Saturday, December 29, 2007
Want to do something positive for real change? Well, when you get the refund from that mink-lined toilet seat that your rich aunty gave you for Christmas, send the cash to these guys.
You'll feel good, the future will be a better place, and you get a cute laptop for yourself, too.
How about that?
Hmmm, this is not good.
With so much going on in the news recently, I missed this the first go-around. It seems that - on top of all their other woes - New Orleans citizens were locked out from a court-ordered city council meeting called to allegedly discuss the demolition of 4,500 housing units by HUD. Protesting citizens who managed to be present inside the council's chambers were tazered and allegedly clubbed by police.
The upshot of the meeting is that the council voted unanimously to raze the housing; apparently, as far as the city council is concerned, the residents can now return to their tents, if they have them.
In closely related news, federal investigators are looking into possible illegal kick-back activity by HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson and his assistant, Scott Keller, both Republican appointees.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
(Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
Again this year, we celebrate Christmas still searching for a peace that seems impossible. Nevertheless, we believe that peace is possible. Palestinians and Israelis are capable of living together in peace, each in their own territory, each enjoying their security, their dignity, and their rights. But to attain that peace, it is necessary to believe that Israelis and Palestinians are equal in all things, that they have the same rights and the same duties, and that both parties must adopt the ways of God, which are not the ways of violence, whether they be carried out by the state or by extremists.
The entire region, because of the conflict in the Holy Land, is in turmoil. In Lebanon, in Iraq, as well as here, the forces of evil seem to have been unleashed and to have decided to pursue their course along paths leading to death, exclusion, and domination. Despite all of this, we believe that God has not abandoned us to all these forces of evil. The situation beckons every man and woman of good will to enter into the ways of God in order to establish the reign of good among peoples as well as a sense of and a respect for every human being.
We believe that God is good. He is our Creator and Savior, and he has placed his goodness in the heart of every human being. Therefore, everyone is capable of working for good and peace on the earth.
A new peace effort was begun these last few weeks. In order for it to succeed, there must be a firm willingness to make peace. Until now, there has been no peace, simply because there has been no willingness to make it: "Peace, peace! they say, though there is no peace" (Jer 6, 14).
The strong party, the one with everything in hand, the one who is imposing occupation on the other, has the obligation to see what is just for everyone and to carry it out courageously. "O God, with your judgment endow the king," with your justice endow our governments so that they can govern your people with justice (Ps 72).
In recent times, there has been some talk about creating "religious" states in this land. But in this land, which is holy for three religions and for two peoples, religious states cannot be established because they would exclude or place in an inferior position the believers of the other religions. A state that would exclude or discriminate against the other religions is not suitable for this land made holy by God for all of humanity.
Political and religious leaders must begin by understanding the universal vocation of this land in which God has brought us together throughout history. They must know that the holiness of this land does not consist in the exclusion of one or the other of the religions, but in the ability of each religion, with all of their differences, to welcome, respect, and love all who inhabit this land.
The holiness and the universal vocation of this land also includes the duty to welcome pilgrims from around the world, those who come for a short visit, and those who come to reside, to pray, to study, or to perform the religious ministry to which the faithful of all religions have a right. For many years, we have been suffering from a problem that has never been solved, that of entry visas into the country for priests and for religious men and women who, in this land, because of their faith, have duties to perform as well as rights.
Every state in this land is not a state like all others because it has special duties stemming from the holiness of the land and from its universal vocation. A state in this land must understand that it must respect and promote the universal vocation of the land with which it has been entrusted and, accordingly, must be open to welcoming all believers of other religions.
I pray to God that the grace of Christmas, the grace of the God who is present with us, will enlighten all the leaders of this land. For all our faithful, in all parts of our diocese, may the grace of Christmas renew their faith and help them to live it more fully and to better carry out all their duties in their respective societies.
May you all have a Joyful and Holy Christmas.
From the Statement of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalemhttp://www.haaretz.com/hasen/s...
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Evel Knievel passed away yesterday at the age of 69.
Even if you didn't buy into his particular brand of insanity (he set a world record for breaking 40 bones during the course of his career) you had to admire the man's ambition and stick-to-itivness; for instance, his attempt to leap the freaking Snake River on a rocket-powered motorcycle when he could barely walk without crutches. Yikes.
Rest in peace, Rocket Man.
Friday, November 30, 2007
If, for some bizarre reason bordering on insanity, your pay grade or your corporate affiliation you were forced to watch the Republican presidential debate from St Petersburg, Florida last night, well, I pity you and pray for your swift recovery.
The collection of batshit crazy fucks on display on that stage defies probability as well as the power of words to describe adequately the unclean crapper that the Republican Party has become, but there they were anyway.
I won't waste your time repeating the filth that they were spouting, but I do want to pass along something from the only borderline sane old white man on that stage that night: John McCain.
Objecting to some rather bizarre assertions by Gov Mitt Romney about Mitt's non-position on torture, McCain emerged from his stupor long enough to blurt out some rather heart-felt words on the subject, to wit:
"Then I am astonished that you would think such a -- such a torture would be inflicted on anyone in our -- who we are held captive and anyone could believe that that's not torture. It's in violation of the Geneva Convention. It's in violation of existing law. And, governor, let me tell you, if we're going to get the high ground in this world and we're going to be the America that we have cherished and loved for more than 200 years, we're not going to torture people. We're not going to do what Pol Pot did. We're not going to do what's being done to Burmese monks as we speak.
