Tuesday, October 31, 2006

En Fuego

So: the Democratic Party can taste it! The times, they are a-changin'! Well and good, if you are primarily a partisan. But if you oppose the Works of Dubya on principle, rather than just because the Pubbies are the ones doing them, here comes Arthur Silber with some water for your fire:
Point One: Even though they had several years to prepare for the battle, the Democrats offered only last-minute opposition to the Military Commissions Act. Their campaign against this abomination -- what Jim Bovard accurately calls "the torture/dictatorship law" -- was completely ineffectual. This law guts the basis of our now-dead constitutional republic in as fundamental manner as possible, and the Democrats and their supporters barely even mention it any longer. Assuming they have majorities in both houses, will the Democrats repeal this vomitous legislation? No, they will not. Their eyes are upon 2008. God forbid that their opponents will be able to accuse them of being "soft" on terrorists, or of depriving the executive branch of the "tools" it allegedly needs to fight our enemies.

I'm sure some will tell me that the Democrats are being "smart" politically. They can't talk about repealing the Military Commisions Act now, but all will be well once they're back in control. If I had any money, I'd bet a very large sum that this delusional belief is complete crap. We'll find out soon enough. If I'm wrong, I will apologize profusely for my cynicism. In fact, I think I am merely being realistic. The Democrats have given no one any reason at all to believe they will seek to eradicate this atrocity from the books. Given the fact that this legislation has already vanished from public discussion entirely, it doesn't even appear that the Democrats begin to appreciate its momentous importance.


Point Two: We will still be in Iraq in two years, and probably in five, and even ten. The Democrats will do nothing to speed up our exit from this immoral and illegitimate invasion and occupation. Howard Dean announced as much yesterday. (It helps that Rahm Emanuel made sure that only prowar Democrats were running in the first place.) And take a look at the Kerry-Feingold Amendment. In touting this amendment -- which garnered all of 13 Senatorial votes, contemplate the blinding glory of it! -- Kerry's website proclaims:

"It is essential to fight to set a date to withdraw American forces. That’s why this June with Russ Feingold, we fought for an up or down vote on the Kerry-Feingold amendment to withdraw US combat forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007. We made it clear that our soldiers have done their job. It is time for Iraqis to do their job – it’s time for Iraqis to stand up for Iraq. It’s time for Iraqis to want democracy for themselves as much as we want it for them. Click here to read our plan."

I have commented before on the absolutely nauseating paternalism, condescension and arrogance conveyed by statements such as this one: "It's time for Iraqis to want democracy for themselves as much as we want it for them."


Point Three: The Democrats do nothing but ensure the inevitability of an attack on Iran ... Ah, but the Democrats will investigate the Bush administration's endless crimes. The investigations will restore honesty, decency and "true" American values to government. All the universes will be saved! Do people actually believe this nonsense? All such investigations will be exactly like all other government investigations of itself. People seem congenitally incapable of grasping that all politicians are now part of the same corrupt system, which aims only to protect itself and its existing prerogatives, as it simultaneously seeks to expand them. (The exceptions in the political class are so few that they don't matter.) In the end, all such investigations and committee hearings will end just as the 9/11 investigation ended (and any other investigation you care to name): some criticisms will be made, general fault will be found but no one in particular will be condemned in terms that might cause distress, and some new guidelines and regulations will be proposed and enacted. Neither party wants to judge the other too harshly or cause irreparable harm: they don't want to, because they count on the same consideration in return. Both parties are happy to accede to this deal, for it is precisely how their system continues on its merry course, guaranteeing their lives of immense comfort and privilege, together with their hold on power. Many of the rest of us, both here and abroad, will be screwed, maimed or dead -- and just when exactly did that concern the governing class?
In his excellent novel The First Circle, Solzhenitsyn talks about how the functionaries of Stalin's security apparatus tried to look out for other security apparatchiks, when they fell from Stalin's good graces and were themselves arrested. "It's you today, and me tomorrow." Yeah, sure, those triumphant Democrats are going to bring Republican criminals to justice. Su-u-u-uure.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Infinitesimal Value of Voting

