WH Seeking Retroactive Law Allowing Spying

NSA logoTrying to finagle their way out of the latest scandal of possible illegalities in its domestic wiretapping program of U.S. citizens, the Bush administration is now pushing for Congressional approval to retroactively allow for such an unconstitutional program:

After two months of insisting that President Bush did not need court approval to authorize the wiretapping of calls between the United States and suspected terrorists abroad, the administration is trying to resist pressure for judicial review while pushing for retroactive Congressional approval of the program.

Even though the FISA program already allows for delay between when a warrant can be executed and the special court must be notified (one year actually), the administration has repeatedly ignored their obligation to follow even those lax rules. Because… as the truth would have it, the FISA court is stacked with terrorists who would have immediately blown the whole operation.

But the real meat and potatoes here is that the administration wants retroactive Congressional approval of what has already occured (an ex post facto law) — or in very simple terms: a pardon.


Cartoon’s Fanatic Freakout = Fundie Failure

It seems many cartoonists won’t be cowed by fundamentalist threats and are firing shots back at the fanatics with more editorial cartoons. The most widely used theme seems to be to point out the hypocrisy of the threats. Whereas it’s perfectly acceptable for the religious nutjobs to poke fun at other religions, turnabout is suddenly not so cool with them.

fanatic Islam cartoon

And in related news, the Catholic fanatics in New Zealand tried to boycott that infamous “Bloody Mary” South Park episode… the result was humorous, with viewership increasing over 600 percent.

It seems the lesson fanatics seem unable to learn is that if you don’t like a satirical cartoon of your religion, it’s better off to ignore it or not watch it (hello… earth to self-control). Because venting a spleen and flipping out is only going to make more people point and laugh.


Unmarried Couples: You Ain’t Welcome in Our Town

Not only can you lose custody of your children for not maintaining the moral standards of the powers-to-be, they can keep you from buying a house, too. Here’s the scoop from Newswatch 50 (via Fark):

A Missouri couple say they were denied an occupancy permit for their new home because they’re not married.

Olivia Shelltrack and Fondray Loving have been together for 13 years and have three children, ages 8, 10 and 15, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

The couple are appealing the occupancy permit denial from the Black Jack, Mo., board of adjustment, which requires people living together to have blood, marriage or adoption ties. Loving is not the father of Shelltrack’s oldest child.

Let’s see. One has to get permission from the government to be married in order to get another permit to live in town. I thought this case was simply about some archaic code which hadn’t been removed from the books until I read this in another account of the story:

The couple appealed the denial of an occupancy permit last week at a hearing before Black Jack’s board of adjustment. Shelltrack said board members asked her and Loving personal questions about their relationship, their children and their previous home in Minneapolis, from where they moved, for nearly an hour. Then the board denied the couple’s appeal. The case now goes before Black Jack’s municipal court.

At the hearing, Shelltrack said, one board of adjustment member, Norma Mitchell, even pointed at her and asked, “I don’t understand why you as a woman didn’t exercise your right to marry that man,” before being hushed by another board member.

Mitchell’s quote explains ia lot, but not everything. The picture at Newswatch 50 shows a white man with two white children. The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch shows a white women with two black children. Both articles state there are only three children involved. In addition to the moral busybodies, is there a racial element involved as well?


Lego Zen: Cheney, Whittington, and Peppered Quailtards

Via Boing Boing comes this wonderful Flickr photo of someone’s lego-tastic interpretation of Cheney’s sharpshooting hunting mishap:

Cheney/quailtard in lego

Not shown: the parked car that they got out of to walk up to the covey of farm-raised wingless quail-tards. More Cheney quail-tard shooting jokes.


Christian Judge Blows a Gasket: Woman Loses Child Custody Over Religious Performance Art

Note: this article contains dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!

SubGenius X-Day eventThis is an egregious example of encroachment on First Amendment rights no matter how you look at it (via Boing Boing & Bartholomew’s notes on religion:

On February 3, 2006, Judge Punch heard testimony in the case. Jeff entered into evidence 16 exhibits taken from the Internet, 12 of which are photographs of the SubGenius event, X-Day. Kohl has never attended X-Day and is not in any of the pictures. Rachel is depicted in many of these photos, often wearing skimpy costumes or completely nude, while participating in X-Day and Detroit Devival events.

