Monday, March 21, 2005

News for March 21st: I’m Mad as Hell and I’m Not Going to Take It Any More Edition

Okay, yeah, I’m a little sick of hearing about it and I’m sure most of my readers are, too, which is why I haven’t covered it up to this point: human interest don’t fly here, baby. Unfortunately, the idiots in Washington being…well, the idiots in Washington, they’ve decided to intervene, and this is where the Junkheap comes in. Allow me to climb on my soapbox (warning, I’m probably going to get long-winded)…

Ah, there we go. Now, then. First of all, the decision to pass this bill goes beyond just a husband and a family that are struggling over the right to terminate Terri’s life (which, to me, is another issue entirely – I support euthanasia and I understand that she has absolutely no hope of recovery, but that is not an issue for this blog). It affects me, you and every other American when Congress so egregiously oversteps their bounds in their rush to further erode our protections as citizens as provided by the Constitution. The tragedy here is that the Constitution, well and truly, is now a defunct piece of paper. Separation of powers? Pssh. Means nothing. Courts? Activist judges, doncha know. The right has been looking for a way to neuter the courts and, realizing that they aren’t going to ram their choices through, have found this way to set up an end-run around the Constitution.

And for what? The vote of a significant minority of the population? Look at the polls and the evidence. Look at the testimony given last night before the passage of this travesty of a law. Not a single person who voted for this gave a cognizant argument. They were more than willing to get up and lie through their teeth, all to keep the Sanctimonious Right happy.

They ignored the separation of powers. They inserted themselves into the judicial system as a source of appeal over a whole State. They rammed legislation through, not because it was the right thing to do, but because it was good PR for their base. We have witnessed the death of policy as protection of people and the final triumph of marketing over common sense and protocols.

And Bush? Well, you can count on him to be up there mouthing the good words and sucking the dick of the Religious Right. He was there, right on cue: "In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life.”

Excuse me, this is the motherfucker who preceded over the most executions in a state in HISTORY. Tell me there weren’t any “serious questions and substantial doubts” in some of those cases, you hypocritical bastard. Not only that, but this case has been decided over and over again in the courts (for seven YEARS) and medical experts agree she's gone forever.

But this is about the culture of life, right? Those accused of murder don’t count in the culture of life. This bullshit is EXACTLY why I am sick of them using language and connotations to control every aspect of public debate. And the American people aren’t even on their side on this one; it’s the goddamn religious right that’s controlling this egregious breach of powers.

This has been polled by everyone from Fox News to the “Lieberal” media outlets. Americans are against what the Republicans are doing by a pretty fair majority. This wouldn't be an issue without the religious right and it wouldn't be championed by Republicans without the Religious Right's power within their party. If left up to the Democratic party, who did split on this vote, this wouldn't even be an issue that Congress is handling.

If you believe this is anything but pandering, I defy you to explain this. Why would Tom DeLay, who said, “Right now murder is being committed against a defenseless American citizen in Florida. Terri Schiavo's feeding tube should be immediately replaced, and Congress will continue working to explore ways to save her,” when, in his own goddamn state, Sun Hudson, a six-month-old boy with a fatal congenital disease, died after a Texas hospital, over his mother's objections, withdrew his feeding tube. The child was apparently certain to die, but was conscious. The hospital simply decided that it had better things to do than keeping the child alive, and the Texas courts upheld that decision after the penniless mother failed, during the 10-day window provided for by Texas law, to find another institution willing to take the child .

And nothing but silence from DeLay on this one. Not high-profile enough? Let me check my Magic 8 Ball…Signs point to yes, you prick.

Who knows, maybe this will be the civil rights issue that finally wakes up the electorate. 97% of us aren't gay, most of us will not have an abortion, but ANY ONE OF US could end up like Terri. Maybe, just maybe, this is shortsighted pandering that will result in the right-wing, dogmatic Christian moralizing crumbling to the ground.

I’m not holding my breath, though.

Congress Passes Schiavo Measure
Bush Signs Bill Giving U.S. Courts Jurisdiction In Case of Fla. Woman

By Charles Babington and Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, March 21, 2005; Page A01

Congress gave jurisdiction over a brain-damaged Florida woman's case to federal courts early today, an extraordinary legislative move that could empower a U.S. judge to order the reinsertion of a feeding tube that a state court allowed to be removed Friday.

