Well, it's nearly over -- the holiday season that is. Truth be told, it wasn't that bad. I heard lots of good music, took stock (here and here), reconnected with some old friends, and got organized for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
This is not my favorite time of the year. Still, I love Christmas music; Charles Brown’s classic is my all-time favorite.Also high on my playlist are Albert King’s “Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’” and Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa.”And, oh yeah, “Silent Night,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” Aaron Neville's "O Holy Night" and Nat King Cole's "O Come All Ye Faithful."
So, whatever music gets you through the season, have a safe and joyous holiday.
Though I’m hardwired to do my part to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” I’m mindful that speaking out comes with some risk. So, I take comfort in having a network of lawyers that I can turn to if someone decides to get stupid.
Even if you already have the book in hardcover, buy the paperback because Tree has added some lagniappe, including a chapter on reparations. Now before you get too excited, your check will not be in the mail. Tree proposes the establishment of a trust fund to help lift those stuck at the bottom. The proceeds would be used to tackle the academic achievement gap, employment opportunities, housing discrimination and health disparities.
One of the most hurtful things I can hear is, Bush doesn't care about African Americans, for example. First of all, it’s not true. And, secondly, I believe that -- obviously I've got to do a better job of communicating, I guess, to certain folks, because my job is to say to people, we’re all equally American, and the American opportunity applies to you just as much as somebody else.
If he cared about the least of these, he would have joined National Urban League President Marc Morial and told his Congressional allies to show some compassion:
We are a better and more compassionate nation than this. I call upon the Congress to defeat this immoral budget and instead make public policy choices that seek the full development, health and economic security of our citizens and especially those who need our assistance the most.
So, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, I authorized the interception of international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. This program is carefully reviewed approximately every 45 days to ensure it is being used properly. Leaders in the United States Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this program. And it has been effective in disrupting the enemy, while safeguarding our civil liberties.
For the last few days, I have witnessed the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General repeatedly misrepresents the facts.
The record needs to be set clear that the Administration never afforded members briefed on the program an opportunity to either approve or disapprove the NSA program. The limited members who were told of the program were prohibited by the Administration from sharing any information about it with our colleagues, including other members of the Intelligence Committees.
At the time, I expressed my concerns to Vice President Cheney that the limited information provided to Congress was so overly restricted that it prevented members of Congress from conducting meaningful oversight of the legal and operational aspects of the program.
These concerns were never addressed, and I was prohibited from sharing my views with my colleagues.
Now that this issue has been brought out into the open, I strongly urge the Senate Intelligence Committee to immediately undertake a full investigation into the legal and operational aspects of the program, including the lack of sufficient congressional oversight.
This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties. And that is exactly what I will continue to do, so long as I’m the President of the United States.