Friday, December 30, 2005
I was playing 2005 back through my head. Wow, what a year! Katrina, et al. Lance winning another one. The Raiders stinking up the AFC West. Again. Progress and set-backs in Iraq. Political lies and innuendo.
I went back to my end-of-year post from last year, and got a chuckle:
Biggest Hope For 2005Sadly, the first item keeps getting worse, not better. People just don't seem to give a shit that their rights and freedoms are being usurped in the name of safety. We're a bunch of damned sheep.
Note: Numbers 3 and 4 above have exactly the same statistical likelihood of occurring. I hope the first two items fare better.
- Americans stop blindly accepting government intrusion into our lives
- The Iraqi elections are successful, and we get our boys home quickly
- The Raiders win the Superbowl
- I win the California State Lottery
Even though I'm vehemently against the war in Iraq, things are clearly getting better. These last elections were simply incredible. My gut still tells me that it will all devolve into civil war when our boots are out of the sand, but the Iraqis are making a hell of a run at success. Honestly, God Speed and good luck.
New Blog Buddies
Cait - Oh man, did we start off on the wrong foot. We got into it over at Mad Mikey's like a couple of junk yard dogs fighting over a bone! It wasn't pretty. But, when it was all said and done, we realized our opinion was pretty damned close. I've come to appreciate her opinion and warped sense of humor. A true kindred spirit!
Guyk - A fellow small-L libertarian. I forget where I ran into him, but he's just a down-home, don't feed me no bullshit, let's figure out a way to shrink government kinda guy. I never tire of his outlook on life, his devotion to his "sweetthing" and "sassy poodle", and his way of cutting through the crap and getting to the point.
New Blog Discoveries
In addition to Cait and Guy mentioned earlier, I've found these sites to be to my liking. They generally have a libertarian point of view, or at least believe in smaller government, and the Right To Keep and Bear Arms.
No Quarters - A die-hard libertarian. Hates excessive government even more than I do.
Ravenwood's Universe - A great writer with a quirky, dry humor look on life and politics. One of the best out there.
Different River - I've read him for a while, but just recently started commenting on his site. My first post, was a rant about his stance on the Spy Scandal. Only, I got his message all wrong! Very inquisitive mind.
Catfish - This guy is just pure, unadulterated enjoyment. From posts on the correct technique for oral sex, anal sex or monkey-love sex, to the virtues of low-country boil, to the proper way to kill the alligator that lives in your pond, Cat is a good ol' boy from down south that has a unique way of looking at life.
Biggest Surprise Of The Year
It looks like something may actually happen in regards to stemming the flow of illegal aliens into our country. The border fence looks like it will be built, the children of illegal aliens won't get automatic citizenship, and more border patrol agents are being hired. Hmmm. Maybe they're not tone deaf in DC after all...
Biggest Disappointment of The Year
Eminent domain going down in flames. If this doesn't get fixed, it means for all intents and purposes, no one in America really owns the property they have purchased. And people don't give a shit. I expect this type of thing from our left-wing socialist Dems. But after all of the right-wing politicians went, "harrumpfff, harrumpfff", and nothing was done on a national level, I just wanted to puke. Where is the law or the amendment giving land ownership back to the citizenry?
Tough call, 'cause there are so few. I have to give the hat tip to Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. He's a patriot, an individual, a fiscal conservative, and a social moderate. And he seems to be unflinchingly honorable. We need to clone his ass right now!
All of the preening bastards that jumped on the Terri Shiavo bandwagon. Bush, Delay, Frist, et al. That was absolutely disgusting. I think having a discussion - even a heated one - about this issue is a very good thing. But, regardless of where you stood on the issue of Terri's life, it should appall you that the federal government (and the state of Florida) were trying to usurp decades (if not centuries) of legal precedent concerning spousal rights.
You don't have the President of The United States jumping out of bed in his Doctor Denton's to sign a bill that affects one, individual American. You don't have the leader of the Senate - a medical doctor - presuming to provide a diagnosis on a woman he has never met nor examined. It was political whore-dom at it's worse.
Biggest Personal Accomplishment
Easy. I quit smoking after 24 years, on Independence Day (ironic, huh?). I'm 46, so I had been smoking for more than half of my life. I knew that smoking was doing me no good, and could only lead to my early demise, so I did it. I had quit a number of times before, but they never stuck. Apparently, it was a planning thing. I planned this out 3 months in advance. I had a two boxes of nicotine gum and mints, but only used a couple of them on the first few days. No desire ever since. Go figure.
Runner Up: Teaching my wife how to safely handle and use our guns. She went from "No Fucking Way", to "Buy Me My Own"! Honestly, I have the looting and mayhem from New Orleans to thank the most....
Biggest Personal Failure
Not spending enough time with my boys. On the job-front, I put in murderous hours this year with our systems conversion, charter flip and taking over a new department. I had a number of get-away weekends with my wife, but my time with my boys slipped the most. They are 16 and 18 right now, and will be out of the house in a few short years. I will not allow myself to have regrets for having missed significant periods in their lives.
Most Thankful About
Without going into any detail (sorry, I just can't risk it), I'm very thankful for the support I received from my boss and our board of directors this year. 2005 could have ended on a personally sour note, but instead ended with such an overwhelming vote of support about a very critical issue. I'll be forever thankful to the individuals involved. You know who you are.
