Saturday, September 30, 2006

George Dreams Of Changing History

Signing statement, given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign, and the year of our Lord 1215.

John, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, Greeting.

We have today signed into law the Articles of the Barons granting to all free men of our Kingdom, for us and our heirs for ever, all the liberties written out therein, except insofar as those may be rendered inoperative in accordance with the exceptions noted hereinafter.

Section 12 of the Articles says that "No 'scutage' or 'aid' may be levied in our kingdom without its general consent, unless it is for the ransom of our person, to make our eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry our eldest daughter." Inasmuch as our esteemed consort Isabella of Angoulême is our junior by a full score of years and may therefore bear more than our present four offspring, should our eldest surviving daughter at the time of her marriage be one of a pair of hypothetical future twins, we shall construe the parenthetical "once" to apply equally to each and therefore to entitle each to a separate and equal marriage, and permit us to compel "aid" for both.

In following Sections 30 and 31, which state that "No sheriff, royal official, or other person shall take horses or carts for transport from any free man, without his consent", and "Neither we nor any royal official will take wood for our castle, or for any other purpose, without the consent of the owner", we shall implement these provisions in a manner consistent with our constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch, requiring that decisions on provisioning of transportation and refueling of law enforcement officers in the execution of the laws are a part of the executive power vested in us, and accordingly, we shall construe these articles as advisory rather than mandatory.

Secret Evidence
Section 38's proposal that "In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it", to the extent that the charges made relate to access to classified national security information, we shall construe this provision in a manner consistent with our exclusive constitutional authority, as head of the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief, to classify and control access to national security information.

Trial By Jury
In regard to Section 39's suggestion that "No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land", we shall construe the provision in a manner which is consistent with our nation's traditional constitutional commitment to us of responsibility for conducting and protecting the security of our beloved homeland against all foes, foreign and domestic, and shall consider these provisions only advisory in cases of those determined to be enemy combatants or supporters thereof or apologists therefor, especially rumor-mongering free-lance town criers or wandering scribes.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Four Reactions To Our New Overlords

I've run this cartoon before, but yesterday's repeal of the American Revolution calls for it again. The Congressional sycophancy provoked -- well, mostly apathy out there, because "it's not me they'll be using those powers against". The best, and most frightening, thing I've ever read about that inertia was Milton Mayer's They Thought They Were Free, about how the ordinary Germans accepted Nazi rule.

On the web, of course, we're polarized into praise for our Leader -- from the far wrong wing nuts -- and, from everyone else, anger, despair, fear, and a few glimmers of dutiful belief that it just has to get better if we keep on trying. Amygdala takes the literal Thomas Jefferson approach (unaware that Tom has already been rounded up and sent to Gitmo, secretly, of course) at Come Arrest Me:
Overthrow this government. By force.

Detain me.

All of you need to stand up and say this. Now.

Because it's going to be later, if not sooner.

I call for the overthrow of the government of the United States of America. By force.

Until this bill is overturned.

I don't want to wait until I pass a border.

I call for the overthrow now.

I resist.
Unclaimed Territory says we have done some good in opposing this at Beltway Democrats are seriously flawed, but the election is still critically important:
And I think there is one other point that needs to be recognized about yesterday's vote: In 2002, virtually all of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls in Congress (Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt, Graham) voted for the Iraq war resolution, because they thought they had to be accommodationist in order to have a chance to win.

But this time, all of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls in Congress (Biden, Clinton, Feingold, Kerry) voted against this bill, because now they know that they can't be accommodationist if they want to win the nomination. Call that the Joe Lieberman Lesson. That is genuine progress, no matter how you slice it. Is it glorious, tearing-down-the-gate-with-fists-in-the-air Immediate Revolution? No. But it's undeniable incremental progress nonetheless.
The Poor Man agrees we have to keep working to defeat Republicans at The morning after:
The bottom line is the votes weren’t there. The day was lost.

Basic mathematics explains why. Only 2-3% of the representatives of the majority party voted against it, as opposed to 75-85% of the minority. It would have been nice if, under circumstances carefully contrived by the majority party to be as politically difficult as possible, 100% of the minority went down to defeat. It would have been nice if any of the 15 trojan horse amendments introduced by the Democrats had suceeded. And a pony, if you please. But that didn’t happen, and so we have to settle for defeat, and a Democratic rate of opposition only 30 times as high as the Republican.