"I suggest that you talk to retired military officers and active duty military officers like Colin Powell and others, and how in the world anybody could think that that kind of thing could be inflicted by Americans on people who are held in our custody is absolutely beyond me."
Regardless, nobody but nobody in any campaign is talking about shit like this or this from our oil buddies.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
George Partington: Where do you get your faith in the public and in democracy?
Chris Locke: I'm a little wary of invoking democracy maybe, but I guess that's what it is. I think that through this medium more than anything else has enabled me to connect with people. As I was saying a few minutes ago, here's EGR, this zine where I am screaming and yelling and being as nuts as I can and people are sharing with me stuff about children dying and divorces and heartbreak and joy and elation. I've had more connection with people at a human level through this medium. I just wouldn't have connected to the world in the same way. You bang around your hometown, you run into people, it's all kind of anonymous.
Something else gets surfaced in a certain kind of exchange over networks. You can look at the American public from one point of view and say, "God, they are so stupid. All these people, they're fucking sheep." And then something happens like 9-11 and some amazing heart and intelligence surfaces out of that same group of people. I think it is suppressed by broadcast. I think broadcast has been a self-fulfilling prophecy of people are sheep, if you don't tell them what to do they are not gonna....In other words, the experiment of democracy, which is few hundred years old, is still very much an experiment and it wasn't fully trusted by the founders which is why we have an electoral college for instance. It is largely not trusted. We are so far from democracy in this country. It is run by focus groups and lobbyists.
GP: That's how I feel. It would be nice if it (democracy) were tried.
CL: It would be nice if somebody tried it. And it is dangerous because... ya know power and control and command and all those things would be up for grabs. I understand the terror. On the other hand, what we've got is an oligarchy where nobody knows who is making what decisions for what reasons, and it's all in the background in closed rooms with money changing hands. I think people are capable of incredible stupidity, but at the same time there is intelligence, there's heart, there's something in people that longs for expression and connection.
GP: Well if you're honest with yourself, you know you can be pretty stupid too. You have potential for everything in there.
CL: Right. Yeah. But I think on both sides of the spectrum...we can see incredible evil from people, which we've seen recently. But there is something else. That good thing, the potential that human beings have for interest and caring and love and connection and enthusiasm. All those kinds of human qualities are not valued by corporations that value the world in terms of how much profit can we make off it.
And because they have had, up until now, control of the passes, control of what Marx called the means of communication, they could make human values appear to be trivial or non-existent. And the network is resurfacing those values in a way that corporations and the financial world cannot control. And it represents a huge challenge because, well how are we going to lock that back in and leverage that to the betterment to the brand. Well I think it is increasingly obvious to the market that that kind of manipulation is not only cynical but it is approaching...there are companies now saying now that we've all wept over terrorist events...your way of fighting terrorism is to buy a Taurus. Well that is beyond cynical. And it might have been missed in previous times. It is not gonna be missed this time around. I think people talk about that stuff and say, "Jesus Christ, this is really beyond sleazy."
Excerpted from an interview with Chris Locke, AKA "Rageboy." Said author is presently engaged in grinding out a caustic blog/book/screed attempting to get a grip on the present sad state of American culture and thought control at his entertaining, enlightening and frequently infuriating blog, Mystic Bourgeoisie.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Chinese Sub Pops Up Undetected in U.S. Navy Exercise
The Cleveland Leader
Nov. 11, 2007
Recently, when a Chinese submarine popped up undetected in the middle of a Pacific Ocean exercise, dangerously close to the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk, American military chiefs were left dumbfounded and red-faced, according to a UK newspaper, The Daily Mail.
"By the time the Chinese sub surfaced, the 160 ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk, a 1,000 ft. supercarrier with 4,500 military personnel on board.
"According to senior NATO officials, the incident caused a sense of sudden fear in the U.S. Navy, as officials realized the seriousness of the encounter. The U.S. apparently had no idea just how sophisticated China's fast-growing submarine fleet had become, or that they even posed such a threat."
Armed, by the way, with C-80X anti-ship missiles. - grp
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Your federal tax dollars at work:
In summer 2002, Klein was working in an office responsible for Internet equipment when an NSA representative arrived to interview a management-level technician for a special job whose details were secret.
His first inkling that something was amiss came...when he opened the door to admit a visitor from the National Security Agency to an office of AT&T in San Francisco.
"What the heck is the NSA doing here?" Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician, said he asked himself.
"That's when my antennas started to go up," he said. He knew that the NSA was supposed to work on overseas signals intelligence.
The job entailed building a "secret room" in an AT&T office 10 blocks away, he said. By coincidence, in October 2003, Klein was transferred to that office and assigned to the Internet room. He asked a technician there about the secret room on the 6th floor, and the technician told him it was connected to the Internet room a floor above. The technician, who was about to retire, handed him some wiring diagrams.
"That was my 'aha!' moment," Klein said. "They're sending the entire Internet to the secret room."
The diagram showed splitters, glass prisms that split signals from each network into two identical copies. One fed into the secret room, the other proceeded to its destination, he said.
"This splitter was sweeping up everything, vacuum-cleaner-style," he said. "The NSA is getting everything. These are major pipes that carry not just AT&T's customers but everybody's."
One of Klein's documents listed links to 16 entities, including Global Crossing, a large provider of voice and data services in the United States and abroad; UUNet, a large Internet provider in Northern Virginia now owned by Verizon; Level 3 Communications, which provides local, long-distance and data transmission in the United States and overseas; and more familiar names such as Sprint and Qwest. It also included data exchanges MAE-West and PAIX, or Palo Alto Internet Exchange, facilities where telecom carriers hand off Internet traffic to each other.
