Speaking of Dirty Tricks

Flavin tunnel with Marty Spellerberg

Al Gore has some enemies who don’t want his name even mentioned as a possible compromise candidate at the Denver 2008 Convention.

Al Gore’s opulent lifestyle and his virtuous plea to save the planet from global warming don’t mesh, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which announced plans yesterday for a new national advertising campaign to showcase the contrast before the American public.

Yet his name is also being bandied about in some Democratic and progressive circles for a presidential “dream team” ticket pairing him with Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

The CEI ad will highlight Mr. Gore’s “hypocrisy,” said Sam Kazman, general counsel of the free-market public policy group.

The spot, which begins airing Tuesday on several cable networks, is also meant to counter a new outreach by the Alliance for Climate Protection, an umbrella organization founded by Mr. Gore last year. The group is planning a massive music festival in July and will spend a reported $10 million on advocacy ads promoting the “climate crisis” and eco-consciousness.

[From Ad to challenge Gore’s planet-saving image – – The Washington Times, America’s Newspaper aka The Mooney Times]

So who exactly is the Competitive Enterprise Institute? and more importantly, who funds their efforts? Before I looked, I guessed ExxonMobil, and apparently, was right.

In its IRS Form 990 for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2004, CEI reported revenues totalling $2,919,537, including donations from individuals, foundations and corporations. Its net assets were $1,670,808.…

According to page nine of a report from the CEI contained on the University of California, San Francisco’s Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (LTDL), the following companies and foundations were among those listed as supporting CEI’s work with annual contributions of at least $10,000, currently the CEI’s “Entrepreneurs” level:

Aequus Institute, Amoco Foundation, Inc., Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Coca-Cola Company, E.L. Craig Foundation, CSX Corporation, Earhart Foundation, Fieldstead and Co., FMC Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Gilder Foundation, Koch Family Foundations (including the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, and Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation), Philip M. McKenna Foundation, Inc., Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, Philip Morris Companies, Inc., Pfizer Inc., Precision Valve Corporation, Prince Foundation, Rodney Fund, Sheldon Rose, Scaife Foundations (Carthage Foundation and Sarah Scaife Foundation), and Texaco, Inc. (Texaco Foundation).

Other documents in the LTDL show that CEI has received funding directly from various tobacco companies.[7],[8],[9] For example, the listing on the Philip Morris Glossary of Names: C gives the note “Received public policy grant from Philip Morris (1995); Pro-market public interest group dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government.”

ExxonMobil Corporation was a major donor to CEI, with over $2 million in contributions between 1998 and 2005. [10] In 2002 the company gave $405,000;[11] in 2004 it gave CEI $180,000 that was earmarked for “global climate change and global climate change outreach.” [12] In 2006, the company announced that they had ended their funding for the group.[12]

[From Competitive Enterprise Institute – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

A veritable rogues gallery of corporate evil-doers. The most surprising name (to me anyway) is Ford Motor Company. I thought Ford had turned a new leaf, and was promoting green ventures? Seems that was only propaganda, and behind the scenes Ford is still dragging their feet, fighting regulation that would tackle global climate change.

Sourcewatch says of CEI

It postures as an advocate of “sound science” in the development of public policy. However, CEI projects dispute the overwhelimng scientific evidence that human induced greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change. They have a program for “challenging government regulations”, push property rights as a solution to environment problems, opposed US vehicle fuel efficiency standards and been a booster for the drug industry.

[snip]

CEI belongs to various conservative alliances, including the Alliance for America, Get Government Off Our Backs, Townhall.com, the National Consumer Coalition (a pro-corporate front group headed by Frances B. Smith, the wife of CEI founder Fred Smith), and the Environmental Education Working Group (EEWG), a national umbrella group for organizations working to undermine environmental education in schools. It is linked to the UK-based rightwing thinktank, the International Policy Network, via shared staff and an identical US contact address. It also sponsors several other subsidiary organizations, including:
The Center for Private Conservation, a green-sounding front group that opposes environmental regulations by claiming that “free market” solutions work better.

