Monday, October 31, 2005

Everything Old Is New Again

... but of course, this time it's completely different...

The National Security Agency has kept secret since 2001 a finding by an agency historian that during the Tonkin Gulf episode, which helped precipitate the Vietnam War, N.S.A. officers deliberately distorted critical intelligence to cover up their mistakes, two people familiar with the historian’s work say.

The historian’s conclusion is the first serious accusation that communications intercepted by the N.S.A., the secretive eavesdropping and code-breaking agency, were falsified so that they made it look as if North Vietnam had attacked American destroyers on Aug. 4, 1964, two days after a previous clash. President Lyndon B. Johnson cited the supposed attack to persuade Congress to authorize broad military action in Vietnam, but most historians have concluded in recent years that there was no second attack.

I Want To...

Whatever you want to do, you'll find the tool here. Everything from social bookmarking to photosharing to time and project management.

Also useful: Which Search Engine When?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday Bunnyblogging


Scooted Away

The indictments began with the sure thing - 5 counts for 'Scooter', after 'Turd Blossom' flipped and ratted him out. Despite being complicit as all get out, so far he's only 'still under scrutiny'.
Text of the indictment here.(.PDF)

Lowered Expectations

Regardless of whether Fitzmas fizzles or not, at least one Republican figure's been indicted - Tom Noe, who was at the center of Ohio's Coingate scandal:

A coin dealer and major GOP donor at the center of a scandal in Ohio state government has been indicted in a federal investigation into contributions to President Bush's re-election campaign, his attorney said Thursday.

The grand jury was examining whether Tom Noe skirted campaign finance laws by having others donate money for him. Federal laws limit individual contributions to $2,000.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

White House Reinstates Davis-Bacon

Looks like someone's political capital is all spent. A pack of Congresscritters are facing mid-term elections, and the White House's caved in..

"President Bush finally realized that his Gulf Coast wage cut was a bad idea that hurt the workers and their families affected by Katrina," said Miller. "But let me be clear - the President is backing down today only because he had no other choice.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Contraception Denied to Rape Victim

More pharmacists now feel encouraged not to do their jobs! This latest outrage comes our way from Tuscon, Arizona - not some one-pharmacy town in the middle of the prairie somewhere.

The issue surfaced in Arizona last winter, when Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed a bill that would have permitted pharmacists to refuse to dispense it on moral or religious grounds.

But her veto was essentially meaningless, as most of the drugstore chains that dominate Tucson already allow that as a matter of corporate policy. Most also require that the customer be immediately referred to another pharmacist or drugstore willing to fill the prescription.

PlameGate : : Timeline of Lies

Here is a quick guide to the various untruths the guilty parties have committed to date:

Potential Bonus Presidential Lie: In June 2004, when asked whether he stood by his promise to fire anyone found to have leaked Plame's identity, President Bush (taking a cue from Rove) answered with an unambiguous "Yes." But the New York Daily News reports that Bush knew that Rove was involved in the leak two years ago. So why, a year later, was he still acting like he had no idea who'd been involved?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Importance of the Plame Affair

With indictments coming in any day now, let's take a step back and revisit the question of what makes Plamegate so important:

There is an explicit and implicit contract between the United States and its NOCs. It has many parts, but there is one fundamental part: A NOC will never reveal that he is or was a NOC without special permission. When he does reveal it, he never gives specifics. The government also makes a guarantee -- it will never reveal the identity of a NOC under any circumstances and, in fact, will do everything to protect it. If you have lied to your closest friends for 30 years about who you are and why you talk to them, no government bureaucrat has the right to reveal your identity for you...
...There is more to this. When it is revealed that you were a NOC, foreign intelligence services begin combing back over your life, examining every relationship you had. Anyone you came into contact with becomes suspect. Sometimes, in some countries, becoming suspect can cost you your life. Revealing the identity of a NOC can be a matter of life and death -- frequently, of people no one has ever heard of or will ever hear of again.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Things That Make You Say 'Sppthhhbbbbt!'

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson owes me a cup of coffee:

I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation were not a waste of time and dollars.

As Think Progress points out, perjury, as well as outing a covert CIA operative, and obstruction of justice are all crimes.

Advertising as Payola: Who really owns CNN?

This diary on DailyKos starts with a simple observation - that many of the companies advertising on CNN do not sell anything the viewing consumer could buy. See where this takes him:

And that, in my opinion, tells me all I need to know about the above advertisers and why they're running non-stop ads on CNN, CNN Headline News, MSNBC, Fox News... because when the ads are running, the criticism and investigation stops...
... A quick look around the net will tell you WHY it's important for these companies to shut CNN up. Dow is STILL Refusing to properly compensate the dead and disfigured after the Bhopal disaster, Boeing has accepted liability for the Alaskan air crash that killed 88 people in 2000, while hiding sneaky sub-contracting scams on defense projects, and recent mass sackings haven't helped their image, while Lockheed Martin spends more time in court than your average DA for their corruption and kickbacks.

