The Lady Speaks

Bush spanked by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, said the Chimperor….El Commandante….the President does not have the power to order military tribunals for detainees held in Guantanamo.

With Chief Justice Roberts abstaining, and Justice Kennedy siding with the majority, Bush was given a firm butt-whoopin’ and told that his power to decide  – because he is The Decider – isn’t what he thought it was.

From The New York Times: [emphasis mine]

The Supreme Court on Thursday repudiated the Bush administration’s plan to put Guantánamo detainees on trial before military commissions, ruling broadly that the commissions were unauthorized by federal statute and violated international law. 

The executive is bound to comply with the rule of law that prevails in this jurisdiction,” Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the 5-to-3 majority, said at the end of a 73-page opinion that in sober tones shredded each of the administration’s arguments, including the assertion that Congress had stripped the court of jurisdiction to decide the case.

A principal flaw the court found in the commissions was that the president had established them without Congressional authorization.

The decision was such a sweeping and categorical defeat for the administration that it left human rights lawyers who have pressed this and other cases on behalf of Guantánamo detainees almost speechless with surprise and delight, using words like “fantastic,” “amazing” and “remarkable.”

That’s the good news. Here’s the bad:

President Bush said he planned to work with Congress to “find a way forward,” and there were signs of bipartisan interest on Capitol Hill in devising legislation that would authorize revamped commissions intended to withstand judicial scrutiny.

[snip]

Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, introduced a bill immediately and said his committee would hold a hearing on July 11, as soon as Congress returned from the July 4 recess. Mr. Specter said the administration had resisted his effort to propose similar legislation as early as 2002.

Two Republican senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jon Kyl of Arizona, said in a joint statement that they were “disappointed” but that “we believe the problems cited by the court can and should be fixed.”

“Working together, Congress and the administration can draft a fair, suitable and constitutionally permissible tribunal statute,” they added.

Uh-oh…I see where that’s going. Bushie’s going to head over to his buddies at the Rubber-Stamp Republican Congress and get them to write him a law that lets him to do what he’s already been doing. Kind of similar to what Arlen’s trying to do with the whole “spying on Americans” thingiemabobber.

They’ll just retroactively make it legal to ignore the Constitution and to break laws.

Then, they’ll make even more laws that say it’s okay to do things that aren’t legal as long as the The Decider decides it’s necessary.

Then, they’ll make a law that says they don’t need to make laws because The Decider doesn’t need laws written down. (not like he could read them anyway.)

Pretty soon, they’ll be all set to sign a bill that dissolves Congress and gives Chimpy McFlightSuit all the power of the land to do whatever he wants, whenever he want, to whomever he wants… in order to – naturally – protect Americans from the “terra-rists.”

Again, I suggest some in Congress do some reading up on the fate of the Reichstag in 1930s Germany….

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June 30, 2006 Posted by | Bush, Cheney, Congress, Constitution, Culture of Corruption, Government, Politics, Rubber-Stamp Republicans, Terrorism, War, White House | 4 Comments

Water, water everywhere – Day 2

Good morning! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and yep – the water’s still here. The Sewer Treatment Plant shut down last night, so we’re being told to conserve water. I imagine we’re going to see a boil advisory soon, but I’ve been doing that anyway.

I would like to point out that our area is populated with a lot of idiots. Example? People who decide to stay put despite knowing the very spot they live in flooded up to the eaves during the April ’05 flood.

First, if you’re crazy enough to live next to a river, you need to understand that your home will flood and might wash down the river, so get the hell out!

Another example? Employers who do not realize that in a declared state of emergency, only emergency vehicles and those leaving evacuation areas or returning from work are allowed on the roads. Despite Tioga County’s “state of emergency” declaration most businesses still had their employees report to work.

From the Gannett News Service:

Tioga County, N.Y., banned all unnecessary travel and threatened to ticket anyone who violated the order. BC Transit, BC Lift and BC country bus routes didn’t operate Wednesday. Some buses were used for evacuations.

The same state of emergency was declared in Bradford County, so stay the heck off the roads!
At the same time, we have a lot of heroes, and I hope they’re not forgotten when all this is over. I’m talking about the volunteer fire companies, ambulance companies, the Red Cross volunteers, the animal rescue teams, and those who’ve volunteered time and/or materials just to help out their friends and neighbors in the Valley.

