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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Monday, June 26, 2006

National Security vs. the People's Right to Know

The website of the U.S. State Department has this to say about the role of free press in a democracy:

Democracies foster a never-ending struggle between two rights: The government's
obligation to protect national security; and the people's right to know, based
on journalists' ability to access information. Governments sometimes need to
limit access to information considered too sensitive for general distribution.
But journalists in democracies are fully justified in pursuing such

Some members and friends of the Bush administration are proclaiming their outrage at the NY Times' recent story on the Bush Administration's program to monitor and track financial records - in the name of combating terrorism. Some have actually suggested the NY Times should be prosecuted for treason. And of course, the news-talk shows on CNN (and other stations) have jumped right in for a feeding frenzy.

For a lark, I caught Hardball on CCN which featured a debate (so-called) on this topic between Rev. Al Sharpton and Melanie Morgan, neither of whom impresss me. These two put on a quite a show - yelling at one another and calling each other names, and spouting off dogma, spin, sweeping generalities, and cliches. What a hoot!

And what a pity.

Because this issue calls for a serious discussion - not a staged show.

What's really on the table here is freedom of the press.

And the Bush administration has been exceptionally hostile to the press and to civil liberties.

Americans, be ware!

We are treading on dangerous ground here. We've seen the erosion of civil liberties over the past several years, and we've watched the press ignore its responsibility to ask tough questions and raise serious issues. And we've watched this current administration hide as much information as it can and take as much power as it can, all in the name of patriotism - in the guise of defending Americans against terrorists.

We are losing some of the principles which conservatives tell us are the very principles for which the terrorists hate us. So who is really winning this so-called war - this clash of ideology?

Before we lose any more - let's slow down and demand that our nation (that means our elected officials, our media, and us - WE THE PEOPLE) engage in a considered, intelligent, respectful discussion of what constitutes a free press in a democratic society.

Americans be ware! We are on the brink of losing more than we realize.


Blogger Jack K. said...

Could it be that we are being lulled into a false sense of security by all of the wonderful consumer items available to us.

I suspect that all of these things we can buy to make our lives more convenient may just be a smoke screen to keep our minds busy with the inconsequential things.

While we are preoccupied with the necessities of life we are inattentive to the things that matter, our liberties.

I agree,

(Pardon the loud voice.)

June 26, 2006 6:22 PM  
Blogger CROAK said...

By your writing such brilliant conciousness raising issues you are indeed showing that there is hope for a return to the Great America of yore.
I had always believed your famous consititution saved you from such democratically depleting ravages.

Good luck.
We 'down under' need your leadership, Bird.
Keep at it!

June 26, 2006 7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i still struggle with this issue - your insights are valuable!

June 27, 2006 7:20 AM  
Blogger disguised said...

"We are losing some of the principles which conservatives tell us are the very principles for which the terrorists hate us. So who is really winning this so-called war - this clash of ideology?"

So well said. The irony just shows how, when corporations mess with tings, principles go out the window for the almighty daughter. It's not Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, it 's principled and not, and that reshuffles all the players in the game.

June 27, 2006 11:22 PM  
Blogger Bird said...

JK - yeah - lo, we are verily distracted - not just by all the "stuff" we're sold, but by the antics of our congress - who argue and debate flag-burning amendments, non-binding resolutions in support of the war, etc., instead of thoughtfully debating the issues that underlie those fanned-to-the-flame issues.

Croak - I think our constitituion will save us from this latest "democractically depleting ravage" - at least today I do (I'm in a hopeful mood). the pendulum is swinging...

Disguised - yes - that's a great way to reshuffle the deck - these labels of dem/repub, lib/conserv serve only to divide and make for great cliches and sound bites. but principled and unprincipled, though still a label, seems to open it up much more.

of course, bush, you know, is principled (perceived that way by many) - it's just that his principles don't exactly coincide with mine....argh - i feel a case of the post-post modern blues coming on!

June 28, 2006 7:05 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

/bark bark bark

there is the right to do something, and then what follows is "should" it be done even though you have the "right".

it has become an impossible task in the usa to take action...every strategy at our disposal drug out into the light of day and exposed to those who would do us harm to use, learn from and change up their game plan.

then, after the puffy self important NYT has taken all efforts to deal with terrorists as an opportunity to trash out the admisitration, making them far less effective in finding cells and stopping them from doing whatever, they will be the first ones to blame the NSA and OHS for lack of action and foresight.

bird said:

"We are losing some of the principles which conservatives tell us are the very principles for which the terrorists hate us."

well, based on what the terrorists have actually written down for us i would have to *respectfully* disagree

what do "they" hate about us? is is NOT conservative principles, its the opposite. homosexuality. commodification of women. extreme capitalism, which is equally embraced by libs and conserves alike, i might point out.

here's a great quote straight from the horses mouth, one Mr. osama bin laden:

" We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling's, and trading with interest."