From our history: the Fugitive Slave Act, the Alien and Sedition Acts, the internment of Japanese-Americans. Now the McCain Torture Bill - and this, too, shall pass. Now, whether it will pass into a shameful memory, or be overshadowed by still greater outrages on every alternate September, remains to be seen. What will most determine this is what party controls the aparatus of government - the party of 97-98% authoritarianism, or the party of 15-25%. Because if the Republicans are in control in 2008, and want to further degrade the country in order to hold on to the Congress and the White House, they will be proposing something which is as unthinkable today as the normalization of Abu Ghraib was two years ago - and the same merciless math assures us that this, too, shall pass. So, if this possibility concerns you, of fucking course it matters who wins in November. Look at the numbers. It matters more than anything.
The Mahablog agrees as well, but also has advice for those who are just too fed up or fearful to try at Choices:
I see a Dem takeover of Congress this November as a stopgap measure. Even if Dems take both houses of Congress we face enormous challenges to pull the nation back from the brink and restore our pathological political culture to something approaching health. But if the Republicans keep control of both houses of Congress, the task of saving our nation may become impossible.

Time is short. We cannot afford to sit on our hands and wait for the Messiah Candidate to come and save us. We've got to work with the tools we have. Once we've pulled back from the brink of disaster we can take steps to get better tools. ...

If you still aren't persuaded then — Canada is north.
Foolishly or not, I'm very involved in helping Democratic candidates beat the Repugnants this fall (and I'm also voting for a few Libertarians in races where no Democrat challenged the Pluripotent Presidential Party). If worse does come to worst, and Jefferson's "right to alter or abolish" is all we have left, I probably won't flee (and if I did, Mexico is much closer). Texans have revolted against tyranny more than once in the past. The question is how many of the residents of the state today would still be willing rebels, or how many would rather just reach for the remote.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Fight Goes On

The Great Grey Liar, blissfully ignoring its own role as cheerleader for the War To End All Domestic Opposition, finally denounced the pending nullification of the Constitution and almost a millenium of common law, much too late to affect what they reported as news:
The Senate today rejected an amendment to a bill creating a new system for interrogating and trying terror suspects that would have guaranteed such suspects access to the courts to challenge their imprisonment. The vote was 51 to 48 against the amendment... The bill's ultimate passage was assured on Wednesday when Democrats agreed to forgo a filibuster in return for consideration of the amendment. ...White House spokesman Tony Snow said today that President Bush will emphasize Democratic opposition to the bill in campaign appearances.
So the caving in to not appear "obstructionist" didn't do a bit of good, did it? They are still going to damn us all as traitors anyway.
Before the session began this morning, President Bush traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with Republican Senators and urge passage of the bill. "The American people need to know that we're working together to win this war on terror," he said. "Our most important responsibility is to protect the American people from further attack. And we cannot be able to tell the American people we're doing our full job unless we have the tools to do so."
To which the best comment was made by Tacitus in his Ab excessu divi Augusti almost two thousand years ago, about a speech by the Emperor Tiberius:
haec atque talia, quamquam cum adsensu audita ab iis quibus omnia principum, honesta atque inhonesta, laudare mos est, plures per silentium aut occultum murmur excepere
...or, as it is translated (a bit loosely) by Michael Grant
This sort of argument was applauded by those who habitually applaud emperors, right or wrong. But the majority received it in silence or with suppressed mutters.
It is entirely proper that the Senate is surrendering our freedom today, because this is the anniversary of the Continental Congress signing its own death warrant in 1787, by sending the illegally proposed new Constitution to the states for ratification. The fact that the Philadelphia convention and the Congress itself had no authority to do this didn't stop them, just like that now-ratified document's clear prohibitions of things today's legislation authorizes didn't stop their successors from the same abdication today.

But despair not. Athenae at First Draft still raises a light in the darkness that everyone needs to read all of. Here's part:
This is about what kind of country we are.

And we are better than this.

We are better than murderers. We are better than torturers. We are better than those who would tell us the only way to beat the terrorists is to inflict far greater terror. We are better than those who would tell us the only way for us to live now is to live in fear. We are better than those who say, "Build yourself a tower, build yourself a wall, dig yourself a moat." ...

We, as a country, are better than this. And if the weakness and fear of a cowed Republican Congress allows them to lose faith in the conviction of America to preserve its ideals while overcoming any foe, that is the fault of the cowed Republican Congress, because I saw Democrats all over the place standing up this week. Russ Feingold, Tim Ryan, Louise Slaughter, Dick Durbin who got beat on so bad over this once before, even Barack got off his snobby ass and joined the fight. Kerry. Dean. They all got up and said no, this is wrong. ...

It doesn't work, it doesn't help, it makes us evil and it makes us small. It reduces a great nation to the level of some tin-hat dictatorship and we, cats and kittens, are better than this.

