We promote fair and honest political discussion from all sides of the ideological spectrum While my own opinions and my contributors tend toward a more progressive view, that's not always the case. I ask people to comment freely and openly to promote fair discourse.
A long time coming
Mark Foley: SICK SICK SICK!!!
Looks Like Lamont Levels Lieberman?
Oil Prices in the tank
Clinton Reams Rummy
A long time...
Chandler/Abramson in '07?
A new poll
There's a great story in the Washington Post about super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the world of lobbying corruption built up around him. It's getting bad enough that various members of the House and Senate giving money back to Abramoff because right now, talk of him taking a deal has surely got many members in Congress a little jumpy.
Abramoff, a potent lobbying force in Washington for a decade or so, has close ties to Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist, both scourges to left thinking people everywhere. He's messed with organized crime, swindled Indian tribes out of casino money and the list goes on. According to some sources as many as 60 congressmen could be tagged in this investigation. Rep Bob Ney (R-OHIO) has certainly gotten his work cut out for him to wiggle out of this one.
The problem with this, while seemingly focused on the Republicans will get some Democrats too. One possibility is Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev), better known as the Senate Minority Leader. He's been a strong foil in the Senate against Bill Frist for the Democrats but this could legimately bring him down.
What I'm getting at is the culture of corruption that runs through Washington and has for years. This may be the biggest scandal in a long time if it really hits the fan and it might with Abramoff being broke and facing major jail time as well as hefty fines and lord knows what else. While it's time to clean up the corruption and while it might be nice to see some of these bastards finally get what they deserve, it's not going to solve the problem. There cages be rattled for a little while but who knows. What can we do?
posted by Stithmeister @ 5:34 PM
I'm glad Mark over at the Bluegrass Report keeps up with lots of things. He had a number of great things today:
One thing that really caught my attention was the Washington Post story discussing malpractice insurance companies lying to state regulators about they're losses due to malpractice suits.
The insurance industry has long argued that huge losses from malpractice suits -- now running more than $7 billion a year -- have forced it to hike malpractice premiums, which more than doubled last year in some cities and for some specialties.
So what have we learned here boys and girls? We've learned that the insurance companies are LYING and they're making buddy buddy with people like Senate President David Williams who, every year, introduces SB1. This is is medical malpractice bill.
Last winter when I covered the state legislature, I had a chance to observe the senate. While the Republicans kept yelling the Dems were being bought off by the trial attorneys, the Dems failed to go after the Republicans for the teaming with the big insurance companies for bank rolling this mess.
I have no problem with insurance companies basing their rates on the market but don't lie to us about saying it's from lawsuits. There is absolutely no correlation between the malpractice insurance rates and the malpractice suits. Seems strange ... but it's true.
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:06 AM
Folks... I've created a new email address for the site. It's DemFromKy If you have any comments directed toward me or have any problems with the site, please feel free to let me know. Also, if you have any hot tips or some other good information, please let me know.
As I'd mentioned before, I'm looking at putting together some type of newsletter. Who would be interested in being on a mailing list for this blog? I'd also like writer contributions for it too.
One final little note. I've include a poll down on the right hand side. I may start including it as a post but for now I'm going to leave it where it is. Thanks again for everyone's contributions and I hope you continue.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:01 AM
Progressives liberals are easy to piss off. The word abortion comes up and they get mad. Ask them about Iraq, they get mad. Ask them about the religious right and you smell smoke. Look at the gay marriage issue in the 2004 presidential election. They had people who didn't even believe in voting out to the polls to vote against the amendment and the God-fearing President Bush who was against gay marriage.
The argument for civil unions never gained traction. Any variation on it never got any noise at all. It was always "there's no way in hell the fags are gonna get married." The strategy worked. While Bush did have the advantage of being an incumbant, the gay marriage issue certainly helped him out quite a bit. Is intelligent design doing the same thing? Does it have the potential to be the wedge issue of the next election cycle?
I think the jury is still out but the potential is there. Right now, there's an ongoing battle in our nation over the validity of science in a number of areas, not the least of which were observations of Charles Darwin, which we now describe as evolution.
The religious right has framed this as an intelligent design...suggesting evolution isn't valid. While I don't wish to turn this into a technical discussion at this point, does this debate have the potential to be used as a wedge? Lets consider that more than half of the American population doesn't believe in evolution. While it is taught in many high school biology courses and has been for years, many still don't believe.
Now, consider some colleges won't recognize high school biology classes without having exposure to evolution with no intelligent design taught in biology. So most people of religion don't believe in evolution. Those are the "regular" people, not liberals. Colleges are loaded with liberals though. And they won't let God into their universities. All those teachers are godless, communist liberals with no respect for the faith. Who else do we have?
Teachers... those unions are always loud and obnoxious. The courts who ruled against it are activist judges. They're all going to Hell. Once again, these groups are being persecuted. The president says we should get it. The governor thinks we should. Hell... we can trust them can't we?
Yep... the basic principle behind the wedge is to section off a chunk of the population and levy a larger group maybe all the rest, against them. You usually end up needing one or two to win an election. Will they come up now? Perhaps. How much weight will they hold? Unknown. Remember though, this issue is still building steam.
Remember, John T. Scopes was still fined $100.
Technorati Tags: Intelligent-Design, Evolution, Darwin, wedge issues
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:17 AM
Time is running out for Ken Lucas to decide whether or not he will run for the 4th District congressional seat against Republican incumbant Geoff Davis. The Ledger-Independent in Maysville ran an article in today's paper discussing the matter.
Lucas has a month left to register for his candidacy if he intends to do so. The closing day is January 31st. Mark Nickolas of the Bluegrass Report blog has started a Draft Ken Lucas website and movement to try and get him back in the race.
