Monday, December 19, 2005


It's an American war; Bush still king

*****CORRECTION CORRECTION***** The president did NOT say, as I complained below, "The fact that we're having this press conference is helping the enemy," according to a transcript of Monday's press conference.

He said:

THE PRESIDENT: Let me start with the first question. There is a process that goes on inside the Justice Department about leaks, and I presume that process is moving forward. My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy.

Actually, the fact that Bush decided to place himself above the law is what is helping the enemy. They win when we cannibalize our own liberties and institutions.


***UPDATE: Less than 2 hours after I wrote the following, the president was having his press conference Monday morning. I listened to him in the truck, before coming in to work.

Maybe, I thought, yes, maybe the Dems in the Senate have made their point. Maybe they should let up on their opposition to the Patriot Act. They can fix the extremes later.

Then the president started bragging about how reductions in non-military spending were helping the economy, which is bullshit. Low interest rates and construction have kept the economy out of the ditch.

Then I came into the office. Bush was on a TV and I was standing there watching and a coworker walked by and said, "Did he take it back?" Meaning, did he go back on the good things he had to say last night from the Oval Office. "No, not yet," I said, ha ha.

And in the next breath, King George did the equivalent. Refusing to budge on the secret spying of citizens -- and the ignoring of a system set up specifically to guard constitutional liberties -- he actually said:

"The fact that we're having this press conference is helping the enemy."

Karen Hughes slept in this morning.

If I ever say another kind word about the president, somebody slap shit out of me, OK? Y'all on the religious right will understand me when I say, honestly: "I love the president, but hate the presidency."

Now, back to our regularly scheduled, orginal Monday morning blog:


More evidence that Karl Rove is out and that Karen Hughes is back in the saddle again at the White House: President Bush's speech last night from the Oval Office.

"I have a request: do not despair ..."

That ain't Rove talking. It's Bush quoting Hughes through clenched teeth.

It might have been just enough, just in the nick of time.

Those who think poorly of the president will still think poorly of him. Those, like me, who HATE to hate the president, any president, will find reason to give him yet another benefit of the doubt.

But that spying on fellow Americans, not even using the court system set up to allow him to do so, is the kind of arrogance of power that could get him impeached.

In the balancing act of our era, security or liberty -- give me liberty.

Bush is still the leader of the wrong party, and all that implies, in a time when the GOP is as corrupt as, if not more than, it was during U.S. Grant's term.

They should put him in a short yellow White House. But his change of approach, if not change of heart, will get me and some others off his backside for awhile -- at least through Christmas.

This country needs a break from the onslaught. I think I'll take one. With Imus off this week, I have no need to turn on any TV "news" channel, which means I'll be getting my information from more reliable print sources.

In the meantime, thank God for John McCain for having the balls to stand up to the Bush machine. It's his war, too.

Thank God for John Murtha for expressing the courage of his experienced convictions. It's his war, too.

And thank God even for Cindy Sheehan, whose lone voice served its own purpose when no one else had any damn balls. It's her war, too.

Bush started it. But it's our war, too, which the president seemed to at least acknowledge last night. And it will take all of us to work through it -- hawks and doves, Repubs and Dems. And mamas.

I've read my last assertion that those who oppose the war, or the president, are anti-American. People who think so truly are delusional and do not deserve my attention.

This is an American war. All Americans have a stake in it, and a voice in how to proceed.


As usual, I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks, as circumstances -- the whatever comes out of the president's mouth next -- warrant.
I don't like the president personally or professionally, but I have to admit that there is something to the "helping the enemy" comment. Right after 9/11, I heard some military planners (who wanted to speak to the media about this topic) refer to the new "battlespace," an update to what used to be called the "battlefield." It includes cyberspace and it includes the information space. In other words, the enemy is attacking us at our very strength -- the open society. It seems to me we could fight back without using traditional warfare on the ground, but that's just me.
Having once had a close and intimate relationship with the agency the president has misused, I can tell you that they will not be happy with the open disclosure of their activity. It is their history however not to take it out on the press, but on the leaker. In that they have some of the best ever covert people on earth, it is not to hard for them to do. Notice nothing in the construction of this message will likely trigger a computerized trace. That is the type of thing that is being delt with here.
This is a watershed moment in American History, for you historians watch it carefully.
Having the NSA violate the 1978 act passed by Congress that limited their internal signal intelleigence spying will be the straw that does Bush in. It no longer matters who is taking care of his back, Rove or Hughes, they will be brushed aside and delt with.
The Supreme Court has already found what Bush has done to be illegal, and has upheld the 1978 statute. It is not, if he committed a crime?; he did commit a Federal Felony and then dares anyone to do anything about it.
Least possible reprocussions:
He loses control of the Iraqi War to Congress.
He will not get any nominations passed to the Supreme Court Passed.
No presidential initiative will pass Congress.
He will mumble and bumble for the next three years at the expense of America.
None of this is good or desirable.
I really wish he had not done this.
God have mercy on you Mr. President for no one else is going to.
Told you so about Cindy Sheehan.

