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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 07/29/2007 - 08/05/2007
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Penny: I'm glad I found your blog (from a comment on Think Progress), it's comprehensive and very insightful.
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I will continue to bang on this drum

what else is there to be done...?

kagro x at daily kos on the congressional spying sellout...

This is a fundamental failure not just of politics, but of the framework envisioned by the Founders, who felt sure that the immutable precepts of self-interest would be the engine that drove the checks and balances that protect our freedoms and forestall the creep of tyranny. While the political motives of elected officials were always open to question, it was beyond doubt that personal ambition and the jealous guarding of power would be all the motivation necessary to keep any branch from ceding its powers to another.

That this could ever turn out not to be the case is simply astounding, and it is a measure of just how much damage the George W. Bush "administration" has inflicted on our Constitution. While we are all too well aware of the political constraints involved in remedying the situation, the fact is that his continuance in office endangers the future of our system of government as every one of you have understood it to date.

and THAT is the understatement of the day...

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How the hell are we EVER going to get our country back?

when, every time we turn around, the congress is selling it out from under us...?

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More on the Dems spying sell-out

crooks and liars has the video clip from olbermann talking to jonathan turley about the fisa "modernization" bill...

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The headline and the content show us just how pathetically impotent our Congress really is

Senate Votes To Expand Warrantless Surveillance
White House Applauds; Changes Are Temporary

By Joby Warrick and Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 4, 2007; Page A01

The Senate bowed to White House pressure last night and passed a Republican plan for overhauling the federal government's terrorist surveillance laws, approving changes that would temporarily give U.S. spy agencies expanded power to eavesdrop on foreign suspects without a court order.

naturally, the wapo story blathers on and on and on about the "clashes" between the white house and the democrats, portraying the whole thing as some sort of petty partisan quarrel where the dems, unconcerned for the safety of their country, only want to make life difficult for bush and his cronies, and, in the process, manage to ignore most of the context that the average citizen should know about this awful measure... thank god we have alternative sources like TPMmuckraker...
[U]nder the bill, the primary role for the FISA Court is in issuing generalized surveillance warrants for "persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States." Those warrants don't have to name their targets, nor locate where the surveillance will take place if the attorney general shows that the surveillance methods used will mostly exclude U.S. citizens and residents. Such warrants will be approved, according to section 105(c)(1)(C), if the FISA judge determines that collecting "foreign intelligence information" is merely a "significant purpose" of the AG's request.

What happens to U.S. persons who may be tapped? There isn't any requirement for a probable-cause-derived warrant to continue surveillance on them. Instead, the attorney general would only have to create "guidelines" for surveillance on people in the U.S. as the result of one of the aforementioned warrants. Every 60 days the Justice Department's inspector general would have to report to the FISA Court and to the Congressional intelligence committees on compliance -- including handing over a list of names of those U.S. citizens and residents under surveillance during that time period. Nothing in the bill indicates any power for either the court or Congress to do anything about any American caught in the surveillance web.

Additionally, for reasons that aren't explained, the attorney general gets one last dalliance with warrantless surveillance: he can authorize surveillance for up to 15 days after the bill's passage if he says there's an "emergency situation," and the court can bless an extension of not longer than another 30 days.

after all that's come out, it's completely astonishing to me how the dems - or the r's either, for that matter - can go along with this... we know our president is a liar... we know alberto gonzales is a liar... we know that the white house has no respect for the rule of law... we know that the bush administration has, for all practical purposes, neutered the constitutionally-mandated separation and balance of powers... we know that warrantless domestic surveillance circumventing fisa has been taking place for years... what in god's name is the white house holding over the heads of our congressmen of both parties that gets them to go along with this kind of abomination...? it must be some shit, that's all i have to say...

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Earmarks, Sorry, Legislatively Directed Spending

Once again, in the spirit of bipartisanship, our legislators steal from us. This is just one section, DHS, of this years appropriations.
Isn't this supposed to be the Congress that will set a new precedent for transparency and integrity?
Seems like business as usual to me.
Outfits like CREW and TCS are working hard to expose this information. I wish I could vote for them, instead of Republican & Democrat thieves.
One item not in this part of the report is a couple of billion dollars to reimburse the cities that will host the '08 DNC & RNC conventions. The two parties don't even bother to pay their own bills anymore. They aren't actually gov't agencies, after all.
Courtesy of Tax Payers for Common Sense.


Washington, D.C. - The Senate FY08 Homeland Security Appropriations bill contains $37.6 billion in funding, $2.3 billion more than the President’s request, and $2.8 billion more than 2007 appropriation.

Some of the bill’s highlights:


Unlike its House counterparts, the Senate discloses the requesting member of most earmarks in the legislation. But its disclosure is far from perfect.While the earmarks are listed in the report, you have to look real close because the type is small and they are scattered far and wide throughout the report. In 137 pages of the report, there are 24 earmarks, including two doozies not disclosed as earmarks.

All told, twenty Senators receive Department of Homeland Security earmarks. As usual, members on the Committee were the big winners, as only five members not on the Committee receive earmarks (Sens. Cantwell (D-WA), Corker (R-TN), Cornyn (R-TX), Kennedy (D-MA) and Kerry (D-MA)), and only two of these don’t have fellow home state Senators pulling weight for them on Committee.

Sens. Domenici (R-NM) and Shelby (R-AL) both receive three earmarks apiece and Sens. Cochran (R-MS), Hutchison (R-TX) and Murray (D-WA) each get a pair.

