Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

My Photo
Location: New York City

A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr.


1925 – 2008

I grew up on Bill Buckley and Firing Line. He is why I love dialogue and also why I was a “Dirty Fucking Hippy.”

Thanks Bill, you changed my life.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Liberal Conservatives?

This is totally anecdotal. That said, I know many Republicans and Conservatives who are adamantly and vociferously opposed to, not to mention the Dirty Fucking Hippies, all things liberal and none of those things defined as “conservative.” The problem for them is that they are for, and benefit from, liberal programs.

They are for electrification, clean drinking water, national highways, social security, Medicare, etc., but not for any program that they “think” “might” benefit someone less deserving, unlike them of course. Reducing taxes is first and foremost on their minds, even though they rarely if ever benefit from it.

Of course Crony Capitalism is fine with them, mostly because they think it is good for “Bidness.” Though the fact it is good for big “Bidness” and not so much for small “Bidness” seems lost on them. And naturally most of those I know are not big “Bidness” folks.

What is it with these people? Is it short term memory loss, early onset, or just plain old fashion dementia?

Just asking!

I know, I know, it is a total lack of “Real World Experience” and/or “Real World Reality.” Rotarian don't you know!

What is with Repubs?

What a surprise that Renzi was indicted! Why do the reconstituted Repubs just love serial fraudsters?

When will it end? Probably not any time soon as Senator Stevens is still a venerated member of the political class.

Michelle: We are all Now REALLY PROUD of our Country!

As the mother of an African-American I understand just what she is saying. She isn’t saying that she was never proud of the USA before, just that she is REALLY PROUD now. I have always been very proud of my child, but everyday I am even REALLY more proud of him as he matures and develops. So, it seems that the USA is maturing and developing and so, we can all be REALLY PROUD of our Nation now.

Of course, the proof of the pudding will depend on the November General Election and that hopefully the Dems will not, once again, “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.” That said, the Democratic Party, unlike the Party of White Men and Grover Norquist, deserves kudos for having two very capable and viable candidates who are not White Men or Grover Norquist.

Of course, Right-Wingnuttery will spin her comments as being anti-patriotic and with the terrorists. But that is just what they do.

Ignore it!

McCain Follow-up: The Real Issue

Forget the salacious angle. Who cares? Everyone knows that St. John McCain is a serial cheater, after all just ask his current wife Cindy! The real issue going back to the Keating Five, if not further, is that St. John is a serial lobbyist loving pol with a really bad temper.

Or, maybe he is just serially forgetful.

You had to know that the NYT’s had more and was just waiting to throw it at the wall. So, will the St. “Maverick” John loving MSM, help it stick?

Just asking!

Update: Liberal Media Indeed! Here is Todd Gitlin on the Times and its shadow play with the original story:

First they got knocked around, undeservedly, as "liberal media." Then they sprayed Teflon on George W. Bush and escorted Judy Miller into the annals of journalistic ignominy. Now they juggle McCain like a hot potato. Like tightrope walkers who think too long about every step, they plunge. This is a staggering denouement, but not a surprising one, for The Newspaper that Fears Its Own Shadow.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Janis, Yes!

Thank you Echidne over at Eschaton, Atrios’ a/k/a Duncan’s space.

I miss her so!

Back in the day I was driving down the Mass Turnpike heading for an evening of drugs, sex and rock and roll and I had to pull over to the side of the road when “Summertime” came on the radio. I had never heard it before and was completely blown away by the Big Brother Holding Company rendition of Mr. Gershwin.

Weeks later I waited for two hours for a Joplin appearance at WPI, and she was obviously impaired during the show, and yet it was an unbelievably spectacular experience.

Often our great performers are flawed and she was but she was also a great talent that we all benefited from.

So let us not forget this piece of invective:

Criminal Justice Out of Control and Exposed.