"I flipped out," he said. "They're copying the whole Internet. There's no selection going on here. Maybe they select out later, but at the point of handoff to the government, they get everything."
Klein is in Washington urging Congress not to block Hepting v. AT&T, a class-action suit pending in federal court in San Francisco, as well as 37 other lawsuits charging carriers with illegally collaborating with the NSA. He was accompanied yesterday by lawyers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed Hepting v. AT&T in 2006. Together, they are urging key U.S. senators to oppose a pending White House-endorsed immunity provision that would effectively wipe out the lawsuits. The Judiciary Committee is expected to take up the measure Thursday.
- Washington Post (11/7/07) [emphasis mine]
Update: After Senator Dodd posted an interview with Mr Klein on YouTube, the debate on the immunization of the telecos from prosecution for their involvement in government spying has been extended. Electronic Frontier Foundation has the details.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Photographer Peter Agtmael photographed graffiti on the bathroom wall at a major traffic point for U.S. troops, the Al Salem Air Force Base in Kuwait.
There's more at BagNewsNotes.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The rich world's policy on greenhouse gas now seems clear: millions will die.
Our governments have set the wrong targets to tackle climate change using outdated science, and they know it - George Monbiot (Tuesday May 1, 2007)
The nay-sayers and the doom-mongers ought to gather in one room and have a big food fight over their precise (and selfish) objections to the reports of global climate change. The outcome of that encounter won't change one quanta of the reality of the changing climate.
Note that phrase: "changing."
Changes in the Earth's climate are historic and nobody is arguing against that. The point is that humans are contributing in a major and ahistoric fashion, and it can and should be abated for any number of very sound economic, military, cultural and environmental reasons.
Yes, Earth's climate has gone through changes in the past, some quite abrupt, like the sudden global chilling that brought on the Ice Ages a little over ten thousand years ago. There is warming as well, which gave us the Age of the Dinosaurs; which, by the way, lasted 250 million years.
Each of these (only) two examples was caused by temperature changes of a piddling two degrees Celsius.
However, recent icepack core samples from the Antarctic (time span: approximately 1 million years) show a rapid and unprecedented climb in average temperature starting at the beginning of the Industrial Age.
I suggest that there should be major alarms at any rapid change in climate, which change is what ALL the models are showing us. We need to be aware of the extent so we can make preparations, whether your economy is based on tulips, are a housewife buying cabbages, or are a Marine colonel planning a beach assault ("Where did the beach go?"). Not to mention the massive human migration that will go along with these changes.
Sure, a handful of scientists disagree with the findings of the IPCC, but over 1,200 others signed their names to it. My bet is on the battalion of climatologists who think we should be a tad concerned.
Bear in mind that the average temperature increase is just that: an average.
Local weather patterns can be very chaotic, while micro-events can be quite severe. The extremes in a geographic range are what are of concern. Summers could see temperatures as high as 120 F in Northern Europe, and as low as -40 F in Northumbria, for example, and very swiftly. Are you looking forward to that? Sea levels will rise; are you willing to just sit around and wait for the Thames (in the UK) to broach your attic at high tide? Temperatures in sub-Sahara Africa will go through the roof on occasion. Are you going to house the millions of displaced Africans trying to get out of the oven that Africa will become?
By the way, the uranium that powers your nuclear power plants comes from Africa. The political, economic and military consequences of mining operations in Niger et al, in the face of climate heating are almost beyond contemplation. Chew that over for a while.
The UK's Ministry of Defense recently released report Strategic Trends 2007 states that climate change WILL severely impact many areas of concern to everyone. And, I might add, despite your hysterical objections.
The military are not usually given to arm-waving; contrary to popular opinion, the military are not unintelligent. Also, you might want to take a gander at NASA's own contribution to the subject, available here: The Next 50 Years, which projects alarming sea level changes, droughts & desertification, abnormal animal migrations, diseases such as malaria spreading northward, etc., if we continue our present rate of expelling CO2 emissions. NASA's report was written in 2001.
The consensus has been building for some time; and it is a consensus.
In closing, I am put in mind of the old biddy's adage, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Update: The US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), has released a side-by-side comparison of the report as presented on Tuesday October 23, 2007 by Dr. Julie Gerberding, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The presentation has been heavily edited by the White House, trimming 6 of the original 12 pages in the report. Here's a screenshot of one pdf released on the 25th of October by the Committee.
Two highly informative pdf's (including an eye-opening redlined version) illustrating the White House's editing of the CDC report are available
More sad evidence that this administration doesn't give a crap about you.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
For some time now I have been tracking the developments as this administration pushes for a strike on Iran, if not a full-blown bombing campaign. While real progressives shy away from any expansion of the conflict in the Middle East, it has become increasingly apparent that many leading figures, including, evidently, the entire Senate (with only a couple of exceptions) buy into the notion of some sort of punishing blow on Iran, probably quite soon.
To name but one prominent Senator who recently voted up the Kyl-Lieberman resolution, on Amy Goodman’s recent “Democracy Now!” radio program, Hillary Clinton actually laughed at Senator Mike Gravel when he violently protested her vote on Kyl-Lieberman. This was followed by Seymour Hersh's observation that she was beholden to "Jewish money", by which he meant AIPAC and the rabid pro-Zionists in her New York constituency. What Senator Gravel (and any number of commentators as well) missed was the full extent of his misapprehension – Hillary’s laughter was of a two natured kind: the laugh of the guilty party who has been found out and affects a cavalier attitude, and hysterical relief that Gravel had not revealed her more basic rational, one that Gravel is either not privy to or has not signed on for.
