Archive for August 2007
Glenn Greenwald has an important post:
The severe dangers from allowing the government to engage in surveillance of Americans’ communications with no oversight ought to be self-evident. That government leaders will abuse unchecked powers is the most basic premise of our country since its founding, and independently, the dangers are obvious.
But reasoning of that sort is not even required to appreciate and convey to Americans why oversight-less spying powers of the type the Congress just vested in the Bush administration are so pernicious. There is a long and recent record demonstrating that surveillance powers, when exercised against Americans without oversight, will be abused. And that record just got longer and more disturbing, thanks to a superb investigative report from a local television news station in Houston, which obtained the previously secret FBI surveillance file on Coretta Scott King.
Here is what happens when we allow our political leaders to spy on Americans with no oversight:
Kevin Drum has a highly useful graph of troop fatalities, which show the exact opposite of what the Bush Administration is saying (and the mainstream media are printing):
Not to put too fine a point on it: The. Surge. Is. Not. Working.
The military seems to be becoming more and more involved in politics. This is ominous. Once the military starts taking political positions and undertaking political actions, the possibility of a military coup (“just until we can stabilize the country and re-align public opinion”) starts to loom.
1) General Petraeus wrote a political op-ed just before the last presidential election, apparently to help Bush. Now Petraeus is campaigning in Australia, including making false and misleading statements, to help a Bush ally.
2) The military is passing out “smear” bios of Democrats who visit the Green Zone. These bios include false statements and are highly slanted.
3) As already blogged, the military is blocking access to ThinkProgress.org because of its politics, while continuing to allow access to the National Review and Fox news.
Bush should put a stop to this sort of thing immediately, but of course Bush is the guy behind firing the US Attorneys who were insufficiently political.
This morning, a minister married two men, “sealing the state’s first legal same-sex wedding. Less than 24 hours earlier, a judge had thrown out Iowa’s ban on gay marriage.” More than a dozen gay couples tied the knot in Iowa this morning.
As you know, the Right has consistently said that same-sex marriages will destroy heterosexual marriages, even though Massachusetts, the first state to allow same-sex marriages, has the lowest divorce rate in the country.
But now we have a good check. Let’s see if, following this step, the divorce rate in Iowa goes up, goes down, or stays the same. Inquiring minds want to know.
ThinkProgress is now banned from the U.S. military network in Baghdad.
Recently, an avid ThinkProgress reader — a U.S. soldier serving his second tour in Iraq — wrote to us and said that he can no longer access ThinkProgress.org. The error message he received:
The ban began sometime shortly after Aug. 22, when Ret. Maj. Gen. John Batiste was our guest blogger on ThinkProgress. He posted an op-ed that was strongly critical of the President’s policies and advocated a “responsible and deliberate redeployment from Iraq.” Previously, both the Wall Street Journal and Washington Times had rejected the piece. An excerpt:
It is disappointing that so many elected representatives of my [Republican] party continue to blindly support the administration rather than doing what is in the best interests of our country. Traditionally, my party has maintained a conservative view on questions regarding our Armed Forces. For example, we commit our military only when absolutely necessary. […]
The only way to stabilize Iraq and allow our military to rearm and refit for the long fight ahead is to begin a responsible and deliberate redeployment from Iraq and replace the troops with far less expensive and much more effective resources–those of diplomacy and the critical work of political reconciliation and economic recovery. In other words, when it comes to Iraq, it’s time for conservatives to once again be conservative.
Not surprisingly, both the National Review and Fox News are still accessible.
Paul Krugman has a good take on this:
Two years ago today, Americans watched in horror as a great city drowned, and wondered what had happened to their country. Where was FEMA? Where was the National Guard? Why wasn’t the government of the world’s richest, most powerful nation coming to the aid of its own citizens?
What we mostly saw on TV was the nightmarish scene at the Superdome, but things were even worse at the New Orleans convention center, where thousands were stranded without food or water. The levees were breached Monday morning — but as late as Thursday evening, The Washington Post reported, the convention center “still had no visible government presence,” while “corpses lay out in the open among wailing babies and other refugees.”
Meanwhile, federal officials were oblivious. “We are extremely pleased with the response that every element of the federal government, all of our federal partners, have made to this terrible tragedy,” declared Michael Chertoff, the secretary for Homeland Security, on Wednesday. When asked the next day about the situation at the convention center, he dismissed the reports as “a rumor” or “someone’s anecdotal version.”
Today, much of the Gulf Coast remains in ruins. Less than half the federal money set aside for rebuilding, as opposed to emergency relief, has actually been spent, in part because the Bush administration refused to waive the requirement that local governments put up matching funds for recovery projects — an impossible burden for communities whose tax bases have literally been washed away.
On the other hand, generous investment tax breaks, supposedly designed to spur recovery in the disaster area, have been used to build luxury condominiums near the University of Alabama’s football stadium in Tuscaloosa, 200 miles inland.