Wednesday, January 31, 2007

R. I. P. Molly Ivins, Aug. 30, 1944-January 31, 2007

George W. Bush has yet to attend a single funeral of the nearly 3100 troops that have died in Iraq and don’t go looking for him to attend Molly Ivins’, either.

This is the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to write since Hunter S. Thompson’s suicide on February 20, 2005. Molly Ivins is dead and with her last breath, the Batman-class criminal enterprise known as the Bush junta breathed a sigh of relief.

What’s there not to like about a columnist who’d once written, “I’m not anti-gun; I’m pro-knife.” Molly’s point was, typically, half serious, tongue in cheek. If you use a gun, you don’t need to be in shape as you would if you had to kill someone running with a knife. Using knives, she said, actually would promote physical fitness.

But there was much more to the life and noteworthy career of a fighter who would’ve stood out even in San Francisco or New York City let alone in a conservative red state like Texas. Just before her too-early death from breast cancer, Molly Ivins had launched what she’d called an old-fashioned “newspaper crusade” to end the war in Iraq.

In Molly’s last column, published just this past month, she’d written a phrase that ought to be put on her headstone: “We are the deciders”, words that were echoed by Sean Penn at the peace rally in Washington, DC last Saturday.

Indeed, Molly’s words were, as always, well-timed and well-written. In its simplicity, it was at once a rebuttal to Bush’s childish “I’m the Decider” rant and, distilling in its elemental perfection, a well-timed reminder to Americans as to who’s ultimately in charge of our national destiny.

A liberal’s liberal, Molly was genuinely home-spun and humble, a genuine product of the Lone Star state. She stood in stark contrast to the faux cowboy currently taking up space and oxygen in the Oval Office, a Connecticut Yankee desperately running away from his Ivy League upbringing and education and, in the process, giving hubris and arrogance an even worse name. Molly not only never ran away from her liberal roots in the one place where liberalism is perhaps the least welcome, she embraced it and let her freak flag fly high and proud.

A life-long gadfly of the conservative and absurd, Molly’s opinions stood in stark contrast to her counterpart on the east coast, Maureen Dowd. There were no French phrases and hyper-cultural references that only a professional Pharisee could understand, as is all too often the case with Dowd. Molly was warm, common and accessible. When Dick Cheney talks about the Iraq war and the war on terror as being existential, Molly showed us how absurd both have become. She was a grownup Alice looking with perpetual wonder down the rabbit hole of American politics.

Molly never wrote her last two columns; she dictated them even as breast cancer had come back “with a vengeance” and had metastasized through her body, embodying that indomitable spirit that led Matisse, when crippled by a stroke, to tell his assistant to “tie the brush to my hand.”

Molly Ivins stood for the best of liberal values with the best of intentions and with the best words, providing a vivid counterpoint to the neocons who never admit defeat or wrongdoing or forgo hubris as much as they finger former accomplices. It’s all too easy to say that Molly will be missed. That is already a meaningless bromide. Molly, especially in our existential day and age, was absolutely indispensable.

(Crossposted at Pottersville.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Top Five Reasons Why Congress Should Oppose the Surge

Today is the second anniversary of the first elections to be held in Iraq. Since then, Shi’ite death squads are running the streets and slaughtering Sunnis with virtual impunity and the men who run them are also running the government with the aid of a puppet of a Prime Minister who no longer wants the job or the stress. Civil War (or several of them) has not stalled democracy as much as it’s been the default choice of a tribal, sectarian people who are simply not ready for democracy.

Without snark, sarcasm, name-calling or trying to make funny, here’re the top five reasons as I see them for Congress to oppose George W. Bush’s surge of nearly 22,000 more troops. Obviously, I’m not a political scientist or Middle East expert but my necessarily layman perceptions, accrued over the last 24 months, have the heft of common sense that all too often eludes those on the Hill.

1) Contrary to initial fears by liberal bloggers and a small handful of journalists who foresaw an imperial American annexation of Iraq, what we’re seeing, instead, is an increasing firming up of an Iranian Annexation of Iraq.

Bush is publicly advocating diplomacy with Iran but the massive amount of evidence to the contrary proves otherwise. Admiral “Fox” Fallon, Gen. Abizaid’s wouldbe replacement, is a Reagan-era warrior who’s ideally suited to wage an arial/naval war with Iran. We have aircraft carrier groups positioned in the Persian Gulf off Iran’s coast.

By disingenuously ensuring us that the military (not diplomatic) response to Iranian Shi’ites aiding the Maliki government will be contained in Iraq, he’s still producing the very real and almost inevitable possibility that we will follow the thread right back to the Minotaur’s cave in Iran.

Then at least one liberal prophecy will be fulfilled: That our exit strategy will involve going through Iran.

2) Muqtada al Sadr, an ally of Iran, has only been empowered through Bush’s “democracy” in Iraq, Nouri al Maliki may be Bush’s puppet but the Shi’ite cleric holds most of his strings. And because al Sadr’s Shi’ites have a controlling majority in the Iraqi parliament (30 seats, I believe), the Sunnis, aided by al Qaeda, are the victims of this “Now You Know How It Feels”, Charles Bronson style of government. With al Sadr’s and Finance Minister Jabr’s death squads killing US troops as gleefully as they do Sunnis, a greater American presence will only instigate Ahmadinejad, Jabr and al Sadr on the side of the Shias and al Qaeda, who’s now not the main enemy and the Sunni insurgents.

3) It’s increasingly obvious by now that Israel is playing the US like Itzak Perlman. They had a vested interest in not joining the coalition of the willing in Iraq. Knowing their very presence would inflame al Qaeda in Iraq as well as Iran, they stood idly by, conserving their troops and resources to mop up the last pools of Palestinian resistance. They were quite happy to watch us “soften up” the Middle East for their own expansionist agenda.

However, even though they must know by now that our presence has had opposite the desired effect and have only made the Middle East more unstable for them as well as more dangerous for us here at home, increased American troop levels will only further embolden the cowardly and opportunistic Olmert into letting us “soften up” Iran.

4) Rattling 21,500 more sabers at Iran could similarly embolden Iran, embolden them to accelerate their embryonic nuclear weapons program. In 2005, North Korea’s government had publicly stated they were doing the same thing in response to the Bush administration’s belligerence toward them. Whether true or not (and I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be), both escalations are a legitimate concern. And it would be tragic if an attack on Iran because of nonexistent WMD was actually the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy that couldn’t easily be disproved.

Unfortunately, our diplomatic corps has been tragically miscast and under-utilized the world over. Don’t forget where John Bolton came from.