They’ve been working non-stop since Tuesday afternoon. Sandbagging, water rescues, feeding and sheltering the evacuees, working out response plans with their mutual aid companies to provide services once they were cut off by rising water. The animal rescue team has rescued about 300 pets, and is providing shelter for them at various locations

Also, huge rounds of applause go to the businesses helping out. Several restaurants are providing meals for the emergency shelter. Businesses like Walmart and Kmart have been working like crazy to get supplies in, not just for the evac. center, but for those like me who are unaffected by water, but have relatives seeking refuge.

There was some sort-a good news: The supposed crest of 33 feet was a goof of some kind, and our area saw a crest of 23.4 feet early this morning. The river is cresting in Towanda at 21 feet currently.

We also got some sad (but not unexpected) news: The 4th of July celebration, normally at the Sayre Little League park has been cancelled. You can see why:

That yellow line you see in the picture is the top of the fences at the Little League field.

The National Weather Service is calling for rain off and on for the next 10 days, and the river isn’t expected to drop below flood stage (11 feet in Sayre) anytime before Sunday or Monday.

You can read more at: The Star-Gazette (Elmira NY), The Daily Review (Towanda PA), and WICZ-TV (Binghamton NY).

June 29, 2006 Posted by | FEMA, Flooding, Global Warming, Pennsylvania | 2 Comments

Water, water everywhere!

Update: (7/5/06) I need to make a correction to the following section of this post:

Athens Boro, on the other hand, is at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers, and this area is no stranger to flooding. During the ’72 Flood after Hurricane Agnes, much of the downtown was destroyed. A couple years later, the Army Corps of Engineers built levees along both rivers to prevent future destruction. (My class was one of those that spent a couple hours spreading grass seed over the levee next to our elementary school.)

My mom corrected me on this. In fact, the Army Corps of Engineers decided that levees were unnecessary, that a flood of similar proportions was unlikely to ever occur again. The towns of Athens and Sayre raised the money, and local companies donated time and labor to build the levees themselves. And what a good thing they did! The water level from this flood was within inches of overtopping them.

M elementary school – which sits next to the levee – adopted the levees’ landscaping project. The students and faculty raised the funds to purchase grass seed and saplings that we later planted along the river bank.

* * * * *

Welcome to the “Endless Mountains” of Pennsylvania – currently known as the Endless Rains region.

After five and a half days of rain, we’ve got water everywhere. Living where I do in Sayre, I’m fairly flood-proof. If the water gets as far as my house, we’re going to need an ark.

Athens Boro, on the other hand, is at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers, and this area is no stranger to flooding. During the ’72 Flood after Hurricane Agnes, much of the downtown was destroyed. A couple years later, the Army Corps of Engineers built levees along both rivers to prevent future destruction. (My class was one of those that spent a couple hours spreading grass seed over the levee next to our elementary school.)

These levees have held since then, but it looks like this is going to be their big test.

Around 10am, I rode along with my brother as we took a little tour to see how bad things are. At 10am, standing near the Athens Bridge, the river was within 8-9 feet of the top of the levee, and moving incredibly fast. From Rte. 220, we could see the Chemung River was within 10 feet of the top of its levee.

In the downtown area, merchants are busy emptying their stores and shops into rental trucks, the vehicles of family and friends, or vehicles loaned by other businesses. The furniture store is loading its stock into 18-wheelers provided by Rynone, Inc.; the Dandy Mini-Mart was emptied into trucks belonging to its parent corp, Williams Oil. According to the scanner, over 25 ambulances from various volunteer EMS squads converged on the nursing home downtown, to transport its patients to other, flood-proof facilities.

Flood stage here in Sayre is 11 feet, 15′ in Athens where the two rivers meet. We’re told that the Susquehanna will crest at 25-29 feet tomorrow morning.

Just heard on the scanner that one of the levees in Athens Boro is breaching and the Sayre River bridge will be closed to all but emergency traffic at 4pm.

My son the smart-alec (and future Democratic voter) heard the news and said – in a very serious tone, “Well, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that!”

North and east of us, Nichols, Owego, and Binghamton areas are seeing lots of flooding as well, and Interstates 88 and 81 in Binghamton are now closed. They’re expecting to close Rte. 17/I-86 sometime in the next couple hours. Most roads are closed or restricted to local travel as the cricks, creeks, streams, and rivers go over their banks. Not to mention the lakes and ponds.

So far we’re doing fine, but I’ll post updates if it all goes to hell. *laugh*

You can read more here – with the note that the area mentioned as “Bradford, Pa” is actually Bradford County, Pa. The town of Bradford is about 150 miles west.

* *

Update: (4:11pm)

Rte 17/I-86 is closed from Exit 65 east. Rte 17C is closed from Barton east. River Road is closed from Nichols NY to Towanda PA due to water over the roadway.

