24 July 2007
I wonder - just how many secret programs do they need? Why can't they just have the one? It seems like - um - once something is secret, then it's, you know, secret. Unless it's like fucking Spy vs. Spy up there in Washington.
I feel like we are all just going to wake up in Oceania one day.
Update: the always excellent Jane Hamsher has much, ever so much more, with a different literary allusion. Let me just take this opportunity to point out that, should the blogs this era survive the memory hole, FDL will almost certainly be the primary source for much of the research into the collapse of democracy in America....
20 July 2007
In a midnight deal, my state Assembly voted to take a billion dollars from mass transit in order to balance the budget.
The mind reels.
12 July 2007
The response in the Western media was immediate, strong, and unequivocal... silence. A Google News search for "avigdor lieberman iran" turned up a whopping 39 articles, only 15 of which dealt with the revelation, and the only non-Israeli one being - I am not making this up - Wonkette.
So we are about to watch the Middle East burst into flames, and the only coverage here is in the ass-fucking blog.
05 July 2007
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences: For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies: For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
03 July 2007
Clarence Aaron was a college student in 1992 when he introduced two dealers to each other. They paid him $1,500. Nine kilograms of cocaine were traded. A second deal didn't happen. Yet when the feds arrested the group, they charged Aaron with dealing 24 kilograms of crack cocaine, because one dealer was going to turn the cocaine into crack and the second deal had been set up. Aaron failed to cut a deal by pleading guilty and testifying against others. Aaron's sentence? Life without parole. That's right, Aaron wasn't in charge, he wasn't a professional dealer, he had been charged with a first-time nonviolent drug offense and he's serving the same sentence as the treasonous FBI-agent-turned-spy Robert Hanssen.
You might expect that sort of over-the-top sentence in the Middle Ages or some hellhole dictatorship that does not value human life. An enlightened nation, however, has no business locking up a kid and throwing away the key for life -- because he did something both criminal and stupid when he was, as Bush once described his early years, "young and irresponsible." I can't help but believe that if a white college kid had screwed up like this, unlike the African-American Aaron, he would have received a more fitting sentence.
Bush should commute Aaron's sentence this year, because it is the right thing to do. He also should work with the U.S. pardon attorney to release other prisoners serving sentences that far exceed their crimes. While in office, Bush has issued 97 pardons and two commutations. Two commutations are too few. Julie Stewart, the president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, hears that the Bushies don't want to commute sentences that comply with guidelines, no matter how barbaric they are. "Why have a pardon attorney's office?" she asked rhetorically. "The Founding Fathers gave (the pardon) to the president for the very purpose of exercising it when the punishment doesn't fit the crime."
Read PBS Frontline's interview with Aaron.
The Supreme Court this week declined to review the case of Weldon Angelos, leaving in place his obscene sentence of 55 years in prison for small-time marijuana and gun charges. The high court's move is no surprise; the justices have tended to uphold draconian sentences against constitutional challenge. But it confronts President Bush with a question he will have to address: Is there any sentence so unfair that he would exert himself to correct it?
So far, Mr. Bush hasn't found one. He has commuted only two sentences, both of inmates who were about to be released anyway. Mr. Angelos, by contrast, is a young man and a first-time offender who is now likely to spend the rest of his life in prison. His crime? He sold $350 in marijuana to a government informant three times -- and carried, but did not display, a gun on two of those occasions. Police found other guns and pot at his house.
The U.S. district judge who sentenced him in Utah, Paul G. Cassell, declared the mandatory sentence in this case "unjust, cruel, and even irrational."... And in an extraordinary act, he explicitly called on Mr. Bush to use his clemency powers to offer what he as a judge could not: justice. Judge Cassell recommended that Mr. Bush commute the sentence to 18 years, which he described as "the average sentence recommended by the jury that heard this case."
Mr. Bush put Judge Cassell on the bench.... His exceptional discomfort with this case -- and his passionate plea for presidential mercy -- ought to carry weight even with a president so disinclined to use the powers the Constitution gives him to remedy injustices.
02 July 2007
"If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is," Bush told reporters at an impromptu news conference during a fund-raising stop in Chicago, Illinois. "If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of."Fucker.
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