5) The clerics and Mamoud Ahmedinejad (who does not have absolute power) are even more unpopular in Iran than George Bush and the US (especially among younger, more liberal Iranians). But a beefing up of US troops that are told to engage Iranian factions at the slightest provocation could turn the tide and make a brutally deposed Ahmedinejad a martyr among Iran’s Shi’ite majority.

Sort of the way Saddam was martyred for the Sunnis.

One Good Reason to Bring the Troops Home Now

One of the few discernible advantages of being 48 is that I remember Vietnam. I was 16 when we’d finally pulled the last of our troops out of Saigon in late April of ‘75. And I don’t recall any national teeth-gnashing at our ignominious defeat at the hands of Charlie.

What I recall was, instead, a national sense of pure relief after 14 years of senseless, brutal warfare, not the sense of defeat that the neocons warn is awaiting us if we pull out of Iraq.

And they may point to the fact that it took 14 years to pull out our troops. Why is that?

Three words: Lack of context. Even in 1961, when Kennedy had sent in the first combat troops, only the very elderly recalled America’s last Yahoo imperial adventurism: McKinley’s Spanish American War of 1898. All succeeding wars and police actions at least had a plausible rationale and specific goal in mind: Stopping the equally expansionist Germans in World Wars I & II, doing the same thing to the red menace in North Korea.

Vietnam and its Kipling-esque White Man’s Burden bullshit had no precedence in most living memory, no context for most Americans. They’d yet to realize the mortal stakes of not heeding the lessons of history.

The neocons can’t say that about Iraq. Many tens of millions of Americans still recall Vietnam and are in prime position to see its lessons going unheeded in Iraq.

We’ve been west of Iran for less than four years and the turnaround time was virtually instantaneous. Remember the people who rallied to Cindy Sheehan’s side in 2005? Many of those old farts were slip-sliding in the mud at Max Yasgur’s farm.

We don’t need to see 55,000 more troops killed in the Middle East before we can reconcile ourselves to the “failure” of withdrawing. There was none of that in ‘75 and there would be none of that in ‘07.

(Crossposted at Pottersville)

A Goode Day for Religious Pluralism

Faithful America

Faithful America, a program of the National Council of Churches, USA, is made up of persons who believe that one’s faith - however broadly or uniquely expressed - has a word to say about our nation’s government and its priorities. Recently they assembled a delegation to call on Representative Virgil Goode (R-VA) to discuss his recent anti-islamic statements in response to representative Keith Ellison’s decision to use a Qur’an for his unofficial swearing-in.

On one wall of Goode’s office is a framed poster that says, "In God We Trust." On the opposite wall is a television turned on to Fox News.

The delegation of Muslims and Christians talked about how disparaging remarks from an elected official fuels anti-American propaganda abroad and reminded the Congressman that his words and actions extend beyond his personal religious views. They even dared to suggest that perhaps Muslims and Christians need one another.

A hair-loss commercial was blasting from the overhead tv and the visitors weren't sure if Goode heard anything. But when they had finished their presentation, Goode thanked them for their remarks, and stated unequivocally that he stands by his earlier statement. “I didn’t say anything that was untrue.”

The group counts this as a Goode day because the Congressman did agree to attend a Muslim service or gathering. So the possiblity for dialogue continues. At least Fox News won't be blaring in the mosque.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Say Peace

I am so glad I decided to go to DC to remind Congress that I voted for peace and not for more war. It was a great day, the crowd was awesome and the people spoke truth to power.

The rally started out with ecumencal prayers - which I really liked. I thought it was done in a pretty open and inclusive fashion. Certainly there were more Christian religious represented than any other group, but also Jewish and Muslim. Maybe they could think outside the box next time and include wicca or other spiritualist groups.

I think the crux of this spiritual preparation for peace work was the approach that we - as people of one planet and connected one to the other - can counter the present war machine. The Whitehouse answers threats of terror with fear and oppression. But violence begets violence. Spirited people counter terror with care, compassion, and generosity. Rather than conquering evil, we liberate goodness through acts of care, attitudes of compassion and generosity of our selves and our resources so that justice and dignity can be restored and celebrated. In practical terms, we're talking about healthcare, education, and economic opportunities to allow persons to grow and thrive.

All in all, I thought they did a good job of staying on topic. The only tangent was two speakers on ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine. That they had to give a rather convoluted explanation of why these two causes were related makes me think the real answer is they made a donation to the cause. Otherwise, you heard the same message repeated clearly:

Not One More Dollar
Not One More Day
Not One More Death

I particularly enjoyed Tim Robbins speach. He noted that Richard Nixon talked to the walls, but George Bush is talking to God. "But it is not a God I recognize," said Robbins. This God seems to be giving Bush a pass on some commandments. Robbins then went on to outline several of the commandments that God seems to have so graciously given George a pass. It was delightful.

I do wish Jane had stayed home and sent her daughter instead. Her daughter could have carried on the legacy of activism without all of the baggage. I predicted she would be the only soundbite the newsstations would carry. Actually, I was wrong. It was Jane and the Raging Grannies.

I found Rev. Jesse Jackson completely uninspiring.

As for the crowd. To me, the crowd looked like family day. There were so many young people. There were also many families with young children and teens. There didn't look to me to be nearly as many really far out there folks. I thought there were more African-Americans at this rally, but these things continue to be mostly lily white. I was amazed at the large number woman age 30-40 who obviously had never attended a rally before. I never saw so many leather coats and leather boots - with heels!! And perfectly done hair and make-up. Some were with groups of women, others with their yuppy husbands. I suspect that these are the moms and sisters and aunts of those serving in Iraq.

As for the size of the crowd, I couldn't really judge. The "official" count for the September '05 rally was 100,000. I heard CNN say that this crowd was larger. Wapo noted that the crowd was big enough that the march stretched the length of the route from the Mall, up Constitution Avenue to the east front of the Capitol and back to the Mall.

I think protests like this are an important part of the peace movement, but they aren't the only component. Monday is a day of congressional advocacy. Click on the link and find out what United for Peace & Justice is asking of our congresscritters. But just because we're not in Washington Monday, doesn't mean that we can't join in the fun. Please take time to call your representative and senators and tell them we want our troops home now and no more funding for Bushco's illegal and immoral war.

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Anti-war Protests EVERYWHERE

Images from the nationwide protests held yesterday have been popping up online. Here's a sampling of the people taking to the streets. You know, in case the media didn't tell you about it.

San Francisco, Ca.

Washington, D.C.

D.C. again.

Stamford, Connecticut.

Salt Lake City, Utah.

