J. Good morning, and welcome to The Mojowire, Vol. 2, No.11... I'm Mojo...
S. And I'm Sean, it's Saturday, July, 03, 2004, Day 1,184 of the Neocon Captivity, and here's the news for the week gone-by...
J. Brought to you by Mojohaus-fine journalism, afflicting the comfortable since 1988. Now headlines, from Mojohaus:
S. First this morning, we celebrate the pending birthday of our fine nation by examining the entrails left by the Supremes as they evicerated much of the Bush Administration's GTMO Habitrail for Wayward Swarthy Feriners and the Men Who Love Them.
J. Next, the Bush administration is trying their darndest to get the tax exempt status of their favorite protestant churches yanked, by putting out a demand that these congregations turn over their membership lists and getting the good reverends to start organizing on their behalf.
S. Then Strychnine beams down instructions to the earthly on how to put the final stakes in the Patriot Act II. His horrifying instructions include the dismemberment of the legislation into six separate pieces and buried beneath the silvery full moon... and even then, he suggests you have someone taste your food for a while.
J. Next this morning we reveal yet more hideous mendacity from the Bush administration. Remember the "Houston Miracle" that was supposed to be replicated by Education Secretary and former Houston School Czar Rod Paige. It turns out that the Houston Miracle was all lies but don't worry, Texas did manage to really excel in one particular thing: building prisons.
...So stand by to stand by while we get ready to pull the pin on this thing...
THEY'D MAKE GREAT PETS
J. This week, our favorite pre-fab band, The Supremes, took on a paternal roll and told W. and his gang that he can't keep pet Muslims down on the GTMO part of the ranch, because he can't take care of them right.
Let's get everyone up to speed here on this one. The high court ruled this week that our Constitutional understandings of Habeous Corpus, as tattered as they are right now, have not been entirely sent out to the scrap heap of history and that we can not just disappear people into dark holes.
That's right Rummy, your bondage fetish is not going to become the law of the land, for a little while at least. Put the manacles and nipple clamps back in your desk and for the love of God, stop touching yourself, you'll make the saints cry.
The final score at the end of the week, U.S. Constitution 3, facist dirtbags in the National Security Commisariat 0. Unless you want to count the Padilla case as a draw. They broke down like this, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Reversed and remanded, Rasul v. Bush/ Al Odah v. United States, reversed and remanded and Rumsfelf v. Padilla reversed and remanded.
Padilla was sent back down to the minors because the Supremes decided to hand out a consolation prize to the government by refusing to rule on the merits, instead saying Padilla was filed in the wrong jurisdiction. But most commentators look at it in the context of Hamdi, et. al. and believe that it's just postponing the inevitable punking of Rummy in Padilla as well.
Yeah, we could be all sarcastic about it and make some really juvinile attempt at pop culture humor, but this is too important for that, so we'll just let Justice Stevens do the talking here, speaking for the court in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld:
''At stake in this case is nothing less than the essence of a free society. Even more important than the method of selecting the people's rulers and their successors is the character of the constraints imposed on the Executive by the rule of law. Unconstrained Executive detention for the purpose of investigating and preventing subversive activity is the hallmark of the Star Chamber. Access to counsel for the purpose of protecting the citizen from official mistakes and mistreatment is the hallmark of due process. Executive detention of subversive citizens, like detention of enemy soldiers to keep them off the battlefield, may sometimes be justified to prevent persons from launching or becoming missiles of destruction. It may not, however, be justified by the naked interest in using unlawful procedures to extract information. Incommunicado detention for months on end is such a procedure. Whether the information so procured is more or less reliable than that acquired by more extreme forms of torture is of no consequence. For if this Nation is to remain true to the ideals symbolized by its flag, it must not wield the tools of tyrants even to resist an assault by the forces of tyranny.''
It is even worth noticing that the dread Justice Scalia, found the administration's actions over the top. Look, when your game is too severe even for Big Tony "The Chad" Scalia, that's some seriously rough trade. Back to the bar, please, brother, your scaring the straights."
While the court was not quite the complete upstanding shield for all we hold to be good about America -- for instance, they still decided that pre-trial confinement without charges was somehow acceptable -- they still held that the basic idea that the awesome power of the state is primarily vested in its ability to physically control its populace; its police powers, and that in our country, those powers are specifically curbed.
That's a fundamental part of the deal here. It's why we're here. The Supremes aren't idiots, they can read a newspaper or look at the news as well as anyone. Just how much are people prepared to take at any one time. King George didn't know, but the authors of the Constitution did, and that's why they took pains to prevent that kind of tyranical power being vested unchecked in the executive.
