Saturday, December 17, 2005
George Demands the Divine Rights of King
The criminal we call President just declared himself King in a live statement from the White House:
President Bush said Saturday he personally has authorized a secret eavesdropping program in the U.S. more than 30 times since the Sept. 11 attacks and he lashed out at those involved in publicly revealing the program.
“This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security,” he said in a radio address delivered live from the White House’s Roosevelt Room.
“This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States,” Bush said.
Look, the problem here, again, is not one of just spying on Americans, as repulsively totalitarian as that is. It’s that the administration adopted John Yoo’s theory of presidential infallibility. But, of course, it wasn’t really John Yoo’s theory at all; it was Dick Cheney’s muse, Richard Nixon who said, “when the President does it, that means it’s not illegal.”
This was not some off the cuff statement. It was based upon a serious constitutional theory --- that the congress or the judiciary (and by inference the laws they promulgate and interpret) have no authority over an equal branch of government. The president, in the pursuit of his duties as president, is not subject to the laws. Citizens can offer their judgment of his performance every four years at the ballot box.
If you accept that, of course, the whole idea of a balance of power goes out the window. Digby continues:
He, like Nixon, believes that the president has only one “accountability moment” while he is president. His re-election. Beyond that, he has been given a blank check. And that includes breaking the law since if the president does it, it’s not illegal, the president being the executive branch which is not subject to any other branch of govenrment.
John Yoo, the former deputy attorney general who wrote many of the opinion undergirding these findings (on torture as well as spying) explains that the congress has no right to abridge the president’s warmaking powers. Its only constitutional remedy to a war with which they disagree is to deny funding; they can leave the troops on the field with no food or bullets.
I suspect that there are many more of these instances out there in which the administration has simply ignored the law. They believe that the constitution explicitly authorizes them to do so.
Watching George lash out this morning, his outrage at being questioned, is to see that carefully managed mask of ah shucks, I’m-just-a-cowboy-takin’-care-of-bidness folkiness slip away to reveal the self-proclaimed King standing naked before the cameras was both frightening and eye-opening. There are those hardcore believers that will probably find the performance a sign of his strength, but it’s plain that this is a Pentagon-Papers-like moment. Bush was quick to make threats for this leak (a leak the fucking Times sat on FOR A YEAR).
The president had harsh words for those who talked about the program to the media, saying their actions were illegal and improper.
“As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have,” he said. “The unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk."
In other words, they may have committed treason (unlike his buddies Scooter and Karl, who were just playing politics).
Senator Feingold had a strong reply to Bush’s remarks:
Feingold said it was “absurd” that Bush said he relied on his inherent power as president to authorize the wiretaps.
“If that’s true, he doesn’t need the Patriot Act because he can just make it up as he goes along. I tell you, he’s President George Bush, not King George Bush. This is not the system of government we have and that we fought for,” Feingold told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
It’s time for Americans to face how much they’ve surrendered to these authoritarians, these monsters. These are the very kind of people we fought a revolution to escape. As Digby sums it up:
After 9/11 these people went crazy and convinced themselves that the country was in such mortal, exitential danger that this theory of imperial presidential perogative was a necessity. They say they are doing it to protect the citizens of this country. But one thing that American conservatives used to understand was that our system of government was forged by people who understood that too much power invested in one place is dangerous and that sometimes the people needed to be protected from their own government. That’s fundamental to our laborious process of checks and balances and a free press. (Indeed, it was that principle on which they based their absolutist stand on the second amendment.)
Gov. Mark Warner: Exit, Stage Left?
Well, well, well--what have we here in today’s Washington Post?
RICHMOND, Dec. 16—Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) on Friday quietly amended an executive order that for the first time explicitly bans Virginia state agencies from discriminating against gays in hiring and promotions.
The policy went into effect immediately, and a spokeswoman for Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine (D) said the incoming governor plans to continue the policy by signing the same executive order when he is inaugurated Jan. 14.
Warner also added “sexual orientation” to nondiscrimination language in the $72 billion budget that he delivered to lawmakers Friday. Passage of the budget with that language would codify the change in state law, making it more permanent, [Warner spokeswoman Ellen] Qualls said.
Let’s hear it for the activists, whose purity is much-maligned by some folks:
"It’s bringing Virginia in line with the majority of other states that have these laws on the books,” said Dyana Mason, executive director of Equality Virginia, the state’s largest gay rights group.