The Cooler Heads Coalition, chaired by former CEI director Marlo Lewis and directed by Myron Ebell, CEI’s Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy. The Cooler Heads Coalition was formed on May 6, 1997, “to dispel the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific and risk analysis.” In March 2001, the nonprofit Clean Air Trust named Ebell its “clean air villain of the month,” citing his “ferocious lobbying charge to persuade President Bush to reverse his campaign pledge to control electric utility emissions of carbon dioxide.”

and this list of funders/enemies of the planet:

CEI does not publish a list of its institutional donors. However, in a CEI report sent to Philip Morris, the think tank identified a range of companies and foundations as having given $10,000 or more. [21] Contributors included: Aequus Institute
Amoco Foundation, Inc.
Coca-Cola Company, contributions were $25,000 per annum for the period 1991-1995;
E.L. Craig Foundation
CSX Corporation
Fieldstead and Co.
FMC Foundation
Ford Motor Company Fund
Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation
Philip Morris Companies, Inc.
Pfizer Inc.
Precision Valve Corporation
Prince Foundation
Sheldon Rose
Texaco, Inc.
Texaco Foundation
Alex C. Walker Foundation

In a 2006 profile of CEI and other global warming skeptics, Washington Post reporter Joel Achenbach noted that “the most generous sponsors” of CEI’s 2005 annual dinner were “the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Exxon Mobil, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and Pfizer. Other contributors included General Motors, the American Petroleum Institute, the American Plastics Council, the Chlorine Chemistry Council and Arch Coal.”

FISA and the House

From the Department of I’ll Believe It When the Ink Is Dry

In continued defiance of the White House, House Democratic leaders are readying a proposal that would reject giving legal protection to the phone companies that helped in the National Security Agency’s program of wiretapping without warrants after the Sept. 11 attacks, Congressional officials said Monday.

Instead of blanket immunity, the tentative proposal would give the federal courts special authorization to hear classified evidence and decide whether the phone companies should be held liable. House Democrats have been working out the details of their proposal in the last few days, officials said, and expect to take it to the House floor for a vote on Thursday.

The Democrats’ proposal would fall far short of what the White House has been seeking.

President Bush has been insisting for months that Congress give retroactive immunity to the phone companies, calling it a vital matter of national security. The Senate gave him what he wanted in a vote last month that also broadened the government’s eavesdropping powers.

[Click to read more House Steers Its Own Path on Wiretaps – New York Times]

Poor lil Bushy, Congress is actually questioning his orders.

Really, though, isn’t this how a Democracy is supposed to work? The Senate is somewhat distant from the will of the people, and thus able to wrangle compromises with the interest groups that fund their lavish junkets. The Congress occasionally listens to the opinion of the electorate who vote for them every two years. Bush isn’t supposed to always get his way either, no matter how many times he petulantly stamps his feet and screams, “Nine Eleven! Nine Eleven! Nine Eleven! Nine Eleven! Nine Eleven!”

Corporate Media Lazy

Standard

Stop the press! Well, you know what we mean. Poor (ex-mayor of Austin) Kirk Watson was caught on live television without an answer to the gotcha-question of the moment – is Obama a light-weight Senator? Blogger hilzoy answers

it’s only a Rorschach test for people who don’t bother to find whether or not Obama actually has any actual legislative achievements. If he does, then of course this just shows that this one supporter didn’t know what they are. If he doesn’t, it might show something more, e.g. that Obama is a lightweight. As it happens, Obama does have substantive legislative achievements. I have written more about them here. A few highlights, all of which became law:

[Click to read them The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – Dear Chris Matthew Please Do Your Job]

Asleep at the Post

He concludes:

There’s a lot more. Honestly, there is. I wrote a summary here (and an earlier one here), and provided lists (1, 2, 3) of all the bills and amendments sponsored or co-sponsored by Clinton and Obama in the 109th and 110th Congresses, just so it would be as easy as possible for people to see for themselves. (Fun fact about each side’s legislative records: during the 109th and 110th Congresses (which is to say, the time that both Obama and Clinton have been in the Senate), only one sponsored a substantive bill that became law. Guess who it was? Hint: the bill concerns the ongoing conflict in the Congo.) Which brings me to my larger point:

I did this because I had heard one too many people like Chris Matthews talking about Obama’s alleged lack of substance, and I thought: I know that’s not true, since I have read about Obama’s work on non-proliferation, avian flu, and a few other issues. And if people are saying he lacks substance, then surely I, as a citizen, should try to find out whether I just hallucinated all this interesting legislation, or whether this talking point was, in fact, completely wrong. So I sat down with Google and Thomas and tried to find out. But I’m just an amateur. I have a full-time job doing something else. Chris Matthews, by contrast, is paid large sums of money to provide political commentary and insight. I assume he has research assistants at his disposal. He could have done this work a lot more easily than I did. But he didn’t. He was more interested in gotcha moments than in actually enlightening the American people.

