Tuesday, January 31, 2006

How does he lie to you?
Let us count the ways

Your blogstress is not one to lob the "L" word around -- no, not THAT L word; rather, she speaks of the one that ends in I-E. Yet so brazen was the section of the president's State of the Union speech that addressed his domestic spying program that your cybertrix calls her readers to this: Count the number of lies in the following passage:

It is said that prior to the attacks of September 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al-Qaida operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack – based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute – I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have – and Federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed. This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al-Qaida, we want to know about it – because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.
Un, deux, trois--non, mes amis, non! C'est six!
1. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al-Qaida operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late.
Now, now, to say that we didn't know of their plans may be technically accurate, but one could argue that the ignorance, if not willful, had more to do with institutional fecklessness than any legalistic obstruction. Just ask Cathleen Rowley, the FBI agent who tried to get her higher-ups to look at the case of a would-be 9-11 highjacker who took flight lessons, while declining to learn how to land the plane. FBI attorneys declined to apply for FISA warrants to investigate the ties of Zacharias Moussaoui, presumed to have been part of the the 9-11 plot--much to the chagrin of agents who wished to pursue him. And let us not forget the presidential briefing Bush received in August of 2001 in which he was told that al Qaeda sought access to planes for the purpose of crashing them into buildings.
2. So to prevent another attack – based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute – I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from America.
Perhaps more a prevarication than a lie, this one. Your Webwench cannot challenge the president's claim to be aggressively pursuing communications between al Qaeda types and others, however, the program he has authorized -- the tapping of U.S. citizens and residents without court orders -- operates through the sifting of vast amounts of unfiltered e-mail, and the tapping into main trunks of regional telephone systems. In other words, it ain't just al Qaeda being looked at by our friends at the National Security Agency, mes cheris; c'est moi, c'est toi. NSA nous aimes!
3. Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have – and Federal courts have approved the use of that authority.
Here we enter into the territory of the outright lie. Actually, this is two lies in one. Previous presidents have NOT used the same "constitutional" authority, as the constitutional authority of Bush's actions is much in question, given the fact that it appears to circumvent a law passed by the U.S. Congress. The law is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which forbids spying on U.S. "persons" in the course of the conduct of foreign intelligence without applying for a warrant from a special, super-secret FISA court. And, as the non-partisan Congressional Research Service just recently concluded in a report released last week, no court has ruled on the president's authority to circumvent such an act of Congress.
4. Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed.
Not if you ask them. By "appropriate" members of Congress, the president means the leading figures on the House and Senate intelligence committees. On the Senate side, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said he received inadequate information and requested more. In the House, ranking Democrat Jane Harman (Calif.) said she had been left in the dark as to the full scope of the plan. And Bob Graham, former senator from Florida and then-ranking member of the Senate intelligence committee said he was never told of any domestic component to the program.
This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks.
FBI sources have said that this program has had little, if any, impact on its antiterrorism efforts.
6. It remains essential to the security of America.
Here, your net-tête invites her readers to be the judge.

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One door closes...

...and another one opens. Exit the era of Coretta Scott King--she who embraced civil rights for all, even non-heterosexuals--and enter the era of Justice Samuel Alito--he who appears to embrace rights for only the few, and who claims to have belonged to an organization that opposed the admission of women and minorities to his alma mater.

Blessed Mother, pray for us sinners...

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Continuing intrigue on Alito's job application

More on what your blogstress believes to be the fabrication of a certain credential on Alito's application for a job in the Reagan Justice Department comes from the indefatigable Chan Sethi of The Daily Princeton, the campus newspaper of Princeton University.

Writing in The Weekly Standard, a prominent national conservative magazine of which he is currently publisher, Eastland added: "I didn't know Alito had applied for the job, and ... I didn't know that Alito had gone to Princeton, much less had any association with CAP [the Concerned Alumni of Princeton]."

Alito's membership in the group was the subject of intense questioning during confirmation hearings this week. He said he has no recollection of CAP and likely put it on the1985 job application — the only record of his participation in the group — to establish his conservative credentials for the Reagan administration.

