Patriot Act Shenanigans

  I have been opposed to the Patriot Act ever since its inception.  Here is just another news item to support that view.  Proponents of the Patriot Act would have you believe that it is only used for “safety” purposes and only targets suspicious behavior.  First of all, who gets to define what constitutes “suspicious” behavior?  How often have governments in the past abused their access to such private information regarding their citizens?  While not downplaying the threat of terrorism, I am much more likely by the order of many magnitudes to die in a car accident than as the result of a terrorist action.  I am inclined to agree with Franklin’s sentiments about those who are willing to give up freedom for security deserve neither.  Anyway, here are some highlights from the news story.

A member of the American Library Association has sued the Justice Department to challenge an FBI demand for records, but the USA Patriot Act prohibits the plaintiff from publicly disclosing its identity or other details of the dispute, according to court documents released Thursday.

  I have subscribed to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) newsletters for the last several years.  It seems that librarians are doing more to try to protect our fundamental privacies than the average citizen is.  This is not the first case of a librarian bucking the feds over an overly invasive search of a patron’s browsing records.  Gee, how convenient for the feds that we “merely” ordinary citizens can’t even know what the dispute is over.

Justice Department and FBI officials have repeatedly declined to identify how many times Patriot Act-related powers have been used to seek or obtain information from libraries, but they have strongly urged Congress not to limit their ability to do so.

  No doubt they do this because the results would show that overwhelmingly their “fishing” excursions are less than useful and further erode the original freedoms, privacies, and liberties that we used to enjoy.

The lawsuit, originally filed under seal in Connecticut on Aug. 9, focuses on the FBI’s use of a document called a “national security letter,” which allows investigators to demand records without the approval of a judge and to prohibit companies or institutions from disclosing the request. (emphasis mine) Restrictions on the FBI’s ability to use NSLs were loosened under the Patriot Act.

  Wow, they get to act as judge, jury, and executioner.  How fortuitous!  This is very similar to other provisions of the unPatriot Act where LEO can search your home and computer while you are not present and they don’t even have to notify you at the time.  “Fourth Amendment, what Fourth Amendment?”, chuckled George as the Patriot Act was made into law.  He was further heard to say, “Hell, I can’t even count past three- that damned Bill of Rights and Constitutional guarantees crap just confuses me.  It’s much easier just to ignore it.”

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said during Senate testimony in April that the Justice Department “has no interest in rummaging through the library records or medical records of Americans” but that “libraries should not become safe havens” for terrorists or other criminals.

Gonzales said at the time that the FBI had never asked for records under a provision of the Patriot Act known by critics as the “library provision,” which allows the government to demand records from a variety of businesses, including libraries, in intelligence probes.

But that provision is separate from the one that governs the kind of letter used in the Connecticut case.

  As he crossed his fingers behind his back.  What a bunch of lying thieves!  Well, hopefully, the neo-cons are on the wane and we will see the return of true conservatives who are interested in reining in Big Brother and protecting the rights and freedoms of individuals.

Novak suspended by CNN

  I ran across this yesterday and forgot about it until now.  It sounds like everyone is ganging up on poor Mr Novak.  First his “Crossfire” segment is canned and now this.

Journalist Robert Novak, whose publication of a CIA officer’s name in a 2003 column has sparked a federal investigation, was suspended by CNN after he swore and walked off the set during a live telecast.

  The timing is a little suspicious as well:

Henry said Thursday that Novak had been told before the “Inside Politics” segment that he was going to be asked on air about the CIA case.

  Is it getting hot in there or is it just me? LOL

  It could be that he can dish it out, but just can’t take it.  We report- you decide… or something!

“Let me just finish, James, please,” Novak continued. “I know you hate to hear me, but you have to.”

Carville, addressing the camera, said: “He’s got to show these right wingers that he’s got a backbone, you know. It’s why The Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching you. Show ‘em that you’re tough.”

“Well, I think that’s bull——and I hate that,” Novak replied. “Just let it go.”

As moderator Henry stepped in to ask Carville a question, Novak walked off the set.

