Cheney is back with doom speech casting Democrats as danger to security
By Peter Baker
Oct 8, 2006

MILWAUKEE – Vice President Cheney sometimes starts speeches with a Ronald Reagan quotation about a “happy” nation needing “hope and faith.” But not much happy talk follows. Not a lot of hope, either. He does, though, talk about the prospect of “mass death in the United States.”

The not-so-happy warrior of the past two campaign cycles is back on the road delivering a grim message about danger, defeatism and the stakes of the coming election. If it is not a joyful exercise, it is at least a relentless one. Even with poll ratings lower than President Bush’s, Cheney has become a more ubiquitous presence on the campaign trail than in the last midterm election.

He takes on not only the traditional vice presidential assignment of slicing up the opposition but also the Cassandra role of warning about dire threats to the nation’s security. While others get distracted by Capitol Hill scandal, Cheney remains focused on the terrorists, who are, as he says in his stump speech, “still lethal, still desperately trying to hit us again.” Bush, he says, is “protecting America” while the Democrats advocate “reckless” policies that add up to a “strategy of resignation and defeatism in the face of determined enemies.”

But the message is carefully targeted. More than half of Cheney’s fundraisers in this two-year cycle have been behind closed doors. Even at a lunchtime speech to Wisconsin Republican donors that was open to reporters, gubernatorial candidate Rep. Mark Green did not stand on stage, ensuring no pictures of the two together on the news, and some other Republican candidates did not attend at all.

Rallying the party faithful
That is okay with the White House, which at a perilous moment is counting on Cheney’s under-the-radar campaign to rally the base, not the broader public. “The fact that he’s willing to go after Democrats as harshly as the Democrats are going after the White House gets the party faithful going,” said GOP strategist Glen Bolger.

It happens to inflame the Democratic faithful as well, and party strategists consider him a prime target for their own pitch to voters. “When he threatens Democrats and calls them names, it’s something that really fires up our base,” said John Lapp, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s independent expenditure program.

Cheney’s fundraising visits often end up as fodder for opponents of those he tries to help. “Dick Cheney, Big Oil and Big Drug Companies Threw Curt Weldon a secret Washington thank you party,” reads a Democratic brochure targeting the Republican Pennsylvania congressman. “And we got stuck with the bill.”

The campaign comes at a pivotal moment for Cheney. His influence within the administration is widely perceived to be waning as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s star rises. The president in his second term has adopted a more diplomatic approach to problems such as Iran and North Korea than insiders believe would be to Cheney’s liking. And as the 2008 presidential sweepstakes heat up, he will be the first vice president in a generation not to be seeking a promotion, leaving him on the sidelines of the most important national discussion.

Champion of conservatives
But White House aides said it would be a mistake to underestimate Cheney even now. Although he is viewed favorably by just 34 percent of the public in the most recent Wall Street Journal-NBC poll, he remains a champion of conservatives at a time when the right has been angry at Bush over issues such as deficit spending and immigration. So Cheney’s mission is to bring home core Republican voters when they are needed most.

“He’s a good carrier of the Republican message,” said Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis, noting that a Cheney visit to Grand Rapids last month raised between $750,000 and $1 million, a record for western Michigan. “He exudes a confidence. He makes you feel good and comfortable that he’s vice president of the country.”

Cheney’s job is “a lot of volume, a lot of what we call McFundraisers,” GOP lobbyist Ed Rogers said. Cheney has headlined 111 fundraisers so far in this two-year cycle, bringing in more than $39 million and already surpassing his total of 106 events for the entire 2002 cycle. Cheney is also regularly dispatched to conservative radio shows hosted by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. He takes the shots the White House does not want Bush to take or wants to test out first. When Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) was defeated by antiwar challenger Ned Lamont in a primary, Cheney called reporters to say the result would encourage “al-Qaeda types” who want “to break the will of the American people.”

Out here on the hustings, Cheney does not come across as the most natural campaigner. A Cheney speech does not draw its audience to its feet. It plods through an argument that is more sobering than inspiring. He delivers even red-meat lines in a flat monotone, sounding more like a chief executive reporting to shareholders than a politician issuing a call to action.

The vice president, though, goes after Democrats by name in a way Bush rarely does, including Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.) and party Chairman Howard Dean. At a fundraiser in Sarasota, Fla., last week, he also singled out Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.), John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.) and Reps. John Conyers (Mich.), Henry A. Waxman (Calif.) and Barney Frank (Mass.).

He talks mainly about terrorism and Iraq, arguing that U.S. withdrawals from Lebanon after the Marine barracks bombing in 1983 and from Somalia after the “Black Hawk Down” ambush in 1993 emboldened terrorists. “If we follow Congressman Murtha’s advice and withdraw from Iraq the same way we withdrew from Beirut in 1983 and Somalia in 1993, all we will do is validate the al-Qaeda strategy and invite even more terrorist attacks,” Cheney said in Milwaukee. In Houston last week, he accused Democrats of “apparently having lost their perspective concerning the nature of the enemy.”

‘Danger to civilization’
The crux of his pitch is what he calls the continuing “danger to civilization.” Cheney, who warned in 2004 that the United States would be hit by terrorists if Democrat John F. Kerry was elected president, has not gone that far this time but does say that it “is not an accident” that the country has not suffered another attack since Sept. 11, 2001, giving Bush credit.

