Another Talking Point Destroyed


Knight Ridder just picked up Glenn Greenwald's post about NSA spying and how in 2002 the Justice Dept said they did not want the changes that they now claim were so essential.

In 2002, Justice Department said eavesdropping law working well

WASHINGTON - A July 2002 Justice Department statement to a Senate committee appears to contradict several key arguments that the Bush administration is making to defend its eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without court warrants.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law governing such operations, was working well, the department said in 2002. A "significant review" would be needed to determine whether FISA's legal requirements for obtaining warrants should be loosened because they hampered counterterrorism efforts, the department said then.

President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other top officials now argue that warrantless eavesdropping is necessary in part because complying with the FISA law is too burdensome and impedes the government's ability to rapidly track communications between suspected terrorists.

The research being done by bloggers these days is stunning.

Fighting For Your Vote

Diebold says it OWNS your vote.
via Lisa Demer
Anchorage Daily News

The state Division of Elections has refused to turn over its electronic voting files to the Democrats, arguing that the data format belongs to a private company and can't be made public. The Alaska Democratic Party says the information is a public record essential for verifying the accuracy of the 2004 general election and must be provided.

The official vote results from the last general election are riddled with discrepancies and impossible for the public to make sense of, the Democrats said Monday. A detailed analysis of the underlying data could answer lingering questions about an election many thought was over more than a year ago, they say.

"Basically what they say is they want to give us a printout from the (electronic) file. They don't want to give us the file itself. It doesn't enable us to get to the bottom of what we need to know," said Kay Brown, spokeswoman for the party. .....

Democrats also contend more than 2,000 Alaskans cast valid absentee ballots that weren't counted in official totals. Unless they get the entire file, they won't be able to understand what caused the "bizarre and inaccurate reports" from Alaska's 2004 election, they say.

"These votes belong to us," Brown said. "These are all public record. It's wrong that a contractor like Diebold can keep us from seeing the record."

It's way past time for Congressional hearings on voting systems. If there's ONE issue that Democrats should jump on and own it's this issue. It would also be fun watching the GOP take the other side of this issue.

Laughter Training Specialist

Astounding... Your tax dollars hard at work.
Finally some real help for our military families from this administration.

Pentagon to families: Go ahead, laugh

When the stress of the war in Iraq becomes too severe, the Pentagon has a suggestion for military families: Learn how to laugh. With help from the Pentagon's chief laughter instructor, families of National Guard members are learning to walk like a penguin, laugh like a lion and blurt "ha, ha, hee, hee and ho, ho."

No joke.

"I laugh every chance I get," says the instructor, retired Army colonel James "Scotty" Scott. "That's why I'm blessed to be at the Pentagon, where we definitely need a lot of laughter in our lives."

Scott, 57, is certified as a laughter training specialist by the Ohio-based World Laughter Tour, a group that promotes mirth as medicine. It touts scientific research that suggests chuckling can boost the body's immune system and decrease stress hormones.

There's funny and then there's not so funny.... I ain't laughin'.

The Power Grab From Hell

Unitary Executive Authority

I'll be waiting for hour-long shows on prime time Corporate Media Outlets (CMOs) to explain why the Bush Administration is completely changing how American laws are written and carried out. Since 2002 George Bush has been adding a "Signing Statement" to many of the bills (~90) that have been passed through Congress and signed by him. These Signing Statements are published all over the White House website as kind of "riders" to the signitures to the bills passed and signed.

Signing Statements have been used in the past by other Presidents but it was mainly meant to layout the Presidents understanding of what the bill meant. The Signing Statements added in by George Bush however are different. They are written in legalese but basically say that even though he has signed this bill he is not bound by anything in it. This is the first time this term the unitary executive branch is used.
It usually reads something like this:

Further, the executive branch shall construe section 1913 as amended in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to conduct the Nation's foreign affairs, to supervise the unitary executive branch, and to recommend to the consideration of the Congress such measures as the President shall judge necessary and expedient.

or another version...

The executive branch shall construe this provision in a manner consistent with the constitutional authorities of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch.

Sometime back in 2002 Bush and his laywers started using this language to redefine the Presidential powers. The theory is basically like this:

Several scholars have recently rearticulated the "unitary executive theory" of Article II, arguing that Article II vests the power to execute federal law solely in the President of the United States. Unitarians do not maintain that the President must personally execute all laws; Congress may establish an administrative bureaucracy and identify particular officials to assist the President in carrying out legislatively prescribed tasks. But, unitarians argue, such officials must always remain subject to the President's direction. On the surface, this unitary executive theory appears to be implicated when Congress conscripts or even authorizes state officials to implement federal programs. Unless these state officials are subject to presidential supervision, Congress violates Article II by cutting the President out of the execution loop. Thus, principles of separation of powers, in addition to principles of federalism, govern the validity of state administration of federal law.
There's been quite a bit written in the legal community about it but in laymen terms it means that the President is not bound by any laws that limits his power. It's an incredible statement. The President basically becomes the unquestionable Ruler without any laws that can control his actions. This is a slap in the face to a country bound by the rule of law and the antithesis to the separation of powers that is built into our Constitution.

  • Here's a paper (PDF Format) written last year by Chrisopher Kelley on the subject.
  • (I've converted it to a Word Doc here
  • Raw Story has a good write up on this.
  • Great post by Media Watch on the subject.

    Alito Watch: - Samuel Alito is one of the formost advocates of expanding presidential power. I hope that the Senators on the review committee bring this subject up. It's a great opportunity to get this out in the open and into public discourse.
    It's a discussion that can define our country.

  • Linch Pin Emily

    Read about Emily Miller and how she may have been the start of the unraveling of DeLay, Scanlon, Abramoff and the GOP.

    Wild story.... True?... Maybe.
    Someone should buy up her story lickity split.

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