Lucas was a conservative Democrat, which suited northern Kentucky well. He served three terms and then stuck with his agreed too term limit of 3 terms. People want him back because Davis has showed nothing but ineptitude since taking office. There is no doubt though this will be a big money race and a real war so be warned. Then get ready to get Lucas in office so we don't live with the embarassment that is Geoff Davis.
posted by Stithmeister @ 5:20 PM
I'm back from the holidays and aiming to put out a lot of content in the coming year. Today we've got an open topic. Not a lot is going on so if folks see something they want to view specifically, go right ahead.
posted by Stithmeister @ 2:22 PM
As those who read my various post may note, I often look at the theme of "Papers Please". This refers to the Nazi Germany and then later Soviet Union, where you had tp provide ID at any request and were monitored at all times. In yet another example of what I view as the 'Papers Please' syndrom, we now have the following report:
A new piece of Legislation called "The Ohio Patriot Act", would let police arrest people in public places who will not give their names, address and birth dates, even if they are not doing anything wrong.. I live across the border and have periodically made visits or pass thru Ohio to visit family further north. If I am driving in whats seems an impared manner, it is reasonable for Law Enforcement Officers to insure that I have a valid drivers license. However, if I stop in a rest area to use the restroom, then requiring me to provide information is in my understanding intruding on my rights. Now, from my limited reading here, it does not indicate what means will be used to verify what ever information is provided.
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't 'Public Places" by the very words, a place that belongs to all of us. It is resonable if I am in a business or industrial site, to provide reason to be there and proof of permission. But the Public Restrooms are 'Owned' by us all. the article states that even if passed, it will most likely be challenged. That it even is permitted to pass, says that much is already wrong with America and the Rights of it's Citizens.
One wonders how long and how often such legislation will occur, before it slips thru quietly. And once it has, those who oppose or start to protest it will have officers standing quietly to the side that step forward ready to arrest those who protest. What will you do when they step up to you with hand on gun and other extended softly asking..'Papers please..."
posted by Greymagius @ 12:09 AM
Contrary to Bill O'Reilly's belief, Christmas isn't being warred upon. During this time of year, so many forget the true meaning of Christmas. That is a story about a wee lad, put upon this earth to save us from ourselves, a loving God trying to save ALL his children and the attempt to build greater fraternity among all fellows.
One day, I was contemplating all this when something clicked in my head on what it actually meant. I don't necessarily see Jesus as that much more divine than the rest of us. We're all God's children. We are all equals. What I did was personalize it. I thought...what if young Joshua really was my brother and he allowed himself to be killed to save my life. Regardless of the immaculate conception and the resurrection itself, which are two key miracles in this story of Jesus, the point of the religion is about sacrifice...even if it requires everything. It's about trying to show your fellow man a better way, to reduce prejudices and break down barriers between peoples. It's not a club with exclusive membership unless that includes ALL human beings...all of them. It won't matter about sexual preference or ethnic background or anything. Now I realize this is blasphemy to some people but Christ always chose from those the lease socially acceptable. He preached to heal the sick and feed the poor. I don't see our politicians and religious leaders in this country worrying about that. They're trying to hard to get their picks on SCOTUS or worrying about gets to assassinate Venezuelan presidents.
I realize many readers and some of my friends don't follow the particular faith I do. Lord knows it's difficult to accept and when the leaders keep telling everything you do is wrong...they're wrong. They try to alienate many at the expensive of all us. That's not what it all means to me. I've rambled enough I suppose. I might not get any posting done this weekend but I'm gearing up for the new year to get a lot done. I will kick back in on probably Monday if I don't get anything on before then.
For all my readers and visitors, thanks for keeping me plugging along, I hope to keep it up next year too. I would like to wish everyone a sincere and heartfelt Merry Christmas and all the warmth I can pour into it.
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:36 AM
Former Senator Tom Daschle put in his two cents in an editorial in the WaPo saying Congress never granted the president the powers he's saying he had.
In the face of mounting questions about news stories saying that President Bush approved a program to wiretap American citizens without getting warrants, the White House argues that Congress granted it authority for such surveillance in the 2001 legislation authorizing the use of force against al Qaeda. On Tuesday, Vice President Cheney said the president "was granted authority by the Congress to use all means necessary to take on the terrorists, and that's what we've done."
So we see a slight controversy. Obviously we've had a minor misunderstanding about the Constitutional defined powers of the various branches...which seems to be a trend these days. While I don't feel Daschle is necessarily a bastion of truth over other politicians, I tend to believe his side of things in this current discussion. THe president clearly overstepped his bounds and many people on both sides are scratching their heads.
While courts have said the NSA can listen in on conversations, the ruling didn't appear to overturn the FISA statutes which merely say the agencies involved must eventually get a warrant...after 72 hours or 3 days. I don't see what the big deal is on that. Besides, in discussing this issue with D-Man earlier, he suggested we need to quit wasting so much time wiretapping and actually put some personnel in the field...people who speak arabic and know how these groups operate. Heaven forbid they might come up with something useful. But our government does like their toys.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:22 AM
So...open topic...tell me what you know. I'm watching.
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:34 AM
Congress gave a one month supply of oxygen to the Patriot Act today after the Senate gave it six. This was a compromise from the president and House Republicans in hopes of getting the provisions made permanent. A number of folks in the Senate backed down so they could have time to "study" the act more fully to make sure no civil liberties were being infringed up on.
The problem we run into is the very existance if the act infringes upon our civil liberties. What some people seem not to get is that the sole purpose of government is to take away our natural rights. It's part of the social contract theory that our country was initially built upon. We just come far enough along that many of our natural rights are gone and we're losing more frequently. We must fight to keep the ones we do have lest they all dissappear completely. This is from the AP.