More images at Ice Station Tango and The Walrus Speaks.


Winning Hearts and Minds..

..One Bloody Corpse at a Time

There's not much that needs to be said about this video, other than the fact that this is not something you're likely to see on the corporate-controlled television news channels in the US. If the American people had to watch the unsanitized version of the Iraq war, I'm sure the protest crowds would swell by a factor of ten or more. Kudos and thanks, BTW, to those who endured bad weather to make their outrage visible to the rest of the public.
I got this video through Raw Story, h/t RevPhat for alerting me.

Shia Iraqi soldier beat Sunnis as US trainers watch

Voiceover: "The purpose of these joint patrols is for the Americans to teach their Iraqi protegés how to win hearts and minds and end the bloodletting."

This so emphatically contradicts the official policy of ending ethnic conflict that it boggles the mind. Undeniably, the actions of US forces in Iraq are a concentrated effort to foment violence rather than prevent it. As the audio of US soldiers laughing while witnessing this shows, not only is the training of Iraqi 'friendlies' inadequate, but so too is the training of the US forces themselves.

Words do not exist that could fully express my revulsion at this.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Arar Revisited

The Sad, but True Significance of The Arar Case

There are a number of reasons that I post a fair bit on the case of Maher Arar. One is that as a Canadian, I sometimes get news that isn't reported in the States, or that is under-reported. As a Canadian, I sympathize with a fellow Canadian who has been so egregiously mistreated by the U.S. government, and I am deeply offended by the Administration's arrogant assumption that an American's rights are more significant than someone else's rights. But it goes WAY beyond that.

Up until now, my posts on Arar largely have been limited to reporting the facts. Consider this the consequent outpouring of rage. For a case timeline, read this synopsis by the CBC.

The Arar case is exemplary of the kind of treatment that has been experienced by at least dozens, perhaps hundreds, of others whose names we will never know. The only reason Maher Arar's name ever came to light is that the Canadian government knew from the outset that he was in American government hands when he was kidnapped by the FBI on September 26, 2002. That's right, kidnapped. To dignify what happened as an arrest would misrepresent the facts. Arar was never charged with any crime, never given access to a lawyer, never afforded any of the due process guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and its attendant Bill of Rights. I won't even use the CBC's weasel word 'detained.' He was kidnapped, and the officials responsible should be charged with that crime.

Without the due diligence exercised by the Canadian government to obtain his release, Maher Arar may never again have seen the light of day after having been kidnapped by persons in the employ of U.S. agencies acting under color of authority. And it is my considered belief that dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people in situations not too much unlike that of Maher Arar were simply disposed of (killed) after extensive torture showed them to be innocent. Arar himself has said that this case's significance lies with those whose kidnap was not protested by their government, or whose government never knew they had been kidnapped. His experience is the mere tip of a very large and very ugly iceberg.

Let's look at the facts. The disclosure of photos of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison led to little more than the pitifully weak argument that these were isolated cases attributable to low-ranking individuals who were acting outside of sanctioned guidelines. Lynndie England and a few others were responsible. Hogwash!

Revelation followed revelation. Memos from Rumsfeld, signing statements from Bush, secret flights condemned by the EU. Always accompanied by this idiotic appeal for secrecy from the most secretive government America has ever known. Their message, "No, flat out, never: We. Do. Not. Torture! But, no you can't see the relevant documents because we don't want to give away our techniques to the enemy." Poppycock!

Then, when the truth was revealed beyond a doubt - the most damnable lie possible, "This is nothing new - everyone knew this all along (though we were denying it just last week)." Balderdash!

And as always, "If you oppose our abuses of power (which, by the way, aren't happening) you must want the terrorists to win." Bullshit!

Maher Arar was indisputably 'detained' (kidnapped), inarguably 'deported' (renditioned), and unquestionably 'questioned' (tortured) at the hands of U.S. officials or their surrogates with authorization from the administration. Alberto Gonzales is still perjuring himself to cover it up, more than four years after the initial crime. The facts strongly suggest the program of rendition to be widespread.

Steel yourself. What follows is the ineluctable logic that reveals the source of my rage. We are going into a torture scenario that will never be seen on cable television's 24, or in any other corporate media fiction. Where we are going is much more real than that, proven to be real by the experience of Maher Arar, Jose Padilla, and others. We are of necessity going into the mind of those who would torture a fellow human being, and exploring their reasoning, however repugnant that may be. You have been warned.

Here's the thing. You, the torturer, have had someone under your control for some time now. He or she has been waterboarded, beaten repeatedly, their genitals electrocuted, their fingers and toes broken, their teeth extracted one by one, whatever you could think of to extract the desired information about involvement in some heinous act of terrorism against the United States of America. Early on, you got this person to 'give up' friends and acquaintances as co-conspirators. They too were 'detained' and subjected to the same treatment.

But the thing is, none of it panned out. The friends and acquaintances came up with stories of conspiracies too, after sufficient 'persuasion', but no two stories ever matched up. After all the abuse that you, the torturer have inflicted, you must reluctantly conclude that the person is innocent. The ticking time bomb scenario was nothing but an overused dramatic device, a phantom threat with no more basis in reality than the chimera of WMDs that got us in this mess to begin with. As the infamous internet infidel Delos McKown once remarked, "The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike."

So what do you do now? Your victim knows intimately the techniques you used on him. It has been repeatedly stressed to you that allowing these techniques to become known will benefit the terrorists. Your orders must have come from high in the chain of command - black helicopters don't come from nowhere, after all. Any tale this person would bring to the outside world would be an immense embarrassment to the Administration, far more so than if he had been guilty. Should he be released you, the torturer could face trial for human rights violations at least, possibly war crimes. You can't just let him go.

So what DO you do now?

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Get Some While You Can

The Street Protest Controversy
I suppose that street protesting has always been controversial. I don't know; I missed the 60s. Despite the hugely unpopular yet nonetheless escalating war and occupation in Iraq, some question the effectiveness of street protests. Others liken street protests to "60s nostalgia" and argue that a draft would be far more effective at stopping the war than any protest could be. This debate has got me thinking and also wondering what others think. It's hard for me to link the expression of our political speech now to that of the 60s, not having been there myself, but I do know that what is being debated here in America is the right of free speech and of the People to question our government. We can exercise our right to free speech and to question the government in lots of ways. We can...

Get Music
I love music. Music is speech. Here is a list of some great antiwar songs and their lyrics. Here is evidence that protest music is alive and kicking. And The Nation muses about songs of protest against the failures of the Bush administration (Go Green Day!), here. Good music encourages others to sing along.

