In the wake of the brutal crackdown by the monarchy of Bahrain on the largely peaceful protest movement this winter and spring, the United States needs to decouple from the small Gulf kingdom. Although the kingdom is lifting its state of emergency, distrust and tension remain high between the Shiite majority and the dominant Sunni [...]
TOOK THE INSTA-WIFE TO THE E.R. TONIGHT, but everything turned out okay. She’s recovering nicely from the surgery, she just had some aftereffects from the anesthetic.
HEH: Flashback: Guess who officiated at Weiners wedding?
SO GO TO BED ALREADY: A good night’s sleep isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.
The annual 2011 Values and Beliefs carried out by the Gallup organization each May found this year that the moral issue which divides Americans the mostthat is, the most evenlyis doctor-assisted suicide. Of the 1018 respondents in the survey, 45 percent said such suicides are morally acceptable, while 48 percent said they aren't.
On only two other issuesabortion and having a child out of wedlockwas the division less than 14 points. Fifty-one percent of Americans said abortion is morally unacceptable, with 39 percent saying the opposite; 54 percent said having a baby outside of marriage is morally acceptable, with 41 percent saying it's not.
There were sharp differences based on voter affiliation with predictable results:
Sex between unmarried couples, including gay and lesbian couples, gambling, the death penalty, research on stem cells acquired from human embryos, and wearing clothing made of animal fur all got a thumbs up from a majority of respondents. Here's the whole list:
At Daily Kos on this date in 2003:
In one of the most spectacular leaks in my sentient lifetime, a "secret transcript" reveals that Powell and Jack Straw knew the case against Iraq was bogus:Mr Powell shared the concern about intelligence assessments, especially those being presented by the Pentagon's office of special plans set up by the US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz.
Mr Powell said he had all but "moved in" with US intelligence to prepare his briefings for the UN security council, according to the transcripts.
But he told Mr Straw he had come away from the meetings "apprehensive" about what he called, at best, circumstantial evidence highly tilted in favour of assessments drawn from them, rather than any actual raw intelligence.
Mr Powell told the foreign secretary he hoped the facts, when they came out, would not "explode in their faces".
WELCOME TO the Lloyd Dobler economy.
FATHER’S DAY GIFTS in Tools & Home Improvement.
CHANGE: Mickey Kaus: “The MSM does not seem to be buying Weiners line.” Related: Worst press conference ever? “People who had previously doubted Weiners guilt are, Im sure, now beginning to doubt his innocence. And after a politician famous for his media savvy has such a spectacular meltdown on camera, its hard [...]
YOU’RE TOO PRETTY FOR MATH. Funny, nobody ever told me that. What’s the male equivalent? “You know, you don’t act like a scientist. You’re more like a game show host.”
FOR TRUMP AND PALIN, a Pizza Summit. Mmm. Pizza.
The White House has developed a "secret law," an interpretation of the PATRIOT Act, that has several Democratic Senators up in arms. Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) were as explicit as they could be, given that their knowledge of the program came from their classified work in the Intelligence Committee, in the debate over the PATRIOT Act extension last week.
Udall, who supports the act generally and has voted for previous short-term extensions, said he could not vote to extend the act again as it stands. He told reporters that leadership has time and again put off calls for reform by suggesting that concerns would be addressed later, when the bill came up for longer-term extension
Udall said that given the act passed a decade ago and in light of the fact that this week’s vote would extend the most controversial provisions for years, now was the time for real debate and reform. The three provisions targeted for reform by Udall and others were set to expire Friday.
Udall was joined in his arguments by Ron Wyden from Oregon, also a member of the Intelligence Committee. In making his point, Wyden threw more light on why he and Udall and others were mounting such a strong case for reform now.
Wyden said that the executive branch had developed a legal theory unknown to the public that outlined what kind of information it could collect under at least one of the provisions the lawmakers were opposing. He said that the executive branch reading amounted to “secret law” that didn’t jibe with a straightforward reading of the text of the legislation.
"I want to deliver a warning this afternoon,” Wyden said. “When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry."
Udall had three amendments which were not considered, as Reid pushed the extension through without allowing amendments. They would have required the FBI show a terrorism link when getting court permission to access credit card, phone, or other records about individuals from businesses; eliminated "roving" wiretaps that don't identify the person or phone targeted; and required law enforcement to notify Congress before beginning surveillance on individuals who are not connected with terrorist organizations or a foreign government, the so-called "lone wolf" domestic suspects.
