The LuLac Edition #72, Oct. 23, 2006
PICTURE INDEX: President Richard M. (My God look at what this guy is doing to undermine the Constitution, how come they're not running him out of town like they did to me!) Nixon, Senator and 2004 Presidential Democratic nominee John Kerry, and MSNBC commentator Keith Oberman.
LEONARDI IN SUNDAY DISPATCH
Joe Leonardi, candidate for 11th district Congressman had a great interview in the Pittston Sunday Dispatch. The interview shows just how good a candidate Leonardi is. Too bad he is getting no help from any GOP organization. How difficult would it have been for someone to give President Bush a quick line to tell people to support Leonardi in a neighboring district! I find it ironic that the GOP, having a squeaky clean candidate in Leonardi are not giving him a dime while they are pouring millions into Don Sherwood's effort. Leonardi is articulate, on point with his themes, energetic and battling while Sherwood is tattered, battered and scattered in his message. If Leonardi gets elected, and it’s a longshot, but if he does, he will truly be independent. That would be a wonderful thing to see.
OBERMAN COMMENTS ON HABEUS CORPUS
Keith Oberman, host of MSNBC’s Countdown gave a moving, gifted commentary last week on his show regarding the loss of Habeus Corpus and the ramifications it has on our freedom. Up until this point in our history, the most reviled President was Richard Nixon for attempting to stifle personal liberty in this country with the Watergate affair. This President and his actions are making Nixon look like a Constitutional freedom fighter and scholar!
And lastly as promised, a special comment tonight on the signing of the Military Commissions Act and the loss of habeas corpus.
We have lived as if in a trance.
We have lived as people in fear.
And now, our rights and our freedoms in peril, we slowly awake to learn that we have been afraid of the wrong thing.
Therefore, tonight have we truly become the inheritors of our American legacy.
For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering: A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.
We have been here before and we have been here before led here by men better and wiser and nobler than George W. Bush.
We have been here when President John Adams insisted that the Alien and Sedition Acts were necessary to save American lives, only to watch him use those acts to jail newspaper editors.
American newspaper editors, in American jails, for things they wrote about America.
We have been here when President Woodrow Wilson insisted that the Espionage Act was necessary to save American lives, only to watch him use that Act to prosecute 2,000 Americans, especially those he disparaged as “Hyphenated Americans,” most of whom were guilty only of advocating peace in a time of war.
American public speakers, in American jails, for things they said about America.
And we have been here when President Franklin D. Roosevelt insisted that Executive Order 9066 was necessary to save American lives, only to watch him use that order to imprison and pauperize 110,000 Americans while his man in charge, General DeWitt, told Congress: “It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still a Japanese.”
American citizens, in American camps, for something they neither wrote nor said nor did, but for the choices they or their ancestors had made about coming to America.
Each of these actions was undertaken for the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons. And each was a betrayal of that for which the president who advocated them claimed to be fighting.
Adams and his party were swept from office, and the Alien and Sedition Acts erased.
Many of the very people Wilson silenced survived him, and one of them even ran to succeed him, and got 900,000 votes, though his presidential campaign was conducted entirely from his jail cell.
And Roosevelt‘s internment of the Japanese was not merely the worst blight on his record, but it would necessitate a formal apology from the government of the United States to the citizens of the United States whose lives it ruined.
The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons. In times of fright, we have been only human. We have let Roosevelt‘s “fear of fear itself” overtake us.
We have listened to the little voice inside that has said, “the wolf is at the door; this will be temporary; this will be precise; this too shall pass.”
We have accepted that the only way to stop the terrorists is to let the government become just a little bit like the terrorists. Just the way we once accepted that the only way to stop the Soviets was to let the government become just a little bit like the Soviets.
Or substitute the Japanese.
Or the Germans.
Or the Socialists.
Or the Anarchists.
Or the Immigrants.
Or the British.
Or the Aliens.
The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.
And, always, always wrong.
“With the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?”
And ironic ones, Mr. Bush, your own, of course, yesterday, in signing the Military Commissions Act. You spoke so much more than you know, Sir.
Sadly, of course, the distance of history will recognize that the threat this generation of Americans needed to take seriously was you.
We have a long and painful history of ignoring the prophecy attributed to Benjamin Franklin that “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
But even within this history we have not before codified the poisoning of habeas corpus, that wellspring of protection from which all essential liberties flow.
You, sir, have now befouled that spring.
You, sir, have now given us chaos and called it order.
You, sir, have now imposed subjugation and called it freedom.
For the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.
And again, Mr. Bush, all of them, wrong.
We have handed a blank check, drawn against our freedom, to a man who has said it is unacceptable to compare anything this country has ever done to anything the terrorists have ever done.
We have handed a blank check, drawn against our freedom, to a man who has insisted again that “the United States does not torture. It‘s against our laws and it‘s against our values” and who has said it with a straight face while the pictures from Abu Ghraib Prison and the stories of Waterboarding figuratively fade in and out, around him.
We have handed a blank, check drawn against our freedom, to a man who may now, if he so decides, declare not merely any non-American citizens “unlawful enemy combatants” and ship them somewhere, anywhere, but may now, if he so decides, declare you an “unlawful enemy combatant” and ship you somewhere, anywhere.