I have said (here) that voting for Hayhurst was not an acceptable option for me this time around. Indeed, at various places where I habitually do my online reading, people for whom I have some respect have written some well-reasoned pieces (like this one, or this or this or this) in which they argue that voting is a bad thing to do. I do not altogether agree with these people. Voting is unavailing? True. Voting is psychologically dangerous to the voter, through giving him or her a sense of having "bought into" the result? The potential is certainly there. Voting is a waste of time and effort? That's pretty much correct also, I think; it's certainly a waste of effort that is directed toward bettering one's town, one's county, one's state, or one's country. It only encourages our supervisors to imagine that they have some legitimacy? Too true, and more's the pity. But I've been making another sort of mistake about voting: I've taken it too seriously. I think it's more appropriate to view the act of voting as an entertainment choice. I sometimes pony up some dollars to see a movie, or attend a sporting event. In the narrowest of utilitarian terms, those are wastes of my time and resources; but they occasionally represent a reasonable value in terms of having some fun. I'm choosing to look at voting in the same way. Yes, there is danger that I'll erroneously conclude that, having voted, I'm somehow obliged to "support" the outcome. But I'm tough ... I'll reject that notion.

So, come November 7, I'm not going to vote for Hayhurst. But the voting machine will probably think I did. What I will be doing is taking a minor little swat at Souder. Indeed, I will vote against not only Souder, but against every single Republican that I can. (This, by the way, doesn't mean I'll have to even appear to vote for that prodigious donut-munching virago for sheriff; there's an independent whose name I've forgotten who is said to oppose the Drug War -- what a deal!) I have been assured that a vote for Hayhurst is a vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, leading me to reflect that a vote for Souder is probably a vote for Dennis Hastert, or a pachyderm equivalent, for Speaker. Which leads me to a lengthy piece in Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi which chronicles the quality of Congressional leadership that Mr. Souder's party has been providing. It goes 8,000+ words, but I do recommend it to your reading. Meanwhile, here are a couple of excerpts:
Anyone who wants to get a feel for the kinds of beasts that have been roaming the grounds of the congressional zoo in the past six years need only look at the deranged, handwritten letter that convicted bribe-taker and GOP ex-congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham recently sent from prison to Marcus Stern, the reporter who helped bust him. In it, Cunningham -- who was convicted last year of taking $2.4 million in cash, rugs, furniture and jewelry from a defense contractor called MZM -- bitches out Stern in the broken, half-literate penmanship of a six-year-old put in time-out.

"Each time you print it hurts my family And now I have lost them Along with Everything I have worked for during my 64 years of life," Cunningham wrote. "I am human not an Animal to keep whiping. I made some decissions Ill be sorry for the rest of my life."

The amazing thing about Cunningham's letter is not his utter lack of remorse, or his insistence on blaming defense contractor Mitchell Wade for ratting him out ("90% of what has happed is Wade," he writes), but his frantic, almost epic battle with the English language. It is clear that the same Congress that put a drooling child-chaser like Mark Foley in charge of a House caucus on child exploitation also named Cunningham, a man who can barely write his own name in the ground with a stick, to a similarly appropriate position. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the former chairman of the House Subcommittee on Human Intelligence Analysis and Counterintelligence:

"As truth will come out and you will find out how liablest you have & will be. Not once did you list the positives. Education Man of the Year...hospital funding, jobs, Hiway funding, border security, Megans law my bill, Tuna Dolfin my bill...and every time you wanted an expert on the wars who did you call. No Marcus you write About how I died."

"How liablest you have & will be?" What the fuck does that even mean? This guy sat on the Appropriations Committee for years -- no wonder Congress couldn't pass any spending bills!