GAO Confirms Security Flaws in Voting Machines

Kos picks up this tip from Congressman John Conyers, concerning the GAO's recent report (.PDF) on current electronic voting schemes. Some highlights:

1. Some electronic voting systems did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, thus making it possible to alter them without detection...
3. Falsifying election results without leaving any evidence of such an action by using altered memory cards...
7. One DRE model was shown to have been networked in such a rudimentary fashion that a power failure on one machine would cause the entire network to fail...

...Their report divulges that, despite the many official assurances that the problems of the past elections were isolated and few, the election system is indeed riddled with problems and flaws.

The bottom line is until we make a serious commitment to address the significant security and controls concerns we have regarding our voting machines, American citizens have no reason to have complete confidence in our democracy.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

It Must Be ESP

"One of the smartest things President Bush did to reduce recovery costs in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita was to suspend Davis-Bacon Act rules in the hardest hit states. But Congress is frantically trying to overrule the president, which would add billions of dollars to the already staggering recovery costs." -- the Yuba City Appeal-Democrat, the Jacksonville, North Carolina Daily News, the Kinston, North Carolina Free Press, the Colorado Springs, Colorado Gazette, the Lima, Ohio Lima News, the Fort Wayne, Indiana News-Sentinel and the Harlingen, Texas Valley Morning Star, in a display that would make Kreskin green with envy.

A large number of these anonymous editorials - written by GOP operative Sean Paige and presented as the spontaneous points of view of their respective paper's editors - have all come to light at once, as a bill overturning Bush's repeal of Davis-Bacon has been pushed to a vote in the House. 37 House Republicans signed a letter in support of the measure.

The vast majority of the papers in which this astroturf editorial appears are owned by Freedom Communications, Inc., although they usually list some other 'Freedom'-aligned company on their respective websites. Freedom has been criticized in the past for running 'joint content' - articles that appear local but aren't:

In a widely criticized move earlier this year, The Gazette's owner, Freedom Communications, based in Orange County, Calif., launched an exercise in what it calls "joint content." Essentially, the suits upstairs decided that film reviewing, travel and food were pretty much the same wherever you go.

Evidently, political opinion is the same wherever you go, too. That's the way Freedom, Inc. likes it.

** A quick update: You can keep abreast of GOP astroturfing campaigns here.

Counter-mortar operations in the Sunni Triangle

Some notes on an article from the Infantry Journal:

In addition to the evolution of mortar sophistication, the enemy began using stolen rockets (seized from existing ammo storage sites during the early days of the war) to fire at friendly larger fixed sites

Besides pointing out that those facilities - like Al-Qaqaa - could have been secured, this would seem to poke a hole in the State Dept.'s spin, that the insurgency is supplied by Syria and Iran.

The actual counter-mortar strategy:

The key to success is to quickly acquire the acquisition grid, announce the grid, clear fires immediately, then fire counterfire within three to four minutes using all available indirect fire assets while simultaneously maneuvering ground forces to predetermined checkpoints To aid in more responsive fires, it is best to have battalion mortars laid on priority targets...
...The keys to it all were immediate counterfire...

... rests on practices criticized as "heavy-handed and disproportionate" by senior British commanders in Iraq last year.

So This Is How You Spread Peace And Democracy

Attention, Taliban, you are all cowardly dogs. You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burned. You are too scared to come down and retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be." -- our noble troops, teaching the Arab world to love us again.
US soldiers in Afghanistan have been defiling the corpses of the Taliban's allies, in an ongoing Geneva convention-defying psyops campaign. Does anyone still wonder why some people hate 'our freedoms'?

As an update, see what Dave Glazier has to say about this fiasco.

Merry Fitzmas

Well, almost. We're still waiting for the (22?) indictments to begin, but in the meanwhile, the Office of Special Counsel has established a website for all the documents related to the Plame inquiry.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Of Course, He Doesn't Know Much

"Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing." -- some know-nothing.

So, why then did he throw a tantrum over Rove's role in the leak?

...the President felt Rove and other members of the White House damage-control team did a clumsy job in their campaign to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, the ex-diplomat who criticized Bush's claim that Saddam Hussen tried to buy weapons-grade uranium in Niger...
..."Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way," the source said.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Casualties of the Bush Administration

Besides the thousands of American dead, and tens of thousands of Iraqis, this administration has left a trail of murdered careers in its wake. Here is a partial list - 42 administrators, managers, diplomats and career civil servants strong-armed out of their jobs, demoted, or who resigned when they wouldn't toe the ideological line.

