Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Decay in Babylon

If only you could read articles like this in US dailies:

Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance - a key strategic document published in 1996 - aimed to understand how to destroy the "will to resist before, during and after battle". For Harlan Ullman of the National Defence University, its main author, the perfect example was the atom bomb at Hiroshima. But with or without such a weapon, one could create an illusion of unending strength and ruthlessness. Or one could deprive an enemy of the ability to communicate, observe and interact - a macro version of the sensory deprivation used on individuals - so as to create a "feeling of impotence". And one must always inflict brutal reprisals against those who resist. An alternative was the "decay and default" model, whereby a nation's will to resist collapsed through the "imposition of social breakdown".

All of this came to be applied in Iraq in 2003, and not merely in the March bombardment called "shock and awe". It has been usual to explain the chaos and looting in Baghdad, the destruction of infrastructure, ministries, museums and the national library and archives, as caused by a failure of Rumsfeld's planning. But the evidence is this was at least in part a mask for the destruction of the collective memory and modern state of a key Arab nation, and the manufacture of disorder to create a hunger for the occupier's supervision. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported in May 2003, US troops broke the locks of museums, ministries and universities and told looters: "Go in Ali Baba, it's all yours!"

For the American imperial strategists invested deeply in the belief that through spreading terror they could take power. Neoconservatives such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and the recently indicted Lewis "Scooter" Libby, learned from Leo Strauss that a strong and wise minority of humans had to rule over the weak majority through deception and fear, rather than persuasion or compromise. They read Le Bon and Freud on the relationship of crowds to authority. But most of all they loved Hobbes's Leviathan. While Hobbes saw authority as free men's chosen solution to the imperfections of anarchy, his 21st century heirs seek to create the fear that led to submission. And technology would make it possible and beautiful.

On the logo of the Pentagon's Information Awareness Office, the motto is Scientia est potentia - knowledge is power . The IAO promised "total information awareness", an all-seeing eye spilling out a death-ray gaze over Eurasia. Congressional pressure led the IAO to close, but technospeak, half-digested political theory and megalomania still riddle US thinking.

. . .

The problem for the US today is that Leviathan has shot his wad. Iraq revealed the hubris of the imperial geostrategy. One small nation can tie down a superpower. Air and space supremacy do not give command on the ground. People can't be terrorised into identification with America. The US has proved able to destroy massively - but not create, or even control. Afghanistan and Iraq lie in ruins, yet the occupiers cower behind concrete mountains.

The spin machine is on full tilt to represent Iraq as a success. Peters, in New Glory: Expanding America's Supremacy, asserts: "Our country is a force for good without precedent"; and Barnett, in Blueprint, says: "The US military is a force for global good that ... has no equal." Both offer ambitious plans for how the US is going to remake the third world in its image. There is a violent hysteria to the boasts. The narcissism of a decade earlier has given way to an extrovert rage at those who have resisted America's will since 2001. Both urge utter ruthlessness in crushing resistance.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Bush - Congressional Oversight + Dictatorial Aspirations - The Constitution = Current NSA Domestic Spying Scandal

Anyone who wants to know anything about the recent NSA domestic spying scandal should read Body of Secrets by James Bamford. It is the book to read to understand anything about the organization and its frightening capabilities.

Bamford, a respected producer and journalist, was given space in The New York Times on Christmas to discuss the NSA spying scandal, its Echelon program, and the history of the uber-secret organization.

From the NYT:

Originally created to spy on foreign adversaries, the N.S.A. was never supposed to be turned inward. Thirty years ago, Senator Frank Church, the Idaho Democrat who was then chairman of the select committee on intelligence, investigated the agency and came away stunned.

"That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people," he said in 1975, "and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide."

He added that if a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A. "could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back. . . I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."

Just to connect the dots, please take the time to watch this CNN clip where Bush declares, "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier -- just so long as I'm the dictator."

And this gem, "A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Happy Holidays... y'all

Dear (Millions of) Loyal Readers,

Since much of the bloggers at Political Asylum hail from the most-of-the-time Great State of Texas, PA will be slowing down over the holidays (that's right you wackos, I said "holidays" and not "Christmas") as we repatriate for a few weeks.

We will still post periodically, but only between Mexican Martinis, meals with the folks, pints at Club DeVille, and greasy breakfasts at Guerros and El Sol y La Luna.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Conyers Unleashes an Iraq J-DAM

Oh snap!

Check out portions of this breaking executive summary of the House Judiciary Committee's minority staff (what Conyers has been working on while the White House ignored him):

There is at least a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violate a number of federal laws, including (1) Committing a Fraud against the United States; (2) Making False Statements to Congress; (3) The War Powers Resolution; (4) Misuse of Government Funds; (5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; (6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals; and (7) federal laws and regulations concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence.

While these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable misconduct, because the Bush Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have blocked the ability of Members to obtain information directly from the Administration concerning these matters or responding to these charges, more investigatory authority is needed before recommendations can be made regarding specific Articles of Impeachment. As a result, we recommend that Congress establish a select committee with subpoena authority to investigate the misconduct of the Bush Administration with regard to the Iraq war detailed in this Report and report to the Committee on the Judiciary on possible impeachable offenses.