But wait, there’s more. TCS found two undisclosed earmarks – one for the U.S. Coast Guard Operations System Center in Kearneysville, WV and one that, in part, relocates Immigration and Customs Enforcement data centers to Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. So, one undisclosed earmark goes to the home state of the Chairman of Appropriations Robert Byrd (D-WV) and the other goes to the home state of the Ranking Member of the Committee Thad Cochran (R-MS).

The total cost of all the earmarks is more than $396.6 million. We’re not sure how much more, because one earmark, for Sen. Inouye (D-HI) just stipulates that Customs should hire temporary and part-time pest inspectors in Hawaii.
The Truman-Hobbs Act (1940) bridge program remains in good health after six earmarks were added to the tune of $16 million to alter bridges that interfere with navigation. The bridges are in Illinois (Sen. Durbin (D)), Alabama (Sen. Shelby (R)), Iowa (Sen. Harkin (D)), Massachusetts (Sens. Kennedy and Kerry (both D)), Wisconsin (Sen. Kohl (D)), and Texas (Sen. Hutchison (R)).

In previous years, there had been a moratorium on earmarks in the Homeland Security Appropriations bill – which was never perfect – but the moratorium seems to be relevant only if you are not on the appropriations committee. And in the beginning of a disturbing trend similar to the Department of Defense appropriations bill, many of the earmarks are popping up in the Research and Development, Training, and Services title of the bill. The appetite for R&D earmarks is nearly limitless, so we are likely watching the beginning of the slippery slope to more earmarks that direct more of our tax dollars for political gain instead of for protecting our country.

You just can't make this stuff up.
Next time a candidate, any candidate, promises tax breaks, remember this.
We're broke, there can only be tax increases to pay for the correct spending, let alone all the earmarks. Yes, Madame Speaker, no matter what you tell us to call them, they are still porky earmarks.

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Random searches on city streets

we've obviously entered a new phase of our rapid descent into fascism...

from the indianapolis star via bluedotredfield at daily kos...

Screeners from the Transportation Security Administration checked passengers at two Downtown city bus stops this morning, looking for weapons and suspicious behavior.

David Kane, federal security director for TSA in Indianapolis, called it a "VIPR" operation.

"It's called Visual Intermodal Prevention Response. We have plainclothes inspectors, blue-gloved uniformed security officers who are checking baggage, the behavior detection officers, and federal air marshals, which are the law enforcement arm of TSA."

Security stations were set up at bus stops at Capitol Avenue and Market Street, and Ohio and Meridian streets.

Some passengers were patted down or submitted to having bags checked.

TSA said the searches were “by-permission,” meaning patrons could decline to be checked. Those who did would not be turned away, an official said, unless they otherwise appeared to be a security threat.

just getting us used to it...

p.s. didja catch who was part of the "screening" team...? yep... "behavior detection officers..." sweet, eh...?

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

The militarization of Paraguay by the U.S. - not a pretty picture

besides bush buying a large swath of paraguayan land* and establishing an airbase, a development i've posted on previously**, the u.s. is also slowly militarizing paraguay...

In May of 2005, the Paraguayan Senate voted to allow US troops to operate in Paraguay with total immunity. Washington threatened to cut off millions in aid to the country if Paraguay did not grant the US troops entry. In July of 2005 hundreds of US soldiers arrived in the country and Washington's funding for counterterrorism efforts in Paraguay doubled. The US troops conducted various operations and joint training exercises with Paraguayan forces, including the Medical Readiness Training Exercises (MEDRETEs). Orlando Castillo, a military policy expert at the human rights rights organization Servicio, Paz y Justicia in Asunción, Paraguay, says the MEDRETEs were "observation operatives" aimed at developing a "a type of map that identifies not just the natural resources in the area, but also the social organizations and leaders of different communities."


A group of representatives from human rights organizations and universities from all over the world, including the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Argentina and a group from the University of Tolouse, France, traveled to Paraguay in July, 2006 as part of the Campaign for the Demilitarization of the Americas (CADA) to observe and report on the repression going on in the country linked to the presence of US troops. Interviewed local citizens said they were not told what medications they were given during the US MEDRETEs. Patients said they were often given the same treatments regardless of their illness. In some cases, the medicine produced hemorrhages and abortions. When the medical treatment took place, patients reported that they were asked if they belonged to any kind of labor or social organization.

then there's bush's purchase of a huge tract of land in paraguay...
* The land grab project of U.S. President George W. Bush in Chaco, Paraguay, has generated considerable discomfort both politically and environmentally.

The news circulating the continent about plans to buy 98,840 acres of land in Chaco, Paraguay, near the Triple Frontier (Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay) is the talk of the town in these countries.

Although official sources have not confirmed the information that is already public, the land is reportedly located in Paso de Patria, near Bolivian gas reserves and the Guarani indigenous water region, within the Triple Border.

i posted this back in december 2005...

Estigarribia Airbase,

i've been posting for some time now on the u.s. moves to reestablish influence and control in latin america... i talked about how paraguay was being groomed as a new location for u.s. military bases... now, rummy visits asuncion... and, of course, paraguay, with its stunted economy would like u.s. bases... what an economic boost...! but, awwwww, shit...
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, arriving in this South American capital Tuesday, said countries in the region should help strengthen democracy in Bolivia and suggested that governments in Cuba and Venezuela have been involved in Bolivia in "unhelpful ways."

Rumsfeld's brief trip is aimed at reinforcing ties with regional democracies as they fight political instability, terrorism and drug trafficking, defense officials said. Rumsfeld will also visit Peru.

