment from Thomas Paine, for we seem to have a different notion about what it means to be a man nowadays.

But that topic will be another post. This one looks at a much more pressing matter - Our freedoms are at risk from Bu$hco predations:

The Power of One

Of all the bullying insults to democracy, George W. Bush, a man who has shown utter contempt for the rule of law and civilized governance, is about to pack the Supreme Court with a majority who will grant him the powers of a king. It is a concept that disdains democracy, that finds no support in the Constitution, and that destroys our system of checks and balances.

George Bush has broken the law and signaled in every way that he intends to keep doing it -- and to ignore the rule of law whenever he sees fit. He and Cheney are showing daily contempt for Congress and packing the Supreme Court with supporters of the "Unitary Executive," or dictatorship.

This observation isn't just that of a lefty blogger, but is shared across the political spectrum":

Several members of Congress from both parties have questioned whether the warrantless snooping is legal. That is because it bypasses a special federal court that, by law, must authorize eavesdropping on Americans and because the president provided limited notification to only a few lawmakers. "We can be strong and operate under the rule of law," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
"These are not mutually exclusive principles — they are the principles upon which our nation was founded."

Even the Multinational Corporate Media isn't particularly willing to allow Bu$hco the unfettered power it seeks. The Washington Post put it this way:

[T]here is a major difference between claiming such inherent presidential power and stretching it -- too far in our view -- to conclude that, when Congress has spoken on an issue, the president is free to ignore that legislative action. [T]he proper way to handle that -- which the administration rejected -- would have been to seek changes in the law, not to do a stealthy end run around the legislative process.
In such an amorphous, long-running conflict as the war against terrorism, it's critical to ensure that limits are in place to prevent the executive branch from overreaching.

Such as declaring that all rights enjoyed by the citizens of the United States are rescindable gifts granted through the generousity of King George?

So it would seem:

The End of 'Unalienable Rights'

After a 230-year run, the 'unalienable rights' – as enunciated by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and the Founding Fathers – are history.
No one, it seems, wants to give up on the most memorable passage of the Declaration of Independence, that "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Today, however, these truths are no longer "self-evident," nor are the rights "unalienable." They depend on the beneficence and generosity of George W. Bush.
Today, Americans have rights only at George W. Bush’s forbearance.

Under new legal theories – propounded by Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito and other right-wing jurists – Bush effectively holds all power over all Americans.

* He can spy on anyone he wants without a court order;
* he can throw anyone into jail without due process;
* he can order torture or other degrading treatment regardless of
 a new law enacted a month ago;
* he can launch wars without congressional approval;
* he can assassinate people whom he deems to be the enemy even if he
 knows that innocent people, including children, will die, too.
But the crucial question now is whether the American political system will acquiesce to Bush’s historic power grab – or resist it.
Most Americans probably won’t even notice their altered status, from citizens to subjects.
Despite his assertion of unlimited power, Bush surely will not interfere in the lives of most Americans; just the small number who somehow get in his way.

Those who oppose are being subjected to the very legal violations they protest against in the effort to stifle all dissent against Bu$hco.

When we were growing up, back in the Age Before Dinosaurs when dirt still showed its manufacturing inspection stamps, we were told of instances of people being spied upon by their government, either Nazi Germany or any of the communist nations, but we were assured most solumnly by our instructors that "It can't happen here!" because of our Constitutional guarantees of freedom and liberty.

But when King George decreed that "The Constitution is only a piece of paper", that was intended to end all debate against the sovereign, and to open the doorway to the suppression of disloyal subjects:

U.S. accused of spying on those who disagree with Bush policies
BY WILLIAM E. GIBSON, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Jan. 20, 2006

Richard Hersh, of Boca Raton, Fla., director of Truth Project Inc. of Palm Beach County, told an ad hoc panel of House Democrats that his group and others in South Florida have been infiltrated and spied upon despite having no connections to terrorists. "Agents rummaged through the trash, snooped into e-mails, packed Web sites and listened in on phone conversations," Hersh charged. "We know that address books and activist meeting lists have disappeared."

To Hersh and some members of Congress, the warrant-less surveillance and Talon are all a part of domestic-spying operations that threaten civil liberties of average Americans and put dissenters under a cloud of suspicion. "Neither you nor anybody in that (Quaker) church had anything to do with terrorism," said Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla. "The fact is, the Truth Project may have a philosophy that is adverse to the political philosophy and goals of the president of the United States. And as a result of that different philosophy, the president and the secretary of defense ordered that your group be spied upon.