Get Informed
Knowledge informs speech. I love this site:


Get Listed
Signing petitions is speech. Here's one telling congress to use its power to bring the troops home now.

Get Writing
The Time to Stop a War With Iran Is NOW. Contact the Democratic Congressional Leadership, and give them your Marching Orders! Tell them what your vote meant.

Get Active
Political action is speech. Here's the action alert sign-up for people United for Peace and Justice.

Get Marching
Marching in the streets is speech. It is visible support for a cause. The street march of the day is here:

Stop the War Now!

Solidarity events outside of DC are listed here.


The People Have the Power...

My own answer to my question about the value of protests on this issue today is that I think that protesting:
1) Will not alter Bush's actions.
2) Will pressure congress to reign Bush in.
3) Will help consolidate opposition to Bush at home.
4) Will soften anti-American feelings abroad.

Maher Arar Update

Item one: Canadian Government Admits Responsibility

This item from CBC news shows that Canada's government accepts responsibility for what happened to Maher Arar, and is trying to make amends.
"Ottawa has reached a $10-million settlement with Maher Arar over Canada's role in a U.S. decision to deport him to Syria, where he was jailed and tortured.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is scheduled to make the settlement announcement on Friday afternoon, when he will also issue a formal apology to Arar on behalf of Canadians. Sources told the CBC the government will also pick up Arar's legal fees."
We have already reported on how Arar was cleared by a Canadian Commission of Inquiry in September, and how U.S. authorities still refuse to take Arar off a terrorist watchlist. Ice Station Tango has video of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales being questioned by Patrick Leahy on the subject of Arar. And I recently posted on how Gonzo's response was a lie.

Item Two: U.S. Authorities Continue to Act Irresponsibly
To recap from the information above;
- A Canadian Commission has found no credible evidence that Maher Arar has had any connection to terrorist organizations or plots.
- The U.S. still refuses to allow Arar into the U.S. -that includes travelling in a plane in U.S. airspace. The evidence they claim supports this policy does no such thing.

So where is the justification for this?
"U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins on Wednesday criticized Ottawa's efforts to have Maher Arar removed from a United States security watch list, saying the U.S. alone will decide who to let into the country.

Speaking in Edmonton after meeting with new Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, Wilkins warned Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day to back off, because a U.S. review determined Arar should remain on the watch list.

'It's a little presumptuous for him [Day] to say who the United States can and cannot allow into our country,' Wilkins told reporters Wednesday.

The ambassador reiterated that the U.S. found its own reasons to keep Arar on the watch list.

Day said in a visit last week to Washington that he has seen the information and found nothing new to suggest Arar is a safety risk."
All this is just a continuation of the Bush administration's refusal to ever admit that they could ever make a mistake. Granted, with King Codpiece claiming to be in communication with THE ALMIGHTY, that would be a little problematic. Bush's delusions of grandeur (and for him, feelings of mere adequacy would be delusional) are approaching the level of theories of Papal infallibility.

To say nothing of the John Bolton-like arrogant bluster that the US continues to substitute for diplomacy.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bush's Credibility..

..File with: Tooth Fairy, Unicorn
Just prior to the Stoat of the Onion address, Keith Olbermann aired this review of Bush's past SOTU speeches, and the veracity of the statements made therein. Of course most prominent were the lies bringing the country into the war in Iraq, but there were also the repeated broken promises. We will catch Osama bin Laden, whatever it takes. We will provide the army with the troops and equipment they need. We will listen to the generals. This administration has been nothing more than an endless string of lies, broken promises, and failures.
Review of Past SOTU statements

As KO concludes, the only goal truly accomplished by BushCo™ is the Orwellian goal of perpetual war against an implacable and undefeatable enemy. Heckuva job, King Codpiece.

There are broken promises Olbermann omits: No child will be left behind, but no funding will be provided. We will strive towards energy independence, but no funding will be provided for that either. I'm sure I missed some too. But the biggest broken promise of all came in January, 2001; the promise Bush made on assuming office. When he swore to uphold the constitution and the laws of the United States of America.
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The War on Drugs People

The Empire Turns Its
Guns on the Citizenry

I always said the War on Drugs was about buying off police departments. Some snips from Paul Craig Roberts about SWAT teams:
Today 17,000 local police forces are equipped with such military equipment as Blackhawk helicopters, machine guns, grenade launchers, battering rams, explosives, chemical sprays, body armor, night vision, rappelling gear, and armored vehicles. Some have tanks. In 1999, the New York Times reported that a retired police chief in New Haven, Conn., told the newspaper, "I was offered tanks, bazookas, anything I wanted." Balko reports that in 1997, for example, police departments received 1.2 million pieces of military equipment.

With local police forces now armed beyond the standard of U.S. heavy infantry, police forces have been retrained "to vaporize, not Mirandize," to use a phrase from Reagan administration Defense official Lawrence Korb. This leaves the public at the mercy of brutal actions based on bad police information from paid informers.

Much of the police's drug information comes from professional informers known as "snitches" who tip off police for cash rewards, dropped charges, and reduced sentences, names and addresses are often pulled out of a hat. Balko provides details for 135 tragic cases of mistaken addresses.

In 1995 the Boston Globe profiled people who lived entirely off the fees that they were paid as police informants. Snitches create suspects by selling a small amount of marijuana to a person whom they then report to the police as being in possession of drugs [accounting for 87% of all drug raids]. Many police informers are themselves drug dealers who avoid arrest and knock off competitors by serving as police snitches.

As long as the war on drugs persists and as long as it produces financial rewards to police departments, local police forces, saturated with military weapons and war imagery, will continue to terrorize American citizens.
And our heavily funded and armed SWAT teams are mainly serving drug warrants. A circular nightmare of corruption and death. Kind of reminds me of another war based on a lie, that is killing civilians needlessly and making a select group very rich...

antiwar~Cross-posted at Ice Station Tango~

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

Watergate Burglary Planner, Dead at 88

E. Howard Hunt, the CIA officer who planned the Watergate breakdown, has died at the age of 88. He served a mere 33 months for his act of treason against the principles of democracy. Even so he was bitter that he should have been punished at all when his boss, Richard Nixon, got off scot free.

From BBC News:
"From 1949 to 1970 he worked for the CIA, and was involved in the operation that overthrew Jacobo Arbenz as Guatemala's president in 1954, and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961."
Like the CIA-backed coup which deposed Salvador Allende in Chile during the Nixon presidency, the overthrow of Arbenz was a war crime - for which Hunt got off scot free. Arbenz and Allende were BTW both popular, elected leaders. Their hand-picked successors were bloodthirsty dictators - preferred by the GOP leadership for their friendly relations with US business interests, and their brutal repression of workers' rights. So much for promoting democracy outside the US. This 'secret government' has no more respect for democracy within America's borders either.