In her heart of hearts, Hillary Clinton is a fervid believer - along with the majority of the Democrats and Republican leadership in Congress - in the US policy of Full Spectrum Dominance in support of corporate transnationalism, aka “globalization.” [See below]
… the "moderates" in the[Bush] administration, as well as the leading Democratic candidates and virtually everyone in the Democratic Party leadership -- have been supporting the threat of war against Iran for years, in large part because they share the illusions of power that go with being the militarily dominant state in the world. [Their] chief illusion is that one can and should use U.S. power to coerce an uncooperative state.
The entire spectrum of political leadership in this country now appears to accept that idea, which is an indication of just how far U.S. military dominance has tilted the policy debate in this country. - Gareth Porter in The Huffington Post (my emphasis)
Key policy makers going back to the Wilson administration have been pushing for total American military hegemony. In this policy - backed by the über-rich for whom these policies were designed - they were joined by the Neoliberal economic cheerleaders (including the Clintons), because it means complete American military, political and economic control of the world and outer space.
Simply put, this policy is most recent revision of the philosophy - first formulated by President Woodrow Wilson - that the United States must carry “democracy” (not to mention American commercial interests) to less enlightened states, by force if necessary.
President Wilson’s vision was one that some political scientists call “moral.” In modern times, this has been transmogrified and revised into what some call transnationalism, or globalization. These policies are not subject to public debate, by the way, but arise from the secret meetings of economic cabals such as the Bilderberg Group and Rockefeller’s only slightly more public Trilateral Commission. These cabals are not composed of darkly evil people looking to be the masterminds behind One World government; they all believe that they are helping to build a more humane, just and economically-flattened transnational world; to Tom Friedmanize the planet, as it were. To a realist’s eye, it’s all hokum, of course; just gussied-up royal prerogative. On the other hand, it bears repeating that J. Paul Bremer, prior to his appointment as governor pro tem of Iraq, was the president of Kissinger Associates, advisors to transnational corporations looking to make a fast buck in Third World countries. Closely associated with the Clintons is Mack McLarty, a Kissinger alum. As Adam Smith might put it, they are all motivated by pure greed.
In this regard, one only has to look at Bill Clinton’s bombing and invasion of Bosnia to confirm that the Clintons are of the same mind on the use of military might in pursuit of foreign policy goals. It’s also worth mentioning that this is one of the core beliefs of the Neoconservatives: the promotion of democracy and Neoliberal economic policy to benighted régimes, regardless of the social or cultural milieu that underlie monarchial, authoritarian, and/or theocratic states such as Iran or even Saudi Arabia.
As for our relations with democratic states whose economic policies aren’t in sync with ours, it is significant that when it was revealed that the Bush administration actively helped plan and finance the military coup that ousted democratically-elected Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in 2002, Hillary – or any other leading senator for that matter - didn’t utter so much as a squeak.
The whole point is, of course, control of the oil, and with it, the economic destiny of the world.
1) Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 1992)
2) Simon Reich, What is Globalization? Four Possible Answers (The Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, 1998)
3) Stephen Gill, American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990)
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Recent personal events, not to mention the sheer exhaustion that comes from hating everybody in Washington, DC, individually and collectively, have caused me to forsake the petty world of politics for the nonce and consider other things, such as Life, meaning, and contemplation of the Void.
You can see the fruits of my ruminations over on my other blog, Marching Morons.
Friday, September 14, 2007
By now everyone who spends any time at all on the Internet knows that the right-wing blogosphere is screaming that MoveOn.org labeled General David Petraeus a "traitor" in a recent New York Times advert.
In fact, they did no such thing, as can be seen by reading the ad itself, here (pdf). Bear in mind that MoveOn.org is no fan of military men, while, we - and I include my many military veteran readers - are either ambivalent or else downright supportive of a dude in a sharp-looking uniform such as the general, or even (God help us) that lying punk Lt Col Oliver North.
Meanwhile, reports are popping up - rather belatedly, one might righteously think - that the good general might not be the right guy for the job in Iraq after all; in fact, he's being painted by some as a "sycophant" and, um, an "ass-licker," and a "chickensh*t." These reports are somewhat shaky, however, being suspiciously vague as to their sources.
Well, far be it from me to refer to a commissioned officer with a bad word, but as a veteran, I can recall more than one instance of a higher rank being referred to derogatorily. (But really, is there any other way for a righteous grunt to refer to a superior officer, at least in private?) In any case, I think it's more than fair to say that Petraeus is no General Grant; more of a McClellan, if you will.
Which is to say, to hell with the uniform, the PhD, the book on counterinsurgency warfare; the fact is Petraeus isn't doing shit in Iraq. The state of our occupation of Iraq sucks, big time. Every independent study of the Iraq situation strongly disagrees with the general. See here, here, and here.
Before I go, a little dose of (un)common sense might be in order:
“Having admitted, however, that the odds of a military success in Iraq are almost impossibly long, Chaos Hawks nonetheless insist that the U.S. military needs to stay in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Why? Because if we leave the entire Middle East will become a bloodbath. Sunni and Shiite will engage in mutual genocide, oil fields will go up in flames, fundamentalist parties will take over, and al-Qaeda will have a safe haven bigger than the entire continent of Europe.
