Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Readington Balloon Festival

Saturday AM I attended the Readington Balloon Festival. Somewhere around 130 hot air balloons flew. I didn't fly in one, but got a ton of shots. Here are two picked at random.

Readington Balloon Festival 2008
Readington Balloon Festival 2008

Ballooning is an expensive hobby, we were told, a balloon costs upward of $20K. Photography is not so bad after all :)

PS: More photographs.

Sunday, July 27, 2008



Found the misplaced photographs

Fuchsia plus

The red flowers are fuchsia and are supposed to be hummingbird attractors.

Hanging Basket

One of the problems of attracting hummingbirds is to have enough flowers at the right time of the season. The second is that (unlike other birds) feeding hummingbirds is a season-long commitment.


Part of the grand but not-yet-fructified strategy to bring hummingbirds to the garden.


Friday, July 25, 2008

A Good American Consumer

I liked camellias before I ever saw them. Then one spring, in a botanical garden,in a botanical garden, I saw acres of blooming bushes. I then forgot about them till recently, when I saw them in the local nursery. Even without flowers, the dark green foliage (when not sunburnt) is luscious. So I have one planted in the deep shade in my backyard, where it is surviving, if not thriving, and have one in a pot, waiting to be planted. I want maybe two more, max., finding room for more than that is going to be difficult. Plus planting shrubs is hard labor.

So I decide to wait for a sale, and sure enough, a couple of weeks ago, they're offering "buy three, get one free". And of course, in good American tradition, I go for the "savings", and now this is what I have:

From left to right they are:
Lester M. Allen oops! this cultivar would be in high demand.
Tama Electra
Lemon Glow
Dr. Tinsley

Don't I have an eye for harmonizing colors?

Five places to find, clear, dig pits, plant, ... Not as though I have nothing else to do. And these don't even yield chocolate :)

PS: the camellia in the pot had really lovely blooms this spring and I thought I had some photographs. Despite Lightroom and all, I cannot find them. So next year, maybe.

PPS: the green net is my quick fencing to save roses and petunias from marauding deer. Now that all the empty lots on the road have been built up, deer have become a problem.






Presumptuous - the new uppity

Via digby

And today, the word of the day in the corporate press is... presumptuous. Used in a sentence: Senator Obama is being presumptuous during his trip -- acting all presidential and dignified. How dare he be presidential while running for, you know, president. Presumptuous. During the live CNN web feed of the Berlin address, an anchor used it to describe the event. Joe Klein used it in a blog post today. Of course Joe attributed it to racist voters rather than very serious reporters -- racist because it's presumably a synonym for 'uppity' and we can't accuse the press of such awfulness. And Candy Crowley used it in her post-address analysis on CNN. That's a lot of coincidences. "Presumptuous" must really be a popular word. ......

AP: "In a speech that risked being seen as presumptuous..."

TIME Magazine: "capable to become the Commander in Chief of a superpower -- without seeming presumptuous..."

The National Journal: "He is well aware voters here at home might see that as presumptuous..."

Washington Post: "Whether by the end of this week he will be seen as presumptuous or overly cocky..."

Chicago Tribune: "That means walking the fine line between looking presidential and appearing arrogant and presumptuous..."

Boston Globe: "plus the growing sense in some quarters that the presumptive Democratic nominee is getting a little presumptuous..."

Clematis - Ruutel

Clematis - Ruutel

Saw this at the nearby nursery and could not resist. The problem as always is to find a spot with adequate sunlight. Since it put out fresh flowers after I planted it, perhaps the place I found it is OK. Time will tell.

Ruutel, as per the web, was bred in Estonia, blooms all summer and is tolerant of poor conditions.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Plagued by pests, the petunias presently are only passable, not prodigiously phenomenal.


PS: apologies for the attempted artificial alliteration.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Congressman

Here's a portrait Representative Rush Holt, NJ 12th district (Democrat) at a townhall meeting in Oceanport on July 21st. The townhall was about global warming and energy, and in the two hours, 7-9PM, amazingly, remained on topic. Holt believes that the American people have crossed the thresholds of understanding that the global climate is changing and that human activities have something to do with it; that there is something we can do about it is not yet realized. Vice Admiral Paul G. Gaffney (Ret.), President of Monmouth University made the actual presentation of scientific knowledge about climate change; a rather conservative presentation which made the points that climate change is happening, there are many potentially bad things (and some good things) that could happen; we should throw all the government resources including ocean data from the Navy and nuclear labs' supercomputers to monitor, predict and plan for the consequences; and that we should try to at least slow down the rate of change so we have time to adapt.

