The ACLU's case over AT&T sharing its phone records with the government got dismissed:
"The court is persuaded that requiring AT&T to confirm or deny whether it has disclosed large quantities of telephone records to the federal government could give adversaries of this country valuable insight into the government's intelligence activities," U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly said.
Any adversary of this country who can't figure out what phone records went to which agency is probably too stupid to be much of a threat, in my opinion.
I was all set to rant that Kennelly was a Bush (either flavor) or Reagan appointee, but no, he's one of ours. Still, the whole thing smells bad, not least because the judicial branch really ought to stand up to the executive, since the legislative isn't.
I don't know whether this is funny or sad. The Italian government is using the frequent-flier records of several CIA operatives to build their prosecution:
It is unclear whether the operatives intended to take advantage of the free flights garnered at government expense—CIA personnel on such assignments are permitted to fly expensive international business class—or whether they simply were attempting to bolster their covers as private-sector executives.
So keep this in mind, all you road warriors: Someday someone may track your movements based on your quest for Executive Platinum.
It's old news, but the President has frequently attached "signing statements" to bills he's signed indicating that, his signature notwithstanding, he won't enforce the law:
Bush has vetoed only one bill since taking office, a bill approved by Congress last week relaxing his limits on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. But he has on many occasions signed bills, then issued statements reserving the right not to enforce or execute parts of the new laws, on the grounds that they infringe on presidential authority or violate other constitutional provisions.
Perhaps the most prominent example was legislation last year banning cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners at U.S. detention centers. Bush signed the bill into law after a struggle with Congress, then followed it with an official statement indicating that he might waive the ban under his constitutional authority as commander in chief, if necessary to prevent a terrorist attack.
The American Bar Association says that the President can't just say "I'm not enforcing the law" without provoking a constitutional crisis:
"The president is indicating that he will not either enforce part or the entirety of congressional bills," said ABA president Michael S. Greco, a Massachusetts attorney. "We will be close to a constitutional crisis if this issue, the president's use of signing statements, is left unchecked."
The report seemed likely to fuel the controversy over signing statements, which Bush has used to challenge laws including a congressional ban on torture, a request for data on the USA Patriot Act, whistle-blower protections and the banning of U.S. troops in fighting rebels in Colombia.
"The President's constitutional duty is to enforce laws he has signed into being unless and until they are held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court or a subordinate tribunal," [the ABA] panel members wrote. "The Constitution is not what the President says it is."
(Emphasis mine.) It's a bit weaselly, isn't it? He doesn't want to veto something, but he says he simply won't enforce it, which is almost a veto. I'm reminded of President Jackson, after the Supreme Court ordered him not to forcibly move the Cherokee from Georgia, "The Chief Justice has made his decision, now let him enforce it." Not good.
This will interest just about no one but those people who, out of blind love for me, set braverman.org as their home page. I've made a minor change to it, adding my biking stats. To save you the click-through, here they are:
||2005 Sep 18|
||2006 Jul 21|
||2005 Jul 2|
|1 hour (km)
||2004 Aug 13|
||2003 Jul 22|
||2005 Oct 4|
|Convert km to miles |
||July 21, 20.0 km|
Oh, and a friend pointed out that today is Senator Paul Wellstone's birthday. He would have been 62.
A long-awaited report concludes that Chicago police tortured and brutalized suspects for decades, but the huge issue consuming the city council is: fat.
It's like the U.S. Congress writ small.
"If we don't do anything about this, it could be our next pandemic," [48th Ward Alderman Eugene] Schulter said, referring to widespread obesity. "No question about it, [fast-food chains] are causing a major health problem."
(Heh. "Widespread" obesity. Heh.)
Seriously, though: perhaps the obesity, um, pandemic might have to do with, um, over-eating? I don't blame fast-food restaurants for my girth, mainly because I choose not to eat in them. Which, by the way, probably helped me avoid girth in the first place.
On the other hand, I do blame the police for kicking the snot out of suspects in a dirty, windowless south-side interrogation room. Maybe the alderman should beef about that instead.