WASHINGTON - Congress on Thursday approved a one-month extension of the Patriot Act and sent it to President Bush in a pre-Christmas scramble to prevent many of its anti-terrorism provisions from expiring Dec. 31.
I recognize certain protections must be in place. I realize some actually want to do us harm. We must be defended from that but I also think that limits should be place on the our government's authority to do all these things. I never thought in my lifetime that I would be arguing for limiting government but then again, for the longest time I didn't believe they were necessarily evil. Now I know so.
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:25 AM
THe 37th senate district in the Louisville is officially vacant after a state supreme court ruled against Republican Dana Seum Stephenson, saying she legally could not have been a candidate because she failed to meet the residency requirements.
Also Democrat Virginia Woodward cannot serve in as senator either because she failed to win the election. What is required now is a special session and I hope that neither candidate has any problems. This garbage needs move on so the folks of the Louisville 37th can be represented fairly again. They've gone a whole year dealing with taxation without representation. All this was because David Williams wouldn't be sane and let the new election be called.
It's as simple as that. The only place to take this case after this would be SCOTUS and it's doubtful they would even consider such a case. I don't think they want to make a federal case out of it.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:59 PM
The notorious Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) had steam coming out his ears as ANWR demands blocked the defense bill from being passed. It remains a close and heated debate in the Senate as some Senators in both parties crossed the aisle on this measure. The defense bill contains new allocated funding for the military for the 2006 year as well as additional funding for Gulf Coast operations.
Stevens railed on Democrats for holding up the defense bill during war and Democrats closed ranks and attacked Stevens and others for attaching a pet project to something so vital. This fight has been going on for a while now and it will continue.
The Senate showdown came over a provision allowing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), a measure that was added to the $453 billion fiscal 2006 defense appropriations bill by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). The bill includes money to support U.S. troops in Iraq, as well as $29 billion to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) charged on the Senate floor, "Our military is being held hostage by this issue, Arctic drilling." Calling the provision "another gift to special interests," he said, "It's time we said no to an abuse of power."
We don't have much left in this country we can preserve. Our own Kentucky is a good example. Coal companies are cutting the tops of mountains off to get at the coal there. It's thorough certainly and the mining companies say it's better for the environment. How good could it be to cut off the tops of the oldest mountain range in the world. This Alaska thing is the same deal.
ANWR is one of the few relatively undisturbed portions of the great wilderness. They never talked about the all the land they've already worked over in order to get oil. Senator Stevens also doesn't talk about the years it will take to get to the oil.He keeps saying "Is it worth the fight?" He should be asked the same question. The greatest GOP president save Lincoln himself was Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy was a preservationist. He went all over the world hunting all kind of wild life. He also recognized the wonder and beauty of our wildlife. He listened to John Muir and established a national park system. He recognized one of our nation's greatest assets was it's natural resources. I don't mean oil or coal, I mean the animals, the plants, the rock formations and all the other.
Oil seeps from the rocks at ANWR. It's homes to many species that don't survive anywhere else. The polar bears are disappearing quick enough without anymore help from us. This fight probably isn't over. Stevens will keep this fight going as long as he can. The measure needs to be pulled from the bill. It'll be back next time for sure and we'll go through this all again. Let's just hope we can keep it out.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:30 PM
I'm going to run a two series of posts over the course of the month. The first will be in political races in Kentucky. I will also try to get some contributions from other states on upcoming races, particularly Congressional although any state race in any area will be open to discussion. I would like to get commentary and for some of my regular readers, I'd also like to ask your help. If you could send me email or comment on the blog on political action in your area, it would be appreciated. I'd also like, if folks are interested to do a guest post. If you've got a site, I'll link to it and mention it prominently.
The other series we'll work on will be the 2006 General Assembly. Lots will be going on and there's a budget to pass so we'll see what happens.
I will continue with the national commentary as well and plan on bringing my cohorts in for more posting. Thanks to the my readership and I hope we can continue to grow.
posted by Stithmeister @ 9:21 PM
Cynicus posted this as part of the discussion on the previous post but I think it is worthy of it's own post. It gives a little background into the history of Spying in the U.S.:
To defeat the giant, use his strength against him. To overcome the larger opponent, use the principles of judo.
posted by Stithmeister @ 9:18 PM
Ya gotta love musical blogs. I picked this up from MajikThise, who picked it up from got it from Morgon at Kos and they all got it from the Washington Post
So the military's spying on us and everyone else. Not surprising really. As someone pointed out, we have no privacy. It would be nice though, every now and then, to be allowed the pretense of such things. But NNNOOOOOOOO! The feds won't allow us that.
The Pentagon's newest counterterrorism agency, charged with protecting military facilities and personnel wherever they are, is carrying out intelligence collection, analysis and operations within the United States and abroad, according to a Pentagon fact sheet on the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, provided to The Washington Post.
CIFA watches everyone who might be a threat to the military, which means us loudmouthed left-wing bloggers are probably on their list right now. If we say things like we don't think the military should be allowed to recruit on college campuses, they we're a threat. If we protest the war, we're a threat. If we say we know someone named Mohammed Ali, we're probably a threat then too. Perhaps our very existance is a threat to the military and the established government. They need us so they can exist but they don't want us because we whine a lot. If NORAD can watch Santa Claus all through his trip on Christmas Eve, I sure as hell don't want to know what they watch me doing.