So here’s a challenge for Chris Matthews, or anyone else in the media who wants to take it up. Go over Clinton and Obama’s actual legislative records. Find the genuine legislative accomplishments that each has to his or her name. Report to the American people on what you find. Until you do, don’t accept statements from either side about who has substance and who does not, or who traffics in “speeches” and who offers “solutions”. That’s lazy, unprofessional, and a disservice to your audience.

Amen to that. Why make up a fluff question when the answer is something an intern could turn up with a few days work? The obvious answer is the question isn’t supposed to get answered, it’s just a form of mud-slinging, and laziness.

Public thanks to hilzoy to doing the legwork.

Telecom Immunity Priorities

Bush’s buddies, the telecom giants, are still worried they might have to answer for their crimes.

From the Senate floor, Ted Kennedy just cut through all the crap:
“The President has said that American lives will be sacrificed if Congress does not change FISA. But he has also said that he will veto any FISA bill that does not grant retro-active immunity. No immunity, no FISA bill. So if we take the President at his word, he’s willing to let Americans die to protect the phone companies.”

[From Daily Kos: Kennedy on Telecom Immunity]

Zing!

(H/T)

Constituency of One for FCC Chair

 

His Royal Highness, Bushy, of course. There aren’t many government officials who can keep their jobs when they are unpopular with the Congress, with the citizenry, and with the industry being regulated.

Today, the Federal Communications Commission is set to ram through two measures likely to roil the media and telecommunications industries and deepen political dissatisfaction with the agency’s chairman.

Kevin Martin, a 41-year-old Republican, has already drawn heavy criticism with his determination to pass a rule making it easier for media companies to own both newspapers and television stations in the top 20 markets. The five-member commission is expected to pass that rule and another saying that no single cable company can serve more than 30% of the nation’s cable subscribers.
[snip]
In a highly partisan capital, Mr. Martin is unusual in that he is coming under attack by members of both parties and several industries. The cable restriction, for instance, has stoked the anger of an industry that expected an orthodox laissez-faire Republican as chairman, only to find an aggressive regulator.
[From Industry Seethes as FCC Sets Curbs]

Mr. Martin’s only government experience seems to be his work on the Shrub’s 2000 Presidential Campaign, and on Kenneth Star’s impeachment theater.

Mr. Martin worked as a telecommunications lawyer in private practice and briefly assisted independent counsel Kenneth Starr in 1997 during the Whitewater probe. Later, he left Washington for Austin, Texas, joining then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s presidential campaign. Mr. Martin’s wife, Cathie, whom he met at Harvard Law School, also worked on the campaign.

In 2001, the newly elected Mr. Bush appointed Mr. Martin as an FCC commissioner. His wife worked for Vice President Dick Cheney for several years before moving to the White House’s communications office.

Despite what Amy Schatz asserts in the article, there aren’t many consumer groups who think Mr. Martin’s tenure is worth celebration. There might be some consumer groups who are members of the Christian-Taliban who celebrate Martin’s quest to “clean the smut out of the airways”, and protect our precious ears from dangerous words like fuck and shit, but these consumer groups don’t have the support of most of the nation. The only group who would praise Mr. Martin on the record is Consumer Union’s Gene Kimmelman, for some reason:

Consumer groups are among those who offer kind words for Mr. Martin. “He’s been as accessible as any chairman in the past 25 years to consumer interests. He’s reached out for input,” says Gene Kimmelman, vice president for federal and international affairs at Consumers Union.

Is indecency on cable really what is important?

Soon Mr. Martin’s concerns about indecency on television began to steer him into conflict with the cable and broadcast-TV industries. His staff proposed record fines against broadcast networks for showing racy programming. Mr. Martin suggested that the FCC should fine broadcasters for each instance of a profanity used during a show, instead of just one fine per broadcast.

Mr. Martin pushed for a fine in cases of inadvertent broadcast of profanities, such as an incident involving U2 singer Bono during a live broadcast of the Golden Globes awards. This summer, a federal appeals court sided with the broadcasters and tossed out the agency’s decision.