“Needless to say, this is nonsense. Israel has fought war after war in the Middle East. Result: no regional conflagration. Iran and Iraq fought one of the bloodiest wars of the second half the 20th century. Result: no regional conflagration. The Soviets fought in Afghanistan and then withdrew. No regional conflagration. The U.S. fought the Gulf War and then left. No regional conflagration. Algeria fought an internal civil war for a decade. No regional conflagration.
“So where does this bogeyman come from? Hard to say. Probably a deep-seated unwillingness to confront the fact that the United States can’t really influence a course of events we originally set in motion. But Iraq is already fighting a civil war, and that civil war will continue whether we stay or go. If we go it will likely become more intense, but also shorter lived. The eventual result, however, will almost certainly be the same: a de facto independent Kurdistan in the north and a Shiite theocracy in the south. The rest of the Middle East will, as usual, watch events unfold without doing much of anything about them, and will accept the inevitable results. The U.S., for its part, will remain in the north to protect Kurdistan, in the east in Afghanistan, in the west in the Mediterranean, and in the south in its bases in the Gulf. We’ll hardly be absent from the region.
“I think it’s worthwhile for proponents of withdrawal to be honest about the likely aftermath of pulling out: an intensified civil war that will take the lives of tens of thousands and end in the installation, at least in the short-term, of an Iran-friendly theocracy. This is obviously not a happy outcome, but neither is it the catastrophe the Chaos Hawks peddle. The alternative is to babysit the civil war with American troops, spilling blood and treasure along the way, without truly affecting the course of events in any substantial measure."
Have a nice day. (And keep your powder dry.)
Friday, August 31, 2007
Department of Justice official Glenn Fine has revealed that he has an open and on-going investigation into the slimy wetback's persistent lying to Congress.
What's to investigate? He's a weasel, as you can plainly see from the photograph above: while he distracts Vermont senator Patrick Leahy, his mini-me clone is preparing to slip a shiv into Leahy's back.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Those pesky Russians, no doubt as a response to the Shrub's attempt to plant a Missle Shield on their very doorstep (namely, in Poland and the Czech Republic) have resumed Bear aircraft overflights. These flights, once the bane of SAC and NORAD, had been suspended with the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
With a range of thousands of miles (approx. 15,000 kilometers) and capable of delivering megatons of nuclear bombs - or several atomic-warheaded cruise missiles - into the heartland of America, the Tu-95 Tupolev (NATO code name "Bear") gave the boys at Strategic Air Command their paycheck's worth of interception training, not to mention keeping their radar skills sharp.
As an aircraft buff, it's nice to see these relics up and flying and providing the Air National Guard with some real-time training.
Look for contrails near you soon.
Update: UK scrambles new Typhoons
Friday, August 17, 2007
The Shrub is going to come on the TV here in just a few and tell me how great it is to be an American. I couldn’t agree more. It’s great to come home from your second part-time job at the Wal-Mart to a house full of ignorant, doped-up kids, only to turn on the news to watch another piece of American infrastructure drop into a river, taking several fellow taxpayers with it.
It’s just swell to learn that the bastards in Congress passed another ratification of the Shrub’s demon vision of Iran as a terrorist state, declaring them “murderers, ” while American Blackwater contractors machine gun Iraqi citizens with impunity and we learn that not only are we supplying guns and ammo to the Sunnis, we’re giving weapons to the Shi’ias , too, thus ensuring that both sides have lots of armament for their upcoming full-out civil war.
Meanwhile here at home, a reporter on assignment for Britain's largest newspaper (the UK Guardian) was deported after spending 26 hours in lockup in an undisclosed location for failing to have a journalist visa, per the US Patriot (sic) Act. If this is how we treat our friends, you can just imagine how we treat people we don’t like.
By the way, New Orleans is still a mess and the Shrub just vetoed the idea of a 5 cent tax on gasoline to pay for repairing America’s bridges, and he still wants another $80 billion to continue fucking up Iraq. In breaking news we learn that the Japanese just fired up their presses and printed a trillion (with a “T”) yen to prop up the failing (and getting worse) American real estate market.
Congress – and the idiots in the White House – could take some pointers from the Chinese, where the guy in charge of inspecting Mattel toys for the American market committed suicide after it was discovered that those toys were covered with poisonous lead paint.
So how’s your day been?
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
There are only two months to go until General Petraeus presents his assessment of the Surge; Senate Repugs are battling Dems to a standstill in the ongoing debate about defunding the troops preparatory to a withdrawal from Iraq; and we're hearing lots of paranoid noise across the Internet about a possible false flag operation that would allow the Shrub to assume dictatorial powers and Take Over the World.
This operation would theoretically take the form of a terrorist incident of such scope and mendacity that all Americans will quake in their collective boots and will cry out for a total lockdown of the country. The scenario calls for the Shrub to declare a National Emergency and invoke his authority under the Warner Appropriations Act of 2007 (HR-5212) to federalize the National Guard – or what’s left of them; he then sends Congress home and begins the roundup of the usual suspects while simultaneously nuking Iran with bunker busters.