Richard Clarke: Perhaps the most well-known of the Bush administration's casualties, Clarke spent thirty years in the government, serving under every president from Ronald Reagan on. He was the second-ranking intelligence officer in the State Department under Reagan and then served in the administration of George H.W. Bush. Under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, he held the position of the president's chief adviser on terrorism on the National Security Council -- a Cabinet-level post. Clarke became disillusioned with the "terrible job" of fighting terrorism exhibited by the second president Bush -- namely, ignoring evidence of an impending al-Qaeda attack and putting the pressure on to produce a non-existent link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. (His memo explaining that there was no connection, said Clarke, "got bounced and sent back saying, ‘Wrong answer. Do it again.'") After 9/11, Clarke asked for a transfer from his job to a National Security Council office concerned with cyber-terrorism. (The administration later claimed it was a demotion). Quit, January 2003.

Inquisitor: Instant Search

Inquisitor, now in beta, is a web search utility that returns results instantly, as you type in search terms. Brand-new and not yet feature complete, but even this version can lead you into some interesting cognitive spaces, if you type slowly..

Condi Comes Clean

On Meet The Press today, Condi finally came out and admitted that Iraq had nothing to do with 'terra'. So this administration is capable of honesty, after all else has failed..

Weren’t al-Qaeda and Iraq best buddies? Now, Condi finally spews the PNAC company line of changing the face of the Middle East while Osama remains at large and as Judd notes:
"...the invasion has become “a potent recruiting tool for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.”

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Nexus of Politics and Terror

Keith Olberman describes 13 occassions when terror levels have had more to do with the administration's political downturns than any credible intelligence:

May 18th, 2002. The first details of the President’s Daily Briefing of August 6th, 2001, are revealed, including its title - “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S.”...
... May 20th, 2002. Two days later, FBI Director Mueller declares another terrorist attack “inevitable.” The next day, the Department of Homeland Security issues warnings of attacks against railroads nationwide, and against New York City landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

Class Warfare

According to the New York Daily News, the wealthy and well-connected were warned first of last week's elevated 'terror threat'. Some people do not see anything untoward about this.

For Injured U.S. Troops, 'Financial Friendly Fire'

But, you know, we support our troops:

His hand had been blown off in Iraq, his body pierced by shrapnel. He could not walk. Robert Loria was flown home for a long recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he tried to bear up against intense physical pain and reimagine his life's possibilities...

But nine months after Loria was wounded, the Army garnished his wages and then, as he prepared to leave the service, hit him with a $6,200 debt...

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday Bunnyblogging

This bunny just wins

Negroponte Creates New Spying Service

Inevitable, given that the CIA is so riddled with moles. However, it appears this new agency will not, in fact, do much of anything. More at the Christian Science Monitor.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Defending Mussolini's Bad Name

Two popular misconceptions, debunked:

The first is a supposed quote that I keep seeing pop up in e-mails sent to me:

"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

The fact is that, as far as anyone can ascertain, Mussolini never said or wrote this. Indeed, it contradicts much of what he did say about corporatism....

...The other recurring myth is actually a great deal more popular -- namely, that because Mussolini was at one time an ardent socialist, and because Hitler's party called itself the National Socialists, then fascism itself was a form of socialism, and thus a left-wing phenomenon.

The reasons for its popularity are obvious: It's a convenient way of smearing the left for conservatives, as well as shedding their own well-established baggage from the far right.

This article, which the linked post refers to, also contains this little item of interest, among so many others:

Perhaps one of the pro-gun lobby's favorite arguments is that if German citizens had had the right to keep and bear arms, Hitler would have never been able to tyrannize the country. And to this effect, pro-gun advocates often quote the following:

"1935 will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future." - Adolf Hitler

However, this quote is almost certainly a fraud. There is no reputable record of him ever making it: neither at the Nuremberg rallies, nor in any of his weekly radio addresses. Furthermore, there was no reason for him to even make such a statement; for Germany already had strict gun control as a term of surrender in the Treaty of Versailles. The Allies had wanted to make Germany as impotent as possible, and one of the ways they did that was to disarm its citizenry. Only a handful of local authorities were allowed arms at all, and the few German citizens who did possess weapons were already subject to full gun registration. Seen in this light, the above quote makes no sense whatsoever.

More at Liberalism Resurgent and the Long Liberalism FAQ, both of which you should bookmark right now. Seriously, there's hours of reading awaiting you there. Especially the entry for car salesmen.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Welcome to the Hackocracy

We've The New Republic to thank for this little bit of sublime joy: the 15 least competent Bush appointments. Be afraid..

