Thursday, December 20, 2007

R.I.P. Perry Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich's brother Perry died yesterday, Dec. 19:

Perry Kucinich, brother of Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, was found dead Wednesday morning at his eastside Cleveland home, officials said.

His body was discovered by another brother, Larry, in his apartment about 9 a.m., a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Coroner told CNN.

Powell Caesar said the cause of the 51-year-old man's death won't be known until the results of the autopsy are returned. But, Caesar said, the body did not show injuries and there appeared to be no signs of foul play.

I wondered how Corporate News™ would cover this story today. They didn't. I'd hate to see them do anything to make people ask, "who's Dennis Kucinich?" I'll tell you who he is. He's the guy I'm voting for for president of the U.S. in the primary, after which I'm changing my party affiliation to independent; unless, of course, Dennis scores in the primary, which is doubtful, but in which case I'll remain a democrat and be glad I am.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Biting the kitten

This, like almost all issues in Washington, is getting plain silly:

The issue before the Senate is fairly simple. Last summer, President Bush asked Congress to close a gap in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act created by advancements in technology. He waited until the eve of a recess, and then, as is his habit, falsely presented it as a matter of life and death. Having spooked Democrats on terrorism yet again, Mr. Bush larded the bill with dangerous expansions of his power to spy on Americans.

That law expires in February, which means Congress has to pass new legislation giving the intelligence agencies a little more leeway in the wireless Internet age. But once again, the White House, aided by some misguided Democrats, is trying to give the president powers he should not have: the ability to spy on Americans without a warrant and eviscerate the authority of the court that oversees electronic espionage. The bad bill Mr. Reid has now delayed would also give amnesty to telecommunications companies that—for five years—provided Americans’ private data to the government without a warrant.

The White House says it wants to protect patriotic executives. It really wants to make sure Americans never find out how much illegal spying their president ordered up after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

First of all, it is a well-known, often-reported fact the Bush administration pushed forward warrantless wiretapping almost immediately after taking office in 2001; yet, The New York Times continues to emphasize in all its accounts of this issue the White House took no action until after September 11, 2001, as if its intentions were honorable. This obvious, ingenuine LIE is disgusting to the point of nauseating. The sycophantic GOP apologists at The Times can annoint Bush and Cheney if they feel they must, but it fools no one. This is the sort of thing Nixon felt entitled to do, and is a major program of Cheney's Revenge Syndrome. Nixon's and Cheney's motives are identical: to know their political opponents' moves and to identify, locate and suppress critics. Lots of heart and soul in these guys, who couldn't have a law-abiding or patriotic notion if their lives depended on it. It wouldn't be yellow journalism for The Times to tell the truth about it, and it's outrageous that its editors still want everyone to know they still absolutely refuse.

Second, the progressive alternative press is hailing Sen. Reid's pulling this bill as a grand victory. To be sure, every day this legislation isn't enacted is a great day, but that the bill exists at all is an humiliating shame and sin. How should it be written? If I were the author, my bill would do away with FISA and put these matters back in the hands of public courts. There would be some language about tempered steel restraints for rotten, criminal politicians and crooked public utility employees and lengthy jail sentences without parole. That's a reality-based law, not the fantasy world, authoritarian law writing which makes the phony claim we're threatened by people driven insane paying homage to Allah when republican wiretapping has absolutely nothing to do with that, and never did.

Last week, Mr. Reid started pushing a bill by the Senate Intelligence Committee that gave Mr. Bush all of that—with a six-year expiration date to tie the hands of the next president. It wasn’t his only choice. He could have supported a bill by the Senate Judiciary Committee, similar to one passed by the House, with a two-year sunset, real judicial supervision, restraints on executive power and no amnesty. A few Democratic senators, including Pat Leahy, Russ Feingold and Christopher Dodd, opposed Mr. Reid, who tried to get around them by cutting deals with Republicans but failed.