And that conviction, that this is not the policy of a great nation but the demented expression of the fear of a nation's corrupt leadership, that this is not the course America will chart for years to come, that this is not what my fellow Americans want, will not waver should the unprincipled, undisciplined, unscrupulous Republican Congress pass this moral abortion of a bill....

I'm not going to join the crowd of about seven people saying they'll just quit politics, quit the Democrats, quit the world, whatever, man, if this goes down the way I think it's going to go down. And I don't think any of you will either.

We are better than this.

And I know that because I know all of you. I know my family, my friends. I know my neighbors and the writers for my local papers and I know my senators and congressmen. I know people who get up every day and fight like hell against incredible odds to do what is right, be that making somebody a lunch to take to school or writing legislation. I know Americans, and we are better than this.

We are better than this. Look at the past three years. Look what we've done, bloggers and activists and writers and singers and rank and file Democrats who are making a 50-state strategy practical and real, so that Republican districts are fighting grounds where they should be quiet pastures of acquiescence and fear. We've made it a fight, don't you know what that means? It's impossible to explain to somebody who hasn't seen it, I think, the incredible sight that turning back the inevitable is.

Hate Is Long

This is the birthday of Livia Drusilla, later called called Julia Augusta, who was the Barbara Bush of her time.

Dream of your children ruling an empire.

Sic Semper Tyrannis

That is the motto of the very misnamed "Commonwealth of Virginia", famously used as an exit line by some thespian advocate of regime change (later treated as an enemy combatant ahead of his time). Now horror novelist Stephen King has gone to the Old Dominion to give us a new quote for our own time:
Being a poor Republican is like being on death row and greasing the electric chair as a hobby.
He was speaking at a fundraiser for Jim Webb for U.S. Senate. Another notable there was lawyer-novelist John Grisham, who added this:
On the one side ... those who wear cowboy boots ... pretend to be tough. They're not real cowboys. ... To prove they're 'tough' they say things like 'bring it on,' 'mission accomplished,' and 'welcome to the real Virginia.'
(Spotted by the Mystery of the Haunted Vampire.)

Meanwhile the Repugnant incumbent just can't crawl away from his adopted history:
State leaders of the Sons of Confederate Veterans have scheduled a news conference today to criticize Allen's recent remarks that the Confederate flag could be seen as a symbol of hate.

"George Allen was a good friend of ours, and we don't appreciate him turning on us to get out of political trouble," said Frank Earnest of Virginia Beach, commander of the Virginia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. "He's degraded us, the flag and our heritage."
If I was a member of the General Assembly at Richmond, I would introduce a bill to ban disrespect for the confederate flag, specifically including referring to it as a symbol of hate. To paraphrase the old story about Lyndon Johnson's comments on spreading a tale that your opponent enjoys carnal knowledge of swine, I don't want them to pass it -- I just want to laugh my rear off watching them debate it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Beware Of The Buddhists

The Mahablog helpfully explains:
The German Opera of Berlin (Deutsche Oper Berlin) has pulled a production of Mozart's Idomeneo from its fall schedule on the advice of police. The production had included a scene featuring the severed heads of Mohammed, Jesus, and the Buddha, and the police worried that Muslims might get violent about it.

If you are familiar with Idomeneo you might wonder how Mohammed, Jesus, and the Buddha wandered into it, since those illustrious figures are not in the libretto.
As Insty would inject, "Indeed". The rightwingnuts, such as their leading slattern (at least according to have shown their real priorities here by denouncing the opera company for cancelling this gratuitous offense against Islam, even though it should be just as offense to Christians. For that matter, Mozart probably would sound a discordant note about this abuse of his work. Fortunately, this incident has not been a total loss, because it seems to have inspired the Mahablog to contemplate a possible future opera which I would love to see:
If anyone ever writes an opera about the Bush Administration (hey, there’s one about Nixon!), I foresee a scene in which a pile of shit is hauled into the White House (Josh Bolten: Osservi, un altro mucchio di defecazione!). Then Karl Rove appears with a shovel, promising to find the pony (Non si preoccupi! Posso trovare il piccolo cavallo!).
(By the way, I saw Nixon In China, which premiered right here in Texas. There was no pony in that one either. This new one could be more amusing, probably performed first outdoors at the summer music festival in Point Barrow or Thule after the residents of the temporarily more temperate latitudes kill each other off over vanishing food supplies when the warming Siberian methane traps let loose -- but I digress.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

