About two months ago, I blogged that the Bush administration's NSA Warrantless Wiretapping program was finally being challenged in a court of law by the ACLU. It's not that most Americans don't want the federal government to do its national security job — they just want the Bush administration to do it legally and not at the expense of shredding our U.S. Constitution in the process.
The federal judge, Anna Diggs Taylor, has ruled on the case, in part saying:
The Government appears to argue here that, pursuant to the penumbra of Constitutional language in Article II, and particularly because the President is designated Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, he has been granted the inherent power to violate not only the laws of the Congress but the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, itself.
We must first note that the Office of the Chief Executive has itself been created, with its powers, by the Constitution. There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all "inherent powers" must derive from that Constitution.
ThinkProgress noted that the three main U.S. broadcast TV networks spent about 30 seconds talking about the federal court ruling that affects your free speech and privacy. ABC, NBC and CBS decided instead to spend whole segments of their news programs on the arrest of a child predator allegedly involved in the ten-year-old murder case of Jon Benet Ramsey. To me, this just shows that the network news knows their audience demographic: old people.
Younger people do get their news from the internet. They care about the future of the country. If you want to watch a video stream, it's out there. I saw this interview segment about this story on Democracy Now: [ video / transcript ]
Watch the interview. The guest is a constitutional and civil rights attorney, Glenn Greenwald. He's the author of the book, "How would a patriot act?" and also blogged about this story, here.
If you prefer to read about issues, Wired news spells it out quickly out for you. Here's some commentary about it from David Corn of The Nation magazine and another scathing piece from New York Times columnist Frank Rich, reposted by SyteSurge. You can also listen to this podcast from cato.org with Robert Levy.
The funniest video this week was by George Bush, himself, answering a question about the NSA program. A reporter gave him a question he should have knocked out of the park, but he had just spent the whole day with economists at Camp David. Man-oh-man, he could not string two Rovian slogans together to save his life -- and sensing media doom -- he bailed!
Watch the video here on C-Span (cued up by me), and here with Faux News trying to massage the message, afterwards. Personally, I laughed so hard at these videos until I remembered Bush will be around until January 2009.
While checking on a favorite podcast (Watch It Burn) to see if a new episode had been published, I found a new website has been put online by a relative of the podcaster, Kinser. Watch It Burn is podcast from a military base in Iraq by Kinser. I've found it to be insightful, thought-provoking, and always entertaining. Seeing no new podcast that I hadn't already heard, I wandered over to his blog, then his wife's blog, then finally to their relative's new site, Elevate the Debate.
One of the articles on Elevate the Debate was written by Joe Parko, Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, on July 25th. After reading, "U.S. Weapons Are Being Used Illegally by Israel," I continued on to read some of the comments for the article on the Elevate the Debate blog because I was already familiar with the troubling issues of depleted uranium in war zones and cluster bombs in Lebanon. At the end of the article, Parko concludes, "President Bush and Congress must tell Israel to stop using our weapons illegally and to start using negotiations as the way to bring peace to the region."
One comment to the article seemed to express a level of futility. Indeed, I was tempted to comment, "There's no talking to this administration concerning Israel." Instead however, I posted a longer and hopefully more thoughtful response. Since I appreciate the comments from readers here at Thunderstorms, I thought I could post it here so you can tell me if it makes any sense, or not.
The domestic political situation in the U.S. obviously affects its foreign policy. The administration in power until January 2009 will try to maintain its hold on power until it is quite literally forced to compromise from its position on any issue. With moderate popular opinion for the Bush administration dwindling, they are hunkering down and speaking only with their core constituencies.
A troubling new development has surfaced in the social conservative side of Republican politics. Last month, a powerful Christian Zionist movement went from religious televangelism to meeting with White House officials, lobbying about foreign policy. Google "Christians United For Israel" and you should find a recent article written up in The Nation magazine that details this.