No Nanny State's Man Of The Year
You've heard the name, but you may not be able to immediately place the cause he's involved with. It's the Minuteman Project. As their tag line states, "Americans doing the jobs Congress won't do."
His organization forced Congress and the President to take border security seriously. Their in-your-face approach has gotten our government off of it's collective Fat Ass, and we're at least starting to do something serious about this problem of Illegal Aliens.
Go to their site, make a contribution if you can afford to do so, but at least see what they're saying about progress on this issue around the country. Their site will now go on my favorites list. I ask you to do the same.
Biggest Hope for 2006
Here's my list for 2006:
- Lose 40 pounds. I put on 20 after I quit smoking and was packin' a little too much even before I quit. Sugar is my new vice. I wanna be an old man some day.
- Real troop draw-downs in Iraq. It's time for the Iraqis to fight for their own freedom.
- Win a gold medal in the World Cup of Homebrewing competition this year. I've landed a bronze in each of the last two years. Time to become a Big Dog!
- Win the California State lottery.
- Watch the Raiders make it to the Super Bowl.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
I'm not quite sure why, but there has been a lot of buzz lately about the Real ID legislation and whether it is a National ID card. Secondarily, there has been a discussion about whether an National ID card is a good or bad thing. Here's my take:
The Real ID is a National ID card. No two ways about it. There has been wording to the effect of, "The states are not mandated by the Feds to do comply with our standards. It's all voluntary". Yeah, right.
If a state does not comply with all of the standards, the holders of non-standard ID cards won't be able to access any federal services. That would include Social Security, the ability to purchase a weapon, the ability to fly on interstate flights, to name a few. They are using our own money (Social Security) and our Constitutional rights (right to bear arms) as clubs against us, to bend us to their will. Voluntary, my ass.
Another provision of the act is that all of the states that do participate in the program must agree to connect their drivers license/state ID data bases together.
So, by collusion and threat, the feds have been able to construct a National ID card.
So what? Why is that a bad thing?
Let me count the ways: Identity theft; False sense of security; Increased police powers. Let's hit these one-by-one.
Identity Theft: These new cards present at least two new and improved ways for bad guys to steal your identity. Remember: At a minimum, the cards will contain your name, birth date, sex, ID number, a digital photograph and address.
First, these new cards will be required to have a "a common machine-readable technology" element that will allow the cards to be swiped or scanned in some manner to be able to get the information from the card. These scanners will be located at all places that will require the cards for identification purposes. These include places like airports, military facilities, government agencies, etc.
It also includes places like your bank, your grocery store, your shopping mall, etc. Want to cash a check? ID, please. Want to use your credit card? ID, please. What this is doing is placing all of your very private information in a single location (the card) and making it accessible to marketers! They will warehouse and resell this information just like they do with the other information they gather from you. And we all know how well these companies are able to protect this information from falling into the wrong hands (tongue firmly in cheek).
Secondly, building a single, homogeneous network with most likely tens of thousands of legal access points (multiple PC's in every Department of Motor Vehicles in every state, every federal office, etc.) could not possibly provide a higher security threat. Think of the prize this target would present to hackers. It would be a gold mine. You could now build your own forged drivers licenses by reverse engineering the cards, and populating them with the stolen information.... and your picture or other biometric information.
False Sense of Security: National ID cards do not aid in increased security. At all. One of the primary reasons set forth for the benefits of the card is that anyone wishing identification documents will have to go through a vetting process to prove that they are who they say they are. Obviously, this assumes that everyone getting ID tells the truth, and that none of them use forged documents. Great assumption. It also assumes that someone won't forge the entire card by itself (as described above with the reverse engineering).
So what we end up with is a large group of law-abiding individual that have legitimate cards, that are interspersed with a handful of law-breakers with forged cards. The law-breakers get lost in the sea of law-abiders. They don't have an ID card that says, "Bad Guy", it says, "Good Guy".
And what about the guys that have totally legitimate cards, that suddenly turn on society? Someone like Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh, DC sniper John Allen Muhammed, or UC Berkeley professor Ted Kaczynski... yeah, the Unabomber? How is an ID card going to protect you against them?
For security to be effective, you need to be able to identify intent. An ID card does not provide anyone with that ability. But because they're doing something, we sheep falsely feel more secure.
Increased Police Powers: Sadly, this is what these cards all really boil down to. For some reason I'm unable to fathom, our government seems to have this need to know what and when we do virtually anything. We've long had legal precedence (back to 1891) that Americans have the right to not identify ourselves to police officers. This is in addition to the Fourth and Fifth amendments requiring probable cause and protection against self incrimination, respectively.
In 1968 in the Terry v. Ohio decision, the parameters under which a police officer had the right to ask for ID were clarified. Justice White further clarified the issue with,
"Of course, the person stopped is not obliged to answer, answers may not be compelled, and refusal to answer furnishes no basis for arrest, although it may alert the officer to the need for continued observation."This general precedent has been reaffirmed time and again. Until now. The Supreme Court has recently concluded that the State has the ability to require you to identify yourself whenever you're asked by a police officer. If you don't "show your papers", you can be arrested and prosecuted.
Yep, Kennedy, Rehnquist, Scalia, O'Connor and Thomas all, "got your back". I'm sure they think a National ID card is a good idea, too.
