Using Bees To Effect Vengeance
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Bush 2004-2005: "[A] wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed."
Lots of recent quotes from the President that 1) mislead or flat out lie about the extent to which the Administration was required to get permission to wiretap and 2) nevertheless betray an understanding of the clear Constitutional requirement to use FISA or some other mechanism for receiving judicial approval.
Monday, December 19, 2005
The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution:
Fourth Amendment - Search and Seizure
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
You don't get to ignore the Constitution just because there's a "threat". Congress can't authorize you to do it. You can't do it on your own authority, or because in your opinion the end justifies the means. You can't do it. It's unconstitutional. It's illegal. It's grounds for impeachment.
What distinguishes democracies from un-free states is the idea that no man is above the law. Bush has arrogated to himself the power to ignore the United States Constitution -- the document he swore to uphold. He has placed himself above the law. As a result, I am unable to identify what distinguishes us from these unfree states. Like those countries, many of whom we've deigned to show the way towards freedom, we now have to fight to make ourselves free again. Our elected representatives need to hold the Administration's feet to the fire on this, and we in turn need to hold theirs.
I am dissatisfied with the Democratic response to this issue. The fact that Bush already had a substantively equivalent wiretapping option in FISA, while galling, is neither here nor there -- the point is that he knowingly ignored the Constitution. Period. The fact that they "informed" 8 Congressmen who were not allowed to mention the information to their staffs or lawyers is, similarly, beside the point -- Congress cannot authorize unconstitutional actions either. (It was however a very shrewd move that allowed the Administration to drag Congress into the cesspool with them while still avoiding any actual accountability or oversight -- Rockefeller etc. were implicated by virtue of being informed, and thus omerta came into play).
I feel the same way as I did during Iran-Contra, when the Congress explicitly rejected aid to the Contras, and the Reagan administration proceeded to aid the Contras anyway. It erases the concept of checks and balances between governmental branches, and expresses contempt for the rule of law. If it is allowed to stand, it mocks our entire system of government -- anything less than an immediate, profoundly outraged response implcitly condones the behavior and raises the risks for us all.
The irony of this coup being perpetrated by the standard-bearer for the spread of American-style democracy throughout the unfree world is too bitter for me to digest this evening.
The American Civil Liberties Union has fought for the preservation of American civil liberties -- speech, religion, privacy -- since 1920, and they continue that fight today.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Big) Worldwide has a full soundboard recording of Wilco's Montreal show from this summer available for downloading in MP3 format. Sounds great so far.
Check the sidebar on that page for more interesting shows to download....
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Will life in New York ever be the same? Now that there's a badass interactive subway map of New York, all those conversations about the best way to get from A to B on the MTA will be rendered moot. Nicely done.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The last week has been trying at Chez Bees. You may have read a little something about it elsewhere on the Intarweb.
The heretofore undocumented capper was on Sunday afternoon, when my wife and I heard an unnatural sound -- like a thunderclap -- outside our window. I ran out onto the street and saw a Ford Escape tipped on its side in front of the house opposite ours. It had hit a tree in our neighbors' yard and flipped. I told my wife to call 911 and looked in the windshield to see how many people were in there. I saw a white-haired man on his side against the drivers-side window; I yelled at him that I was going to try to get him out, and then started pulling on the back hatch. It wouldn't turn, and nor would the back window open up. I couldn't reach the passenger door to unlock it, as the Escape is such an enormous vehicle that that door-handle was a good 7ft in the air. The drivers-side door was crushed against the ground, the driver-side window smashed, and glass strewn on the ground.
I yelled again that help was coming, and resumed trying to find a way to get him out -- focusing again on the back hatch, which seemed the safest option. By that point, he'd somehow managed to crawl to the dashboard and press the hatch-unlock button, as I then had no trouble popping the door open. I then said to him "It's open, come on", and he turned himself around and I helped him out. By the time he stood up and brushed himself off, a cop car had pulled into the street, quickly followed by another.
The driver, a 59 year old lawyer, been looking at the For Sale sign in front of the house next door, and wasn't paying attention -- resulting in his SUV smashing into a 300+-year old oak and immediately flipping onto its side. He was almost entirely unscathed -- a small cut on his hand was the only evidence he'd been in an accident. The tree was similarly unruffled. It wasn't long before the neighbors had ventured out to see what was going on, the cops had taken their notes and left, and the wrecker was hooking the chains up to remove the car. The neighbor whose tree it was said she'd been vacuuming and didn't hear a thing. We then went off on our previously-scheduled errand to pick up some medical records, shaking our heads and wondering what else could possibly be in store for this week.
One thing that made the week more bearable was Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's new podcast. The first 20 minutes of Episode 1 in particular left me paralytic with laughter. I highly recommend it -- they're posting a new half-hour MP3 each week. You will also be introduced to the genius that is Karl Pilkington. If the bit about the monkey being shot into space doesn't leave you doubled-over, then...then....feh, I give up.