Mr. Martin has suggested that indecency laws should apply to cable programming, prompting an outcry about free speech. Profit-spinning cable shows such as “The Sopranos” and “Real Sex” on HBO are rich in profanity and sexual images.

Note that Mr. Martin doesn’t have much support:

Intense lobbying in Congress, the FCC and the White House paid off, as a stream of lawmakers began calling the FCC and sending letters decrying Mr. Martin’s plan. Internally, several FCC commissioners complained about the data Mr. Martin’s staff relied on in the report. Ultimately, Mr. Martin was forced to drop his proposal.

“Because we didn’t agree to [a-la-carte pricing] early in his tenure, I believe, and I believe the evidence is overwhelming, that he embarked on a punitive regulatory regime on the industry,” says Mr. McSlarrow, the cable association president. He says private enterprise is “more likely to get it right than someone who’s never been in the business world.”

The media-ownership rules up for a vote today have also sparked a backlash, this time in Congress as legislators complain Mr. Martin is rushing the issue onto the agenda. Yesterday, a bipartisan group of 25 senators warned in a letter to Mr. Martin that they will pursue legislation to block his plan if the FCC adopts it today.

On Friday, former and current Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Barack Obama threatened to block FCC funding to implement the new media-ownership rules. Veteran Michigan congressman John Dingell, head of the House committee that oversees the FCC, said he is “rapidly losing confidence” and recently opened a broad investigation into Mr. Martin’s management of the agency.

Seems only the White House is Mr. Martin’s supporter. Remind you of anyone?
(Digg-enabled full access to the complete article here)

John Nichols of the Nation writes:

The Federal Communications Commission has, as expected, voted along party lines to approve the demand of Rupert Murdoch and other communications-industry moguls for a loosening of limits on media monopolies in American cities.

Now, the real fight begins.

There was never any doubt that FCC chair Kevin Martin, a Bush-Cheney administration appointee and acolyte, would lead the two other Republican members of the commission to a 3-2 endorsement of a move to begin dismantling the historic “newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership” ban which has long served as the only barrier to the buying by one powerful individual or corporation of newspapers, television and radio stations and other media outlets in a community.
[Click to read more FCC Votes for Monopoly, Congress Must Vote for Democracy]

Louis Armstrong American Hero


“The Essential Louis Armstrong” (Louis Armstrong)

Louis Armstrong is an American hero.

As David Margolick recounts, a 21 year old journalist student by the name of Larry Lubenow ignored the instructions of his editor, and asked Louis Armstrong about what was happening in the Civil Rights Movement of Eisenhower era America….

With the connivance of the bell captain, [Lubenow] snuck into Mr. Armstrong’s suite with a room service lobster dinner. And Mr. Armstrong, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts, agreed to talk. Mr. Lubenow stuck initially to his editor’s script, asking Mr. Armstrong to name his favorite musician. (Bing Crosby, it turned out.) But soon he brought up Little Rock, and he could not believe what he heard. “It’s getting almost so bad a colored man hasn’t got any country,” a furious Mr. Armstrong told him. President Eisenhower, he charged, was “two faced,” and had “no guts.” For Governor Faubus, he used a double-barreled hyphenated expletive, utterly unfit for print [like, mother-fucker, perhaps? Stupid New York Times pearl-clutching.]. The two settled on something safer: “uneducated plow boy.” The euphemism, Mr. Lubenow says, was far more his than Mr. Armstrong’s.

Mr. Armstrong bitterly recounted some of his experiences touring in the Jim Crow South. He then sang the opening bar of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” inserting obscenities into the lyrics and prompting Velma Middleton, the vocalist who toured with Mr. Armstrong and who had joined them in the room, to hush him up.

Mr. Armstrong had been contemplating a good-will tour to the Soviet Union for the State Department. “They ain’t so cold but what we couldn’t bruise them with happy music,” he had said. Now, though, he confessed to having second thoughts. “The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell,” he said, offering further choice words about the secretary of state, John Foster Dulles. “The people over there ask me what’s wrong with my country. What am I supposed to say?”