And if you think this hyperbole or hysteria, ask the newspaper editors when John Adams was president or the pacifists when Woodrow Wilson was president or the Japanese at Manzanar when Franklin Roosevelt was president.
And if you somehow think habeas corpus has not been suspended for American citizens but only for everybody else, ask yourself this: If you are pulled off the street tomorrow, and they call you an alien or an undocumented immigrant or an “unlawful enemy combatant,” exactly how are you going to convince them to give you a court hearing to prove you are not? Do you think this attorney general is going to help you?
This President now has his blank check.
He lied to get it.
He lied as he received it.
Is there any reason to even hope he has not lied about how he intends to use it nor who he intends to use it against?
“These military commissions will provide a fair trial,” you told us yesterday, Mr. Bush, “in which the accused are presumed innocent, have access to an attorney and can hear all the evidence against them.”
“Presumed innocent,” Mr. Bush?
The very piece of paper you signed as you said that, allows for the detainees to be abused up to the point just before they sustain “serious mental and physical trauma” in the hope of getting them to incriminate themselves, and may no longer even invoke the Geneva Conventions in their own defense.
“Access to an attorney,” Mr. Bush?
Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift said on this program, Sir, and to the Supreme Court, that he was only granted access to his detainee defendant on the promise that the detainee would plead guilty.
“Hearing all the evidence,” Mr. Bush?
The Military Commissions Act specifically permits the introduction of classified evidence not made available to the defense.
Your words are lies, Sir.
They are lies that imperil us all.
“One of the terrorists believed to have planned the 9/11 attacks,” you told us yesterday, “said he hoped the attacks would be the beginning of the end of America.”
That terrorist, sir, could only hope.
Not his actions, nor the actions of a ceaseless line of terrorists, real or imagined, could measure up to what you have wrought.
Habeas corpus? Gone.
The Geneva Conventions? Optional.
The moral force we shined outwards to the world as an eternal beacon, and inwards at ourselves as an eternal protection? Snuffed out.
These things you have done, Mr. Bush, they would be “the beginning of the end of America.”
And did it even occur to you once, sir, somewhere in amidst those eight separate, gruesome, intentional, terroristic invocations yesterday of the horrors of 9/11 -- that with only a little further shift in this world we now know, just a touch more repudiation of all of that for which our patriots died—did it ever occur to you once that in just 27 months and two days from now when you leave office, some irresponsible future president and a “competent tribunal” of lackeys would be entitled, by the actions of your own hand, to declare the status of “unlawful enemy combatant” for—and convene a Military Commission to try—not John Walker Lindh, but George Walker Bush?
For the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.
And doubtless, Sir, all of them, as always, wrong.
Joe Scarborough is next. Goodnight and good luck.
KERRY ON FIRE
Senator John Kerry is articulating his own policy about the war in Iraq and this time around, he is not pulling any punches. Evidence his interview this Sunday on ABC’s This Week. There is no doubt that Kerry is running in 2008 and will be doing it with a vengeance.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard the president. He said the Democrats like you who want a fixed timetable for withdrawal from Iraq are waving the white flag of surrender on the war on terror.
KERRY: That's reprehensible. It's a lie. The administration has lied in the walkup to the war. They've lied in the conduct of the war. And they have made America less safe. And the president just misled America again in that interview. I heard him talk about Al Qaida disrupting Iraq. Al Qaida is not the problem in Iraq, Mr. President.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They are there. There are Al Qaida elements in Iraq.
KERRY: There are a few Al Qaida element there. But the CIA will tell you they're somewhere in the very little numbers. Not a consequence of what's happening. The violence in Iraq today, George, which the president ought to understand and talk to America about, not mislead them, is between Shia and Sunni. This is a civil war.
Donald Rumsfeld said our soldiers will not be caught in civil war. George Bush said we will not tolerate North Korea have a nuclear weapon. Both are happening. And they're just sitting there with the same old, same old.
This administration doesn't have a policy. Their policy is stay to course. The president said again, he misled America there.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have...
KERRY: He said we won't stay the course. He's said we'll stay the course again and again and again.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You do have...
KERRY: You have to set a date because it's the only way to get Iraqis to respond. And a year from now...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's what I want to ask you about. That's what I want to ask you.
KERRY: Sure. Definitely.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What if they don't respond?
KERRY: Well, you get there, George. But the date is not a date in a vacuum. I mean, I'm not stupid. I don't think that people are sitting here saying how do we find a greater disaster out of an already existing disaster. We need to find a way to be successful. And what the president's doing is not successful. And the president keeps misleading America and the world about it. And therefore, he loses the credibility to be able to go in and do the diplomacy necessary.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But what's your plan B? Let's say you start to pull out...
KERRY: Let me tell you what plan A, because plan A can work. It's the only way to do this. I mean, just the other day, the president committed an enormous blunder. He has a conversation with Mr. Maliki, prime minister. And he comes out and he brags to everybody publicly, what I told him was, he doesn't have to worry, Americans are going to stay there. Well, every time you say to them Americans are going to stay there, you don't have to worry, and you know, we'll stay as long as it takes...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he did say in this interview that his patience won't last forever.