This is Congress in the Bush years, in a nutshell -- a guy who takes $2 million in bribes from a contractor, whooping it up in turtlenecks and pajama bottoms with young women on a contractor-provided yacht named after himself (the "Duke-Stir"), and not only is he shocked when he's caught, he's too dumb to even understand that he's been guilty of anything.
CAFTA actually went to vote early -- at 11:02 p.m. When the usual fifteen-minute voting period expired, the nays were up, 180 to 175. Republicans then held the vote open for another forty-seven minutes while GOP leaders cruised the aisles like the family elders from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," frantically chopping at the legs and arms of Republicans who opposed the measure. They even roused the president out of bed to help kick ass for the vote, passing a cell phone with Bush on the line around the House cloakroom like a bong. Rep. Robin Hayes of North Carolina was approached by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who told him, "Negotiations are open. Put on the table the things that your district and people need and we'll get them." After receiving assurances that the administration would help textile manufacturers in his home state by restricting the flow of cheap Chinese imports, Hayes switched his vote to yea. CAFTA ultimately passed by two votes at 12:03 a.m.
Yes, that's the same Dennis Hastert who might be replaced by Nancy Pelosi if Souder's party is deprived of power. Yes, that's the replacement that's supposed to have me wetting my pants with fear. Hmmmm.

I am mindful of the danger of saying that it can't get any worse. I said that during the Clinton regime, and just look what happened. But now, I'll say: it either can't get any worse than this -- or it can, and that will bring on the Revo. In any case, I'm really not voting for Hayhurst. I'm just going to use him to entertain myself, and have a little gnat-bite at the elephant.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bloody Puzzles

I think it's probably pretty safe to assume that when the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee comes to town to speak, that everything he says is a lie. And that's a pity, in some ways. Congresscreature Pete Hoekstra came to town this past Wednesday to address the local elephants, and he covered the usual Imperial bases:
America needs to stay vigilant in the global war against “radical Islamists” to break their will to fight, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., addressed the Allen County Republican Party on Wednesday evening at the group’s annual bean dinner. The dinner serves as a fundraiser for the party and as a way to energize party faithful a few weeks before Election Day.

Hoekstra spoke for about a half-hour and discussed the challenge of fighting a war against an enemy spread across the globe. He mostly discussed the importance of keeping Republicans in power because of the party’s resolve to fight the war – which he believes began in 1979 with the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran – until it ends. He said President Bush has been instrumental in beefing up the U.S.’s spy network after it was reduced during President Clinton’s term.

He also defended Bush’s domestic surveillance program and detainee interrogation programs as necessary to getting information about the enemy.

“We need to destroy the will of radical Islamists to engage the U.S. militarily,” he said.

Hoekstra even said he hoped the U.S. Justice Department would jail newspaper reporters who didn’t divulge their sources for stories that revealed classified information about different intelligence programs.

“They are traitors,” he said.
Ho, hum, the usual bloodthirsty stupidity. But wait -- here comes the good part:
But Hoekstra said to put the Democrats in power would lead not only to a reduction in domestic tax cuts, but a reduction in funding for the efforts to fight the war. He said if the United States were to leave Iraq too early, radical Islamists would equate that to the Soviet Union’s being forced to leave Afghanistan decades ago.
Reduction in war funding if the Dems take power? Now, there's something I wish I could believe. The Democrats, for the most part, say they will continue to prosecute Bush's war, with better and more-efficient management. I'd like to believe they're lying ... but that would require believing that Hoekstra's being truthful. This feels like one of those "liars and truthtellers" brainteaser puzzles. What to believe, what to believe?

Here's what I believe. I believe the fix is in. I believe that no matter which collection of posing puppets nominally is placed (or retained) in power, we're screwed. Is the Revo ever going to get here?

George the Slow and His Debt

The Wee Emperor had a press conference the other day -- a painful experience for all sentient beings, for sure. The Great War Decider took advantage of the occasion to complain yet again about his excessive workload:
I've met too many wives and husbands who've lost their partners in life; too many children who won't ever see their mom and dad again. I owe it to them and to the families who still have loved ones in harm's way to ensure that their sacrifices are not in vain.
No wonder El Supremo spends half his time on vacation. How many wives and husbands and children have you met, O Dread Sovereign? Too many.