"You are a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom. You have continued to sink down this abyss from level to level until incest has spread amongst you, in the face of which neither your sense of honour nor your laws object.

Who can forget your President Clinton's immoral acts committed in the official Oval office? After that you did not even bring him to account, other than that he 'made a mistake', after which everything passed with no punishment. Is there a worse kind of event for which your name will go down in history and remembered by nations?"

did ya'll catch that?

"Is there a worse kind of event for which your name will go down in history and remembered by nations?"

of all our sins, not bringing Clinton to account makes the top of the list.

now, speaking to the issue of religion, this is another prime issue for al qaeda which speaks to our secularism (from their point of view) now i realize all ya'll think this is a christian prison camp over here but have a look at what our enemies have to say 'bout that:

"You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire. You separate religion from your policies, contradicting the pure nature which affirms Absolute Authority to the Lord and your Creator. You flee from the embarrassing question posed to you: How is it possible for Allah the Almighty to create His creation, grant them power over all the creatures and land, grant them all the amenities of life, and then deny them that which they are most in need of: knowledge of the laws which govern their lives?"

no we arent anywhere near losing the "principles" that the terrorists hate, in fact we are the major exporter of all they despise which is liberal idealogy, not in the classic constitutional sense as it used to mean, but in its new bastardized form. americans beware indeed!

boyed: metal kitties I like!


June 28, 2006 9:50 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

/bark bark bark

one last thing: this is from an editorial in the New York Times issue dated 9/24/01:

Organizing the hijacking of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon took significant sums of money. The cost of these plots suggests that putting Osama bin Laden and other international terrorists out of business will require more than diplomatic coalitions and military action. Washington and its allies must also disable the financial networks used by terrorists.

The Bush administration is preparing new laws to help track terrorists through their money-laundering activity and is readying an executive order freezing the assets of known terrorists. Much more is needed, including stricter regulations, the recruitment of specialized investigators and greater cooperation with foreign banking authorities. There must also must be closer coordination among America's law enforcement, national security and financial regulatory agencies...'

nice. going. times. talking out both sides of your ass.
sorry. all further rants will be contained at SK9.

*cut and paste lifted from micellemalkin.com


June 28, 2006 11:41 AM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...

Bird, Dawg is right. Doan think that such statements is jes' them jihadists and radicals like O'sama and company. Sorry ter report this but beyond Aunty's blogdom, Aunty done had nose ter nose yakkin' wif Arab (muslim) delegates ter major international fora, not the hangouts of "radicals" --here are two direct quotes post 9.11:

"Your nation will sink in its vile homosexual culture."

"America disgusts Allah. You elected a vomiting dog as your president. (Clinton) You sell your daughters to Hollywood. Your sons are girls. You are like a fermented pomegrante. Open it an a thousand decayed pustules spurt over the world."

June 28, 2006 1:03 PM  
Blogger Bird said...

though we disagree, your rants are welcome here (as long as you bark and not bite and the shit ain't to big and stinky - we do have limits - hahahaha.

but K9 and ABm consider this:

1. This secret program the NY Times supposedly "outed" isn't secret - Bush has long stated, off and on, and in public, that we are following the money trail.

2. The Swift group publishes info on its website which mentions this "secret" program. Hmm..pretty darn secret, eh?

3. They have a magazine that discusses it too. Oooh, super secret.

Thus - it ain't no secret. NY TImes really didn't reveal anything that any terrorist organization probably didn't already know, nor anything that any US citizen with a decent memory didn't know - we're tracking the money through collaborations with international banking systems.

What the NYT did do was remind the public that this is occurring - and that some within the administration and within the banking world are a little concerned about this program - and given the past transgressions of this administration. its penchant for deception, its desire for more and more power and its aversion to checks and balances, as well as the erosion of our civil liberties , the NYT had every right to publish the article. they in no way endangered national security.

and don't forget, they revealed the wiretap program (which is highly questionable) and it's still running, unabated. and remember as well - NYT delayed publishing that story for a year (and during an election year, no less) - out of its desire to balance thatthose two tricky poles- the people's right to know and national security.