Update: Guy has some good questions about this subject....
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
For the past 15 or 20 years, I haven't usually gotten a lot in the way of Christmas presents. I'm the "adult" now, and the focus is always on our kids. Sure, I'd get something "sweet" from my wife and something from my mom, but that's usually it (my brothers and I have an agreement going back to our just-starting-in-adult-life phase, that we don't buy each other Christmas presents).
For some reason or the other, I just raked in the goods this year! I know, I know, that's not what the holiday is about, but it was still kinda cool.
First off, my wife got me a Kitchenaid mixer. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Be Still My Beating Heart. I'm a pretty damned good cook, except for baking. For some reason I have trouble with dough. Go figure. I've even got my own private Sourdough mother starter, but the bread always comes out too dense. Any way, I figured something like a mixer couldn't hurt my skills. I made two loaves of awesome french bread last night, and have a big ol' bowl of sourdough sponge growing as we speak that will be baked this evening. I'll also be picking up the meat grinder attachment, and the sausage stuffer attachment. I think I'll need a Weight Watchers Attachment when I'm done.....
I've mentioned a couple of times that I'm a home brewer. I've been doing this for 25 years, and do a pretty nice job (I've picked up awards the past two years at the World Cup of Homebrewing). I've got a fairly elaborate serving set-up at home that includes soda dispensing for my kids and their friends. This girl friend of my oldest boy's best friend, showed her appreciation by buying me a Beer Checkers set! Instead of using checkers, you have these mini-beer mugs that you fill with beer. When you jump an opponent's piece, instead of taking the piece off of the board, you get to drink a shot of beer (or I guess you could have them drink it). This will have it's Maiden Voyage on New Years eve.
One of my brother-in-laws got me this beautiful Raiders figurine-thing from the 1976 Super Bowl season. This could be a problem, though. He had given me a number of signed lithographs of Raider Greats over the years, so last year, I got him a signed Joe Montana football (he's a Niners fan, obviously). If this keeps escalating, it could get expensive...
Finally, my boys got me a 5-pack of Jones' soda. "Big deal", you say. It is when it's the Holiday Pack. "What's that?", you ask. Well it's five very special sodas: Turkey and gravy, Smoked Salmon Pate, Corn-on-the-cob, Broccoli casserole, and Pecan Pie. Yeah, sodas. As the box says, "Just Like Mom Used To Make".
My oldest son has tasted them, and said they taste just like what the labels says they should. I'm torn between drinking them, holding on to them as a keepsake or taking them to a toxic waste dump. We'll see....
Friday, December 23, 2005
So I quit.... until Monday!
I'd like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. If you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you enjoy this time of year with your friends, family or other religious groups.
It's time for a Christmas toddie!
Thursday, December 22, 2005
I am quite simply awe-struck by the refusal of normally intelligent people to consider the fact that Bush broke American law in regards to this spy scandal. Our laws on this matter are quite clear. US CODE: Title 50 §1811. Authorization during time of war:
Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period not to exceed fifteen calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress.He can surveil, arguably, anybody - US resident or not - if the intent is to gather foreign intelligence information. But he can only do it for 15 days, and only if Congress has declared war.
Even if, by the wildest stretch of your imagination, you consider the authorization Congress gave him, to be a declaration of war (and let me be clear: it's not even close), this has been going on, by Bush's own admission, since at least 2002! That exceeds the 15 calendar days by, oh... 1,400 days or so!
I believe in loyalty. It is the basis for all real relationships. I've got your back, you've got mine. But there are limits. Breaking the law when a reasonable alternative is available is one of those limits.
Let's assume Bush was worried that bad guys in the US presented an imminent threat. The USA Patriot Act as well as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) jointly provide the authority to begin surveillance prior to obtaining a warrant, and provide a means of obtaining that warrant without the bad guys knowing about it.
Look at the extremes his supporters will go in trying to justify his crime. This is nearly as bad as Clinton with his, "What the definition of 'is' is". It's ludicrous.
Different River takes us through a convoluted, assumption-ridden ride, trying to cover Bush's ass. He attempts to twist the Exclusionary Rule (if evidence is obtained illegally, it is excluded from the evidence that is allowed in court) to his own means.
More seriously, by in effect limiting the "penalty" for an illegal search to the exclusion of evidence from a criminal trial, the exclusionary rule effectively gives law enforcement a free hand to conduct as many illegal searches and wiretaps as they want, so long as they do not use the evidence so obtained in a criminal trial.He continues:
In effect, the exclusionary rule serves to narrowly construe the fourth amendment privacy protections to apply only to the guilty. If you are guilty, you will be protected from illegally-obtained evidence from being used against you in court. But if you are innocent - whether accused of a crime or not - they can search and wiretap you as much as they want, and as long as you don't commit a crime, there's nothing you can do to stop them.His "logic" has a great big stinking hole in it. Aside from assuming that law enforcement officers feel it's OK to flaunt the law (a pretty shitty assumption if you as me), if you violate FISA, you get fined and go to jail. US CODE: Title 50 § 1809. Criminal sanctions
(c) PenaltiesAn offense described in this section is punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.