Glenn Greenwald rates Holt as one of the best persons in Congress; I follow politics less but would agree; the only thing one could ask for more of is seniority.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ12)

Photography note: cropped and resized, ISO 1600, 105 mm f/4, 1/125 seconds, without flash (which was photographically a mistake, but was not intrusive on the meeting; some otherwise good shots were ruined by motion blur at 1/40 second shutter speed).

PS: Among his grandchildren are two named Varun and Rohan.

PPS: Holt and Gaffney discussed climate change in a totally non-partisan manner, which was another good thing.

PPPS: I was carrying the 70-200mm f/2.8 but once the meeting started I didn't think I could inobtrusively change lenses. I think a good photographer needs a thicker hide than mine.

Boardwalk Reprise

Mongo of The Nerds:
The Nerds - Mongo

Kids just want to have fun!
Kids at the boardwalk concert

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


This is actually a bad photograph at many levels. For instance, only its small size prevents you from knowing that I utterly missed focus on this.

But the picture to me evokes the promise of a summer day and all the small joys and disappointments of that day. So I post it. Hey, it's my blog!

(300 mm f/2.8, full frame, resized only).

FISA references

Two diaries by selise on - bookmarked here as an excellent reference -

Become a StrangeBedfellow and Hold Washington Accountable!


Water at 600 mm (300mm, 2x TC, full frame, resized)


A bit closer:


Monday, July 21, 2008

Freedom to be heard

There is a malaise in this country that I experience every day. I have so called freedom of speech. I am a world recognized scientist. Yet if I dare open my mouth to criticise the American system with respect to science or health care I am quickly marginalized by the anti-intellectual countrymen I encounter every day.
From a dkos diary on the sorry state of the US as measured by the human development index and health care.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Original frame, resized, and a 100% crop. Part of learning life at 600 mm (300 mm, 2x teleconverter).



Thursday, July 17, 2008

Music on the Boardwalk

Summer Thursdays evenings on the Long Branch boardwalk, there's music.
Today's started with a teenage band, The Punks.
The Punks
In between there were distractions, like the Parrot Man.
The Parrot Man
Parrots are cute, but their claws aren't!

Parrots have claws!

The main attraction was The Nerds.
The Nerds - Spaz
The Nerds - Biff
The Nerds - Stretch
The Nerds - Mongo
One of the songs they played.
And i can see you
your brown skin shining in the sun
you got your hair combed back
sunglasses on baby

and i can tell you
my love for you will still be strong
after the boys of summer have gone.

(Don Henley, link toYoutube, lyrics.)

Appropriate to my mood (must it be? it must be!...) Used to be always on the radio when I was in grad. school.

The appreciative audience:
Appreciative fans
Appreciative fans
A decent end to a crazy day!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Obama a threat to comedians

They haven't been able to make good jokes about Obama; and hope that he picks an idiot vice-president. So says the Gray Lady.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Crashing Wedding Parties

Tom Engelhardt documents four wedding parties - and a possible fifth - blown away by US air power since 2001, and notes:

We Americans have only had one experience of death delivered from the air since World War II – the attacks of September 11, 2001. As no one is likely to forget, they shocked us to our core. And you know how those deaths were covered, right down to the special pages filled with bios of civilians who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the repeated invocations of the barbarism of al-Qaeda's killers (and barbarism it truly was).

These wedding parties, however, get no such treatment. Initially, they are automatically assumed to be malevolent – until the reports begin to filter in from the hospitals, the ruined villages, and the graveyards, and, by then, it's usually too late for much press attention. When that does happen, their deaths are chalked up to an "errant bomb," or that celebratory gunfire, or no explanation is even offered.

Nothing barbaric lurks here, even though we can be sure that these civilians were hardly less surprised by the arrival of the attacking planes than were the victims of 9/11. For their deaths, no word portraits are ever painted. No one in our world thinks to memorialize them, nor is there any cumulative record of their deaths. Whole extended families have been wiped out, while the dead and wounded run into the hundreds, and yet who remembers?