Thank you Bob Herbert! For those who are involved in the “Criminal Justice System” this is not exactly a “Muppet News Flash.” Most folks, however, believe what they see in the “News.” Okay, let me be clearer: most White folks are clueless as to how the “Criminal Justice System” actually works. That these kids, their families, and their supporters are standing up to the “Man” is brave and heroic.

Will it change the situation, or the dialogue, I don’t know? However, the MSM hopefully will take notice and point out what is going on, and has been going on for decades, at the very least.

It is indeed encouraging to see this in the NYT’s.

Rep. Tom Lantos


1928 - 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Herbert Calls for a Sense of Urgency!

Mr. Herbert from his perch at the NYT’s Editorial Page is calling for big changes and is disappointed that the Presidential Candidates aren’t seeing or expressing the urgency needed to move our troubled Nation forward and out of the abyss.

February 9, 2008

Op-Ed Columnist

Where’s the Big Idea?


Berkeley, Calif.

There is plenty for Democrats to admire in the candidacies of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

They are smart, appealing and politically gifted. High fives are in order. Their success to date represents advances in American society that many would have seen as unthinkable just a few years ago.

There’s actually a lot for Americans of all political persuasions to admire this election season. This is how we change regimes in the U.S. — peacefully. I had a long conversation the other day with a writer from Kenya, Edwin Okong’o, who is visiting the University of California campus here.

He found it difficult to hide his grief as he spoke of the murderous violence that has followed a disputed election in his country. Then he managed a smile. “It’s all about corruption,” he said. “I am always amazed when people say they are leaving the American government because they have to make more money. In my country, you go into the government to make the money.”

But for all its upside, there is something important missing from this year’s presidential campaign. In an era that cries out for real change, John McCain, the presumptive G.O.P. nominee, is selling himself to voters not as the maverick he may once have been, but as a faithful follower of policies the country should be eager to discard.

With the Democrats, we seem obsessed with whether Senator Obama can get his new voters to the polls, and whether Senator Clinton can keep enough cash coming in, and whether there’s an inch or an inch-and-a-half’s worth of difference between their positions on health insurance and the war in Iraq.

Where, in this alleged season of change, is the big idea?

What’s missing in this campaign is a bold vision of where the United States should be heading in these crucially important early years of the 21st century. In their different ways, Senators Clinton and Obama have shown themselves to be inspirational and at times even heroic figures. But neither has offered the vision that this moment in history demands.

We’re excited more by who they are than by what they’ve promised to do.

All the candidates have detailed policy proposals — masterpieces of minutiae.

But do we have any real sense of what Senator Obama will do to stop the stagnation of the middle class and resuscitate the American dream? Do we have any reason to believe that during a Clinton presidency we’ll see a transformation of the nation’s decaying infrastructure? Does John McCain have the stuff to lead us from a long debilitating period of dependence on foreign oil to a new and exciting world of energy efficiency and innovation?

The essential question the candidates should be trying to answer — but that is not even being asked very often — is how to create good jobs in the 21st century. Thirty-seven million Americans are poor, and roughly 60 million others are near-poor. (These are people struggling to make it on incomes of $20,000 to $40,000 a year for a family of four.)

The middle class is hardly flourishing. In testimony before a House subcommittee last year, Harley Shaiken, a Berkeley professor who is an expert on labor and employment, remarked: “During a period of robust economic growth, record profits and the fastest sustained productivity increases since the 1950s, only a thin slice at the top of the economic heap is enjoying higher living standards.”

Now the country is faced with a possible recession and the likelihood of moving further backward rather than forward on employment.

“We’re building exit ramps from the middle class,” said Mr. Shaiken during an interview. “But what is the path to the middle class for most Americans now? We need to figure out how to resume building entrance ramps.”

The most direct route to the middle class has always been a good job. An obvious potential source of new jobs would be a broad campaign to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure — its roads, bridges, schools, levees, water treatment facilities and so forth.