Damn straight!

Holiday Wish from Senator Cornyn!

"None of your civil liberties matter much after you're dead."
-- Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), The Hill, 12/20

Outrageous

From Roll Call:

Frist, Hastert Aid Vaccine Companies

December 20, 2005
By John Stanton, Roll Call Staff

In a late-night move that could be worth billions of dollars to a small group of major drug manufacturers, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) inserted language into the fiscal year 2006 Defense Department spending conference report.

Shortly before midnight on Sunday, the leaders agreed — after House and Senate negotiators had already signed the report and announced its details to the public — to insert controversial language that protects vaccine manufacturers from product liability claims in the event of a viral pandemic, such as one caused by avian flu.

Observers familiar with the procedural history of conference reports said that they were unaware of any precedent for inserting language after conferees had signed off on the report. A review of several Congressional Research Service guides to conference proceedings make no reference to any prior example.

[...]

During an early-morning meeting of the House Rules Committee on the bill, Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), a vocal critic of the vaccine industry, complained bitterly that he had been assured the language would not be included in the bill. “This kind of thing should not be done at 11 at night,” he said.

House Appropriations Committee ranking member David Obey (D-Wisc.) accused the GOP of tricking conferees, saying on the House floor that he had been assured the liability provision would not make it into the defense bill.

[...]

Republicans strongly denied that they misled negotiators and insist that the unusual arrangement to include the language was struck only because the provisions had been inadvertently left out.

“There appears to have been some administrative snafu ... that led to much confusion,” a Senate Republican aide familiar with the situation said, adding that it took “several hours’ work to clear up that
the avian package ... were indeed physically included along the lines understood by the Leader and the Speaker.”



Yeah fucking right it was an "accident." R to D: Did I remember to tell you I slipped billions of dollars of liability protection for my pharma donors into that bill after you signed it? Oh, I didn't? Huh. You're upset I can tell. Well, to make up for this mistake, here's what we'll do: We'll leave it in, and if you attempt to take it out, we'll accuse you of not supporting the DOD bill or the troops. Yeah, I know that doesn't really "correct" our "accidental inclusion" of this provision, but fuck you.

The REAL axis of evil...

Your law enforcement agencies are working hard to protect you... from PETA, vegans, and Catholics!

From the NYT:

One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The documents, provided to The New York Times over the past week, came as part of a series of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. For more than a year, the A.C.L.U. has been seeking access to information in F.B.I. files on about 150 protest and social groups that it says may have been improperly monitored.


Clearly this evil bitch must be
stopped at all costs before she robs
us of our freedoms!!

However bad your work day is today...

... at least you don't work in New York City.

I hate Christmas

From the appropriately named site: http://www.fuckchristmas.org/

Let’s back up even fucking further, shall we? Can anyone tell me how old Christmas is? Anyone? Two thousand years, give or take, right? Gee, who’s been reading their No Child Left Behind History Textbooks? Try fucking four thousand years. Huh. Twice as fucking long as your little baby king has been around. How could that possibly be, unless. . . waitaminute. . .
Christmas isn’t fucking Christian. Ok, now we’re talking.

That’s right, that Yuletide cheer you’re spreading? What exactly do you think Yule is? It's the fucking Pagan celebration of solstice. And those “Christmas” traditions? They’re not just like Pagan rituals, they fucking are Pagan rituals. Way before your Jesus got all magical with the bread and fishes, the Romans were celebrating the birth of Mithra on . . . guess? Go on – guess. December fucking twenty fifth. What a weird coincidence. Practically the whole thing is ripped off from the fucking Druids and the Romans. Twelve days? Check. Exchanging gifts? Check. Mistletoe? Check. And you’d better fucking believe that those decorated trees that Gibson and Co. are so bent out of shape over are as Pagan as the Rune and Crystal Shack at Pentagramfest 2005. You might as well be building miniature fucking Stonehenges in your den.

And don’t you read your own goddamn Bibles? Jesus was born when? In the middle of winter? Lot of Shepherds out watching their flocks around that time of year in Bethlehem? No, because they’d be freezing their fucking asses off. Tell you what – y’all go figure out which one of the different Bible stories about the birth of Baby Jesus® you want to believe, and then we’ll argue about whether it fucking happened like that or not.

Christians just stole a bunch of traditions from other cultures, slapped them together, stuck a fucking tinfoil star on top and called it the Most Important Holiday of the Year. Modern American Christmas makes Michael Jackson look positively organic.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I love Christmas

From the Guardian:

A gang of drunken Santas has caused mayhem in Auckland, New Zealand, throwing bottles, robbing stores and assaulting security guards in protest at the commercialisation of Christmas.

Three men were arrested on Saturday night for disorderly behaviour and possessing offensive weapons. Police said that identifying the troublemakers was difficult as the 40 men and women were wearing the same outfit.

Take Two

Bush tries to cleanup the boo-boos from last night (Live Press Conference):

10:38: Bush defending himself in speech against questions about PATRIOT Act and unconstitutional NSA domestic spying.