Here's the truth of it: In Bush's wars, the wedding singer dies, the bride does not get a chance to run away, and the event might be relabeled my big, fat, collateral damage wedding.

In the process, we have become a nation of wedding crashers, the uninvited guests who arrived under false pretenses, tore up the place, offered nary an apology, and refused to go home. It's a remarkable record, really, and catches the nature of the Bush administration's air war not on, but of and for terror in a particularly raw way. And yet, in this country, when the latest wedding party went down, no reporter seems even to have recalled our past history of wedding-party obliteration. So it goes.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

How the Democratic Leadership gave us a bad FISA bill

This detailed diary by selise from represents among the best of analysis that the netroots is capable of; and which sadly no one else does.


My husband is among the small army of criminal defense lawyers representing the "enemy combatants" held at Guantanamo Bay. One of his clients, a poor, illiterate Afghani farmer whose first contact with electricity and plumbing occurred in Cuba, served five years before being released last year. His crime? The man's sister refused to marry a neighboring farmer, who then denounced her brother to the U.S.
Anecdote? One of a kind error?
# "A CIA analyst warned the Bush administration in 2002 that up to a third of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay may have been imprisoned by mistake, but White House officials ignored the finding and insisted that all were 'enemy combatants' subject to indefinite incarceration."

# "[A] top aide to Vice President Cheney shrugged off the report and squashed proposals for a quick review of the detainees' cases . . .

'There will be no review,' the book quotes Cheney staff director David Addington as saying. 'The president has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants. We are not going to revisit it.'"

# "[T]he [CIA] analyst estimated that a full third of the camp's detainees were there by mistake. When told of those findings, the top military commander at Guantanamo at the time, Major Gen. Michael Dunlavey, not only agreed with the assessment but suggested that an even higher percentage of detentions -- up to half -- were in error. Later, an academic study by Seton Hall University Law School concluded that 55 percent of detainees had never engaged in hostile acts against the United States, and only 8 percent had any association with al-Qaeda."
From the new book by Jane Mayer of New Yorker, as reported by Glenn Greenwald.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Give me your huddled masses - NOT!!!!

Read and weep.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

I will not simply deport them.
I will make their life miserable before I deport them.
I will use their ignorance and lack of resources coerce the innocent into admissions of guilt. I will then incarcerate them.

Keep them coming! Bring them on!

After accepting the Plea Agreement and before imposing sentence, the judge gave the defendants the right of allocution. Most of them chose not to say anything, but one who was the more articulate said humbly: "Your honor, you know that we are here because of the need of our families. I beg that you find it in your heart to send us home before too long, because we have a responsibility to our children, to give them an education, clothing, shelter, and food."

The good judge explained that unfortunately he was not free to depart from the sentence provided for by their Plea Agreement.

Technically, what he meant was that this was a binding 11(C)(1)(c) Plea Agreement: he had to accept it or reject it as a whole. But if he rejected it, he would be exposing the defendants to a trial against their will. His hands were tied, but in closing he said onto them very deliberately:

"I appreciate the fact that you are very hard working people, who have come here to do no harm. And I thank you for coming to this country to work hard. Unfortunately, you broke a law in the process, and now I have the obligation to give you this sentence. But I hope that the U.S. government has at least treated you kindly and with respect, and that this time goes by quickly for you, so that soon you may be reunited with your family and friends."

The defendants thanked him, and I saw their faces change from shame to admiration, their dignity restored. I think we were all vindicated at that moment.

Before the judge left that afternoon, I had occasion to talk to him and bring to his attention my concern over what I had learned in the jail interviews.

That is also what prompted my brief conversation with the judge: "Your honor, I am concerned from my attorney-client interviews that many of these people are clearly not guilty, and yet they have no choice but to plead out."

He understood immediately and, not surprisingly, the seasoned U.S. District Court Judge spoke as someone who had already wrestled with all the angles. He said: "You know, I don't agree with any of this or with the way it is being done. In fact, I ruled in a previous case that to charge somebody with identity theft, the person had to at least know of the real owner of the Social Security number. But I was reverted in another district and yet upheld in a third."

I understood that the issue was a matter of judicial contention. The charge of identity theft seemed from the beginning incongruous to me as an informed, impartial layperson, but now a U.S. District Court Judge agreed. As we bid each other farewell, I kept thinking of what he said. I soon realized that he had indeed hit the nail on the head; he had given me, as it were, the last piece of the puzzle.