Granted, there’s lots of craziness going on lately and people who worry about these things have lots of things to be worried about; presidential hopeful Senator John McCain recently sang - to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” - “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” to a cheering American Legion audience; Department of Homeland (sic) Security chief Michael Chertoff recently announced that he had an attack of stomach gas and this inspired him to announce with near-certainty a terrorist attack on the Homeland - wherever that might be - “sometime this summer.” Adding fuel to the paranoia is the existence of Executive Order 12919, an obnoxious piece of gobbeldygook originating in the Clinton administration. (You really need to follow that link; the list of executive orders concerning federalization of private property alone is enough to make one very, very nervous.)
This EO is a controversial (but not controversial enough, IMHO) document which theoretically streamlines federal governmental response (and executive consolidation of power, e.g. the “unitary executive”) in the event of a catastrophic event such as a nuclear war or asteroid strike, although it presumably could be triggered by something as minor as a threat to poison the water supply of a major American city. The signing of this document was enough to trigger mass hysteria and hand-wringing among the more sensitive of civil libertarians, and perhaps rightly so, as members of Congress apparently never even heard of this stealth EO until it hit the blogosphere. (The “liberal” mainstream media ignored it completely.)
Unasked in all this anxiety and fretting is the question, who’s going to do all this taking-over and martial-lawing? Have any of these people (whether conspirator or anti-conspirator) ever looked at a map of the United States? Its one thing for a president to declare martial law for a continent-spanning country and quite another to have it actually go into effect.
Consider this: It’s about 3,100 miles from Washington, D.C. to Seattle, Washington. (That’s roughly the distance from London to Teheran, Iran.) Let’s say some idiot terrorist bombs the Holland Tunnel in New York state, the Shrub declares a national emergency and calls out the troops. According to the paranoids, the plan is to bring in National Guard units from distant states; this reduces the odds that the troops will be likely to resist orders to shoot “dissenters” and “protesters” because they are not fellow staters; further, out-of-state Guardsmen will have no compunction in shooting, clubbing, or herding non-fellow states-people into “internment camps.”
But is that true? It seems to me that the National Guard of any state has just about had it with this president. And anyway, how do you get these Guardsmen across the country? How do you get the governor of Washington state (for instance) to release the troops to federal control, or better yet, why would the governor of Washington state even call the Guard up in the first place, only to have it federalized right out from under him?
Governors aren’t stupid; they can very plainly see what the feds have done with their Guard units in Iraq. Ditto for the officers and certainly ditto for the Guardsmen themselves. In the event of a true national emergency, any sane governor will want his Guardsmen at home where he can use them when and as he (or she) sees fit. Additionally, how do you force a governor to call out the Guard? Have a federal marshal put a gun to his or her head? No, this “martial law” thing is one big can of worms for all concerned and, I submit, an unnecessary worry.
So how about a military coup? Considering that most of the paranoid scenarios call for – simultaneously - a declaration of martial law, a nuclear attack on Iran, and the rounding up of civilians all over the country, we’re talking about a fucking revolution right there. It’s far more likely that the governor of a big state (or several governors of several states) calls out the National Guard and sends it to Washington, D.C. to arrest the president and anybody else hanging around the White House.
And about bloody time, if you ask me.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Those darn furriners are invading the Senate with their heathen religion, gosh darn it.
And oh-oh, watch out: thems is live hyperlinks.
July 10, 2007
Please help us get this information into the hands of as many people as possible by forwarding it to your entire email list of family and friends.
Hindu to open Senate with prayer
Send an email to your senator now, expressing your disappointment in the Senate decision to invite a Hindu to open the session with prayer.
Please read this news report from OneNewsNow.com.
On Thursday, a Hindu chaplain from Reno, Nevada, by the name of Rajan Zed is scheduled to deliver the opening prayer in the U.S. Senate. Zed tells the Las Vegas Sun that in his prayer he will likely include references to ancient Hindu scriptures, including Rig Veda, Upanishards, and Bhagavard-Gita. Historians believe it will be the first Hindu prayer ever read at the Senate since it was formed in 1789.
WallBuilders president David Barton is questioning why the U.S. government is seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god. Barton points out that since Hindus worship multiple gods, the prayer will be completely outside the American paradigm, flying in the face of the American motto "One Nation Under God."
TAKE ACTION – Call your Senators at 202-224-3121
"In Hindu, you have not one God, but many, many, many, many, many gods," the Christian historian explains. "And certainly that was never in the minds of those who did the Constitution, did the Declaration [of Independence] when they talked about Creator -- that's not one that fits here because we don't know which creator we're talking about within the Hindu religion."
TAKE ACTION – Click here to send your E-mail today!
Barton says given the fact that Hindus are a tiny constituency of the American public, he questions the motivation of Senate leaders. "This is not a religion that has produced great things in the world," he observes. "You look at India, you look at Nepal -- there's persecution going in both of those countries that is gendered by the religious belief that is present there, and Hindu dominates in both of those countries."
And while Barton acknowledges there is not constitutional problem with a Hindu prayer in the Senate, he wonders about the political side of it. "One definitely wonders about the pragmatic side of it," he says. "What is the message, and why is the message needed? And will it actually communicate anything other than engender with folks like me a lot of questions?"
Barton says he knows of at least seven cases where Christians have lost their bid to express their own faith in a public prayer.
Zed is reportedly the first Hindu to deliver opening prayers in an American state legislature, having done so in both the Nevada State Assembly and Nevada State Senate earlier this year. He has stated that Thursday's prayer will be "universal in approach," despite being drawn from Hindu religious texts.
Send an email to your senator now, expressing your disappointment in the Senate decision to invite a Hindu to open the session with prayer.