Another area with big job creation potential is the absolutely vital quest to develop alternative sources of energy. That effort should carry the same high national priority that was accorded the Manhattan Project during World War II. I’d even call it Manhattan II.

There are moments in history that demand not just talent in a nation’s leadership, but greatness — men or women with the courage to dream bigger and the ability to convince others that those dreams can be realized.

The presidential candidates don’t seem to be rising to the nation’s many crucial challenges with the sense of urgency and the creative vision that is called for. Not yet, at least.

The candidates are three Senators and an Evangelical former Governor. It seems to me that these are the least likely folks to have a sense of urgency about the future challenges our Country faces. Senators are of course used to the “Deliberative Process” and compromise. And the Evangelical former Governor is looking to the past and the Bible for answers. Not much urgency or future there.

That said, I will be able to vote for either of the Democratic candidates who get the nomination this fall. They may not be perfect, but at least neither of them is certifiable.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

“Jello” Rockefeller

Okay, so I have always thought that “Jello Jay” was one of the lamest individuals ever. Now after watching him today on the Senate floor justifying “Telecom Immunity” I am assured that he is probably not just lame but an idiot. Now, I am sorry to all the idiots out there, but he is a moron. Is there something in the water in West Virginia? Oh, yes that’s right they just voted for the Huckster as President. I guess I answered my own question.

“Jello’s” argument boils down to that “private enterprise will not do what the Imperial President tells them to do if they could be held accountable for their illegal acts.” Well, Duh!

Makes you want to re-evaluate the “Best and the Brightest” doesn’t it and how they got there? And I am sure that the “Rockefeller” name is incidental.

Obviously it is Democracy at work.

Democracy in Action?

In our “Democracy” voting isn’t always accessible nor is suffrage universal. That should be a scandal and yet it is seen as “the way it is.” Why is it that in the supposed “Greatest Democracy” (as Bush promotes democracy worldwide, snark intended) we can’t get the least we can do in democratic participation, which is voting, and get the voting process down? Is it possible that our “Democracy” doesn’t actually value voting?

Interesting, No?

It is Still a Mess!

And that may not be such a bad thing for the Dems or the Repubs.

But what do I know?

Saint McCain’s Rebound!

Well, I was wrong. Saint John has rebounded and it has been surprising given who and what he is and the nature of the Republican base. It is not surprising, however, given the MSM’s undying love for him and the misnamed “Straight Talk Express” meme.

I still believe that he is crazy and that anyone who would support him is just as crazy: calling Senator Lieberman! There must be an awful lot of misinformation, or lack of information, out there about him and his policies for him to get so much electoral support, but then I remember the 2000 and 2004 electoral support for GWB.

Maybe the MSM’s swooning devotion to all things Saint John might have something to do with this turn around?


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Time to Vote!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Everything Did Change After 9/11!

It seems that the Nation’s “Inner Stalin” is being exposed everywhere.

Here is reporting from the Raw Story in which a complainant is violently strip searched by the police. That’s right, she is the complainant.

Read the story and watch the video and know that this is what “Trickle Down” is really all about. If it is legal for the U.S. Government to torture, etc., then obviously a little overacting by the local gendarme, and private security, must be legal as well.

I have actually read the U.S. Constitution and this is all going beyond the pale, but then maybe I am just being "too" sensitive.

I am often accused of that!

Oh, and “Don’t Taze Me Bro!

State Secrets, Really!

Why there should have to be legislation mandating that Judges actually examine the evidence that the government proffers as being the necessity for a State’s Secret defense is beyond me, but apparently it is. This is a condemnation of the state of the judiciary and their ability to judge and weigh evidence.

Take a gander at Christy’s post. This legislation obviously needs to be passed.

Thanks to my Rep. Jerry Nadler.

Interesting Take!

The LeftCoaster, due to the myriad posters, always has an interesting take on what is going on in the political scene.