Even in spite of the administration's somewhat pyhrric victory for pre-trial detention, the Supremes laid a pretty down a pretty good line, saying that while in war it is legitimate to hold a prisoner to prevent their return to the battlefield, the notion that Hamdi could be held indefintely until the end of the War on Terror was ridiculous. And here's the key sentence: "Certainly, we agree that indefinite detention for the purpose of interrogation is not authorized..
S. Look, it's been 200-some years, why are we even talking about this. Yeah, I know, it seems like we are talking about these things alot these days, but this adminsitration has really got the hots for seeing you in bright orange jump suit, shoveling coal into the national furnace of the new New American Mercantile Empire...
Of course, this is all under current law, and as you will all be horrified to learn in a few minutes when Strychnine descends the well in a wrath of firey radio waves, this court itself may have run afoul of certain new pieces of legislation floating around the halls of power.
And John Ashcroft will be forced to arrest the Supremes. Yeah, Tony The Chad doin' his time at the GTMO Gray Bar... sure, there's some grim satisifaction in that. But not enough to quell the fear that has been creeping up the spine and implanting itself deep in the lizard medulla for the past four years.
We all deal with it differently. Most Republicans, when they witness the heavy hand of government, like cops beating a guy like a pinata with metal flashlights immediately retreat to denail: sure, dude had it comin' right? Right? Cops would never do that to me...I'm a good, law abidin' Republicoid, freshly scrubbed, newly coded and ready to serve Maximum Leader, no questions asked.
Then again, some of us just go find old friends with radio shows and shout real loud to whoever will listen before sunrise on Saturday mornings...
But this is also why we have to be happy with even little victories. Every little bit helps. Such as the other notable decision out of the Supremes last week, that while not directly related to terrorism, was at least related to unrestrained police power, United States v. Petane and Missouri v. Seibert. These two cases, in a nutshell.
We took one in the shorts in the first case, Petane, where the Supremes ruled that as long as the cops didn't admit any "statements" you made into evidence, they could beat all the physical evidence they wanted out of you without Miranda warnings, and that's all good.
In Seibert, we did a little better: The police have a little technique they like to use, based on the "critical moment" and "custody" tests. The idea is that you only need to be aware of your Miranda rights if you are actually in imminent danger of being deprived of life, liberty or property. However, if the cops just want to have a friendly chat...you know, "to clear a few things up" then you can incriminate yourself all day long and the cops can use it court.
No more, however. The Supremes plugged that loophole pretty well, saying, despite some differences in general scope of issue, that if the cops yank you off the street to sweat you under the lights, they are not just having a friendly conversation. This has been a spreading practice as a work-around for cops who are too lazy, stoopid or just infected with too much popular culture to understand that Miranda protects them as much as it protects the suspect.
So I guess, the only thing we really have to wonder is if the various levels of executive government, from the current Presidential Administration to your local City Hall will feel particularly constrained to follow these rules.
For instance, the Center for Constitutional Rights is demanding access to their clients in GTMO, per the Rasul decision. Let's see if the Administration really has as much contempt for the rule of law as we all believe they do.
Come on, we dare you to refuse them the ability to confer with their lawyers, or hold open hearings for them with appropriate legal counsel. Just how far are you guys going to go in proving that you have nothing but hatred for our country and everything it stands for.
None of us here in the Mojowire command bunker are going to hold our breaths.
J. One of the great surprises for the Bush Campaign in 2000 was the failure to turn out close to 4 million Evangelical Christian Conservative voters to the polls. A failure of voter turnout and on the ground organization that almost cost Junior the Election, if the referees hadn't intervened.
So it became the raison d'etre of this White House to service that consituency and ensure that they never lost becasue of a failure for that vote to feel compelled to turn out for them.
We've documented many times in the last year or so the grotesque pandering to Christian Homophobes, Racists, 700 Club grifters and Harry Potter fearin' nutbars that receive the largesse and attention of the U.S. goverment like a mother hen nurturing her chicks.
The White House clearly believes that they own evey Christian voter in America. When former altar boy John Kerry chastises the President using a verse from the Bible, the White House and the chimps in the Right Wing Press come unglued, horrified that a Democrat evens owns a Bible, let alone has the liberl nerve to read it.
As we pimped to you a few weeks ago, the President actually tried to lean on a sickly Pope to order his American Bishops to perform an exorcism on John Kerry to try to capture those Catholics that the Republicans can't seem to move over to their column.
So with all the love and tender care the White House has tried to offer, this story should come as no surprise: President Bush, seeking to mobilize religious conservatives for his reelection campaign, has asked church-going volunteers to turn over church membership directories, campaign officials said on Thursday.