Voting 203 to 58 at 12:42 a.m., the House joined the Senate in approving the measure and rushing it to President Bush. He signed the bill into law at 1:11 a.m., saying, "I will continue to stand on the side of those defending life for all Americans, including those with disabilities."

With their votes and signature, the Republican-controlled Congress and Republican president wrote another chapter in an emotionally charged saga that has divided the patient's family and many other Americans over right-to-die questions.

Calling the bill a "Palm Sunday Compromise" that will keep Terri Schiavo, 41, alive, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said, "It won't take a miracle to help Terri Schiavo. It will only take the medical care and therapy that all patients deserve." In a rare gesture, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) presided over the three-hour debate, and he quoted Pope John Paul II on the subject of life-sustaining treatments.

The legislation requires a federal judge, upon the family's request, to launch a new inquiry into the legal and medical questions surrounding Schiavo, who suffered a severe loss of oxygen to her brain when her heart temporarily stopped 15 years ago. Doctors appointed by Florida courts to examine Schiavo say she has since lived in a persistent vegetative state, although other physicians have questioned that diagnosis.

More at the Washington Post

Want to know where the minds of these shitheads are now? These same people are now claiming the right to invade or strike anyone they want, whenever they want, without warning. NATO? Who needs ‘em. The UN? Who cares. We’re the ultimate power in the world, right? The world is all USA-Land, which means Jesus-Land, which means bombs for some, American Flags for others.

Here’s the best part:

"Our strength as a nation-state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak using international [forums], judicial processes and terrorism," the document states.

Strategy of the weak, indeed. How on earth do you combine international forums, judicial processes, and terrorism? Hello, one of these things is not like the others? Jesus Christ, who’s running this freakshow?

Policy OKs First Strike to Protect U.S.
Pentagon strategic plan codifies unilateral, preemptive attacks. The doctrine marks a shift from coalitions such as NATO, analysts say.
By John Hendren
Times Staff Writer

March 19, 2005

WASHINGTON — Two years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon has formally included in key strategic plans provisions for launching preemptive strikes against nations thought to pose a threat to the United States.

The doctrine also now stipulates that the U.S. will use "active deterrence" in concert with its allies "if we can" but could act unilaterally otherwise, Defense officials said.

The changes codify the more assertive defense policy adopted by the Bush administration since the Sept. 11 attacks and are included in a "National Military Strategy" and "National Defense Strategy," reports that are part of a comprehensive review of military strategy conducted every four years.

"The president has the obligation to protect the country," said Douglas J. Feith, the Defense Department's undersecretary for policy. "And I don't think that there's anything in our Constitution that says that the president should not protect the country unless he gets some non-American's participation or approval of that."

Pentagon managers use the strategic plan to guide such decisions as where to place bases, which bases to eliminate, what weapons to buy and where to position them. The heads of the United States' regional commands across the globe, in turn, use the strategy to prioritize spending and form strategies for eliminating threats in their regions.

"The potentially catastrophic impact of an attack against the United States, its allies and its interests may necessitate actions in self-defense to preempt adversaries before they can attack," the National Military Strategy states. A previous version, compiled in 1997, did not include plans for preemptive attacks.

However, Feith said that the United States would for the first time invite close allies such as the United Kingdom to review classified portions of U.S. defense strategy as part of the Quadrennial Defense Review, a four-year military policy and spending plan.

But the new strategy document further shifts the nation from the Cold War strategy of containing Eastern Europe to a global strategy of taking on enemies that emerge unexpectedly — as the administration argues Afghanistan did after the Sept. 11 attacks — and even terrorist organizations within friendly nations.

More at the LA Times

And at the same moment, Rice presumes to tell the EU what to do. Hey, we don’t care what you guys think, just don’t think on your own, okay? I guess the US prefers the EU as a servant rather than a friend. I don’t think it would be unwarranted for NATO to kick the US out.

Rice tells EU: don't lift China arms ban
Jonathan Watts in Beijing and Nicholas Watt in Brussels
Monday March 21, 2005
The Guardian

The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, stepped up the transatlantic row about selling arms to China yesterday with a sharply worded warning that the EU should not upset the balance of power in a region in which it has no defence responsibilities.
Ms Rice said Japan and South Korea - Washington's two main allies in east Asia - were also opposed to the EU's plans to lift its weapons ban, a move they fear could allow China to buy sophisticated European technology for use against their troops.