"You have to look at the question that I was responding to and the form that I was filling out," Alito told the judiciary committee. "I was applying for a position in the Reagan administration."

Former CAP board member Andrew Napolitano '72, now a Fox News analyst, said in an interview this week that "by telling [then-Attorney General] Ed Meese he was in CAP, Sam Alito was telling the Justice Department he was a true-blue conservative."

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Filibustering Alito

On Friday, Bob Fertik of the blog, Democrats.com (apparently not officially affiliated with the Democratic Party) served up some weekend excitement for your blogstress by breaking news that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), of all people, would lead a filibuster against the confirmation vote for Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Any red-blooded, U.S.-Constitution-loving American, thinks your cybertrix, should be grateful to the senator and the blogger for saving the weekend. Now, let's see if we can collectively save the Court.

Here's Fertik's Friday scoop:

Original post 1 pm: I have confirmed reports that Kerry wants to filibuster Alito, and he is talking to his colleagues to round up the 41 votes he needs.

Three Democrats (Ben Nelson, Tim Johnson and Robert Byrd) support Alito. So right now, without the support of any Republicans, we still have 42 possible votes for a filibuster.

There are 4 moderate Republicans who should be targeted (Lincoln Chafee, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Ted Stevens).

Three Democrats (Mary Landrieu, Ken Salazar, and Dianne Feinstein) oppose Alito but also said they oppose a filibuster. So we must persuade them that a vote against Alito is meaningless if they don't support a filibuster.

The best way to persuade them would be for the Democratic leadership (Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Pat Leahy, and Debby Stabenow) and the five Presidential candidates (John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Russ Feingold, Joe Biden, and Evan Bayh) to form a Emergency Save the Constitution Committee and enlist the support of pro-choice, pro-freedom, and pro-democracy activists in Louisiana, Colorado, and California) to persuade their Senators to support a filibuster.

More details soon, but keep calling the Alito 8!

Three hours later, CNN confirmed Fertik’s reporting.

Vive le blog! (dit ta net-tête).

Fertik is a one-man force of nature; if this filibuster thing happens, tout le monde will have him to thank. He’s pushed the big liberal bloggers into pushing for it; shamed a number of senators into joining the effort, and issued shout-outs to such petit frites as your Webwench.

Check in with Bob throughout the weekend for blow-by-blow updates on the filibuster effort. He’s on top of it all, including what was said on the Sunday shows. Also find a link there to the Kos posting on a conference call with bloggers conducted yesterday by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Stonewall

2005 (c) A.M. Stan for AFGE

Two weeks after Katrina hit New Orleans, a city emptied of its citizens was one vast bin of debris.




If only Lake Pontchartrain had been contained by a stone wall of equal height and strength to the one the Bush administration has erected against the Katrina queries of the U.S. Congress, the people of New Orleans' lower Ninth Ward might still have homes there today.

From today's New York Times comes this account of obstruction, as the Administration seeks to shield its Katrina-related correspondence from prying eyes of Congress -- which, mes amis, is supposed to function as the eyes and ears of tu et moi, as nous--as in all y'all--are a bit too big of a plural to be granted an unobstructed view of the unitary executive. From reporter Eric Lipton:

The Bush administration, citing the confidentiality of executive branch communications, said Tuesday that it did not plan to turn over certain documents about Hurricane Katrina or make senior White House officials available for sworn testimony before two Congressional committees investigating the storm response.

[...]

Yet even Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, objected when administration officials who were not part of the president's staff said they could not testify about communications with the White House.

"I completely disagree with that practice," Ms. Collins, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in an interview Tuesday.

For the next seven days, you can read Lipton's piece by clicking here.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Little right lies



Listen to your blogstress!

this is an audio post - click to play


So much to moan about; so little time.

Your blogstress is feeling mighty alone these days in her indignation over the notion of a Justice Samuel Alito. Does no one else feel this is a disaster? Is no one else bothered by an indefinite tilt of the court to the right? Are we ready to enter a world of strip-searches for 10-year-olds, jailings of 12-year-olds for eating french -- no -- freedom fries in a subway station, and the overturning of civil rights and women's rights decisions?