"There should not be a single American who today remains confident that it couldn't happen to them."

The labored illogical - and clearly false - legal excuses of justification continue to flow from Bu$hCo:

Defending Spy Program, General Reveals Shaky Grip on 4th Amendment

General Michael Hayden, principal deputy director of National Intelligence with the Office of National Intelligence, appeared to be unfamiliar with the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when pressed by a reporter with Knight Ridder's Washington office--despite his claims that he was actually something of an expert on it.

Why should he know anything about the document he swore an oath to protect and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic?

Jonathan Landay, a well-regarded investigative reporter for Knight Ridder, noted that Gen. Hayden repeatedly referred to the Fourth Amendment's search standard of "reasonableness" without mentioning that it also demands "probable cause." Hayden seem to deny that the amendment included any such thing, or was simply ignoring it.

Here's the Fourth Amendment: "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."

Bu$hco is on the wrong side of the issue based on opinion polling:

A new Gallup poll released Monday showed that 51% of Americans said the administration was wrong to intercept conversations involving a party inside the U.S. without a warrant.

In response to another question, 58% said they support the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the program.

All of this begs the question, asked by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert:

Who Will Stand Up for the Constitution?

I find it peculiar that an awful lot of Americans who would be outraged by the burning of the American flag are positively sanguine about the trampling of the Constitution.
Americans do not seem especially concerned about this incredible affront to the integrity of the government and the rule of law. The attitude of a slender majority seems to be that if the likes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney see fit to dismantle the heretofore sacred system of checks and balances, so be it. A Washington Post-ABC News Poll showed that 51 percent of respondents felt that in the fight against terror, it's fine for the government to engage in the warrantless wiretapping of telephone calls and e-mail.
In other words, it's fine for the president to break the law.

"Polls don't matter!" protest the trolls, and yet those who do pay attention and believe that polls matter are realizing that they risk being on the wrong side of public opinion, and they are hesitantly positioning themselves to jump either way as events develop:

McCain: Bush Does Not Have "The Legal Authority To Engage In These Warrantless Wiretaps"

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is the latest addition to a growing list of prominent conservatives — including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) — who have expressed serious concerns about the legality of the program.

Crooks and Liars has the Fox News Sunday interview with McCain on video.

Even the Lapdog Democrats seem to be rousing themselves from their torpor:

"He is the president, not a king," said Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, who was joined by Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and Jack Reed of Rhode Island. Feingold, Levin and Reed said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 already gives the president power to quickly tap phones, intercept e-mails and seek a warrant after the fact.

Several Constitutional scholars like Prof. Susan Low Bloch of Georgetown University see the president’s actions as both unconstitutional and illegal. As professor Bloch indicated in an interview on MSNBC, the president is not specifically empowered to order the secret surveillance by either the Constitution or any existing federal statute. “I think there is a very good argument that he broke the law.”

Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe, expressed doubts about the legality of the surveillance. Such a policy, Tribe said, is illegal "without congressional authorization" and even then would violate the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

All of this has raised the issue of whether the president has committed an impeachable offense. Experts like Prof. Bloch point out that, while the conduct may be unconstitutional and illegal, impeachment is a harsh term to use at this stage before hearings are held and the matter is probed in greater detail.

[H]owever, more fuel was added to the fire when U.S. District Judge James Robertson resigned from a special court set up to oversee a government surveillance in protest of President Bush’s secret authorization of warrantless domestic spying on individuals. According to The Washington Post, the resignation was prompted by Judge Robertson’s concern that the surveillance program that Bush authorized was legally questionable and may have tainted the work of the court.

Impeachment may even make it to the national agenda:

Impeachment hearings: The White House prepares for the worst

The Bush administration is bracing for impeachment hearings in Congress. "A coalition in Congress is being formed to support impeachment," an administration source said.

On Jan. 16, former Vice President Al Gore set the tone for impeachment hearings against Mr. Bush by accusing the president of lying to the American people. "A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government," Mr. Gore said. "I call upon members of Congress in both parties to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution," he said. "Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of American government that you are supposed to be under the constitution of our country."