As Echidne points out:
Our wingnut friends tell us that those with clear consciences have nothing to worry about and that we should not criticize the president's belief that he is above the law. This sounds to me like something the fathers of the old Soviet Union used to argue. No, the correct attitude here is worry, for once we have the spying infrastructure it will be used. And who knows, maybe one day its existence will look like a threat to today's wingnuts. Political fortunes change, you know.
But we'll go on beating our drum to a different beat and they'll keep watching us. Most of our population won't know nor will they care. But I'm here, along with my buddies and we'll bark a bit. But we'll let our voyeuristic government watch. C'mere... bring that camera a little closer. I got something for you to see.
posted by Stithmeister @ 1:48 PM
What do folks want to talk about? Anything interesting for you today?
Does everyone know about RSS feeds?
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:00 PM
U.S. District Judge James Robertson resigned his position as a member of the foreign intelligence surveillance court. He was initially appointed to the bench by Clinton and assigned to the secret court by Rehnquist. According to WaPo, friends close to him said he resigned in protest to the actions of the administration regarding the FISA rules for obtaining warrants for eavesdropping:
A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:59 PM
U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III ruled against the Dover, Pa school board on including the "intelligent design" notion in high school biology class as an alternative to evolution. He said the requirement illegally promoted religion in public schools.
The current administration and many of their backers have railed against science across the board. This is becoming a problem for many in our country. The problem perhaps stems from the fact a majority of Americans don't believe in the evolution. Many still stand by traditional creationism and for some reason see the two as mutually exclusive of one another. As Jimmy Carter said in his recent book however, religion works for the unexplained, things we don't understand. Evolution is something we understand.
This dates back to before the legendary Scope Monkey Trial. Groups have been arguing over the biblical creationism vs. evolution for over a century now and by the looks of things, it won't end soon.
I've got a couple of thoughts here. I also mentioned them in a thread on Kos. First, I feel like much of this is standard operational bullshit by politicos and the religious right to maintain control over our existance. I think it has to do with bending our minds to their will and to try and get people to accept unprovable things instead of except them.
The other point, and I think this goes to more of the heart of the matter, is the homo-centric notion for humans. Most major religions believe humans have direct connection to their creator, whether you call it God, Allah or something else. They don't believe we could be related in any form to monkeys and other primates. We were created in the image of God. This goes against the very nature of that theory. Americans, more than many groups believe this. We see ourselves as a little closer to the creator than most countries. This is a problem. We are a "higher" form of life.
This issue isn't over by a long shot as many groups will fight these rulings. In the end, I'd say this might go to SCOTUS in one form or another. I just hope they make the correct decision.
posted by Stithmeister @ 8:52 PM
It looks like Shrub us getting jumpy on us. A Newsweek story covers what happened. He went so far as to bring members of the New York Times into his office and plead with them not to run with the eavesdropping story they ran last week. They'd been sitting on the story for a while at the request of the administration.
No wonder Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I learned this week that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story. The Times will not comment on the meeting, but one can only imagine the president’s desperation.
Our civil liberties have been one of the things that differentiates us from other countries. We prided ourselves on them. Yet everyday, we find they have been violated. The FISA law itself probably violates some civil liberties but it was put into place to make sure they weren't violated further.
The constitution clearly defined presidential powers and in the fourth amendment, clearly defined what protections our citizens had and the limits government had:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The administration clearly violated those rights and should be held accountable. The presidency doesn't have unlimited power to "protect" the country.
As the Newsweek article suggested, this is getting into the meat of our constitution and the limits on presidential power. Congress must clamp down on the presidential powers and SCOTUS must back them up on this. The president and the various bureaucracies that support him must have at least the pretense they are working for they are being monitored and kept in check.
posted by Stithmeister @ 8:23 AM
Our delightful attorney general, Alberto Gonzalez, defended the administration's supposed need to invade privacy and totally disregard the 4th amendment today. He held a press conference today to go into more detail regarding the this violation of our rights. Here's an excerpt:
Q When was Congress first briefed --
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:30 PM
It looks like newly elected Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) lost her campaign boss. I guess Hackett wore him out last time. Schmidt barely won by the skin of her teeth in one of the most Republican districts in Ohio. The Cincinatti Enquirer has the scoop on this one:
WASHINGTON - One thing you won't find on U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt's campaign Web site: the name of Joe Braun as her campaign manager. Oversight?
They also pointed out here congressional website hasn't been updated since Oct. 17th. If you want to win, you've got to keep your constituents informed.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:24 PM
The kids at JibJab, who had probably the best politcal parody of the 2004 election, have presented their year in review. It's sung by POTUS and he give what I think may be his great performance. Please though... you judge. Tell us what you think back here.
posted by Stithmeister @ 8:49 PM
Time magazine is coming out with their "Person of the Year" issue and three people split the honors. Bono of U2 fame and Billionaire philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates.
Irishman Bono has been working for humanistic causes for decades, whether it's singing about bloody sundays or working globally broadcast concerts for the hungry or even working with Bible Belt senators like Jesse Helms. He's used his voice for to help mankind.
Perhaps even more impressive is Bill Gates and his wife Melinda and their Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This man is rich...as a matter of fact, the wealthiest man on the planet. People have heard "better living through science" and this man believes. So much so, he's dumped literally billions of dollars into developing hearty foods for starving countries, money into stopping horrible diseases and the list goes on. He just dumped a bunch of money into ethanol technology development on the west coast. I know the guy and his company Microsoft are reviled by many in the computer industry. They are a leviathan...but the good he does with his money is unbelievable.
Here's the complete story from Time. It's subscription only:
The Good Samaritans
posted by Stithmeister @ 2:27 PM
I'm going to try to cover the 2006 GA as much as possible. I covered it for the KPA last year so I know many of the players.
