Tuesday, May 30, 2006

DU : : The Seven Pillars of Misrule

Amidst a swirling hurricane of scandal-related chaff, Bernard Weiner meditates on the administration's core failures:

... The insurgency also was a response to the Bush Administration's indefensible torture policy that robbed the U.S. of any claim to a moral high ground. Bush can own up to using inflammatory language as a big mistake ("bring it on," "dead or alive," etc.) but isn't man enough to admit that it wasn't the words but the policy that was wrong.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Top 10 Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State

AlterNet lays out the ten greatest current threats to democracy in America. A handy primer for anyone to whom these issues might be news.

2. "The Long War"

This little piece of clumsy marketing died off quickly, but it gave away what many already suspected: the War on Terror will never end, nor is it meant to end. It is designed to be perpetual. As with the War on Drugs, it outlines a goal that can never be fully attained -- as long as there are pissed off people and explosives. The Long War will eternally justify what are ostensibly temporary measures: suspension of civil liberties, military expansion, domestic spying, massive deficit spending and the like. This short-lived moniker told us all, "get used to it. Things aren't going to change any time soon."

Friday, May 26, 2006

Senate Confirms Hayden

Nothing much to say here, because who ever heard of a job applicant being rejected? Hayden's a useless middle management type who managed to screw up the biggest domestic espionage program in US history - and a military figure placed in charge of a civilian intelligence agency. But so long as he keeps his fly zipped, he'll be allowed to screw up to his heart's content.

Screw The Troops

No, really. Screw anyone who puts on our country's uniform and then commits atrocities:

Officials briefed on preliminary results of the inquiry said the civilians killed at Haditha, a lawless, insurgent-plagued city deep in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province, did not die from a makeshift bomb, as the military first reported, or in cross-fire between marines and attackers, as was later announced. A separate inquiry has begun to find whether the events were deliberately covered up.

Evidence indicates that the civilians were killed during a sustained sweep by a small group of marines that lasted three to five hours and included shootings of five men standing near a taxi at a checkpoint, and killings inside at least two homes that included women and children, officials said.

A killing rampage that lasted THREE TO FIVE HOURS. And a predictable coverup. Forget the stern talking-to. These men have sustained the lawlessness and anger that emboldens terrorists. They've put us all at risk. They and the people who covered up their crimes should be hung high and publicly.

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Virginity or Death!

When repressed evangelical nutjobs obstruct public health, the Nation is there.

"Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful," Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council told the British magazine New Scientist, "because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex." Raise your hand if you think that what is keeping girls virgins now is the threat of getting cervical cancer when they are 60 from a disease they've probably never heard of.

The sad part of all this is, of course, that it isn't news. In a reasonable world, every newspaper in the land would devote front-page space to ridiculing these lunatics. But constant grinding exposure has so worn down the public's good sense that it's just business as usual.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Not Just A Buzzword

Majikthise takes a stereotyped leftist's angry dismissal, and finds a disturbing grain of truth:

The Fascists said that perpetual war was part of the human condition. The Republicans have declared a phony war that can be guaranteed to last as long as they want it to. I don't see a big difference.


Friday, May 19, 2006

So Long As You Don't Say 'No' You've Said 'Yes'

The administration's latest angle on its illegal domestic surveillance projects is that major telco customers consented to having their privacy invaded by simply signing up for a phone plan. Peter Swire offers four distinct rebuttals of this argument:

You can’t consent to a secret program. Under this “consent” defense, a federal court would have to hold that even the people outraged by the NSA program have given their individual consent to it. That’s a legal fiction we don’t think courts will accept. It’s doubtful we can give our consent to any secret program.

Justice Might Besmirch Our Reputation

Or so goes the predictable reasoning behind the recent dismissal of Khaled el-Masri's suit. In what has been explained as a case of mistaken identity, Mr. el-Masri was kidnapped from Macedonia in 2003 and flown to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan. Now he is to be denied the opportunity to face his attackers.

In times of war, our country must often take exceptional steps to thwart the enemy...

And now the truth is our enemy - the truth that we kidnap and torture random, innocent people. And this administration's been at full-blown war with that truth and with justice at least since its inception.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

How Lapdogs Are Trained

Proper training of a media lapdog requires both carrot and stick. It's not enough just to dangle juicy access and privilege in front of reporters's gin-reddened noses. You also have to remind them who's in charge.

The FBI acknowledged late Monday that it is increasingly seeking reporters' phone records in leak investigations.

"It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration," said a senior federal official...

...The NSLs are a version of an administrative subpoena and are not signed by a judge. Under the law, a phone company receiving a NSL for phone records must provide them and may not divulge to the customer that the records have been given to the government.

Remember, sources are for journalists. Lapdogs get press releases and are happy with them.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Frog Soup

'Hunter' leads us through the steps the wiretapping scandal's taken us on the path towards fascism, and makes a prediction in the light of the uselessness and complicity of the media:

And what will be the next revelation that we're told, by the exact same government sources and partisan hacks that assured us none of what we now know to be happening was happening? That the White House or other government agencies, say, have been sporadically requesting call data for specific individuals? Say, Christianne Amanpour?

Richard Clarke?

Dana Priest?

Of course not. Don't be silly. This is a very limited program.