If the authoritarian communists who call themselves republicans won't accept gigantic concessions like this, why give them anything? The point is to write good legislation, not keep moving the bar lower so as to avoid an unpleasant difference of opinion with some fanatic mental cases. Ordinarily, any group will get behind doing the right thing, but at some point you have to start doing the right thing. How are today's Congressional democrats going to look and feel if Mike Huckabee becomes the next president?

In January, the Senate will reconsider this issue in the midst of the primary season, with the February expiration date looming. Mr. Bush and his allies will issue dire warnings that intelligence agents won’t be able to listen to phone calls by Osama bin Laden. That was not true before, is not true now and won’t be true then.

The intelligence agencies can easily be given the flexibility they need without sacrificing the Constitution. If the law expires, fine. It won’t harm national security, and it will give Congress time to reflect. The Constitution has been battered enough by rushing through major bills like the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act.

The Times has learned to frame its reasoning well from the Bush-Cheney era. How unfortunate the two men's cowardice has so thoroughly rubbed off on the paper of record. I read a piece of rubbish like this and wonder why I keep doing it, letting The New York Times kick me around. With less time and effort they could say the bill should be thrown out. After all, the title of this editorial is "Bad Bill Now, Bad Bill Later." While they're at it, they could say the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act of 2006 should be repealed en toto. But, seeing and telling the truth takes that half a teaspoon of courage Congressional democrats and The New York Times can't bring themselves to swallow.

Speaking of obstructionism:

WASHINGTON—The Republican Senate minority today filibustered an omnibus budget bill, setting a modern-day record for blocking the most legislation during a congressional session. A new report released today by the Campaign for America's Future details the 62 times conservatives have used the filibuster to block legislation (or force modification of bills) in the first session of the 110th Congress. In just the first year of this two-year Congress, their use of the filibuster in the Senate topped the previous record, reached during the entire 107th Congress. [...]

"In just one session, a minority in Congress has prevented a mind-blowing 62 pieces of legislation from going to the floor for an up or down vote," said Campaign for America's Future co-director Roger Hickey. "Our report shows how over and over again, the uncompromising minority has thwarted the will of majorities in Congress and of the American people, holding the Senate floor hostage to a radical right-wing agenda."

Sixty votes are needed to invoke cloture and end a filibuster. The 62nd cloture vote of the session is more than any single session of Congress since at least 1973, the earliest year cloture votes are available online from the Senate. Republicans are on pace to force 134 cloture votes to cut off a filibuster, according to the Campaign for America's Future analysis, more than double the historical average of the last 35 years.

Even pieces of legislation that have made it past the Senate filibuster blockade have been obstructed by President Bush. Last week the President vetoed for the second time a popular bill that would expand health coverage for 10 million American children. According to the Campaign for America's Future report, Bush has threatened to veto 84 bills and has vetoed six as of December 17. In contrast, during the period when the Republicans were in the congressional majority, Bush went the longest time without vetoing a bill since President Arthur Garfield.

Eric Lotke, Campaign for America's Future research director and lead author of the new report, calls the obstruction a "deliberate strategy." He observes that the congressional Republicans block legislation, then blame the Democrats for getting nothing done. "It's like mugging the postman and then complaining that the mail isn't delivered on time."

Of course, you don't get the facts laid out by mainstream media. After all this time, the only thing I can think is that corporate America thinks it will make more money under a communist government than a democracy. So, add to my list of legislative priorities, more funding for education, the prohibition of private funding for candidates and the repeal of political parties. Hey, I think we're on to something!

No surprises here: it turns out the White House knew about the torture videos as early as 2003 and strongly supported their destruction:

WASHINGTON — At least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the Central Intelligence Agency between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy videotapes showing the secret interrogations of two operatives from Al Qaeda, according to current and former administration and intelligence officials. [...]

Those who took part, the officials said, included Alberto R. Gonzales, who served as White House counsel until early 2005; David S. Addington, who was the counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney and is now his chief of staff; John B. Bellinger III, who until January 2005 was the senior lawyer at the National Security Council; and Harriet E. Miers, who succeeded Mr. Gonzales as White House counsel.