One major issue to be addressed this year, as with all years, is the medical malpractice caps. As Mark points out, the Republicans don't get their facts straight and the media doesn't help matters much.
Also in the mix for the GA will be gambling legislation. Gambling in Kentucky will be tough for many to deal with. I feel it will happen eventually but there's always a downside to it as well. I think for the most part, I'm for legalizing casino gambling in Kentucky. We've already got a state lottery and horse racing has been around for centuries. The problem is casino gambling comes with a price, moral and otherwise. It brings money into the community but much of the money leaves the state. It does bring in some high paying jobs but at the same time, a lot of poor will probably go and spend their money in the casinos. Then there's always gambling addiction.
Right now, there are casinos in Indiana and they do make quite a bit of revenue from Kentuckians heading up there. The problem will occur when the revenues of these casinos are diluted. More supply will lower demand.
There are many other issues but these two will get some headlines for sure. Also consider the budget. In 2005, the short session dealt mostly with the budget because one had never been passed. This session will also deal with a budget. There will be a lot of issues the members will fight over because all the projects and pork were packed into 2005 session. Also, the governor has said he wouldn't be opposed to raising the cigarette tax a bit further. Of course Super Grover might try to attack him then.
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:29 PM
The President admitted today in his radio address to signing off on the NSA eavesdropping on hundreds, possibly thousands of U.S. citizens without the benefit of a court ordered warrant.
President Bush today acknowledged that he had secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on international communications of Americans and other domestic residents with known links to al Qaeda.
The problem is Bush doesn't have to worry about his civil liberties being violated does he. Everytime Bush does something like this, he's saying "the terrorists win." Our nation is BETTER than this...aren't we? Are we supposed to be? I thought we were.
I grow up hearing how wonderful our nation is; how people can say what they want, can protest things they don't like, can worship when and where they please or not all. We all have a guaranteed right to be secure in ourselves and our persons from unreasonable searches and seizures. Eavesdropping falls into the category of searches I think.
"This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security," a stern-looking Bush said. "Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends, and allies. . . .And the activities conducted under this authorization have helped detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad."
I was discussing this issue last night with my father-in-law and he sees things a lot differently. His attitude, like many Americans, is "do what ever it takes." I dissagreed wholeheartedly. I believe that if these are the kinds of measures we have to take to "secure" our our "way of life" then perhaps it's not worth it. I would prefer to be secure in my liberty, such as it is. Because that's what's being take away from these days. Our rights, our liberties...they've all been chucked out like so much dirty dishwater.
For those whose religion is in favor right now, what happens when yours falls out of favor and you become the persecuted faith you claim now to be? I'm sorry but a religion run by multimillionaires involved in massive media empires is not a persecuted religion. A religion that has first-hand access to the halls of power in a nation and not only that, face time with those in power, you're not a persecuted religion.
I expect the federal government has been doing this for a while. I'd like to ask Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter if they did such things. I have to figure Bush the elder did as he ran the CIA for a while. I figure he spied on just about everyone from time to time.
The government has these massive organizations that spy on its citizens, that controls and manipulates yet at the same time, they cut funding for things like food stamps and college loans. The fascism of George Bush knows no bounds.
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:18 PM
I may or may not get some more posts up today. I will certainly try but I've got lots of familials up. In the meantime, there's lots going on. So talk... amongst yourselves.
For a little Christmas delight, check out Mrs. Claus
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:06 AM
The Patriot Act provisions didn't make it out of the Senate for renewal. The GOP wasn't able to muster the votes they needed to put it through. While some Republicans, including Frist in the end, voted against the provisions' renewal, this isn't over yet. Frist's changed vote allows him to bring it up again in the future. The catch will be if Feingold and his posse can keep this one out or keep the votes together to step on it. One can only hope. Check out the WaPo's story on the event.
posted by Stithmeister @ 1:21 PM
Fox News bulldog Bill O'Reilly continues his war on the War on Christmas (It's Christmas at Ground Zero?). O'Reilly suggested the city of Madison, Wisconsin is in league with the devil or more specifically, "Madison, Wisconsin, where you expect those people to be communing with Satan."
O'Reilly has been attacking people who attack him. In this case David Adelman of Forbes.com and Jackson Bain, formerly of NBC news. They wrote editorials and O'Reilly was not pleased.
He made the comments in a discussion with Forbes.com executive editor David Adelman and former NBC correspondent Jackson Bain about editorials critical of his Christmas crusade. O'Reilly was particularly upset at a December 3 Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial, which wrote of "war on Christmas" promoters such as O'Reilly: "What planet do these Scrooges inhabit?"
He also said the city of Sagninaw, Michigan wouldn't allow people to wear red and green. The city obviously denied this:
As Media Matters for America noted, O'Reilly targeted another Midwestern town on the December 9 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, The Radio Factor, falsely claiming that Saginaw, Michigan, "opposes red and green clothing on anyone." His assertion was vehemently denied by township officials; the township hall is adorned in red and green lights.
Also, keep in mind O'Reilly was voted by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" award. I hope he mails him a trophy. There are a couple of stories at Media Matter that should explain things a bit
The point is, O'Reilly doesn't work in the "spin zone," he lives in his own "spin reality." The reason O'Reilly is successful because he's loud and he's a bully to his guests and apparently everyone else. I don't respect him or his opinion. I respect his right to have one and to say it but I sure wish he's shut his yap.
posted by Stithmeister @ 8:04 AM
It looks like Ann Northup has a challenger who might be able to do some damage. Daniel over at the Kentucky Democrat got the hit today when he reprinted an article from the subscription only Roll Call. He got picked up by Kos and MyDD. Anyway, many Democrats expected Northup to be secure but they've been looking for someone. As Solzman points out in his blog, both Dan Borsch and David Hale are both considering running. Borsch is currently the head of the Young Dems in Louisville and Hale is a former U.S. Attorney.