The judge, allegedly a very strict Catholic, became outraged at the photos of the X-Day parody of Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ — especially the photo where Jesus [Steve Bevilacqua] is wearing clown makeup and carrying a crucifix with a pool-noodle dollar sign on it while being beaten by a crowd of SubGenii, including a topless woman with a “dildo”.

Judge Punch lost his temper completely, and began to shout abuse at Rachel, calling her a “pervert, “mentally ill,” “lying,” and a participant in “sex orgies.” The judge ordered that Rachel is to have absolutely no contact with her son, not even in writing, because he felt the pictures of X-Day performance art were evidence enough to suspect “severe mental illness”

Mock Christianity, lose your kid… yeesh.

Here’s a pop-quiz question for all the Christian apologists who are bound to flood into this discussion: If this had taken place before an Islamic judge in the Middle East and the photos had been an art performance mocking the prophet Muhammed; and the judge took custody away from the mother based on that alone… would you also defend that judge?

Update: MeFi’s first comment has a bunch of updates, most importantly links to some of the photos that apparently angered the judge so much. Am I the only one who thinks this is relatively tame considering the reaction of the judge?


UAE to manage some US ports.

As a knee jerk reaction, I said sure; UAE is buying a British company already managing our ports. But then, I thought about it. I remembered historical war stories which declared our ports as the most strategic points of protection. US control of the ports was essential to our safety in 1776 and we fought dearly to preserve that control. Why, then, would our highest commander (2006) differ in strategy from our most esteemed commander (1776)? Why would we, in a climate of heightened security, allow any bedmate (UK or UAE) to share guard of our treasure? According to Yahoo News,

The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.

It seems that Big Brother only wishes to watch us free Americans. Brother George cares about our safety in the form of wire taps and surveillance, but cares nothing about the deeds of his buddies in the Middle East? Something is amiss here. I am not educated enough on these matters to determine what it is, but I do have that “Oh shit” feeling which has been described as “fight or flight.” My lack of expertise dictates that I leave this a question. My sense tells me that we are too deeply entangled in a Boleyn type quest for control. Some heads will roll, I am sure. I only wonder which heads.


Eminent Domain, Presidential Style

With all of the recent GOP hype about property rights, what could be more hypocritical than for the Republican president to benefit from eminent domain in the establishment of his presidential library? This may well be the case, according to The New York Sun:

The school favored to host the George W. Bush Presidential Library, Dallas’s Southern Methodist University, may encounter a snag next week in the form of a lawsuit alleging that the school has improperly seized local homes in order to secure land for the proposed library site.

Amid increasing outrage among Republicans over the use of eminent domain and other coercive measures to obtain private property for public projects, a case in Dallas County’s 134th Civil District Court, which is set to begin on Tuesday, will determine whether the university violated its legal obligations to local homeowners in an effort to secure the land currently occupied by the University Gardens condominium complex, a potential library site.

“They’re taking my home,” said Gary Vodicka, one of the litigants and a University Gardens owner and resident, yesterday.

SMU excuses their actions, stating the land deal is unrelated to the presidential library. Whether it is for the library or not, that does not excuse these allegations:

“To acquire the land to build the Bush Library they have breached numerous legal obligations, they’ve intimidated, misrepresented things, kicked old people out of their homes,” said Mr. Vodicka, who owns four units in the complex. “It’s amazing to see how ruthless a Christian university can be.”

There are four schools being considered for the presidential library, and SMU is the favored institution on the list. What really perplexes me is why they need a presidential library in the first place, since all the the material to be contained inside will likely be classified. If something does remain unclassified, one can expect the Homeland Security goons to stop any efforts to retrieve information, anyway.

The next time a Republican tells you he is opposed to eminent domain abuse, simply ask him to explain the actions of his chief elephant.