And how 'bout dem Dems, huh? Can anyone explain to your cybertrix the disorganized questioning of Alito during his nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee?

It's not as if this hearing was something that was sprung on them. He was nominated on Halloween, and the hearing began after New Year's, for Aphrodite's sake! Couldn't they have sent a bunch of staffers into a room together to come up with a plan?

Your Webwench finds herself still astounded that although it would appear that Judge Alito lied on his 1985 job application to the Justice Department, no one in the opposition party has raised this as reason not to put him on the bench of the High Court. The opponent here is the religious right, champion of the 10 Commandments. To your écrivaine a provable allegation of such a bearing of false witness would seem like a slam-dunk accusation.

But what does she know? Best not to bother her pretty little head about it. Surely no one else is bothering theirs.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Making amends

At last, another liberal who gets the game. Over at Liberal Oasis, the blogger has suggested that the Dems get into the constitutional amendment game. You'll recall that your humble blogstress has suggested that the minority party introduce one guaranteeing a right to privacy -- a right most Americans would be surprised to learn is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution. Liberal Oasis, on the other hand, is suggesting that Dems float one on campaign finance.

In a post titled, Dems Make Their Stand on Ethics: Can They Draw A Bright Line Even Brighter?, the Oasis gives us this:

On a Tuesday conference call with bloggers, Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid showed some spine and savvy, saying there was little point cutting deals with GOPers on ethics when they’re the source of the problem.

Instead, Reid said Dems would offer proposals that draw a “bright line” between the parties on fighting corruption, so the public could see the difference.


The bummer is that the Democrats' ethics proposal, while stronger than the Republicans', still leaves a loophole for lobbyist-paid meals and travel that is part of campaign fundraising activties.

From the Oasis:
Reid was asked about that loophole on PBS’s Newshour last night:

JIM LEHRER: What about the fundraising loophole ... Are you going to do something about that?

REID: You know, Fritz Hollings, who is no longer in Congress ... He has been proposing for years a constitutional amendment so that we can put a lot of strong restrictions on campaign financing.

And we need to do that.

Again, we need to get Republicans to help us with that...

....But the main obstacle at this time is that the courts have struck down a lot of things we have done, and we need to do it with a constitutional amendment...

... Right now, constitutionally, we can't do it.


But why not go bold and propose the constitutional amendment?

Sure, you would need Republicans to pass a constitutional amendment in the Senate, but that’s not the point right now.

The point is to draw that bright line.
Amen, brother. Even better, the point is to push Republicans into a corner. Whether on privacy or campaign finance reform, Republicans would not have an easy time explaining a vote against an amendment for either, especially given the spying an lobbying scandals, and God's Own Party's great love for the amendment ruse. (Think flag-burning.)

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Alito: sins of omission?

Who would you rather have sitting on the Supreme Court:

A. a guy who once belonged to a racist, sexist organization and embraced its mission

B. a guy who once belonged to a racist, sexist organization without knowing its mission

C. a guy who never belonged to a racist, sexist organization but fibbed that he did on a job application because he thought his presumed membership in the racist, sexist organization would please his prospective bosses

D. none of the above

If you chose D, you lose, because it looks like we're about to get either A, B or C--though some mystery exists as to which description best fits the current nominee to the High Court.

As the second day of Judge Samuel Alito’s nomination hearing before the Senate Judiicary Committee drew to a close, it appeared likely that the next justice to take a seat on the Supreme Court will be a man who apparently once belonged to an organization committed to the goal of limiting the participation of women and minorities at one of the nation’s most elite educational institutions. As a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton -- which he professed to be on a 1985 job application -- Alito would have taken part in an organization whose publication, Prospect (absolutely NO relation to the one you are reading), spewed hatred in a haughty tone. According to Chanakya Sethi of The Daily Princetonian, (Princeton University’s campus newspaper), Alito classmate and Prospect editor T. Harding Jones wrote in the magazine's February 1973 issue that the increasing number of women in the Princeton student body showed that "[t]he makeup of the Princeton student body has changed drastically for the worse." Likewise, a 1973 fundraising letter, according to Stephen Dujak in the April 9, 1986 issue of Princeton Alumni Weekly opined on how the admission of women to the student body would "vitiate" the Princeton student body. According to my dicitonary, the word "vitiate" means to "make impure."