Sources said a prelude to the impeachment process could begin with hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. They said the hearings would focus on the secret electronic surveillance program and whether Mr. Bush violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Sources said the probe to determine whether the president violated the law will include Republicans.

Sen. Arlen Specter, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and Pennsylvania Republican, has acknowledged that the hearings could conclude with a vote of whether Mr. Bush violated the law. Mr. Specter, a critic of the administration’s surveillance program, stressed that, although he would not seek it, impeachment is a possible outcome. "Impeachment is a remedy," Mr. Specter said on Jan. 15. "After impeachment, you could have a criminal prosecution. But the principal remedy under our society is to pay a political price."

Mr. Specter and other senior members of the committee have been told by legal constitutional experts that Mr. Bush did not have the authority to authorize unlimited secret electronic surveillance.

Impeachment proponents in Congress have been bolstered by a memorandum by the Congressional Research Service on Jan. 6. CRS, which is the research arm of Congress, asserted in a report by national security specialist Alfred Cumming that the amended 1947 law requires the president to keep all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees "fully and currently informed" of a domestic surveillance effort. It was the second CRS report in less than a month that questioned the administration's domestic surveillance program.

The latest CRS report said Mr. Bush should have briefed the intelligence committees in the House and Senate. The report said covert programs must be reported to House and Senate leaders as well as the chairs of the intelligence panels, termed the "Gang of Eight."

Administration sources said the charges are expected to include false reports to Congress as well as Mr. Bush's authorization of the National Security Agency to engage in electronic surveillance inside the United States without a court warrant. This included the monitoring of overseas telephone calls and e-mail traffic to and from people living in the United States without requisite permission from a secret court. The law limits the government surveillance to no more than 72 hours without a court warrant.

The president, citing his constitutional war powers, has pledged to continue wiretaps without a warrant.

Even the bloviating windbangs who bluster with John McGlaughlin are taking the talk of impeachment seriously:

VIDEO - McLaughlin Group Tackles Growing Impeachment Calls

Three Questions:
* Can negative perceptions of the Bush Admin. suppress the "Rove base" while motivating the anti-Bush crowds at the polls?

* Can this country conduct fair and untainted national elections?

* If the answer to #2 is "no" then does #1 really matter?

David Swanson of http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/ AfterDowningStreet.org/CensureBush.org sends us these thoughts on the video:
Just as we forced the Downing Street Minutes into the news, we are forcing impeachment into the news. Millions of Americans deserve credit for forcing the I word into the media. The clip that McClaughlin plays from the Murtha-Moran town hall forum doesn't show either of them saying a word. Rather it shows the hundreds of us who were packed in the room cheering for impeachment. The quote McLaughlin reads from Al Gore is not from his speech, but from his response to a reporter's question afterwards on the topic of impeachment -- what people in the room were promoting with flyers and shouts.

Steve Thomma of Knight Ridder says in this clip that he receives 20-50 Emails a day supporting impeachment and that he thinks they're organized. He's right. They're organized here.

And Congress will follow.

Video in Streaming Flash format

Video in Windows Media format

Personally, I have doubts that Bu$hCo would willing submit to these hearings or any conclusion they arrive at. They have presented the case that when the nation is at war, Hizz Hindni$$ has no restraints upon his exercise of power - from anyone! I can see where they will use the excuse that Iran's intransigence over its nuclear program offer's them to beat the war drum and reclaim the wandering sheep that have strayed from the Red State flock through the use of an attack against the Teheran government. Any 'dissent' would be harshly suppressed as treason in time of war, and any such dissent might well be considered sufficient justification for the declaration of martial law - especially if George calls his buddy Osama and makes the arrangements for another Al Qaeda attack in America.

It isn't such a stretch to believe that this could happen:

The Bush/Laden Symbiosis

Like the symbiotic relationship that exists when birds feed off ticks burrowed into the hides of rhinos, the Bush/Laden symbiosis may be entirely unspoken and even unintentional. But there can be little doubt that Bush has raised bin-Laden’s stature among radical Islamists while bin-Laden has helped Bush consolidate his authoritarian powers inside the United States.

[J]ust as public skepticism about Bush’s exercise of authority was approaching critical mass, Osama bin-Laden resurfaced on Jan. 19 in a new audiotape sent to al-Jazeera TV, ending more than a year of silence. The latest bin-Laden audiotape also continues a long – and curious – symbiotic relationship between the Bush family and the bin-Ladens, dating back to Bush’s days as a young businessman.