The Susquehanna is rising at about 2′ per hour.

Athens Borough has declared a state of emergency and is commencing mandatory evacuations. If you choose not to leave, I’d advise using a permanent marker to record your name and SS# somewhere on your body, so the recovery teams will know who they’ve found.

Read more here, and here. Interestingly, the AP story on YahooNews mentions helicopter rescues of stranded people…in Sayre. Odd…no one I’ve spoken to has heard about that, and no part of Sayre was underwater as of 10am. I think someone mixed up a helicopter responding from Sayre, thinking it was responding to Sayre.

We do have a helicopter attached to the Packer Hospital – STAT Medivac – but the only call regarding high water, etc, was last night – to see if two divers from the local water-rescue team could hitch a ride to Montrose PA to assist in evacuations there.

But, good news!! The Wal*mart is not closing despite its proximity to the Chemung. I guess HQ told them to stay open unless water starts reaching the merchandise?

* *

Rivers are still rising. Crest is now expected to reach 33 feet in Sayre, which means it will be much higher downstream. Wilkes-Barre is sure to be hit hard. Lots of questions being raised as to whether or not the levees down there will hold, considering the amount of pressure on them from high water and debris.

Down in Towanda, the crest is expected to be around 35 feet, which means it will reach the courthouse and Boro Hall. The new River Road/Merrill Parkway is already covered in some places.

June 28, 2006 Posted by | Flooding, Pennsylvania | Leave a comment

What Does America Mean To You?

MSNBC has a message board asking the question: What does America mean to you? Some of the answers are the usual “Love it or leave it” crap, and some tell us what a lovely place America is, and some “may contain profanity and are hidden.”, but turn out to be screeds written by some winger. Some question the right of our government to break the laws and ignore the Constitution.

I sat and thought for a minute. What does America mean to me? I know what it used to mean….but how has that changed?

Let’s go back to how it started:

In 1776, our founders issued the Declaration of Independence – a list of reasons why the colonies had decided to secede from the British Empire.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

–That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. […]

When Congress released an explosive document creating a new system of government, it not only set the course of American history, but ricocheted around the globe. The ideas contained were so revolutionary, so new, that few gave the country much chance of succeeding.

All 13 states ratified the Constitution, and thus our system of government was born – a government that allowed no one person to hold all the power, and based all power in its citizens (and states), while giving its citizens certain and specific rights that the government could not breach.

What powers were left to the federal government were distributed across all three ‘separate but equal’ branches of government, creating the necessary ‘checks and balances’ our founders believed would ensure that no one person could seize control of government.

I assume most of you learned this in civics class, but for those who missed it (or have been too busy weeing in your pants with fear to remember), here’s the nutshell version:

Congress – two houses of duly-elected representatives of the people – could create laws; the President could sign or veto. A veto sent the bill back to the Congress where they could try to muster a 2/3 vote to override. If an override failed, the bill was dead. The Supreme Court judged the Constitutionality of the laws. Any law violating the rights of the people as guaranteed in the Constitution was invalidated.

Now, as we look back at our history as near the momentous occasion of our country’s 230th birthday, we can only assume the founders weep to see their Constitution shredded in the name of fear.

In 1776, the men of the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence knowing their lives and their families’ lives were on the line as soon as ink touched paper. They knew that, as soon as they signed, everything they loved could be taken from them – material and non-material. They knew that, if they were lucky, they would be killed by the British redcoats. If unlucky, they would be transported to Britain to stand trial for treason – a mere formality before being hung.

Contrast the Second Continental Congress and today’s Rubber-Stamp Republican one. The former literally put everything on the line for a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”. The latter tells us we must fear, fear, fear…but don’t forget to keep shopping and driving those SUVs.

Contrast the words of patriots like Patrick Henry

“Give me liberty, or give me death!”

and Nathan Hale

“I regret I have but one life to give for my country”

with Senator Pat Roberts (R-Ks):

“You don’t have civil liberties if you’re dead.”

Today, the 4th Amendment exists only on paper. The government not only spies on all our communications and banking transactions, but – thanks to the death of the “knock and announce” rule – even our homes are no longer safe.

While the bed-wetters will tell us (again) that we have nothing to fear if we aren’t criminals, they miss the point. The 4th Amendment was created because the Founders knew what it was like to have the King’s troops enter homes at will, often without reason.

America used to be a beacon to the world, but no longer.

Not while our government tortures and renditions its enemies. Not while they hold prisoners without due process and access to counsel. Not while the rich are making money while the poor become even more so and the middle-class disappears. Not while we allow our Constitution to be violated without speaking up. Not while our country is in debt that will take generations to repay.