Settling in for the “Long War”

With public support for the “War on Terror” flagging, the White House and the Pentagon have a plan. Not to curtail the excesses of the “War on Terror” or to abandon the “benevolent hegemony” they’re buying with the lives of American soldiers, but something much better. They’re changing the name.

The ill-conceived state of perpetual war formerly known as the “War on Terror” will now be known as…wait for it…”The Long War.” That’s right, instead of backing away from the critics who have been making comparisons between the current regime and Big Brother from Orwell’s 1984, the Bush Administration is embracing it. The Pentagon is making 20-year strategic plans and Rumsfeld is publicly comparing the current effort with the Cold War (1946-1991). One of the core elements of the Pentagon strategy is perpetual war.

“Long duration, complex operations involving the US military, other government agencies and international partners will be waged simultaneously in multiple countries round the world, relying on a combination of direct (visible) and indirect (clandestine) approaches,” the report says. “Above all they will require persistent surveillance and vastly better intelligence to locate enemy capabilities and personnel. They will also require global mobility, rapid strike, sustained unconventional warfare, foreign internal defence, counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency capabilities. Maintaining a long-term, low-visibility presence in many areas of the world where US forces do not traditionally operate will be required.”

Since the Bush Administration sees virtually no limits on what it can do under the auspices of the Commander-in-Chief power, staying in a state of perpetual war will ensure that they are not called to account for the arguably illegal actions committed (and to be committed). Expect the phrase, “But we’re at war,” to be used early and often over the next few decades.

Let’s just get the whole thing over with and burn the “goddamned piece of paper” right now.

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.


Feuds, Funerals, Fundies and Free Speech

Fred Phelps, the mind behind godhatesfags.com, is quite possibly the modern living embodiment of George Orwell’s quote “if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” He and his church have become infamous for their shocking-but largely legal-denunciations of homosexuality. Their favorite modus operandi seems to be picketing funerals, as they did with Matthew Shepard.

Their latest gig seems to be picketing funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq. The argument they base these protests on is that America supports homosexuality, therefore every dead soldier is God’s way of telling America to stop supporting homosexuality. The twistedness of this man is unfathomable-I’ve never known any anti-war protester who actively hopes for the deaths of our soldiers. That’s just sick.

Patriotic veteran bikers seem to think so, as well. Organized as the Patriot Guard, they are now going to funerals to support the war’s dead against the protests of Fred Phelps’ church. While mindless flag-waving annoys me, this seems to me a very noble thing to do.

This shows the world that the best antidote to free speech is more free speech. Those who would curtail Fred Phelps’ right to spew bigotry would merely make it harder to protect other forms of free speech. Meanwhile, protecting all free speech lets the moral force of the Patriot Guard be brought to bear against Phelps and his sinful, racist, drug abusing, immoral lot.


It Still Reeks of Eminent Domain

The New York Times is reporting about a rash of state legislation and constitutional amendments designed to decrease eminent domain abuse thoughout the country:

The measures are in direct response to the United States Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision last June in a landmark property rights case from Connecticut, upholding the authority of the City of New London to condemn homes in an aging neighborhood to make way for a private development of offices, condominiums and a hotel. It was a decision that one justice, who had written for the majority, later all but apologized for.

The reaction from the states was swift and heated. Within weeks of the court’s decision, Texas, Alabama and Delaware passed bills by overwhelming bipartisan margins limiting the right of local governments to seize property and turn it over to private developers. Since then, lawmakers in three dozen other states have proposed similar restrictions and more are on the way, according to experts who track the issue.

What they seem to be ignoring is that some of these bills do relatively nothing to stop such eminent domain abuse. As I live there, let’s use Alabama as an example. Shortly after the Kelo decision, Alabama passed a supposedly tough new eminent domain law. However, it was primarly an act of political grandstanding. Here is the view of the largest independent newspaper in the state:

The term “blighted” is a loophole in Alabama’s new private property protection law big enough to drive a bulldozer through, says an attorney who lost a landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Alabama is doing the right thing in taking a great first step,” said Dana Berliner, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm based in Washington, D.C. “Now Alabama needs to take the second step to tighten sections of the law that deal with blight.”