10:39: Bush knocks Reid for bragging about killing the PATRIOT Act in conference. Says how can you vote for it in 2001 then oppose it now? Easy you jackass: You totally abused it, not it sucks (though, some of us thought it always was a piece of shit).

10:40: Total non-sequiter from fascist laws into bragging about the US economy. Inflation is low, consumer confidence is up... all is well!! Aw shucks factor: 5

10:41: We're becoming less dependent on foreign sources of oil (really??). We made it harder for regular folks to bankrupt and robbed you of your rights as victims by passing class-action reform.

10:42: Lawyers are evil!!! Mexicans suck! Confirm Judge Sc-Alito because he's the most qualified jurist ever nominated (I thought Harriet Myers was?)

10:43: Shameless pandering about the sacrifices of our troops overseas and co-opting their grief as some kind of support for his ham-fisted foreign policies.

10:44: Question Time!

Question One: Are you going to investigate who told the New York Times about the secret NSA domestic spying program?

Bush: The DoJ is all over it. Bushie angry that people are "even talking about this," and called the leak a "shameful act" by a disgruntled employee. Translation: I fucking hate whistleblowers.

10:45: Bush once again confuses Osama bin Laden with Saddam Hussein.

10:47: We must break the law to protect the American people! "Do I have the legal authority to do this? The answer is...ABSOLUTELY (all legal opinions to the contrary aside)!" Says that Congress gave him the authority to spy on Americans when it authorized the use of force in Iraq (???).

10:49: Bush educates cub reporter ("Adam") on the intricacies of the democratic process both in America and in Iraq. Bush getting loosey-goosy and doing his trademark podium lean. The aw-shucks factor: 7.

10:52: Reporter ("John") asks Bush again what the biggest mistake he has made during his presidency. Bush begins talking about Iraq (Freudian slip?) and refers to General Tommy Frank (he can't even get the general from his own state's name right).

10:53: Bush reassures us that calls from Houston to LA will not be monitored. Says that "I think I have the authority" to authorize this program. "We're protecting your civil liberties!" To fight al-Qaeda, we must bypass the law and not change it. If we changed it, al-Qaeda would know what we're up to!!

10:55: Reporter ("Martha") asks Bush why calls from Houston to LA would not be monitored. Bush flabberghasted... "We will!" says Bush.
Please see 10:53 post.

10:57: Reporter ("Suzanne") asks Bush to comment on accusations that he broke the law. "I am doing what you expect me to. There are 2 committees that are responsible for oversight (yet only names one). "

10:59: We were certain that WMDs would be there. EVERYONE thought so (excluding the millions around the world that protested this war). "There was universal feelings about this." Aw shucks factor: 7

11:01: "Democracies like peace. Democracies don't war." (present company excluded). Derails for about 2 minutes into off-the-script minefields of US history, nation building, and the importance to democracy of trials and legal proceedings (barring military tribunals, Jose Padilla, Yasir Hamdi, extraordinary renditions, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, etc.)
Aw sucks factor: 9

11:05: Confuses the National Security Agency with NASA (understandible)

11:09: My patience with this post runs out (much to the chagrin of our 2 readers)

Why We Need the PATRIOT Act

Library request for Mao's "Little Red Book" earns UMass student a visit from the Homeland Security department. Surely those purveyors of communist propaganda at Amazon will be subject to similar intimidation!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Robots, march!

Amazing. Last week, opposition to torture was deemed as "waving the white flag" and crippling our efforts to "secure the homeland." Anyone who wanted it banned didn't have the stomach to defend America.

This week, after the green-light from their master, the House was beamed its instructions from the White House and overwhelmingly adopts the language of McCain's amendment.

All I want for Christmas are my civil liberties

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Henry Cuellar's Got a Friend Upstairs

Raymond is dropping out. What a pussy.

Too bad no one told him Cuellar is flat broke.

Cuellar's campaign manager Colin Strother says Raymond was simply reading the poll numbers.

Well, he certainly wasn't scared of Cuellar's financial advantage.

Return of COINTELPRO

"The president, talking with reporters as he wrapped up a trip to Asia, said he welcomes dissent about the war. 'This is a debate worthy of our country; it's an important debate,' he said."

-- Associated Press, 11/21/2005


Yeah, just don't come down on the wrong side of the war "debate" or you'll find yourself on a "no fly" list and permanently labeled a troublemaker in a massive new domestic spying database being run out of the Pentagon. But remember, we welcome dissent!!

The cross-dressing ghost of J. Edgar Hoover is dancing in its grave.

From MSNBC:

A year ago, at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Fla., a small group of activists met to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. What they didn't know was that their meeting had come to the attention of the U.S. military.

A secret 400-page Defense Department document obtained by NBC News lists the Lake Worth meeting as a “threat” and one of more than 1,500 “suspicious incidents” across the country over a recent 10-month period.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Supremes to Hear Texas Redistricting

Who knows how those lunatics will rule but I think the timing of their decision so quickly after the news of the career DOJ staff being overruled by political hacks may indicate where the Supremes are leaning.

Cross your fingers.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Maybe the people are smarter than we thought.

Hehe.

