Friday, April 07, 2006

Not my favorite guy either.

George Bush got a tongue lashing yesterday in North Carolina and it was long over due. Harry Taylor, a member of the audience at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte where W. was holding another one of his "Town Meetings," called him out on his domestic spying program and his dictatorial misrule.

Taylor said, "You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air, and drinking clean water and eating safe food...What I wanted to say to you is that ---in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, or more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate and ---" At this point he was booed down by the freedom loving audience --- "And I would hope --- I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration, I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself."

Well said Mr. Taylor! You let our boy King know what's the minds of millions of Americans around the country and peoples all over the world. You're a real patriot!

But unfortunately, I'm afraid, it fell on deaf ears. Where there's no feeling there's no sense, they say. Although W. seemed to be very gracious in telling the crowd to let Taylor speak, it was all part of the show. The new White House strategy is, according to the WaPo, "To put him in front of crowds for spontaneous exchanges to show he is not afraid of criticism." They plant a few critical voices in these PR events and he makes sure to call on them. Just like when he called on Helen Thomas for the first time in three years at his snap press conference last week. It's not that he's anymore interested in listening to what his critics are saying now than he was before, but it does give him an opportunity to show how "open-minded" he is. It's all totally bogus.

In answer to Taylor's critique, W. let loose with some real whoppers.

After the obligatory reference to 9/11 he said, "I'm not going to apologize for what I did on the terrorist surveillance program, and I'll tell you why...I called the people responsible for helping to protect the American people and the Homeland. I said is there anything more we can do. And there --- out of this national --- NSA came the recommendation that it would make sense for us to listen to a call outside of the country, inside the country from al-Qaeda or suspected al-Qaeda in order to have real-time information from which to possibly prevent an attack."

I think what he was trying to say there was that the NSA only listens to calls coming from without the country, but that's not exactly true. There have been reports in the press that some "mistakes" might have been made and domestic calls had actually been monitored. In fact, as W. was assuring his adoring listeners that he only spies on al-Qaeda, AG Alberto "Waterboard" Gonzales was testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee on domestic spying. Eric Lichtblau writes in the NYT that Gonzales suggested that, ‘the president might have the legal authority to order wiretapping without a warrant on communications between Americans that occurred exclusively within the United States.' When asked whether this was a possibility Gonzales said, "I'm not going to rule it out."

Of course, no one knows for sure what the administration is really up to because they won't let anybody know, not even Congress. Despite W.'s assertion in North Carolina that he took his decision to spy on us to "members of Congress from both parties and briefed them on the decision that was made," and that "both chambers were fully aware of" the program [fact check], Republican representative James Sensenbrenner (no left wing commie pinko) accused the administration of "stonewalling." Sensenbrenner asked Gonzales, "Mr. Attorney General, how can we discharge our oversight responsibilities if every time we ask a pointed question, we're told the answer is classified?"

Sensenbrenner reminded Gonzales that, "If we're properly to determine whether or not the program was legal and funded -- because that's Congress's responsibility -- we need to have answers, and we're not getting them." [WaPo] Yeah right, that's what he thinks! W. has got lawyers that say different. W. said, "Now you may not agree with the constitutional assessment given to me by lawyers --- and we've got plenty of them in Washington --- (He's such an outsider, isn't he?) but they made this assessment that it was constitutional for me to make this decision." (Right a whole bunch of yesmen like Gonzales.)

In case you were wondering if Gonzales admitted that they're spying on Americans at home, after the hearing a DOJ spokeswoman, Tasia Scolinos, clarified Gonzales' remarks. "The Attorney General's comments today should not be interpreted to suggest the existence or nonexistence of a domestic program or whether any such program would be lawful under the existing legal analysis."

That pretty much clears things up, right?

I don't think W. is the only one who should be ashamed of himself. How about Congress for letting him get away with this?


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