So, here is one of the latest:

Schisms and Ruptures
by Turkana

I want to clarify something. Nobody claims that the Clintons aren't playing rough. But many are acting as if the Obama camp isn't. Both sides are, and both are responsible for the nasty tone to the campaign. But the corporate media are enamored of Obama, and they have always hated the Clintons, so they are playing the Evil Clinton angle to the hilt. The Obama camp is playing the victim. If you read the blogs, the shrill has been deafening. The Obama camp themselves are showing immeasurably more class than are many of their supporters.

Politics can be hard-hitting, and both the Clintons and Obamas know it. Obama says Wal*Mart, Clinton answers with Rezko. That's the dynamic, in a nutshell. Sometimes she'll fire first, and he'll respond, but it's dishonest to claim that either is a saint. What's more frustrating, though, is that the corporate media are again doing what they did during Bill Clinton's presidency, and many Obama supporters are playing along, giving credence to writers and narratives that in other years they'd have ridiculed. But that, too, is how this campaign is being fought.

The worst part, though, is that the media are also again focusing on the "Divided Dems" stereotype. They're ignoring the even more bitter Republican campaign. The Democratic candidates are all basically centrists, and their differences are mostly about style, tone, and personality. The Republicans not only have personal animosities, they have serious ideological differences, too. The Neocons, Theocons, and Corporate Kleptocrats have been bound together by mutual loathing of the Democrats, and by a desire to each get a bit of their way, rather than none getting any. That's changing.

With the Republican brand tanking, and the different factions having so much more to lose, they are all standing their ground with an intensity that is only going to grow. No matter the current rivalries, the Democrats will come together out of a mutual understanding that they share a mutual common interest. The Republicans are beginning to realize that they never shared a common interest, in the first place.

Hopefully when everything is said and done and the dust settles the Dems will come together. The prospect of the continuation of the GOP policies that have wreaked havoc on the U.S. is so horrifying that we can only hope that American Citizens will come together and actually demand the change they deserves. And let’s not forget that we can only hope that the Dems, who are so adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, can finally get it together.

We can only hope!

Lee Siegel is Still Pissed Off!

The NYT’s reviews his book:

One of the oldest and soundest rules in intellectual life is “never get in a parsing contest with a skunk.” It is a principle that the lively, intelligent, combative cultural critic Lee Siegel forgot in autumn 2006, when he gave in to the temptation to respond to comments about him posted on his blog at The New Republic’s Web site. Some of the comments were anonymous and abusive — featuring allegations of chromosomal deficiencies and pedophilia — and Siegel replied under the pseudonym “sprezzatura,” praising his own work and denouncing his critics (“You couldn’t tie Siegel’s shoelaces”). When it emerged that Siegel was sprezzatura, he was pilloried in the blogosphere, suspended by The New Republic and, “in good American fashion,” he writes, rewarded with the opportunity “to write the book on Web culture that I’d long wanted to write.”

Under the circumstances, no one would expect that new book, “Against the Machine,” to be a valentine to the Internet. The book describes itself, in its first sentence, as being “about the way the Internet is reshaping our thoughts about ourselves, other people and the world around us.” The view it takes of that reshaping is an angry, dark one. Siegel sees the Internet as “the first social environment to serve the needs of the isolated, elevated, asocial individual.” “Against the Machine” sets out to explore the consequences of that fact.

Well, I guess I should feel suitably chastised. But, coming from Siegel, I don’t.

Lee, you need to get over it!

What are You Saying on the Telephone and Who are You Talking To?

I have been meaning to post this for sometime now and haven’t gotten around to it. Christy over at FDL (and you know I love Reddhead) brings this story to light and has a good point to make as to the efficacy of the wide swath that is being employed in our government’s illegal wiretapping.

So much for that "innocent Americans aren't being wiretapped" talking point. A Pulitzer Prize winning journalist was not only wiretapped while doing his job in following-up on some sources, but it resulted in the FBI coming to his house to ask questions about his daughter -- who was away at college at the time and not a party to any calls being made to or from the family home.