I think Horne may be the strongest potentially on the national scene. He's certainly getting his name out there but the big questions is does he have the local recognition he needs to hammer Northup in Louisville?
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:28 AM
The Wall Street Journal had a pretty good little assessment of how Alito might come out on the Texas redistricting case. It'll be interesting to see how this one flies. I do agree with them on a number of points. I think SCOTUS will vote to keep the current Delay of the land and this will solve some of his problems. Although, if he his convicted on money laundering and other charges, I don't see realistically how they could say this redistricting was constitutional if it had been shown in court that the outcome of the districts was directly tied to illegal monies.
posted by Stithmeister @ 12:24 AM
McCain gained ground against the White House today as Bush finally conceded on the torture issue, at least in public. After both the Senate and the House voted for the ban on torture. Now torture will be done like it was in the old days, in secret places, far from the prying eyes of groups like the Red Cross or other humanitarian groups. Of course, if people get caught, they'll swing for it but what's a few "rogue" soldiers in the war on terror.
The Washington Post had a few things to say on the matter.
President Bush reversed position yesterday and endorsed a torture ban crafted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) after months of White House attempts to weaken the measure, which would prohibit the "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" treatment of any detainee in U.S. custody anywhere in the world.
That language specifically would allow those civilians to defend their use of interrogation tactics by arguing in court that a "person of ordinary sense and understanding would not know the practices were unlawful." But legal experts said that provision also carries with it an implicit responsibility: Should CIA operatives or other civilians believe they were being directed to use an interrogation technique that was illegal, they would be obligated to disobey the order.
Realistically, that won't happen. Like so many other organizations, they do what they're told. This is just an easy out for command of liability on the issue. In the end, my cynical side says this is just lip service as much as I'd like to believe it's true. Our government has a long and distinguished history of doing naughty things to it's own people, let alone foreign aggressors. Now they'll just ship these poor bastards to North Africa so the Europeans don't have to hold their breath anymore hoping they don't get caught running these people through their airports and the U.S. can wash it's hands of the matter. Did I mention the CIA will now really shoot to kill?
posted by Stithmeister @ 8:57 PM
Marck Chellgren of the AP posted this story. It should give a decent run down on what happened with the warrant and everything in the Lt. Gov's office today:
FRANKFORT, Ky. - Lt. Gov. Steve Pence wanted to be the Louisville contact for Gov. Ernie Fletcher's constituent services operation that has become the focus of a special grand jury investigation of personnel practices, according to a court document filed by prosecutors Wednesday.
I wonder if the AG's office can bring down the Lt. Gov. too. It'll be a tough time for the Republicans if he can. Right now, the governor basically has no clout at all and Pence has stayed out of things. If they start going after Pence (and I hope they do), this could cause some real problems across the state. Also, with a couple of Congressional districts for Ky. on the fringe, real trouble could be had if handled properly. If I were the Republicans, I'd watch my step right now.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:52 PM
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to revise and extend the USA Fascist Act. WaPo covers the events that happened today. The battle now comes in the Senate as Senators on both sides of the aisle have threatened to filibuster the bill as it stands. If they can keep this war going on a little longer, the damned thing will expire. Some people I normally wouldn't root for, like John Sununu (R-NH) are fighting this bill so we can hope they fight it hard. I know our own senators, McConnell and Bunning won't vote against it.
An unusual coalition of Democrats and moderate-to-conservative Republicans in the Senate opposes the bill. Members say they will support a filibuster, promised by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), intended to kill it through long debate. Stopping a filibuster would require 60 votes in the 100-member Senate, where Republicans hold 55 seats.
This is the last chance folks. Contact your senators. Tell them to fight for this one. Our right are in jeopardy. We need to stop this bill or things in this country will get much worse.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:43 PM
This is post 401 for the Democrat From Kentucky. I've been at it for a few months now and hopefully my stuff is stomachable. I'm considering a move of every so often, giving a friend with an opposing viewpoint a chance to speak his mind on an issue. He's generally conservative and it's not a done deal but it's something I'm considering. I'm also still working on the idea of a newsletter, I've just been busy lately as I've got plenty on my plate in addition to the blog. Now, on to the good stuff...
Bob Novak Says The President Know Who Leaked and I don't mean his bladder either. Bob Novak, the one who started the whole Valerie Plame affair by printing the information in his column way back when, said he thinks the president knows who the leaker is and should name them or say he doesn't know. The Washington Post has the story.
Novak said Tuesday that the public and press should be asking the president about the official rather than pressing journalists who received the information.
Novak said in his speech that an investigation into his role in the Plame affair "snowballed out of proportion" as a result of a "campaign by the left." But he also blamed "extremely bad management of the issue by the White House," saying, "Once you give an issue to a special prosecutor, you lose control of it."
Novak is right about one thing. We, as citizens should be hammering the administration to find out who leaked all this. We're the one's he should be answerable too. It's interesting to see where this will go next. I rarely agree with Novak but he's right and this should have been at the administration's feet all the time. As I discussed with Cynicus and Greymagious months ago, we all thought this thing was going to be turned around and spun in a way to turn it away from the president. It's interesting that Novak has spun it back considering he was one of the people who helped start this whole mess. What fun.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:30 PM
This is a little off topic but I heard the most interesting story recently. On Tuesday, I attended my local PRSA luncheon and our speaker was a woman I'll call Jarrett's mom. Her little boy Jarrett was a special little child. I've put his story here. I think you'll find it as intriguing as I did:
Jarrett was a very special 13-year old boy that lived in the Central Kentucky community of Nicholasville with his Mom, Dad and younger sister Claire. He attended Rosenwald Dunbar Elementary, graduated from the 8th Grade at West Jessamine Middle School, and was looking forward to resuming his education at West Jessamine High School. He was interested in those things most enjoyed by kids his age (playing with friends, video games, swimming and going on vacation).