Increasing political problems in Bolivia, which borders Paraguay to the northwest, have been fostered by Cuban and Venezuelan authorities, U.S. officials contend.

is this stage-setting or what...?

looks like things are moving right along...
Controversy is raging in Paraguay, where the US military is conducting secretive operations. 500 US troops arrived in the country on July 1st with planes, weapons and ammunition. Eyewitness reports prove that an airbase exists in Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay, which is 200 kilometers from the border with Bolivia and may be utilized by the US military. Officials in Paraguay claim the military operations are routine humanitarian efforts and deny that any plans are underway for a US base. Yet human rights groups in the area are deeply worried.

White House officials are using rhetoric about terrorist threats in the tri-border region (where Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet) in order to build their case for military operations, in many ways reminiscent to the build up to the invasion of Iraq.

The tri-border area is home to the Guarani Aquifer, one of the world's largest reserves of water. Near the Estigarribia airbase are Bolivia's natural gas reserves, the second largest in Latin America. Political analysts believe US operations in Paraguay are part of a preventative war to control these natural resources and suppress social uprisings in Bolivia.

it's too bad latin america is so far off the radar for u.s. media... chalk it up, i guess, to the vast list of things that aren't on the u.s. media radar...

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Gonzo is the firewall for George and Karl and will NEVER be dumped

i was banging on that drum incessantly back in march and april (here, here, here, here, and here)
If Attorney General Alberto Gonzales were miraculously to tell the truth, or if he were to resign or be removed, the secret government of the past six years would be unlocked. So long as a Republican Congress rigorously engaged in enforcing no oversight was smugly complicit through its passive ignorance and abdication of constitutional responsibility, the White House was secure in enacting its theories of the imperial presidency.

it's a theme that can't be stressed enough... here's the graphic i put together back then, and it still applies...

Bush WITH Gonzales

Bush WITHOUT Gonzales

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Arlen Specter is a spineless, worse than useless, excuse for a United States senator

THIS is the kind of elected leadership we're paying good money for... he's not worth the powder to blow him up...
"He was telling only a part of the facts, really playing a cat-and-mouse game with congressional oversight," Specter said. "I do not believe that there is a perjury prosecution in the matter."

Specter then quoted from a Supreme Court decision that warned perjury shouldn't be pursued "simply because a wily witness succeeds in derailing the questioner so long as the witness speaks the literal truth even where the answers were ... shrewdly calculated to evade."

"Well I think that describes Attorney General Gonzales, where you have a wily witness, who has evaded the information which this Senate oversight committee was entitled to," Specter said. "Now just because it wasn't perjury doesn't mean it's the way the highest ranking legal officer ought to respond to a Senate inquiry."

you don't deserve your seat, senator... you're a disgrace to your constituents and clearly don't give a rat's ass about upholding your oath to defend the united states constitution...

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It can't be said often enough or strongly enough

stephen crockett writing at consortium news...
The United States has been in a prolonged Constitutional crisis since the Supreme Court showed it had been corrupted by partisan politics when the Bush vs. Gore ruling was issued in December 2000.

and furthermore...
Because Bush is willing to misuse his Presidential powers and the Supreme Court has been packed with radical, partisan Republican appointees, only impeachment hearings will reveal to the public the abuses of the Bush White House. Only impeachment will bring these powerful criminals to justice and preserve the Constitutional rule of law.

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More on Deepthroat, the anonymous commenter

i think it's worth following, and free speech zone at daily kos has a compilation...

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Well, of COURSE! < d'oh > *

they're only doing just exactly what they said they were going to do... how many times do you have to tell some people...?
The Bush administration pushed back against congressional Democrats on two fronts yesterday, as the White House formally directed senior adviser Karl Rove not to cooperate with a Senate probe into the firing of U.S. attorneys and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales declined to alter testimony that some senators have described as misleading.

i've been pretty glum lately about the sorry state of affairs in my country... i was off in another city yesterday, visiting with a friend, his lovely wife, and their now one year old baby girl whom i had not yet seen (shame, shame on me)... i got back and was reading the posts by jim (here and here) and mettle (here and here) and thinking, good lord, what's the use...? that feeling has been creeping over me more and more lately and i don't like it...

i refuse to succumb to hopelessness and despair... i'm as adamant about not doing that as i am about not being sucked into the constant fear campaign... but... i so desperately want something to happen that will break the terrible logjam of lies, deceit, crimes, and unrelieved darkness that is afflicting the u.s...

i always feel i'm grasping at thin straws of hope when something emerges like the recent "anonymous commenter" (here and here) but we need so much more than that... where's the groundswell of people in the bush administration and in congress demanding the restoration of our constitution and the removal of the fascist thugs who currently claim to govern us...?

(* thanks to homer simpson...)

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Flight 93's Forgotten Legacy: How to Defeat Terrorism!

On September 11, 2001 we learned how far some people will go to kill. The passengers on the flights that struck the WTC had no idea what was in store for them. All they could do was wait and see.
On Flight 93, it was a different story. We have all heard about what happened on Flight 93, but maybe we missed the real message.
Faced with almost no hope of survival, ordinary folks decided not to wait for help, not to cower and hide.
They decided to go down fighting.
Every terrorist since has needed to take into account that ordinary Americans, knowing the score, wouldn't go down without a fight anymore.
Here, again, is some of what was said on Flight 93.

Excerpts from The Post-Gazette.