Mr. Lubenow, who came from a small North Dakota farming community, was shocked by what he heard, but he also knew he had a story; he skipped the concert and went back to the paper to write it up. It was too late to get it in his own paper; nor would the Associated Press editor in Minneapolis, dubious that Mr. Armstrong could have said such things, put it on the national wire, at least until Mr. Lubenow could prove he hadn’t made it all up. So the next morning Mr. Lubenow returned to the Dakota Hotel and, as Mr. Armstrong shaved, had the Herald photographer take their picture together. Then Mr. Lubenow showed Mr. Armstrong what he’d written. “Don’t take nothing out of that story,” Mr. Armstrong declared. “That’s just what I said, and still say.” He then wrote “solid” on the bottom of the yellow copy paper, and signed his name.

Love Me I am A Liberal

No wonder I’ve never considered running for president (well, besides the little rule about having to be born in the US). Per Corpus Callosum, we see that the candidates for president, especially the ones who are well funded and likely to win a primary or two are all really Republicans, and the Republicans are really fascists/authoritarians by another name.

USprimaries 2007

So I wonder who is against the Drug War? Probably Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich only. I’ll admit I actually haven’t been paying attention to the platforms of specific candidates, other than in a vague way. Data like this is probably why – none of them are talking to me anyway. (Especially Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, based on this chart. John Edwards is the most left of the likely candidates, but something irks me about him too. )

Data from here.

My score? Took the test, and in no surprise to anyone who regularly glances at this page, I scored way, way to the left. Live and Let Live. Or as the Gnostic Christ said: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

love me I am a liberal

The Political Compass – Test:
Economic Left/Right: -7.63
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.31

About The Political Compass™

In the introduction, we explained the inadequacies of the traditional left-right line.

If we recognize that this is essentially an economic line it’s fine, as far as it goes. We can show, for example, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Pol Pot, with their commitment to a totally controlled economy, on the hard left. Socialists like Mahatma Gandhi and Robert Mugabe would occupy a less extreme leftist position. Margaret Thatcher would be well over to the right, but further right still would be someone like that ultimate free marketeer, General Pinochet.

That deals with economics, but the social dimension is also important in politics. That’s the one that the mere left-right scale doesn’t adequately address. So we’ve added one, ranging in positions from extreme authoritarian to extreme libertarian.

The Spy Chief Lies

Isn’t misleading Congress an impeachable offense? Just wondering.

Helios 3294

From the Sunday NYT we read, and laughed:

The Spy Chief Speaks – New York Times:
After Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush ordered the National Security Agency to intercept communications between people in the United States and people abroad without a warrant. That is a violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA.

Now we know the law was broken thousands of times. In 100 or so cases, the unlawfully intercepted calls led agents to believe that the person in the United States was a bad actor (Mr. McConnell implied, sort of, that they were terrorists), and the government’s lawyers obtained a warrant. We are still looking for that loophole in the Fourth Amendment.

Mr. McConnell told The El Paso Times that it was necessary to rush through major changes to FISA before Congress went on vacation because warrants require pesky paperwork — 200 hours’ worth each.

Really? The government applied for 2,181 FISA warrants in 2006, which the blog Threat Level translated to 436,200 hours. Figuring a 40-hour workweek with two weeks off, that’s more than 218 top-secret-cleared officials doing nothing all year but writing out FISA applications.

Mr. McConnell said telephone companies turned over call data to the National Security Agency without a court order, which may be illegal. He revealed this while praising Congress for giving the telecoms immunity from lawsuits or criminal sanctions if they continue doing that. Now, he said, Congress should absolve the companies retroactively. That would be a nice twofer: protect a deep-pockets industry that may have broken the law, and cut off judicial scrutiny of Mr. Bush’s decision to ignore FISA in the first place.

Other parts of Mr. McConnell’s interview were bewildering, like his claim that debating wiretapping in Congress will cause American deaths. It was odd that he spoke at all about matters the intelligence community still considers classified. But there was a secret Mr. McConnell was determined to keep. He was asked why the White House bitterly fought reasonable Congressional proposals to give spies a bit more needed flexibility to use modern technology. Mr. McConnell said there was “untenable” language in the bills and lawmakers refused to fix it. The White House then stampeded Congress into passing a bill it wanted, one that shredded FISA.

What was the language? Sorry, that’s classified.

So glad the Dem-controlled Congress rolled over for the President so readily. McConnell sounds like a real tool.

