J. Well, in place of the horror of Strychnine this week, we offer some enlightening tidbits that may have portents beyond just their immediate facts. Two things happened last week in Congress that people might take cheer from.
First, Ohio Rep., and Democratic Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich turned up the heat this week on the Patriot Act in the House of Representatives by introduing the Ben Franklin True Patriot Act.
According to a report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the new legislation woud repeal parts of the Patriot Act that allow secret searches and wiretaps as well as detaining suspects indefinitely without meaningful judicial review, and that broaden the definition of what constitutes a terrorist group.
Kucinich's bill also would overturn laws that require airport screeners to be U.S. citizens, repeal Justice and Homeland Security department exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act and toss out a law that lets the FBI conduct undercover investigations of religious centers.
These were hallmarks of the legislation that have left a lot of people wondering about what sort of country Ashcroft wanted to be living in. And he still has never explained how denial of fundamental rights, such as Habeous Corpus makes Americancs any safer now than before 9.11.
This is the type of law you get from people who say they love America, but plainly can’t stand Americans.
Well, fortuantely, Kucinich and his friend have some love for Americans. The bill, introduced by Kucinich on Friday, had 20 co-sponsors right out of the gate, including Republicans, such as GOP mainstay Ron Paul of Texas. This legislation is the latest proposal in a string of Congressional moves that seek to put a leash on the dread Count Ashcroft and his feckless gang of spooks.
Back in July, if you will be recalled of it Wireheads, a generally good Republican Soldier, named Butch Otto, an Idaho Representative, went completly sideways on the Administration sponoring and getting passage 309 to 118 of legislation that repealed the Justice Apartment’s ability to execute secret search warrants and delay notifying the subjects of the search.
In case you needed proof that the Patriot Act, is indeed becoming a kitchen table issue and that regular constituents are writing their representatives about it, this is where that starts. On top of that, more than 150 U.S. cities have officially passed ordinances that either symbolically oppose the Patriot Act or outright prohibit the use of civic resources in its application.
S. But there’s more. Also on Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted 95-0 to drive a final stake through the heart of John Poindexter’s blasphemous IT experiment, the Total Information Awareness program. The Senate voted to defund the project, which might sound tentative, but in legislative speak is what you do when in reality you are spacing something out the airlock.
“I've always said I believe that you can fight terrorism vigorously without cannibalizing civil liberties, and TIA did not meet that test,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, who led the fight against TIA and related projects in the Senate. “Time and time again, the Defense Department sought to cross the line on privacy and civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism. The appropriators have wisely chosen to end this program.”
The House approved the conference committee’s report to do the same thing by an curb stomping 407 to 15 vote just the day before.
If you will remember, the DARPA experiment with the darkside of IT was ostensibly a project to allow them to collect all manner of information about you without your knowledge and consent, and then use it to generate profiles of probable terrorist suspects.
Because, of course, this would have somehow prevented 9/11. We know this because John Ashcroft tells us so. Actually wait, he does not tell us so...not that much anymore at any rate. Funny thing has happened since his little Patriot-a-Palooza tour fizzled out in some dim circus tent back in a swamp somewhere in vast cheese dog and beer quaffing hinterlands.
He has apparently decided he will no longer talk to print reporters. That’s right, it’s now broadcast news or nothing from the AG. This was apparently word passed to many of the print slugs in the beltway recently that apparently the AG just feels he is not getting his message out efficiently thorugh them.
And is it any wonder? I mean, look at the editorial pages of nearly any national newspaper, with the exception of the sycophantic hillbillies who have taken over the once vaunted opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, and you will see that most of the print-opinion media speaks with one voice when it asks: “What the hell part of the Constitution did you *not* understand?” And few projects have been as universally panned in editorials as the now-smoldering remains of Total Information.
So it’s FOXNews or nothing...got that hippy? But moreover, what does this move tell us? Think they’re worried that their little social science experiment is getting a big thumbs down from the rest of us who foot the bill?
Well, they should be worried. And when you start to see *this* Congress, which previous to this has evinced little interest in their executive branch oversight function, start taking open swipes at sacred cows like the dread Count Ashcroft and his punk minions and his pet Patriot Act, perhaps it’s time for some of those folks in the West Wing to start updating their resumes.
J. Now, more from the front lines in the administration’s glorious ongoing war against the world’s poorest people.
Back in 2001, one of the first things Bush did in office, after he finished urinating in all the corners, was reinstate Ronald Reagan’s Mexico City Rule from 1984. Also known as the global gag rule, this prohibits family planning agencies from receiving any share of U.S. aid if they either provide any abortion-related services or counseling or lobby their nations to make or keep abortion safe and legal.
But still not satisfied, the Bush Administration last month toughened the policy by denying funds to American groups who went overseas to work with at-risk populations in they did not abide by the same gag rule.
Now reports are starting to come in that this policy is taking a deadly toll, mostly on those who were most dependent on a helping hand.
Surveys in developing African nations, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia and including some European nations such as Romania, show that health clinics are being forced to close because they will not tow the politically correct line from this administration.
The practical effect is that it is leaving millions of people, especially in the AIDS ravaged African countries without access to adequate contraceptives or health information regarding pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
“The NGOs have also had to cut their staffing by as much as 30 percent, reduce services in remaining clinics and raise fees in order to remain viable,” reads a report from the Planned Parenthood Foundation released last week. “In Lesotho, one in four women is infected with HIV/AIDS -- one of the highest rates in southern Africa. Over a three-year period from 1998 to 2000, the Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association received 426,000 condoms ... all donated by US Agency for International Development ... Because of their refusal to agree to the gag rule restrictions, they no longer receive USAID contraceptives.”