New Surveys Show That Big Business Has a P.R. Problem

More than ever, Americans do not trust business or the people who run it.

Pollsters, researchers, even many corporate chiefs themselves say that business is under attack by a majority of the public, which believes that executives are bent on destroying the environment, cooking the books and lining their own pockets.


Why could that be?

But animosity toward executives as a class, not just the institutions they work for, seems to be rising to a new level. "Society has come to believe that the term 'crooked C.E.O.' is redundant," said Robert S. Miller, the chief executive of Delphi, the bankrupt auto parts company.

[...]
James R. Houghton, chairman of Corning, said he felt little animosity in Corning, N.Y., even though his company had cut thousands of jobs there. "Maybe I'm in an ivory tower, but I think society realizes that 98 percent of businesses are doing the right thing," he said. "The press doesn't write that, because it's the world's most boring story, and because business does a really lousy job of promoting itself."

Business is trying to rectify that. Commercials for Wal-Mart show its employees lauding their benefits and career opportunities.


Ugh.

Republicans Looooove Hollywood!!

That's it, I don't want to hear anymore bullshit about Hollywood and the Democratic Party.

The rudderless, vulgar mob that calls itself the California Republican Party is abandoning its latest actor-turned-politician for having the audacity to hire a qualified chief of staff who actually knows how to govern. Her sin? She used to work for Gray Davis.

Now, there is an earnest effort underway by the same idiots that brought you the Governator to draft, gulp, Mel Gibson to replace him. Apparently one hyper-violent religious nod to the Religious Reich qualifies you for elected office. And I guess holocaust denials are only bad when they come from foreign leaders, not potential governors.

For the record, there has not been one actor elected as a federal elected official.

And, the only "actor" I could find who held a serious elected office as a Democrat is Sheila Kuehl (that's right, who?).

To help keep score, here is a partial list of actors-turned-Republicans (please note the caliber of their body of work):

* Ronald Reagan (the only president to be a former head of a union)
* Arnold
* "Cooter" from Dukes of Hazzard
* Fred Thompson
* Clint Eastwood
* Sonny Bono
* "Gopher" from Love Boat
* Shirley Temple Black

Just plain stupid

Think that having domestic government agencies create bogus news to steer an agenda is limited to the White House?

Enter this pathetic tale of the Child Protective Services in Texas inventing a sad story of a displaced 10 year-old evacuee who "didn't believe in Santa anymore" and wanted only to return home for Christmas.

From the AP:

The Brazosport Facts ran the profile on its front page Nov. 29 as part of its Fill-a-Stocking series, which features a different foster child each day from Thanksgiving through Christmas and solicits donations for a local charity to help fulfill the child's holiday wish.

But the story was a work of fiction.

State caseworkers apparently made it up to tug at readers' heartstrings. . .

Caseworkers with state Child Protective Services in Brazoria County, outside Houston, were responsible for writing the profiles for the newspaper's charity drive, which has been a holiday fixture in the 19,000-circulation paper since 1982.

CPS has apologized to the paper, which immediately suspended its series and returned the $1,070 collected so far this year from donors.

What, there are no REAL foster children that they could have focused on? The plight of REAL foster children doesn't "tug" at people's heartstings?

Revenge of the Duke and Cocky Repubs Eat Crow

Amid all the hullabaloo (yes, I used that word) over Randy "Duke" Cunningham's egregious appetite for illegal bribes, several subplots were conveniently glossed over.

1) The Duke was a simple member of the Appropriations Committee. How did he alone manage to steer all those millions in defense contracts to his benefactor? Isn't the DoD involved at some level? Wouldn't he need some strong backing from the chairman of the committee and other influential congressmen?

2) Who were those people?

Nevertheless, the fact that The Duke was caught red-handed war profiteering and putzing around the world on his fancy boats and Rolls Royces was enough to feed the beast for a few weeks.

Getting cocky that the story was over, Texas Republicans (always with their finger in the breeze) decided to simultaneously praise their own indicted felon of a House leader and denounce the crass opportunism of The Duke.

Take this nugget from this week's Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

There were no visible cracks this week in the support among Texas Republicans for Rep. Tom DeLay, and several predicted he would be exonerated of criminal charges and make a quick return to his majority leadership.

But while they spoke of unity in their defense of DeLay, their California counterparts were speaking with disdain about another congressional member stung by scandal, Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham. He pleaded guilty while they were on Thanksgiving recess to accepting bribes from defense contractors.

Texas Republicans rejected suggestion that they could find themselves in a similar scenario. . .


Gleefully rejoicing in their Rendoning of the media into another "bad apple" storyline, the Texas Repubs were getting comfortable with their non-existent distinctions between The Duke and The Hammer.

Then comes this (from the AP):

Two defense contractors at the center of ex-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's bribery case also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to curry favor with other influential lawmakers, records show.

One contractor, Brent Wilkes, provided private jet flights to lawmakers, including Reps. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who is serving as majority leader while DeLay fights money-laundering charges in Texas.

Wilkes also raised at least $100,000 for President Bush's 2004 re-election bid and donated more than $70,000 to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appointed him to two state boards.