It was previously reported that some administration officials had advised against destroying the tapes, but the emerging picture of White House involvement is more complex. In interviews, several administration and intelligence officials provided conflicting accounts as to whether anyone at the White House expressed support for the idea that the tapes should be destroyed.

One former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said there had been "vigorous sentiment" among some top White House officials to destroy the tapes. The former official did not specify which White House officials took this position, but he said that some believed in 2005 that any disclosure of the tapes could have been particularly damaging after revelations a year earlier of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

And so forth. The formula is always the same, destroy the evidence to stay out of prison, then have spokespeople present confusing, conflicting accounts or just say you don't remember. There's never anything to wonder about: everyone knew everything from the start, they're all complicit and can't be hanged soon or high enough.

Rep. Wexler's petition exceeds 100,000 signatures. While the petition of support to initiate impeachment proceedings against Dick Cheney has no legal force of its own, it is persuasive evidence majority leaders in Congress will be hard pressed to ignore. This time, talk about impeachment is serious. If you haven't signed on, please do.

• Blogger wasn't displaying the pictures in the nameplate properly for some reason. After multiple attempts to post/change the picture, I just took it out. Too bad, too—the picture of Bush biting a kitten says it all.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Building a better world by e-mail

While petitioning Washington to air grievances has been rather futile since Bushco's® overthrow of democracy and the constitution, I'm not willing to give up. Neither should you. I actually still write to these things and ignore how silly it makes me feel. Won't you take a few minutes and join in the fun?

Support Rep. Robert Wexler's new push to impeach Cheney by signing the petition. He needs 50,000 signatures. Huffington Post and Alternet have articles and video with more information.

Ask Sens. Clinton, Biden and Obama to support Chris Dodd's filibuster of FISA legislation which would grant telecom companies retroactive immunity for the warrantless wiretapping of every possible American.

Meanwhile, Luke is still hot on the trail of a proper forum for Sibel Edmonds, who's now saying she'll violate her gag orders if that venue presents itself. Man, she's a tough act to follow! You can e-mail some of these media outlets/personalities who've had an interest in the past and remind them they can have the big story of the last few decades: Keith Olbermann60 MinutesABC NewsMSNBC and NBC.

Update: Holy shit!

It's not being reported in the corporate media, which also refused to publish an opinion piece penned by six-term Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). But a whopping 50,000 people responded in just one day to Rep. Wexler's call for people to sign his on-line petition supporting an immediate start to hearings on Rep. Dennis Kucinich's Cheney Impeachment bill (H Res 799)

As of Sunday morning, 54,000 people had signed the petition at calling for action now. And names are being added at a rate of one every one or two seconds!

Wexler has said he wanted at least 50,000 signatures. But why stop there? If people get behind this, and if the impeachment movement spreads the word, he could easily get closer to 500,000 signatures over the next few days.

And if each of us were to send out a call to sign to ten of our friends, then we'd have half a million signatures, which would be hard for Conyers and the Democratic leadership, Speaker Nancy Pelosi included, to ignore.

That's what I call action. It's been hard to get more than a few thousand signatures for a petition calling for impeachment. It could be the intelligence community's repudiation of all those lies trying to sell us on the idea of destroying Iran with nuclear weapons was the final nail in the BushCheney coffin. Think how much things have changed in the past couple months!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The internet: no rule is the best rule

Of all the articles one could read about internet freedom, ZDNet News has this great one by Larry Downes:

Rep. Edward Markey is preparing to reintroduce legislation that would prohibit Internet access providers from offering priority service to content providers--known as the Net neutrality principle.

Similar legislation has failed in both the House and Senate in the past, but proponents of Net neutrality haven't given up.

If only they would.

The Internet has thrived in large part because it has managed to sidestep a barrage of efforts to regulate it, including laws to ban indecent material, levy sales tax on e-commerce, require Web sites to provide "zoning" tags, and to criminalize spam, file sharing, and spyware.