An aggrieved person, other than a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a) or (b)(1)(A) of this title, respectively, who has been subjected to an electronic surveillance or about whom information obtained by electronic surveillance of such person has been disclosed or used in violation of section 1809 of this title shall have a cause of action against any person who committed such violation and shall be entitled to recover:
(a) actual damages, but not less than liquidated damages of $1,000 or $100 per day for each day of violation, whichever is greater;
Read his whole rant. It's like he's full of glee and Christmas cheer that he thinks there is a loophole in our legal system to allow the secret, unconstitutional surveillance of people in America. That's sick as shit.
Thank God there isn't a hole for the likes of Different River and President Bush to slither through. Unless and until Bush can provide Americans with specific law for his spying on people in the United States, his actions and motives need to be questioned, regardless of your political persuasion.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
It's amazing and sad to me how we've come to depend on Nanny to tell us how to run our lives. I look back over the relatively short span of my lifetime - 46 years - and see how we've become less and less willing and able to manage ourselves.
When I was a kid, I remember seeing shotguns and hunting rifles in back window-racks here in California [gasp!]. Now, it's universally known that guns are the root of all evil and legislation must be passed to have them banned at every possible chance. You'd have SWAT up your ass if you tried "displaying" guns now.
I remember riding my bicycle to school every day - a good 3 or 4 miles - without a helmet..... and surviving! Now, of course, Nanny has legislated that you need a helmet, elbow pad, knee pads, ass pads, 75 types of reflectors, rear view mirrors, forward seeking radar and 60 hours of "Safety, Diversity and the Evils of Guns and Tobacco Training" before you're issued a temporary tricycle use permit.
I remember being able to go to McDonalds or Jack-In-The-Box for a burger and fries and enjoying the meal. Now, Nanny makes it be known that the consumption of this hideous crap will harden my arteries, shorten my life by 47 minutes, and perhaps they need to look into other aspects of my life because I'm unable to understand what's "good" for me.
Motorcycle helmets. Gun possession. Baby seats. Corporal punishment. DUI checkpoints. FCC censors. Drug use. Prostitution. Ciggarettes. Spousal rights. States rights.
I guess what I remember was that I had personal choices to make. If my parents wanted to let me ride my bike without a helmet (they actually didn't even exist back then!), they would have to pay the consequences of my vegetative state should I get into a bad accident. So instead, they taught me to look both ways before crossing the street, not to drive in traffic and to stay alert. If they ever caught me breaking their rules, they would take my bike away. I'd probably get a couple of whacks on the ass, too.
And you know what? At times, I screwed up, I'd have privileges revoked and my ass whacked. And I learned a lesson: I had choices to make, and if I made bad ones, there were consequences to be paid.
I read stories like this one, and they make me crazy. Nanny has the ability to make her point of view sound so logical. "It's to protect the children". "It's for the good of the community". "It's for the safety of the country".
Look how the author lays the groundwork for his argument:
When I was little and my dad drove around with me near our house in West Oakland, he used to point out how many liquor stores and churches were right across the street from each another. Riding with him through a city like Oakland, we could almost make a game of it.When you compare liquor stores with churches, the underlying message is evil vs. good.
I've noticed the same thing in low-income neighborhoods from San Francisco to Seattle to Washington. I asked my uncle how there could be as many liquor stores as churches. He replied, "Because they want us to live life on our knees."Ahh. The "imperial business owners". I see. Making a profit in low-income neighborhoods is a bad thing.
I always wondered who "they" are. Is it the imperial business owners who sometimes establish ghetto chains of "likka stoez" all in one neighborhood? Or is it the planning department that green-lights the development of the stores?
These stores' bottom line is people's consumption of candy, sodas, single cigars, cigarettes, stale donuts and withering fruits. They promote our unhealthy lifestyles with advertisements and deals. In my neighborhood, if I want to go to a grocery store with a real produce department, I pass at least five liquor stores on my way. If an area heavily saturated with fast-food restaurants is vulnerable to health problems stemming from obesity, it's no wonder areas with a lot of liquor stores experience higher violent crime rates -- a link established by a recent study from the Prevention Research Center.Hmmm. I think all of the items he listed are legal. At least for now. So, is there some link between low-income neighborhoods and the inability to choose a healthy lifestyle? It seems as though the author has this ability: "I pass at least five liquor stores on my way". Why would he presume others in these neighborhoods could not make the same decision? Is he better than them?
So I have to ask why liquor stores, and not Starbucks, are booming in our neighborhoods.Could it be because the people in those neighborhoods made the decision to buy a beer, soda or liquor products instead of a cup of coffee?
People come to these neighborhoods from miles around certainly not for the lattes.Yeah, right. Traffic is backed up for miles as people rush into Oakland to pick up a six-pack. Oh wait. I work in Oakland, and I've never seen that. Must have been a mis-print, ya think?
Store owners say they're just serving a demand -- that the real poisoners are drug dealers hanging around these stores just as much as the winos. But the notion of "discount liquor" sounds like drugs at a deal.Poisoners? Uh oh. The hyperbole level is nearing critical mass. I hear the other shoe getting ready to drop...
So maybe the planning department shouldn't be putting so many of these drug dealers all in one place. The department needs, instead, to approve more real grocery stores and other businesses that build the community, not profit from -- and contribute to -- its decline.Kaboom! Message: Poor people are too stupid to know what is good for them, so Nanny needs to make that decision for them. Invest in a poor neighborhood, but don't expect to make a profit, because profit from poor neighborhoods is evil.