Sometime shortly before 10 a.m., Tom Burnett called home one last time.
"A group of us is going to do something," he told Deena.
"I told him, 'No, Tom, just sit down and don't draw attention to yourself,' " she said.
"Deena," he told her, "If they're going to crash the plane into the ground, we have to do something. We can't wait for the authorities. We have to do something now."(emphasis added)
From the back of Flight 93, CeeCee Lyles finally reached her husband, Lorne.
"Babe, my plane's been hijacked," she said.
"Huh? Stop joking," he said.
"No babe, I wouldn't joke like that. I love you. Tell the boys I love them."
The pair prayed.

In the background, Lorne Lyles could hear what he now believes was the sound of men planning a counterattack.
"They're getting ready to force their way into the cockpit," she told him.

When he had finished talking with Lisa Jefferson, finished relaying his love for his family, finished praying the Psalm that asked for green pastures and still waters, Todd Beamer put down the phone, still connected with the outside world.
"Are you guys ready? Let's roll," he said.

Honor Wainio was still on the line with her stepmother.
"I need to go," she said. "They're getting ready to break into the cockpit. I love you. Goodbye."

"Everyone's running to first class," Sandy Bradshaw told her husband. "I've got to go. Bye."

CeeCee Lyles let out a scream.
"They're doing it! They're doing it! They're doing it!" she said. Lorne Lyles heard a scream. Then his wife said something he couldn't understand. Then the line went dead.

Forty-five seconds after telling Fritz to evacuate the Johnstown tower, Cleveland Air Traffic Control phoned again.
"They said to disregard. The aircraft had turned to the south and they lost radar contact with him."

It was 10:06 a.m.

I was reminded of this while complaining to a friend about the Gallup poll results I posted earlier. He said, "Yeah, it's a shame people don't remember the what they did on Flight 93."
It hit me like a ton of bricks.
We have forgotten that the greatest enemy of terrorism is We The People. We can choose to be helpless victims. They count on our fear to achieve their goals, or we can stand and fight.
Yes, the folks on Flight 93 died. Many more of us may die as well, but at least, if we end the war in Iraq, we will die fighting here for ourselves, our homes, and our families.
We will fight for ourselves, instead of allowing our soldiers to do it all for us. We will fight for ourselves instead of sitting safe and cozy while innocent bystanders in other countries die for us.
Don't be afraid, we can win.
It's time we had faith in ourselves and our neighbors to defend our land.
After all, it's what the Second Amendment is all about.

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Perhaps a "deep throat?"

a comment from mettle in an earlier post...
go to:

find the mystery poster that posts long detailed posts anonymously (with no name).

see if they make sense. I dunno who it is. people are raving.

fleshing that out a bit, i found this on kos...
[A] blogger on TPMMuckrakers that is deep-throat-esque, ... has sensitive information regarding Bush and Co.'s lies and obfuscation of FISA, TSP, NSA, and warrantless wiretapping investigation.

Said blogger, one who is anonymous, can be found here. He/she has posted around a dozen entries of profound insight to the inner workings of the Total Surveillance Program (TSP) and the FISA investigation happening now in Congress. The depth and detail in the blogger's posts suggest he/she is in a high level cabinet position. His/her intent is to expose the WH and its cronies, and to shine the light of day on the ongoing deception within the Executive Branch.

interesting stuff... i can only hope that it's a real whistleblower and that tpm follows up, something i'm relatively sure they will do...

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Is The Republic Lost?

According to this, our Republic is already lost. Considering all of the evidence, I kind of knew this already. Folks just don't make a connection anymore between the Constitution and their gov't, so why do we expect they would fight to save it.
From Gallup.

The People's Priorities: Gallup's Top 10

Gallup's Editors constantly update their analysis of the American public's priorities for their elected representatives in Washington -- the men and women sent to the nation's capital to do the people's bidding. The Top 10 Priorities list is based on an analysis of open-ended responses to questions asking Americans to name the top priorities for the government and to name the most important problem facing the nation today, plus a series of additional questions in which Americans rate the priorities of the issues and concerns facing the nation today.

Each of these Top 10 Priorities listed below is accompanied by a capsule summary of what the American public wants its representatives to do on each.

1. Iraq
2. Terrorism and National Security

Terrorism is to a significant extent a latent concern for Americans. Along with the Iraq war, terrorism emerges as a top election or public policy concern when Americans are asked to rate the importance of a battery of specific issues. But the public is less likely to name terrorism in open-ended questions asking for the nation's most pressing problems or top issues for Congress to deal with -- typically no more than 10% to 15%. Overall, Americans show fairly broad tolerance for strong anti-terrorism measures. Relatively few Americans think the Patriot Act "goes too far" in compromising civil liberties to fight terrorism; a majority either thinks it is about right or would like it to go further.(emphasis added) A majority opposes the use of torture with terrorist suspects and opposes assassinating the leaders of foreign governments that sponsor terrorism. A majority favors requiring CIA agents to adhere to Geneva Convention guidelines when interrogating prisoners. A slight plurality opposes trials in which terrorist suspects are not allowed to see evidence obtained using classified or secret methods. A majority of Americans have said the Guantanamo Bay prison facility in Cuba should be kept open. Americans favor the Bush administration's efforts to wiretap telephone calls of suspected terrorists without a court order.(emphasis added) The majority of Americans at this point do not connect the Iraq war with the war on terrorism.