  My, my, temper…  Isn’t that the first rule in debate- don’t let emotion cloud your arguments?  hehe

Bush and ID

  Okay, DOF asked that someone post this on its own thread.  I went ahead and posted the whole article because the paper is one of those for which you have to register.  Pay attention to the final paragraph especially.  This guy makes the same mistake that the majority of Creationists/ID types makes.  The theory of evolution deals strictly with the phenomonon of biodiversity.  Creationists try to claim that one of the biggest holes in the theory of evolution is that it can’t explain where life came from.  No shit, that is covered by genesis theories (abiogenesis and biogenesis).  I have also appended my e-mail to Mr John West.  Here is the link if you would like to go to the news story itself.

Posted on Tue, Aug. 02, 2005

Bush backs instruction in evolution, intelligent design

By RON HUTCHESON and DIANE CARROLL Knight Ridder Newspapers The Kansas City Star

WASHINGTON — President Bush waded into the debate over evolution and intelligent design Monday, saying schools should teach both theories on the creation and complexity of life.

The president’s comments came as the Kansas Board of Education moved closer to approving new science standards that call for students to hear more criticism about evolution. The standards do not call for the teaching of intelligent design.

In a question-and-answer session with a small group of reporters, Bush essentially endorsed efforts by Christian conservatives to give intelligent design equal standing with the theory of evolution in the nation’s schools.

Bush declined to state his personal views on intelligent design, the belief that life forms are so complex that their creation can’t be explained by Darwinian evolutionary theory alone but rather points to intentional creation, presumably divine.

The theory of evolution, first articulated by British naturalist Charles Darwin in 1859, is based on the idea that life organisms developed over time through random mutations and factors in nature that favored certain traits that helped species survive.

Scientists concede that evolution does not answer every question about the creation of life, but most consider the push to add instruction on intelligent design in public schools an attempt to inject religion into science courses.

Bush compared the current debate to earlier disputes over “creationism,” a related view that adheres more closely to biblical explanations. As Texas governor, Bush said students should be exposed to both creationism and evolution.

On Monday the president said he favored the same approach for intelligent design “so people can understand what the debate is about.”

“I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought,” he said. “You’re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas. The answer is yes.”

The six conservatives on the 10-member Kansas Board of Education are supporting a draft of the science standards that calls for more criticism of evolution. The draft does not go so far as to call for the teaching of intelligent design.

Board Chairman Steve Abrams, who supports the proposed draft, said Monday that he supported “good science” and that he backed intelligent design to the extent that it met the requirements of what constituted good science. But he said more research needed to determine whether intelligent design should be inserted into the curriculum.

“I hate to disagree with the president, but at this point in time I am not in favor of actually inserting intelligent design into the standards,” said Abrams, of Arkansas City. “I think it’s important for students to be able to critically analyze evolution, but to actually insert intelligent design into it — I’m not much in favor of inserting intelligent design.

“I still go back to what is science. … It needs to meet the criteria of good science.”

Board member Sue Gamble of Shawnee, who opposes the proposed standards, said she could agree with the president if intelligent design were a scientific theory. Unfortunately, she said, it is not.

Intelligent design should not be a part of science curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grade, she said, because “there is nothing to teach children about it in terms of basic science. I find it so unfortunate that political leaders are becoming embroiled in this, when frankly they are not qualified to have an opinion.”

Gamble said she did not oppose the teaching of the origin of life in a high school history or comparative religion class but said it did not belong in a science class.

The National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have concluded that there is no scientific basis for intelligent design and oppose its inclusion in school science classes.

Some scientists have declined to join the debate, fearing that amplifying the discussion only gives intelligent design more legitimacy.

But advocates of intelligent design also claim support from scientists. The Discovery Institute, a conservative think tank in Seattle that is the leading proponent for intelligent design, said it had compiled a list of more than 400 scientists, including 70 biologists, who are skeptical about evolution.

“The fact is that a significant number of scientists are extremely skeptical that Darwinian evolution can explain the origins of life,” John West, associate director of the organization’s Center for Science and Culture, said in a news release.

————————————————————————————————————————

First glance

■ President Bush says public schools should teach both evolution and intelligent design.

■ His comments to reporters come as the Kansas Board of Education works on new science standards that would have students hear more criticism of evolution.

  The title of my e-mail was “Get your theories straight”.  I have yet to receive a response.