In a democracy - there will be disagreements about how we manage that tightrope. disagreements require discussion - not hyperbole, not threats, not the revocation of credentials, censures, prosecution, etc. not unless the "transgression" is egregious (like revealing troop movements) - and the publication of this story is not egregious. it's withing the range of reason and within the range of debate - not condemnation.

A discussion of course is in order, but a resolution in Congress condemning the NYTImes? Revoking credentials of reporters? Charges of treason? This is bullshit, a power grab and an attempt to undermine one of democracy's KEY elements - a free press.

to me, this is scary shit. when you lose a free press, you lose democracy. plain and simple.

now, i wish our press was more rigorous - they have failed us in the past -but this is a case of the press not failing the public, but of the government trying to clamp down on the press.

I say again - America - be ware!!!

June 28, 2006 5:26 PM  
Blogger Bird said...

i forgot to mention -

bush and other politicians have stated before that the terrorists hate us for our freedom. that's the principle or concept or ideal i'm referring to. they hate us for our freedom, eh? and yet, in order to combat terrorism, we are destroying the very thing which we claim we want to protect.

June 28, 2006 5:29 PM  
Blogger Jack K. said...

Another voice heard from:

Lt. Tom Cotton writes this morning from Baghdad with a word for the New York Times:
Dear Messrs. Keller, Lichtblau & Risen:

Congratulations on disclosing our government's highly classified anti-terrorist-financing program (June 23). I apologize for not writing sooner. But I am a lieutenant in the United States Army and I spent the last four days patrolling one of the more dangerous areas in Iraq. (Alas, operational security and common sense prevent me from even revealing this unclassified location in a private medium like email.)

Unfortunately, as I supervised my soldiers late one night, I heard a booming explosion several miles away. I learned a few hours later that a powerful roadside bomb killed one soldier and severely injured another from my 130-man company. I deeply hope that we can find and kill or capture the terrorists responsible for that bomb. But, of course, these terrorists do not spring from the soil like Plato's guardians. No, they require financing to obtain mortars and artillery shells, priming explosives, wiring and circuitry, not to mention for training and payments to locals willing to emplace bombs in exchange for a few months' salary.
As your story states, the program was legal, briefed to Congress, supported in the government and financial industry,and very successful.

Not anymore. You may think you have done a public service, but you have gravely endangered the lives of my soldiers and all other soldiers and innocent Iraqis here. Next time I hear that familiar explosion -- or next time I feel it -- I will wonder whether we could have stopped that bomb had you not instructed terrorists how to evade our financial surveillance.

And, by the way, having graduated from Harvard Law and practiced with a federal appellate judge and two Washington law firms before becoming an infantry officer, I am well-versed in the espionage laws relevant to this story and others -- laws you have plainly violated. I hope that my colleagues at the Department of Justice match the courage of my soldiers here and prosecute you and your newspaper to the fullest extent of the law. By the time we return home, maybe you will be in your rightful place: not at the Pulitzer announcements, but behind bars.

Very truly yours,

June 29, 2006 5:35 PM  
Blogger Pete Bogs said...

Aunt B - Muslims have homosexuals, too... they string them up...

bird - the movie Brazil is all about the gov't stripping away freedoms under the notion that terrorists have made this necessary, and it is for our safety... brilliant film by Terry Gilliam...

Bush & Co. are making everything about terrorists, enabling them to do as they wish... SCOTUS just said no military tribunals for Gitmo inmates, so now Frist is wanting to enact some legislation to allow Bush to continue with his plans of keeping us "safe"

this is how democracy ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper... we all need to, in a word, start banging a lot more... bang on the doors of our reps and let them know we won't stand for the direction our country is going in...

June 29, 2006 7:45 PM  
Blogger Bird said...

all due respect to Lt. Tom Cotton, as the violence in Iraq has increased (according to my understanding of the situation) since the declaration of MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, I highly doubt that the financial tracking program (which began shortly after 9/11) has much to do with the rise or fall of the violence in Iraq.

jack - have you returned from you journey? i'll have to swoop by your blog and see if you have more tales to tell.

bogs - nice to see you here - how are you eating these days? (haha!)

June 29, 2006 8:33 PM  
Blogger disguised said...

Okay, I'll put here what I was going to blog about from an earlier conversation with a friend--same end result, though.

Separation of church and state seems to be the issue with Muslims, Mormons, Southern Baptists, Jehova's Witnesses and the like. Given the nature of our country--a nation of immigrants who never did come from similar religious backgrounds, it's IMPOSSIBLE to have laws that cover morals and ideals that vary from religion to religion, not to mention person to person. Otherwise it's mob rule at various levels. Thank you Thomas Jefferson, even if you did screw your slaves. And even if you did have slaves. For the above reason, we must have laws--fairly general--that represent the VERY BASICS, those that will keep people from suffering from "the tyranny of the majority."