Sounds like a good plan. Let's see: Tell poor people not to worry about a thing. We'll pay for your housing, food, education and health care. We will not incent you to make yourself responsible for your own actions. You also have no ability to know what is good for you, so we will pass zoning laws that make it difficult for a business to make a profit, so the businesses will stay away. You can recognize them by the empty, boarded up shells that used to employ the community. Design these zoning laws so that only businesses with a high profit margin - like liquor stores - have any chance of success.
Who loves ya, baby?! Nanny, that's who!
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
"My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war." ---President George W. BushIndeed. But not nearly as shameful as the President of The United States condoning - nay, actively participating in - a circumvention of US law and the Constitution. He's so far out of touch, it's pitiful.
It's been three days since I first wrote about this issue. It has been an interesting issue on talk radio, TV, blogs and newspapers.
Initially, TV and the newspapers just ripped into this. Since these media are predominantly liberal, I guess that was to be expected. Talk radio seemed solidly behind the President, and blogs seemed split, but leaning towards the side of TV and newspapers (even the conservative blogs).
What has been interesting to me has been what's happening on talk radio. It seems that the hosts of the shows remain behind the President, but the guests they've been bringing on have (seemingly) been leaning towards this as an Abuse of Power. I honestly don't see how anyone that really thinks this through could come to any other conclusion.
How can anyone justify the President of The United States sidestepping our laws because filling out the paperwork was inconvenient? That's the basic talking points. From Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: So is the point that -- because there is a system in place, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which can grant emergency wiretaps. Was the feeling that the existing system was too slow?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the intelligence professionals here do use FISA and we've used FISA, but FISA is a 1978 act; it does relate to a time when we were principally concerned about the activities of people working on behalf of governments or the activities of governments. This is a different circumstance and the President, in order to discharge his obligations to detect and thereby prevent terrorist attacks inside the United States, has drawn on additional authorities that are granted to him in the Constitution and in other statutes as well.
I'd sure like to hear more about the, "additional authorities that are granted to him in the Constitution and in other statutes as well". No one seems to be able to tell anyone what these might be.
It seems as though Tim Russert of NBC wants some additional information as well.
QUESTION: The law is very clear that a person is guilty of an offense unless they get a court order before seeking to wiretap an American citizen. Why did the President not get a court order?
SECRETARY RICE: The FISA is indeed an important source of that authority and, in fact, the Administration actively uses FISA. But FISA is a --
QUESTION: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
SECRETARY RICE: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Exactly. FISA, which came out of 1978, at a time when the principal concern was, frankly, the activities of people on behalf of foreign governments, a rather stable target, very different from the kind of urgency of detection and thereby protection of the country that is needed today. And so the President has drawn on additional authorities that he has under the Constitution and under other statutes.
QUESTION: What are the other authorities?
SECRETARY RICE: Tim, again, I'm not a lawyer. But the President has constitutional authority and he has statutory authority.
QUESTION: But no one has explained that. No one has said what his --
SECRETARY RICE: Tim --
QUESTION: In fact, in 1972, President Nixon tried to wiretap American citizens and the Supreme Court ruled he violated the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans.
SECRETARY RICE: Tim, let's remember that we are talking about the ability to collect information on the geographic territory that is the United States. Some people are American citizens. Others are not. What the President wants to prevent is the use of American territory as a safe haven for communications between terrorists operating here or people with terrorist links operating here and people operating outside the country.
So get a frigging warrant! If it's an imminent threat, the law allows the warrant to be issued after the fact.
It's good to see that many Republicans are challenging the President on this.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he was concerned that the president did not seek warrants from a special court authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978 — a judicial panel created by Congress to secretly review and approve surveillance of U.S. suspects in national security cases.A process indeed. We know what process Bush chooses. He chooses the process of least resistance - laws be damned!
"Why did the president choose not to use FISA?" McCain asked on ABC's "This Week." "That's a legitimate question."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) echoed that concern, saying he was unaware "of any legal basis to go around" the intelligence court.
"There may be some, but I'm not aware of it," Graham said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Even in a time of war, you have to follow the process, because that's what a democracy is all about: a process."
Monday, December 19, 2005
Anyone that cares about Second Amendment rights at all, needs to run on over and see this wonderful news.
Oh, boy... ok... the bottom line is I WON MY APPEAL against the conviction of "warranting alarm" for open carrying a handgun in the city of Ellensburg.It seems that FishOrMan wanted to test a city's open carry law. He lost his first case, but won on appeal.
Here's what pisses me off:
I fought this entire case pro se, without the help of the gun rights organization based in Washington State, (although it was requested).He had requested help from the Second Amendment Foundation, but to no avail. Uhm, isn't that what these guys are for? When a citizen lays his cajones on the line, they are there to back him up, provide some legal support?
I guess not. They are just political leaches. Drop by, read the judges decision, and drop a couple of bucks in the tip jar at the top of his page. This guy did nothing more than exercise his right to bear arms, and it nearly landed his butt in jail. In an anti-gun city such as San Francisco, New York or Boston, it may have resulted in him being shot.
This type of thing needs to happen more often. Gun owners need to "sell" to the general public that guns aren't evil. That simply carrying a gun - openly - should not allow municipalities the ability invoke the vague "warranting alarm" excuse for arrest and prosecution.