Some of these laws have been overturned by the courts; some died before being passed; and the rest--well, the rest are effectively ignored, thanks to the Internet's remarkable ability (so far) to treat regulation as a network failure and reroute around the problem.

Proponents of Net neutrality--some of whom have led the battles against other forms of network regulation--argue that this law is different. Mandating Net neutrality is simple, fair, and preserves the very features of the Internet that make it so valuable. Indeed, the Senate's version of Net neutrality legislation carries the lofty title of Internet Freedom Preservation Act.

Who could be against preserving freedom?

But the information superhighway to hell is surely paved with good intentions.

That's the lesson of America's first misadventure in enforcing "neutrality" on a key piece of national infrastructure: the railroads.

Nearly 100 years ago, shippers in cities between the Mississippi and the West Coast, which were largely served by only one road, found that they were being charged higher rates to subsidize competitive tariffs from cities east of the Mississippi, where shippers had several choices.

Like those calling today for Net neutrality, the Intermountain shippers demanded "reasonable and fair" rates of carriage. Congress agreed, but it left the definition and enforcement of these deceptively simple terms to the Interstate Commerce Commission.

So, what was "reasonable"?

The ICC struggled for decades to answer that single question, spending 20 years and hundreds of millions of dollars before giving up, unable to agree on how to value the railroad's assets in order to calculate a reasonable rate of return. With the industry consumed by this "simple" effort to make its operations "fair," other forms of transportation emerged and ultimately put the railroads out of their misery.

More recently, the Civil Aviation Board (CAB), which micromanaged U.S. commercial air travel until 1978, worked to ensure "fair" ticket prices for everyone but in practice created a mess of routes, subsidized carriers, and indecipherable rate structures. Since the CAB was dismantled, air travel has not only expanded but, thanks to market forces, is now also cheaper for consumers.

And what about the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the law passed in the wake of Enron, WorldCom, and other corporate scandals? SOX requires "transparency" in financial statements, a worthwhile goal, but one that, so far, has cost public companies that weren't committing fraud billions of dollars in compliance. No one seriously believes that money has helped investors make sense of a single balance sheet. [...]

"Net neutrality" only sounds obvious. Cable operators already discriminate between your Internet traffic and your TV traffic, in favor of the latter, because the programming needs priority to maintain its integrity. The Federal Communications Commission--left, like the ICC before it, to work out the details under all proposed Net neutrality legislation--would need to carve out an exception for that non-neutral behavior.

There will be many such exceptions, some based on network activities not yet invented. Indeed, in response to the remarkable range of unplanned uses to which the Internet has been put over the last 10 years, some of its original designers are working on technologies to optimize the Web's increasingly complex traffic patterns--efforts that would run afoul of Net neutrality proposals, perhaps unintentionally.

Worse still, imagine how complaints of non-neutral rates of carriage would be investigated. The FCC would have to monitor network traffic and seize and open the packets in question. So why do the same civil-liberties groups that recognize the value of keeping the government out of Internet content want to open a loophole large enough to drive several Mack trucks through?

Then, as now, there is an appropriate role for government. The development of the U.S. railroad system was greatly aided by initial investment in infrastructure, including basic research, land grants, rights-of-way, and efforts to help the industry agree on standards for track gauge (like the Internet, an open standard), operating techniques, and interline cooperation.

State and federal governments have performed similar positive services on behalf of the national communications infrastructure, and they continue to do so in the form of auctions, basic protocols, and "spectrum grants" for new communications services such as digital TV. (These days, state and federal dollars aren't being invested in communications infrastructure. Witness California's recent massive infrastructure bonds, which include transportation, education, and water, but not communications.) [...]

Let's preserve Internet freedom--freedom from regulation, that is.

ZDNet News is the definitive place to go to read about this issue, but be ready to find an overwhelming set of links, like the 8,195 you'll find by clicking the tag Internet—plus lots of really tasty downloads.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Take a chance: just say no.