The Left Coaster's myth vs. reality rundown is still a good introductory primer to this scandal, and the lies that initially emerged from it.

Invading Privacy Is The Entire Point

The authority of the Führer has now been wholly established. Votes are no longer taken. The Führer decides. All this is going much faster than we had dared to hope.

You know, despite Shrub's assurances to the contrary, a database of every domestic phone call ever made does seem unreasonably intrusive - especially after the token attempt at an enquiry was killed off by the very agency that was to be investigated. Worse, it smacks of Government by PHB's - where everyone is presumed guilty of something, and fear keeps all the peon's heads down.

Given a few degrees of seperation, everyone's connected to something hinky. In the absence of any real suspects, criminal investigators like to go fishing. This tool only makes it easier for them.

"Mr. Unpatriotic, government records indicate that last week you phoned your mother, who is in regular contact with her landscaper, who sends money home to his parents in San Salvador. Were you aware that his father's a member of a Communist party, and has a cousin with links to a known terrorist organization?"

This is how fascist societies are run, from governments to Wal-Mart. And the path from democracy to dictatorship is quite clearly laid out. The first step is removing the would-be dictator from any obligation to the law. It's a step Shrub has taken no fewer than 108 times in his first term alone. And dictatorship is, in fact, the point - domestic surveillance is useless for anything but exercising the Will to Control. The sad fact is that the Decider and his controllers possess it in abundance, and we - all of the rest of us - lack it.

A quick update - I see that General Michael Hayden, who's been tapped to lead the CIA after the unreported-upon sex-for-influence scandal, was a key instigator of the administration's wiretapping efforts. The tug-of-war between administration policy wonks and the legitimate intelligence community has been brought to an end.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Some Undergrads Give Up Early

In a way, I almost respect this guy. Most people would have tried to just fudge it and turn it in anyway.

Banking on my hopes that whoever grades this will just look at the pictures, I drew an exponential through my noise. I believe the apparent legitimacy is enhanced by the fact that I used a complicated computer program to make the fit. I understand this is the same process by which the top quark was discovered.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Goss Folds

David Corn weighs in on the CIA influence peddling poker games and sex-for-influence ring connected to Duke Cunningham, in light of CIA Director Porter Goss's recent and very sudden departure from the agency:

Wilkes did hold parties and poker games for CIA officials and lawmakers, including members of the House intelligence committee. (Goss has been a CIA director, a lawmaker, and a member of the House intelligence committee.) Wilkes was pals with Foggo. (As CIA executive director, Foggo manages the CIA on a day-by-day basis for Goss.) So might Goss know anything about (a) a rigged contract; (b) bad behavior at Wilkes' poker bashes; (c) the non-recreational use of prostitutes; (d) all of the above or something we cannot even imagine?

Jon Ponder has more:

Last week, Harper’s magazine reported that party-goers “under intense scrutiny by the FBI are current and former lawmakers on Defense and Intelligence committees — including one person who now holds a powerful intelligence post.” CIA Director Porter Goss is perhaps the only individual who fits such a description.

Think Progress has put together a concise and thorough primer on the Agency, Cunningham, and their connection to Goss. Jane Hamsher, 'Dr. Miguelito Loveless' over at Thoughtcrimes.org, DailyKos's 'georgia10', and Peter Daou offer their views.

I don't know if this story will get any traction, though, until we can agree on a concise '-gate' name for it. Is it Watergate 2? The hookers were taken to the Watergate and to the Westin, and the poker games were held at the Westin. Is it 'Hookergate'? In DC, is that really being specific enough? It's at least a hair less vague than 'Scandal the media will never cover because it involves Republicans-gate'...

And just what do we call that scandal?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Let's Celebrate!

Today's a holiday!

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2003, as Loyalty Day. I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance. I also call upon government officials to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on Loyalty Day.

... no, Mr. President, I don't think that's what this day is. The Daily Bleed has a list of alternative holidays, though.

"Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you–
Ye are many–they are few."

No Damage To National Security?

Then Iran must not be a threat! That was what Valerie Plame was working on when she was outed - monitoring and preventing nuclear proliferation in Iran. The Raw Story has the scoop, the mainstream media's picked up the story and the video's here.

How many more straws can this camel's back hold?

Isn't Science Fun?

Sean Crespo offers a satirical look at some ill-considered remarks by Condaleeza Rice:

"The Security Council is the primary and most important institution for the maintenance of peace and stability and security and it cannot have its word and its will simply ignored by a member state," Rice said...

...In honor of her passing, the scientific community has awarded Condaleeza her own posthumous element on the Periodic Table. The new element, Bullshit or Bs, has long been suspected but never confirmed until today and is now being studied for its potential military uses.

Amusing, but I have to disagree with his last point:

Experts agree that with the potential use of Bullshit as a weapon, world power will most likely shift from being in the hands of the U.S. and China directly to Fox News' Sean Hannity, currently the world's foremost stockpiler of Bullshit.

Mr. Hannity has never kept any Bullshit to himself in his life.

Know When To Fold 'Em

So, two men involved in Duke Cunningham's mass circle-jerk of corruption have been trading hookers for favors in Washington for the last fifteen years. They play a different sort of poker in Washington, but this game's getting some real media attention.
Of course, nothing draws the media quite so well as a weak hand. It makes you wonder whose turn it will be next.