A Senate proposal to amend the U.S. constitution was narrowly defeated by one vote yesterday. This wasn't about banning gay marriage. Nope. This time, Senators lined up to protect Old Glory from being "desecrated" by excluding that act of symbolic speech from first amendment free speech protections. In order for S.J. 12 to have passed, it would have required 67 votes. It fell one vote short. No matter how you feel about this issue, you have to admit that legislation coming up now smacks of election year pandering, more than anything else. Politicians can get in front of the television cameras, wax jingoistically and patriotically, and use those soundbytes in a few short months in their own political campaign commercials. If you believe I am being overly cynical, perhaps you should read some of the quotes from Senators included in Dana Milbank's column, "In the Senate, Covering Themselves in Old Glory," in the Washington Post newspaper. It's very snarkalicious.
I am one of those quirky people who believes that free speech trumps offensiveness of that speech every time. In other words, some speech may be tasteless or offensive to some people, but you don't outlaw that free speech. You combat it with more free speech, not less. Counter protest.
Former U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, agrees with me on this. He's not the only military veteran, either. Of course he stated his position far more concisely and eloquently. In 1999, he wrote:
"The First Amendment exists to insure that freedom of speech and expression applies not just to that with which we agree or disagree, but also that which we find outrageous."
While it may be politically helpful for Senators to stand up and make patriotic pronouncements, I find their pandering and some of their language usage troubling. Specifically, using the word "desecration" is wrong, or purposefully misleading to stir up other strong emotions among their socially conservative base.
desecration n : blasphemous behavior; the act of depriving something of its sacred character; "desecration of the Holy Sabbath" [syn: profanation, blasphemy, sacrilege]
The U.S. flag is not a religious symbol. And while I sometimes get goose bumps listening to an arena singing the national anthem before a hockey game, feeling the unity of people, it is simply the flag of our nation. It has changed over the course of time to denote the change of the United States. If the conservative Republicans want to change the U.S. into a theocracy, they should go find Mullar Omar and sign up for his Taliban team.
 Sorry. I get worked up into a rant when I see our politicians acting so pathetically. If you want a much lighter take on the flag burning issue, do read Dilbert blog by Scott Adams.
Around the world, the headlines trumpet the reassuring news that the Bush Administration has foiled yet another terrorist plot! Google it. From Seattle to Shanghai and from Syracuse to Sydney, scared citizens can breath a sigh of relief that the Sears Tower still stands. While I might appologize for my overuse of alliteration, I stand stoicly behind my snarkism about this latest headline news in the Democrusader's Global War on Terror. I'm not dismissing the threat that real terrorists pose to our national security, our neighbors in uniform overseas, or innocent civilians in regions of conflict. I am pointing out that the hype of threat and law enforcement accomplishment is lacking here.
This Bushco bust of the "Miami Seven," as their media moniker goes, is troubling to me on a number of levels.
First, it reminds me of the politically motivated, pre-election, look busy, machinations of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) giving press conferences about endless unspecified threats. If we had been listening more carefully to Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft back in those days, we might have realized that their "Terrorist Chatter" was probably passed to them by the NSA listening to your grandmother when she called you to complain that she practically had to get naked in the airport in order to board a plane to visit you for the holidays.
Everyone knows people are starting to complain about this president and his policies. Now that Karl Rove is no longer in serious jeopardy to spend time in jail, the Decider's Whitehouse team is likely back to its security scares that helped them in the past. It's just sad and tired.
Second, these seven guys are not in any league close to any homegrown terrorist group from the past or brewing on "the shadowy internet," as FBI Director, Robert Mueller has intimated. Alberto Gonzales followed with the same unconnected logic and scare tactics in his press briefing -- and as the top law enforcement official for the U.S. government -- his self-aggrandizing statements were parroted all over the planet when he compared them to homegrown terrorists in London, Madrid and Toronto.
''Left unchecked, these homegrown terrorists may prove to be as dangerous as groups like al Qaeda,'' Gonzales said.
WTF? Like your unchecked and corrupt branches of government? I'd like to see Gonzales' secret dossier on film maker Michael Moore. That would make for fun poolside reading all friggin' summer long.