CUFI is led by a Pastor Hagee from Texas, who preaches a death cult message of Armageddon, for the sake of rapture, and the second coming of Christ. Unfortunately, CUFI is more than some wacky Christian evangelical sect. As a political lobbying group, it has the ear of the administration and wholeheartedly promotes a wider war in the Middle East. Kansas Senator Brownback and RNC Chairman Ken Melman spoke at their inaugural dinner.
CUFI is one very troubling example of the people the Bush administration considers "on its side" within the socially conservative Christians in the U.S. who previously focussed on domestic issues, like banning abortion and gay marriage. CUFI adds support to the neocon agenda.
The other core constituency into which the unpopular administration will hunker down is the neocon factions. While we know their basic agenda of global American supremacy, their current "projects" are not doing as well as they had hoped and support is dwindling for the war in Iraq, unconditional support for Israel, and the never-ending Global War on Terror.
Rather than be hopeful about this acknowledgement of the neocon agenda and its failing support by our citizenry, I'm concerned that the administration will simply use the "fear-creates-followers model" that has worked for them since 9/11. Any real or staged terrorist attack on the U.S. of any significant scope could send the average person back into a frenzy of patriotic retribution against "the evil-doers."
I look at my fellow citizens and I see their attitudes fall into thirds. A third want peace. A third want their wars. A third are apathetic to both. If the Bush administration wants a majority approval, it can (and does) get it by creating more fear.
The only way to win the peace is to win the battle against fear. This is a very tough battle. I've touched on the benefit of fear-mongering for our political establishment. In addition, multi-national media corporations whose own reporters and editors quip, "if it bleeds, it leads," make a profit from fear. Media touches everyone, no matter what their political affiliation or religion.
However, some very religious people are psychologically prone to be affected by fear, and being led by their pastors and political leaders. They feel safe following. They give problems up to God. Once in that mindset, they can become very defensive and even hostile, if you try to logically tear down their happy assumptive walls of safety. Only equally religious people who espouse peace can have any chance of breaking the follower mentality in the fear-stricken. That's probably the subject for several books in various fields of study by experts far more educated than I am. However, the main idea I have here is that only the religious left can talk effectively to the religious right, at this point.
The neocon bunker is a little easier to influence. While many espouse an almost religious zeal for their agenda, they are not followers. They tend to be strategic thinkers and leaders. Even political partisans of the current administration are being disallusioned by the failures and the domestic fascist outrageousness of Bush/Cheney.
The key to disuading these people from more war usually comes with a logical message. We don't have the ability to win with this plan. We need a new plan. While you probably won't persuade the neocon away from the global American supremacy ideology, you might try to offer a plan B for its achievement -- like peace and good relations is conducive to commerce and trade.
The apathetic third of our fellow citizens simply need to be told and encouraged to wake up, grow up, and register to vote. Give them examples of how one person can help make a change that is helpful to all of us.
One: The president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ahmadinejad, has decided to start his own blog. We know he likes to write -- he sent President Bush an 18-page letter [PDF] just this last May. Unfortunately, Ahmadinejad didn't realize Dubya doesn't like to read and got his feelings hurt when he got no reply. I guess despite the cartoonization of this story from the likes of Faux News, some feel this may actually signal a reprieve for the previous internet blocking and censorship of the internet by Iranian officials ... I mean, people who might know more than Faux News.
TWO: Ahmadinejad also did a televised and translated interview with Mike Wallace that aired Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes show. Watch it now, here. C-Span aired the unedited version last night. It was a strange bit of television. Hopefully, someone will upload it to YouTube (if they ever come back online from their downtime).
Some recent quotables:
ONE: "I will assure the American people that we are doing everything in our power to protect you," Bush said in brief remarks to reporters. Fox
TWO: "The nation's chief of homeland security said Sunday that the U.S. should consider reviewing its laws to allow for more electronic surveillance and detention of possible terror suspects, citing last week's foiled plot." AP
I just wanted to explore what a stark reminder this week has been to previous Bush administration fear mongering. Obviously, Bush World knew about the London terrorism investigation, but clearly likes to seize the headlines and minds of the people to its advantage. Here are some past notable stark reminders:
A month prior to the 2002 election, Bush said, "It's a stark reminder that there's an enemy which hates freedom-loving countries, an enemy which does not value human life like we value human life here in America."
