Saturday, January 14, 2006

Sam is the Man

Sam Ponders His Future
Judge Samuel A. Alito, jr. sailed smoothly through his confirmation process earlier this week; the Democrats barely laid a glove on him, while the Republicans chided the Dems - particularly Sen. Kennedy - for his “brutal questioning.”

Excuse me – brutal? Kennedy didn’t even muster the passion of a county prosecutor trying a dog bite case. And this man Alito could be the tipping point over which this country falls into the dark pit of fascism.

Regardless of the piss-poor performance of the Democrats in the confirmation hearings, Alito looks to be confirmed. But does this relieve the Democratic Senators from their obligation to vote No on the floor, when his nomination comes to the full vote of the Senate?

Bear in mind that this man will sit on the highest court of the land for the rest of his life. His views regarding presidential prerogatives – as evidenced in his apparent belief in a so-called “unitary executive,” his firmly and clearly stated belief that there is no Constitutional right to an abortion, and his long record of favoring corporations over individual workers in labor disputes, is another step in the consolidation of executive power, and another paving brick on the road to fascism in America.

For the last five years, Democrats, both in the House and the Senate, have been spineless. Perhaps they are still in shock from having lost the majority, perhaps they falsely believe that Republicans are still a party of compassion, perhaps they are thinking that the corruption, the deal-making, the presumption of presidential supremacy in the war on terror, that all these things, and more, are par for the course. They think that maybe their day will come again, “what goes around will come around,” but that’s all delusions, and frankly, based on the evidence, irrational thinking.

The Republicans have gained life and death power over this republic, and they won’t let go unless and until it is dynamited away from them. They maintain their positions through the application of obscene amounts of money garnered from corporate political donations and from the purses of white, bigoted fundamentalist religious wackos, almost in equal measure.

Worried citizens, including growing numbers of registered Republicans, are pissed off by this Congress and this president: they don’t want this war in Iraq any more - if they ever wanted it at all, and they don’t want the government - local, state or federal – in their bedrooms, and they definitely don’t want strangers listening in on their private telephone calls. Over sixty percent of Americans support the right to an abortion, more support the right to access to contraceptives, everyone supports the idea of better health care and education, and the average citizen couldn’t give a shit less about state’s rights when it comes to fixing the goddam freeways, and millions are coming to the realization that corporate off shoring is driving this country into third world economic status.

If Democrats wish to retain their seats come the fall elections, and if have any sense of decency left at all- mindful of their constituents’ wishes and demands - they will as a body vote No against Alito.

Will this block his ascension to the bench? No, it won’t; the Republicans have a simple majority and that is all that is needed. However, by voting No, the Dems will at least have sent a message to their disenheartened constituents that they are on the case, that they are mindful of the dreadful problems of an out-of-control and corrupt Republican majority and the looming monarchial presidency and are trying to fix those problems.

But here’s the bottom line: we voters are watching you. If you don’t get it right this time, there will be no next time. There are lots of people standing in line to take your seats come November.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Media under fire

As many reporters have pointed out, it’s not safe on the ground in Iraq for journalists, embedded or not. As a reflection of that fact, the number of reporters stationed in Iraq has dwindled from an all time high just after the invasion of about 1000 to a mere 100 or so now. Additionally, most have confined their reporting to brief ventures out of the Green Zone, fearful that even a visit to a friendly quarter may result in an assault by so-called insurgents or even American troops as seen below. is concerned that coverage of the war will wane further as the administration's slight of hand in shuffling troops begins and corporate media attention plummets further.

Reporters Sans Frontiers sums up the year for the media around the world:

- 63 journalists and 5 media assistants were killed
- at least 807 journalists were arrested
- 1,308 physically attacked or threatened
- and 1,006 media outlets censored

Bush’s war on journalists continues

Say what you will about Goat Boy, at least he’s consistent -- his war on journalists continues apace. Just yesterday, the UK Guardian reported that Ali Hadhil, an award-winning Iraqi native journalist and video documentarian had his house crashed into in the middle of the night by US forces, scaring the bejesus out of his wife and children, while he was hooded, cuffed and dragged off to local US military HQ, where he was asked a bunch of BS questions before being released. From the UK Guardian:

American troops in Baghdad yesterday blasted their way into the home of an Iraqi journalist working for the Guardian and Channel 4, firing bullets into the bedroom where he was sleeping with his wife and children.

Ali Fadhil, who two months ago won the Foreign Press Association young journalist of the year award, was hooded and taken for questioning. He was released hours later.

Dr Fadhil is working with Guardian Films on an investigation for Channel 4's Dispatches programme into claims that tens of millions of dollars worth of Iraqi funds held by the Americans and British have been misused or misappropriated.

Tell me again how we are bringing “freedoms” to the Iraqi people? I don't think I heard you right the first time, Goat Boy.

Monday, January 09, 2006

McCain and the Prez toe off

There's been a lot of discussion recently concerning the president's use of "signing statements." These basically are written statements by the President on his view as to the intent of the law that he is signing. Cynics, such as myself, view them as excuses for Bush's vapid response to the efforts of Sen John McCain to attach an amendment to the budget bill, explicating and emphasizing "no to torture." As Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe puts it:

WASHINGTON -- When President Bush last week signed the bill outlawing the torture of detainees, he quietly reserved the right to bypass the law under his powers as commander in chief.

After approving the bill last Friday, Bush issued a ''signing statement" -- an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law -- declaring that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. This means Bush believes he can waive the restrictions, the White House and legal specialists said.

''The executive branch shall construe [the law] in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President . . . as Commander in Chief," Bush wrote, adding that this approach ''will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President . . . of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks."

Some legal specialists said yesterday that the president's signing statement, which was posted on the White House website but had gone unnoticed over the New Year's weekend, raises serious questions about whether he intends to follow the law.

With his signing statement, Bush is putting Congress on notice that he will ignore the law when and if he choses, which is most of the time. From 1993, a statement from the Department of Justice, with their take on signing statements. See what you think.

Responding forcefully, Senator John McCain’s office issued the following:

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Jan 04, 2006

“We believe the President understands Congress’s intent in passing by very large majorities
legislation governing the treatment of detainees included in the 2006 Department of Defense Appropriations and Authorization bills. The Congress declined when asked by administration officials to include a presidential waiver of the restrictions included in our legislation. Our Committee intends through strict oversight to monitor the Administration’s implementation of the new law.”

However, with McCain's statement, the Senator is putting Goat Boy on notice that Congress is watching him, so look out. We'll see.