Meanwhile, what passes for American public discourse gets crazier and crazier, because of the imperative necessity we feel to tell whopping lies to each other. Some truths are too awful to speak. Here's one, appropriate to the occasion:

Their sacrifices have indeed been in vain.

The only question is: how many more will join those already dead and maimed? Our dolt president assures us that there'll be many, many, many more. You see, he owes it to dead people to provide them with company. And Dubya will pay his debts, if it takes the last drop of your blood to do it.


I am pleased to announce that the repainting of the sanctuary of my church is complete. A bunch of my fellow congregants are at least as pleased about that as I am, since we all spent our evenings the first part of this week doing said painting.

Funny thing about a big painting project. Most of us seldom get involved in painting, so it seems that our painting skills are just starting to get sort of good again when the project is over. That's OK, though ... I'm just glad we're done.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Excuses, Excuses

Accursedly busy this week. Nothing to say anyway. Back in a day or two.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hayhurst on the War: Meet the New Boss

Mr. John Good is the proprietor of Left in Aboite, an excellent blog which -- unlike this one -- gets quite a bit of traffic. Of course, part of that is undoubtedly due to his posting something every day, and several things most days. He's a real blogger, and I'm more what you'd call a real slacker.

Anyway, he was kind enough to leave me a couple of comments on the previous post. In the second, he left the URL for a post on Fort Wayne Left which lays out the Hayhurst position on national security. This was by way of helping me on an extended quest (here, here, here, and here) to find out where Hayhurst stands on The War (on Turr'r, on Afghanistan, on Iraq, etc.). My reason for trying to find out was that the incumbent is the sort of person who more or less demands a good smack in the piehole; I needed to know whether a vote for his opponent is an acceptable act, from my point of view.

It isn't.

The more-substantial part of Mr. Hayhurst's position statement is reproduced below. You can read all of it here; I don't want to waste space on the lighter-than-popcorn parts:
Born of mis-information, built on mistakes, Iraq is a questionable war gone bad.
No, it was never a "questionable war;" it was, from the day the Bush regime first started promoting it (Sept. 12, 2001, if not earlier), nothing more or less than a criminal act.
But it is the war we made in a distant place with people we are now beholden to. We need leaders who will not shrink from this harsh reality. We need leaders who will live up to the values we profess, strive to find a path that protects America's interests, and refuse to flinch as we find a way to bring this mission to an end.
I must interrupt this drizzle of crapola to ask: what the hell does any of this mean? "Beholden to?" I'm guessing, of course, but I betcha that means no immediate end to the war. "Strive to find a path?" Here's an idea, Dr. Hayhurst: find the path first, then describe it concretely, and then ask me to vote for you. "Refuse to flinch?" Again, a code phrase meaning "stay the course," I'd guess, although he doesn't exactly say so. That's the trouble: he doesn't exactly say anything at all.
Debating the merits of going to war in Iraq must not distract us from this conflict's undeniable, horrific realities. We have troops on the ground and a country on the brink of civil war. Our soldiers need our help, and they need a plan. We need leaders in Washington who will demand a strategy that upholds the integrity and stability of Iraq as well as the security of the United States.

When I am in the U. S. Congress, I will:

* Make sure that everything possible is done to defend the citizens of this great country from any threats - whether external or internal.

* Stand firm in our war against terrorism and extremism.

* Work with the international community to stabilize Iraq, establish measurable goals for concluding the war, and promote the rebuilding of the country with Iraqi workers and Iraqi companies.

* Actively promote the adoption and implementation of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, the most concrete way we can make our nation more secure - a nation left vulnerable by five years or wrangling and inaction.
As far as I can tell, the first and fourth bullets mean: even more Department of Homeland Security, TSA, and the rest of the Security State apparatus. Second and third bullets: stay the course, with maybe some marginal tinkering with the details.