In a move sharply criticized both by religious leaders and civil libertarians, the Bush-Cheney campaign has issued a guide listing about two-dozen "duties" and a series of deadlines for organizing support among conservative church congregations.
A copy of the guide obtained by Reuters directs religious volunteers to send church directories to state campaign committees, identify new churches that can be organized by the Bush campaign and talk to clergy members about holding voter registration drives.
So let me get this straight. The Bush campaign wants churches to give them a list of their members so they can openly pro-patria get out the vote and registration drives. In fact, they want to transform a place of worship into another outpost of the Bush campaign.
Well, if this isn't Ralph Reed's skankiest, musk-bathing hoochie Church Lady in Leather garters and latex hood wet-dream just come to life, then I don't know what is. The White House openly stepping up and ordering all good Christian Churches in America to organize and campaign for the President.
S. Our first thought was, kiss your tax exempt status goodbye. Churches that enjoy tax exempt status are forbidden by law from directly endorsing a candidate, contributing to that candidate, or campaigning for that canddiate in the Church's name.
So what did the letter say explictiely...feel the burn on the way down folks as we relate some of our favorites to you:
Send your Church's Directory to your States Bush/Cheney HQ. Presumably without your church's knowledge. I'm sure your fellow Church Members will be thrilled you gave away thier private information to a political party.
Shh..don't tell the Pastor..wink wink..nudge nudge.
Identify another conservative Church in your area. That shoud be easy..Just find a group of white bigots ranting about gays and immigrants, the smell alone should be easy to pick out.
Talk to your pastor about setting up a Citizenship Sunday and voter registration drive.
Here is the money shot. Talk to your pastor suggests you haven't been working your pastor to do all he can to get his congregation to the polls and pull a lever for B.C. This is the part that could get the Church a visit to a Tax Court hearing.
Recruit 5 members to the cause. Do they need to be sober when you do this? It might help if they are not.
Beyond the contempt for the separation of Church And State, this letter is yet another perfect illustration of the contempt for the rule of law this Administration has. Their attitude is, you want us to follow the law, make us. We control the Congress and the Executive Branch, and we have 5 mostly freindly justices on the Surpreme.
You want us to stop torturing people. Make us. You want us to abide by the due process rights at the heart of American Liberty, make us sissy. You want to stop us from assimilating Conservatve Christain churchs as outposts of the Republican party, make us liberal girly man.
The law is a just another tool of power, not a code of conduct to these people. And for that fact, so is the Bible. Look, we're not bagging on Christians per se, we know your scared, there's a lot of scary stuff going on out there. We got no problem with you Atticus.
The problem is with people in power who use the Bibile as a kind of social sheep shearing device to fleece people out of their money, then to retain a hold on abusive power that would have sent Jesus into a towering God-based rage that would have had all the money changers scurrying for cover.
So it's time Mr and Mrs. Evenagelical Christian. All the Yellow ribbons in the world won't matter if you allow yourself to become another loyal party member in the glorious worldwide revolution of NeoImperialism. What would Jesus Do?
cue JAMES music
And now the music is telling me that we have an incoming transmission from the redoubtable Dr. S9…
J. That’s right. It is time once again for our regular contributor Dr. Strychnine, reporting from his super-secret, ultra-dope, mega-cool, extra-jiggy, Mojohaus spy satellite of love high in geosynchronous orbit above Baghdad by the Bay…take it away S9…
LEGISLATION OF THE DAMNED
S9. Salutations from low earth orbit, once again, space adventurers. After last week's dose of depression about Peak Oil, we here on S9 Station thought it would be a good idea to lighten up everyone's spirits with a digression about whatever happened to the ''PATRIOT II'' draft.
Regular followers of our antics will recall back to January of last year, after the initial flurry of criticism about the original USA PATRIOT Act died down, we told you about how the Center For Public Integrity published a leaked Justice Department draft of a followup bill that quickly came to be known as PATRIOT II. It was a horror of a bill, with several frightening provisions in it -- for example, it would have expanded the penalties for collaboration with terrorist groups to include expatriation.
Brief aside: forced expatriation is what makes American citizens into stateless persons; and, the phrase ''stateless person'' is another way of saying ''you look purty in that hood with those electrodes clamped onto yer family treasures.''
There was a great hew and cry in the mainstream media after the news about the PATRIOT II draft broke, and the Justice Department quickly made a big scene out of publicly disavowing it, saying it was all just wishful thinking on the part of some overworked prosecutors. At the same time, some reporters were saying that Justice was caught flat-footed by the leak, and now they would have to sneak the provisions of the bill through Congress in little pieces, one at a time.
