Monday, December 19, 2005

White House Christmas Tree

After work today, I went to the White House to check out its annual Christmas Tree, and 50 mini-state trees. As I was walking around, I was very suprised to see a nativity scene. I heard a couple behind me argue over it was "seperation of church and state", so I asked one of the workers. Turns out-All of the state-trees, and the big tree are not federally paid for, but instead are paid for by an organization which gets a yearly permit for the land. Thus-They can not be sued by the ACLU. I wonder what will happen, if some crazy organization ever tried to get a permit for the space... I took the picture above with my camera phone, its the actuall nativity scene outside of the White House.


At 12/19/2005 09:05:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

What do you think about the spying TC?? I want you on the record.

At 12/19/2005 09:29:00 PM, Blogger too conservative said...

George Bush's "spying" on terrorists?

You can have me on record, as I have no doubt a HUGE majority of Americans agree with me.

Although I agree with it though, I do believe it is borderline to soviet policy. I believe though, that even the thought that the goverernment could spy on a terrorist might help hinder the act all together.

I do not believe we should grant President Bush power to invade our personal privacy, which is gaurenteed in the constitution..then again what is privacy?

I do think we should be careful in how we go about doing this, but times have changed. In Washington's days we did not have these covert over the internet agencies that needed checking up on.

This may sound like an answe a politician would say..but I half agree with Bush. His motives are good, but as I believe in the Constitution , we need to watch how far we go.

At 12/19/2005 09:36:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

I knew your answer would be like one a politician would give, because I know you have political ambitions. It's fun to egg you on, because I know you can't respond in kind, because that would be bad for your political future.

He didn't spy on terrorists; he spied (and is spying) on Americans. How many people, as a result of this policy, have been charged and convicted of plotting against the United States??? Ask yourself that.

This issue is pretty clear-cut. He broke the law. His defense, that the authorization of war gave him this power, isn't going to fly, and is ridiculous.

If nothing comes of this, it will only because the Democrats lack the power to do so, and because the Republicans rallied behind their criminal commander-in-chief.

At 12/19/2005 10:08:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

According to the drudge report, tommorrows NYT will feature revalations that the FBI was told to spy on "groups active in environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief."

In other words, the FBI was told to spy on activist liberals. And its already been reported that the pentagon has files on anti-war activists, including a wuaker group that protested military recruitment in high schools.

Is it really a stretch to think that the NSA, too, were told to spy on liberals angry at Bush and the war??

These "terrorists" Bush spied on were his political enemies.

We have a tyrant in the White House.

At 12/19/2005 10:15:00 PM, Blogger mitch's wife said...


TC should not be expected to respond to you in kind because it not a level playing field. Putting TC on the record is really putting TC on the record, everyone knows who he is.

You, on the other hand, hide behind the cloak of anonymoity like the coward that you are.

At 12/19/2005 10:18:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

You can e-mail me and find out my identity if you wish. None of you would recognize me anyway, as I have no political ambitions. I hate politics.

At 12/19/2005 11:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tempest in a teapot.

The FBI has asked for over 18,000 wiretaps in the FISA court. Of those 18,000, only 4 (FOUR!) have ever been turned down. In other words, the court has found virtually NO case where the government thought to spy on someone where it wasn't justified.

It could be the court is just a rubber stamp, but in either case having the court in the process seems to have done NOTHING to protect americans from being spied on by the government.

In light of that, the ONLY thing the court does to the process is interfere with the speed at which action can be taken.

So if you were to presume as fact that setting up monitoring of communications (not technically spying) was illegal, there appears to be no chance of arguing a HARM from cutting out FISA, since FISA doesn't reject any requests.

I reject the notion that what was done was illegal. But I have to note that I have no REAL idea what was done. We have information from a CRIMINAL (I say that because whoever leaked this information broke the law and should be in jail, and is therefore a CRIMINAL).

I don't know why we should trust all the details in what the CRIMINAL told the NY times. The CRIMINAL would have said what he/she had to say to justify his/her criminal activity, so they would have had good reason to exagerate what was done, or to lie about it's scope.

The President isn't talking much, since he doesn't want to further jeopardize an operation that has stopped terrorist attacks like blowing up a major bridge into New York. But he did say that all intercepts were on foreign soil, that they all involved communication to a known terrorist, and none were communication within the country.

That is a far cry from the claims of general eavesdropping on normal citizen telephone calls.

So excuse me for not getting too worked up. It sounds like a reasonable procedure, it has yielded results, we have no reports of any abuse.

I'm not saying I approve of the project, I don't know enough about it to understand why FISA wasn't used after the fact for example. But given the virtual rubber stamp of FISA, it is absurd for people to argue that americans were wiretapped that would never have been monitored had the FISA law been followed.

About all you could say is that those americans would have been monitored later than they actually were, possibly after having completed communication about the next terrorist attack.

TC, our personal privacy is not "guaranteed" in the constitution. Government access to our persons and possessions is clearly PROVIDED in the constitution, with limitations and checks and balances using our court system to be sure, but giving our government the clear right to invade our "privacy" whenever the government can show a rational basis for doing so.