Democrats regularly punch back, suggesting Cheney is out of touch and desperate. “At a time when the Bush Administration finds itself increasingly isolated on Iraq, Vice President Cheney today went on the attack,” Senate Democrats said in a statement last week. “Instead of ranting and raving on the campaign trail, Bush and Cheney should spend their time on the trail of Osama bin Laden.”

Five years after Sept. 11, Cheney’s message may be wearing. Some find it too limited. “To tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed,” David Huibregtse, head of Wisconsin’s Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay party members, said after a speech. “Too much on how great President Bush is doing and very little on why we should vote for the Republicans.”

Yet it still resonates in certain quarters. Between fundraisers, Cheney addressed a Michigan National Guard rally, an ostensibly nonpartisan event that nonetheless provided helpful photos of him surrounded by soldiers in uniform.

Dick Szymanski, a manufacturing executive whose son serves in the Marines, applauded the vice president’s message. “We respect him,” Szymanski said. “It’s a very, very hard job that he and the president have, that they’ve had handed to them. You can belittle people for the things they should or should not have done. But they’re there trying to take care of the public.”



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the horned one

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so, not only have they rejected my photo (which contains none of the things for which photos are usually rejected, but does contain things for which photos usually are accepted), but their "censors" are private, cannot be questioned, and if i call to complain, their "help desk" deliberately knows nothing about it and couldn’t give me an answer, even if they wanted to.

if i read the above correctly, the only thing for which i can guess they might have rejected it would be that it is "objectionable in some way (e.g. it was obscene, offensive, pornographic, too sexually suggestive, violent, threatening, harmful, abusive, defamatory, libelous, etc.)", but, as it is a photo of me, i certainly wouldn’t think it is abusive, defamatory or libelous. but even if it were that, apparently there is no way for me to tell their "censors", which means that i guess i don’t get to be on a stamp… 8/



by Jim Macdonald
October 2, 2006

You are not required to obey an unlawful order.

You are required to disobey an unlawful order.

You swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The Constitution states (Article VI):

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Here is article 3, the common article, to the Geneva Conventions, a duly ratified treaty made under the authority of the United States:

Article 3

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions is straightforward and clear. Under Article VI of the Constitution, it forms part of the supreme law of the land.

You personally will be held responsible for all of your actions, in all countries, at all times and places, for the rest of your life. “I was only following orders” is not a defense.

What all this is leading to:

If you are ordered to violate Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, it is your duty to disobey that order. No “clarification,” whether passed by Congress or signed by the president, relieves you of that duty.

If you are ordered to violate Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, this is what to do:

1. Request that your superior put the order in writing.

2. If your superior puts the order in writing, inform your superior that you intend to disobey that order.

3. Request trial by courtmartial.

You will almost certainly face disciplinary action, harassment of various kinds, loss of pay, loss of liberty, discomfort and indignity. America relies on you and your courage to face those challenges.

We, the people, need you to support and defend the Constitution. I am certain that your honor and patriotism are equal to the task.

Bush says he can edit security reports
Oct 5, 2006

WASHINGTON – President Bush, again defying Congress, says he has the power to edit the Homeland Security Department’s reports about whether it obeys privacy rules while handling background checks, ID cards and watchlists.

In the law Bush signed Wednesday, Congress stated no one but the privacy officer could alter, delay or prohibit the mandatory annual report on Homeland Security department activities that affect privacy, including complaints.

But Bush, in a signing statement attached to the agency’s 2007 spending bill, said he will interpret that section “in a manner consistent with the President’s constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch.”

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said it’s appropriate for the administration to know what reports go to Congress and to review them beforehand.

“There can be a discussion on whether to accept a change or a nuance,” she said. “It could be any number of things.”

The American Bar Association and members of Congress have said Bush uses signing statements excessively as a way to expand his power.

The Senate held hearings on the issue in June. At the time, 110 statements challenged about 750 statutes passed by Congress, according to numbers combined from the White House and the Senate committee. They include documents revising or disregarding parts of legislation to ban torture of detainees and to renew the Patriot Act.

Privacy advocate Marc Rotenberg said Bush is trying to subvert lawmakers’ ability to accurately monitor activities of the executive branch of government.

“The Homeland Security Department has been setting up watch lists to determine who gets on planes, who gets government jobs, who gets employed,” said Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

He said the Homeland Security Department has the most significant impact on citizens’ privacy of any agency in the federal government.

Homeland Security agencies check airline passengers’ names against terrorist watch lists and detain them if there’s a match. They make sure transportation workers’ backgrounds are investigated. They are working on several kinds of biometric ID cards that millions of people would have to carry.

The department’s privacy office has put the brakes on some initiatives, such as using insecure radio-frequency identification technology, or RFID, in travel documents. It also developed privacy policies after an uproar over the disclosure that airlines turned over their passengers’ personal information to the government.

The last privacy report was submitted in February 2005.

Bush’s signing statement Wednesday challenges several other provisions in the Homeland Security spending bill.

Bush, for example, said he’d disregard a requirement that the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency must have at least five years experience and “demonstrated ability in and knowledge of emergency management and homeland security.”

His rationale was that it “rules out a large portion of those persons best qualified by experience and knowledge to fill the office.”