Giuliani Would Grab More Power Than Bush and Cheney

Rachel Morris, writing in The Washington Monthly warns that, “As president, Giuliani would grab even more executive power than Bush and Cheney.” She reviews his actions as mayor in detail to demonstrate this. The following is from the introduction:

Today, Giuliani is a front-runner for the presidency of the United States. Since 9/11 the office he seeks has been radically remade. Led by Dick Cheney, the Bush administration has expanded White House powers to levels unseen since the Nixon years. Claiming an inherent authority to act outside the law, it has unilaterally set aside treaties, intercepted telephone calls between citizens without court warrants, detained individuals indefinitely without judicial review, ordered “enhanced interrogations,” or torture, prohibited by law, and claimed the ability to disregard more than 1,000 parts of legislation that it has deemed to improperly restrict its authority. To thwart oversight and checks on its power, all spheres of executive branch operations have been fortified by heightened secrecy.

This expansion has warped policy decisions, undermined the country’s authority abroad, and damaged the framework of laws, institutions, and processes that secure citizens against abuse by the state. It also prompts two of the most crucial, if as yet unasked, questions of the 2008 presidential race: Which contenders are most likely to relinquish some of these powers, or, at the very least, decline to fully use them? And, alternatively, which candidate is most likely to not only embrace the powers that Bush has claimed, but to seize more? The reply to the first question is complicated, but to the second it’s simple: Rudy Giuliani.

Many Giuliani watchers already understand that Rudy is a hothead and a grandstander, even a bit of a dictator at times. These qualities have dominated the story of his mayoralty that most people know. As that drama was unfolding, however, so was a quieter story, driven by Giuliani’s instinct and capacity for manipulating the levers of government. His methods, like those of the current White House, included appointments of yes-men, aggressive tests of legal limits, strategic lawbreaking, resistance to oversight, and obsessive secrecy. As was also the case with the White House, the events of 9/11 solidified the mindset underlying his worst tendencies. Embedded in his operating style is a belief that rules don’t apply to him, and a ruthless gift for exploiting the intrinsic weaknesses in the system of checks and balances. That’s why, of all the presidential candidates, Giuliani is most likely to take the expansions of the executive branch made by the Bush administration and push them further still. The blueprint can be found in the often-overlooked corners of his mayoralty.

Conservatives Shocked But Harry Potter Fans Not Surprised By Revelation That Dumbledore Was Gay

As expected, the wing nuts are upset that a fictional character in a fictional world had a fictional crush on another fictional male. Bill O’Riley is upset that J. K. Rowling is promoting the gay agenda for revealing that Dumbledore was gay.

Many fans had already figured this out. The Los Angeles Times contacted “Andrew Slack, head of the Harry Potter Alliance, an organization that uses online organizing to mobilize more than 100,000 Harry Potter fans around social justice issues.” Slack gave seven clues that Dumbledore was gay:

1. His pet. “Fawkes, the many-colored phoenix, is ‘flaming.'”

2. His name. “While the anagram to ‘Tom Marvolo Riddle’ is ‘I am Lord Voldemort,’ as my good friend pointed out, ‘Albus Dumbledore’ becomes ‘Male bods rule, bud!'”

3. His fashion sense. “Whether it’s his ‘purple cloak and high-heeled boots,’ a ‘flamboyantly cut suit of plum velvet,’ a flowered bonnet at Christmas or his fascination with knitting patterns, Dumbledore defies the fashion standards of normative masculinity and, of course, this gives him a flair like no other. It’s no wonder that even the uppity portrait of former headmaster Phineas Nigellus announced, ‘You cannot deny he’s got style.'”

4. His sensitivity. “Leaders like Cornelius Fudge, Rufus Scrimgeour and Dolores Umbridge (yes, even a woman) who are limited by the standards of normative masculinity could not fully embrace where Voldemort was weakest: in his capacity to love. Dumbledore understood that it’s tougher to be vulnerable, to express one’s feelings, and that one’s undying love for friends and for life itself is a more powerful weapon than fear. Even his most selfish moments in pursuing the Deathly Hallows were motivated either by his feelings for Grindelwald or his wish to apologize to his late sister.”