Not that any of this matters; Marky Mark's going to get elected yet again. And since Dr. Hayhurst is unwilling to say anything that the Soudermeister couldn't say pretty comfortably himself -- and tries to be sly about it -- there's no way I can vote for him. Not even to hurt Marky's feelings. And believe me, I'd walk far out of my way for a chance to hurt his feelings. As it is, I simply won't be voting in that particular race. In this way, my vote will have exactly the same effect on matters that it always does: none.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sure Hope the Starter's No Good

For some time now, there have been claims that the U.S. military -- or the Army, at least -- is a "broken" force. Spread too thin, lots of people getting out, few (desirable) people joining up, equipment and supplies decimated, and so on and on.

I don't know if it's true or not, since I pretty much live a mushroom's existence at the output end of everyone's misinformation chute, subsisting on info-crap. But I kind of hope it's true ... true in a profound enough way that even the delusionists of the Bush regime can't ignore it.

Why would I hope for such a thing? That's like asking why a man would ever hope his car won't start. He might reasonably hope for that if his teenage son is out with the car, has just gotten staggering drunk, and is about to hop in and buzz the local preschool.

So, am I implying that the U.S. military forces are under the sketchy "control" of the equivalent of drunken teenagers? Yup:
The US has warned that it will back its allies with the full range of its military capability against any threat from North Korea.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said everyone should know that the US would act fully on its defence treaty obligations to Japan and South Korea.

She was speaking in Tokyo on the first leg of an Asian tour to rally support for enforcing the sanctions.

Pyongyang's test has raised concerns over an arms race in the region.

Ms Rice's hastily arranged trip to Japan, South Korea, China and Russia is aimed at rallying support to implement sanctions fully in line with the UN resolution passed last week.

South Korea, and to a greater extent China, are still thought to have concerns over some parts of the new UN sanctions.
So, Americans should be ready and willing to kill and die to further the policy decisions of the Japanese and South Koreans? Or to prevent an "arms race" in Asia? I don't think so.

The only restraint against BushCo's launching yet another Excellent Adventure is the possibility that the car won't start. This illustrates clearly just how far gone things are in our alleged constitutional republic.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Legendary Spit

Everyone knows that soldiers returning from the Vietnam war were spat upon by evil antiwar scruffy-type hippies. Whether it's true or not, everyone knows it anyway. There's an worthwhile interview by Stephen Philion of Jerry Lembke posted at Rockwell today. Mr. Lembke's done some looking into this salivary legend, and has some interesting thoughts to offer.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

We Interrupt the Truly Vital News of the Day ...

Sorry for the interruption. Quick news item: a couple of non-millionaire, non-celebrity, non-pro-athlete-type Americans have ceased to draw breath.
Gunmen kill 9 at Sunni TV station in Baghdad

POSTED: 9:54 a.m. EDT, October 12, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Gunmen stormed the offices of a Sunni satellite TV station Thursday in Baghdad, killing nine people, police said.


Two U.S. soldiers were killed Wednesday in separate incidents.

One was killed and two others wounded in northern Iraq's Tameem province "as a result of enemy action," according to a military statement Thursday.

The dead soldier was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and is a member of Task Force Lightning, the military said.

The other soldier died when a roadside bomb struck his patrol in central Baghdad, the military said.

There have been 39 U.S. military deaths in October. The number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war stands at 2,746. Seven American military contractors also have been killed in the war.
It seems that the names of the two who were killed yesterday are not important enough to claim any of our attention. And -- obviously! -- we can't be wasting any space listing names for the 39 "U.S. military deaths" in October, nor for the seven "military contractors."

Thank you for your patience.

And now we return you to our regular 24-hour wall-to-wall coverage of the tragic death of Cory Lidle. In this hour, we'll reveal the hat size of Cory's Little League coach.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Either Compulsory or Forbidden

From the Washington Post:
Once upon a time, a "monetary architect" named Bernard von NotHaus decided to make his own money.

He put a beautiful Lady Liberty and a majestic flaming torch on the silver and gold coins, and he named them "Liberty Dollars." On his Web site, http://www.libertydollar.org , he said: "It is fun to use REAL money. Liberty Dollars are a proven and profitable currency that protects and grows the purchasing power of your money!"