Mason added that her group has been pressing for this change in policy for much of Warner’s term. “It’s really in line with his long-term commitment to running Virginia like a well-run business.” [Emphasis mine]
Not everyone welcomes this civilized and overdue action:
At least one lawmaker said his colleagues on the House committee that will review the budget probably will remove the sexual orientation language from the budget.
“My guess is that we’ll strike it out and that there will be a fairly lively discussion about all of this,” said Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William). “If the advocates of that language want to advocate that view, then my guess is that they are going have to find a bill to do it."
And while this surely will be a fight, the debate will be carried forward;
But Mason was cautious. She said it is not clear whether a major change in temperament has taken place in Virginia.
For example, she noted that lawmakers are expected, among other initiatives, to pass a resolution in the coming session calling for an amendment against same-sex marriages.
“It’s still going to be a tough year,” she said.
Well. On its own, this is an interesting, if not heartening story: Virginians working for state agencies now have more complete protection against discrimination.
But of course there’s a larger story, and it is this: Gov. Warner is running for president.
And he certainly has been a busy bee as he walks out of the door of the Commonwealth and onto the road to the White House:
-He exonerated two men convicted of sexual assault based on DNA results not available to them at the time of their trials. (See Warner’s press release and a more in-depth story explaining what this means.)
-He commuted the death sentence of the convicted murderer Robin Lovitt to life without parote because a court clerk discarded DNA evidence--possibly exonerating DNA evidence.
-He’s launched an early childhood foundation to focus on the needs of children from infants up to age five.
-He advocates more dollars for higher education, transportation, Chesapeake Bay restoration, mental health and energy needs in his last budget proposal to the Viginia General Assembly.
-Oh, and a hugely successful fundraiser doesn’t hurt, either.
Given the wingnuts in the Assembly (and the fact that Gov.-elect Tim Kaine will have no help since the Lt. Governor is a rethug wingnut, too), I don’t know how long the ban on job discrimination based on sexual orientation will last. For whatever reason, though, I am glad that more Virginians can have a chance at having basic legal protection against discrimination.
But as for Warner’s presidential ambitions--let’s not be coy here, he does have them--I say this move surely beats out flag-buring posturing any day of the week.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Jane Crow - Spreading Oppression's Black Wings
A country is only as truly free as its women are free. A people are only truly civilized if their mothers, their sisters, their daughters and grandmothers and nieces and great grandmothers and girlbabies not-yet-born are free and equal and enabled to create their own lives, their own futures. It’s plain, in these days of creepy theocracy and corporate corruption, of a Republican regime that feeds on misogyny and fear, that this country is backsliding, reversing so many of the gains made over the years. Jane Crow is back, as budget cuts and superstition replace openness and decency. Moiv highlights a letter at Our Word, written by a Texan named Tanya confronted by the anti-woman policies enacted by the oppressive Republican legislature in Texas:
Why Tanya cried
The email quoted below already has been forwarded to Texas State Senators Tommy Williams (a banker) and Bob Deuell (a physician)—the two men primarily responsible for compromising poor women’s access to family planning and primary health screening in this state by funneling $5,000,000 previously designated for those vitally important services into a campaign to promote and expand the dubious practices of Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
The state’s Health and Human Services Commission tells us that this is a good thing, because “the active promotion of childbirth” is the official policy of the State of Texas. That the women affected by this policy might not want to bear children in the service of the state is not an official concern.
this morning i dragged myself out of bed before dawn to be at planned parenthood at 730 and wait in the freezing morning shade until 9 for my
annual exam. at 930, myself and the 25 other women(of color.of course)grumbled in solidarity and confusion, wondering why we were still waiting and shivering. finally an employee opened the doors and coralled us inside just to inform us that there would be no walk-in exams today.or tomorrow.or ever. are you kidding me? i thought. nope.no joke. turns out the good ol
boys at the texas state legislature cut pp’s funding by 40% last friday. i stood in the office stunned while 3 mothers began to cry. another women, at least 65 years old, turned to me and asked, “que dijo?” what did she say? as i tried to explain what i still didnt understand, i began to feel my anger swell. overnight one of the safest, most reliable, most critical social services vanished. all patients over 24 years old have to seek new clinics, all birth control now costs $25/month, all annuals $125, all pregnancy tests $30. i stood waiting for the chance of one more pack of birth control pills, asking questions answered with shrugs and apologies, watching faces full of exasperation. when my name was called i tried again to get more information, but the fact was clear and simple; accessible family planning and women’s reproductive rights are not a priority. i left with a pack of pills after giving all my $35, sat in my car and cried.