And this is especially hateful in light of the administration’s sanctimonious calls for a total campaign against AIDS in Africa. The President’s continued façade of compassion is masking an uglier and deeper truth, however.
S. Remember that when most of us think about war, we think about death and destruction. When the Bush administration thinks about war, they see dollar signs.
So naturally, the idea is to follow the money. You might remember last week we had a quick mention of the phrase “10-40” countries. A Christian missionary term that describes their “war zone” the nations that mostly lie between 10 north and 40 south latitude.
These are the nations that Christian missionaries are most trying to penetrate. And we’re not talking about just general missionaries out doing what their faith earnestly commands them to do. We are talking about big business, such as World Vision and others.
In Sara Diamond’s seminal book Spiritual Warfare, she details a mid 80s explosion of missionaries from groups like World Vision (which has long been reported to have ties to the CIA), jumped dramatically, so that now, there are hundreds of thousands of missionaries from the largest organizations careening through these countries.
But that takes a lot of money to put those people in the field. And one major problem has always been funding. Many of these organizations get some nominal dollars from USAID, but because of the Separation Clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution, they can only get money under the most stringent of circumstances, and certainly not for prostletyzing.
But thanks to the multi-billion dollar effort of the Bush Administration, taken in concert with their gag rule and proposed faith based initiatives, this would start to funnel billions of tax payer money, virtually unaccountably into the capital machine of large organized religious institutions, who will have nearly free reign to use that money as they see fit.
And all they have to do is promise not to go around providing abortions or abortion information... We just love it when a plan comes together.
And in the meanwhile, in Kenya's Mathare Valley a clinic closed, leaving 300,000 people with no healthcare services with there is no other family planning or reproductive health clinic nearby because USAID won’t fund them for providing abortion services.
This is the real face of Bush's compassionate conservatism -- a war on the world's most vulnerable women and children, who bear the brunt of Bush's obsession with paying off his domestic political base.
J. This morning’s round up begins with yet another breakdown of a Democratic Candidate debate.
The Dems met in upstate New York at Pace University for what was the sharpest contest yet, and welcomed newcomer former Gen. Wes Clark to the party.
If the Pace debate was any indication, the gloves are starting to come off and most the Dems are going to revert into their vicious flesh-eating rodent forms from now until the primaries. As usual, Dean was the focus of most of the attacks, a sign that even the other candidates view him as a front runner.
He perfomed well, again, but watchers say he needs to polish up his act still further. And yet, how can you not look good when faux-Republicans like Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman start trying to compare you Newt Gingrich.
They can’t even run against George Bush, now they’re trying to run against the memory of two-bit political weasal like Gingrich? How desperate is that?
This elicited the best comeback of the night, though: “I'm ashamed you would compare me with Newt Gingrich. Nobody up here deserves to be compared to Newt Gingrich. ... We need to remember that the enemy here is George Bush, not each other.”
And then there was North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who’s own campaign is sinking quickly into oblivion, trotting out the “can’t we just get along” line, before throwing his own darts at Dean for opposing tax cuts.
But Doc, lines like: “You know, to listen to Senator Lieberman, Senator Kerry, Representative Gephardt, I'm anti-Israel, I'm anti-trade, I'm anti-Medicare and I'm anti-Social Security," he said. "I wonder how I ended up in the Democratic Party.” are going to end up in campaign ads, utterly out of context. We know you were being ironic, but come on, this is the big time, you can’t let ones like that slip out.
S. Wes Clark got the evenings get out of rhetorical hell free card. Most of the candidates, viewing him as an unknown quantity at this time more or less let him have his run at the podium.
Connecticut’s Sen Eyore, however, in a stunning display of cowardice, went after him with a vengeance *after* the debate when he was talking to reporters.
“I was fighting (Bush's) reckless economic strategy while Wes Clark was working to forward the Republican agenda by raising money for the Republican Party.”
True or not, Eyore, that was punk to try to get that run *after* the debate was over instead of bringing it up in the debate. That was the sort of thing we would expect from Republicans...oh wait...never mind.
Polls incidentally indicate that Kerry has closed to within 10 points of Dean in New Hampshire in the week or so since Clark got in the race, indicating that Clark could be having some effect on Dean’s base of support.
The acid test happens Tuesday, Sept. 30, though. That is the end of the quarter and a lot of the lower tier candidates, including possibly Eyore himself if the word around the campfire is to be believed, could pull the plug on their campaigns, deciding not to throw good money after bad.
Calculations will revolve around Clark and the fund raising ability of Dean. Expect to see Kucinich, Carol Mosley Braun, Al Sharpton, John Edwards and possibly Joe Lieberman pull the plug. Some might stay through the New Year, but not much beyond that.
J. So our patriotic thought for the day: Refusing to subsidize religious teaching means the Terrorists win... or as John Ashcroft says... “No questions, I’m not taking any questions from you freekin’ people...”
S. And that’s all for this week, tune in again soon for another exciting installment, unless, of course, we are declared enemies of the state.
And remember, you can now email the Mojowire at Mojohaus@hotmail.com, that’s M-O-J-O-H-A-U-S@hotmail.com. Do it hippies!
J. This has been the Mojowire, brought to you by Mojohaus...Mojohaus-fine journalism, afflicting the comfortable since 1988, and produced by our super funky fly producer Mike Payne and the Darkling Eclectica, here on KUCI, 88.9...