It works like this. By handing down the inflated charge of "aggravated identity theft," which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years in prison, the government forced the defendants into pleading guilty to the lesser charge and accepting 5 months in jail.

Clearly, without the inflated charge, the government had no bargaining leverage, because the lesser charge by itself, using a false Social Security number, carries only a discretionary sentence of 0-6 months. The judges would be free to impose sentence within those guidelines, depending on the circumstances of each case and any prior record.

Virtually all the defendants would have received only probation and been immediately deported.

In fact, the government's offer at the higher end of the guidelines (one month shy of the maximum sentence) was indeed no bargain. What is worse, the inflated charge, via the binding 11(C)(1)(c) Plea Agreement, reduced the judges to mere bureaucrats, pronouncing the same litany over and over for the record in order to legalize the proceedings, but having absolutely no discretion or decision-making power.

As a citizen, I want our judges to administer justice, not a federal agency.

When the executive branch forces the hand of the judiciary, the result is abuse of power and arbitrariness, unworthy of a democracy founded upon the constitutional principle of checks and balances.

Our fears make us loathsome.

PS: The NYT weighs in.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Threat to Marriage

Derbig Mooser is an often humourous poster on He wrote the following:

Y'know, gay marriage just might ruin hetero marriage! Look, it's already happening to me! Two guys moved in to a delapidated house down the block from us (I think they're "that way") and started fixing it up. Pretty soon all I hear from the little helpmeet is "Why doesn't our lawn look like that" and "Why don't you do that to our deck" Next thing I know, she's over there, consulting with them on house colors. She consults, but I have to paint, of course. Well, last night the axe fell. After we drove past and my wife looked at the progress they have made on their retaining walls and garden, I heard her mutter "Next time, I think I'll marry a man!"

I'm telling ya, I never get a break!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Countdown: Maddow & Turley on FISA

Yesterday - "The Fourth Amendment is going to be eviscerated tomorrow....There is not an ounce of principle, not an ounce of public interest in this legislation....what we will lose tomorrow is something very precious; it's going to be part of the Fourth Amendment and that is beyond measure."

Watch it here:


MADDOW: Now, I‘m not privy to, nor do I ever want to be privy to, the wildest dreams of George W. Bush. But I‘m still willing to bet that three years ago, when we learned he was spying on Americans illegally, I‘m betting that his wildest dreams did not include the prospect that Congress, a Democratic-led Congress would help him cover up his crimes.

Today, in our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: That is exactly what the U.S. Senate is poised to do tomorrow. In the Senate today, Democrats put forward three amendments to the FISA bill, a bill that would not only succumb to Mr. Bush‘s desire for greater legalized wiretapping, it would also block civil lawsuits against the telecoms, perhaps the best chance we will ever have to find out the extend of our own government‘s spying, illegal spying on us.

The bill would give telecoms immunity for any illegal wiretapping they did for the Bush administration, as long as that illegal wiretapping was authorized by the Bush administration. It‘s like letting a get-away car driver off the hook because the bank robber told him that robbing banks was legal.

Today, a handful of Democrats pointed out how the bill gives the one-fingered salute to the rule of law.


SEN. PAT LEAHY, (D) VERMONT: I‘m not out to get the telephone companies. I just want us to know who it was in the administration that said, “Go break the law.” The American people ought to know who in the White House said, “Go break the law.” Who it was that made the decision that somehow this president stands above the law.

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD, (D) WISCONSIN: And on top of all this, we‘re considering granting immunity when roughly 70 members of the Senate, still have not been briefed on the president‘s wiretapping program. The vast majority of this body still does not even know what we‘re being asked to grant immunity for.


MADDOW: Despite claiming the bill‘s wiretapping powers are essential to the nation‘s safety, President Bush yesterday threatened to veto the bill if Feingold and Leahy succeed in removing immunity for the telecoms.

At the recommendation of Attorney General Michael Mukasey and others, Mr. Bush even said he will veto the bill if it includes a provision that would merely delay immunity and freeze the telecom lawsuits until after Congress had the opportunity to learn what actions by the telecoms and the government they would be immunizing.

