Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken
gozz@gozz.com

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The little Nazi's going to die 

Early Sunday morning - after bar close, I settled down for a movie with my girlfriend's vicious little snot in my lap. I lifted him up to kiss him and he sank his teeth into my lips.

Karen rescued the old pooch from the Humane Society and he was a great dog for the entire 30 days she had to return him. Then one night, I tried to discover any tricks he might know. He sat, stayed and heeled rather well, but growled at me after I gave him reward treats. Then he started growling more, at Karen and other people. He bit us both a week or two ago, but it was his "four stitch" performance Sunday morning that earned him a one way ticket to the vet tomorrow.

Rodeohead 

Oi-haa!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Trout Thursday 2006 

From TroutThursday.com,

Defined as the Thursday before Groundhog's Day, Trout Thursday is a completely open holiday. There's no religious origins, there's no official ceremony, there's no preconceived notion of what you're supposed to do, feel, be, or say. The only rule is, you have to eat trout. After that, it's up to you.

Each year, I fry up some rainbow trout nuggets and take them to the Leaning Tower of Pizza.

Harvesting the nuggets,

Cooking,

Decorating the pie,

The celebrants, Karen and myself,

Dave,

and Dave's brother, Brian,

I suppose this is my War on Groundhog Day.

Bush was against it while he was for it 

The only explanation I can think of for the bizarre position is that Bush has been up to no good. From the WaPo,

The Bush administration rejected a 2002 Senate proposal that would have made it easier for FBI agents to obtain surveillance warrants in terrorism cases, concluding that the system was working well and that it would likely be unconstitutional to lower the legal standard.

The proposed legislation by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) would have allowed the FBI to obtain surveillance warrants for non-U.S. citizens if they had a "reasonable suspicion" they were connected to terrorism -- a lower standard than the "probable cause" requirement in the statute that governs the warrants.

... The wiretapping program, ordered by President Bush in 2001, is used when intelligence agents have a "reasonable basis to believe" that a target is tied to al Qaeda or related groups, according to recent statements by administration officials.

... During Senate debate over DeWine's amendment in July 2002, James A. Baker, the Justice Department's counsel for intelligence policy, said in a statement that the Bush administration did not support the proposal "because the proposed change raises both significant legal and practical issues."

Baker said it was "not clear cut" whether the proposal would "pass constitutional muster," and "we could potentially put at risk ongoing investigations and prosecutions" if the amendment was later struck down by the courts. He also said Justice had been using FISA aggressively and played down the notion that the probable cause standard was too high.

Blogger Glen Greenwald broke this aspect of the story a few days ago - he has more excerpts from Baker's statement.

Think Progress on the WH's response, and Gen. Hayden's lie to Congress.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Canadian Conservative Party trounces GOP in election 

Excerpts from the victorious Canadian Conservative Party's platform:

Reform the financing of federal political parties

Under the Liberals, money and influence have played far too large a role in Canadian politics. During the sponsorship inquiry, Canadians learned of envelopes full of cash being used to fund Liberal Party campaigns, and of money from government contracts being funnelled back to the Liberals. The "pay to play" years in Liberal Ottawa must come to an end.

Toughen the Lobbyists Registration Act

Under the Liberals, lobbying government - often by friends and associates of Paul Martin and other Liberal ministers - has become a multi-million dollar industry. Senior Liberals move freely back and forth between elected and non-elected government posts and the world of lobbying. Liberal lobbyists have accepted success or contingency fee arrangements where they don't get paid unless they deliver the policy change their clients want.

Make qualified government appointments

The Liberals have repeatedly appointed insiders, in some cases completely unqualified, to important public offices. Liberal candidates and MPs have received appointments as heads of Crown corporations, board members, and ambassadors. Liberal staffers, including some of those responsible for the sponsorship program, have worked their way into key positions in the public service.

Clean up the procurement of government contracts

Under the Liberal government, abuse of the government contracting process has become commonplace. Former Liberal cabinet minister Art Eggleton, for example, awarded an untendered contract to a former girlfriend. He was later appointed to the Senate by Paul Martin.

A Conservative Government will not initiate or support any legislation to regulate abortion.

Provide real protection for whistleblowers

There have been many examples over the years of reprisals against government whistleblowers, including public servants who helped reveal the sponsorship scandal, and others who exposed waste and abuse in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Strengthen Access to Information legislation

The Liberal government has consistently rejected attempts to provide Canadians with better access to government information.

Creating jobs and growing Canada's economy

While Liberals have been enriching themselves through their culture of entitlement, many Canadians - especially those who work in the manufacturing sector - have been suffering. Twelve years of empty Liberal promises on prosperity, productivity, and growth have done nothing to help Canadian businesses face increased competition from around the world.

Limit growth of spending on grants and contributions and in government departments and agencies

During the last five years, federal government departmental spending has grown to an unacceptable level. Far too much taxpayers' money is absorbed by the Ottawa bureaucracy or spent on ineffective or inefficient programs.