When I read this quote from the Kansas City Star article,
“The fact is that a significant number of scientists are extremely skeptical that Darwinian evolution can explain the origins of life,” John West, associate director of the organization’s Center for Science and Culture, said in a news release.,

I had to laugh.  No self-respecting scientist would claim that Darwinian evolution explains the origin of life.  That is not what the theory of evolution explains.  The theory of evolution attempts to explain the diversity that we see in life, not where it came from.  The two schools of scientific thought regarding the origins of life are called abiogenesis and biogenesis.  There is a reason that Darwin’s book was titled The Origin of Species and not The Origin of Life.  The fact that you and your pet scientists can’t differentiate between wildly disparate scientific theories doesn’t bode well for your being able to form logical conclusions about anything scientific.  It also makes your argument that much less valid.  Confusion regarding scientific theories is understandable by the “rank and file” creationists, but is inexcusable from people who want to be taken seriously and are supposedly “academic”.  The unfortunate matter is that the average American seems to be too uneducated to realize that your ideas should be taken lightly.

  Sincerely,

      Warren E Biggs

 

Al-Qaeda training manual posted on DOJ website

  Wow!  Pretty amazing stuff!  The DOJ has posted an al-Qaeda training manual that was recovered in Manchester, England.  Of course it has been heavily redacted because according to the DOJ site “it (DOJ) does not want to aid in educating terrorists or encourage further acts of terrorism.”  The manual can be accessed here.  I haven’t really gone through it yet and found out about it in this news story from the BBC.  Apparently some Brits are up in arms that the DOJ would publish this.  I would have to side firmly with the DOJ, but then knowledge and public access to it is extremely important to me.  I am unsure how long this will remain up or whether the British government will make a formal request to have it removed.  If you are interested in reading it, I would recommend doing so quickly.

Cliches come to life - couldn’t resist.

  I saw this headline “Fighting toothlessness in Appalachia” and had to read the article.  I think that it is the same kind of morbid curiousity that makes people slow down when they pass a wreck.  It gets even better.

With a silvery Airstream trailer as a dental office, Dr. Jeff Bailey goes about his work, brightening the often gapped smiles of people in a part of the country with the highest rate of toothlessness in America.

  Hehe, a trailer no less!!!

Bailey is part of an effort organized by Southern Baptist churches. Other charitable organizations have opened free clinics in church buildings or held dental-care events in Wal-Mart parking lots across the region, handing out free samples of toothpaste, floss and toothbrushes.

  “Hey, ma, why don’t we take the young’uns to the Wal-Mart and get thems teeth cleaned?”

Hold onto your hats - Bush announces his pick for SC Justice.

  Well, according to CNN it appears as if Bush is going to bow to the pressure of the Christian Right and nominate a hardline anti-abortionist to the bench.

President Bush will select U.S. Circuit Judge John Roberts Jr. to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the nation’s highest court, CNN has learned.

Two sources, including a Senate Judiciary Committee source, said Roberts will be Bush’s choice when the president makes a formal announcement in a nationwide address at 9 p.m. ET.

  Check out this bald-faced lie from the same article.

Bush, he (Specter) said, should be able to stand “above the fray” and make an appointment that would be “in the national interest”—not because he was “beholden to any group, no matter how much they contributed to his election.”

  Now for the “read and weep” part.  The following information was taken from the Independent Judiciary website.

 

Reproductive Rights. s a Deputy Solicitor General, Mr. Roberts co-wrote a Supreme Court brief in Rust v. Sullivan,1 for the first Bush administration, which argued that the government could prohibit doctors in federally-funded family planning programs from discussing abortions with their patients. The brief not only argued that the regulations were constitutional, notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, but it also made the broader argument that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided – an argument unnecessary to defend the regulation. The Supreme Court sided with the government on the narrower grounds that the regulation was constitutional.

Environmental Issues. As a student, Mr. Roberts wrote two law review articles arguing for an expansive reading of the Contracts and Takings clauses of the Constitution, taking positions that would restrict Congress’ ability to protect the environment. As a member of the Solicitor General’s office, Mr. Roberts was the lead counsel for the United States in the Supreme Court case Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, in which the government argued that private citizens could not sue the federal government for violations of environmental regulations.