I guess "scandal fatigue" has disappeared from the MSM's lexicon.

Those Damn Dizzy Democrats

OK,

I've been willing to give Nancy Pelosi a lot of slack. Anytime I criticize her my stridently Democratic friends bite my head off and tell me how effective she is.

With Republicans imploding all around us on a seemingly hourly basis, it's pretty hard to make THEM look disorganized. But, the Party's reaction to Murtha's now-infamous speech has been shocking in its ineptitude.

The DCCC obviously had a hand in Murtha's speech. To get floor time, Murtha's office had to request it ahead of time. And there is no way his people did not warn the party that Murtha was going to ask for a REDEPLOYMENT of troops in Iraq.

After his speech, the Democrats are to be commended for distracting the House from its anti-working class orgy and objecting loudly to scurrilous attacks on Murtha's character from a half-cocked freshman spear carrier who could barely carry her own Republican district.

But that's when it all fell apart. Immediately after the debate Pelosi put out a statement saying that "Mr. Murtha speaks for himself." This was after her cohort in the Senate also distanced himself from Murtha -- the very man they agreed upon to float the withdrawal trial balloon.

Then, when the news wasn't all bad and a legitimate debate began to surface in the always-lethargic MSM, Pelosi pulled an about face.

And then to top off the confusion, the DCCC chairman tells the media that the Democrats will develop its own Iraq war strategy "when the time is right." I would think after 3 years that even the Democratic Party could decide on a withdrawal strategy -- something they are bludgeoning (quite rightly) George W. Bush for.

Which brings us to an interesting email I found in my In Box today. It's from the DCCC and it's authored by none other than one John Murtha! It urges me to sign a petition to "support Representative John Murtha's call for Congress to have an honest debate on the safety of our troops."

The merry-go-round continues.

God, I really hate Joe Lieberman

And don't even get me started on "Joe-mentum".

Not only does his war hawkishness endear him to his AIPAC friends, it wrangles him a possible post in the White House.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

NO RUNNING!!!

Maybe this is just me, but where does all that taxpayer money go in training federal marshals, cops, etc? The reason I ask is because everytime an innocent person is shot and killed it all seems that the money to train these THUGS goes to waste. Is it so hard to disable a person by shooting him/her in the hand, leg, or anywhere else that wouldn't cause a fatality, but would certainly quell the situation? What's stopping these trigger happy individuals from shooting anyone else who lets say was boarding the plane the same time this guy was having his alleged mental meltdown.


From TIME Magazine:

At least one passenger aboard American Airlines Flight 924 maintains the federal air marshals were a little too quick on the draw when they shot and killed Rigoberto Alpizar as he frantically attempted to run off the airplane shortly before take-off.

"I don't think they needed to use deadly force with the guy," says John McAlhany, a 44-year-old construction worker from Sebastian, Fla. "He was getting off the plane." McAlhany also maintains that Alpizar never mentioned having a bomb.

"I never heard the word 'bomb' on the plane," McAlhany told TIME in a telephone interview. "I never heard the word bomb until the FBI asked me did you hear the word bomb. That is ridiculous."

Imagine, if you will, if this guy was simply running off to retrieve an item that he left at the terminal? Hell, what if it was the other way around and he was running to make his plane, which I think we can all relate to.

I know all that Homeland Security money allocated has to go to buy bulletproof vests for police dogs, all-terrain vehicles for podunk towns, air-conditioned garbage trucks, and trailers to transport riding lawn mowers to lawn mower races, but you would think some of that money could go to help train these law enforcement personel with how to deal with mental health supects or even on sharp shooting training.

What this latest tragedy proves to me is like swimming pools you should NEVER run anywhere on a plane or even in the airport. Then again no one has ever been shot for running at pools...not yet at least.


From CBS NEWS:

Converse, Texas, first used its new homeland security trailer to transport riding lawn mowers to the annual lawnmower races.
Newark, N.J., spent a quarter of a million dollars on air-conditioned garbage trucks.
In Columbus, Ohio, the fire department is buying bulletproof dog vests for its canine corps.
And Mason County, Wash., famous mostly for its Christmas trees, spent $63,000 for a decontamination unit that no one’s been trained to use. It’s been sitting in boxes in a warehouse for a year.
Hazardous material suits are especially popular. Missouri spent $7.2 million for 13,000 of them, one for every law enforcement officer in the “Show Me State.”
"In Des Moines, your taxpayer dollars went to purchase, among other things, to be prepared for a terrorist attack, traffic cones," says Cox.

Armed thugs

Sounds like these thugs took a page out of the APD's police manual in dealing with this unruly 68 year old grandmother who can't control her road rage and feels the need to honk her horn incessantly, albeit in front of her own home. After reading this I think we can all join in singing the N.W.A classic "Fuck the Police".

From KMBC TV:

According to the department's policy, a Taser gun is not to be used "for coersion or in an unjustified manner." It is only supposed to be used "to avert a dangerous situation," and officers are instructed to announce that they are using the Taser gun, and take into account "when a fall may cause substantial injury or death."

Give her the chair!!