The vote on the bill, complete with immunity, is set for tomorrow. Most observers say that Leahy, Feingold and other Democratic holdouts don‘t have a chance. Let‘s bring in Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University.

Professor Turley, thanks for your time tonight.


MADDOW: First, refresh us on the perils of this immunity issue. What do you think of the arguments for granting these companies retroactive immunity?

TURLEY: Well, the arguments, unfortunately, are all but too clear. You know, there was a recent judgment just a few days ago in the Al Harriman (ph) case, where the federal judge said, “Obviously, the president committed an illegal act.” That illegal act is defined as a felony, a crime under federal law.

So, what the Democrats are doing here with the White House is they‘re trying to conceal a crime that is hiding in plain view, that everyone can see it. And so, the argument for it is quite sill simple, nobody wants to have a confrontation over the fact that the president committed a felony, not once, but at least 30 times. That‘s a very inconvenient fact right now in Washington.

MADDOW: Jonathan, one option for this bill could have been to do something very small and very simple—just making it clear that the government doesn‘t have to get a warrant for foreign-to-foreign communications that happen to pass through the U.S. technologically. That would fix the technological problems and update FISA when they say it needs updating.

But this bill, instead of taking a small scale approach like that, it takes a very large scale approach and expands the president‘s powers to wiretap us, to wiretap Americans without a warrant. At least that‘s how I understand it. Do I have that right?

TURLEY: Well, you have it right. I think that the founders would have found this incomprehensible. The expanse of power to the point of including what is now defined as a federal crime. And not only that, but the Democrats have learned well from Bush.

Because the telecoms are losing in court, because the administration is losing in court, they‘re just going to change the rules, so that these public interest organizations that have brought these cases will all lose by a vote to fiat by the Democrats. It‘s otherworldly.

MADDOW: Senator Obama says he does not like this bill, but he says he‘s supporting it as a compromise. Is this a compromise? Is that the right term for it? Is he right?

TURLEY: Yes. I got to tell you, I am completely astonished by Senator Obama‘s position and obviously disappointed. You know, all of these senators need to respect us enough, not to call it a compromise. It‘s a cave-in.

I mean, if it was a compromise, why aren‘t civil libertarians supporting it? Because we don‘t like to receive a good deal? Civil libertarians are opposed to this.

And, you know what‘s terrible is like one of those stories where someone is assaulted on a street and a hundred witnesses do nothing. And in this case, the Fourth Amendment is going to be eviscerated tomorrow. And 100 people are going to watch it happen because it‘s just not their problem.

And, you know, the only reason it didn‘t happen today was it was delayed for a funeral. That‘s how much these people put into the Fourth Amendment.

But you talk about expanding the president‘s power, it‘s coming out of the marrow of the Fourth Amendment. It‘s coming out of the bone. And it‘s going to hurt. And it‘s being done for political convenience. There‘s not an ounce of principle, not an ounce of public interest in this legislation.

So, at least show us respect of not calling it a compromise.

MADDOW: One last question for you. The man in whose chair I am sitting, as well as John Dean have put forth the idea that Senator Obama should pledge to criminally investigate the telecoms and the administration, even if the companies get civil immunity in this bill when it passes tomorrow. Could that happen?

TURLEY: It could happen, but I doubt it will happen. And the fact is that the fix is in.

Tomorrow night, there‘s going to be a lot of celebrating among telecom lobbyists that have just poured money into this campaign. And they‘re going to have a great victory, but it‘s a Pyrrhic victory for the rest of us. And what we will lose tomorrow is something very precious. It‘s going to be part of the Fourth Amendment and that is beyond measure.

MADDOW: It‘s just gut wrenching, honestly. It‘s gut wrenching.

Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, thank you.

TURLEY: Thanks, Rachel.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

ActBlue on FISA

Full page advertisement in the Washington Post - read Glenn Greenwald's commentary here.


PS: click on the logo below:

Become a StrangeBedfellow!

FISA Bill Schedule

pow wow on (reproduced in full)

H.R. 6304 Schedule Update

Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as a heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. - Abraham Lincoln

*** H.R. 6304 Amendment Debate Commences Tuesday, July 8 ***

At approximately 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, after an hour of morning business, the Senate will formally proceed to H.R. 6304 and debate will begin on the three amendments made in order to the pending bill. All votes have been postponed until Wednesday morning (per a UCA change adopted Monday to the unanimous consent agreement for this bill; the Senate will hold no rollcall votes on Tuesday).