To be sure, there is already another land taking brewing in Birmingham. In what appears to be the beginnings of a major redevelopment in town, step one involves the city paying Wal-Mart $11,000,000 in tax revenue from the general fund (which is to be later repaid with bond money) to move into a mostly vacated mall. I went over the paperwork presented so far with one of the city counselors and there are a lot of unanswered questions, so far. The contract leaves more questions to be asked than it answers, including vagueness which could cost the city millions more.

This appears to be step one in the larger development scheme being worked behind the scenes. We are working on obtaining as much information as possible though the Open Records Act, but it is unlikely that the requested material will arrive in time to develop enough political opposition to fight the immediate issues. In a recent town hall meeting, city planners presented an area which is a combination small and larger store fronts (of which the new Wal-Mart will serve as the hub), residential areas and major thouroughfares. They described plans which would reroute roads, add parks, and totally modify the landscape of the area. Unless 100% of the property owners involved will willingly give up their homes and businesses, eminent domain (or the extortive threat thereof) will have to be used.

The mayor said the votes are already there to shove the Wal-Mart down our throats against our will. However, we managed to defeat the proposal in committee yesterday, which will probably only delay it hitting the full council by one week.

When the issue was forced on them, the mayor and the city councilperson pushing this agenda denied that eminent domain would be used. When I asked the question, it seemed to draw greater applause than anything thing else during the presentation, but the local paper seemed to omit this from their account of the meeting. However, this same councilperson used eminent domain (and gave away 10,000,000 taxpayer dollars) to build another Wal-Mart in her district a few years ago. Even the current contract before the city council has phrases imbedded in it like “…the Redevelopment Property will result in the elimination, remedy and prevention of blight and blighting factors in the project area…” and “…and will advance and implement the purposes of the Oporto-Crestwood Plan, and, accordingly, is a public use, is in the public interest…”. Future contracts dealing with future phases of this plan will certainly be scarier.

Where I come from, we know that if it looks like shit, smells like shit, and tastes like shit, we ain’t a gonna step in it — despite what The NY Times, mayor of Birmingham, or certain city counselors have to say about it.


Good for the Gander, Too

The bad news comes from the Seattle

Houston’s police chief on Wednesday proposed placing surveillance cameras in apartment complexes, downtown streets, shopping malls and even private homes to fight crime during a shortage of police officers.

“I know a lot of people are concerned about Big Brother, but my response to that is, if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?” Chief Harold Hurtt told reporters Wednesday at a regular briefing.

The good news comes from Matt Asher:

Harold Hurtt has suggested that surveillance cameras be placed “in apartment complexes, downtown streets, shopping malls and even private homes”, according to this story in the Seattle Post Intelligencer. In response, I hereby found….

The Hurtt Prize

The Hurtt Prize is a $1185 (and growing) reward for the first person who can provide definitive videotaped evidence of Houston police chief Harold Hurtt committing a crime, any crime. This evidence will posted here and forward to the Houston Police Department along with a demand that action be taken.

If I lived in Houston, I’d be out there with my camera already. Even if he’s not breaking the law, I’d hope to capture everything from Hurtt spilling soup on his tie to the sexual peccadilloes in which he might engage.



It’s Time for an Intelligent Design Coalition

As a Pastafarian, I’m terribly upset. Scientists are meeting in Saint Louis and going on the offensive to take away our religious rights. Worse yet, they’ve invited a host of teachers. According to the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch:

Scientists aren’t just defending evolution anymore. Over the weekend in St. Louis, the nation’s leaders in science went on the offensive.

With the fervor of preachers and the drive of generals, scientists from across the country rallied against what they describe as religious pressure in public schools. And they enlisted the help of hundreds of teachers.