The Joy Cart still patrols the hospital and his family runs the thing. The site provides some great information about donating and even how to start a similar project in your own area.
Something else to consider too though is that these folks don't just help the children at the hospital They were able to provide some toys for some of the devastated areas on the Gulf Coast and they also help during the holidays to cover areas for toys that don't get covered because someone missed something or a parent didn't meet a deadline. Also keep in mind that this train runs every Tuesday night.
For those who wish to donate, they also need toys for small chidren... toddlers. Unfortunately, diseases like cancer know no age range. For those who might read this blog or happen upon it, please follow the link. Make a donation. It doesn't have to be the most expensive toy because that's not what this is about it. It's about letting a child know a complete stranger loves them and wants them to smile even though the face something horrific that few adults can stand up to. It's to let them know they're not alone. I don't this type of thing usually and there are loads of charitable causes out there, all of them worthy of support. But consider this, the next time you're in a dollar story or Wal-Mart of some other retail. Pick up a little something ... just a few dollars five or ten... the cost of an combo meal at your favorite burger joint...spend on one of these little children. You might find it does some healing in your life too.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:53 PM
This isn't my usual food for stories here but I thought it was interesting. It also shows that all the folks in Ky aren't quite as backwards as some think.
A story that's been floating around Lexington, Ky for a little while was on NPR this morning. They ran a story of a Muslim sorority at the University of Kentucky. This seems a bit odd for many, whose impressions of sorority are blondes who are drunk, dumb and oversexed. This is one stereotype that's out there. This particular sorority won't have alcohol or co-ed mixers either. They're going to stick to the religion. They're awaiting university approval for Gamma Gamma Chi. The sorority itself has been existance for about seven months now but has no official chapters. It looks like the University of Kentucky may be the first. Here's a story from the wire about it.
posted by Stithmeister @ 6:52 PM
So, what do my wonderful readers want to talk about?
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:53 PM
Mark Nickolas over at Bluegrass Report has thrown up some recent polling numbers for Republicans in Kentucky. Fletcher is ranked 48th out of 50 governors. McConnell was ranked 70th out of 100 and Bunning 97th out of 100. It's good thing neither are up for re-election in 2006. I'd say they'd be beatable right now although Mitch can come up with a lot of money.
He had another post talking about Republican internal polls and he explained that GOP media strategist Patrick Haynes is talking about the lousy shape Republican House members are in because of the Tom Delay stench. Delay has touched a number of Republicans in Ky. including Northup, Davis and Lewis. It looks like this "culture of corruption" is starting to stick. The Democrats need to keep hammering this and they might gain some ground in Congress in 2006. I just hope none of them get hung up in this mess.
posted by Stithmeister @ 9:39 PM
So the Patriot Act is going back to both houses and it's restricting lots of our right but did you know they're now going after our right to peaceably assemble and redress our government for grievences? Yep... that's what they're doing alright. A hat tip to Lindsay for this one. She pulled a spot from the Washington Post. It seems the Secret Service requires some provision to help keep things running smoothly at certain "nationally important" functions.
The Secret Service is authorized to charge suspects with breaching security or disruptive behavior at National Special Security Events, but only if the president or another person under the protection of the service is in attendance, according to a legislative summary.
This portion is new and introduced by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), known for being one of the more moderate Republicans out there. The ACLU is trying to stop this provision but they need all the help they can get. The dissappointing part is that I know Kentucky's delegation to Washington will pretty much vote it into place. I know McConnell and Bunning will and I knwo the Republican Congressmen will fall in line. That leaves Ben Chandler. I hope he has the guts to vote against this but I tend to doubt it.
This all comes to one basic notion: The government exists to remove our rights PERIOD. Unfortunately, every government exists to take away rights. I believe in the social contract theory more or less. I believe we voluntarily give up certain rights to exist in a civil society. Unfortunately, our rights are now being taken very quickly The interesting thing about all this is that while our country is busy stripping away our rights in classic fascist fashion, the People's Republic of China is having real problems keeping their people from taking their rights.
While China does hammer their journalists, farmers and factory workers alike are losing benefits and lots of other things as the nation privatizes. The people are demanding more of their government and the Communist Party doesn't quite know how to deal. Ah the irony.
posted by Stithmeister @ 7:52 PM
Stanley "Tookie" Williams will meet his end tonight after being convicted over 20 years ago for the murders of four people in a convenience store. The murders were in 1979 and convicted in 1981. Since then, Williams has become and an anti-gang advocate and has even been nominated for the Nobel Peace prise.
While Williams past is certainly nefarious(he co-founded the "Crips" gang) He's written children's books and and done much working to prevent the spread of gangs and the violence and drugs that go with them.
Governor Schwarzeneggar said he didn't feel as if Williams felt remorse because he's not admitted to his crimes, suggest without that, there can be no redemption or atonement.
One point mentioned in the AP story:
In addition, the governor noted that Williams dedicated his 1998 book "Life in Prison" to a list of figures that included the black militant George Jackson — "a significant indicator that Williams is not reformed and that he still sees violence and lawlessness as a legitimate means to address societal problems."
I generally agree with that statement and as such believe the governor is being hyporcritical in his statement. He's justifying state violence to punish someone for the violence they committed.