Probably the most controversial story associated with Hunt is the theory that Nixon stacked the CIA with Gopper-friendly agents while he was Eisenhower's Veep, and this cabal pulled off the assassination of John F. Kennedy and later his brother Bobby. It is a certainty that bad intel led to JFK's embarrassing involvement in the Bay of Pigs incident. Photos taken in Dealy Plaza on the day of JFK's assassination are reputed to show E. Howard Hunt and fellow Watergate conspirator Frank Sturgis.

Some people will tell you that conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination or connecting it to Watergate are pure flights of fantasy. Magic bullet theories on the other hand - missing brains, two widely conflicting autopsies, dozens of witnesses dying shortly after the event, the elimination of Lee Harvey 'fallguy' Oswald before trial...

..."Nothing to see here folks, move along."

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Smoking Gun Burning Pants..

..Gonzales is Lying to Senate Judiciary Committee AGAIN

Patrick Leahy has been a thorn in the Side of Attorney General Alberto 'Abu' Gonzales since his confirmation hearings last year. This Jan. 6/06 article in Slate shows Leahy's frustration with Gonzales over the latter's refusal to give straight answers to Leahy's direct questions about his position on the President's power to authorize torture of detainees.
"Early in the day, Gonzales professed the requisite faith that America was "a nation of laws and not of men," but his opinion of the president's ability—however limited—to authorize individuals to engage in criminal acts suggests the opposite. This is a government of good men, Gonzales implicitly assured the senators, so there's no need to worry about legal hypotheticals like whether torture is always verboten. Don't worry, because we don't do it. It's a strange argument from a conservative: We're the government. Trust us."
This Feb. 6/06 article from the Washington Post shows that Gonzo's position on Presidential authority was still unclear a month later, and just days after his February 3 confirmation. Now the subject is not torture, but the authority to spy on American citizens without a warrant. Note that the WaPo article includes hearing transcripts highlighting Arlen 'magic bullet' Specter's blocking a Leahy motion to swear Gonzo in, and Gonzo's declaration that his testimony would be the same whether he was under oath or not.

Fast forward another month. Gonzo has written a letter to the Senate 'clarifying' his Feb. 6 testimony, which letter prompts this response from Leahy; "More than three weeks after the hearing you send the Committee a six-page letter seeking to alter your live testimony. Your letter, in fact, does little to clarify your testimony. Instead, it raises many questions, both factual and also some going to the credibility of your testimony.. admit that 'the Department’s legal analysis has evolved over time.'..You will still need to correct or better explain your statements on pages 184 and 187 of the transcript, which you recognize 'may give [a] misimpression.' "

So what Gonzo was really saying on Feb. 6 was that his testimony would be false whether given under oath or not. And as all this history demonstrates, the Attorney General has a well established pattern of mendacity in the service of undermining the Constitution he has sworn to uphold.

Enough on Gonzales history with Leahy. Current events focus on Leahy's grilling of Gonzales over the handling of the Maher Arar case. (thanks, Ice Station Tango.) But here's a new wrinkle. To answer Leahy's question of why Arar, who has been vindicated by a Canadian Commission of Inquiry (that spent millions of dollars and heard hundreds of hours of testimony, BTW) remains on a watchlist, Gonzales promised that the information justifying this would be provided to Leahy within a week. The briefing is supposedly already being prepared.
Here is that exchange

The thing is, the Canadian government already know what is going to be in that briefing, as this Globe and Mail article shows,
"Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said yesterday there was 'nothing new' in the American dossier on Maher Arar that would justify keeping him on a terrorist watch list, although a top U.S. administration official indicated an explanation may be forthcoming. 'He should not be on the watch list,' Mr. Day said after pressing the issue with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. 'We have seen some recent information that has not altered our opinion at all.'

Mr. Chertoff refused to comment on why Mr. Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen, still cannot enter the United States or fly over its territory. Barely a kilometre away in Washington, Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was also demanding an explanation from U.S. Attorney-General Alberto Gonzalez."
And being lied to. Again. Gonzales should be tried for perjury, and immediately relieved of his job. And based on his fuzzy interpretation of law, he should also be disbarred. Then he and the rest of the Bush Criminal Conspiracy should face war crimes tribunals.

(updated 11:15 pm to add video)

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My Father

I've had a complicated relationship with my father. He's not dead, but we're not speaking. I was his favorite, his first. We used to stay up late together talking about things like geology and weather and nature and energy and resources, but sometimes about interpersonal things. I'd give him a backrub and massage his feet, and he would tell me about the world. He was especially worried about energy and overpopulation. He was an engineer and a marine. Rather a stoic guy, but around me he became very soft and silly, just to please me. I wore my hair long because he liked it that way; my mom was stuck dealing with my knots. I have always had wild bedroom hair, but that's a story for a different day. Today is about my father.

My father and mother didn't seem to have much in common. I could never figure out why they got married. How they met? He needed a date for a dance, and his friends sent him in to a hotel to ask the first woman he saw. My mom was at the counter. He had Mayflower status; she was the daughter of immigrants. He had aristocracy; she had labor. He had Southern Baptism, to fear; she had Catholicism, to ignore. He had everything to conserve; she had nothing particularly to lose. Of course they divorced.

As a young girl, I was taught very liberal, progressive values. Things like all people have value, everyone is of equal importance, people are generally good, we reap what we sow, intention is almost everything, government exists to serve the people.

When I grew up and hit college, my father confessed to me that he had always refrained from speaking freely with me to appease my mother, but now that I was an adult, he felt free to speak his mind. The things he shared with me revealed racism and sexism that I could not fathom. He used to quote Rush and cite his sources all the time. He loved Rush. I think he could see the nausea wash over my face when he spoke of race. He talked more about gender, perhaps because it was more personal for me, perhaps because in my own bias, I was less sure. His favorite meme: "American society fell apart when women started wearing pants." Then there was the bit about women working outside of the home was destroying America. Birth control was essential for population control; abortion was simply wrong. It made it too easy to be a trollop. And who wants that? We debated abortion all the time, paddling in his fishing boat, driving around in his white Ford truck, which even back then I knew screamed out "Republican."