Re. anon's comments: of course an open society contains some inherent risks. Then again, nothing is risk free, and in theory we Americans are supposed to believe that the benefits of liberty and an informed populace outweigh the drawbacks. At this point, I'm not sure all of us do any more.
It's really amazing. I think he got up this morning resenting the things someone else made him say last night.

Congress was already flexing its muscles. He has all but invited them to take over -- and you're right. That can't be good.

What a damn choice: War by king or war by committee.
You know what's so damn stupid about all of this; not only could Bush have done this with a court order within the US, but he could simply ask our three signal inteligence allies to do this kind of work for him in that there is not law that stops them at all. GCHQ in Brittan, CGCHQ in Canada, and the DSD in Australia can electronically spy within the US all they care to, and then they tell us what they find, after all we share everything in SIGINT with them. Just think of it as outsourcing our internal spying.
Another thought:
It seems that several house and senate members of both parties knew about this breech of law. It also seems that several White House and NSA staff may have testified before Congress that this wasn't happening with full knowledge that it was. What happens now? Do we turn a blind eye to their complicy?
Agents' Visit Chills UMass Dartmouth Senior
By Aaron Nicodemus
The Standard-Times
Saturday 17 December 2005

New Bedford - A senior at UMass Dartmouth was
visited by federal agents two months ago, after he
requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism
called "The Little Red Book."

Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian
Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student
told them he requested the book through the UMass
Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.

The student, who was completing a research paper
on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on
fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the
request, leaving his name, address, phone number and
Social Security number. He was later visited at his
parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the
Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.

The professors said the student was told by the
agents that the book is on a "watch list," and that
his background, which included significant time
abroad, triggered them to investigate the student

"I tell my students to go to the direct source,
and so he asked for the official Peking version of the
book," Professor Pontbriand said. "Apparently, the
Department of Homeland Security is monitoring
inter-library loans, because that's what triggered the
visit, as I understand it."

Although The Standard-Times knows the name of the
student, he is not coming forward because he fears
repercussions should his name become public. He has
not spoken to The Standard-Times.

The professors had been asked to comment on a
report that President Bush had authorized the National
Security Agency to spy on as many as 500 people at any
given time since 2002 in this country.

The eavesdropping was apparently done without

The Little Red Book, is a collection of quotations
and speech excerpts from Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung.

In the 1950s and '60s, during the Cultural
Revolution in China, it was required reading. Although
there are abridged versions available, the student
asked for a version translated directly from the
original book.

The student told Professor Pontbriand and Dr.
Williams that the Homeland Security agents told him
the book was on a "watch list." They brought the book
with them, but did not leave it with the student, the
professors said.

Dr. Williams said in his research, he regularly
contacts people in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other
Muslim hot spots, and suspects that some of his calls
are monitored.

"My instinct is that there is a lot more
monitoring than we think," he said. Dr. Williams said
he had been planning to offer a course on terrorism
next semester, but is reconsidering, because it might
put his students at risk. "I shudder to think of all
the students I've had monitoring al-Qaeda Web sites,
what the government must think of that," he said. "Mao
Tse-Tung is completely harmless."
Impeach them and let God sort them out.
Damn it all to hell. I was all set to watch nothing but old movies and the Western Channel this week. ...
Wonder if all this is a set-up to it coming out that Bush leaked Valerie Plame's name?
Well, that's a little out there. ... But if so, he'd claim it was his prerogative as commander-in-chief, and, according to his own reckoning, he'd be ... right.
So we are not a nation of Laws. The president can do what he wants to? What is good for the goose in charge, can not be denied the geese in general. If that is his choice then who can argue.
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