True story, phony money. So says the U.S. Mint, which would like to remind Liberty Dollar users that since the United States already has its own currency, the only thing Liberty Dollars buy in these parts is a jail term.

Liberty Dollars were coined by von NotHaus and an Evansville, Ind.-based group called Norfed, which stands for (sort of) the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and the Internal Revenue Code. In the late 1990s, the group began hawking its money as a hedge against inflation, and as a way to compete with the Fed. Von NotHaus makes the pitch online, using a raft of statistics and graphs that he says show the greenback is well nigh worthless.

Norfed Executive Director Michael Johnson says the group isn't aiming to overthrow the American monetary system. "We're not locking horns with the Fed. I mean, that's crazy," he said. Norfed simply wants "to offer a solution to the Federal Reserve Note," a.k.a. U.S. dollars.

Norfed struck the first gold- and silver-backed coins -- which, to avoid charges of making its own money it calls "rounds" -- in 1998 at its private mint in Idaho. Today the group claims to have more than $20 million in Liberty coins and notes in circulation, and about 2,500 merchants who accept Liberty Dollars for goods and services from doughnuts to tattoos.

But there's a potentially more sinister side to all this. A 1999 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center calls Norfed a far-right anti-government group that has "long claimed that American dollars are . . . part of a vast conspiracy by international bankers to defraud the rest of the world." The center links some Norfed devotees to far-right hate groups.

"That definitely is not the philosophy of the organization," Johnson said. "I've been a Republican for most of my life. . . . We are focused on the mainstream. . . . I guess we are libertarian. But definitely not anti-government."

The U.S. Mint acted after federal prosecutors around the country began forwarding inquiries about the coins. "We don't take these consumer alerts lightly," said spokeswoman Becky Bailey. "Merchants and banks are confronted by confused customers demanding they accept Liberty Dollars. These are not legal coin."

Norfed responded to the Mint on its Web site. "Here it is in plain sight . . . the Liberty Dollar is not a coin, not legal tender, and backed with inflation proof gold and silver!"

"Goliath just introduced David to millions of Americans as a nationally recognized underdog," the site continues. "Just as Pepsi went up against Coke with their 'take the Pepsi Challenge' campaign, the Liberty Dollar will take it to the people to decide which currency they should use."

Norfed encouraged people to keep doing "the drop," referring to its advice to drop the coin into merchants' hands so they can feel its weight.

That could land the dropper in prison, Bailey warns, for up to five years.
So, let's see: if you offer to trade someone a disk of gold or silver for some goods or services that they're selling, Uncle is offering to toss your butt in jail.

What possible justification -- other than simply raw power, that is -- can there be for such a thing?

Yes, But ...

Here's another stirring call to arms from James Bovard (at the Future of Freedom Foundation site). It's good, and I include it here in its entirety. I have only one problem with it. But more on that later:
President Bush has once again decreed that his personal pen is the highest law of the land. In a statement issued on October 4, 2006, he announced that he would ignore many provisions of the Homeland Security appropriations act he signed earlier in the day. His action vivifies that the rule of law now means little more than the enforcement of the secret thoughts of the commander in chief.

Bush’s postsigning statement declared that he would interpret many sections of the new law “in a manner consistent with the president’s constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch.” In plain English, this means that many of the limits that Congress imposed on Bush’s power — and that he accepted when he took the money Congress appropriated — are null and void. Why? Because the president says so.

The new law declared that only the Homeland Security Department’s privacy officer could alter or delay the department’s mandatory report on how its actions and policies affected Americans’ privacy. Congress included this safeguard because of the Bush administration’s long record of intruding into Americans’ lives — from the Total Information Awareness system, to vacuuming up information on airline passengers, to stockpiling phone records of millions of citizens.

After he signed the bill, Bush announced that he is effectively entitled to edit the report as he pleases. But his “right to edit” means that he is entitled to delete information and thereby prevent Congress from learning of how the feds continue to shred privacy.