Welcome to the future, boys and girls. There are now at least five bills now before Congress containing provisions that originated in the PATRIOT II draft. That's not including the one that already passed— a rider to the Intelligence Authorization Act in December— it greatly expanded the power of federal investigators to search and seize business records without a warrant. The others are as follows:
+ HR 3179, The Anti-terrorism Intelligence Tools Improvement Act
+ HR 3037, The Anti-terrorism Intelligence Tools Enhancement Act
+ S 1606 and HR 3040, The Pretrial Detention and Lifetime Supervision of Terrorists Act
+ HR 2934, The Terrorist Penalties Enhancement Act
The first one specifies one to five years of jail time for people who disclose that federal investigators have invoked PATRIOT to search or seize their business records. The second one is a nasty piece of work that basically gives the the FBI power to issue administrative subpoenas to summon witnesses, search and seize papers and records, compel testimony, and all without requiring a court to be involved -- unless, of course, a ''contempt of court'' charge needs to be
made, naturally. The third and fourth are the House and Senate versions of the same bill -- to deny bail for those accused of terrorism, even in cases of non-violent crime. The fifth expands the federal death penalty to include minor non-violent crimes ''related'' to a terrorist act that results in death (even accidental or unintended death).
Keep in mind that all these bills and the USA PATRIOT Act itself define terrorism broadly enough to include civil disobedience and public demonstration under many circumstances. So let's review the bidding, shall we?
Suppose you're planning to go to New York City in September -- see the sights, take in a show, march in a parade and call for the impeachment of the President and his entire national security staff during the Republican National Convention -- you know, what any patriotic American would do.
Under the PATRIOT Act, these protests qualify as terrorism. Under these new laws the Congress is about to pass, organizers (even participants) could be denied bail, their homes searched, their
business records seized, their families and friends summoned and compelled to testify, in secret and under penalty of jail if they disclose it -- and all on the say of an FBI agent.
Now, suppose the New York cops and the marshalls and the national guard and the army and the secret service decide to make an example out of some of the demonstrators, the gloves come off outside Lincoln Center, and some of our peoples get trampled or run-over or beaten to death or
shot in the head or set on fire. You know, the sort of thing that happens to dirty, harry hippies who should know better, and stay in California where they belong -- well then, that means everybody charged with a crime related to the protests could be charged with a federal death penalty.
And if that doesn't give you the chills, consider the fact that DeForest B. Soaries, a senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, NJ and the chairman of the U.S. Election
Assistance Commission, last week asked the the National Security Adviser and the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish guidelines for canceling or postponing elections in the event of terrorist attacks.
He says he's still waiting for a response. Be seeing you...
BOOKS ER FER SISSIES
J. During the 2000 campaign, George Bush campaigned as Republican Governor who has presided over a vast improvement in Texas Public schools. He promised to bring that expertise to Washington. The most heralded of these changes was something hailed as the Texas miracle.
The Texas miracle was an astonishing drop in dropout rates in the Houston School District run by Rod Paige, who, on the strength of this, was promoted to Secretary of Education. The Texas miracle, which promoted constant testing of Students and strict accountability, was one of the models for the No Child Left Behind Act, the signature Education Bill of the Bush Administration.
So lets fast forward a few years later in August 2003, when the New York Times dropped this bomb: Robert Kimball, an assistant principal at Sharpstown High School, sat smack in the middle of the ''Texas miracle.'' His poor, mostly minority high school of 1,650 students had a freshman class of 1,000 that dwindled to fewer than 300 students by senior year. And yet - and this is the miracle - not one dropout to report!
Nor was zero an unusual dropout rate in this school district that both President Bush and Secretary of Education Rod Paige have held up as the national showcase for accountability and the model for the federal No Child Left Behind law. Westside High here had 2,308 students and no reported dropouts; Wheatley High 731 students, no dropouts. A dozen of the city's poorest schools reported dropout rates under 1 percent.
....In February, with the help of Dr. Kimball, the local television station KHOU broke the news that Sharpstown High had falsified its dropout data. That led to a state audit of 16 Houston schools, which found that of 5,500 teenagers surveyed who had left school, 3,000 should have been counted as dropouts but were not. Last week, the state appointed a monitor to oversee the district's data collection and downgraded 14 audited schools to the state's lowest rating.