The first person to be tried under Britain's new "Serious Organised Crime and Police Act of 2005" had the first day of her trial yesterday.

What did this no-good perpetrator of "serious organised crime" do?

She stood outside 10 Downing Street and read aloud the names of 97 British soldiers who died in Iraq.

America Loves Comfy Cushions

Criticism of the former colony in British author Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize Lecture:

The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis. . .

It's a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable.

Fatty Bush and Baked Peaches Flambe

Jeb "Fatty" Bush and Fidel Castro have been teeing off on one another lately. The latest jab comes from Fidel and deals with Jebby's rapidly expanding waistline:

"Forgive me for using the term 'fat little brother'," Mr Castro said to laughter from students at a University of Havana graduation ceremony. "It is not a criticism, rather a suggestion that he do some exercises and go on a diet, don't you think? I'm doing this for the gentleman's health."

In the story, we are privvy to the information that blue-collar Jeb Bush's favorite dessert (as has always been) baked peaches flambe with "lashes of brandy and heavy whipped-cream."

Flash to image of pudgy Jeb in cullotes and a fancy beret pulling at Bar's apron on their palacial estate in Kennebunkport:

Jebby: "Mama, mama!! Peaches flambe please!"

Barbara: "Now Jeb-Jeb, you know you can't have any more flambe until you finish your steak tar-tar and caviar potatoes."

Jebby: "I hate this family!" (as he runs up several flights of spiral staircases to his room and dives under his Egyptian cotton sheets and turns on his gold-embossed phonograph)


I think I remember this monster from somewhere. . .


Oh yeah. . .

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Schiavo Fights Back

Corzine to name...

Menendez, so sources say. Official announcement Thursday.

Propogandapalooza

Things with Judy Miller and the NYT executives are getting creepier and creepier. RAW Story has a preview of a Vanity Fair piece coming out that raises some serious questions about why NYT execs felt so paranoid and protective of Miller (despite being trashed because of her actions).

I think it's time to start questioning whether Miller was more than just an "aggressive reporter" and possibly a government plant.

Even before Armstrong Williams, Karen Ryan, and the Iraqi fake news scandal there was the story of CNN and its unique little "internship project." Uncovered by a Dutch magazine and then later reporter on in FAIR and Counterpunch, CNN was caught employing paid government psychological operations agents in its news bureau.

When confronted, CNN first denied it, then announced that the program was a "mistake," disbanded the group, and buried all evidence of the program. Then... it happened again!

The NYT has some "es-plainin" to do... take this nug from the RAW Story article:


Mnookin paints a dark reportorial landscape where reporters from the Times were barred from speaking with top executives, or weren't allowed to speak with members of their own editorial board. Publisher Arthur Sulzberger barred reporters from speaking with Russell Lewis, the former president and CEO of the Times Company," Mnookin wrote, "saying, 'Because I don't know what the fuck he's going to tell you.'"


Oh yeah, she also quotes people she's boning.

Trial Lawyers Start Your Engines...

... because we'll need them.

Nanotechnology, the uber-spooky future of robotics, is concerning many scientists and medical professionals who fear the tiny particles could be more harmful than asbestos.

From the Independent:

But at scales of a millionth of a millimetre, materials can develop unusual and unpredictable properties, leading to concerns about risks to health and the environment. Some experts are calling for a moratorium on nanotechnology, saying that ultra-fine particles created for cosmetic, industrial and high-technology uses could prove deadly.

Bob Phelps, director of the Australian lobby group GeneEthics, says: "Each type of nanoparticle may be as deadly as asbestos." In his opinion, 25 per cent of the investment in nanotechnology should be spent on researching risks. . .

Nanoparticles, it continued, may harm living tissue in at least two ways - through chemical reactivity, or by damaging phagocytes, or scavenger cells. Nanoparticles may disrupt the immune system, cause allergic reactions, interfere with cell communications, or alter enzyme exchanges. Water filters will not remove nanoparticles, and they could perhaps penetrate plant roots and enter the food chain.

We're All Going To Die!!!!!!!

Where's Bruce Willis when you need him?

In Egyptian myth, Apophis was the ancient spirit of evil and destruction, a demon that was determined to plunge the world into eternal darkness.

A fitting name, astronomers reasoned, for a menace now hurtling towards Earth from outerspace. Scientists are monitoring the progress of a 390-metre wide asteroid discovered last year that is potentially on a collision course with the planet, and are imploring governments to decide on a strategy for dealing with it.

Nasa has estimated that an impact from Apophis, which has an outside chance of hitting the Earth in 2036, would release more than 100,000 times the energy released in the nuclear blast over Hiroshima.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Busted

War and Piece reports that a Duke University pollster analyst appears to have been hired by the NSC to write the bulk of Bush's "victory" speech. The strategy is mostly designed as PR for the American public. Sound familiar?

...Although White House officials said many federal departments had contributed to the document, its relentless focus on the theme of victory strongly reflected a new voice in the administration: Peter D. Feaver, a Duke University political scientist who joined the N.S.C. staff as a special adviser in June and has closely studied public opinion on the war.