Bush pulled the same trick in March after he inked a renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act, announcing that he would scorn notifying Congress on how the feds are using PATRIOT Act powers. Bush declared that he would interpret the law “in a manner consistent with the president’s constitutional authority to ... withhold information.” Bush is apparently convinced that he is entitled to govern in secrecy, and any provision of a law to the contrary violates his imperial prerogatives.

George W. Bush has added more than 800 “signing statements” to new laws since he took office. Earlier presidents occasionally appended such comments to new statutes, but Bush is the first to use signing statements routinely to nullify key provisions of new laws.

The “unitary executive” doctrine assumes that all power rests in the president and that checks and balances are an archaic relic. This is the same “principle” the Bush administration invoked to deny Congress everything from Iraqi war plans to the records of the Cheney Energy Task Force. Bush has invoked the “unitary executive” doctrine almost 100 times since taking office, according to Miami University professor Christopher Kelley.

The American Bar Association recently declared that Bush’s signing statements are “contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional separation of powers.” The Congressional Research Service reported last month that Bush is using such statements as part of his “comprehensive strategy to ... expand executive power.”

Apparently, the government is no longer obliged to obey any law that Bush does not personally approve. At a June congressional hearing, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) asked Justice Department lawyer Michelle Boardman for a list of all the laws that Bush has declared will no longer be enforced. Boardman replied, “I cannot give you that list.”

How can we know which laws Bush approves of? It’s a secret. Bush’s personal thoughts thus become the ultimate law of the land. No one can know whether the government is violating the “law” because Bush has not publicly declared what the law is.

Americans may have to wait many years to learn what the rule of law meant in 2006. The truth may be suppressed until Bush’s aides begin publishing their memoirs or until the Supreme Court has a change of mood and decides that the executive branch is not entitled to boundless secrecy.

So what is the meaning of “limited government” in the Bush era? Merely that the courts and Congress must be prohibited from limiting the president’s power. Bush’s signing statements are building blocks for dictatorship. The longer he builds, the darker America becomes.
The problem I see with this is that Mr. Bovard seems to be buying into a "devil theory" here -- with Bush being the diabolical element. That's fine, as far as it goes ... anyone who wants to say that El Supremo is winded from a long out-of-the-pit ladder climb and smells like smoke will get no argument from me. The trouble is that it lets the Congress off the hook. If Congress were discharging its collective constitutional responsibility, the Bush regime would long since be no more than a greasy memory -- or at the very least we'd have a real, unmistakable constitutional crisis, complete with tanks rolling toward Capitol Hill, to make it clear where we stand. Instead, Mr. Bovard is basically the cop telling the beaten woman that she should press charges against that drunk in the sleeveless undershirt. And the Congress is the woman with the split lip and the black eye, telling the cop that it's all her fault, and that Gee-Dub would never have hit her if she hadn't said the wrong thing and made him do it.

Congress is Bush's enabler: a collection of cowardly careerists who break their oaths of office a dozen times before morning coffee, and many more times afterward. And no -- voting does not help.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Nuclear Kimchi, DC Tyranny

It seems to me that we Americans pay a very high price for the shortness of our attention span. Some have lamented that the North-Korea-tests-a-nuke sensation has served Republican interests by diverting attention from Foleygate. To me, though, both are distractions from the more fundamental matter of America's self-awarded status as World Manager. The reality and legitimacy of that status is so deeply taken for granted on both sides of our political duopoly that few really think about it. Naturally, the U.S. is going to run the world; the only questions are: which U.S. political party will supply the managers and policymakers; and how efficiently will they discharge their duties?

Looking at the news story, it's clear that the Entire Responsible World is officially miffed; indeed, there seems to be a competition in the Rhetoric of Miffed-dom:
North Korea came under harsh international criticism after claiming to have carried out a successful underground nuclear weapons test on Monday.

China, a close ally of North Korea, denounced the claimed test as "brazen" and South Korea said it would respond "sternly." The United States said a test would constitute a "provocative act."

South Korea's president said Pyongyang's claimed test "broke the trust of the international community."