....''This isn't about educating children,'' Dr. Kimball said. ''It's about public relations.'' This story barely created a ripple in the national Press. Rod Paige still has his job, despite going Dick Cheney on the National Education Association when he called them Terrorists. And what of Texas, which is living the legacy of the Bush Governorship in Education. This via the Victoria Advocate in Texas:
A U.S. Census Bureau study shows that Texas again ranks last in the percentage of high school graduates. The study released Tuesday shows that 77 percent of Texans age 25 and older had a high school degree in 2003, the same percentage as a decade earlier, when Texas ranked 39th in the country. Meanwhile, graduation rates in other states have improved and a record 85 percent of Americans have high school degrees.
Get the party started Mississippi, you are no longer the undisputed champion of illiterate Red States! It will be banjo's and moonshine in Red State America now that Texas has set a new standard in defining education downwards. The perfect counterpoint to this story came through into Mojowire headquarters from the Moonie Times:
S. Texas officials say the state's 150,000-bed prison system will exceed its operating capacity next year. The overcrowding comes after nearly a decade of prison expansion in which the system's capacity tripled. The growth is attributed to more prison sentences and a growing number of parole revocations.Gov. Rick Perry is looking at leasing county jail space as a short-term solution and building more prisons in the long term, spokesman Robert Black said.
Hmmm, could there be connection between illiteracy and an expanding prison population? We are pimping this to you Wireheads because Texas is the perfect example of the Republican Nirvana that George Bush wants to mold the rest of the country into.
A low tax state with the country's lowest population with the bare minimum of a high school diploma, an absolute essential to employment. A state with one of the countries largest populations of children without Healthcare. A state that harbors companies like Enron which conspired to and did defraud the State of California through manipulation of the energy market, screw you Grandma Millie!
No Child Left Behind was hailed as a new era of Federal Support for public education. So what does the Administration do? It refuses to fully fund the initiative by close to 30 million a year! No Child will be left behind in a our national push to decrease the number of high school graduates.
The conclusion we draw from this is that the Administration doesn't have an education policy. It cooked up a bill and then decided to leave that bill on the Island of Misfit Unfunded mandates. Nothing else has been forthcoming from this Administration other than more Voucher rhetoric.
This is in sharp contrast to the Kerry campaign, which has made several concrete proposals to address real issues in American Education. Let's just stop and revel in that statement. A candidate for President who actually thinks about and proposes real domestic policy ideas? It's been so long since that happened we almost forgot what it was like. What are some of the Kerry Idea's..Here's a few we like:
School Construction: It's been estimated that there is over 120 Billion in school repair and construction that needs to done to adequately house and teach the rising school age population. Kerry has proposed issuing 24.8 Billion in Bonds to help states and counties fund new school construction.
This is a tremendous idea for a desperate need. Many communities have no realistic ability to raise the necessary funds to build enough class space to educate their kids. It's appalling that the Republican Party will dig through the pockets of working people to pay for prisons to house the local pothead for a lifetime, but ooze blood out their eye sockets at the idea of taxing millionaires so your kids can learn to read. Welcome to Texas..
You get what you pay for: There's been a lot of lip-flapping by the Republican party about blaming everything wrong with their ignorant children on teachers. John Kerry wants them to put up or shut up. You really want better teachers.
Then let's pay them more. He has proposed assisting school districts in raising the pay of teachers to attract the best and the brightest to the teaching profession, in exchange for relaxed rules on teacher accountability. His proposal particularly is focused on Math and the Sciences, where competition with the private sector is greatest.
Folks, this is a no-brainer. You want to keep those tech jobs and be the innovation capital of the world, then we need the workers to do it. Unless you want to live in the WalMart Nirvana advocated by the Republican party.
This is just a taste of Kerry's ideas. He's stumping on expanding access to College with financial assistance, recruiting and training principals, even helpings schools meet the needs of kids with behavior and discipline problems. Yeah, an administration unwilling to flush anyone with a whiff of problems down the toilet.
Can we make it any plainer. Texas is the Education reality that the President wants to bring to a school near you. John Kerry wants to actually start a policy debate on making our schools better, and spending the money we need to that, rather than dropping a few billion on the top 1% so they can ship your job overseas.
An illiterate America is a Republican America. An ideas so simple even a Texas Republican with no diploma drinking moonshine at a gun show could understand...talk to the latte scrubs...
J. It's 123 days until election day and our patriotic thought for the week is: readin' and writin' and 'rtihmatic, means the terrorists win, or as John Ashcroft says... “Get out there and win one for W, or I might just remember your church once hosted an Iraqi exchange student”
S. And that’s all for this week, tune in again soon for another exciting installment, until, 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. Email, us hippies!
J. And now you can check out the Mojowire online at Mojowire.Blogspot.com; you can read the entire archive along with our general ramblings...
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...