Unlike most newspapers out of the area or the 8-second soundbyters on the television, local reporters in the Miami area followed up on this scary terrorist group. Despite reports of the raid on the warehouse netting "muslims" from "their embassy" and "temple," the group's mastermind, Baptiste, was taken into FBI custody while he was putting up stucco on a Miami residence.
Baptiste ran a small, inner-city remodelling business doing stucco and masonry. He did have a fairly unique religious belief drawn from combined mainstream religious beliefs, all three Abrahamic traditons. He was also adherent to a strict discipline of martials arts. Had he not been so easily stupified and led by an eager undercover FBI agent, he might have made into a good faith-based charity asset for Bushworld in Miami, except he was overtly strange and anti-goverment according to statements by folks in the 'hood. Seriously, that sounds like half the bricklayers I ever worked with over the years in Detroit, white or black.
What about the rest of the wanna-be terrorists? They followed Baptiste, plain and simple. He gave them martial arts training and some hope beyond. Baptiste gave some of them work and income, but also required that they lift their minds out of the ghetto. No drinking, no smoking, no drugs -- just work, a clean life, and religious study. Sounds oddly like a compassionate conservative blueprint, to me.
There are now a number of groups in the U.S. that should be put on notice, formal and informal. The NRA is one. As vocal advocates of the second amendment -- the right to keep and bear arms -- your members are more armed and political than the Miami Seven. Better watch what you say amongst yourselves. The Decider may be listening.
Hell. I better shave my beard. Now, it's way cooler than that of al-Zawahiri and I don't have a guitar, a Harley, or a funky religion to justify my growth of it, Alberto. I'm going for the master's beard like in Kill Bill, even if I have make my own sound effects. Go figure.
Over on Dark Skies, Static Brain told me that Blogshares had me listed as #1 in their "Conspiracy Theory" industry. Well, I do like to do research, and I have developed some sources. But, it's not that hard a thing to do to be informed -- this is the friggin' "Information Age" remember? I thought I'd give you some information, raw, rather than developing some opinion or commentary about it:
Here's Dr. Ahman al-Zahawiri's eulogy for the late Abu Mu'sab al-Zarqawi.
Elegizing the Ummah's Martyr and Commander of the Martyrdom-seekers Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, may Allah have mercy on him
Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri (may Allah protect him)
Jumada al-Uulaa 1427 AH / June 2006 CE
In the name of Allah, and all praise is due to Allah, and may peace and prayers be upon the Messenger of Allah, and upon his family, companions, and allies.
Muslim brothers everywhere: peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah and His blessings.
We announce to the Muslim Ummah the death of one of its soldiers, champions and leaders, our brother the martyr – as we see him – Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, may Allah have mercy on him and house him in His spacious Gardens, and may He compensate the Islamic nation for him in the best way and make his martyrdom a light for the allies of Allah and fire and destruction for the enemies of Allah, the Crusaders and their traitorous helpers and the charlatans who deal in religion.
They have planted your remains in the sands like a flag To motivate the people morning and night Oh, woe unto them, they have raised a beacon of blood To inspire tomorrow's generation with hate and dislike
I was struck, as I listened to the news of the passing of Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, Allah have mercy on him, by the fact that the two people who wanted be the first to announce the news to the world were Nuri al-Maliki and Zalmay Khalilzad, and I sensed that this announcement summed up most of the features of the conflict between the Crusade and Islam in Iraq. Zalmay Khalilzad, the apostate Afghan who abandoned his religion, migrated to America, threw himself at the feet of the Zionist fundamentalists and is now one of Wolfowitz's boys, and Nuri al-Maliki, who trades in Islam to reach the seat of power, and who – along with his counterparts – struck deals with the Crusader invaders before, during and after the invasion, abandoned the right of the Shari'ah to govern and prohibited resistance to the occupier, and moreover, fought the Mujahideen under the Crusader banner of Bush: this is the pair that wanted to be the first to announce the passing of Abu Mus'ab, Allah have mercy on him.
This is how the features of the battleground between the Crusade and Islam in Iraq are defined: the American Crusaders and their traitorous helpers and the religion dealers on one side, the people of faith, monotheism and Jihad on the other. Yes, Abu Mus'ab was killed, Allah have mercy on him, but he had to die, because every soul must taste death, and every human being was born to die. Allah says, "All that is on earth will perish, and there will remain [forever] the face of your Lord, full of majesty and honor." [55:26-27]
And it doesn't matter when we die, what matters is how we die. Abu Mus'ab, Allah have mercy on him, died in the bombing, and wasn't in hiding in fortified basements nor roaming the skies in his aircraft for hours on end, like Bush did until his mother scolded him and ordered him to return to his office.