The situation is becoming critical. They are trying to teach heretical concepts like the Theory of Evolution, filling children’s brains with ideas that will forever seperate them from everlasting life secured beneath the noodly appendage of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Perhaps it’s time to strike back. I’m merely afraid that there aren’t enough Pastafarians out there to combat this evil element in our society. Now is time for a host of organizations which support various views about Intelligent Design to join together so we can ensure that our children won’t be exposed to such radical views.

In order to implement effective change, I propose we call for a national conference (with C-Span coverage, of course) with panel discussions led by groups like:

      The Taliban (they’ve successfully kept such heresy out of the heads of women for years)
      The Catholic Church (Galileo and Copernicus were chump change, they’ve proven for centuries how to minimize dissension within the ranks)
      Nazis (most of those scientists are probably Jews trying to take over the world, anyway)
      Fred Phelps and his God Hates Fags Baptist Church (they really understand public relations and activism)

At the conference, we should form a new umbrella coalition organization, perhaps called S.A.R.E., which stands for Science Abuse Resistance Education. If we ever expect to keep our kids off science, we’ve got to work together — starting now.


Jokes of the Day: Big Government Really Works

Joke Number One, from Newsday.com:

The mobile homes started arriving sometime in October, pulling into a 282-acre site at the Hope, Ark., airport, one after another, row upon row. They kept on coming, week after week and month after month, convoys of sometimes 100 at a time lugged by trucks that clogged the roads into town, queuing up on a runway and on the adjacent gumbo-like soil, side to side, front to back.

They were supposed to be shelters for the thousands of victims left homeless by Hurricane Katrina, waiting here to be shipped out, reflections of the goodwill of a nation. But they never left. Instead, they kept on coming, kept on piling up, like logs at a dam. Today, 10,777 of the units sit stockpiled in Hope, $300 million in taxpayer money gridlocked in bureaucracy, 450 miles from New Orleans with no place to go.

And more than five months after Katrina hit, the scene has become a symbol to locals almost on a par with the Superdome of the federal government’s ineptitude in dealing with the most serious natural disaster in recent U.S. history. Part of the problem, it turns out, is that the Federal Emergency Management Agency spent millions on mobile homes to house hurricane victims, but its own regulations say they can’t be installed in the floodplain zones where the hurricane hit.

Joke Number Two, from MSNBC:

Here’s a pop quiz on gender equality. In which part of the world are women most likely to reach the highest rungs of power? Choice A offers new moms 12 weeks of maternity leave, almost no subsidized child care, no paid paternity leave and has a notoriously hard-driving business culture. Choice B gives them five months to three years of paid time off from their jobs after having kids. Millions put their offspring into state-sponsored day-care centers for several hours a day. Government agencies, full of female directors and parliamentarians, protect workers at the expense of business and favor a kinder, gentler corporate culture. So which place is better for women who want to make it to the top? If you guessed A, the United States, you’d be right. If you chose B, Europe, think again.

It sounds impossible, but it’s true. For all the myths of equality that Europe tells itself, the Continent is by and large a woeful place for a woman who aspires to lead. According to a paper published by the International Labor Organization this past June, women account for 45 percent of high-level decision makers in America, including legislators, senior officials and managers across all types of businesses. In the U.K., women hold 33 percent of those jobs. In Sweden — supposedly the very model of global gender equality — they hold 29 percent.

Let’s keep those wonderful big government solutions rolling, folks.


Homeland Porno Police

Two men walked into the Little Falls library in Bethesda, MD wearing hats which read “Homeland Security”. They then announced to the people inside the library that viewing Internet pornography is verboten. From WaPo:

After the two men made their announcement, one of them challenged an Internet user’s choice of viewing material and asked him to step outside, according to a witness. A librarian intervened, and the two men went into the library’s work area to discuss the matter. A police officer arrived. In the end, no one had to step outside except the uniformed men.

In the meantime, Osama bin Laden threatened the United States again. From ABC News:

In the tape posted to the Web site Monday, bin Laden offered the United States a long-term truce but also said his al-Qaida terror network would soon launch a fresh attack on American soil. The tape was initially broadcast Jan. 19 on Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite channel.

It’s nice to see that we finally have our security priorities straightened out.