We need to turn that "alarm" into a logical understanding of the purpose of guns. It took the looting in the aftermath of Katrina to really get my wife to understand the importance of personal protection (and she used to be a flaming liberal!). For Christmas, she has asked for her own .22 for plinking, and she is now familiar with the safe use of our .357 Magnum.
It is all of our collective responsibility to educate people like my wife that guns are not evil. We all also need to challenge our local municipality and state laws whenever they infringe on the rights of law abiding citizens.
Friday, December 16, 2005
I'm trying to get my cranky, "all government sucks" ass into the Christmas spirit. It's pretty tough, but this is a start.
Here's are a couple of Bad Santa Letters.
One for the Republicans.
One for the Democrats.
And one for bloggers.
This administration has been so wrought with lies and stretches of the truth, that crap like this no longer surprises me.
High-level administration figures, reacting to a report that the National Security Agency eavesdropped without warrants on people inside the United States, asserted Friday that President Bush has respected the Constitution while striving to protect the American people.Oh really.
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.How does signing a secret order to spy on American citizens (or others in this country) without a warrant not disrespect the Constitution?
Was it a paperwork thing? Too many warrants to fill out? Not enough typewriters to get them all done? If that was the issue, call a Temp agency to help out.
Let's be clear about this: I want to find, apprehend and prosecute every damned terrorist that may be in this country. I know they are here.
That year, following the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush authorized the NSA to monitor the international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds perhaps thousands of people inside the United States, the Times reported.We have laws and a Constitution that guide us. We cannot take short-cuts because it's inconvenient to follow the law. Especially when it concerns hundred or thousands of people. We're better than that.
Before the program began, the NSA typically limited its domestic surveillance to foreign embassies and missions and obtained court orders for such investigations. Overseas, 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time.If a government agency is concerned about an imminent attack, our laws allow them to begin surveillance immediately. BUT, they must immediately draw up the warrants, and present them to a judge. That's how we do things in America, even when dealing with terrorists.
But some NSA officials were so concerned about the legality of the program that they refused to participate, the Times said.Too bad the Administration doesn't have the same level of propriety as some of the minions they direct.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.I love those words spoken by Martin Luther King. I think they have to be the basis of any real understanding between different races. You don't have to like me; You don't have to trust me; You don't have to be my friend. Just base that decision on who I am, not because I'm white.
I doubt I'll see any real semblance of racial trust in my lifetime, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't all try to get there.
I think the sentiments and words recently spoken by Morgan Freeman are a step in the right direction.
Morgan Freeman says the concept of a month dedicated to black history is "ridiculous."Exactly.
"You're going to relegate my history to a month?" the 68-year-old actor says in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" to air Sunday (7 p.m. EST). "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history."
If you want a day to celebrate your heritage, go for it. Columbus day, St. Patrick's day, Cinco de Mayo, and so on. I have no problem celebrating your heritage - and in fact, encourage it - but it has to be secondary to being an American.
Deal me in.
Freeman notes there is no "white history month," and says the only way to get rid of racism is to "stop talking about it."
The actor says he believes the labels "black" and "white" are an obstacle to beating racism.
"I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man," Freeman says.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
A little background first: My dad was a cop for 25 years. One of my brothers is a cop. I've been the best man in two cop weddings. In general, I am very supportive of cops. If you want to see a hard job, go on a drive-along some time. It's amazing the scum that cops have to deal with every day.
I'm also a libertarian-leaning guy. I have a distrust for government in general, and most government agents of any sort.
When this type of crap happens, my level of distrust goes through the roof.
Here are the particulars:
11 year police veteran is staking out the San Jose, California, home of a parolee. The parolee is believed to be in violation of his parole.... because he did not submit a change of address form.
Guy shows up, whom cop believes to be parolee. It's not. It's just a citizen, but one who has had run-ins with the law in the past.
Citizen flees in his car, cop follows. Asks for assistance from San Jose PD, they decline, stating it is "too dangerous" (this is happening in the middle of the day). Cop continues pursuit on his own.
Citizen exits car and flees on foot. Cop continues chase. Cop shoots citizen, IN THE BACK, DEAD.
Cop says he saw citizen pull gun, and was in fear for his life. Three witnesses say they saw no gun. No gun ever found.
Cop found Not Guilty of Manslaughter.
How The Fuck Does That Happen?
He shot a man, dead, in the back. How in God's name could the cop have felt threatened by a man - even one with a gun in his hand - that is running away from him? If he had said he was concerned about the guy opening fire in a crowd, I'd give him the nod.
``Frankly I just think it was an `honest mistake,' but at what point does an honest mistake become a felony? That's what we wrestled with,'' said jury foreman Mike Krey, a 51-year-old journalist from Campbell.Are you retarded, Mr. Krey? An "honest mistake" would be arresting the citizen because he looked like the parolee. An "honest mistake" would be to continue chasing your "parolee" - even though the SJPD deemed it "too risky".
But gunning down an unarmed man, in the back, is murder.
Mr. Krey, do you know that if someone were actually breaking into your house, and was half way in a window, and you shot and killed him, in California you would be tried for murder? Did you know that the only way you can justify killing someone that's illegally entered your home is if they were moving towards you and you felt in imminent danger?
Why would you allow an agent of the state to be held to a lower standard?