It's been only 16 months, but it seems like a thousand years since my front page debut on WIIG4. I started with railing about the Bush administration's plans to use nuclear-equipped robust nuclear earth penetrators to attack Iran's underground weapons production facilities, with lurid descriptions of the adverse impact of such an attack to illustrate it's an idiotic idea.

Sixteen months is the same length of time since Fidel Castro has made a public appearance. The world was already sick and tired of being frightened by what the illegitimate, insane imbeciles holed up in the White House might do next. And, may I add, almost everyone on earth, including the most vehement war hawks, were fully aware Bush and Cheney had no genuine, real life reason to attack Iran, and didn't need an intelligence report to activate their bullshit detectors. We waited impatiently for the empirical data that would shoot it down, suspecting it to be in the NIE hidden under Deadeye's big ass.

Then Monday came:

While many Democrats said they remain cautious about the National Intelligence Estimate's (NIE) conclusion that Iran halted its nuclear weapons development program in 2003, several said that Congress should investigate the discrepancy between the Bush administration's recent doomsday rhetoric on Iran and the NIE's judgments. [...]

"There is absolutely no question that there should be oversight on this issue," said Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) who for years has been trying to push legislation that would ensure congressional authorization for any military action with Iran.

President Bush's "credibility is absolutely zero," McDermott said in an interview. "We are dealing with a president who has no shame. Anyone who can turn down $10 million for children's [health insurance] is not going to be turned off by a report," he added.

He said that even though the report's conclusion is not a victory he wants, it shows that the Democrats "told the American people the truth."

Seymour Hersh tells CNN the White House has known for a year Iran halted its nuclear weapons program.

After claiming ignorance all day, the White House finally admitted Bush lied when he claimed Iranian nuclear attacks were about to start World War III and nuclear war, because he knew the contents of the NIE in August:

On Tuesday, Bush said “nobody ever told me” to back down from his hawkish rhetoric on Iran. No, maybe not. But Bush knew Iran “may have suspended” its nuclear weapons program and that the intelligence community was in the process of “changing its assessment.”

Now I see. None of this was Dickface's fault because someone told him to lie us into starting global nuclear obliteration. Learn to say no, Stupid, and say it often.

Do I need to go on with this discussion? I have at least a couple dozen hot links with interesting things to look at. This week I've read dozens and scores of stories about this—and you have to know I've been having one solid, deep, long gut-chuckle about it. Bush isn't exactly Kennedy And The Cuban Missile Crisis. Then, he goes on TV and tells us, "but they might restart their program any minute," like the NIE changes nothing. The animated Bushtoon™ in my head has been running full blast, with Saint King Monkeylips being hauled away in a straitjacket screaming, "their nostril hairs! They might be trimmed now, but THEY'LL GROW BACK! We have to launch our cruise missiles...!"

The very dubious claim is made that an NIE in 2005 suggested a weapons program was ongoing, but since this latest report is so different, it was time to make it public. Certain rightist blowholes insist it's a knife in the back for Bush from the CIA, that they're out to get him—begging the question, "so?" Is that a random guess or wishful thinking? Joseph Biden comments. "They were lying and knew it." Blah, blah, blah. Everyone else knew it, too.

Recall that those of us who (once again) got it right with Iran have been portrayed from the beginning to the present in the most negative terms, and rest assured there will be plenty more discussion of the topic which will not go well for America's screwball authoritarians, who are now clearly and unmistakenly revealed as liars, feebs and maniacal cuckoos.

Here lies the real problem: these people aren't smart, and they aren't sane, either. There is an astonishingly urgent need in the world to be able to HUMANELY identify and rehabilitate the mind which destroys and kills obsessively. That's currently a terrible problem in the American government's executive and legislative branches, not in the country at large—which brings us to another hot discussion in current events...

• HR 1955, aka S 1959, aka The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007—cool name, huh? I like the word "homegrown" thrown in. It makes me think The Nanny State® is going to pass out reefers to placate the masses.

