Politics02 Feb 2009 01:12 pm

My latest column for Datamation is up and online:

Obama on Privacy — January 27, 2009

As always, links to past columns are available here.

Politics03 Jul 2008 09:47 am

Here’s one for your McCain supporter buddies. This week he took credit for the new GI Bill, despite having opposed it. He was for it… after he voted against it? Sounds like John Kerry. (Was there something in the water in Vietnam that makes presidential candidates flip-flop later in life?)

Below is a summary of two dozen glaring flip-flops on major issues. You can see a video review of it, including notes on sources here:


Over the weekend, Senator McCain said, quote, “this election is about trust and trusting peopleā€˜s word and, unfortunately, apparently on several items, Senator Obama’s word cannot be trusted.”

Our third story tonight: Judging candidates based on their consistency. You see where I’m going with this?

The signing of the G.I. Bill not the only time Senator McCain was against something before he was for it, or vice versa or both. You may want to get pencil and paper and write these down.

On political reform, McCain last January opposed a grassroots lobbying bill he once supported. In 2006, the New York Sun reported that his presidential ambitions led McCain to reverse his support of a campaign financial bill called… “McCain-Feingold”.

Last October he said he would vote against the “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Miners Act” that he co-sponsored and then said he would vote against an immigration bill that he introduced.

In 2006, he said on Hardball, quote, “I think that gay marriage should be allowed.” Then after the commercial break he added, “I do not believe that gay marriages should be legal.”

On abortion, 1999, publicly supporting Roe v. Wade, privately opposing it in a letter to the National Right to Life Committee. In the 2000 debates, he would change the GOP platform to permit exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother. May 2008, no he won’t, ABCNews.com reported.

Storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain? Flip.

Military action against rogue states? Flip.

Negotiating with Kim Jong-Il? Not acceptable… until President Bush did it last week.

With Fidel Castro? Acceptable in 2000, not 2008.

With terrorists? Appropriate when Colin Powell went to Syria and in 2006 when McCain said, “sooner or later we’ll talk to Hamas,” but not appropriate now.

Unilateral action against suspected terrorists in Pakistan? “Confused leadership” when Obama suggested it, but not when Bush did it.

Warrantless wire taps? Six months ago, presidents had to “obey the law,” …not anymore.

Torture detainees? No way! …Except for the CIA. Hold them indefinitely? Wrong in 2003, the “right move” in 2008.

The Iraq war? “The right course” in 2004, “stay the course” 2005. Today: McCain has “always been a Rumsfeld critic.”

Tax cuts for the rich? In 2001, he “could not in good conscience” support them. Now he can.

The estate tax? 2006, “I agree with President Roosevelt” who created it and who had passed away. In 2008, “most unfair.”

This month not for privatizing Social Security, never has been. In 2004, he didn’t see how benefits will last without it.

In February, promised a balanced budget in four years. By April, make that eight years.

In May, “glad to look at” the windfall profits tax. By June, “that was Jimmy Carter’s big idea.”

In 2000, no new off shore drilling. Last month, it would take years to develop. This month, “very helpful in the short term.”

The Bush fund-raisers McCain called “coyotes,” were breaking the law in 2000. By 2006, they were co-chairing McCain fund-raisers.

Buddy Jerry Falwell, “an agent of intolerance” in 2000. [Video of McCain receiving honorary degree from Falwell in 2006.] The Reverend Hagee in, then out, this year alone.

In 1983, opposed Martin Luther King Day. Today, not as much.

In 1986, opposed South African divestment. This month praised it.

And in 2000, defended South Carolina’s confederate flag as “a symbol of heritage.” Two years later, McCain calling it, quote, “an act of political cowardice” not to say the flag should come down. Quote, “Everybody said, look out. You can’t win in South Carolina if you say that.”

McCain’s campaign says his positions… “evolve.”

Ironically, in 2005, McCain said alternatives to evolution should be taught in school… “evolving” the opposite position he had taken in 2000.

Politics27 Aug 2007 09:11 am

No, the rumors aren’t true. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales did not resign to take over management of Michael Vick’s kennel business. Yes, it would help Mr. Gonzales improve his image. But things never work out that neatly…

Politics13 Apr 2007 02:40 pm

Eight US Attorneys were fired by the Bush Administration because they weren’t towing the partisan line. When will the media start asking about the 85 who weren’t fired? What have they been doing?

News & Culture & Politics31 Jan 2007 04:59 pm

While driving home just now, I heard Rachel Maddow say that Molly Ivins passed away. I’d heard recently that her breast cancer had come back after several years in apparent remission.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve encouraged someone to read Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?, I’d be a rich man. Then again, we’re all the richer for having had her brighten our lives with her poignant, hilarious, and prescient commentary.

Regular readers of this blog will note that I’ve quoted her a few times. Her insights into Texas politics are essential reading for anybody serious about understanding electoral politics in America. Forget deToqueville, Ivins is your Rosetta Stone to understanding America’s chronic political ills. ;)

Do yourself a favor, go buy these (among her other books…):
Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?You Got to Dance with Them What Brung YouShrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. BushWho Let the Dogs In? Incredible Political Animals I Have Known

Rest in peace, Molly…

Politics & Religion11 Dec 2006 05:15 am

This past week I heard an interesting interview on The Al Franken Show, with Brooke Allen, author of Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers. She is a historian who was tired of hearing Christian conservatives talking about how America is a “Christian Nation.” Her research shows that our Founding Fathers were pretty vehemently against any role for organized religion in our civic life.