* In 1979, Bush’s friend James Bath was the sole U.S. business representative for Salem bin-Laden, scion of the wealthy Saudi bin-Laden family and Osama’s half-brother. While fronting for Salem bin-Laden, Bath helped bankroll Bush’s first company, Arbusto Energy, by investing $50,000 for a five percent stake.

* In the 1980s, Osama bin-Laden established himself as an Islamic fighter by battling side-by-side with Afghan rebels whose guerrilla war against the Soviet Army and its surrogates was staunchly supported by George H.W. Bush, first as vice president and then as president.

By the late 1990s, bin-Laden had become recognized as a major terrorist threat against the United States. Still, when the CIA warned George W. Bush on Aug. 6, 2001, that bin-Laden was determined "to strike in U.S.," Bush went fishing and continued a month-long vacation, failing to rally the government to examine available clues and tighten security.

A little more than a month later, on Sept. 11, 2001, when hijacked planes crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, the senior George Bush and members of the bin-Laden family were participating in a Carlyle Group investment meeting in Washington.

In the days that followed, as George W. Bush’s Justice Department rounded up hundreds of Arab cab drivers and other Muslims on minor visa violations, the bin-Ladens were spirited out of the United States after only cursory questioning. [For details, see interviews with Craig Unger, author of House of Bush, House of Saud - ed.]

Ironically, too, Bush’s accumulation of power since the Sept. 11 attacks has gone hand-in-hand with his failures connected to Osama bin-Laden. For instance, if Bush had finished off al-Qaeda’s leaders in Afghanistan in late 2001 and early 2002, he would have a weaker foundation for his new authority now.

By letting bin-Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders escape when they apparently were cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora, Bush kept alive a plausible scenario for additional al-Qaeda attacks inside the United States and thus the justification for his unrestrained powers as Commander in Chief.

The escape from the Americans in Afghanistan helped bin-Laden, too. He emerged as a folk hero to many Islamists.

By invading Iraq in 2003, Bush breathed more life into his presidential powers. But another winner was bin-Laden, who exploited Islamic resentment about the Iraq War to recruit new terrorist cadre and train them in direct conflict with American soldiers.

Just as Bush’s boasts about getting bin-Laden "dead or alive" boosted the Saudi’s standing with radical jihadists, bin-Laden’s public hostility to Bush has helped the president’s standing with the American people at key junctures.

In fall 2004, when Bush was locked in a tight race with Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, bin-Laden released a videotape that conservative pundits billed as Osama’s endorsement of Kerry, a development that predictably helped Bush gain ground in the campaign’s closing days.

Now, as Bush faces increased U.S. public skepticism about the Iraq War and his accretion of powers, bin-Laden shows up again with a statement that calls on the United States to admit defeat in Iraq and threatens new terror attacks on U.S. soil.

Not surprisingly, the reaction of many Americans to the bin-Laden tape is to harden their commitment to keep U.S. troops in Iraq – the outcome that both bin-Laden and Bush favor, albeit for different reasons.

Bin-Laden’s warning of a new terrorist assault also stokes the fears of Americans who are likely to react by giving Bush greater leeway in the War on Terror.

A day after bin-Laden’s audiotape was aired, Bush’s chief political adviser Karl Rove signaled that the Republicans would again try to ride the War on Terror to another round of victories in November 2006.

Assuming that they feel confident enough in Diebold to risk having an election at all.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely - and under Bu$hCo, America has become absolutely corrupted, almost to the point of being unrecognizable.

The time is short if we are to save our nation from tyranny. You must contact your representatives in the Congress and urge them to reclaim their prerogatives from the self-appointed King of the United States.

Congressional phone directory
Congressional FAX directory
Congressional email addresses
Congressional snail mail addresses [NOTE: you need to select your representative from the list before you can get the snail mail address!]

Be civil, be concise, but be firm. They need to act NOW or the country is in great peril.

And you might remeind them of their self-interests in this matter. An absolute ruler doesn't need a legislature to second-guess his decisions. King George could decide one day that he doesn't need their interference in his affairs and order them to be disolved.

Why then would the lobbyists even care about legislators if they no longer have any power?

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