December 23rd, 2005

tyrant, bush

The Supreme Court on "security vs. liberty"

Short summary, for those who don't have the time/energy/desire to read the rest of this:

According to the Supreme Court (ruling in a case in which some people tried to blow up a CIA office in Michigan, and thus very much relevant to the domestic security area of so-called "war on terrorism"), wiretapping for the purpose of national security MOST CERTAINLY DOES require a warrant where U.S. citizens are involved, because the Government's duty to preserve national security DOES NOT override the 4th Amendment rights of U.S. citizens.

Every argument Bush and his supporters have put forward so far in defense of his actions in authorizing wiretaps without warrants in cases where U.S. citizens are on one or both ends of the conversations is refuted by the Court's ruling in this case, which is still the law of the land with regard to warrants for national security-related wiretaps & similar electronic surveillance. One wonders whether the White House Counsel (and ex-Supreme Court nominee) somehow missed this ruling when briefing her boss about what to say to the media in defense of his actions.

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Also worth reading is the FindLaw annotation of the Fourth Amendment regarding the concept of warrantless national security electronic surveillance. Although it mostly just summarizes the above excerpts, it is written in plainer speech.

Feudalism: Serf & Turf

How wrong is that?: Picture books

Some recent entries in the "how wrong is that?" file of "interesting" children's picture books that've crossed my desk at work... (kateshort keeps encouraging me to post this sort of thing rather than just ranting at her about it, so here you go.)

The Costume Party, by Victoria Chess. (Translated from the French, Un si beau bal.) Summary: "On a rainy day, Madame Coco and her dogs have a costume party." Since that doesn't truly convey the "interesting" part of this one, let me explain. In a book where Madame Coco's five pet bull terriers sew their own costumes and decorate the living room with streamers, balloons and strings of lights, you can tell in every picture by the presence of one set of body parts or another which ones are the boy dogs (two of them) and which are the girl dogs (three of them). (Madame Coco also awards a prize for the best costume, but since she can't pick one she gives it to all of the dogs to share: a pet cat.)

Potty Poo-poo Wee-wee!, by Colin McNaughton. Summary: "When everyone tells Littlesaurus to use his potty, he ignores them and exclaims 'Potty poo poo wee wee!' until his grandmother gives him some important information." What the summary leaves out is that throughout the book, instead of using the potty when people tell him to, Littlesaurus (who constantly wears bright orange pants, red Converse high-tops, and a purple baseball cap) leaves head-sized steaming (yes, steaming) piles of poo wherever he is at the time--including at school and on the beach. And the important information granny tells him? That his father did exactly the same thing at the same age. Gosh, what a great way to be an enabler of inappropriate behavior and to undercut your kids' parenting, granny. Then Daddysaurus yells at the kid that he doesn't care if the kid never uses the potty, which magically causes the contrary kid to decide to use it, at which point everyone else repeats Littlesaurus' rude exclamation. End of book.

Snog the Frog, by Tony Bonning. Summary "Snog the Frog lives in a pond near a castle. In the castle lives a little princess. If she kisses Snog the Frog will he turn into a prince?" Nice job spoiling the point of the book in the title there. And no, the frog doesn't turn into a prince--but not for lack of urging the princess to kiss him, then kiss him again, then kiss him again, thereby making him "feel like a prince." (And yes, that's the punchline of the book.)

Seven Spunky Monkeys, by Jackie French Koller. Summary: "One by one, seven monkeys who go out to have a good time wind up falling in love over the course of a week." How can one read that title and that summary and not have one's mind dive straight for the gutter?

Feudalism: Serf & Turf