Well, I guess this says it all. We like being watched. We want to be safe, no matter what the cost, or the loss.
3. The Economy
4. Energy
5. Illegal Immigration
6. Healthcare
7. Education
8. Morality
9. Fixing Government Itself

Americans are negative in their views of elected representatives in Congress. Job approval ratings of Congress are only in the mid-20% range, the lowest that Gallup has observed in a decade. Americans continue to believe that political officeholders at the federal level are not highly honest and ethical. The public now has the lowest level of confidence in Congress in Gallup's history, and Americans rank the federal government near the bottom of the list of industry or business sectors. As many Americans say most members of Congress are corrupt as say they are not. Half of Americans said corruption in government was an extremely important issue to their vote for Congress in 2006, ranking second only to the war in Iraq in a list of issues facing the nation. Americans say the Democrats are better able to handle corruption than the Republicans, but still, only about a third give either party high marks on this issue. It appears that Americans in general favor almost any effort to remedy this situation. Most support campaign finance laws proposed to help fix the election process. The majority of Americans believe Congress would do a better job if it paid more attention to public opinion and less attention to Congress members' own personal views(emphasis added).

There doesn't seem to be a connection made that the people are the ones who control what the elected officials legislate. The last sentence is the worst. Americans, real Americans, would DEMAND that Congress pay attention to their desires and not their personal opinions, because Congress works for the People...but not anymore.
10. The Environment

There were a few bright spots. The war should be the #1 concern, so that is encouraging. However, I can't shake the impression of a people "imploring" or "begging" their leaders to act.
We are a long way from a "tipping point". Considering these poll results, I think martial law after another terrorist strike would be a welcome event for most, not a reason to finally remove the criminals that have successfully taken over our Republic.
I guess a little tyranny is acceptable, when you are wrapped in gilded chains and your eyes are held tightly shut.
I am very discouraged, can anyone help?

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And so it goes........

Just a little article to make you think, from Counterpunch.
The First Modern Killing Fields
The Ghosts of Passchendaele

Today is the 90th anniversary of the opening day of the first really modern killing field, the No Man’s Land in Flanders known as Passchendaele. Technically, the Third Battle of Ypres of World War One. It began on July 31, 1917 – before the United States was fully committed – and lasted for 100 days in heavy downpours and maggoty mud. The air stank of mustard gas and putrefying corpses. As the soldier poet Siegfried Sassoon wrote, “I died in hell - (They called it Passchendaele)”.

Before the ‘battle’ – actually a suicidal stalemate – ended, more than half a million Allied troops, mainly British and Commonwealth, and a quarter of a million Imperial German soldiers, had been killed. Over what? Four months after the battle commenced with a ‘walking barrage’ over a narrow strip of barren marshland, both opposing armies stood exactly where they’d started.

Despite catastrophic losses caused by their own blunders, the Allied generals, British and French, kept promising politicians at home that one “final push” against the Hunnish enemy would achieve victory. Just one more surge. Offensive after offensive ended in stalemate. In each instance the Germans had had enough time to prepare hidden pillboxes and enfilading machine gun fire that cut down Allied soldiers, advancing in line abreast, like so much standing wheat. On the very first day of the Allied attack, the British had 27,000 killed, wounded and missing, the Germans about the same. The Allied commander, Field Marshall Douglas Haig, called July 31 a “fine day’s work” and the losses as “small”.

Haig was remarkably expert at losing men. The year before, on the very first day of the battle of Somme, he had sent his troops in an insane charge, again in line abreast, against German machine guns he dismissed as “overrated”. Sixty thousand were killed on his orders.
In London’s Whitehall, not far from my BBC office, a statue to ‘Butcher Haig’ still rides proudly astride his bronze horse. It’s a constant wonder to me that it hasn’t been torn down in grief and rage. He and his aides lived in luxurious comfort in a chateau – an early version of the Green Zone - at the rear while he ordered men into human-wave charges in mud so deep many soldiers who slipped off the trench duckboards simply drowned in the poisonous muck. After the war, he received a baronetcy and a hundred thousand pounds for his labors.

Passchendaele casts a long shadow today. Adolph Hitler fought bravely at Ypres and came out of the war to take his revenge on a world gone mad on soldiers’ blood. In a sense, Hitler is a child of Douglas Haig as much as he is of the Kaiser.

Iraq is not Passchaendale. Our casualties are ‘limited’ to a few each day, every day, a grinding attrition that is so numbing that our eyes skip over the lists and we become used to talking evasively about corpses as ‘foreign policy issues’. Our generals rarely share the pleasure of humping 80 pounds equipment on foot patrol in 120-degree heat with the troops.

When our troops finally do come home, if ever they do, the politicians who sent them into harm’s way will gracefully retire to write their memoirs and the generals will receive their Freedom Medals. Field Marshall Haig lives

And so it goes.....


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limited snooping ?

Some tools for total surveillance are located on-site of telcos and ISPs, in that cozy Government/Corporate marriage. Other tools include OLAPs.

Types of tools coming online at present include "Deep packet inspection", an example of which is discussed here.

Much ballyhoo has been made of making particular digital pictures into crime. Those, as well as mp3 music files or other types of data files have identifiable "signatures", by means of "CRC", (cyclic redundancy check) and/or "checksum".

Much has been written already that the Vista operating system is Orwellian in nature. Now it is being reported that some anti virus companies may abandon scanning files for viruses and use "whitelisting" instead. Whitelisting will certify known files by their CRC or checksum. It is easy to see how that will fit into a police state.

The DoJ has already demanded records from major search engine companies. Apparently, only Google put up a substantial fight.

This article shows preliminary means to join the government grid.

For a peek ahead you can jump right to a look at the Global Justice Justice XML Data Model, or right ahead to see the National Information Exchange Model.

Of course, ultimately "users might need access to the global Centrix network, the Secret IP Router Network and the Non-classified IP Router Network to get all the information they require".

This report, among other topics, contemplates Information Sharing. (.pdf)

The pretexts for government to monitor all financial transactions seem similar to their need to know what library books people read and what Web sites they visit.