Forestry

A Conservative government will demand that the U.S. government play by the rules on softwood lumber. The U.S. must abide by the NAFTA ruling on softwood lumber, repeal the Byrd Amendment, and return the more than $5 billion in illegal softwood lumber tariffs to Canadian producers.

Invest in effective gun control

A Conservative government will maintain the existing handgun registry and bans on all currently prohibited weapons. A certification system requiring a background check and safety training for all those wishing to acquire and use firearms legally.

Securing our borders

Terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and outbreaks of disease world-wide have focused the spotlight squarely on the Liberal government's inaction regarding terrorist and other threats here at home. Four years of inaction since September 11, 2001, have left the federal government ill-prepared to protect Canada's national security. The March 2004 report by the Auditor General criticized the government for failing to create an integrated security system. The March 2004 report of a bipartisan Senate committee concluded Canada was "unready" to respond to a terrorist attack. Even the government's annual National Security Policy review released in April 2005 identified 12 government priorities that have still not been improved or addressed.

Security for seniors

The Liberal track record for Canadian seniors is a sad story of unfair taxation, poor government services, and now an inexcusable policy blunder that has destroyed the retirement savings of Canadians invested in income trusts. It is time for a government that respects those who have spent their lives raising families, saving for their retirement, and building this country.A Conservative government will: Confirm its commitment to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) as well as the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) as fundamental guarantees of income security in retirement years.

Fight congestion through public transit

Improved public transit usage will help both reduce traffic congestion in our urban centres and reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions. Canadians must be encouraged to choose transit by making this option more financially attractive.

A cleaner, healthier environment

For all the Liberal talk about the environment, they have done nothing to clean up the environment here in Canada. They sign ambitious international treaties and send money to foreign governments for hot air credits, but can't seem to get anything done to help people here at home. A Conservative government will implement a "made-in-Canada" plan focused on ensuring future generations enjoy clean air, clean water, clean land, and clean energy here in Canada. A Conservative government will develop a Clean Air Act to legislate the reduction of smog-causing pollutants such as Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter. Address the issue of greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), with a made-in-Canada plan, emphasising new technologies, developed in concert with the provinces and in coordination with other major industrial countries.

Promoting arts, culture, and competitive sport

Canada is a nation of great artists and athletes. Arts, culture, and sport all make essential contributions to our national identity. A Conservative government will: Establish a Francophone Secretariat within the Department of Canadian Heritage. Language is an integral part of culture and heritage and should form the basis of decision-making for the Francophone cultural and artistic community. Ensure that the CBC and Radio-Canada continue to perform their vital role as national public service broadcasters. Preserve the role of the National Film Board, the Canada Council, and other federal arts and culture agencies.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Insurgent checkpoints 

Noticed this in a story about where 50 recently abducted men were kidnapped,

They were abducted at an insurgent checkpoint, he said, about 31 miles (50 kilometers) north of Baghdad while on their way home to the town of Samarra.

There's a insurgent checkpoint 31 miles outside of Baghdad?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Oops, did I say that? 

Scott McClellan, yesterday,

General Hayden made it very clear that the existence of this program is harmful to our national security.

BONUS: this spying thing is really shaking out the conservatives from the Bushbots,

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances (PRCB) today called upon Congress to hold open, substantive oversight hearings examining the President's authorization of the National Security Agency (NSA) to violate domestic surveillance requirements outlined in the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, chairman of PRCB, was joined by fellow conservatives Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR); David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union; Paul Weyrich, chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation and Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, in urging lawmakers to use NSA hearings to establish a solid foundation for restoring much needed constitutional checks and balances to intelligence law.

Weyrich! I'd never have speculated he would toss his hat in.

Barr, Norquist, Keene, Weyrich. All we need is Dobson and it's a Full House!

Bonus bonus: Former Vice President Al Gore,

"The Administration's response to my speech illustrates perfectly the need for a special counsel to review the legality of the NSA wiretapping program.

"The Attorney General is making a political defense of the President without even addressing the substantive legal questions that have so troubled millions of Americans in both political parties.

"There are two problems with the Attorney General's effort to focus attention on the past instead of the present Administration's behavior. First, as others have thoroughly documented, his charges are factually wrong. Both before and after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended in 1995, the Clinton/Gore Administration complied fully and completely with the terms of the law.br />
"Second, the Attorney General's attempt to cite a previous administration's activity as precedent for theirs - even though factually wrong - ironically demonstrates another reason why we must be so vigilant about their brazen disregard for the law. If unchecked, their behavior would serve as a precedent to encourage future presidents to claim these same powers, which many legal experts in both parties believe are clearly illegal.

"The issue, simply put, is that for more than four years, the executive branch has been wiretapping many thousands of American citizens without warrants in direct contradiction of American law. It is clearly wrong and disrespectful to the American people to allow a close political associate of the president to be in charge of reviewing serious charges against him.

"The country needs a full and independent investigation into the facts and legality of the present Administration's program."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oregon right to die law upheld 

Yippie,

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court, with Chief Justice John Roberts dissenting, upheld Oregon’s one-of-a-kind physician-assisted suicide law Tuesday, rejecting a Bush administration attempt to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die.