For his part, the judge seems to have acquired a case of amnesia about the organization and his professed membership in it. Pressed by Kennedy on why he would join just a group, Alito replied, "I've said what I can say about what I can recall about this group, senator, which is virtually nothing," Alito said. Given his proclivities, it seems unlikely that the good judge was in a position to have forgotten the 1970s for the same reason that many of his generation have. (Can’t imagine him warbling a chorus of "Panama Red.") Yet when he applied, in 1985, for a position in the Reagan Justice Department, he listed his membership in the organization as something of a badge of honor; it appeared in the "Personal Qualifications Statement" that accompanied the application form.

Did he or didn’t he?
Yesterday,'s Sen. Edward Kennedy's (D-Mass) frustration over the reluctance of Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) to formally request documents on the Concerned Alumni of Princeton led to a dust-up between the two in one of the hearing's few moments of spontaneous combustion.

Hidden in the stacks of the Library of Congress is a cache of material that is said to shed light on the origins and operations of the Princeton’s Concerned Alumni. The papers at issue belong to William Rusher, long the publisher of National Review (his tenure ran from 1957-1988) and one of the leaders of the now-disbanded Concerned Alumni of Princeton. Through some strange agreement, Rusher maintains control of his papers, even though they are housed at taxpayer expense in the people’s library. Rusher had apparently refused to voluntarily cough up the relevant papers to the Congressional Research Service, which had sought them at Kennedy's request, protesting that they show nothing of any involvement by Alito in the organization. At Kennedy's insistence -- having embarrassed Specter by publicly airing Specter's lack of response to Kennedy's December 22 letter to the chairman on the subject -- Specter made the phone call that scored the cache.

Rusher's contention appears to have been borne out: apparently no trace of Alito exists in those records from the Concerned Alumni that Rusher has stored at the Library of Congress. "Judge Alito's name never appeared in any document," Specter told the Washington Post. "It was not mentioned in any letters to or from the group's founder or executive director, did not appear on any canceled checks for subscriptions, was nowhere to be found on any articles, lists of board members or contributors, and was not in any minutes or attendance records from CAP meetings," the Specter said, according to the Post.

But that says little about Alito's claim to have belonged. Did Rusher's documents contain all of the group's records? If so, the absence of a contribution would suggest that Alito did not belong to the group. More telling would be actual membership rosters for the 13 years of the organization's existence. Because the story shouldn't be allowed to end with, "Yeah, but he really didn't hang out with those guys."

What if he didn’t?
What if Alito is found never to have belonged to the organization? While critics accuse Kennedy of embarking on “a fishing expedition”--and even of McCarthyism--perhaps they fear less what Kennedy might have found in the Rusher stash, but what he wouldn’t. For what is revealed of the Supreme Court nominee if it is found that indeed he never did belong to the Concerned Alumni of Princeton? For one, it would mean that he lied on a job application for a position as assistant attorney general--a guy who prosecutes evildoers.

But that’s not the worst of it: if Alito is shown never to have joined the Concerned Alumni, he'll be shown to have told a boastful lie about belonging to a racist, sexist organization--a heck of thing to bray about. If true, the lie would have been executed in the spirit of expedience; if not an actual racist or sexist himself, he will be shown to have been happy to play the part, based on his assumption that this is what The Man wanted to believe of those he was hiring to mete out justice to the masses.

If Alito is a true believer in the mission of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, that would be bad enough. But if he lied about being a sexist and racist in order to up his chances for getting a job with an administration he obviously believed would appreciate sexist and racist bona fides, well, that’s just ruthless and morally bankrupt.

Whatever the outcome of Kennedy’s inquiry, Alito’s behavior with regard to the Concerned Alumni of Princeton should disqualify from a seat on the bench of the nation’s highest court.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Renno time

The AddieStan.com Web site is undergoing a renovation. Please bear with.

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