Now... some would suggest that we shouldn't have the death penalty because it costs too much. By the time the appeals are exhausted, it's cheaper to put them away for life. That's a cynical although I suppose valid point. Their are others who have the various opinions on the death penalty and most know mine. I shall share it again.
The death penalty is morally and societally wrong and its use marks our country as not only a barbaric nation but and my opinion, those who advocate it are really no better than those they believe should be executed. This view doesn't win me many friends because many of my family believe in the death penalty but it's the way I see things. I consider the jurors and for that matter even the fine governor of California nothing more than a common murdering thug. If Williams did commit the murders, then California ia no better than Williams for sanctioning and carrying out the murder of Williams.
Only a hand full of nations in the world even execute people at all and all but China, North Korea and Iran execute less than our country. What a fine, humane group of individuals to be included in. In the end, our society should be better than this. We consider ourselves a moral society,a just society...then where is the justice and morality in murder?
Perhaps one could consider another view point. What gives us the right to rob an individual of their life, even they did such a vile act? I suppose though in our ownership society, everything is there for the taking, including lives.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:55 PM
The Supreme Court of the United States had agreed to review the redistricting of Texas after a memo was leaked from the Dept. of Justice by staffers who considered the plan a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The plan went through based on the decisions of political appointees in the Dept. of Justice. Some changes have been made since, namely that staffers can't say anything anymore.
The problem is really this. The redistricting takes a couple of years complete. The 2000 census results will need to be reconsidered and then the appropriate officials sit down and hammer it out. The deal is the process will probably take a couple of years. That means it'll probably be 2008 before it could actually affect political races in Texas. The census will happen again two years later and we're back where we started. Now granted, 2012 is a ways off but considering Jeb Bush will probably be running for president then, it's something to keep in mind, especially since the Bush family does hold some sway in Texas.
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:40 PM
Right now, in Mississippi, there's a black man on death row. I know that's a big surprise. He shot and killed a police officer. For some, that's no big surprise either. This is a travesty but not because of the bleeding heart liberal mentality on this.
A hat tip to MajikThise for the story. She got it from Battle Panda who got the story from The Agitator.
Let's summarize: Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn't named in the warrant, and wasn't a suspect. The man, frigthened for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door's been kicked in. Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town's police chief. He's later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury. The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs (rather, traces of drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.
Maye's attorney tells me that after the trial, she spoke with two jurors by phone. She learned from them that the consensus among jurors was that Maye was convicted for two reasons. The first is that though they initially liked her, Maye's lawyer, the jury soured on her when, in her closing arguments, she intimated that if the jury showed no mercy for Maye, God might neglect to bestow mercy on them when they meet him in heaven. They said the second reason May was convicted was that the jury felt he'd been spoiled by his mother and grandmother, and wasn't very respectful of elders and authority figures. The facts of the case barely entered the picture. Gotta' love the South.
This is obviously a travesty and the poor bastard will probably die because people down in Mississippi still cannot get past racial issues. They burst into the home of the wrong man, who was there with his 18-month-old baby. What in the name of God would they've done? I keep thinking unbelievable but it's obviously not. If the folks in Mississippi let this case go through, then they've not progressed any further than Edgar Killen and all the other crimes that've happened there over the decades.
posted by Stithmeister @ 8:24 AM
Bill Frist was stirring the holiday stew when he appeared on Fox News on Sunday morning. He said he felt like an agreement could be reached with the administration over McCain's anti-torture legislation. I think the only way McCain will agree is if the legislation goes through as it stands. Anything less, like exemptions for the CIA would be detrimental to our image and give license to others to do what they like to our detainees. It seems like our nation consistantly wishes to give up any possible moral high ground they might have had.
The other issue and one that is just as volatile is the hearings/vote on Alito, Bush's nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the SCOTUS. The problem is Alito is the classic rightwing nut job. Frist continued to threaten to jerk the fillibuster out from under the Democrats and change the rules of the Senate in order to get Bush's nominee through. Once again, the Republicans show if they can't win, they just change the rules.
posted by Stithmeister @ 10:49 PM
What a wonderful, open, free nation we live in. Ever since 9/11, our rights have been dissappearing. Perhaps they were going before, but certainly at a much slower pace. Now they're dissappearing by leaps and bounds. Currently, there are well... there might be laws on the books no one knows about because they're secret. But then, they can't be challenged in open court either so who the hell knows.
My old pal Cynicus should get credit for this one. The Washington Monthly who got the story from CNet published a story yesterday discussing the events of the founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, John Gilmore, who refused to show his identification was not allowed to get onboard an plane. He walked through the metal detector and did all the other provisions but refused to provide the identification. The reason he did so is because no one would state statute which forced him to identify himself. The claimed it was secret. Gilmore is one of a libertarian and a geek. Obviously a fringe player. But what about a former congresswoman who's also an ultra-conservative?
About a year ago, a similar case came up with for Helen Chenowith-Hage, a former Republican congresswoman from Idaho. FAS.org printed the information back in October of last year.
Chenoweth-Hage, an ultra-conservative former Congresswoman (R-ID), requested a copy of the regulation that authorizes such pat-downs.
So...let's look at this logically. The debate will come from the 5th Amendment and what the boundaries are, particular regarding two clauses:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Where exactly does the line lie? Well, to remain in the spirit of the constitution and certainly our founding fathers, one would think on the side liberty. However, the current administration would suggest otherwise, continously stripping away our rights, all in the name of nationalist-socialist security. The only way to beat the Star Chambers is to speak out and make as loud a voice as possible. A change must come soon. Or else our people and our nation won't survive.
posted by Stithmeister @ 9:04 PM
I'm currently working in the telecomm industry but one of my passions is still politics.
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