Starting with problems of a cashless society: government can cancel credit cards at a mere whim. And Government has been all over the alternate-forms-of-payment industry:

Consider E-gold and some of their tribulations.

The pretexts to monitor all electronic financial transactions are of course, framed in the emotional bugaboos of the day.

From comments on Press Esc:

'The Patriot Act is only temporary. It includes sunset provisions.' We all know what happened with that."

Similar legislation has already been shot down. (.pdf) (COPA was originally the basis for compelling the search engine records sharing compliance.)

So what else will Deep Packet Inspection look for? Consider this. (h/t slashdot)

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Marcy's thoughts on Lurita Doan

emptywheel posts at the next hurrah...
It has been over 50 days since Scott Bloch, the head of the Office of Special Counsel, sent Bush a letter advising that Lurita Doan be disciplined severely for her violations of the Hatch Act. Yet there she is, still in charge of the government's credit cards as the Administrator of the GSA.

If Doan weren't a Bush appointee, her fate would be clear--she would have been fired fifty days ago. But in this case, Bush has to fire her himself. And it appears that he has no intention of doing so.

this should be no surprise to anyone... once again, here's what the bush administration announced PRIOR to last november's elections...

from time magazine...

"In fact, when it comes to deploying its Executive power, which is dear to Bush's understanding of the presidency, the President's team has been planning for what one strategist describes as 'a cataclysmic fight to the death' over the balance between Congress and the White House if confronted with congressional subpoenas it deems inappropriate. The strategist says the Bush team is 'going to assert that power, and they're going to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court on every issue, every time, no compromise, no discussion, no negotiation.'"

absolutely NOTHING that could possibly be construed as a crack in total, unfettered executive power is going to take place as long as bush and his criminal compadres are in office... anyone who believes otherwise has simply not been paying attention... and this is precisely why our current crisis is so grave...

congress still wants to believe that the mechanisms of government are working and is continuing to turn the crank... what they haven't fully grasped is that the white house has already declared, in multiple ways, that they will function SOLELY on the basis of their own judgment and will NOT be responsive to ANY guidance, direction or due process served up by ANYONE else, INCLUDING those elsewhere in the executive branch with whom they disagree... the danger is palpable... bush and his gang have made it clear that the only way they will be stopped is via removal, and that's assuming they don't pull something before that can happen... i know it's a degree of treachery that none of us really want to believe, and, i admit, even with all the signs pointing in that direction, it's not something i particularly want to swallow either... but, i'm convinced that removal is our only option and that it better happen soon...

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The propaganda blitz convincing us that the situation in Iraq is improving and even "winnable"

related to my post yesterday on o'hanlon and pollack, think progress offers us this...

Pollack and O’Hanlon have leapt into the open arms of the mainstream media and have been given a forum to present their views largely without opposition. Together, they appeared on at least nine major mainstream media outlets in the past 24 hours.

A list of their media appearances:

Network Program
Pollack CBS Evening News

CNN Newsroom

CNN Situation Room

MSNBC Tucker

NPR Talk of the Nation

O’Hanlon CBS Early Show

CBS Evening News

Fox News Special Report

MSNBC Hardball

anyone who has any doubts whatsoever that we are being propagandized by our major media outlets only need look at the pervasiveness of these two in such a condensed period of time… for one thing, you KNOW that number of appearances HAD to be both scheduled AND coordinated WELL IN ADVANCE, and that two guys that have neither the big names nor the position power to command such a slice of media time simply could NOT have done it all by themselves... when are we going to wake up...?

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Do I take it personally?

I wonder if most people are genuinely mad because they have been personally wronged, or if they are mad because the media tells them to be." -- from a comment at The Washington Post blog

[R]epeal [of the 4th Amendment] wouldn't mean a government camera in every bedroom." -- from a comment at The [very Right leaning] Volokh Conspiracy

DemocracyNow! has a new story about how Intelligence is largely farmed out to Corporatism. The Register reports that Bush is following up on the Attorney General's declaration that Big Brother must be given carte blanche instead of being limited to specific authorizations of existing technology. I guarantee you he is playing catch-up. They are already well out ahead of themselves.

People are being thrown off-track by being made to imagine that this is all about listening in on a few overseas phone calls. The Global Information Grid (Infosphere), is much larger than that. It surely includes total domestic spying. In ACLU, et al. v. NSA, et al. (.pdf), the court dismissed and said:

Even though the plaintiffs alleged a well-founded fear that their communications were subject to illegal surveillance, the court dismissed the case because plaintiffs could not state with certainty that they had been wiretapped by the National Security Agency."

Ok, so what do I care? How am I spied on? What is my empirical data? Well I have supposed the extent of spying for many, many, years. I have tried to live as much as I can as a "blank". I try as best as I can to conduct my life as anonymously as possible:

BENE QUI LATUIT BENE VIXIT" - Translation: (Latin) - He who has kept well in obscurity has lived well.

I would like to subscribe to a NEWS SERVER and/or a GLOBAL INTERNET TELEVISION SERVICE without notifying the government. I had a system worked out where a courier would travel a thousand miles distance for me and drop a cash payment in the mail from that far, to a provider. The last time I did this, the next day after the mail drop, the president announced an executive order that he was permitting government to now open mail.

Similarly, I obtained an anonymous debit card. The rules were immediately changed to require Social Security Numbers for debit cards as well as credit cards. These services now insist on credit card only accounts, never mind that on CASH, it says that it is good for all debts public and private. Who says that this is not total global & domestic spying?