There is no indication that this protection extended or was meant to extend to communications with others. Of course, they didn't have electronic communication in those days. The protection wasn't meant to allow you to break the law with impunity so long as you were careful, it was meant to keep government from being a pain in your behind TRYING to find out if you might be doing something wrong.

In other words, I see no indication that the founders were against any and all means of catching people breaking the law, so long as those means did not "bother" the individuals without cause.

There is no "bother" associated with the government recording conversations between american citizens and foreigners identified as terrorists. It doesn't intrude on my life, disrupt my home, threaten my person or my property. My door is not broken, my children are not harassed, my wife is not embarrased.

I think it was a mistake to interpret the constitution so as to suggest we had a right to violate the law without consequence so long as we did it in private.

At 12/19/2005 11:32:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

Anon-you are incorrect on many levels.

First, there is no way the FISA courts slow down the process. They were created with the expressed purpose to approve requested wiretaps in a matter of hours, and as you stated, tens of thousands of requests have gone through while only 4 were refused.

Plus, as I've stated before, the government can wiretap individuals for up to 72 hours prior to FISA approval of the wiretap. So, unless FISA takes longer than three days to approve a potential wiretap, they don't slow a thing down. That's not the case.

You say "the ONLY thing the court does to the process is interfere with the speed at which action can be taken." Well, since they don't slow anything down, thats not true.

But what they DO do is provide documentation. This, I'm certain, is why Bush bypassed FISA. He knew that he couldn't document those this program was meant to spy on, because that would incriminate him.

Why is that??? Because he wasn't spying on terrorists, or potential terrorists, or even friends of terrorists. He was spying on his political enemies.

At 12/20/2005 12:59:00 AM, Blogger Willis said...

Power corrupts.

At 12/20/2005 12:43:00 PM, Blogger neocon22 said...

Pres. Bush was not "Spying. This is not a bordeline Soviet policy, as he did not does this unilaterally. There was congressional approval of this. This also falls under the FISA.

As for him spying on Americans, not terrorists, these were all people who have links to Al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations.

Now we may thank the leaker and the NYT for alerting our enemies one of the ways in which we obtain information.

At 12/20/2005 03:42:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

These were all people who had links to al qaeda??? Where did you hear that??? Bush???

Sorry, the dude has lied time and again, you'll need better proof than that.

There was congressional approval?? Not according to the Congress. Congressmen, even in the intelligence committee, seem to have had no idea about this.

At 12/20/2005 04:51:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

Many Democrats are now calling for Bush to be impeached.

Shrub is in trouble.

At 12/20/2005 04:57:00 PM, Blogger neocon22 said...

they are dems who are saying they knew nothing about this. they were briefed on the activity.

tell me where bush has lied in this. what falsehoods has he been spreading?

At 12/20/2005 05:22:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

Well, so far only two democrat congressmen have acknowledged that they knew about it. Jay Rockefeller and Tom Daschle. Both wrote letters to Dick Cheney objecting to the measure, but neither went public with it because of its secrecy.

Where did Bush lie?? Try this, a quote of his from 2004, THREE YEARS AFTER HE AUTHORIZED THIS PROGRAM:

"Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

At 12/20/2005 10:42:00 PM, Blogger Elle said...

not the appropriate comment for the Christmas Tree post, but since willis started it (and since I'm probably smirking a little too hard):

They cried…

Smaller government!
Less oversight!
(Except on abortion
and civil rights).

Respect our privacy!
Leave us alone!
(Except all the rooms
of gay folks’ homes).

Our golden boy
Got caught spying.
My oh my,
It stopped our crying.

Narrow construction?
Who said thus?
Broad executive powers
Are fine by us!

The Voting Rights Act,
we insist
Was passed during a crisis
that no longer exists.

No comparison
with the Patriot Act.
We’ll elevate the alert
to prove that fact.

So don’t think of it as spying.
No indeed!
Just careful watching,
A compassionate deed.

And if the thought bothers you
just a bit.
Be prepared for our cry:

At 12/20/2005 10:52:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

Where did you get that??


At 12/21/2005 02:14:00 PM, Blogger neocon22 said...

read this willis. would you scream to impeach clinton or carter?

At 12/21/2005 02:27:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

1) Clinton went public with his request. He wasn't secretive about it.

2) The congress rebuked Clinton, and clinton abided by the FISA rules. He didn't break the law.

So, No, I wouldn't want to impeach Clinton, because he didn't break the law. Had he broken the law, though (in an instance where he wasn't hounded by sexually depraved Republicans regarding a sexual act) then yes, he would deserve to be impeached.

Blaming Clinton is deflecting the issue, though. He is irrelevant now.

At 12/21/2005 04:20:00 PM, Blogger neocon22 said...

Noone is blaming clinton. its another example of the pres. using his executive power to monitor what terrorist suspects are saying to their fellow terrorists overseas.

At 12/21/2005 05:33:00 PM, Blogger Willis said...

Well, i'm against any president breaking the law. Except, Clinton didn't break it.

If you can show that he did, then I'd be against that as well.


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