The extension of the PATRIOT Act won't be the end, apparently, of Senate action on the "secret law" the administration is using to conduct surveillance that Wyden and Udall warn is not supported by the PATRIOT Act. That's demonstrated by a colloquy on the Senate floor engaged by Wyden, Udall and Diane Feinsten detailed here by Marcy Wheeler. The colloquy followed a meeting the night before which also included Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Underneath all the Senate "blather," there are strong indications that Wyden and Udall will force the government to admit how it's suveilling Americans, or comply with existing law.
Make no mistake, not only did Wyden get this colloquy in the Senate record, but there appear to have been several threats hiding behind the Senate blather. DiFi has said she thinks the way to fix a secret law is to change it in a secret committee meeting. But Wyden et al have made it clear that if she doesnt agree to fix it in her secret committee meeting, he will try to do so on the Senate floor.
And consider the role of Merkley here. He was at the meeting on Wednesday night, the only person present who is not a member of the Intelligence Committee (and who therefore did not attend the February 2 briefing that got Wyden all fired up about this). In his presence, the concerns about the program were discussed with some specificity (per DiFis description). As Wyden describes, Merkley was not only present at the meeting, but proved he knows an incredible amount about the problem. As part of the whole colloquy, Merkley suggests this problem is akin to letting the King enter your house, precisely what the Fourth Amendment was written to prevent.
This is a key part of the threat, I suspect. Unlike Wyden and Udall, who learned of this problem via classified briefings, Merkley appears to have figured it out on his own. Which means he can speak openly about it if there is a full Senate debate about it.
Now that implicit threat may all get buried under Senate blather. But it appears the message to DiFi is that if she doesnt fix this secret law in her secret committee, then there will be a public discussion about whatever crazy interpretation she is helping the Administration hide.
Merkely could make that discussion public, which is why his presence in these meetings and in the colloquy is important. We're not likely to see any investigative journalists hopping on to this story, not after the way in which the administration has gone after the New York Times Jame Risen, one of the reporters to break the initial warrantless wiretapping story during the Bush administration.
These Democratic Senators are serious and cautious lawmakers. They aren't cranks and they aren't paranoidas members of the Intelligence Committee, they've been briefed on the program that they say is not supported by the law, so they aren't making this up of whole cloth. Hopefully their efforts will either shed light on the program or by threatening to, force the administration to follow the law. A law, by the way, which is already heavily weighted on the side of government intrusion.
BECAUSE THERE’S MORE MONEY IN IT? Alternet: Why The Democratic Party Has Abandoned The Middle Class In Favor Of The Rich? Also, the rich don’t get hung up on all that tedious middle class morality stuff.
HONEY, PLEASE DON’T GO: “Just as honey has become all the buzz here in the United States, new federal data show that fans of the all-natural, medicinal nectar byproduct are about to get stung by a painful spike in prices and possible shortages. The National Honey Board reports that a pound of honey [...]
His new financial disclosure form indicates that his wife, Virginia, who served as Liberty Central's president and CEO, received $150,000 in salary from the group and less than $15,000 in payments from an anti-health care lobbying firm she started.
The disclosure was apparently prompted in part by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who had been needling Thomas (including on Twitter) for months to disclose how much money his wife earned from Liberty Central. That's because challenges to Obama's health care reform law are likely to end up before the Supreme Court sooner rather than later, and if Thomas and his wife benefited from her income working against the bill, the justice has an enormous conflict of interest in hearing any legal challenge. Thomas had failed to disclose Virginia's income on his financial disclosure forms for 20 years; under pressure from Weiner and others, he had recently amended old disclosures to reflect hundreds of thousands of dollars she had earned working for the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank that also opposed Obama's health care plan.
(Gee, I wonder why Rep. Anthony Weiner would be the target of right-wing hackers in a smear campaign over the weekend?)
But, up until now, Thomas had not revealed how much money his wife made from her controversial Liberty Central work. When Virginia Thomas decided to take a high-profile role in the organization, she was immediately criticized because of the potential that her job might compromise her husband's independence on the bench. Eventually, she was forced to step down (a move also apparently prompted by her bizarre October phone call to Anita Hill, the woman who'd accused her husband of sexual harassment during his confirmation hearing). When she left the organization, she created a new consulting firm, Liberty Consulting, which also did anti-health care reform lobbying.
Thomas has already indicated that he has no intention of recusing himself from this case (as has Justice Elana Kagan, who served as Solicitor General in the Obama administration when the law was passed), but this disclosure will intensify calls from defenders of the law for Thomas to bow out. Rep. Weiner has already circulated a letter among Democratic colleagues, netting dozens of signatures, asking Thomas to recuse himself.
Which means basically one thing: more right-wing efforts to smear Weiner.