Despite the president's oft-stated aversion to polls, Dr. Feaver was recruited after he and Duke colleagues presented the administration with an analysis of polls about the Iraq war in 2003 and 2004. They concluded that Americans would support a war with mounting casualties on one condition: that they believed it would ultimately succeed. ...

The role of Dr. Feaver in preparing the strategy document came to light through a quirk of technology. In a portion of the document usually hidden from public view but accessible with a few keystrokes, the plan posted on the White House Web site showed the document's originator, or "author" in the software's designation, to be "feaver-p." ...

Ads Portray Nominee as Protector of Christmas

NYT reports that the Crazy Christians are running ads urging an Alito confirmation to save Christmas:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 - It is the time of year when bedtime stories and television specials often recall the plucky reindeer and the little girl of Whoville who managed to save Christmas. This year, some conservative groups are hoping to add a new name to that pantheon of heroes: Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., the Supreme Court nominee.

"Liberal groups like People for the American Way and the A.C.L.U. have opposed public Christmas and Hanukkah displays and even fought to keep Christmas carols out of school," declares a radio commercial paid for by the conservative Committee for Justice beginning Monday in Colorado, Wisconsin and West Virginia, states whose senators are considered pivotal votes on Judge Alito.

[...]

Mr. Sekulow, who is the host of a Christian radio program and often appears on the Christian Broadcasting Network, says he has begun discussing Judge Alito's support for public Christmas displays regularly on his radio broadcast, including reading the Committee for Justice commercial. He said his organization was sending out e-mail messages to 850,000 supporters to urge their support for Judge Alito in the name of saving Christmas as well.


Ignore the absurdity, for a moment, that Christmas, already obnoxiously ubiquitous in the US from Thanksgiving to January, is somehow threatened (we could decrease "Christmas" by one half and I'd still consider it a hideous retail orgy).

How fucking arrogant of the these people to proclaim that the Almighty, Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, God incarnate as Man, the Lord, the Alpha and the Omega, the Author of Eternal Salvation, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Prince of Peace needs protection from a right-wing asshole who believes it's ok for cops to strip-search 10 year old girls and shoot fleeing 15 year old boys in the back of the head.

What does it say about their view of God anyway?

Also, gotta give Barry Lynn credit for a great line:

"If they think that hitching Samuel Alito to Santa's sleigh is going to eliminate serious issues about his regard for the Constitution, I think they are mistaken," Mr. Lynn said.

Go Lampson

Good news for Nick Lampson from a CNN poll:

55 percent of the registered voters in Texas' 22nd Congressional District believe the charges against the former House majority leader are definitely or probably true.

When 713 registered voters in the new poll were asked whether they were likely to choose DeLay or a Democrat in the 2006 midterm election, 49 percent said they would pick the Democrat; 36 percent said they would likely support DeLay.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Breaking News: Judge dismisses conspiracy charges against DeLay, upholds money laundering charges

Everyone half-celebrate. Dammit though Ronnie, would've been nice if you'd had the goods.

APD should love Alito

'84 Alito Memo Backed Police Who Shot Unarmed Suspect

The Supreme Court nominee wrote that killing the teen could be 'justified as reasonable.' It reinforces his image as pro-law enforcement.

By David G. Savage, LA Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s views on abortion caused a stir this week, but another memo that surfaced from his years as a Reagan administration lawyer was notable for its strong support of the police.

Alito wrote that he saw no constitutional problem with a police officer shooting and killing an unarmed teenager who was fleeing after a $10 home burglary.

"I think the shooting [in this case] can be justified as reasonable," Alito wrote in a 1984 memo to Justice Department officials.

"I do not think the Constitution provides an answer to the officer's dilemma," Alito advised.

A year later, however, the Supreme Court used the same case to set a firm national rule against the routine use of "deadly force" against fleeing suspects who pose no danger.

"It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape," wrote Justice Byron White for a 6-3 majority in Tennessee vs. Garner. "Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no
threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so."


The 4th Amendment forbids "unreasonable searches and seizures" by the government, and the high court said that killing an unarmed suspect who was subject to arrest amounted to an "unreasonable seizure."


The Democrats should filibuster this guy.

Friday, December 02, 2005

"I can't think. . . "

The following is an actual letter in today's Daily Texan. Regurgitation is the last refuge of the Bushbots:

From the horse's mouth

Since The Daily Texan has a hard time understanding the "progress" of Iraqi forces I think I will copy verbatim of what President Bush said Wednesday: "This time last year, there were only a handful of combat-ready Iraqi battalions. Now, there are over 120 Iraqi army and police combat battalions in the fight - typically comprised of between 350 to 800 Iraqi forces. Of these, about 80 battalions are fighting alongside Coalition forces. About 40 other battalions are taking the lead, and most are controlling their own battle space and conducting their own operations with some Coalition support."

I can't think of a better way of expressing the "progress" in Iraq.

Tom (last name deleted)
Finance senior


In case you forgot (as young Tom did), there is ONE Iraqi batallion capable of fighting without US support (Generals say down, Bush says up, media confused)

Death penalty round-up

More on DOJ screwing Texans in redistricting

Hoyer calls for House Judiciary to investigate.