here’s the kicker. texas lawmakers are promoting crisis pregnancy centers instead. that’s right, slash funding for sexual health and preventive services and create crisis centers. this whole freakin country is a crisis center. i want to see those lawmakers walk into clinics all over this state and have the guts to tell a room full of women, “sorry, go home and buy condoms” or “sorry, god willed those children and you’re on your own to figure out the rest”. i want them to watch women lose the thread of hope they were gripping.
so now what? write letters and make phone calls? i dont think so. the truth is i dont know what to do. i do know nothing will be done if people dont know. so in my emotional, reactionary state, that’s what i am trying to do.
i’m fighting hard to keep my faith.
thanks for reading,
THIS IS HAPPENING IN THE UNITED STATES.
It repeats itself over and over again, in many different ways.
Media Girl calls attention to just one of the many deliberately ignorant pharmacists seeking to deny women control over their reproductive health based on their superstions:
In that simple declaration of determined ignorance, the pharmacist on indefinite unpaid leave from Walgreens in Madison County, IL, reveals that his attachment to myths and lies about emergency contraception is not likely to weaken. Don’t confuse him with facts. His mind is made up.
What we’re seeing are pharmacists who’ve gone and made fools of themselves in refusing to dispense emergency contraception on the basis that it causes abortion of pregnancy.
But wait. Emergency contraception—also known as Plan B—prevents conception.
If life begins at conception, and conception is prevented, then where’s the abortion, Mr. Quayle?
Ah, but these are heady times for zealots and fanatics, and they don’t want to admit any mistakes—including the big mistake they made in assuming Plan B aborted pregnancy, rather than prevents pregnancy.
Here we are, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, and we live in a feudal state where idiots like Dalton Conley are promoted by the so-called “paper of record” to spread intellectual manure about how MEN are somehow oppressed by women having reproductive freedom, while learned women like Carole Joffe, Ph.D. aren’t offered equal time to counter this simple minded claptrap. Luckily, we can find her words passed along at Our Word.
How can this be happening? We are only a few generations removed from the suffragists, fewer still from Griswold v. CT, yet we’re backsliding so quickly into a patriarchical nightmare where there is little access to abortion providers or other sources of women’s healthcare.
Summitâ€™s closing â€œunderscores [the] limited access women have in this state to abortion services,â€? said Boyce. â€œItâ€™s not a stable service in the state. There is a tremendous shortage of providers.â€?
Fewer doctors are being trained in abortion techniques, perhaps because state statutes prevent the University of Wisconsin Medical School from teaching them. Experienced doctors are getting harder to find, Boyce said. For example, the doctor at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Appleton flies in weekly from Oregon. Opening new clinics is difficult as well, because property owners donâ€™t want to lease to clinics, so providers are forced to buy their own buildings.
There are millions of Tanya’s out there, repeating that same hopeless disappointment day after day after week after month after year after ....
THIS IS HAPPENING IN THE UNITED STATES.
How can this be? We, a “free people”, a people who claim to respect life and women and freedom, how can this be?
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO US?
Stand up. Ask questions. FIGHT. Your mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers and so on back to Abigail Adams reminding her husband to “remember the ladies" FOUGHT. Do their efforts mean so little that they can be abandoned so easily? Talk back when some fundamentalist fool is spouting nonsense. DARE TO STAND UP. They spew hatred and misinformation and superstition and LIES. We are in this state because, in the name of tolerance and our unwillingness to engage in conflict, we have let years of misleading propaganda go by unanswered. Don’t expect a politician or celebrity or some other “leader” to save you. WE THE PEOPLE
Speak up. Speak up like Estelle Griswold spoke up. Hell, you don’t even have to go so far as to go to court. When someone at a holiday meal repeats some lie they heard on some evangelical station, call them on it. Politics starts at the dinner table, at the community center, in the pews at your church and in the lines at you supermarket. Remember, there are MILLIONS of Tanyas out there, and soon YOU will BE Tanya. Or your daughter. Or your girlfriend. Or your wife.
i stood waiting for the chance of one more pack of birth control pills, asking questions answered with shrugs and apologies, watching faces full of exasperation. when my name was called i tried again to get more information, but the fact was clear and simple; accessible family planning and women’s reproductive rights are not a priority. i left with a pack of pills after giving all my $35, sat in my car and cried.
That is the future of ALL of the women in this country. Alone, abandoned, lacking in options. We are LOSING the future.
Please, speak up for Tanya. Please, speak up for yourself, for your sisters.
Please, speak up.