The controversy over the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program will reach another talking point for the American public on Monday. The federal district court in Detroit is scheduled to hear the first legal arguments in the ACLU v. NSA lawsuit. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the National Security Agency (NSA) for:
" ... violating the U.S. Constitution. The illegal NSA spying program authorized by President Bush just after September 11, 2001, allows the NSA to intercept vast quantities of the international telephone and Internet communications of innocent Americans without court approval."
The ACLU raises the concern that the executive branch has once again acted illegally. Sadly, without any oversight by the GOP-controlled legislative branch, or judicial oversight, the Bush administration acts without any checks on its power to do whatever it pleases to the detriment of the citizens of the United States. The executive director of the ACLU, Anthony Romero, describes the basis for the lawsuit in this short MP3 podcast.
This issue is not just some anti-Bush cause for left-wing liberals. Many conservatives have serious concerns about the Bush government's ongoing and unchecked erosion of constitutionally protected rights of U.S. citizens. Experts in law enforcement and intelligence even pan the NSA program as simply a flawed method to protect America from terrorists, despite the Bushworld bumper sticker sloganism. Personally, I know a fair bit about the intelligence apparatus in the government. Most people do not. James Bramford, author of "The Puzzle Palace," explains what the NSA is likely doing and how it could affect you in this short MP3 podcast.
If this issue is of interest to you, check out the ACLU Town Hall video Webcast on Sunday, June 11th at 7pm. You could even ask the panel a question, if you like. You can participate in the Webcast by going to http://www.aclu.org/presidentialpower
Sunday's townhall webcast will be the third meeting the ACLU has hosted. Today, I watched the first town hall meeting that the ACLU held in Washington D.C. on February 20th. The distinguished panel covered a range of issues. Links to archived video are on the bottom of the /presidentialpower web page.
63.4 million votes were cast for the finalist competition on the Fox TV show American Idol. Ryan Seacrest exclaimed, " ... more votes cast than for any president of the United States." While I wasn't one of the millions of people who watched Taylor Hicks win the singing competition during the live TV broadcast, just hearing how lame this sounds makes me wonder if the ink on the U.S. constitution isn't running off the document from the flood of tears of our founding fathers.
I can only imagine some explanations for this phenomenon. Watching people sing on TV is really that entertaining or politicians running for the office of U.S. president are really that lame. It's probably a combination of both things.
There seems to be some lessons to be learned comparing American Idol to our political system. Apparently, people were allowed to cast their vote for the winner of the recent contest more than once. The same thing happened on American Idol, too.
Hopefully, almost-won contestant, Katharine McPhee, won't gain weight, grow a beard, sulk about for several years, and then re-invent herself for season 6 background interviews and appearances on Saturday Night Live. One can only hope.
Am I the only person in the United States who has not watched an entire episode of American Idol, ever? This self-hyped crap bores the hell out of me. My local TV news is talking about the frackin' show. Even worse, the success of this show makes crackhead TV producers come up with ideas like Dancing with the Stars and Skating with Celebrities.
Skating with Celebrities? Oh, how I've always pined to hold hands and make TV magic with Dave Couller from "Full House" or Todd Bridges from "Diff'rent Strokes." Maybe I sensed American Idol was not for me when fans of Clay Aiken were being called Claymates. That's just too gay for me -- Kathy Griffin gay.
Welcome to Swamp Gas in the Imajica. Similar to the You Can't Make This Shit Up (YCMTSU) section, Swamp Gas will focus solely on news and items of interest in the sunshine state of Florida.
They say, "All the nuts in America roll downhill to Florida." So let's just see how true that phrase really is.
Click on the Swamp Gas logo for the smelly menu.
Swamp Gas v. 009
In preparation for the scheduled July 1st launch of the Space shuttle for its STS-121 mission, NASA workers proudly walked alongside the flatbed hauling the craft from its hangar to the massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). This procedure is called the "Rollover." The insanely massive rocket boosters will be moved to the VAB next, in the procedure called the "Rollout."
NASA is one of the few things left that truly makes me feel still proud to be an American.
Sucks to be a tourist in Florida lately. If you want to travel along the I-95 freeway between popular destinations -- from Daytona Beach to Miami Beach -- you're likely going to be delayed and detoured because of the wildfires. Smoke, fire and even falling trees have been blamed for road closures all over the drought-stricken sunshine state. According to the Forestry department, over 2500 different fires have burned over 100,000 acres since January. The penalty for throwing a lit cigarette out of a vehicle in FL has now been raised to getting anally-raped by a drunken redneck whose cracker family now stays in a red cross shelter because his double-wide trailer home was lost in the fire. I suggest using your car's ash tray from now on, Sparky.
This past week has been like a frackin' Jurassic Park in the land of theme parks. Yesterday, a 23-year-old woman was killed by an alligator in nearby Ocala National Forest while snorkeling in a lake. She was the third death-by-horror-movie-beast, this week. A 43-year-old homeless woman was also found in a canal in Pinellas county with apparent gator wounds the same day. In Sunrise, FL, an aspiring 28-year-old south florida model was definitely snatched and then dragged into the nearby canal by an alligator, according to the Broward county medical examiner. Not finding water in the woman's lungs, the ME said the woman died from blood loss and shock. Trappers later found parts of the woman in the 11-foot-long alligator's stomach after its capture and disection.
Covered - An actor describes the fickle nature of fame in Hollywood.
Going Home - A man's painting comes to life to explore the painter's world.
Love you, Joseff Hughes - A thoughtful and haunting tale of a young girl's first love.
Undressing My Mother - A stark, honest narrative of the life of an aging widow.
Auto Erotica - A surrealistic lust for vehicular status with good tuneage.
Space Chase - Xgames competition for a parking space in a London garage.
Ester - Video evidence that hippos and manatees are graceful water beasts.
B Is For Bomb - A child narrates the ABC's of geo-politics and nuclear issues.
Undone - A mother's comfort for the anxious woman in the twilight zone.
Shopping In The Afterlife - The best mother day's a son could provide.
The one line descriptions of the short films in this competition are my own. I hope my impression of the film doesn't inhibit you from watching any of them. I added them to the list for my own benefit of recall of the films.
It was very surrealistic for me to watch "Shopping in the Afterlife" after just returning from my shopping at Winn Dixie. Similar to that short, I seem to have some odd ability to attract total strangers who then engage me in conversation. Most oftentimes, these people are elderly and lonely, perhaps.
Last night, I was exhausted from my bike ride to the store because it was like riding a gymnasium exercise bike inside the sauna -- hot and humid -- so I loitered around outside the store to catch my breath before heading home. An old man was nearby, waiting for his wife and smoking a cigarette. While it wasn't as surreal as the conversation I had with another old man the night before terrorists struck the World Trade Center buildings, I was a little hestitant to turn on the news today. I just had a troubling feeling that these conversations are becoming forewarning talismen.
The old guy last night started out the conversation while I was unlocking my bike from the magazine stand to which I had secured it.
"I was just thinking. When I was growing up in the 20s and 30s, I never had to lock my bike."
"Well, I grew up in Detroit. So, I possess a fair amount of paranoia about such things. Better safe than sorry."
After about twenty minutes of me recalling the tales of getting hit by automobiles two-and-a-half times while riding a bicycle through out my life, the store started to close. Still his wife had not come outside. I worried that she might have forgotten about him. I finally convinced him to go inside the store and look for her before they locked the doors. At that, I took the opportunity to leave him to his own soap opera and head home in the night.
Check out those films. My favorites were 1,3, 8 and 10, but they were all interesting. You only have until May 22nd to cast your vote for your own favorites.