Not while we start a war with a country that was no threat to us. Not while our soldiers are dying now for a lost cause, sent into combat without proper equipment. Not when our veterans are seeing cuts in their benefits and healthcare. Not when 45 million Americans have no healthcare.

Not when 1/5th of our children live in poverty. Not when CEO pay rises exorbitantly while working Americans’ wages stagnate. Not when an entire city can be left to die through ignorance and incompetence. Not when many of our citizens on the Gulf Coast are still living in travel trailers 10 months later.

Not while our government seeks to curtail the very rights endowed to us by our Founders.

I love America – and I weep for what she’s become. I despair for her future and that of my children and (eventual) grandchildren.

June 27, 2006 Posted by | America, Bush, Cheney, Congress, Constitution, Domestic Spying, Government, Politics, Protest, White House | 7 Comments

Arlen goes tummy-up for Bush

Thanks Arlen. Jack Cafferty said you were our last hope, and now we see just what a faint hope it was that any Republican would stand up for the rights and freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution. Instead, yet again, you've proven that the only thing the Republican party stands for is greed and more greed. You and your kind have done precious little for anyone who isn't one of the wealthy elite.

Now, you're busy 'negotiating' with the BushCo to retroactively legalize the administration's illegal domestic spying.

From the Associated Press:

Bush and senior officials in his administration have said they did not think changes were needed to empower the National Security Agency to eavesdrop — without court approval — on communications between people in the U.S. and overseas when terrorism is suspected.

But Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and other critics contend the program skirted a 1978 law that required the government to get approval from a secretive federal court before Americans could be monitored.

[snip] 

“We’re getting close with the discussions with the White House, I think, to having the wiretapping issue submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” Specter told “Fox New Sunday.”

The administration has asserted that a post-Sept. 11, 2001, congressional resolution approving the use of military force covered the surveillance of some domestic communications.

[snip]

“I’ve talked to ranking officials in the White House, and we’re close,” Specter said. “I’m not making any predictions until we have it all nailed down, but I think there is an inclination to have it submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and that would be a big step forward for the protection of constitutional rights and civil liberties.” [emphasis mine] 

Why don't you and the rest of the Rubber-Stamp Republicans just give up any pretense of being representing "the People"?
You and your collegues represent nothing, stand for nothing, and govern nothing. You have empowered an administration with all the earmarks of a monarchy — after nearly 230 years of democracy.

By 'negotiating' to make the administration follow a law they were supposed to be following already, you will give the President the power to do what he wants, when he wants, to whomever he wants, without having to go through that pesky "advise and consent of Congress" deal. 

Pretty soon, instead of just writing signing statements on the laws you and your cronies have passed, he'll just start writing the laws.

Congratulations, Arlen. You and your buddies in the Rubber-Stamp Republican Congress who are phasing out your own jobs. (You might want to read up on what happened to the German Reichstag in 1933 after they passed laws to "protect the homeland" – giving all their power away in the process.)

June 26, 2006 Posted by | Bush, Cheney, Congress, Constitution, Culture of Corruption, Domestic Spying, Government, Pennsylvania, Politics, Protest, Republicans, Specter, White House | 2 Comments

Friday Anti-War Song

What Are We Fightin' For? – Live

Battle flag in the bassinet
Oil and blood on the bayonet
Crowded downtown hit the floor
What are we fightin' for?

What are we fightin' for?
What are we fightin' for?

The world got smaller but the bombs got bigger
Holocaust on a hairpin trigger
Aint no game so forget the score
What are we fightin' for?

What are we fightin' for?
What are we fightin' for?
What are we fightin' for?

What will I tell my daughter?
What will you tell your son?
Where were all the doves?
That we were nothing but a shadow,
a faceless generation devoid of love?

The crucifix ain't no baseball bat
Tell me what kind of God is that?
Ain't nothing more godless than a war
So what are we fightin' for?

What are we fightin' for?
What are we fightin' for?
What are we fightin' for?

What will I tell my daughter?
What will you tell your son?
Where were all the doves?
That we were nothing but a shadow,
A faceless generation?

What are we fightin' for?

June 23, 2006 Posted by | Bush, Cheney, Government, Music, Politics, Protest, Republicans, US Military, War, White House | 2 Comments

Iraqi Gov’t Offers Amnesty

Gee whiz…surprise, surprise.

The Iraqi government will announce a 28-point plan for peace that includes – among other things – amnesty for insurgents .