41 House Dems Tremble Before the Bush-meister

The Democrats cave in to the Republicans so frequently it no longer surprises me, only increases my disgust with the party. What good does the opposition party do itself by allowing the White House to brow-beat it into accepting legislation that the citizenry is appalled by? Why not just have a merger or leveraged buyout and be done with it?

The key provision of S.1927 is new section 105A of FISA (see page 2), which categorically excludes from FISA’s requirements any and all “surveillance directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States.”

For surveillance to come within this exemption, there is no requirement that it be conducted outside the U.S.; no requirement that the person at whom it is “directed” be an agent of a foreign power or in any way connected to terrorism or other wrongdoing; and no requirement that the surveillance does not also encompass communications of U.S. persons. Indeed, if read literally, it would exclude from FISA any surveillance that is in some sense “directed” both at persons overseas and at persons in the U.S.

The key term, obviously, is “directed at.” The bill includes no definition of it.

Balkination

Daily Kos: 41 House Dems Tremble Before the Mighty Bush:
These are the Dems who…failed our country.

These Democrats In Name Only should be forced to wear a crimson R on their lapel.

Jason Altmire (4th Pennsylvania)
John Barrow (12th Georgia) Blue Dog
Melissa Bean (8th Illinois) Blue Dog
Dan Boren (2nd Oklahoma) Blue Dog
Leonard Boswell (3rd Iowa)
Allen Boyd (2nd Florida) Blue Dog
Christopher Carney (10th Pennsylvania) Blue Dog
Ben Chandler (6th Kentucky) Blue Dog
Rep. Jim Cooper (5th Tennessee) Blue Dog
Jim Costa (20th California) Blue Dog
Bud Cramer (5th Alabama) Blue Dog
Henry Cuellar (28th Texas)
Artur Davis (7th Alabama)
Lincoln Davis (4th Tennessee) Blue Dog
Joe Donnelly (2nd Indiana) Blue Dog
Chet Edwards (17th Texas)
Brad Ellsworth (8th Indiana) Blue Dog
Bob Etheridge (North Carolina)
Bart Gordon (6th Tennessee) Blue Dog
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (South Dakota) Blue Dog
Brian Higgins (27th New York)
Baron Hill (9th Indiana) Blue Dog
Nick Lampson (23rd Texas) Blue Dog
Daniel Lipinski (3rd Illinois)
Jim Marshall (8th Georgia) Blue Dog
Jim Matheson (2nd Utah) Blue Dog
Mike McIntyre (7th North Carolina) Blue Dog
Charlie Melancon (3rd Louisiana) Blue Dog
Harry Mitchell (5th Arizona)
Colin Peterson (7th Minnesota) Blue Dog
Earl Pomeroy (North Dakota) Blue Dog
Ciro Rodriguez (23rd Texas) Blue Dog
Mike Ross (4th Arkansas) Blue Dog
John Salazar (3rd Colorado) Blue Dog
Heath Shuler (11th North Carolina) Blue Dog
Vic Snyder (2nd Arkansas)
Zachary Space (18th Ohio) Blue Dog
John Tanner (8th Tennessee) Blue Dog
Gene Taylor (4th Mississippi) Blue Dog
Timothy Walz (1st Minnesota)
Charles A. Wilson (6th Ohio) Blue Dog

Bush Opens Mouth, Lies

Oh, yeah, I believe the Dauphin. Especially after reading this tidbit about the Pentagon also collecting data on everything possible for our upcoming gulag.

WSJ.com – Bush Defends NSA Eavesdropping Program

President Bush said the government does not troll the personal lives of Americans, but didn’t directly address a newspaper report that the National Security Agency has gathered millions of Americans’ phone records.

So in other words, don’t believe a word of this non-denial denial.

…Congressional Republicans and Democrats demanded answers from the Bush administration Thursday after a report in USA Today said the NSA secretly collected records of ordinary Americans’ phone calls to build a database of every call made within the country.

“It is our government, it’s not one party’s government. It’s America’s government. Those entrusted with great power have a duty to answer to Americans what they are doing,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. telephone companies began turning over records of tens of millions of their customers’ phone calls to the NSA program shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said USA Today, citing anonymous sources it said had direct knowledge of the arrangement.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, said he would call the phone companies to appear before the panel “to find out exactly what is going on.”

The telephone companies on Thursday declined to comment on national security matters, and would say only that they are assisting government agencies in accordance with the law.