Civil Rights. After a Supreme Court decision effectively nullified certain sections of the Voting Rights Act, Roberts was involved in the Reagan administration’s effort to prevent Congress from overturning the Supreme Court’s action.6 The Supreme Court had recently decided that certain sections of the Voting Rights Act could only be violated by intentional discrimination and not by laws that had a discriminatory effect, despite a lack of textual basis for this interpretation in the statute. Roberts was part of the effort to legitimize that decision and to stop Congress from overturning it.

Religion in Schools. While working with the Solicitor General’s office, Mr. Roberts co-wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the Bush administration, in which he argued that public high schools can include religious ceremonies in their graduation programs, a view the Supreme Court rejected.

  There is more information at their website.  Damn, I was really hoping that Bush would nominate either Edith Clement or Alex Kozinski.  While I view myself as more federalist than not, I also realize that, realistically, there are times that the federal government should step in- especially regarding the environment since we are all dependent on that for our lives.  Well, we’ll see what the Dems do.

US lied to Britain over use of napalm in Iraq war

  That is the headline from this news story. 

American officials lied to British ministers over the use of “internationally reviled” napalm-type firebombs in Iraq.

Yesterday’s disclosure led to calls by MPs for a full statement to the Commons and opened ministers to allegations that they held back the facts until after the general election.

Despite persistent rumours of injuries among Iraqis consistent with the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, Adam Ingram, the Defence minister, assured Labour MPs in January that US forces had not used a new generation of incendiary weapons, codenamed MK77, in Iraq.

But Mr Ingram admitted to the Labour MP Harry Cohen in a private letter obtained by The Independent that he had inadvertently misled Parliament because he had been misinformed by the US. “The US confirmed to my officials that they had not used MK77s in Iraq at any time and this was the basis of my response to you,” he told Mr Cohen. “I regret to say that I have since discovered that this is not the case and must now correct the position.”

The US corporate media is getting worse and worse.  I had actually read about MK77 being used in Iraq quite a while back, but this is the first official confirmation of it that I have seen.  There have been some other articles in UK papers as well as alternative sources going as far back as August 2003.  The lead story for CNN at the moment is another arrest made in connection with the teen missing in Aruba.

Proposed repealing of 22nd Amendment

Be afraid, be very afraid…  Somehow this little gem of proposed legislation seems to have flown under the media radar.

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd amendment to the Constitution. (Introduced in House)

HJ 24 IH
109th CONGRESS
1st Session

H. J. RES. 24
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd amendment to the Constitution.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 17, 2005
Mr. HOYER (for himself, Mr. BERMAN, Mr. SENSENBRENNER, Mr. SABO, and Mr. PALLONE) introduced the following joint resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

————————————————————————————————————————

JOINT RESOLUTION
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd amendment to the Constitution.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

`Article—

`The twenty-second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is repealed.’.

  At least when they tried to repeal the 22nd for Reagan, it was all done in the open.  This nasty little critter can be verified here.  You will have to do a search on “HJ Res 24”.

[Editor’s Note:] For those of you who don’t recall all of the amendments here’s a link. The 22nd establishes the two-term limit for Presidents.

Creationists win… again

  Here is the latest in the creationists attempt to get their beliefs placed alongside science.

The Tulsa Zoo will add a display featuring the biblical account of creation following complaints to a city board about other displays with religious significance, including a Hindu elephant statue.

  According to the article the other “religious” piece was a marble globe with the inscription, “The earth is our mother.  The sky is our father.”  While these items are oblique references to other religions, they are by no means a blatent reference to the various creation myths of said religions.  If the poor, downtrodden Christians want something, why not put up a freaking cross, a depiction of Jesus, Noah’s Ark, or anything else.  Please…  it’s not enough that they want to cram it down our throats in public schools, now they want a damned billboard of their bogus myth placed in a zoo!!!

Treason and terrorists around every corner

  When the citizens can no longer criticize nor condemn the government, the time is ripe for tyranny.  Freedom only flourishes under an open and accountable government.  Here is the latest in the government’s scare overusage of the words “treason” and “terrorist”.
 

An Alabama congressman says comedian Bill Maher’s comment that the U.S. military has already recruited all the “low-lying fruit” is possibly treasonous and at least grounds to cancel the HBO show.