I've read this loathsome bit of legislation which, thank heaven, isn't long, and you can read a fair dissection of it here, although I'm not sure how relevant the New World Order talk is. I kind of like this part, though:

This bill is completely insane. It literally allows the government to define any and all crimes including thought crime as violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism. Obviously, this legislation is unconstitutional on a number of levels and it is clear that all 404 representatives who voted in favor of this bill are traitors and should be removed from office immediately. The treason spans both political parties and it shows us all that there is no difference between them. The bill will go on to the Senate and will likely be passed and signed into the law by George W. Bush. Considering that draconian legislation like the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act have already been passed, there seems little question that this one will get passed as well. This is more proof that our country has been completely sold out by a group of traitors at all levels of government.

A scathing appraisal. I know there are more scholarly treatments, but I haven't gone looking for them because I want to give my own critique without the benefit of a more considered opinion. Many recent articles about this bill verge on yellow journalism, such as this one and this one. Sure, when the express language says it is for the stated purpose and for "other purposes" which are unstated, it could act as a first step toward making most anything a crime without naming the crime, and most anyone a criminal without entitling a person (as a rapist or burglar, for example).

We have become so velocitized by the currently fashionable, authoritarian executive and legislative branches which say one thing and mean, then do, another, that it's easy to think the real goal of legislation like this lies between the lines. Then we fail to read the words over and over and let their meaning sink in so as to understand at least what the express language is saying. I've done that and can tell you what it entails. This bill is not a statute aimed at prohibiting unwanted behavior. It creates a commission with a wild-eyed, haywire name which is essentially a blue-ribbon, fact-finding committee authorized to spend money like it's going out of style in pursuit of the age-old question of what motivates the suicide bomber and those of his ilk. Understanding this, the goal then would be to short-circuit this process and stop social, political and religious dissent which gets out of hand in the United States. That's the troublesome part.

The commission is required to meet, talk with experts and issue reports at six-month intervals, the final report being issued 18 months after the group first meets. Although the commission is required to hold public hearings, that is subject to executive review and the commission is encouraged to enlist employees, contractors and experts with active security clearances; so, it's possible that some, most or all of the commission's business could remain classified. That is troubling, too.

While appearing to be an important first step at labeling political dissent as homegrown terrorism, and dissenters as terrorists, what this bunch would end up deciding is anyone's guess, and limited only by the imagination. Under "Findings" you see the provocative statement, "The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens." Really? Then, is censorship the object? We don't know, and they aren't saying, and as always, what constitutes "terrorist-related propaganda" is a matter of opinion.

Last year when I said we have passed the time when revolution is needed, is that what this gang wants to stifle? We can't know, but probably it is. Heaven knows the crown tried to stifle the states' move to autonomy in the late eighteenth century. If someone says Bush and Cheney have earned a smart rap across the bridge of the nose, delivered by every citizen of this country with a baseball bat while they are tied to a tree, is that an unprotected expression? By the language of this legislation, it is protected. They want to detain people who are making tangible plans to do such things, or so they say: while there is a difference between a stated message to a specific individual and a threat of imminent violence, which is clear today, tomorrow that line can be blurred, and I suspect that is the commission's aim, and in blurring the line create new categories of crimes as a prelude to imprisonment.

But some things slip through the cracks. When the U.S. military in Iraq, under Gen. David Petraeus's command, misplaced 190,000 rifles and pistols and tens of thousands of other pieces, allowing them to fall into the hands of "bad actors" and costing a tidy sum, did Petraeus commit a possible offense under this act? No prosecutor in this country would consider it a close call, in spite of the fact it conforms in many ways with what the act states it wants to control. Besides, the GOP has a very long, rich heritage of arming both sides of a dispute to prolong hostilities and profiteering, suggesting it was no simple act, omission or negligence but that he was under direct orders to do it; of course, that's just my opinion, having become jaded and cynical after years of the Bush administration's oppressive despotism.