Abu Mus'ab, Allah have mercy on him, died while his explosive belt was inseparable from him, and he didn't live like Bush, whose bulletproof jacket is inseparable from him.
A young man who died a death between strikes and stabs Taking the place of the victory he missed He didn't die until his sword broke From the strikes, with the red spears raised above him In the swamp of death he planted his feet And said to them, "The Resurrection is under your soles" He went out in the morning, his dress woven with praise And he didn't turn back until he was shrouded in reward He put on the red robes of death, but night Did not fall before they turned to silks of green He went out in garments pure, and there wasn't a place on earth On the morn he was buried which didn't wish it was his grave Allah's peace be upon you, for I have Seen the generous free one whose gave even his life
The commander of the martyrdom-seekers died a martyr, while the president of the fugitives greedy for this world lives as a greedy fugitive. This is the difference between our leaders and theirs. This is the difference between the nation of monotheism and Jihad and the nation of polytheism and corruption. This is the difference between the nation which embarks upon death and thus is honored and victorious with Allah's will and help, and the nation which fights for this world and hates death and thus retrogresses and is defeated with Allah's permission and power. And know, Bush, that we are the Ummah of monotheism, Jihad, and martyrdom-seeking.
And we are a people who do not see death as disgrace Even if the stragglers of the Cross see it so The love of death brings our time closer to us While they hate death and so their time is late in coming No chief of ours has died a natural death Nor has our blood been spilled without a response
Yes, Bush, we take revenge for every one of us who is killed, with Allah's help and power. Do you remember, Bush, the oath sworn by the Mujahid lion of Islam Usama bin Ladin, may Allah protect him, that America shall not dream of security until we truly experience it in Palestine and all lands of Islam? So try – futilely – to dream of security.
Our souls run on the edge of the swords And only on the edge of the swords do they run If one of our chiefs passes, another arises in his stead He says and does what the honorable said and did Our days with our enemies are famous And their features and players are well-known to all
As for the Americans, I say to them: yes, our heroic, fearless, martyrdom-seeking, death-embracing chief Abu Mus'ab, Allah have mercy upon him, has been killed. But tell me how your drunken deserters die. Tell me how many of you have really been killed, and how much your economy has lost, and how the morale of your troops is collapsing. And tell me about the extent of the Muslims' hatred of you, and moreover, the extent of the hatred shown to you by your oppressed victims the world over. Bush lies to you and tells you that you will achieve victory if you kill Usama bin Ladin, Mulla Umar, and the members of al-Qaida and Taliban, and the habitual liar hides from you the disaster which you are facing. You are facing neither individuals nor organizations: rather, you are facing the Islamic Ummah in which flows the spirit of Jihad.
And those who sacrifice themselves for their Prophet And for death is a day of meeting and fighting They don't complain of death if they are beset By the fiercest and hottest of wars As if they are offering a sacrifice, they purify themselves With the blood of those infidels who attack them
Applaud, you stubborn Americans, whenever Bush lies to you, because in fact you are applauding us.
As for my brothers in Iraq, I say to them: if you have been fighting because of Abu Mus'ab, then Abu Mus'ab has died. But if you have been fighting in the path of Allah and in defense of the religion of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, then don't lay down your weapons until Allah decrees for you victory or martyrdom. Die like Hamzah, Ja'far, Ibn Rawahah, Khabab, 'Ikrimah, Umar, Uthman, 'Ali, Husayn, and Abdullah bin al-Zubair died – Allah be pleased with them all. Die like Sayyid Qutb, Salih Sariyyah, Khalid al-Islambouli, 'Isam al-Qimari, Abdullah Azzam, Commander Abu Hafs, Khattab, and Abu Hajar died – Allah have mercy on them all. Fight in defense of Allah's religion the enemies of Allah: the Crusaders, their traitorous helpers, and the fraudulent dealers in religion. Fight everyone who stands beside America, lines up under its banner, shades himself with its cross, and seeks its assistance in invading the lands of Islam and fighting the Muslims. Allah says, "O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them [for friendship] is of them. Verily, Allah guides not a wrongdoing people." [5:51]
My Mujahid brothers in Iraq, know that the Islamic Ummah has put its hope in you, and that you must establish an Islamic state in Iraq, then make your way towards captive Jerusalem and restore the Caliphate which was toppled through the cooperation of the Crusaders and the traitorous slaves of the English. Do not tire or become weary of harnessing the energies of the Mujahideen and bringing them together in a single rank to confront the enemies of Islam. And defend the Muslim people of Iraq – men, women and children – and protect their honor, lives, wealth and sanctities with your chests.