President Roh Moo-hyun said it brought "a severe situation that threatens stability on the Korean Peninsula and in northeast Asia."

South Korea would "react sternly and calmly" with "appropriate measures" in close cooperation with the international community, he told journalists after a summit with new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Abe told the same news conference his country would work "to make ways to implement action for a tough resolution."

Australian Prime Minister John Howard called for financial, trade and travel sanctions, saying a "strong international response is called for."

CNN's Dan Rivers, speaking from the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, said the key question now was what China -- which effectively allowed North Korea to exist economically -- would do.

The apparent nuclear test was conducted at 10:36 a.m. (1:36 a.m. GMT) in Hwaderi near Kilju city, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing defense officials.
Well! It does indeed appear that the international community is in full outrage mode. I however, do not hold citizenship in the international community; I'm an American subject, and I have an intense -- and queasy -- interest in what my supervisors will do.

It occurs to me, first, that in developing and testing a nuclear weapon, North Korea has done nothing more than many of its accusers have already done. These accusers with dirty hands include Russia, China, and -- last but far from least -- the U.S. Why is a nuclear-armed North Korea more ominous to the peace of the world than a nuclear-armed America? Let's poll the contestants:

= = = = = = = = =

How many times have you used nukes in a war? (US, 1; NK, 0)

How many times, in the last 25 years, have you launched a military attack on another country? (US, 10; NK, 0)

Do you have the means of delivering nuclear warheads to distant targets? (US: Let me count the ways. NK: Assuredly: Tae-po-dong ICBM, sort of, and paddleboat!)

Are you a duh-mocracy? (US: Oh, yes, and we have the restrictive ballot-access laws to prove it! NK: the Dear Leader will always be kept in powerleadership by the unanimous demand of his adoring People!)

Is your chief executive a megalomaniac imbecile? (US: Yes, and it's hard work, too, real hard work, protectin' the Murkan people and all. NK: Urgle gurgle ZEEP! Pop, fizz, hiss.)

= = = = = = = = =

Yes, fearsome weaponry in the hands of murderous thugs is a big concern, all right. But most of my worries center near the Chesapeake Bay, not at the north end of the Korean peninsula. And no foreseeable electoral result is likely to change that.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Daddy Potomac Gonna Learn Us Some More

In the news today:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush said Thursday that renewing the No Child Left Behind law will be a priority for him next year but acknowledged the law isn't working as well for parents as it should.


For example, many schools report their test scores late. So many parents don't find out that their children have a right to transfer until a new school year has begun.

"It kind of looks like people are afraid to put out results for some reason," Bush said in a speech at the Woodridge Elementary and Middle Campus, a thriving charter school in a run-down neighborhood five miles from the White House. "And so we'll work with Congress to clarify the law and to strengthen the law to make sure our parents get timely information and useful information."


Bush outlined a series of ways in which the law could be improved, such as by expanding testing in high schools, an idea he has pitched to Congress for two years. He also said he wants the federal government to pay for 28,000 low income students across the country to transfer to private schools, an initiative he has in the current budget request at a cost of $100 million.

His comments come after Education Secretary Margaret Spellings recently told reporters that that law is "like Ivory soap: It's 99.9 percent pure or something." Spellings later said she was referring to the core principles of the law and is willing to consider improvements to the law.

The law was passed with support of some leading Democrats who now say Bush has not provided enough funding to carry out the goals. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., said he welcomes the opportunity to "get these essential reforms back on track."
Let's see ... what part of the Constitution is it, again, that empowers the central government to ... well, do whatever it is that it does ... to or about education?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

Physics is Fun!

I'm instructional again this week! My co-worker who took over my evening physics class this year had to travel this week, and I'm standing in for her. It's the chapter on work and energy, too, which is a fun one to teach. Best of all, no papers to grade! I feel like a pig wallowing in a mudhole. I do enjoy teaching physics.

I don't regret my decision -- I was traveling myself week-before-last, and I don't feel I'm doing justice to my students if I'm not there every time ... the class doesn't meet all that many times in the semester. I do miss it, though.