Like I said previously, predictably, there will be diversion of information, it will be data mined and it will be used for political purposes.

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Impeach the S.O.B.

the obvious question is "WHICH S.O.B.?" there are at least three of them floating around by my count...
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) is introducing legislation that would require the House Judiciary Committee and the House of Representatives to begin an impeachment investigation into Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in the wake of his damaging testimony last week. The legislation reads:
Resolved: That the Committee on the Judiciary shall investigate fully whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to impeach Alberto Gonzales for high crimes and misdemeanors.

yeah, ok... that'll work...

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You want a good laugh? Try this...

you gotta read it all the way through...
Former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, who helped shape the nation’s economic and monetary policy for almost 19 years, talks about the people he met, the issues he faced and the crises he helped manage during five different administrations. Greenspan discusses the world we now live in, with a global capitalist economy that is more flexible, resilient, open, self-directing and fast-changing than ever. Greenspan is the author of a new book, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, to be published by The Penguin Press on September 17. He is interviewed in this rare public appearance by the person who knows him best, his wife, Andrea Mitchell, who covers politics and foreign policy for NBC News.

Date & Time: Tue, Sep 18, 2007, 8:00pm
Location: Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street
Venue: Kaufmann Concert Hall
Price: $50.00 Orchestra

marcy - emptywheel - wheeler has this to share...
You were one of the most powerful men in the fiscal world for almost half my lifetime. Yet you can't face live questions from someone who isn't your wife?

if i wasn't a u.s. citizen, living in the world of the second to the last day of july 2007, i would think this was a spoof... the biggest lie of the announcement is calling it an interview when it's really an infomercial...

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Understanding Fred Thompson

i said some time ago how truly delighted i was to see berkeley breathed and his extraordinary talent re-emerging in salon... so, after going and shooting off my big mouth, i haven't been all that dedicated a follower since then, and proceeded to miss this one, but, thankfully, atrios grabbed me by the ear and pointed me in the right direction... i won't attempt to post it here... you'll just have to go look for yourselves...

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Dear Senator Feingold

from an email i just received from russ feingold asking me to support his censure resolutions and the appointment of a special prosecutor...
As you know, last Sunday I proposed censure resolutions aimed at holding the President, Vice President and administration officials responsible for misconduct relating to the war in Iraq and for their repeated assaults on the rule of law. I am pleased to announce that Congressman Maurice Hinchey has joined me in this effort. Thanks to the input of thousands of Progressive Patriots like you, we plan to formally introduce these censure resolutions later this week. But I still need your feedback. So if you haven’t already, please let me know your thoughts on this vitally important issue. I will be sure to keep you posted as we move forward.

for what it's worth, i sent him my thoughts, as requested...
Dear Senator Feingold,

I believe that the United States is in the midst of the most serious constitutional crisis in its history. The steps taken by the Bush administration to accrue unfettered executive power have our country poised on the brink of becoming an authoritarian state, and I do not feel that I exaggerate in the least. On the contrary, I am probably understating the reality.

Every single day that the current occupants of the White House remain in power is another day for them to advance their radical agenda of invalidating the separation of powers. The United States is already effectively being governed from one branch of government, the executive branch, which has become so politicized and infiltrated with administration loyalists as to be nearly unrecognizable.

Even over and above Iraq (which, heaven only knows, is a daily tragedy of staggering proportions), there is no greater priority than stopping the Bush administration, a feat that, it should be obvious by now, can ONLY be accomplished by their removal from office. And even THAT, Senator, will be insufficient unless and until the levers of unrestrained executive power have been not only rolled back but officially REPUDIATED, PRIOR to the next president taking office on 20 January 2009.

Of course, Senator Feingold, I support your censure resolutions and your call for an independent prosecutor. However, what I am desperately HOPING you will do is to stand up and, with all the force and dignity of your office and your outstanding Senatorial career, speak out on this grave crisis, name it for what it is, and rally those of us who are so desperate for leadership from our elected officials to the cause of saving our constitutionally-based, democratic republic. I can tell you, Senator, there are many thousands of us who would be at your side in a heartbeat were you to issue such a call.

I realize that impeachment proceedings must be initiated in the House Judiciary Committee. I am not at all sure, unfortunately, that we have the luxury of enough time to let that process run its course. What I envision, unrealistic or not, is a mass convergence of citizens on Washington calling for the President, the Vice President, and all members of the Cabinet to resign. Yes, Senator, I do believe we are at that point.

Please take my thoughts as they were intended - a very serious cry for help as I watch our country being dismembered at the hands of those who have forsaken their sworn duty to protect and defend the United States Constitution.

Best regards,

if you would like, you can send your thoughts to russ at this email address...

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More shameless Bush defenders

today is an embarrassment, not of riches, but of fresh, steaming, 100%, grade A bullshit... not only do we have two shills, writing under the cover of their exalted positions at the brookings institution, pushing this sorry thesis in - where else? - the wapo...

Twin Yay-hoos, O'Hanlon and Pollack
A War We Just Might Win

Published: July 30, 2007

we also have THIS yay-hoo, writing in bloomberg, who, were it not for the tipoff given by his email ( would be otherwise unidentified as the director of economic and policy studies at the american enterprise institute...

Yay-hoo Hassett
If you want a wretched sight, look at the political speech of the leading Democratic candidates. President George W. Bush has, to put it lightly, made numerous mistakes. But he isn't Satan. You would hardly know it if you listen to the Democrats.

my GOD, it's SO-O-O_OO tiresome having this kind of crap, passing as intelligent, informed, and, yes, ACADEMIC opinion, taking up printers' ink, bandwidth and pixels, cluttering up otherwise valuable media space...