This state becomes a bigger shit-hole each and every day. Many times, thanks to people like Mr. Krey for turning murderers free.
PS: How much do you want to bet that Agent Walker is too traumatized by this incident to return to work. We'll now be stuck with a 90% of salary disability pension for the rest of his life.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Iraqi elections. Iranian nukes. Illegal aliens. Tookie execution. Budget deficits. Gun control. Eminent domain. Partial birth abortion. Take a pick.
What does one of our distinguished Senators pick as a righteous cause?
Carry on baggage.
The chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, is considering legislation to limit the size of carry-on luggage, saying the suitcases he sees going into airplane cabins are far too large.This is the same ass-wipe that threw a fit when some suggested that his pork from the transportation bill - primarily the funding for The Bridge To No Where - might be better used to help victims of Katrina.
Jackass. It seems that since he has such a long trip home to Alaska, the flights gets held up by the TSA as they have to check all of this baggage.
As he presided over a hearing on airline security, it was clear the issue of baggage size was a hot-button for him. Stevens, who has one of the longest commutes of any elected official in the country, said overstuffed luggage is a frustration and a security problem, adding to search time as passengers go through screening.I guess he needs to get back to his constituents even more quickly to let them know how he's going to piss away more our tax dollars. A true public servant.
Hat Tip to Ravenwood's Universe.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Unabashedly stolen from Mad Mikey:
This monster didn't go to prison for singing too loudly in choir practice. He shotgunned 4 people. It's great that he has turned his life around in prison - hopefully, that will earn him some Brownie Points when he reaches the Pearly Gates. But it doesn't earn him his life here on earth. That was forfeited to the State 25 years ago.
Let 'im fry....
I truly wish the leadership here in America had the foresight and the cajones that they possess in Israel. They understand the term "conservative". Our pinheads in Washington want to "bring democracy" to the world, and free people, "from the clutches of a tyrant".
Israelis only care about Israel. As they should.
It seems that Iran - the only real threat of any consequence in the Middle East since the early 1990's - is getting too-close-for-comfort in their uranium enrichment program. So Israel is making plans to make it a glowing ember, so to speak.
ISRAEL'S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.Our "leadership" seems to see a possible trend here, and is all ready to jump on to the bandwagon.
A senior White House source said the threat of a nuclear Iran was moving to the top of the international agenda and the issue now was: "What next?" That question would have to be answered in the next few months, he said.What next?! What the hell do you think? Iran has ALWAYS been the biggest threat to the region and the US. You take the threat out, that's what!
"Israel - and not only Israel - cannot accept a nuclear Iran," Sharon warned recently. "We have the ability to deal with this and we're making all the necessary preparations to be ready for such a situation."And there's the rub for the US: We're not able, right now, to deal with this. We're stretched too thin. We're too busy trying to put back together an Iraq which we broke. Which didn't pose a threat to America or the region.
We should be kicking the dust off of our boots after ridding Afghanistan of ALL reminents of al Qaeda, and getting the GPS coordinates for a couple of Daisy Cutters to land on down town Tehran and every place we believe there to be nukes. Instead, our guys are making ready for an election in a country that will be torn apart by civil war the second we're gone.
Iran has the ability to project its power - via missiles or dirty bombs - in a way that was NEVER in the arsenal of Saddam. Our president was so blinded by the chance to make history, or for whatever reason he invaded, that he could not see the true threat in the region. We've squandered resources and lives for a "cause" that does not make America any safer. Quite possibly the opposite.
Our "leaders" could learn a lot from Israel on how and when to commit troops and resources into harms way. When we do it, it must be in the defense of our country, and without remorse . As an Israeli military source states,
“If we opt for the military strike,” said a source, “it must be not less than 100% successful. It will resemble the destruction of the Egyptian air force in three hours in June 1967.”What can we say about Iraq? "We kicked the living snot out of them in a couple of weeks. Now we're just pissing away money and lives trying to make the Iraqis something they don't appear to want to be. We have this need to be like Sally Field and be loved by everyone."
Let our military do what they do best: Kill people and break things. Let someone else - like the UN - clean up the mess afterwards.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Supposedly, House conservatives (are there really any of those left?!) are planning to amend an Immigration Reform bill that will get the 2,000 mile border fence built, and (drum roll please) disallow automatic citizenship when born in the US to illegal aliens (raucous cheers!).
The House conservatives said they would attempt to attach two bills previously introduced to Sensenbrenner’s legislation. House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter (R.-Calif.) is sponsoring the TRUE Enforcement and Border Security Act (H.R. 4313), which authorized the fence construction, and Rep. Nathan Deal (R.-Ga.) introduced the Citizenship Reform Act (H.R. 698), which denies birthright citizenship.The fence has a chance, but the citizenship gig will die a horrible death. Even though it's clear that it only excludes people that are here illegally (although it doesn't address tourists), I just don't think it could make it through both houses of Congress without being neutered into something that is toothless, or being dropped all together.
This response kind of threw me, though:
Responding to Sensenbrenner’s bill, Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R.-Ariz.) said, “Both the timing and the thin patchwork context of this proposed House bill reinforced my concern that Washington continues to view illegal immigration as a political problem to be managed, rather than an invasion to be stopped.”Hey, I'm for anything that makes it less attractive to try and enter the US. A comprehensive bill would be best, but if it gets done piece-meal, so be it.