We Don’t Need No Legislation

Mike DeWine said that we don’t need no stinkin’ debate about NSA wiretapping issues, and now Bill Frist is jumping on board the Constitution-be-damned train. From Yahoo News:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, standing firmly with the White House on the administration’s eavesdropping program, said Sunday he doesn’t think new or updated legislation is needed to govern domestic surveillance to foil terrorists.

“I don’t think that it does need to be rewritten, but we are holding hearings in the Judiciary Committee right now,” Frist said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Frist also said he didn’t think a court order is needed before eavesdropping, under the program, occurs. “Does it have to be thrown over to the courts? I don’t think so. I personally don’t think so,” he said.

Business as normal in GOP-land continues…


United States Joins International “Coalition of the Homophobic”

As we’ve often charged, there are few differences between American Christian and Mid-eastern Islamic fundamentalists. Human Rights Watch provides the latest example:

In a reversal of policy, the United States on Monday backed an Iranian initiative to deny United Nations consultative status to organizations working to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, a coalition of 40 organizations, led by the Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called for an explanation of the vote which aligned the United States with governments that have long repressed the rights of sexual minorities.

“This vote is an aggressive assault by the U.S. government on the right of sexual minorities to be heard,” said Scott Long, director of the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch. “It is astonishing that the Bush administration would align itself with Sudan, China, Iran and Zimbabwe in a coalition of the homophobic.”

Now that Condi has opened the door by jumping into bed with Ahmadinejad, we might now expect to see couplings like Pat Robertson and Osama bin Laden or Roy Moore and Saddam Hussein. Oops, I forgot. Saddam already has a partner.


Cory Maye Story Hits Fox News

In case you missed it like I did, Radley Balko’s article on Cory Maye is now up at Fox News. The article provide a good overview of the case, and contains a few new pieces of information for those of you not following the story as it unfolds. I’ll provide a brief segment which provided information not well covered on this site:

But it gets worse. For the last 10 years, Bob Evans has been public defender for the town of Prentiss. Late last year, Evans says he was warned by town officials not to represent Cory Maye in his appeal. Evans ignored the threats, and gave Maye representation. In January of this year, Prentiss made good on its promise, and fired Evans.

According to Evans, Prentiss Mayor Charlie Dumas told him point blank that he was terminated for representing Cory Maye. In a phone interview, Mayor Dumas confirmed having a conversation with Evans, but declined to go into specifics. Calls to the town’s aldermen weren’t returned, or were answered with “no comment.”

If Evans version of events are true, the firing of Evans stinks. It’s the kind of thing public officials do when they have something to hide. And it only adds to the already obvious notion that the town of Prentiss doesn’t much care about giving Cory Maye a fair shake at justice.

Fortunately, Orin Kerr of the Volokh Conspiracy is jumping on board. From Balko’s blog:

Orin Kerr Joins Cory Maye’s Legal Team

And that’s terrific news.

Kerr’s a highly regarded legal scholar, professor at the George Washington University School of Law, and a blogger at the Volokh Conspiracy.

That Kerr’s lending his expertise to Cory’s case I think speaks volumes about how his cause is cutting across ideological lines. I don’t think Kerr would object to being called a consistent but thoughtful law-and-order conservative.

And Abe Pafford, the associate who first brought the case to the attention of the partners at Covington and Burling, went to Liberty University (founded by Jerry Falwell), and first learned of the case courtesy of this post by Jonathan Adler at National Review Online.

On the other end of the spectrum, last week I met with the folks at the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. They say Cory’s case is drawing attention among leftist groups, too, including the ACLU, Amnesty, and the NAACP.

The group I’d most like to hear from is the NRA. Seems to me this would be a gut-check case for them.

This is obviously good news. Like Balko, I’m curious about the silence from the National Rifle Association on this issue. They are either truly interested in the rights of gun owners or the accusations from the left about them being racist GOP sycophants are indeed correct.

If you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to sign the petition or contribute to the legal fund.