More on the fight being more important than the win: a Congressional report today found that 20 out of 23 federally-funded pregnancy information centers lied about the risks of abortion. I found this bit interesting:
[Molly Ford, a] spokeswoman for one of the two large networks of pregnancy resource centers, Sterling-based Care Net, said that the report is "a routine attack on us that's nothing new."
No, Molly, it's nothing new. Your side have lied about abortion since the 1870s, and we keep defending the truth. You can't win on facts so you fight on emotion.
That's the pro-life strategy. And they won't stop fighting, ever, because somewhere in the U.S. abortion will always be safe and legal, even if only in a few New England and upper-Midwest states.
The pro-choice side, on the other hand, just wants to be left alone. That's our entire platform: leave us alone. Yet still they attack, incessantly, and because the supposed object of their fight can't be achieved by political means, they will always fight. They live to fight. We live for peace.
I wonder why the right is so angry?
First, I'd like to gloat that Anne and I had dinner last night at Charlie Trotter's, to celebrate our anniversary. Wow. I mean, wow. We've decided to save up to go again, which we hope we can do before our children graduate college.
Now back to the program.
Frank Rich (sub.req.) today reminds us that, despite the new story making the rounds about how the Administration (919 days, 3 hours) is trying a new foreign policy, the fact remains the Administration does not have now and has never had a foreign policy of any kind:
The only flaw in this narrative—a big one—is that it understates the administration’s failure by assuming that President Bush actually had a grand, if misguided, vision in the first place. Would that this were so. But in truth this presidency never had a vision for the world. It instead had an idée fixe about one country, Iraq, and in pursuit of that obsession recklessly harnessed American power to gut-driven improvisation and P.R. strategies, not doctrine. This has not changed, even now.
And yesterday, Josh Marshall summed up the differences between Republicans and Democrats:
Democrats seem to have a highly evolved (and perhaps misplaced) sense of sportsmanship: magnanimous in victory; chastened in defeat. Whereas Dems will rise to a political fight when they deem circumstances warrant, Republicans consider politics nothing but a fight, with peace the exception, not the rule.
I think this hypothesis has legs. We Democrats want to live in peace and not be bothered, pretty much. The Republicans claim the same things, but to them, the fight is never done. Even if they got everything they wanted, they'd still fight, because that, more than the things they're fighting for, is more important.
Fortunately, I think most people just want to be left alone, which is why the Republican strategy always over-reaches.
Finally, I'd like to complain that Chicago weather has taken a turn for the worse, with temperatures expected today around 37°C (99°F). This will not stop me from going to Wrigley Field this evening.
Excellent. I hope she takes them for millions, because in the immortal words of Billy Ray Valentine: "You know, it occurs to me that the best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people."
The Washington Post also has the story:
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Valerie Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador, accused Cheney, Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of revealing Plame's CIA identity in seeking revenge against Wilson for criticizing the Bush administration's motives in Iraq.
Update, 20:30 UTC: Talking Points Memo has the entire complaint online.
The President (922 days, 4 hours remaining) still has not yet appointed an Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Cyberterrorism, despite computer security problems up the ying since before the post was created:
Critics say the year-long vacancy is further evidence that the administration is no better prepared for responding to a major cyber-attack than it was for dealing with Hurricane Katrina, leaving vulnerable the information systems that support large portions of the economy, from telecommunications networks to power grids to chemical manufacturing and transportation systems.
"What this tells me is that [Chertoff] still hasn't made this a priority," said Paul Kurtz, formerly a cybersecurity adviser in the Bush administration and now a chief lobbyist for software and hardware security companies. "Having a senior person at DHS...is not going to stop a major cyber-attack on our critical infrastructures," he said, "but [it] will definitely help us develop an infrastructure that can withstand serious attacks and recover quickly."
Just to expand on the notion that computer security is a big problem right now, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has estimated that 88.9 million identity records have been compromised since Choice Point announced its security breach in February 2005. That's just in the United States, by the way.
For my part, I nominate Bruce Schneier to be our top cyber-security official. I wonder if he'd even take the job, given its total lack of administration support.