The apparent voting order for the amendments is:

1. The Dodd/Feingold/Leahy amendment to strip telecom immunity. This amendment has been allotted a maximum of two hours for debate. It must receive a 51-vote simple majority to pass.

2. The Arlen Specter amendment to maintain the separation of powers by providing that the determination of the legality of the warrantless spying requests be made by the Judicial Branch. This amendment has been allotted a maximum of two hours for debate. It must receive a 60-vote supermajority to pass.

3. The Jeff Bingaman amendment (which is supported by Specter, among others) to stay the civil suits, pending the outcome of the mandated IG report, plus 90 days. This amendment has been allotted a maximum of one hour for debate. It must receive a 60-vote supermajority to pass.

The order of Tuesday's debate on the three amendments will likely vary throughout the day, as the managers of debate time for each amendment see fit. Presumably general debate on the bill itself will also be in order.

The Senate will stand in recess from 12:30 p.m. until 2:15 p.m. Tuesday (for the weekly Democratic caucus lunch).

Thus, if amendment debate starts at 11 a.m. Tuesday, and continues without interruption before and after the midday recess, the allotted time would expire at about 6 p.m. EDT (general bill debate not included). At which point the action carries over to Wednesday.

The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. - Abraham Lincoln

*** H.R. 6304 Debate and Voting Concludes on Wednesday, July 9 ***

Starting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, as soon as the Senate convenes, and despite the fact that amendment votes will still be pending, the pre-cloture debate will begin, and last until about 11:15 a.m., when voting on the three amendments will begin.

The voting order, apparently, is Dodd/Feingold/Leahy (51), Specter (60), Bingaman (60), followed immediately by the vote on the motion to invoke cloture, because cloture's debate time will have elapsed before the amendment voting began (the cloture vote requires a 60-vote supermajority, which, if attained, will result in final passage of the bill shortly thereafter, with no intervening debate). Just 41 No votes will stop cloture and sustain Dodd's filibuster.

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution. - Abraham Lincoln

More details of the current, pending perversion are spelled out here by a DailyKos diarist:

(3) The Presidential Authority Clause Ratifies Bush's Actions As Lawful, Thus Providing Bush With Immunity.


This is the problem. Bush will now have a colorable argument that Congress has ratified or confirmed that Bush had "authority" to issue Executive Orders that directed and managed the domestic spying program(s). As noted by Senator Dodd, if this "misguided FISA legislation" is passed, it "will ratify a domestic spying regime that has already concentrated far too much unaccountable power in the president's hands and will place the telecommunications companies above the law."

When a president does not factually have authority to take actions in 2001-2007, and then Congress subsequently confirms that Bush had "authority" in 2008, this is called Congressional ratification. An inherent element of congressional ratification is to backdate the statement of authority in 2008 to the years 2001-2007 to transform the prior unauthorized actions into now authorized actions.


However, the federal preemption section bans retroactive and prospective investigations of telecoms by states and cities, which would include criminal prosecutions. This leaves open the door for a federal criminal prosecution. However, aside from the clearly minimal political will to criminally prosecute Bush after he leaves office, if Congress is now confirming that Bush had "authority" to conduct domestic spying via his EO, then Bush's conduct was lawful, not criminal. - Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse

Calls and faxes (urging support for all the amendments and oppostion to cloture) to the following Democratic Senators will be especially important Tuesday:

California's Dianne Feinstein

Colorado's Ken Salazar

Delaware's Tom Carper

Florida's Bill Nelson

Hawaii's Daniel Inouye

Indiana's Evan Bayh

Missouri's Claire McCaskill

Montana's Max Baucus

North Dakota's Kent Conrad

Pennsylvania's Bob Casey

Rhode Island's Sheldon Whitehouse

Virginia's Jim Webb

Wisconsin's Herb Kohl

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong. - Abraham Lincoln

Friday, July 04, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Jerome a Paris points out that the mission is actually accomplished - unfortunately, it is Osama bin Laden's mission.
New York Times, 14 October 2001
''If bin Laden takes over and becomes king of Saudi Arabia, he'd turn off the tap,'' said Roger Diwan, a managing director of the Petroleum Finance Company, a consulting firm in Washington. ''He said at one point that he wants oil to be $144 a barrel'' -- about six times what it sells for now.