Think it couldn't happen to you? Read on:

U.S. intelligence tapped the telephone calls of Lawrence Wright, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, starting in 2002....

As far as I can tell, only Pam Hess of the Associated Press picked up on Wright’s confrontation with spy chief Michael McConnell over the phone taps, and no major paper ran it. The version of her story that The Washington Post printed recounted McConnell’s telling Wright that water boarding would be “torture” if it were done to him, but dropped the five paragraphs Hess wrote on the eavesdropping. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal skipped Wright’s wiretap account altogether.

But The New Yorker’s Web site did feature an audio interview with Wright in which he described the visit of FBI agents to his Texas home in 2002 to quiz him about the telephone calls intercepted by U.S. intelligence.

The encounter came, mind you, amid the constant assurances from the Bush administration that the U.S. has not, and is not, “spying on Americans” or running a “warrantless domestic spying program.”

“Totally untrue!” McConnell told Wright, insisting that the conversations of American citizens with no connections to terrorists would be immediately discarded. U.S. intelligence is after al Qaeda, McConnell and others have repeatedly pledged, not innocent Americans.

“I’m telling you,” the former Air Force general said, “if you’re in the United States you have to have a warrant. Authorized by the court. Period!”

But Wright then told McConnell he had a more-than-professional interest in electronic surveillance.

“Let me make a disclosure,” he told the spy boss. “I have been monitored.”...

One of his intelligence sources had revealed to him that he had “read a summary of a telephone conversation that I had from my home with a source in Egypt.”

McConnell said the eavesdropping must have been triggered by getting a call “from some telephone number that’s associated with some known outfit.”

The journalist, however, had originated the call.

What happened next bears repeating, not just because it has gone largely unreported, but because it’s the kind of encounter many more Americans can expect if they end up as a target of our distressingly sloppy — some would say incompetent — counterterrorism agencies, if Congress extends a law (PL 110-55) enacted last August, that expanded the government’s electronic surveillance authority.

The law, which expires on Feb. 4, in effect turned U.S.-based Internet servers into a mail drop for U.S. intelligence.

In 2002 Wright was visited by two FBI agents after placing calls in the course of researching The Looming Tower, his Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the rise of al Qaeda and U.S. responses to it, as well as an article on al Qaeda’s number two leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

“They were members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force,” he recounted. “They wanted to know about phone calls made to a solicitor in England” who was upset that I was talking to some of her clients, who were jihadis, former members of Zawahiri’s terror organization in Egypt, and they wanted to know what we were talking about.”

What startled him, however, was that the visiting gumshoes thought that his daughter, Caroline, had made the calls.

“Our understanding is that these calls were placed by Caroline Wright,” they said.

But Wright’s daughter was off at college at the time. He now worries that “she’s now on the link chart as an al Qaeda connection.”...

The Congressional Quarterly report from which this was taken is a must read for anyone concerned with the incursions on the rule of law, and in having more effective, carefully targets surveillance and intelligence -- not illegal band-aids that mask the fact that without on-the-ground live intelligence work. All the sifting of phone calls and e-mails in the world only provides an illusion of security. And that sort of shoddy work results in a lot of calls to Pizza Hut...but is that the best use of our nation's national security apparatus?

We had a teenage German foreign exchange student live with us a few years ago. I have to wonder how many of our calls were tapped because she wanted to talk with her family back home on occasion? And are they still? Where there is no oversight, no limitation, no real concern for civil liberties in how this is done -- and no real way to assure that such care is being taken, even when good people behind the scenes try to be careful in what they do, all it takes is a few bad actors to rig the system -- how can any of us ever know whether we have been a target, or whether we still are years after the fact?

My thinking on this has been that sweeping in all of America’s telephone and email traffic is a complete waste of taxpayer funds, not to mention totally illegal. My critique is both pragmatic and legalistic. Christy’s post, I think, backs me up.