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

total surveillance

When "critical" black projects are killed, they have this nasty habit of not going away, but rather first being renamed. (According to Wikipedia, the Total Information Awareness (TIA) Program was renamed to the Terrorism Information Awareness Program in May, 2003.) If renaming doesn't work, programs seem to get shuffled around and relocated elsewhere. If that doesn't work, they appear to be broken into smaller pieces.

In the case of the TIA in relation to the Infosphere, that is really not a big problem as the information is literally part of the "Global Information Grid". So tools that find and stitch together the disparate information can be physically half-a-world apart. Much of intelligence work is already farmed out to private corporations anyway.

In fact, Wikipedia names SAIC executive Brian Hicks together with former United States National Security Advisor John Poindexter, as approaching the DoD with the Total Information Awareness idea.

[W]e will direct every resource at our command—every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every tool of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every weapon of war—to the disruption of and to the defeat of the global terror network." -- President Bush Address to a Joint Session of Congress Sept. 20, 2001

As stated stated by Glenn Greenwald...
UPDATE: Here is a snapshot of the United States from 2000-present. The Bush administration whispers something to "journalists." They repeat it uncritically on their front page. Other "journalists" read it. They believe it uncritically and then repeat it. With nothing else required, it becomes "fact"...

OK, let's start with 2000 then, with: "Protecting the Homeland -- Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on DEFENSIVE INFORMATION OPERATIONS", 2000 Summer Study, Volume II.

And then onto: GIG - Information Assurance Architecture.

"GIG" is "Global Information Grid" (the Infosphere)
"IA" is "Information Awareness" --> "Information Assurance"
"Information Awareness Office" --> "Information Assurance Directorate"

It seems that the aerospace industry has a keen interest in surveillance. Boeing bagged a virtual border fence contract and Lockheed Martin has undertaken the the FBI's new Sentinel main contract, after the Virtual Case File and Trilogy fizzled.

Here and here and here are several additional links that go to showing the extent of the programs early on.

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Silencio es peor

i just had a long conversation with my neighbors, a older man and his middle-aged son, in the driveway as i was returning from getting my bike tires re-inflated (they'd gone a little flat during my 3 month absence) and a brisk bike ride...

i never cease to be amazed at how much more the average person in a country other than the u.s. knows about what's going on in the world, and how much more astute they are in making sense out of it than the average, dumbed-down, american idol-watching american...

for instance, they totally understand that we are ALL propagandized up the you-know-where... it doesn't matter which country you live in, we ALL have it shoved down our throats... it may (and often does) LOOK somewhat different from country to country, but it's propaganda nonetheless... they don't trust their government any further than they could throw it... they clearly see that the u.s. is in iraq and the middle east for three reasons - money, power and oil... when i mentioned i publish a weblog and what it was about, the father's eyes widened and he asked if, by speaking out, i was afraid for my safety... i laughed (HA, HA!) and said, "to hell with it, silence is..." he interrupted and finished my sentence, "silencio es peor" ("silence is worse")...

the other thing that i never cease to be amazed about is when you make it clear that you have no intention of making a case for your own country, that you have no intention of attacking theirs, that you not only want to hear their views but also that you respect them, that you have concerns for the people in your own country as well as theirs, the walls come down quickly and REAL conversation ensues, and THAT'S when things get interesting...

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Data-mining exonerates Gonzo...? That's simply 20-carat hooey...!

what's wrong with THIS nyt picture...?
A 2004 dispute over the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance program that led top Justice Department officials to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases, according to current and former officials briefed on the program.

It is not known precisely why searching the databases, or data mining, raised such a furious legal debate. But such databases contain records of the phone calls and e-mail messages of millions of Americans, and their examination by the government would raise privacy issues.

The N.S.A.’s data mining has previously been reported. But the disclosure that concerns about it figured in the March 2004 debate helps to clarify the clash this week between Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and senators who accused him of misleading Congress and called for a perjury investigation.

it would be the SAME thing that's wrong with this wapo picture...
The report of a data mining component to the dispute suggests that Gonzales's testimony could be correct. A group of Senate Democrats, including two who have been privy to classified briefings about the NSA program, called last week for a special prosecutor to consider perjury charges against Gonzales.

first, let's hear from glenn greenwald...
This leak would be arguably exculpatory for Gonzales only if it reported that data mining was the only source of the Comey/Ashcroft objections, not merely one of the sources. But both articles explictly states [sic] that there were other grounds for those objections besides data mining, leaving open -- rather than resolving -- the only relevant questions: did those objections, contrary to Gonzales' sworn testimony, relate to the "TSP's" [Terrorist Surveillance Program] warrantless eavesdropping?

let's cut to the chase... data mining is PRECISELY what produces grist for the entire surveillance program... data mining - what i refer to as sniffing - is an automated program designed to "sniff" through multi-terabytes of real-time electronic transactions and untold mountains of stored data looking for certain pre-programmed patterns - words, phrases, data-strings, and hex code - which, if found, are then spit out for further analysis... if further analysis, probably also automated, confirms the initial analysis, the information is further spit out to a human analyst who makes a determination about what to do with it... the determination may include such options as further investigation, real-time data interception (wiretaps, et al), additional database searches, personal surveillance, etc... this is happening 24/7/365 and has been going on for years... the bush administration is simply banking on the fact that most members of congress, most journalists and most americans are simply too stupid to figure out what's REALLY going on...

p.s. and, in case you would like to see how it's all done, click here...

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