"I strongly urge the House Judiciary Committees to take the lead in investigating this serious matter. As the committee with primary oversight authority over the Justice Department and Voting Rights Act, the Committee is in the position to answer all the questions raised in the article. As they conduct hearings into renewing the Voting Rights Act, Chairman Sensenbrenner and Ranking Democrat Conyers should resolve to get to the bottom of this disturbing report."


They should do it, keep this story alive. And you should keep a copy of this story for your file. Years from now you'll be in a campaign and be tempted to show mercy to some asshole right-winger. Pull this story out, read it again, and bury the son of a bitch.

Alright, off the rant, Hoyers also makes the good point that:

"Third, their certification of the Texas redistricting plan may have misled the three-judge panel into upholding it almost two years in the belief that no such certification would have been possible unless it had first withstood the legal and analytical scrutiny of the department's election law experts. Had the panel known that career lawyers in fact concluded the plan violated the law and thus should not be approved, it is entirely conceivable the panel would have rejected the plan."


In the theme of, political asshats loyal to Bush running out career lawyers at DOJ see:

Head of DOJ Tobacco Trial Team Quits

Pete YostThe Associated Press12-02-2005

The lead trial lawyer in the government's landmark lawsuit against the tobacco industry has quit the case and left the Justice Department, a move that comes at a particularly sensitive time when the companies and the department could still negotiate a settlement.

Sharon Eubanks, who had aggressively pursued the racketeering case against the tobacco industry, was withdrawing effective Thursday, the government said in a one-sentence filing in U.S. District Court.

Eubanks said her supervisors' failure to support her work on the tobacco case influenced her decision to retire after 22 years with the department.

Her withdrawal follows a stunning reversal in June in which the Justice Department disregarded the recommendations of its own witness -- Dr. Michael Fiore -- and reduced the amount it was demanding from the tobacco industry for smoking cessation programs to $10 billion. Fiore had proposed $130 billion.

After strong criticism from Democrats, the department is investigating whether political appointees inappropriately pressured the trial team to slash the proposed penalty against the companies.

"The political appointees to whom I report made this an easy decision," Eubanks told The Washington Post. She said her work on the tobacco case has been professionally rewarding but her politically- appointed bosses "have been somewhat less than supportive of the team's efforts," the newspaper reported on Thursday.

Redistricting Shocker

It seems political hacks hold undue influence in Bush's Justice Department. Gasp!!

No word on whether Austin gets its congressional district back (not that the "bacon strip" or "fajita strip" is such a bad thing).

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Empire Strikes Back

The full text from the Dark Side (next stop, sanitary commissioner?):

Dear Friend,

I almost fell out of my chair when I heard the news (I don't get out of the Lazy Boy much after my last loss a few years ago). I really couldn’t believer it. No one was more surprised than I was to hear that Todd Baxter wasn’t running again for the Texas House (Because I have no idea what is going on in Central Texas politics).

When I heard Todd’s decision, I knew I needed to talk with my #1 political advisor – someone who always gives me the unvarnished truth - my wife Joanie (I'm certainly not listening to those morons who told me I was a "sure thing" over Gonzo). We discussed the open seat in our family room and with her support and the encouragement of our friends; I determined that I would run for Texas House District 48 (After my wife said OK and my friends said "go for it!" I said... what the hell?). I want to be crystal clear: I am running to assist in creating thousands of good-paying, high-tech jobs for Travis County (Because as a Republican, I believe the state government is the best place to create new jobs!!).

First and foremost, I love Austin and Travis County (You guys are soooo f*cked. I remember what you did to me!!!). I believe in Texas and in a secure, more optimistic future for our children. Some candidates are running on doom-and-gloom predictions that our schools and economy will fail at any minute, not me (Because why worry about the books when you can wait for some stupid Democrat to bail you out later?). I’m running on a positive long-term vision for our community (Strip malls baby!!).

Austin must retain and recruit the best and the brightest to work here (By that, I mean more H1B's for Indians working at Dell). We need to maintain the infrastructure needed to create jobs built on an already thriving, vibrant economy.

Sincerely,

Ben Bentzin

Iraqi Newspapers Coming Along Fine

Here's a great summary of an LA Times story about Iraqi editors and newspapers getting the old "Armstrong Williams Treatment" from the U.S. government through paid stories and phoney news.

The part that stuck out to me was the response of an editor at one of Iraq's most respected newspapers when told of what the Pentagon was up to:

Iraqi editors apparently reacted with a mixture of shock and shrugs when told they were targets of a US military psychological operation. The editor of Al Mada, widely considered the most thoughtful and professional of Iraqi newspapers, said if his cash-strapped paper had known the story was from the US government he would have "charged much, much more."

To add to the whole circus side-show theme to all this, consider the following:

The official US propaganda arm, The Voice of America, is now reporting about the Pentagon looking into allegations that they are using propaganda in Iraq.

Jean Schmidt family photo

No joke. That's Jean.




















This woman should really stay away from the camera, especially when calling a decorated Marine a coward.

It looks as if Republicans are getting set to take over another branch of government...

...the federal prison system.

hehehe.