It was complicated. I loved him so much. For all the times he held me down and tickled me, for the silly voice he used to make me laugh, for the way he teased me, for sharing his love of nature with me, for the way he used to say, "I love you, baby." And yet, as I matured I came to learn that the Venn diagram of our values held rather a thin slice in common. One day, as we were driving in the Ford, out looking for nature, in round number 47 on abortion, he said, "You know, baby, I'm not a woman. Maybe if I were a woman, I'd feel differently. So I guess I can't really know for sure." I think in that moment, I knew more that he loved me than at any other. I knew how hard it was for him to give me this. I knew how uncomfortable he was giving away control. And I felt his love and respect for me as a person, every bit as valuable and important as he, himself. I loved him so much for that.

And today, on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Roe v Wade decision, which protected the rights of individual to make personal decisions based on their own beliefs, I remember my father.

He hated government interference and intrusion. Ranted all the time. Funny how much he agreed back then with the thinking of First Freedom First now:
Individuals may look to their own faith or other ethical considerations as they make these choices, but the government must never mandate that all Americans must follow the tenets of one religious viewpoint.
Funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

So for me, it comes down to something really simple. The way to honor and respect and love a woman is to trust her to make decisions about herself, her body, and her life. This is what is meant by everyone is of equal importance. "As long as men control women's sexuality and reproduction, women will never be equal."

So there it is. My response to the question, "Why are you pro-choice?"

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

You know it. I know it. You want the postscript. You want it bad. Fine.

One night on the telephone, as we discussed Clinton's Democratic congress and my father launched attack number 8,042 on Hillary and her law career, I asked my father if he had ever read her legal writings. You see, I had. And I was able to explain why I thought she was brilliant. And correct. I was emboldened. I pushed it. I told him that if I ever had a daughter, I might choose to name her "Hillary" (lie). Further emboldened by his gasp, I pressed on. I told him that if I ever had a second, I might choose to name her "Eleanor" (another lie).

That is the last time we spoke. I guess that's where he drew the line.

The China News

Satellite Killers, Gender Gap, Spam, The Vatican, Pillow Fighting, More

China killed one of its own satellites with a missile a couple of weeks ago, and now they won't talk about it.

This is a truly horrifying event that diplomacy could have solved long ago. China is out of its mind to escalate the situation, and who knows exactly what damage the debris from the satellite will cause.

While this action is way over the top, the Bush administration has been playing fast and loose with space war for a long time and push back is not surprising.

So, in light of yet another looming international crisis, let's take a look a the People's Republic in this installment of...

...The China News:
VIDEO: Channel 4 reports on China's satellite kill shot.
VIDEO: BBC reports on the Chinese pillow fighting trend.
VIDEO: BBC on China's enormous pollution.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Assault on Justice

Knowing full well that they face defeat in court cases covering issues ranging from public corruption to the NSA wiretapping program and the denial of habeas corpus in hundreds of cases, the Bush administration has turned to a new and disturbing tactic. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is dismissing federal judges and replacing them with judges who he expects will make decisions based on political affiliation rather than legal merit.

From the Washington Post,
"[Gonzales] denied any political motives and vowed to quickly submit new nominees for the jobs to the Senate for confirmation.

'What we're trying to do is ensure that for the people in each of these respective districts, we have the very best possible representative for the Department of Justice,' Gonzales testified, adding later: 'I would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney for political reasons or if it would in any way jeopardize an ongoing serious investigation. I just would not do it.'

Gonzales's remarks in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee came in response to questions from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and other lawmakers about the forced removals of at least six U.S. attorneys, including several who have overseen some of the government's highest-profile corruption prosecutions."
Consider one of the judges who is on the way out; "Carol C. Lam in San Diego, who led the corruption prosecution of former congressman Randy 'Duke' Cunningham (R-Calif.)" On the way in is Tim Griffin, who was recently working for the RNC trying to dig up dirt on Democratic candidates. Despite Gonzo's protests otherwise, that looks political to me.
Senator Feinstein seems to agree.
Diane Feinstein Adresses the Senate

Here's Olbermann with Jonathan Turley's reaction:
Assault on Justice
Turley gets right to the point when he remarks that Gonzo is 'more General than Attorney...he seems just inherently hostile towards the rule of law.' Which when you think of it is just what you want if you're trying to set up a police state. This seems to be something they've been planning for some time, too. Under a little known provision added into the USA PATRIOT Act when it was renewed*, the judges no longer require congressional confirmation.

Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy, titles his post on this subject simply, with an infamous Bush quote, "This would be a whole lot easier if this was a dictatorship…just as long as I’m the dictator!" - This move seems designed to put Bush one step closer to that goal.

UPDATE: (3 am, Jan. 21) While researching for this post, I bookmarked this article concerning Arlen Specter's role in the last-minute change to the legislation that negated the Senate's participation in confirming judges. Sorry I neglected to include the link in the original post.

UPDATE: (Apr. 15) While researching for another post, I reread this one to find my egregious error of identifying the dismissed US Attorneys as Federal Judges. My sincere apologies. It looks like I put this one together when it was late, and I was tired.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Goodbye Denny

Denny Doherty, the powerful lead voice of The Mamas and The Papas, died today at the age of 66. The Mamas and The Papas' great harmonies allowed them to remain popular through a period when few American bands could hold their own against the British Invasion begun when The Beatles rose to fame.
California Dreamin'
(From Truthdig)
“Everybody used to think that John Phillips, who wrote the songs, was also the main voice of the group, but it wasn’t—it was the angelic voice of Denny Doherty,” said Larry Leblanc, Canadian editor of Billboard Magazine. “He was often overlooked but it was really his voice that carried the group.”
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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hmmm...Visitor 12895

We Must Have Hit The Big Time

Click to see image original size.
Look what I found! I make regular visits to sitemeter to check out how the blog is doing, where the visitors are coming from (both geographically and by referral.) One of the first times I did this I found a visitor from the US Senate Sergeant at Arms office, which I thought was interesting. If I'm not mistaken, they're the ones responsible for security on the hill, just as the Secret Service is responsible for White House security. Anyway, since then I often check out any hits we get that originate in Washington D.C.

Say hello to visitor #12,895. Presumably someone in the Army Information Command, Pentagon is searching to see who has been blogging about Alberto Gonzales today. I have to assume due to the office of origin within the Pentagon that this was official business, not just somebody using the Pentagon's computers to do a little surfing during off time.

Just so you know 12, I'm not a terrorist. (Can I call you 12? Mister 895 seems so formal.) Dude, I've never even fired a gun in my life, and I think the smell of AmFo would probably make me puke. Believe me, there are bigger fish to fry than me. That dude in the suit who just jaywalked across K street to get to his power lunch is a bigger threat to democracy. So's that other dude who just parked in a handicap space right there in the Pentagon parking lot. He's not handicapped, unless you count being a Republican.