More than a few politicians and conservative religious figures have offered statements to the effect that there really is no “wall of separation between church and state” in the Constitution, and even if you can interpret the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment as such, it really wasn’t the intent of the Founders to create such a wall.

Professor Allen dug up a fascinating quote from Thomas Jefferson in a letter he wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association on January 1, 1802:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

I tend to think that Jefferson knew a thing or two about what the Founders really meant. So when you hear someone say that the separation between church and state is the construction of “activist judges,” you can be assured they’re full of it.

News & Culture & Politics07 Sep 2006 10:07 am

After reading the current controversy about the ABC “docu-drama” The Path to 9/11, it’s pretty clear that the wholesale story line fabrications, extensive right-wing connections of the producers, and the propaganda-laced Student Study Guides are what pass for masturbation fodder for Bush Administration loyalists.

So, today I had an idea for a docu-drama: the story opens with Robert Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Co., snorting cocaine off the belly of an underage Thai hooker. He has a flashback to a drug-fueled orgy he had with George W. Bush in the 1970s in which he learned the finer points of snorting cocaine off hookers’ bellies. He is roused from his stupor by the insistent clatter of a unicorn banging its horn against the door jamb of his hotel room, reminding him he’s late for his meeting to discuss some script notes about Pirates of the Caribbean III.

I think it’s a winner. It’s quite fanciful, but by throwing in one true story element — George W. Bush’s coke habit — the rest of the “docu-drama” can be just as easily passed off as reality, much as ABC hopes to do with The Path to 9/11.

Before you send me hate mail, I realize how absurd my story premise is. Iger would never involve himself in script decisions… he has people to do that for him.

Politics & Privacy22 Aug 2006 06:19 pm

Here are tonight’s news items that I’ll be talking about on when I join my friend, David Lawrence, for my weekly segment on his radio show, The David Lawrence Show:

My Column at eSecurity Planet on the AOL Search Data Fiasco

Three Leave AOL Over Search Data Debacle

AOL Looking for Gold in Spam Case

Internet Privacy Group Files Complaint Against AOL

NHTSA Urges Disclosing Car ‘Black Boxes’

Privacy groups slam use of CIA-backed Software

Law & Politics & Privacy17 Aug 2006 01:32 pm

An article at Findlaw.com discusses today’s news: a federal judge in Michigan has ruled that the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and violates numerous federal laws.

Today’s decision is a powerful and sweeping indictment of the Bush Administration’s practice of ignoring laws and the Constitution when it doesn’t suit their vision of what presidential power is. The decision of the judge focuses on the fact that there are laws governing how to get wiretaps, and the Bush Administration has brazenly and willfully ignored them.

The judge also rejected the administration’s claim that the case should be thrown out because it involves “state secrets.” In rejecting that claim, the judge pointed out that she didn’t need to see a single secret thing to review whether they’d followed applicable laws and constitutional processes.

Attorney General and torture memo guy, Alberto Gonzales, said in a press conference today that he had documents in his office safe that would show why the warrantless wiretapping is both necessary and legal. As my friend and old law school prof Jonathan Turley said tonight on Countdown: “Unless he’s got a federal authorizing statute in that safe, it’s irrelevant.”

Here are some juicy quotes from the decision, as reported by CNN.com :

The defendants “are permanently enjoined from directly or indirectly utilizing the Terrorist Surveillance Program in any way, including, but not limited to, conducting warrantless wiretaps of telephone and Internet communications, in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Title III,” she wrote.

She declared that the program “violates the separation of powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III.”

Her ruling went on to say that “the president of the United States … has undisputedly violated the Fourth in failing to procure judicial orders.”

The decision can be read here.

Of course the Bush Administration is appealing the decision.

News & Culture & Politics15 May 2006 10:24 am

Democrats have had an easy refuge for the last seven years. Whenever the Bush crime family would pull another trick out of its collective black hat, Democrats could recede into the escapist cocoon that was The West Wing.

Reveling in the glory days of the Bartlet Administration provided a comforting fiction: a world in which the President of the United States was intelligent, engaged, and wrestled with the moral and philosophical questions about what was in the best interests of liberty and justice instead of partisanship and cronyism. It was a world in which the White House staff worried about the appearance of impropriety and chided the media for not focusing on the bigger issues.

While The West Wing suffered in its final years from the departure of its creator Aaron Sorkin — a loss that manifested itself in lousy writing that lurched from one improbable uber-dramatic disaster to another, instead of on real interpersonal drama and Machiavellian political theatre — the last season returned to some of the original themes of conscientious public servants earnestly trying to do what was right, and what was right for America.

Now that The West Wing is gone and Jed and Abby are back in New Hampshire, Democrats who want to see a competent president in the White House will have to get busy and work on putting one in there as soon as practicable. Unfortunately, the criminality of the current regime suggests that we could have that opportunity sooner rather than later. Of course that would depend upon having clueful Democratic leadership to retake Congress (Note to Howard Dean: Do what Rahm Emmanuel asks and spend the money wisely instead of trying to win state legislature races in places like South Dakota or there are plenty of us Democrats who will make sure that you’ll be hardpressed to find a job delivering campaign flyers), and a Democratic Speaker of the House who didn’t promise not to bring impeachment proceedings before the full extent of the crimes were known.

I’m going to miss The West Wing, but at least I have the The West Wing – The Complete First Six Seasons on DVD.

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