We Wound You Up, You're A Loyal Fan

A conservative idea du jour -- that our declining wages don't matter because we have iPods and Starbucks -- is, unbelievably, made even stupider by the folks at Asymmetrical Information. ... Do these people really think that, if we want our wages to go up -- as Americans used to be able to expect -- it also means that we want to go backward in time and disdain modern conveniences? Apparently ... Grumpy liberals want you to live like 70s cavemen! --Roy Edroso, "Economics Made Easy"
[To the tune of Joni Mitchell's "You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio".]
When you're marching round the globe
With a bomber above you
Don't let technophobes
Hassle or shove you

Oh soldier you can tune in
To the internet
We'll censor the wingnuts
So you will not need to fret
We can show you ribbons
On cars for you
And flags on lapels
In praise of you

We'll show you the speeches
Of Leader dear
And applause from desk jockies
Way back here
You know the tree huggers hate you
They'd take all your toys
From their caves they berate you
For your technical joys

They've been giving you trouble
For your clothes
But we rose
Up out of the rubble
Because our Leader knows

But if they tempt you to ponder
Just how the new invasion helps us
Then don't listen, good fighter
No need for thinking
Turn off your brain
Remember your gadgets
And go on line again

Shun their books and mags
And their newspaper lies
And the barefeet they trample on flags
While trying to ban guns and hunters
'Cause they still kill noble stags

When you're surfacing to fire
All the MIRVs you brought with you
Remember the choir
Of pundits love you

If you're pinned down in the sand
With your laptop beside you
You'll be safe surfing you-tube
Who'd dare deride you?
Fighting I.E.D.s there lets
Us fight liberals here
As your base exchange gets
New stuff you can hear

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dubyuh Bush's U.N.O. Democracy Speech

[To the tune of Neil Diamond's "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show".]

Call Turtle Bay, and say he's on his way
See his guards for today are in place
Clear Forty-sixth, around First Avenue
Keep the media crew from his face
The Assembly Hall with its slanted roof
Will hear any claim, even with no proof

It's Bush, Dubyuh Bush,
Gee Dubyuh Bush's U.N.O. Democracy Speech ["Leader! Leader!"]
Take one drink per lie, and you will get sky high
So let's watch him preach, how Iran's in breach, 'fore they impeach

The world's cameras watch, and the reporters crowd
More than fire codes allowed on the rails
Bored diplomats have brought all of their staff
So they'll get a good laugh from his tales
Starting off the bat, with misleading stats
Then to follow that, altered pics from sats

It's Bush, Dubyuh Bush,
Gee Dubyuh Bush's U.N.O. Democracy Speech
Take one drink per lie, and you will get sky high
So let's watch him preach, how Iran's in breach, 'fore they impeach

Lovers ["Leader!"], freedom lovers ["Decider!"]
Now God's given me tools of fire ["Leader! Decider!"]
And when an axis is vile
I've got to bust up their bunkers for them ["Decider!"]
'Cause that's what nukes are for ["Leader! Decider!"]
And when you doubt my style
I've got to bust you for being with them ["Decider!"]
Condemn you as the axis choir
'Cause that's what power's for ["Leader! Decider!"]

Let me have my way, join the winning side
And you'll live today, as the world I stride
["Leader! Leader! Leader! Leader! Leader! Leader! Leader! Leader!"]

It's Bush, Dubyuh Bush,
Gee Dubyuh Bush's U.N.O. Democracy Speech
Take one drink per lie, and you will get sky high
So let's watch him preach, how Iran's in breach, 'fore they impeach

Monday, September 18, 2006

He's Back....

Since August 5, I have been worrying about the lack of posts from Arthur Silber, the ailing blogger of Once Upon a Time... He's been the first place to look for consistent absolutist denunciations of the philosophical immorality and danger of the far right wing cult engulfing us today. Just today, he has emerged, promising to post more soon. This calls for a celebration. In the meantime, check out this archive page for several items he penned on the subject of Torture.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"The impolite phrase, is 'impeachable offense.'"

Keith Olbermann is standing up proudly like all of the media should be over Bush's exploitation of 911. Crooks and Liars has the video posted of an absolute must-watch reaming of Bush and his gang. Right now it's so busy that the waiting time is interminable to load the video, but it's worth trying again -- and in the meantime, they also have the transcript, which is almost as powerful itself. Go see and read. The (inexcusably long) link is right here.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Surreal As You Wanna Be

This is the birthday of Elsa Schiaparelli.

I see you've got yourself a brand-new Daliesque high-heel hat.

Being Too Busy To Blog

The huge decline in the number of recent postings will no doubt continue through November 8th. There happens to be a very important election coming up, and I'm happily too involved with campaigning until then to do much blogging or even much surfing of the web. But I do grab a few moments away. For instance, last week I did a parody to discourage resignation and burnout by the team leader at American Street. You may enjoy Kevin H. — Blogging Star.