Perhaps sex was not on the minds of our founding fathers or they chose not to go there. Oh, of course it was on their minds. But if you mention sex in a law, then you constrain yourself. Our laws were set up with the intent of keeping people from hurting each other and setting the boundaries of personal liberties within those confines.

Following this, many current constitutional conservatives tend to be quite "small government." Fine. Whatever, except my bleeding heart says people sometimes need help. But thank God we have the freedom from institutional religion if we so choose, and because of that, we have the separation of church and state.

One has to remember that much of the "culture" of the founding of our nation comes from the generalized characteristics of the Scottish people. They tend to be individualistic, value personal freedom at a high level, and despise intitutionalized anything. This is where the folkore of Horatio Alger "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" comes from. Scots also tend to not like the Brits. I can attest to all of this because I come from a family of Scots, and these cultural characteristics follow through us whether or not we are "conservative" or "liberal."

In addition, it wouldn't be proper to mention sex in a document that was meant to rule a country at a time when sex was (and, in some cases still is) so tied to religion. The founding fathers tended to be fairly anti-institutional. I can only hope that their tradition continues. GOVERNMENT, OUT OF MY BEDROOM.

June 29, 2006 11:20 PM  
Blogger Bird said...

i want to clarify the muslim/homosexual stuff.

k9 - can you clarify your point regarding homosexuality and terrorists (fundie islamists?) - you are calling their point of view to our attention - not necessarily endorsing it (regarding gays&lesbians)? or implying that the gay equal rights movement has harmed us and should be surpressed?

same with ab - is anyone here suggesting that we tighten up our "moral" code regarding gays and lesbians in order to appease the terrorists? or even at all, for that matter...

you may of course suggest so, and you may of course state that homosexuals are a plague and a scourge in your comments (support that claim please)

but i will of course have to engage in tern airfight tactics and of course dump a load of incredibly sticky, gooey, green and black smeary bird shit upon you if you do.

commenters - be ware!


June 30, 2006 8:18 AM  
Blogger bronxbt said...


i'm not in an educated and opininated mood today, so please bear with me...

this is a totally random thing i jes HAD to share with you:

I've seen you comment on Jack's site, and i love yours. I also love it how you sign off with "flap/flap/swoosh!"

the other day, i was sitting in my yard, enjoying the acrobats of 2 swallows that often frequent the oasis we're creating in the backyard.

they were going flap/flap/swoosh! for the longest time. just as i was marveling the faster of the two, he/she went flap/flap/swoosh! /BONK!....

right into the side of the house.

Grace was fine. (named her grace cuz, well, duh) she sat in my protective shadow for about 5 minutes (we do have cats) while her mate sat on the roof and chirped encouragements from above.

she flew off, happy to not have met a grisely demise...

"flap/flap/swoosh!/ BONK!"

omg, i swear i almost peed my pants it was so funny.

next time i'll say something intelligent, i promise.

June 30, 2006 9:32 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

/bark bark bark

bird, correct. i am calling attention to what funde-islam told us straight up are their issues with this nation. I am not endorsing that point of view but i do have some thoughts about the "gay thing" which i will address in a moment.

dont misunderstand, there are long ass rants on our support of israel and our treatment of the pali's as well. but when you read their missives to us, its the secularist approach to living that they truly despise. one of the most telling comments is this:

"You are a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom."

and there is a truth to that. i am not endorsing them! but consider that observation. it has merit. do i think we should do anything, ever, to appease these morons? hell no.

i wrote this at aunty belles recently that i think the christian foundation this nation was built on offers the greatest latititude of freedom for the greatest variety of peoples. i think even better freedom than very secular nations such as denmark. (Ill let freya flesh that one out for another time)

i am of the "shake my dust from my feet a move on" wing of Christian being. meaning, i am not interested in evangelization, i really don't care about others' belief systems or actions until heads start rolling (literally) and then they got to stop.

now, the "gay thing". I dont care about homosexuality. i dont care who is or isnt, what they do, and how it is handled officially and/or legally. but i will give you my opinion on the matter:

here is a group of people, who are not merely content with equality with regard to acceptance (lets leave the legal out for a moment) but in fact, seem to have a beligerant force feeding attitude of not only do you hetero's have to accept it, but EMBRACE it fully. or you will be defined as a bigoted homophobe judmental prick. its a funny thing about tolerance...everybodys got their own brand. i submit to you this though: the ultra left are the most intolerant and angry people on the face of the earth!!!!!!!!