Another thing dude. (unless you're a babe, not a dude, in which case forgive my sexist presumption. And, while you're at it, forgive my sexist referral to you as 'babe.') Lest you've forgotten, you made a solemn oath to uphold THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, not to follow the lame-brained orders of a monkey in a codpiece that likes to have pictures taken of himself in a flight suit. He would love to think of himself as military, but he avoided service to the extent of his ability to do so, which owing to his family was considerable. You must have incredibly low self esteem to be following orders that originated with that putz.

So have a nice day. Maybe if you do really well at your current post they'll promote you into a more important task, like say counting paperclips. Or busting that guy for taking a handicapped parking space. That'd be good.

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Gonzales Caves In

Democratic Majority Begins to Bear Fruit

The first of what we hope to be many Senate hearings into administration malfeasance has had new Justice committee chairman Patrick Leahy questioning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the matter of the NSA wiretapping program. The program was declared to be unconstitutional and even criminal by Federal Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor way back in August. There are a couple of articles at Glenn Greenwald's site here and here for those who wish to be brought up to date on the issue.

In a letter to Leahy and ranking minority [insert taunt here] committee member Arlen "The Enabler" Specter, Gonzales claims that the program will now operate under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC.) This of course was always legally required, both constitutionally in accordance with the fourth amendment and statutorily to comply with the FISA law set up after the wiretapping abuses of the Nixon administration. Greenwald, who is the acknowledged expert on this matter, was not impressed by Gonzales' reluctant and belated performance of his clear duty as Attorney General.
"[U]ltimately, there are only two options -- (1) the administration is now complying fully and exclusively with FISA when eavesdropping, in which case all of its prior claims that it could not do so and still fight against The Terrorists are false, or (2) the administration has changed its eavesdropping program some, but it is still not fully complying with FISA, in which case nothing of significance has changed (at least on the lawbreaking issues) because the administration is still violating the law."

Let me rephrase that. The administration is pretending that it will now comply with FISA and the constitution because something has changed. Which frankly is a load of crap. The only thing that has changed is the political landscape, where the word oversight now actually means oversight, not overlook. There is not now, nor has there ever been, a legal ruling that allows wiretapping without a warrant being issued.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
-- Amendment IV, The Constitution of The United States of America
I can hardly wait until Leahy questions Gonzales on what I think are much more pressing issues in Justice's bailiwick: Suspension of habeas corpus under the Military Commissions Act; Incarceration and imprisonment without charges at Guantanamo Bay; Torture; Signing Statements; The theory of unitary executive presidential powers, to name a few. Gonzales needs to be reminded that he swore an oath to uphold the law, not to support his long-time friend George Bush in his newly carved-out dictatorship.

There are few people in the Bush administration who are worse than the Chimperor himself. For his complicity in the kidnapping, torture and deaths of innocent detainees, Gonzales makes it onto that short list.

UPDATE (3 pm., 01/18): Here's a snippet from the New York Times article on this.
"Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales is expected to face hostile questioning on Thursday from the Senate Judiciary Committee on the program. And an appellate court in Cincinnati is scheduled to hear arguments in two weeks on the government’s appeal of an earlier ruling declaring the program illegal and unconstitutional.

Some legal analysts said the administration’s pre-emptive move could effectively make the court review moot, but Democrats and civil rights advocates said they would press for the courts and Congress to continue their scrutiny of the program of wiretapping without warrants, which began shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."
How could this make the standing decision moot? The judge in this case had already determined that there was a prima facie case to pursue CRIMINAL charges against the administration, whatever NSA and CIA operatives that were involved, and even non-governmental agencies like AT&T that may have co-operated. This is like a thief who was already facing charges of holding up several liquor stores being let go because he has promised not to do it anymore. Every criminal in America should be asking their lawyer to pursue that option now that the precedent has been set.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Escalate the People's Power

(Give it a chance to buffer...)


Mother, Mother
There's far too many of you crying
Brother, brother
There's far too many of you dying
We've got to find a way
To bring some lovin here today

Father, father
We don't need to escalate
War is not the answer
Only love can conquer hate
We've got to find a way
To bring some lovin here today

~Joe Cocker


On Point: The Antiwar Movement Today
Interesting discussion of the anti-war movement today and escalation in Iraq.
"There's a growing sense of the need for active resistance in addition to what obviously was very important political initiative around the last election. But I think there's a great need for people on the streets, for members of our churches to give much more prominent voice to their resistance to this war and to the current strategy and indeed to the whole response to September 11 which, in my mind, has been a very clever manipulation of fear and the creation of the notion of an axis of evil over against which the United States is a unilateral responder. And I think that's done great mischief and raises profound moral questions that the church and many other civil society organizations need to confront." Rev. John H. Thomas


The power to dream / to rule
to wrestle the world from fools
it's decreed the people rule
it's decreed the people rule
I believe everything we dream
can come to pass through our union
we can turn the world around
we can turn the earth's revolution
we have the power
People have the power ...

~Patti Smith

The People Have the Power.
Let it Surge.

Too Good to Ignore

"Make it Rain Subpoenas"
Truthdig calls it "The Video that's burning up the blogosphere." I first saw it on AMERICAblog, and I agree it is brilliant - an appeal to the Democrats to use their newly-won majority to confront the Republicans on every issue that has been on the back burner for too long. I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Chavez Continues to Annoy Bush

Hugo Chavez is engaged in a very deadly conflict with the United States. At risk; one of the largest oil supplies in the world, possibly even the largest.

Since his re-election, Chavez has instituted a broad nationalization agenda that has the White House mad enough to just kill him.

Sherwood Ross, in a recent article called, "Can Chavez Beat the Devil?" he writes:
White House press secretary Tony Snow claimed nationalization "has a long and inglorious history of failure around the world," a declaration that overlooks the success right here at home of Halliburton Corp., whose sales and profits have soared dramatically since it became a Frankenstein creature of the military-industrial complex and no longer has to bother with competitive bidding to secure multi-billion dollar contracts for disemboweling Iraq. Most of the other principal corporate piggies at the Pentagon trough are also gorging themselves on non-bid delicacies subsidized by the very taxpayers who voted to elect Free Market Bush.