If you think our efforts are worthy, would you please support us with a small gift? Thank you for caring enough to get involved.
Please help us get this information into the hands of as many people as possible by forwarding it to your family and friends.
Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman
American Family Association
P.S. Please forward this e-mail message to your family and friends!
Om, padme, om
Monday, July 02, 2007
Which is probably an odd collection of quotes to kick off the July 4th weekend, but something to chew on as our Republic descends into anarchy and lawlessness.
To wit: Cheney claims that the vice presidency is not part of the executive / White House refuses congressional subpoenas / Air Force Academy cadets are ordered to join fundamentalist congregation / Like it or not, we are building permanent military bases in Iraq / Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia was a bagman for the CIA’s rigging of Italian elections / CIA releases “family jewels”: tales of murder, coups, torture, and the American promotion of dictators everywhere /
Have an interesting Fourth of July, Gentle Readers.
Friday, June 08, 2007
The Democratic presidential candidates had a big debate last week but I didn't watch it. I mean, Who cares? I knew that they would try to weasel out of their shitty vote on the war funding, and that most of them would say what they did in fact say: "Hey, we tried to end the war, but Bush vetoed it, and now we're stuck."
What a bunch of tripe. This shit isn't rocket science, Gentle Readers. This here vid from YouTube lays it out pretty simply.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
News media Information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830 TTY 202/418-2555
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D. C. 20554
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE NEWS MEDIA CONTACT
June 4, 2007 David Fiske 202-418-0513
STATEMENT OF FCC CHAIRMAN KEVIN MARTIN
ON 2ND CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS INDECENCY DECISION
[Before proceeding, I think it is only fair warning to our Gentle Readers that an agent of the Federal government is about to use some choice and probably offensive words right out loud here in a public document, one, by the way, which is easily accessible to any computer-literate 10 year-old. OK, fair warning, here we go....the Mgt]
Today, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the use of the words “fuck” and “shit” by Cher and Nicole Richie was not indecent.
[Damn! First paragraph, and they said TWO bad bad words already, and NO PARENTAL WARNING LABEL. Shame on them.]
I completely disagree with the Court’s ruling and am disappointed for American families. I find it hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that “shit” and “fuck” are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience.
[Actually, fucktard, the New York court said no such thing. They said that you couldn't "FINE" them for allowing those bad words to go out over the airwaves. Big difference, you cretin.]
The court even says the Commission is “divorced from reality.” It is the New York court, not the Commission, that is divorced from reality in concluding that the word “fuck” does not invoke a sexual connotation.
[When I was serving in the reality-based military, we said “fuck” a lot, and it almost never had a sexual connotation. For military folks on active duty, fuck is a versatile word, manifesting itself as a verb, an adverb and an adjective, oftentimes in the same sentence and frequently referring to the same fucked-up situation.]
These words were used in prime time, when children were watching.
[Whose children? Yours? I sure don't let my kids watch that crap at any time of day.]
Ironically, the court implies that the existence of blocking technologies is one reason the FCC shouldn’t be so concerned. But even a vigilant parent using current blocking technologies such as the V-Chip couldn’t have avoided this language, because they rely on the program’s rating, and in this case the programs were rated appropriate for family viewing.
If ever there was an appropriate time for Commission action, this was it. If we can’t restrict the use of the words “fuck” and “shit” during prime time, Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want.
[Right for once there, dickbreath. It's called “freedom of speech.” It's like a First Amendment kind of thing. But you wouldn't know about shit like that.]
The Court Decision
As part of its March 15, 2006 Omnibus Indecency Order, the FCC determined that the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards broadcasts were indecent and profane.
During the 2002 Billboard Music Awards, the entertainer Cher made the following comment:
“I’ve had unbelievable support in my life, and I’ve worked really hard. I’ve had great people to work with. Oh, yeah, you know what? I’ve also had critics for the last 40 years saying that I was on my way out every year. Right. So fuck ‘em. I still have a job and they don’t.”
[And fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, I say.]
During the 2003 Billboard Music Awards, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie took part in the following exchange:
Paris Hilton: “Now, Nicole, remember, this is a live show, watch the bad language.”
Nicole Richie: “Okay, God.”
Paris Hilton: “It feels so good to be standing here tonight.”
Nicole Richie: “Yeah, instead of standing in mud and [audio blocked]. Why do they even call it ‘The Simple Life?’ Have you ever tried to get cow shit out of a Prada purse? It’s not so fucking simple.”
[Good point there, Nicole. Maybe you aren't as fucked up in the head as you pretend to be. Although it does beg the question as to why there was cowshit in your Prada purse in the first place. Just saying.]
Fundamentally, the Commission acted in accordance with its Congressional mandate to prohibit indecency and profanity on the airwaves, and in keeping with previous court decisions regarding indecency.
[I wouldn't be putting much stock in Congressional mandates, Bub. Most of those assholes can't tell their pieholes from their asscracks.]
In the case before the court today, the Commission was restricting only the use of two of those seven words. But as a result of this ruling, the New York court may have prohibited the Commission from enforcing any restrictions on language.
[Lord, I hope so.]
Today’s decision by the Court increases the importance of Congress considering content-neutral solutions to give parents more tools and consumers generally more control and choice over programming coming into their homes. By allowing them to choose the channels that come into their homes, Congress could deliver real power to American families.
[This is a really fucking brilliant idea! We could call it Content Labeling, or better yet, a fucking remote control!]