Sounds like the House Conservatives are restless:
Conservatives flatly rejected any compromise with the Senate that would include a guest-worker or amnesty proposal. During a House Judiciary Committee meeting today, Republicans rejected a Democrat-sponsored amendment that would have attached a guest-worker proposal to Sensenbrenner’s bill.Sweet! Stick to your guns! For once, do something that is right for America, and not your political donors.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Whenever I read a story like this, I just want to tear out what little hair I have left. Good God Almighty, are we really this pathetic?
It seems that no one in our society, particularly school kids, have any concept of self-control. At least that's what Nanny and her minions would have you believe. Because of this, we apparently need Nanny to tell us what and when to do anything in our mundane, boring lives, including drinking soda.
A couple of Nanny Minions (tm) see the need to keep the evil drink from our kids. And since no one was paying attention their whining, they are going to sue.
A coalition of lawyers who have actively and successfully sued tobacco companies says it is close to filing a class-action lawsuit against soft-drink makers for selling sugared sodas in schools.Never mind that students have already made the choice - all on their own, mind you - to reduce the amount of soda they drink by 24%. Our Minions still must sue to make sure the Evil Drink is stamped out on campus' across the country.
The beverage association's study showing the decline "reflects the overall trend of the industry," said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. "Carbonated soft drinks are down across the board; water and sports-drink consumption is up."So then, what's the problem? Why the need for a lawsuit?
The idea is to get soda machines out of schools because they are clearly making a substantial contribution to the obesity epidemic," Daynard said yesterday in an interview. "This is an unfair practice under state consumer-protection laws," he said.Now I'm confused. Is the suit to stop kids from drinking soda and getting fat, or is it an unfair business practice?
Hey, and why are kids so special? I know a LOT of fat-assed adults. Don't we care about them, too? If they aren't able to make personal decisions about things such as tobacco products - who these guys sued, too - why would we think they're able to make decisions about soda?
And while we're at it, what about butter? It's literally nothing BUT fat. Obesity City, folks. How could we live with ourselves if someone died from putting one pat too many on their cob of corn? Oh! The Humanity!
A Snickers bar? Don't EVEN get me started....
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Now don't go gettin' all up in my face until you've read this whole piece. It's not about what you think it is.
I was reading this article about how a number of law schools have got a Supreme Court case against Nanny about military recruiters. It seems the schools think their First Amendment rights are being trampled on by Army-booted Nanny:
A bit of a stretch, don't you think, Josh? Anyways, the way our government is wired right now, if the schools don't let recruiters on campus, they lose all federal funding to run the school.
An attorney arguing on behalf of the law schools told the justices that requiring schools to allow recruiters on campus when the military does not comply with their non-discrimination policies is an imposition on their free speech rights.
"Congress wants to squelch even the most symbolic elements of schools' resistance" to the military's message, argued attorney Joshua Rosenkranz.
To me, this isn't about our military strength, or the school's freedom of speech. It's about the government using OUR money as a big club to promote their agenda.
Now some of my right-wing friends will say that this isn't an agenda, it's about the security of our country. To which I'll reply, "Bull shit". This is all about the government using it's clout to keep itself fat and happy, regardless of the issue.
Let's say we have a lefty in the White House. He wants movies of graphic gay sex to be shown to grade school kids to promote diversity or sensitivity. If you don't toe the line and follow the program, you will lose all of your funding. How do you feel about the government holding school funds hostage now?
The government's job is not to force us to do what we don't wish to do. It's to keep the hell out of our way so we can live our own lives. Obviously, that's not the perception most American's have of our government. When Nanny is throwing her weight around for a "favorable" cause, we're all for Big Government. We always seem to forget that there are two sides to each coin...
Monday, December 05, 2005
By now, we've all heard about how the US Military has been paying to have "news" stories placed in Iraqi newspapers. US and international news organizations have been screaming bloody murder about this. The typical line is, "Freedom of the press is supposedly one of the most sacred tenants of democracy. The US military is making a mockery of the press."
To which I would reply, "Eat me".
As many of you know, I am very much against the war in Iraq. I don't think we're there for the stated reasons, and it's taking our eye off of the ball: Crushing Islamo-terrorists poised to harm the US.
That being said, our forces are in Iraq. I want to do damned near anything that will bring our troops home. Part of that is, "winning the hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people. If paying to have stories which put the US in a favorable light in Iraqi newspapers will help, go to it!
This is very different from any arm of our government placing "covert" stories in US newspapers with the intent to sway American voters. I ranted about this in March of this year:
The question that remains unanswered is this: If these government produced pieces are on the up-and-up, why the secrecy? Why not have a disclosure at the start and finish of the piece saying, "I'm George Bush, and I approved of this message". OK, something that says it's from the Department of Agriculture, or the FAA or whatever.There is a concern that US news organizations will use these stories as source material, and the information will eventually make it's way back to the American public. Hmmmm. Maybe that would lend some credence to the charge that American news organizations are a bunch of lazy bastards that will print up whatever pablum is fed to them. If they did their job and actually verified their sources, maybe this wouldn't be an issue.... ya think?
It's because you would then view the piece with a wary eye. And Nanny wants no part of that.
Keep up the foreign propaganda. It's been used - successfully - in every war we've fought. Why change now simply because it offends the delicate sensibilities of some domestic reporters?