"Our view is that it is not appropriate," she told a press conference in Seoul yesterday, before arriving in Beijing last night.
"The European Union should do nothing to contribute to a circumstance in which Chinese military modernisation draws on European Union technology. It is the United States, not Europe, that has defended the Pacific."

Her comments - by far the sternest admonition by a US official - suggest the White House is gearing up for a diplomatic fight to maintain the embargo, which was imposed after the Chinese government sent tanks and troops to clear democracy demonstrators from in and around Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Beijing's communist leaders have never expressed remorse for hundreds of their citizens killed, or held a public investigation of who was to blame.

Nevertheless, Europe has insisted that China is a changed country.

American concern about the implications of Europe revising its policy has raised the prospect of a trade war between the EU and the US.

The White House is particularly worried about Beijing's increased pressure on Taiwan.

Last week the Chinese legislature passed a law endorsing military action against the island if it moves towards formal independence from the mainland.

More at the Guardian.

Who’s running this freakshow? …oh yeah. These folks are running the freakshow.

Negroponte's Time In Honduras at Issue
Focus Renewed on Intelligence Pick's Knowledge of Death Squads in 1980s

By Michael Dobbs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 21, 2005; Page A01

It has been two decades since John D. Negroponte left his post as ambassador to Honduras, but the man President Bush has chosen to become the United States' first intelligence czar is still being hounded by human rights activists such as Zenaida Velasquez.

Their paths first intersected in 1983, when Velasquez asked for the ambassador's help in tracing dozens of Hondurans, including her brother, allegedly kidnapped by agents of the U.S.-backed Honduran military. Little came of the meeting, and the disappearances continued for at least another year.

Over the years, Velasquez has gotten the CIA, an official Honduran ombudsman and an international human rights court to acknowledge that the Honduran army was responsible for her brother Manfredo's kidnapping and presumed killing. But Negroponte has repeatedly insisted that military-backed death squads did not operate in Honduras while he was ambassador.

The selection of Negroponte for the new post of national intelligence director has focused renewed attention on the question of how much he knew about the Honduran military's involvement in nearly 200 unsolved kidnappings during the 1980s, and what he did about it. The subject has dogged him in the past, and Democratic staff members said it is likely to be revisited when the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence holds nomination hearings, tentatively scheduled for April 12.

A review of hundreds of declassified State Department and CIA documents suggests that Negroponte was preoccupied with "managing perceptions" about a country that had become a key U.S. ally in a decade-long campaign to stop the spread of communism in Central America. The documents show that he sought to depict Honduras in a generally positive light in annual human rights reports to Congress, and played down allegations of government abuse.

More at the Washington Post

So let me get this straight. The same government that just circumvented the Constitution, wants to be King of the World, and told its friends that it prefers them as servants knows what’s best for me to think and write? I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way, buddy. Of course, they don’t care about the rest of the Constitution, so why should they care about that pesky First Amendment?

FEC Considers Restricting Online Political Activities
New Rules May Apply to Web Ads, Bloggers' Endorsements

By Brian Faler
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, March 21, 2005; Page A17

The Federal Election Commission has begun considering whether to issue new rules on how political campaigns are waged on the Internet, a regulatory process that is expected to take months to complete but that is already generating considerable angst online.

The agency is weighing whether -- and how -- to impose restrictions on a host of online activities, including campaign advertising and politically oriented blogs.
Election officials are reluctantly taking up the issue, after losing a court case last fall. The FEC, which enforces federal election law, had issued scores of regulations delineating how the campaign finance reform legislation adopted in 2002 ought to be implemented. But Reps. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.), who sponsored the legislation, complained that many of those rules were too lax, and they successfully sued to have them rescinded. The commission must now rewrite a number of those directions, including ones that left online political activities virtually free from government regulation.

"We are almost certainly going to move from an environment in which the Internet was per se not regulated to where it is going to be regulated in some part," said FEC Commissioner David M. Mason, a Republican. "That shift has huge significance because it means that people who are conducting political activity on the Internet are suddenly going to have to worry about or at least be conscious of certain legal distinctions and lines they didn't used to have to worry about."

More at the Washington Post

Bah, what a lousy start to another lousy fucking week. At this rate, by the end of the year, there are going to be tanks in the streets and we’ll all be sitting around the fire singing Amazing Grace while the gays are herded into camps. Culture of life, indeed.

Posted by crimnos @ 9:50 AM