It galls me this bill was sponsored by a democrat, California's Rep. Jane Harmon. This is a perfect example of why I said the terms liberal and conservative are inapplicable. Party affiliation may be no indicator of an individual's temperament and predisposition; still, I don't expect an extremely authoritarian program to be launched by a member of the democratic party. It just shows you can't make that assumption, because here it is. It's clear Rep. Harmon stands behind her hard line to feed prisons with people doing who knows what, but certainly things that aren't criminal offenses now, from this letter to the ACLU she shares on her website:

November 28, 2007

Ms. Caroline Fredrickson
Director, Washington Legislative Office
American Civil Liberties Union
915 15th Street NW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC 20005

Dear Ms. Fredrickson:

I have read your letter of November 21, and find it confusing. At the same time you discuss the ACLU’s efforts to express concern about HR 1955, and attach suggested revisions (some of which we believe would improve the legislation) you also state that, even if your changes are accepted, it is unlikely the ACLU will support the bill because it focuses on speech and belief.

This makes me wonder why you took the time to suggest changes (which are in addition to changes you proposed and that were largely incorporated into HR 1955 in March) – and, frankly, whether anything I and Committee members have been saying for months is being heard. HR 1955 is not about interfering with speech or belief – the hearing record makes that abundantly clear. Radical speech, as I have said repeatedly, is protected under our Constitution.

I have always admired the ACLU’s efforts to protect free speech, even when that is unpopular – and my voting record over seven terms in Congress reflects how strongly I agree with you. But ideologically based violence is not a protected act – it is a crime. Our bill would establish a diverse, well-qualified, nonpartisan, short-term commission to make recommendations to Congress so it can better understand and hopefully take responsible steps to prevent ideologically based violence. This is not the “thought police” and surely it is not censorship. 404 members of the House agreed just weeks ago.

Because the House has passed HR 1955, the focus now shifts to the Senate. But regardless of which chamber is involved, it seems counterproductive to invest more time in further meetings or negotiations when you have announced your steadfast opposition in advance.

Are you in fact interested in working with us and the Senate on the bill?



The act and this letter demonstrate Jane's not much of a thinker or author, she just likes oppressive authoritarianism and is a risk-taker. I'd like to see the ACLU's letter and response to this! It must be a blistering assault, or Jane would share it, in that she went to the trouble to post her letter. Let's write our own letter to Jane. You can e-mail through her website here or contact her by mail, phone or fax by looking here; contact members of the senate democratic caucus here; contact the entire senate here:

The Honorable Rep. Jane Harmon
2400 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Jane,

The universally humiliating, withering criticism of HR 1955 proves people don't want to see new legislation aimed at creating draconian, authoritarian prohibitions of nonexistent crimes. If it was your intention, and that of an overwhelming House majority, to prevent terrorist acts which don't happen in the United States, it is an ingenuine intention which will only swell our prison population at a time when we need to be finding ways to decrease that population.

I don't live in California, but as a lifetime democrat I feel compelled to help you and your colleagues who have adopted the right's "tough on terrorism" framing which is nonsense when the United States doesn't even have a problem with terrorism; at least, it doesn't have a terrorism problem with the population at large. And, as a democrat, I feel the need to help you and Congress generally because it is clear you have absolutely no idea what you are doing, and have lost your grip on reality.

Jane, do you remember back in the 1960s when The Anarchist's Cookbook was published? It was highly criticized, and there was a lot of talk and alarm about how this "irresponsible" book would certainly create a nation of homemade bomb makers. But, 40 years later, you see that didn't happen. Why do you suppose that is? I'm no expert, but I can tell you that the reason people aren't blowing up police stations, churches, mosques and themselves in the United States is, despite what problems our country has, we remain a relatively free, open and prosperous society. That has a LOT more to do with preventing discontent than focusing on topics of dissent and people who whine and complain, stifling the sale of the possible tools of weapon-making and undermining the first amendment's guarantees of freedom of expression. Indeed, The Anarchist's Cookbook was never intended to be a homegrown terrorist's handbook of horror; it was intended to test the first amendment's guarantees. As a kid in public school, I understood that.