5. His openness. “After she outed Dumbledore, Rowling said that she viewed the whole series as a prolonged treatise on tolerance. Dumbledore is the personification of this. Like the LGBT community that has time and again used its own oppression to fight for the equality of others, Dumbledore was a champion for the rights of werewolves, giants, house elves, muggle-borns, centaurs, merpeople — even alternative marriage. When it came time to decide whether the marriage between Lupin the werewolf and Tonks the full-blooded witch could be considered natural, Professor Minerva McGonagall said, ‘Dumbledore would have been happier than anybody to think that there was a little more love in the world.'”

6. His historical parallel. “If Dumbledore were like any one in history, it would have to be Leonardo DaVinci. They both were considered eccentric geniuses (‘He’s a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit mad, yes’); both added a great deal to our body of knowledge (after all, Dumbledore did discover the 12 uses of dragon’s blood!); both were solitary, both were considered warm, loving and incredibly calm; both dwelt in mysterious mystical realms; both spent a lot of time with their journals (Leonardo wrote his backwards while Dumbledore was constantly diving into his pensieve); both even had long hair! And, of course, a popular thought among many scholars is that the maestro Leonardo was gay.”

7. The fact that so few of us realized he was gay. “No matter how many ‘clues’ I can put down that Dumbledore was gay, no matter how many millions of people have read these books again and again, Rowling surprised even the most die-hard fans with the announcement that Dumbledore was gay. And in the end, the fact that we never would have guessed is what makes Dumbledore being gay so real. So many times I have encountered friends who are gay that I never would have predicted. It has shown me that one’s sexual orientation is not some obvious ‘lifestyle choice,’ it’s a precious facet of our multi-faceted personalities. And in the end whatever the differences between our personalities are, it is time that our world heeds Dumbledore’s advice: ‘Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.’ Today as I write this, I believe that it’s time for our aims to be loyal to what the greatest wizard in the world would have wanted them to be: love.”

BlogRush Bans Bawdy Blogger Babes

BlogRush keeps advising snappy titles which will get noticed in their widget, and I bet this title will get some attention. BlogRush is a clever idea which helps bring traffic into blogs by providing a widget which shows links to posts in five other blogs. In return, other blogs have links back to your blog. Some have complained that it didn’t work ideally, but its free and brought in some new readers making it worthwhile. The links have also led me to some new blogs with interesting material.

Such a set up without monitoring was perfect for spammers, making it necessary for BlogRush to manually review every blog in the network. I received an email telling me that 10,000 blogs have been removed, and mine had been approved.

I thought this meant the end of spam blogs, but yesterday I found that a couple of real blogs I discovered through BlogRush were also being removed. Blue Gal and Just a Girl in Short Shorts were both removed, presumably for violating the rule against including “obscene or disgusting material of any kind.” Well, I guess I won’t risk posting any more pictures of Dick Cheney.

I’ll leave it to readers to check out these blogs to determine if they find them obscene or disgusting. This also leaves me wondering about the marketing acumen of this outfit. A libertarian lesbian in short shorts might not be the sort of person Disney would want representing them. (Besides, they have those nude photos of Vanessa Hudgen on line to provide them with publicity.) However, the internet is a different sort of place, and this is exactly what is likely to attract the attention of bloggers who spend too much time on line. Perhaps they need to do what BuzzFeed does in offering an option to “Only show tame buzz – some of my readers are prudes.”

(Aside to Blue Gal and Becky: I hope you don’t find the word “Babes” to be offensive or demeaning. I needed a noun beginning with a B and the other one which came to mind seemed sort of rude to apply to people I don’t even know, and it might have gotten me banned from BlogRush.)

Obama and Clinton Back Dodd’s Filibuster of Telecommunications Immunity

Last week Chris Dodd received a tremendous amount of favorable comments in the blogosphere after stating his intention to filibuster the telecommunications immunity bill. There’s been a lot of pressure being placed on Obama and Clinton, and both have now announced they will support the filibuster.

From Obama:

“Senator Obama has serious concerns about many provisions in this bill, especially the provision on giving retroactive immunity to the telephone companies. He is hopeful that this bill can be improved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But if the bill comes to the Senate floor in its current form, he would support a filibuster of it.”

From Clinton:

Q: Can you discuss your position on the reauthorization of the FISA bill?

HRC: I am troubled by the concerns that have been raised by the recent legislation reported out of the Intelligence Committee. I haven’t seen it so I can’t express an opinion about it. But I don’t trust the Bush Administration with our civil rights and liberties. So I’m going to study it very hard. As matters stand now, I could not support it and I would support a filibuster absent additional information coming forward that would convince me differently.