Homeland Security: Saving Us from Fourth Graders

Azzah is a typical fourth grader in a Detroit public school. As she saw the school bus through the kitchen window, she quickly grabbed her homework assignment and books and ran out the door, coat unzipped, and ran so she could make it to the bus stop in time to catch her ride to school. Her mother yelled at her to zip her coat, but Azzah didn’t hear in the rush to make it on time.

Suddenly, as she approached the stop, a line of men in suits brandishing firearms ordered her to halt and drop to the ground. Helicoptors swooped low overhead. Her mother ran out the door to do what should could to save her daugher, but was tackled by men waiting outside the back door.

“Yep, Agent Smith, they’re guilty all right,” stated one of men as he held up a seating chart for Comerica Park.

Azzah’s mother, now in handcuffs, stuttered in disbelief, “But, but, she’s got a field trip to watch a baseball game and…”

“Shut up, bitch,” one of her captors sneered as he jerked her off the ground. As he shoved her into one of the unmarked sedans, he knocked her hijab onto the ground.

As the men, prisoners and vehicles quickly departed the scene, the senior agent thanked the school bus driver for his assistance in this important arrest. The bus driver walked back to his vehicle, head held high, knowing that he had saved America from another terrorist attack.

Does this seem like fantasy, reality or a South Park episode to you?

According to Fox News, school bus drivers are being trained to watch for potential terrorists by Homeland Security officials. Hopefully someone will save America from all the evil fourth grade children.


Mike DeWine: Screw the Constitution

While I’m still not sure whether George Bush actually stated that the Constitution is “just a goddamned piece of paper,” it seems that Ohio Senator Mike DeWine did so on Fox News tonight. The quote in question referred to the NSA wiretapping program and is provided by ThinkProgress (emphasis added):

You know, there’s been some controversy about whether or not this program is legal or is not legal. I think we need to get beyond that. And the vast majority of American people believe these calls need to be listened to. But we don’t want to have any kind of debate about whether it’s constitutional or not constitutional. So I think we need to put that beyond us.

While Republicans used to play lip service to their favorite portions of it, it’s starting to look like there is a GOP-wide consensus for an absolute disregard of all portions of the Constitution.


Georgia: Stupid Law of the Day

How can one tell when delusional people are about to go off the deep end? One indicator is that they might disregard reality at an increasing rate, further fueling their paranoid delusions, beginning a feedback cycle which quickly escalates until they have lost all contact with reality.

According to Atlanta’s WSB-TV, legislators in Georgia are currently in the state I just described. Not just content with propagating myths that recreational marijuana use causes white women to date jazz musicians or forces people to mainline heroin, they are also one of the states which doesn’t have the balls to take on the federal government by allowing for the compassionate use of medicinal marijuana. Now they are taking it one major step further:

Candy that’s flavored like marijuana would be outlawed under a bill proposed in the state Senate.

The effort, spearheaded by Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, is one of several throughout the nation targeting increasingly popular candies marketed with drug-inspired names like Purple Haze and advertised with slogans such as, “Every Lick is Like Taking a Hit.”

Marketers call the treats a harmless novelty. But anti-drug advocates say they glorify drug use and encourage children to smoke pot.

“Should a 9 year old be able to go into a store and get a bag of chips, a soda pop and some dope candy?” said Fort, who announced his bill Thursday in the parking lot of an Atlanta convenience store where he said he bought the candy the day before. “That’s ridiculous.”

Actually, what’s ridiculous is that they are no longer content merely to outlaw products which contain THC (even when it saves lives), but they are now attempting to outlaw products which might even taste like marijuana. If this doesn’t deter marijuana smokers, what’s next? Do they plan to outlaw products which are colored the same as marijuana?

The real suckers are the people who continue to vote for politicians such as these.


Just Another Government Whore

According to the Dallas Morning News, a Democratic candidate for the Texas House used to be a male prostitute. I had a few reactions after reading this bit of news.

First off, at least he’s an honest whore; the rest of the government should be so honest. Both in literal acts of adultery and in the corporate lobbyist harlotry that so commonly takes place.