This year I have been required to show my drivers license, and my name put on an offender database, when I purchased Class III pharmaceuticals, pseudoephedrine, lighter fluid and rubbing alcohol, with the dubious, express purpose of subverting terrorism. I resent the assumption I am a criminal offender because I want to control my overactive sinuses, clean surfaces and fuel my lighter. I can purchase gallons of far more dangerous, terror-useful gasoline with no questions asked. I'm reminded that recent events force one to choose whether he will think and live as a free person, and be a bulwark against the kind of discontent which leads to acts of terrorism, or give in to fear and think and live as an authoritarian, giving rise to the kind of injustice and oppression which sow the seeds of that discontent. It is incumbent upon all of us to make the proper choice, and upon you and others in Congress as lawmakers in particular to understand a free and prosperous society, dedicated to justice and the rule of law, does everything needed to promote contentment and the public peace. Apparently, too many lawmakers in Washington and nationwide can't grasp this concept and want to go in the opposite direction, when thousands of years of human history prove again and again it is a grievous error. I am saddened and disheartened that this is the choice you so willingly make.

Things can go wrong in a hurry, Jane. Why would you want to subvert public discourse with novel, wild notions like "ideological radicalization" in an era when the whole world can be destroyed in a single day? Just for fun, let's consider a hypothetical example, since HR 1955 deals with suppositive flights of the imagination.

What if there were an election in which the country selected one candidate for president, but the Supreme Court threw a coup and installed the other candidate? I know that seems farfetched, but it could happen, even though that isn't how elections are supposed to work. And what if the adminstration were returned for a second term because of massive poll irregularities, and Congress refused to address the issue? It sounds fantastic, but we're just pretending. What if this rogue, unelected executive usurped Congress's authority to declare war and launched the first pre-emptive wars in the country's history based on selling lies to Americans, Congress and the world? Then, what it they wanted to launch a new war based on more lies and this time planned a nuclear attack which would kill millions of people in that country and millions more caught in the fallout field? And, Jane, what if Congress refused to intervene to stop it, and wouldn't consider impeaching these obviously lying, feeble-minded maniacs? I know it's an extreme departure from reality, and you probably think nothing like that could ever happen—but I assure you, it can happen, because there is no mechanism to screen out of public service the kind of feeble-minded, maniacal liars who might do it.

Wouldn't you say that is a far more serious and urgent matter than trying to stop suicide bombers who don't even exist? Wouldn't you do everything you could think to do so as not go down in history as a part of the Congress that sat back and did nothing to stop it? You'd think you would. You'd think anyone would, and that it would be self-evident. But this is not the choice you and your colleagues have made. You don't care about keeping America and the world safe and at peace, and I can see you no longer want your Washington career.

As a citizen, shouldn't I be able to say that I am opposed to the actions of that illegitimate regime? Shouldn't I be able to do whatever I can to stop what can only be described as a bunch of crazy people from blowing up the whole world? You'd think that I should. But HR 1955, now S 1959, wants me and everyone else to shut up, and say and do nothing.

How could you possibly be the author of that? How could anyone in Congress support it? I don't understand. And Jane, you have failed to provide a single argument which enlists my understanding, and I predict neither you nor anyone else ever will. I guess you'll be retiring from Congress after this term. I wish you good fortune in your future endeavors, and if you can't apply your thought process better than this surely you will need it.

To those in the Senate, if you pass this loathsome, oppressive act, make sure you take it in a different direction. There is indeed a need in the world to stop those who cause destruction, injury and death without conscience, whether or not they are in government. A good place to start would be the article by Gene Bylinsky, "New Clues To The Causes Of Violence," published in Fortune in 1973, which you can read at I had hoped this research would bear fruit, and that we wouldn't have war and more and more prisons by this time. If you can figure out a way to identify and cure those people who cannot control their violent urges which is humane and protects their civil liberties, you will have risen to this challenge and done something miraculous.

Your friend, «—U®Anu§—»

cc: Everyone in the U.S. Senate

If you decide to send such a letter, you may want to sign by acronym in order to avoid extraordinary rendition.