In point of fact, though, nationalization of basic industries has worked in a number of countries, including Chile, Brazil and Colombia, where state-run oil is the norm, AP says. "A 2004 World Bank study that looked at 181 state-run utilities in 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries that were privatized in the 1990s--- in fixed telecommunications, electricity and water distribution and sewers --- found that on the whole, labor productivity, efficiency and quality of service improved, especially in telecoms" although water and sewers "tended to be problematic." By contraxt, when Argentina's Carlos Menem, a bullish privatizer, sold off scores of firms during his 1989-99 presidency, "the selloffs helped modernize the country, yet critics complained the fortunes reaped were later squandered or illegally pocketed and that many buyers failed to make needed investments. Similar complains tagged sweeping privatizations in Peru and Boliva.

"Given the fact President Bush is as busy in Iraq as a wretch up to his neck in quicksand grasping to crawl out, Chavez can probably nationalize CANTV and the other entities he has in mind without having the CIA come after him the way it pounced on Che Guevera when he tried to foment a revolution in Bolivia. Chavez does not use force and violence like Guevera or nationalize without compensation like Castro. It's a fair question to inquire if any leader anywhere in the world is safe from American meddling if he or she adopts a Socialist economic system, or even a mixed economy system that does not totally embrace Free Enterprise Capitalist Economic Principles, also known in some quarters inhabited by the poor and exploited consumers of the earth by the acronym FECES. If Socialism is such an awful idea why not allow the Chavez's of the world make their own mistakes and, as they are discredited, leave it up to their publics to remove them? Indeed, if Tony Snow thinks State-run enterprises are so dreadful, why doesn't he threaten the mayors of American cities who operate thousands of public electric, waterworks, and sewerage utilities?

Chavez has taken a radical step that even a fellow leftist like me finds disturbing. He's nationalized his chief critic, a TV station he accuses of having ties to the CIA. In it's place, Chavez is offering state run programming and he's getting into the act with a five hour, weekly TV show called "Hello President".

Chavez is also serving as the unofficial international voice of Fidel Castro, since the Cuban leader fell ill. Chavez disputes reports putting Castro on death's door.

Bloomberg looks at how Putin and Chavez have played the open oil markets. By the way something, if you're paying real close attention, you'll notice that oil supply is one of the most commonly lied about subjects reported on by the corporate media.

VIDEO: BBC Coverage of Chavez's swearing in ceremony.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Joining the Swarm

In my inbox this morning was a link to this post at The Gaelic Starover (h/t Blue Gal.) It seems that the New York Times has picked up on the story of Spocko's Brain, a smallish blog that got itself into a pissing war with media giant ABC/Disney over things being said on the air at Disney-owned KSFO radio.

The story in a nutshell:
-KSFO's right-wing talkshow hosts have been spewing things, including Melanie Morgan's apparent advocacy of murdering Nancy Pelosi, that would make mAnne Coulter think twice. (Check that. I just remembered the 'crème brulée' comment she made about the Supreme Court.)
-Spocko started a campaign against KSFO and ABC/Disney that included posting digital copies of the offensive statements, said copies forwarded to KSFO's advertisers so they would be aware of the hate speech their dollars were funding.
-ABC/Disney retaliated with a letter to Spocko's ISP alleging copyright infringement over the sound clips. The ISP didn't just ask Spocko to remove the clips - they suspended his service, killing his blog.
-Other bloggers, notably Daily Kos, rallied to Spocko's aid, calling for a blogswarm. The Electronic Freedom Foundation agreed to back Spocko by footing his legal bills to fight ABC/Disney. Spocko is back up and running at a new ISP.

My observations:
-For an organization that includes a news service, ABC/Disney seems dismally unaware of the 'fair use' provisions of the Digital Millenium copyright act.
-In Canada, where there is no first amendment, free speech is still protected, but hate speech is a crime. Melanie Morgan, Ann Coulter, Limbaugh, O'Reilly et. al. would find themselves in court facing possible jail time.
-When the MSM does fight for the first amendment, it is in the most egregious and despicable way, as this case involving FOX, resolved in 2003 demonstrates. Court Rules the Media Can LIE

Happy ending: Bloggers really can make a difference. They are showing themselves (at least in the clear air of Greater Left Blogistan, but not in the fetid swampy regions of Lower Right Blogsylvania) to have a thirst for truth and an understanding of journalistic integrity rare in the highly-paid professional newswhores of FOX, ABC/Disney, et. al. SOME small segment of the MSM is beginning to recognize this, as proven by the NYT article and this video clip. Spocko's story has spread far beyond the small readership he had before this controversy arose. Good on ya' Spocko! Way to cut yourself in for a piece of the action.

CBS SanFran on Spocko

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Secret Government

Nate at Get In Their Face has just posted the full 90-minute version of Bill Moyer's 1987 documentary The Secret Government - primarily an examination of the Iran/Contra scandal, its investigation, and the aftermath. Even though this was 20 years ago it is still relevant, because the secret government is still in operation. The only thing is, what was being done covertly then is now being done openly, even blatantly. And they've dropped the 'secret' from the name. It's just called The Government now.

The Enterprise, as its operatives referred to it among themselves, was designed from the start to be a stand-alone, self-financing entity free from all government scrutiny and outside the bounds of both domestic and international laws. It was in fact created for the express purpose of breaking the law, and should have been prosecuted vigorously under the RICO ( Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations ) statute. Because it illegally diverted US military resources and weaponry outside of the legitimate command structure, many of its members could also have been tried for treason. Instead, even after the worst details of this operation were discovered, leading to the Iran/Contra investigation, many aspects of the scandal were protected by Reagan administration claims of 'National Security.'

Ollie North (pictured right) should have received a cigarette and a blindfold for his part in this mess. Instead he went on to a lucrative career as a speaker at conservative functions and is now a political commentator lying propagandist for FOX "news."

Ollie's boss back then was Reagan's National Security Adviser: Vice Admiral John Poindexter got off scot-free for his central role in the affair and went on to develop the "Total Information Awareness" technology that is at the heart of the NSA wiretapping program.

Anyone who watched the Iran/Contra hearings will tell you I would be remiss in excluding the key role played by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. He missed no opportunity to block the thrust of the investigation and provide a platform from which the conspirators could exalt their crimes as heroic and patriotic.

As the result of the incomplete investigation, we have no assurance that anything more than the tip of the Secret Government's iceberg of activities ever came to light. Barely enough to cool the drinks at a Republican country club function. One would be naive to think that this 'stand-alone, self-financing' organization would just go away. None of its members ever showed anything but pride in their activities, which by the way were very lucrative. There was considerable financial motive for the gang to keep on doing what they had already been caught red-handed at and, having escaped unpunished, there was little incentive for them to stop. As a result this video looks like history, but feels eerily like current events.

Watch the video. Tell me what you think. See you in comments.

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