Cynically enough, two hours after making that statement, Bush then also said, "Any time we're getting a suggestion that somebody might be thinking about doing something to America, we're responding, within the U.S. Constitution. We hold that document sacred." That's some news!
A month prior to invading Iraq, Bush said, "Last week's decision to raise our national terrorist threat is a stark reminder of the new era we're in; that we're at war and the war goes on."
Just last week, amid the growing criticism for supporting the continuing destruction in Lebanon, Bush said, "And one of the things that -- one of the things that came out of this unfortunate incident in the Middle East is it is a stark reminder that there are those who want to stop the advance of liberty and destabilize young democracies. And they're willing to kill people to do so." Taken out of context, one might think he was actually talking about Israel, in some other reality of U.S. politics.
So, within the last week, we were given two different stark reminders by Bush World. The timing is ripe for something majorly bad to happen again, according to conspiracy theorists, like radio DJ Alex Jones. Eerily predicting 9/11, Jones has once again become so agitated that he recently broadcast his second warning concerning the coming weeks.
While researching the Bush Administration's use of buzz words, bumper sticker politics and Orwellian double-speak is mildly entertaining, I think the Rovian bullshit spewing forth from the leaders of our government has a troubling trickle-down effect. Shit truly does roll downhill.
Consider the heightened alert law enforcement is straining under. If Bush more or less says, "be wary, be scared" and it is then parroted by the alphabet soup of his cabinet members at FBI, DOJ, DHS, et. al., what is the average cop on the beat supposed to think?
Read the article and note how the local sheriff and the prosecutor of this sleepy hollow say things like, "... the phones are being modified by terrorists to make untraceable international calls and also in the production of roadside bombs." Apparently, Mayberry RFD just joined the frontlines on Bush's War on Terror.
The paranoia rolls down into media at every turn. These two college students are being linked to terrorism by the local sheriff, linked to supporting Hezbollah in other stories, and in some insane jealously of the U.K. having homegrown terrorists -- being called All-American Terrorists.
The neocon racist bimbo blogs are eating this stuff up like it was Senator Kennedy on YouTube biting off the head of a fetus. Michelle Malkin and Debbie Schlussel use words like "Dearbornistan" and make statements of fact from thin air. These bimbos are just trying to hype the presidential message that "all these young men are terrorists, they're guilty, and they're trying to kill us all right now."
The facts are a little less exciting. The specific facts about these college students will likely be that they were trying to make some Summer cash. The bigger picture of paranoia, and actual convictions resulting from people being charged with terrorism-related charges is even less supportive of the neo-con bimbo hype.
But, just remember when the media and the neocon bimbos assert that the city of Dearborn is some festering cauldron of terrorism, you might note that the Department of Justice's own June 2006 press release might suggest the bimbo hype as simple self-promotion and racism.
Out of all the sparse convictions ultimately obtained from the mass amounts of cases of people that had been charged with terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 across the country, only one came from the Detroit area when the man plead guilty to racketeering. The DOJ press release notably lists Zacharias Moussaoui, Richard Reid, John Walker Lind ... but one conviction came out of the Detroit area, or Dearbornistan, in 2003.
One. The DOJ press release does make mention of some terror cell in Virginia. So, why not call that Virginiastan? Perhaps it is because Dearborn has a public, outspoken population of Muslims who are tired of being the easy target for racism.
Given a lack of facts, the only motivation I can perceive for the neocon hype is self-promotion, paranoia or simple Arab bigotry. Either way, it's troubling to see the neocon fear mongering roll downhill to the bimbo bloggers with no bullshit meter checks on them. Like BushCo and Republican-controlled U.S. Congress, they don't need facts when they can just make them up, and then hype their lies until it becomes the popular truth.