Permitting parents to have more choice in the channels they receive may prove to be the best solution to content concerns. All of the potential versions of a la carte would avoid government regulation of content while enabling consumers, including parents, to receive only the programming they want and believe to be appropriate for their families. Providing consumers more choice would avoid the First Amendment concerns of content regulation, while providing real options for Americans.
[Nope. Doesn't work. I've already had the experience of cable, then satellite TV. Fifty-seven channels and not a god-damned thing worth watching on a single one.]
- FCC -
There you have it Gentle Readers. Kevin Martin, Official Asshat of the Federal Government, on paper and for the record, used the patently offensive words “shit” and “fuck” in a public document 9 times.
Seems kind of gratuitous, if you ask me. Maybe the FCC is shooting for higher ratings.
I have lived in the greater Los Angeles area for most of my life. Like the good native Southern Californian that I am, I almost always have had a car, sometimes a fast motorcycle or two, not to mention the old but reliable Ford F150 pickup truck for pulling the vacation trailer and/or the funky dune buggy.
My personal tastes run to Austin-Healey 3000s, Pontiac GTOs, custom-built Mustang GTs, Nissan 300Zs and the like; brutally fast and not necessarily fuel-efficient. But as I have gotten older, I have reduced my use of privately-owned self-propelled motor vehicles to zero.
I didn't get religion or anything, it's just that - using the bus and rail system almost exclusively - my insurance bill dropped to zero; I have no bank loan to pay off; I couldn't care less about how much premium costs for gas-guzzling SUVs; and I don't fume and fret in traffic, stuck on the five-way flyover anymore. My annual Metro pass costs about $550, and it's good 24/7. I do splurge on a cab on the rare occasions that I get stuck late in the evening far from home and the bus might be inconvenient, but that's not often.
I read in the papers that the average atmospheric temperature is going up inexorably as we continue to pour premium into our monster cars. Consider this: the California state budget calls for spending almost as much on <>prisons<> as we do for education, while leaving our infrastructure (read streets & highways) to crumble a little bit more with the passing of each and every two-ton Cadillac Escalade or Suburban.
So here's what the powers-that-be propose as a solution: shafting the little guy one more time. The Los Angeles Metro system board is proposing a fare increase of about 15%, to take effect at the beginning of the Metro's fiscal year in October, to be followed by a series of increases over the next two years, for a total fare increase of 72% over the next four years.
This in the face of angry calls to get the jammed freeways unstuck, not to mention global warming, or oil depletion concerns.
Mass transit is supposed to be part of a solution for global warming and urban crowding, but we are making it twice as expensive for someone like me who would prefer to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. (Not to mention those ten million Mexican illegals driving clapped-out Camaros because it is literally cheaper in LA to drive an uninsured, unsmogged beater than to take public transportation).
"No one wanted to see a fare increase and it's probably true that we'll probably will lose some riders," said [LA County] County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who co-authored the plan with Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. "But I think in the long run, we owe to this community a stable organization." - Long Beach Press-Telegram
What a crock. We don't need a "stable" organization; we need an affordable way to get to work. Neither Supervisor Yaroslavsky or Molina take the bus to work; they ride in private automobiles, and park their cars in city-owned municipal parking garages. Haven't these people heard that it's "Volume, volume, volume!"? Lower the damn fare, more people pile on the buses and trains, and the cost/mile goes down and everybody's happy.
The Metro is not a private enterprise; exactly like the freeways it is a tax-payer funded (public) utility, for crying out loud. Get the commuters off the jammed Harbor Freeway and to work in a reasonable amount of time on either the bus or the light rail. Maybe if there were MORE potholes commuters would get so fed up with the lousey paving that they'd be glad for a cushy, smooth ride on the bus or train. And, while they're at it, raise the damn gasoline taxes. Gas is too cheap by half and it's the gas taxes that pay for our highways and bus systems in the first place.
Hell, they do it in Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, New York, and Paris and London and Berlin and Prague. Los Angeles should have a commuter system at least as good as Prague's, and as cheap.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Somebody please deconstruct the following sentence:
"We are aware that the US bears high responsibility for the situation in the world, and I would like to stress that the United States and President Bush have our support in that." - Czech Republic president Vaclav Klaus
Friday, June 01, 2007
The US Imperial embassy rises beside the Tigris River in Baghdad. The largest embassy of any nation in the world, larger than Vatican City and built as a fortress, it puts the lie to the claim that we are not intent on remaining in Iraq indefinitely.
At 104 acres, the US embassy under construction in Baghdad is roughly half the size of China's Forbidden City (177 acres), but still larger than the Vatican City.
Amazingly, the $592 million (!) project is coming along nicely, on time and under budget, according to informed sources. Not so amazingly, part of the reason is that the construction firm, Berger Devine Yaeger, Inc of Kansas City, MO, is using imported labor, which has raised some interesting questions.
From these virtual images, the embassy looks for all the world like a prison complex. Note the blast-resistant walls running around the entire compound.
These images were pulled from the Arthur Magazine website, as the same images on the BDY site were pulled at the request of the State department, for "reasons of security." An images request at BDY's site results in 404 error messages.
"In total, the 104-acre compound will include over twenty buildings, including one classified secure structure and housing for over 380 families," the Web site says. The compound will include the embassy building, housing, a PX, commissary, cinema, retail and shopping areas, restaurants, schools, a fire station, power and water treatment plants as well as telecommunications and wastewater treatment facilities.
One assumes that the brig facilities will be outsourced. Probably to Uzbekistan.