KERRY: Well, I think you have to be more blunt. I think you have to say, no young American is going to die and give their life or limb for Iraqi politicians who refuse to compromise. They have to want democracy for themselves as much as we want it for them.
And if you read "State of Denial," which the president ought to read, because it would tell him something about his own administration and what's happening that he obviously doesn't know, if you read "State of Denial," Newt Gingrich sat down with Paul Wolfowitz and they discussed how dates were essential to making something happen.
KERRY: If it was essential for an election, it's essential for the transfer of power.
Also, the date is not in a vacuum. The date is linked to a major summit, where you bring the parties together, particularly the neighbors who are Sunni, who have an interest in the 20 percent Sunni population of Iraq not being oppressed by the Shia. And you involve everybody, as General Anthony Zinni suggests in a new security...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're talking about Saudi Arabia. You're talking about Egypt, I presume.
KERRY: I'm talking about Jordan.
KERRY: I'm talking about the Gulf states.
KERRY: I'm talking about Syria and...
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's what I want to ask. What interest do they have in a stable, pro-U.S. Iraq?
KERRY: It's not a question of pro-U.S. I think, after what's happened there, this is not going to be a question of pro-U.S. It's going to be pro-Iraq. It's going to be pro-Middle East.
And what we need to recognize is that the president's policies have really disrupted America's ability to have the kind of impact -- we've been set back years in the Middle East because of the president's policy.
And you don't have a real policy. I mean, you have Jim Baker saying, maybe we're going to change. Then you have the vice president coming out and saying things are going remarkably well in Iraq.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He actually said, in Time magazine today, "We're looking for victory."
Do you think victory is possible?
KERRY: It has to be completely redefined, what it's going to be. And then you have John McCain, of all people, saying what you got to do is put 100,000 more troops in, which is a fantasy, when you look at the fact that, in the last few days, they put more troops in, 15,000. They brought more troops from Kuwait. They concentrated the troops in Baghdad, and they have failed miserably.
Our own generals tell us the solution in Iraq is not military. If it's not military, don't talk, as John McCain does, about putting more troops in. Talk about how you resolve the political and diplomatic dilemma and sectarian dilemma between Shia and Sunni and the region.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They also say that pulling out those troops, the threat of pulling out those troops, right now, is going to create chaos.
KERRY: A year from now? That's not an abandonment. Are you telling me that, a year from now, after all this administration has said about standing up and, while they stand up, we'll stand down -- that was a lie.
They said, as they stand up, we'll stand down. Well, we're now at about 320,000 troops trained. That's not going to make the difference. Either they resolve the political differences within this year because they want to, or they don't want to.
If they don't want to, there's nothing American troops can do. If they do resolve it, so much the better, and our troops can withdraw.
Setting a date for a year from now is not waving a flag of surrender. And I resent the president of the United States suggesting that. It is, in fact, the best way to protect our troops.
It's the best way to solve the problem. It's the best way to regain our moral authority in the region. It's the best way to be successful. It's the best way to protect America's security.
And this administration has set America's security back in North Korea; set it back in Iran. Iran is delighted with what's happening in Iraq.
They've set us back in Iraq itself. They've set back the Middle East peace process. We can't do anything in Darfur. And they're the only nation in the world that denies global climate change. Let's debate security, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Some are suggesting that the White House actually is thinking about a radical change in strategy, but they're going to wait until after the elections.
KERRY: Well, there you go. That's a really beautiful thing. While young Americans are on the line and their lives...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think that's happening?
KERRY: I think it's immoral to have the lives of young Americans being put on the line, waiting for an election day event or strategy. If you've got a better strategy, Mr. President, we deserve to have it now.
And the fact is that, for 3 1/2 years, we've been sitting here with a strategy that many of us have said, again and again and again, will not work. It will not work. Our own generals have said there's no military solution. What are we doing?
We're pursuing the same old, same old. And the president, contrary to what he said in the interview, has said again and again, we're going to stay the course. And he keeps playing this demagogue card that somehow it's a white flag of surrender, in the United States of America, to suggest the way to actually get the job done.
We don't have to sit around and be bullied by a bunch of people who have misled America, lied to America and, in fact, have made America less safe. And I'm not going to stand for it.
Many people have said that if Kerry showed this much passion in the 2004 race, there might have been a different outcome in the state of Ohio which would have changed the course of the history and the Presidency.
SIGNS, SIGNS, EVERYWHERE A SIGN
Campaign signs are dotting the highways and byways of Northeastern Pa. If you travel through Harvey’s Lake, you’ll see the lakeside virtually wallpapered by Karen Bobeck signs. In Kingston and Pittston, there are a plethora of Phyllis Mundy and Mike Carroll signs. No signs whatsoever for Mundy’s foe, John “MIA”Cordaro. We’re putting out a search party for him next week. Saw a sign "Republicans for Rendell" as well as a "FIRE Lynn Swann" sign which I don't understand. THe guy is holding no elective office so how can he be fired. Has to be a story behind that one!