Justices, on a 6-3 vote, said the 1997 Oregon law used to end the lives of more than 200 seriously ill people trumped federal authority to regulate doctors.

That means the administration improperly tried to use a federal drug law to prosecute Oregon doctors who prescribe overdoses. Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft vowed to do that in 2001, saying that doctor-assisted suicide is not a “legitimate medical purpose.”

Incidentally, the will of the people prevailed,

By more than eight-to-one (84%-10%), the public approves of laws that let terminally ill patients make decisions about whether to be kept alive through medical treatment. This represents a small but significant increase in support for right to die laws since 1990 (79%).

Monday, January 16, 2006

Gore speech 

Whole video here, entire transcript here. NY Timesarticle,

Former Vice President Al Gore said today that recent revelations that the Bush administration monitored domestic telephone conversations without obtaining warrants "virtually compels the conclusion that the president of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently."

Crooksandliars has video highlights.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

High voter turnout justifies killing of children 

Christ ...

Q How can you justify killing children and grandchildren at home?

MR. McCLELLAN: Look at what took place in Iraq last month; successful elections, where you had nearly 70 percent of the voters turn out --

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Nixon defends Bush snooping 

Eerie,

Q: So what in a sense, you're saying is that there are certain situations, and the Huston Plan or that part of it was one of them, where the president can decide that it's in the best interests of the nation or something, and do something illegal.

Nixon: Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.

Q: By definition.

Nixon: Exactly. Exactly. If the president, for example, approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the president's decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out, to carry it out without violating a law."

Bob Barr and John Dean on this decade's scandal: The spectre of Nixon 

Another Republican comes out swinging against Bush's assertion of emperor-like power,

Let's focus briefly on what the President has done here. Exactly like Nixon before him, Bush has ordered the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct electronic snooping on communications of various people, including U.S. citizens. That action is unequivocally contrary to the express and implied requirements of federal law that such surveillance of U.S. persons inside the U.S. (regardless of whether their communications are going abroad) must be preceded by a court order. General Michael Hayden, a former director of the NSA and now second in command at the new Directorate of National Intelligence, testified to precisely that point at a congressional hearing in April 2000. In response, the President and his defenders have fallen back on the same rationale used by Nixon, saying essentially, "I am the Commander in Chief; I am responsible for the security of this country; the people expect me to do this; and I am going to do it." But the Supreme Court slapped Nixon's hands when he made the same point in 1972. And it slapped Bush's hands when, after 9/11, he asserted authority to indefinitely detain those he unilaterally deemed "enemy combatants"--without any court access.

Bush's advocates also argue that the congressional resolution authorizing military force in Afghanistan and elsewhere--to bring to justice those responsible for the 9/11 attacks--authorized those no-warrant wiretaps. But there is absolutely nothing in the clear language of that resolution or in its legislative history suggesting that it was intended to override specific federal laws governing electronic surveillance. If Bush succeeds in establishing this as a precedent, he will have accomplished a breathtaking expansion of unilateral Executive power that could be easily applied to virtually any other area of domestic activity as long as a link to national security is asserted.

Finally, presidential defenders have argued that efficiency demands bypassing the courts. There again, the clear language of the law does them in. Even pre--Patriot Act law provided a very robust mechanism through which a President, facing what he believes is such an emergency that the short time needed to secure court approval for a wiretap would obviate the need for one, can order a tap without prior court approval as long as he eventually gets an O.K. within three days. If that degree of flexibility does not suit a President, it is hard to imagine what provision would. And if the President thought the law governing eavesdropping was misguided or impractical, he should have proposed amendments.

The Supreme Court has unanimously rejected the assertion that a President may conduct electronic surveillance without judicial approval for national security, noting in 1972 that our "Fourth Amendment freedoms cannot properly be guaranteed if domestic security surveillances may be conducted solely within the discretion of the Executive Branch." Rather than abiding such a clear missive, the Administration instead is taking the road mapped out nearly two centuries ago by Andrew Jackson, who, in response to a Supreme Court decision he didn't like, ignored it and is said to have declared, "The Supreme Court has made its decision. Now let them enforce it."

John Dean goes a step further, claiming Bush committed an impeachable offense,

There can be no serious question that warrantless wiretapping, in violation of the law, is impeachable. After all, Nixon was charged in Article II of his bill of impeachment with illegal wiretapping for what he, too, claimed were national security reasons.

These parallel violations underscore the continuing, disturbing parallels between this Administration and the Nixon Administration - parallels I also discussed in a prior column.

... Bush has given one legal explanation for his actions which borders on the laughable: He claims that implicit in Congress' authorization of his use of force against the Taliban in Afghanistan, following the 9/11 attack, was an exemption from FISA.

No sane member of Congress believes that the Authorization of Military Force provided such an authorization. No first year law student would mistakenly make such a claim. It is not merely a stretch; it is ludicrous.

But the core of Bush's defense is to rely on the very argument made by Nixon: that the president is merely exercising his "commander-in-chief" power under Article II of the Constitution.

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