Second off, I thought “A former prostitute! This guy should know better than anyone that prostitution should be legalized.” While Mr. Malin himself has personally repudiated prostitution after a religious conversion, he hasn’t said anything regarding its legality. His backers, however, have said plenty… and they’re considering ending their support for him. So much for the civil libertarianism of the Democratic Party.

Oh well… the rest of Malin’s platform appears to be pretty moderate for a Democrat, so just for the sake of supporting an honest fellow I hope he wins the primary, at least. I’d rather a prostitute in government than a corporate whore any day.


DC Business as Normal: The people screwed again, and again, and…

There’s the wind up. Now the pitch. Fast ball right down the center. From the MercuryNews:

The Patriot Act cleared a major hurdle Thursday that ensures it will be renewed soon.

The Senate voted 96-3 to move toward final passage of new civil liberties protections to the Patriot Act, which the White House negotiated with a handful of Republicans.

Some Democrats remain convinced that the post-Sept. 11, 2001, anti-terrorism law gives the federal government too much power to intrude into the lives of innocent Americans. It is set to expire next month unless it is renewed.

But Thursday’s vote clears the way for final congressional approval, which seems assured once Congress returns after next week’s Presidents Day recess.

The Patriot Act bill would renew most provisions. Last year, the Senate blocked renewal after Democrats and a few Republicans argued that more protections were needed against government intrusion.


From the Chicago Tribune:

The Bush administration helped derail a Senate bid to investigate a program of warrantless eavesdropping.

Senate Democrats said the Republican-led Congress was abdicating its obligations to oversee a controversial program in which the National Security Agency has monitored phone calls and e-mails involving U.S. residents and foreign parties without obtaining warrants from a secret court that handles such matters.

“It is more than apparent to me that the White House has applied heavy pressure in recent days, in recent weeks, to prevent the committee from doing its job,” Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said after the panel voted along party lines not to consider his motion for an investigation.

Stree-ike two!

I’ve got an idea. Let’s see which civil liberties bill is voted upon by the Senate next. With the count at two and oh, there’s a remote chance they’ll be afraid (you may reasonably ask what I’m currently smoking) of striking out. Should they swing and miss on the next pitch, we all know the penalty. Even the mighty Casey didn’t get another chance at bat after he struck out.


Liberty in Our Lifetime: Get Off the Couch, You Lazy

Are you sick and tired of the government telling you what you can and cannot do with your own body and in the privacy of your own home?

Are you sick and tired of the government taking your money and spending it on programs you don’t agree with that don’t work anyway?

There finally is something you can do about it.

I’ve been meaning to do this for quite a while, and finally did it tonight. And that’s part of the problem: We as Americans have become apathetic. We hear about the government getting bigger and more invasive, and we shrug our shoulders, say “What can I possibly do?” and go back to watching TV.

Far from being lovers of liberty dedicated to keeping America the land of the free, we have become a nation of couch potatoes who only become upset enough to do something when FOX cancels our favorite TV program.

That must change. And it starts with you. Or in my case, me. So today I finally signed up for the Free State Project.

Once in New Hampshire, the 20,000 or more true lovers of liberty will work to cut the government down to a more appropriate size. If you have been sitting on the fence, waiting to see how it comes out before you sign up, what the hell are you waiting for? How it comes out is up to you. Are you going to sit there and complain about the government endlessly, or until they come and cart you away, or are you going to do something about it?

Signing up for the Free State Project isn’t the only thing I did tonight. Radio talk show host and occasional HoT contributor Ian Bernard thought that people weren’t signing up quickly enough, so he created the First 1000 Pledge. People who sign the First 1000 Pledge agree to move to New Hampshire by December 31, 2008, as long as 999 others also agree.

Tonight I also signed the First 1000 Pledge. And I intend to move to New Hampshire whether 1,000 other people do or not.

What are you doing to work for liberty? What’s stopping you from joining the Free State Project? Do you even believe in liberty?

(This post orginally appeared at Homeland Stupidity. But Ian has managed to convince me, probably without realizing that’s what he was doing, that this needs much wider distribution. Enjoy!)