From the Times Online:

THE Iraqi Government will announce a sweeping peace plan as early as Sunday in a last-ditch effort to end the Sunni insurgency that has taken the country to the brink of civil war.

The 28-point package for national reconciliation will offer Iraqi resistance groups inclusion in the political process and an amnesty for their prisoners if they renounce violence and lay down their arms, The Times can reveal.


The Government will promise a finite, UN-approved timeline for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq; a halt to US operations against insurgent strongholds; an end to human rights violations, including those by coalition troops; and compensation for victims of attacks by terrorists or Iraqi and coalition forces.

Not to anyone's surprise, the US Ambassador to Iraq is right in the midst of the secret talks that created this proposal.

The deal, which has been seen by The Times, aims to divide Iraqi insurgents from foreign fighters linked to al-Qaeda. It builds on months of secret talks involving Jalal al-Talabani, the Iraqi President, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Ambassador, and seven Sunni insurgent groups. [my emphasis]

I'm not the least bit surprised that this is the plan, and – despite earlier protests by the Rubber-Stamp Republicans – I have no doubt it will go through. It will be praised high and low, and everyone will pretend this is somehow a victory.

It's nothing more than a Nixonian 'Peace with Honor' that will allow the US to get its troops out while pretending the administration has done something good and noble and honorable. It's cutting and running Republican-style – ignoring the reality on the ground by waving a big flag and singing the Star Spangled Banner.

The truth is, regardless of how Iraq prospers in the future, the legacy of the Bush administration will be the bungling and general stupidity that created an Iranian-style Islamic theocracy. Any so-called "freedom" we may have brought to Iraq came at the expense of our Constitution and the freedoms guaranteed therein. It came at a cost of 2500+ American lives in an unjust war of aggression that destroyed America's reputation for honor and respect for the law.

Whether this peace plan ends the war and the American occupation or not, the question remains:

Was it worth it?

I believed the answer was no during the run-up, and I still believe that. Not one bit of it was or is worth the cost in American blood.

Still, our troops will come home, and we just might be able to get out of this quagmire without a cloud of helicopters ferrying Americans off rooftops in a "Frequent Wind" redux.

Maybe that's enough?


June 23, 2006 Posted by | Bush, Cheney, Civil War, Congress, Government, Iraq, Politics, US Military, War, White House | Leave a comment

Protected: Happy Birthday Mom!

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June 21, 2006 Posted by | Family, Humor, Mom | Enter your password to view comments.

Requiem


I couldn't find a better title for this post that the one Christy used for hers at Firedoglake, which you can read here.

The two missing American soldiers have reportedly been found dead, and, according to an Iraqi general, their bodies show evidence of having undergone torture before being "barbarically" killed. What this means exactly is unknown.

I can't even begin to talk about this, especially after learning earlier today that a lifelong friend of my brother's – a man I've known since he and my brother stole my eyeliner at age 12 to emulate their favorite band (Motley Crue) – was killed in a freak accident as he left work yesterday evening.

I'm busy getting my home ready to host my step-sister's Sweet 16 party tonight, and I can't stop crying. Crying for a boy I knew, and two boys I didn't. Crying for the shattering heartbreak all three of their families are going through right now.

I expect we will soon hear threats of retaliation and the like from the White House, even as they blatantly ignore the hypocrisy of condemning the torture of American soldiers while other American soldiers are committing acts of torture.

I expect we will once again hear that we can't leave Iraq because – in their twisted, corrupt logic – allowing more young men and women to die will somehow give these deaths meaning.

For the past several days, Christy has been asking FDL's readers, "Had enough?"

I have grieved for a nation so wrapped up in patriotic fervor and divisive rhetoric that it allowed these deaths and every other death in this war – American and Iraqi – to occur; one that allowed 225 years of Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms to be eroded and forgotten even as the administration told us we were bringing those same freedoms to Iraq.

I echo her sorrow at the loss of more lives in a pre-emptive war, based on this administration's lies, that sent ill-prepared children into a situation they didn't want to see.

And I most certainly echo her absolute fury at this administration:

Yes, I have damn well had enough.

Pass the candle around the blogosphere. Light up the dark corners where this administration hides its dirty work, and tell your Congressional Representatives it's time to bring our troops home.

June 20, 2006 Posted by | Bush, Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Congress, Government, Iraq, Pentagon, Politics, Protest, Republicans, Rumsfeld, US Military, War, White House | Leave a comment

Protected: Happy Birthday to Patty in Troy!

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June 20, 2006 Posted by | Family, Humor, Sisters | Enter your password to view comments.