Well, that is the price of oil now.

(OBL's target price was based on what he calculated the West had taken in "the great swindle" from the Islamic world.)

How Dare They Rip the Fourth Amendment?

The McClatchy group of newspapers has been living up to their motto - Truth to Power. They recently did a series on US detainees in Guantanamo, finding that lots of them were wrongly imprisoned.

Unfortunately, I do not see a McClatchy newspaper in my area.

Here's July 4th reading for you, by Joseph Galloway of McClatchy Newspapers.

"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."

That's it. That's the Fourth Amendment. That is what these folks in Washington, D.C., have violated continuously and in secret for seven long years.


How dare they?

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Imagine this.

You've committed a felony. The consequences are - the legislature will reassert that the law you've broken is the law of the land, and at the same time give you immunity from prosecution.

That is roughly what the Democrats are doing with regard to illegal wiretapping by the current administration.

We had hoped that that "change you can believe in" guy would at least put up some resistance to this. We didn't expect him to necessarily win, but to put up a fight. After all this is his first opportunity to keep a promise made during the campaign.

Obama instead did an about-turn - a flip-flop - and now is all in favor of what the Democrats are doing.

Obama's justification -

Extremely short Obama: I got you by the balls, whatcha gonna do?

A bit longer Obama: I'm giving you a bunch of specious reasons for supporting a FISA bill that I opposed all during the primaries; you know I'm full of crap, and I know you know; but I'll have all the fishes and loaves of office to distribute, and you - you're going to vote for McCain?

The full Obama is here
, and an excerpt is below.
Democracy cannot exist without strong differences. And going forward, some of you may decide that my FISA position is a deal breaker. That's ok. But I think it is worth pointing out that our agreement on the vast majority of issues that matter outweighs the differences we may have. After all, the choice in this election could not be clearer. Whether it is the economy, foreign policy, or the Supreme Court, my opponent has embraced the failed course of the last eight years, while I want to take this country in a new direction. Make no mistake: if John McCain is elected, the fundamental direction of this country that we love will not change. But if we come together, we have an historic opportunity to chart a new course, a better course.
Obama's pol-speak comes on a day when the third judge who has looked at all this asserts the original FISA is unambiguously the law of the land. In Glenn Greenwald's words:
A Bush-41-appointed Federal District Judge yesterday became the third judge -- out of three who have ruled on the issue -- to reject the Bush administration's claim that Article II entitles the President to override or ignore the provisions of FISA. Yesterday's decision by Judge Vaughn Walker of the Northern District of California also guts the central claims for telecom immunity and gives the lie to the excuses coming from Congress as to why the new FISA bill is some sort of important "concession." More than anything else, this decision is but the most recent demonstration that, with this new FISA bill, our political establishment is doing what it now habitually does: namely, ensuring that the political and corporate elite who break our laws on purpose are immune from consequences.

The many ways how Obama is full of shit is described here.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Future Heads of State

If Senator John McCain's 5+ years as a prisoner of war somehow qualifies him to be President over someone who did not spend 5 years as a POW, then it explains the mystery of why the US is holding so many likely innocent people in Guantanamo, using Communist Chinese interrogation techniques from 1957.

It is a program to produce future Heads of State.

Obama, do FISA right!

Please join the group of Obama supporters asking him to get FISA right.

This, quite appropriately, is a use of Obama's own campaign tools to tell him how much we disapprove of his current stand on FISA.

The group in the space of less than a week has become the second largest in that space:

Action Wire

Members: 13389 Access: Public Created: Jun 11th, 2008

The Action Wire keeps you up to date on current rumors and smears and equips you with the information to fight back against them. It's up to all of us...(more)

Senator Obama - Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity - Get FISA Right

Senator Obama - Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity - Get FISA Right

Members: 9471 Access: Public Created: Jun 25th, 2008

Senator Obama - we are a proud group of your supporters who believe in your call for hope and a new kind of politics. Please reject the politics of fe...(more)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hidden Story

Anyone who visits the children's library knows that this is an adult, mundane version of a very interesting story.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Amsterdam police say 15 camels, two zebras and an undetermined number of llamas and potbellied swine briefly escaped from a traveling Dutch circus after a giraffe kicked a hole in their cage.
From yahoo news.