We had gay pride in ATL last week. I have to tell you leather boys simulating anal sex on top of a crepe paper float gliding down peachtree in the middle of the day for all to see doesnt do a whole lot to inspire community within me! can you appreciate that?

my other rant on gay peple is they make their sex lives the centerpiece of all social and political issues. as if their right to get it on supercedes all other concerns that this nation faces! are you f*cking kidding me? how completely narcissistic and selfish can they get. they make and break candidates over it. they define agendas. yall always rappin about the tyranny of the few!! well here it is in living multi color flagged splendor. and what is the percentage of homo's in america? are ya feeling me at all on this bird?

man, i could write for another hour on this but why?
reading above about all these rights ya'll have lost; please list them! I really want to know.This notion that W is our biggest threat. I dont agree. I think the libs make it impossible to prosecute wars, incarcerate crimminals, do business, and most important of all, work endlessly to weaken our sovereign right to protect the interests of the United States of America.

and if you guys are operating under the notion that China, and NK and any muslim nation and even our bullshit allies who did oil for food behind our backs during the "diplomacy" era are interested in having fairness across this globe you are mistaken. every nation is going to do whatever they can to get what they can for their own survival. and its going to get more accute very soon.

They hate us because we actually can protect our assets and because we still have beaucoup resources. They cant compete with our might so they nurture and take advantage of the haters within, throwing in with the american left who are working against us like termites on a wood house. it will cost more in every sense of the word, and then ultimately be our undoing.

bird. i am a conservative dog its true. i am pro-america. i am pro-individual. i am pro-freedom. i dont care what people do, i do tend to get a tad bit pissed when they tell me how i should think about it. ya know?

finally, if anyone is remotely curious about the dawg ideology: its here:


steel yourself people. this is Pat Buchanan's baby. read the "core values". He's got it right.

(you can peck a fight with me anytime boyed!)

June 30, 2006 9:50 AM  
Blogger Bird said...

hahaha - loved your comment bronxbt - a nice change of pace from all this stuff and bother

how is grace doing now?


June 30, 2006 9:52 AM  
Blogger Bird said...

i'll address your comments later - much to say, but i have to run off now and grade student papers and generally kick ass on campus. hahaha!

of course, i do have to say quickly - we disagree on several points. and agree on some as well.

oh shit! i have the damn news on and the last thing i needed this morning was the clip of the japanese pm singing an elvis song, with bush grinning and smirking. they are at graceland. (wouldn't mind the japaense pm singing elvis if he could effing sing - bush forgot the damn words - he's no true-blue american - there's proof positive!) world peace and unity via elvis - wow!


leaving the building now!


June 30, 2006 9:59 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

/bark bark bark

elvis is an interesting figure in history. here was raw talent that ended up being a parody of itself at the end, with 9 billion parasitic feeders dependent on him.

hell no you can rest, elvis! you gotta do another show! we gots bills ta pay! so, here's another percodan and some jack daniels, a peanut butter and banana fried sammich and youre good to go. now git your ass out thar and do your thing! (man, i got the aunty belle talk intection bad)

my mother told me once never to strain when taking a sh*t....that's how elvis died. on the toilet grunting one out. yeah he was on a ton of drugs too but this is how it happened. or maybe not. anyway, thats one of those mama said things that i will always remember.


June 30, 2006 10:48 AM  
Blogger REB 84 said...

It seems that throughout history, executive and/or royal authority has been gained via a ruthless determination to reach out and take as much power as people allow.

Idealogs have risen to power in large part because too many people are too easily led. A "bandwagon effect" leads to almost a cult like following of "true believers." These true believers have two main rolls (besides being cheer-leaders). They recruit new members or intimidate the opposition. Still, this dedication is not enough to maintain long-term power.

Totalitarian movements grow because far too many citizens are uninvolved with politics and don’t ask questions. These citizens are the disconnected, silent majority. The key to positive change in America lies not with divisive partisan politics. The key is tapping into the pent-up hopes and dreams of the disaffected, uneducated, and uninformed Americans who don't even bother to vote.

On a positive note, I recently found a very interesting website LearnToQuestion.com. This site is one way silent majority can learn how to question.

It's Propaganda Lessons section is good complementary reading to OhioDem1's How to Sell a War I’m glad I found this site while Googling "question." It is encouraging to find fellow Americans who are taking positive actions to help wake up America.

Defend America
ask questions

June 30, 2006 9:16 PM  

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