“We have been in full compliance with the law and we are committed to our customers’ privacy,” said Bob Varettoni, a spokesman for Verizon.

The White House defended its overall eavesdropping program and said no domestic surveillance is conducted without court approval.

“The intelligence activities undertaken by the United States government are lawful, necessary and required to protect Americans from terrorist attacks,” said Dana Perino, the deputy White House press secretary, who added that appropriate members of Congress have been briefed on intelligence activities.

Mr. Leahy sounded incredulous about the latest report and railed against what he called a lack of congressional oversight. He argued that the media was doing the job of Congress.

“Are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al Qaida?” Sen. Leahy asked. “These are tens of millions of Americans who are not suspected of anything … Where does it stop?”

The Democrat, who at one point held up a copy of the newspaper, added: “Somebody ought to tell the truth and answer questions. They haven’t. The press has done our work for us and we should be ashamed. Shame on us for being so far behind and being so willing to rubber stamp anything this administration does. We ought to fold our tents.”

The program doesn’t involve listening to or taping the calls. Instead it documents who talks to whom in personal and business calls, whether local or long distance, by tracking which numbers are called, the newspaper said.

The NSA and the Office of National Intelligence Director didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

NSA is the same spy agency that conducts the controversial domestic eavesdropping program that has been acknowledged by President Bush. The president said last year that he authorized the NSA to listen, without warrants, to international phone calls involving Americans suspected of terrorist links.

The report came as the former NSA director, Gen. Michael Hayden — Bush’s choice to take over leadership of the CIA — had been scheduled to visit lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday. However, the meetings with Republican Sens. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were postponed at the request of the White House, said congressional aides in the two Senate offices.

The White House offered no reason for the postponement to the lawmakers. Other meetings with lawmakers were still planned.

Gen. Hayden already faced criticism because of the NSA’s secret domestic eavesdropping program. As head of the NSA from March 1999 to April 2005, Mr. Hayden also would have overseen the call-tracking program.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat of California who has spoken favorably of the nomination, said the latest revelation “is also going to present a growing impediment to the confirmation of Gen. Hayden.”

The NSA wants the database of domestic call records to look for any patterns that might suggest terrorist activity, USA Today said.

Don Weber, a senior spokesman for the NSA, told the paper that the agency operates within the law, but wouldn’t comment further on its operations.

One big telecommunications company, Qwest Communications International Inc., has refused to turn over records to the program, the newspaper said, because of privacy and legal concerns.

USA Today story here.

More details at TPM Muckraker, TalkLeft, TalkLeft again, CorrenteWire, MyDD, ThisModernWorld, The Huffington Post, and no doubt hundreds more. These are just the pages I’ve managed to read so far.

Can we spell the word, Impeachment, yet?

Bush: No laws apply to me

The Dauphin claims all is kosher.

Bush: No laws can remain unbroken

Millions of phone records reportedly sold to NSA The Bush administration Thursday reacted defensively to news that the secretive National Security Agency, which conducts electronic eavesdropping, had obtained millions of domestic phone records

Oh, so now they paid for these records? I hope it was more than $1,000 per call, because that is the going rate

1. It violates the Stored Communications Act. The Stored Communications Act, Section 2703(c), provides exactly five exceptions that would permit a phone company to disclose to the government the list of calls to or from a subscriber: (i) a warrant; (ii) a court order; (iii) the customer’s consent; (iv) for telemarketing enforcement; or (v) by “administrative subpoena.” The first four clearly don’t apply. As for administrative subpoenas, where a government agency asks for records without court approval, there is a simple answer – the NSA has no administrative subpoena authority, and it is the NSA that reportedly got the phone records.

2. The penalty for violating the Stored Communications Act is $1000 per individual violation. Section 2707 of the Stored Communications Act gives a private right of action to any telephone customer “aggrieved by any violation.” If the phone company acted with a “knowing or intentional state of mind,” then the customer wins actual harm, attorney’s fees, and “in no case shall a person entitled to recover receive less than the sum of $1,000.”

(The phone companies might say they didn’t “know” they were violating the law. But USA Today reports that Qwest’s lawyers knew about the legal risks, which are bright and clear in the statute book.)

3. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act doesn’t get the telcos off the hook. According to USA Today, the NSA did not go to the FISA court to get a court order. And Qwest is quoted as saying that the Attorney General would not certify that the request was lawful under FISA. So FISA provides no defense for the phone companies, either.

not to mention (from Glenn Greenwald, which you should definitely read if you haven’t already):

…Two additional points worth making: (1) One of the disturbing aspects of the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program was that it was seen by many intelligence professionals as a radical departure from the agency’s tradition of not turning its spying capabilities on the American public domestically. The program disclosed yesterday decimates that tradition by many magnitudes. This is a program where the NSA is collecting data on the exclusively domestic communications of Americans, communicating with one another, on U.S. soil — exactly what the NSA was supposed to never do.

(2) The legal and constitutional issues, especially at first glance and without doing research, reading cases, etc., are complicated and, in the first instance, difficult to assess, at least for me. That was also obviously true for Qwest’s lawyers, which is why they requested a court ruling and, when the administration refused, requested an advisory opinion from DoJ.

But not everyone is burdened by these difficulties. Magically, hordes of brilliant pro-Bush legal scholars have been able to determine instantaneously — as in, within hours of the program’s disclosure — that the program is completely legal and constitutional (just like so many of them were able confidently to opine within hours of the disclosure of the warrantless eavesdropping program that it, too, was perfectly legal and constitutional). Having said that, there are some generally pro-Bush bloggers expressing serious skepticism over the legality and/or advisability of this program.

Laws are for suckers is what The Dauphin is saying.

The Wiretappers That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

This outrage always seemed manufactured to me as well, perhaps because I’ve been watching the superlative serial drama, the Wire, recently.

“The Wire – The Complete First and Second Seasons” (Daniel Attias, Alex Zakrzewski, Elodie Keene)

If drug dealers (albeit fictional) from the projects of Baltimore knew in 2002 that cell phone conversations could be monitored, how can President Bunnypants declare with a straight face that ‘security was comprised’ by revealing the extent of warrantless wiretaps?

The Wiretappers That Couldn’t Shoot Straight – New York Times:

ALMOST two weeks before The New York Times published its scoop about our government’s extralegal wiretapping, the cable network Showtime blew the whole top-secret shebang. In its mini-series “Sleeper Cell,” about Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in Los Angeles, the cell’s ringleader berates an underling for chatting about an impending operation during a phone conversation with an uncle in Egypt.

“We can only pray that the N.S.A. is not listening,” the leader yells at the miscreant, who is then stoned for his blabbing.
If fictional terrorists concocted by Hollywood can figure out that the National Security Agency is listening to their every call, guess what? Real-life terrorists know this, too. So when a hyperventilating President Bush rants that the exposure of his warrant-free wiretapping in a newspaper is shameful and puts “our citizens at risk” by revealing our espionage playbook, you have to wonder what he is really trying to hide.

Our enemies, as America has learned the hard way, are not morons. Even if Al Qaeda hasn’t seen “Sleeper Cell” because it refuses to spring for pay cable, it has surely assumed from the get-go that the White House would ignore legal restraints on eavesdropping, just as it has on detainee jurisprudence and torture.
That the White House’s over-the-top outrage about the Times scoop is a smokescreen contrived to cover up something else is only confirmed by Dick Cheney’s disingenuousness. In last week’s oration at a right-wing think tank, he defended warrant-free wiretapping by saying it could have prevented the 9/11 attacks. Really? Not with this administration in charge. On 9/10 the N.S.A. (lawfully) intercepted messages in Arabic saying, “The match is about to begin,” and, “Tomorrow is zero hour.” You know the rest. Like all the chatter our government picked up during the president’s excellent brush-clearing Crawford vacation of 2001, it was relegated to mañana; the N.S.A. didn’t rouse itself to translate those warnings until 9/12.

Given that the reporters on the Times story, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, wrote that nearly a dozen current and former officials had served as their sources, there may be more leaks to come, and not just to The Times. Sooner or later we’ll find out what the White House is really so defensive about.

Continue reading “The Wiretappers That Couldn’t Shoot Straight”

Who Will Stand Up for the Constitution?

Bob Herbert wonders why Bush the lesser hasn’t been arrested yet

Bob Herbert: Who Will Stand Up for the Constitution?
Why wouldn’t we expect the administration to deceive the public about the illegal spying of the National Security Agency?

Yoosdabee, the Rethuglicans were all for ‘rule of law’….

Continue reading “Who Will Stand Up for the Constitution?”