As for my Muslim brothers around Iraq, I call on them by the right of "There is no God other than Allah" and by the love of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, not to abandon their Mujahid brothers in Iraq, nor be stingy with them in providing of their selves, wealth, knowledge, prayers and encouragement.
As for the precious Ummah of Islam, I tell it that America is today striving to pervert Islam in order to create a faction of perverted perverters to seek their help in humiliating the Muslims. Among the forms taken by this perversion is that grand treason which is being committed in Iraq by those who falsely affiliate themselves to Islam while they are in fact America's helpers and soldiers before, during and after the invasion: those who spread the myth that America shall remain as long as there is resistance and shall withdraw as soon as the resistance stops. Oh you charlatans who deal in religion, America shall indeed withdraw, with Allah's help, but under a shower of blows from the Mujahideen, unless it succeeds in destroying the honor of the Muslims in Iraq and turning them into lowly, meek subordinates and leaving behind it traitors like you to serve its interests in exchange for remaining in power. And also among the forms this perversion has taken is the secularist Turkish model whose arrogance is presided overby the sons of the culture of defeatism and brokenness who bow to secularism, abandon the right of Shari'ah to rule, welcome American bases, and recognize Israel, sign security pacts with it, and take part with it in military exercises.
And from the forms taken by this perversion is the religion of the scholars of beggary in Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula who have made their rulers into infallible leaders for whom they permit and justify everything to protect their positions and paychecks. And confronting this perversion with resolve is the Islam of monotheism, government by Shari'ah, enjoining good and forbidding evil, and Jihad in Allah's path…the Islam of liberating the Muslim countries, rejecting accords of surrender, freeing the Ummah from its executioners and standing up to tyranny, plunder and immorality…the Islam of spreading justice, holding consultation, preserving rights and protecting the inviolable. So to the Ummah of Islam: stand by your Mujahid sons who are defending the pure Islam which was sent down to the Messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – and hasn't been changed by the betrayals of the seekers of powers, nor by the charlatanism of the religion-dealers, nor by the bargaining of the sick and broken defeatists, nor by the bootlicking of the scholars of beggary: i.e., that Islam for which we reckon Abu Mus'ab died. So may Allah bestow on him and all martyrs of Islam His all-embracing mercy.
And our final prayer is that all praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds, and may peace and prayers be on our master Muhammad and upon his family and companions.
He somehow looks happier here than in the much publicized post-mortem head shots we have all seen in our media. Maybe it's those 72 virgins?
Anyway, why did I post this?
Well, it's simple. I'm sick of the cartoons the government and the corporate media have been feeding us about the people that want to kill us all for just being Americans. Now, I will make my commentary.
The Bush administration treats its citizens like children who can only remember monosyllabic bumper sticker phrases that popularize their idiotic agendas. Then, the media parrots their bullshit like an annoying used-car commercial 24/7 until perception becomes reality for the majority of people.
There are real enemies out there. If you're like me -- and have an attention span longer than a ritalin-medicated 6-year-old child -- you need to do your own information gathering.
My best friend in the world has always had "To thine ownself be true" somewhere in her house, no matter where she has lived. To that credo, I would add a yellow post-it note to that mindless distraction in most of our hands, the TV remote control, "Know your enemies, brother." You can't educate yourself about world events in between commercials.
I challenge you to leave your TV off for one entire day. Then, examine how you feel. Try repeating your mental exercise for 3 days, or a week. You will feel classic signs of withdrawal.
Ignorance is bliss -- until the next time the Bush administration chips away at your U.S. constitutional rights, their incompetence fails to stop the next big terrorist attack, or you fall asleep with the remote dangling from your fingers to some fiction on TV. Tick-tock.
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.