11: Patrick Rhode
Acting Deputy Director Federal Emergency Management Agency

As acting deputy director of fema, 36-year-old Patrick Rhode had, until recently, the unenviable job of backstopping the hapless Michael Brown, a man who needed much backstopping. Unfortunately, it's not clear that Rhode is much more qualified than Brown to be managing the nation's worst disasters. Before joining fema, the biggest disaster he had helped manage was the Small Business Administration (see Hector Barreto)--and even that was something of a stretch. Rhode entered federal government in 2001 as deputy director of advance operations for the Bush White House, a job he had also held for Bush's 2000 campaign. Never fear, though: Rhode has covered disasters--as a TV anchor for local network affiliates in Alabama and Arkansas, in which capacity he developed "an acute interest in what responders do in times of crises." Perhaps not acute enough. He recently said that >fema's response to Katrina was "probably one of the most efficient and effective responses in the country's history."

Cheney's Undisclosed Location Revealed!

It's Gotham City. Seriously, look at the photographic evidence:

I suppose he'll have the last laugh, when his penguin army brings democracy to Iraq. That makes as much sense as any plan I've heard so far.

And Now, This Morning's Outrage

Nancy Pelosi lets 'em swing, in response to the shameful display on the House floor yesterday:

A vote that was supposed to take five minutes took more than nine times that long because the indicted Republican leader of the House of Representatives needed extra time to twist the arms necessary to pass a bill that is against the interests of the American people, against consumers, against taxpayers, and against the environment.

“The fact that the Republicans are handmaidens of the special interests is nothing new. The fact that they would shamelessly display their servitude should come as no surprise. But today’s extortion is an especially shameful display – a sad day for democracy. The people spoke and the vote was clearly against this bill.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A New Trifecta

So, the House Majority Leader, the Senate Majority Leader, and the White House itself are under investigation.
And the Democrats will speak up about all this... just as soon as Mr. Rove gets back from his own day in court and tells them it's okay.

The Revelations of St. George

"[God] instructed me to strike at Saddam." -- some random delusional nutcase.

Despite passing the Senate 90-9, John McCain's belated 'we guess maybe torture is bad' ammendment is likely headed for a veto - the President's first ever - when it crosses his desk. After all, torture can't -really- be bad if he's just following God's orders.

PUC Fuckers

That's you and me, according to these folks. While wearing our uniform, this latest batch of bad apples - completely, of course, unrelated to all the bad apples going bad in exactly the same ways in every basket we've got apples in all over the world - have been busy instilling love of democracy and enhancing America's image in the Middle East:

To ‘fuck a PUC’ means to beat him up. We would give them blows to the head, chest, legs and stomach, pull them down, kick dirt on them. This happened every day. To ‘smoke’ someone is to put them in stress positions until they get muscle fatigue and pass out. That happened every day...
..."Some days we would just get bored so we would have everyone sit in a corner and then make them get in a pyramid. We did that for amusement."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I Thought That Sounded Familiar

Gee, how many times do we have to hear this particular story before people lose their credulity? Apparently, whatever the number is, it's higher than thirty-two.

U.S. intelligence officials and counterterrorism analysts are questioning whether a slain terrorist—described by President Bush today as the “second-most-wanted Al Qaeda leader in Iraq”—was as significant a figure as the Bush administration is claiming...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

If Your Name's Not On The List, Don't Expect To Get In

Those loose-cannon radicals at HUD offer a prediction as to who will be included in the 'new' New Orleans, and who will be left outside looking in. Hint - it's exactly the same people it's always been.

"It was an incredible thing to witness," said one participant in the Dallas meeting, who did not want his name used because he was talking about a private gathering. "The mayor stood there on the phone, nodding and jotting down notes, as if Joe were passing on bullet points directly from the president."

MSNBC : : New Orleans Levee Reported Weak In 1990s

I wonder if this will just be quietly buried again. Is it still a 'blame game' if it's not blaming this administration?
A 1998 ruling, by an administrative judge for the Corps' Board of Contract Appeals, shows that the contractor, Pittman Construction, told the [US Army Corps of Engineers] that the soil and the foundation for the walls were “not of sufficient strength, rigidity and stability” to build on.

It's Not Stealing Unless You're Poor

Exhibit 1:
The courts have spoken; a judge in Hamilton County recently ruled that the city of Norwood can condemn homes simply by labeling a neighborhood as “deteriorating.”

Now the homes in question were hardly in poor condition. The homeowners hadn’t allowed them to “deteriorate.” Norwood claimed the homes were “blighted,” but the accusation was regarded as so comically inaccurate that the courts rejected the claim on its face.

However, in the end the result was the same. Five homeowners – with good homes – were compelled to forfeit their property based upon a vague and contorted legal definition. Essentially, they lost their homes on a technicality.

Exhibit 2:
"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

Exhibit 3:
“The term 'blight' is used to describe whether or not the structures generally in an area meet today's standards,” says Cain.

And it's the city that sets those standards, so Lakewood set a standard for blight that would include most of the homes in the neighborhood.