Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another Middle Class Hit

Michael Linden, a budget expert at the liberal Center for American Progress, said [Obama's Federal employee pay freeze] plan is small potatoes that risks driving away valuable civil servants with little budgetary upside.

"Bluntly doing it this way, we risk cutting off our nose to spite our face," Linden said in a phone interview. "We risk not hiring good people, we risk not giving a raise to people who deserve a raise, and we miss not cutting the pay of those who deserve a pay cut."

Linden recalled similarities between the plan Obama announced today and his previous call at an earlier political low point for a discretionary spending freeze.

"Both are sort of blunt instruments for reducing the deficit that don't reduce the deficit very much," Linden said. "The pay freeze is actually much smaller than the discretionary spending freeze," in budget terms.

If enacted, the proposal will disproportionately impact middle-income earners.

"The vast majority of federal employees are middle-class workers. That's who we're asking to take a hit," Linden explained.


Republicans predictably and eagerly pocketed the gesture, and welcomed Obama to move even further in their direction.


Taking a cut so the bankers could scam and stay solvent. Chris Floyd has an interesting article about what we might expect going down this road.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Some Sane Observations Regarding Wikileaks

The central goal of WikiLeaks is to prevent the world's most powerful factions -- including the sprawling, imperial U.S. Government -- from continuing to operate in the dark and without restraints. Most of the institutions which are supposed to perform that function -- beginning with the U.S. Congress and the American media -- not only fail to do so, but are active participants in maintaining the veil of secrecy.


[O]ur government and political culture is so far toward the extreme pole of excessive, improper secrecy that that is clearly the far more significant threat [than that the disclosures cause harm]. And few organizations besides WikiLeaks are doing anything to subvert that regime of secrecy, and none is close to its efficacy. It's staggering to watch anyone walk around acting as though the real threat is from excessive disclosures when the impenetrable, always-growing Wall of Secrecy is what has enabled virtually every abuse and transgression of the U.S. government over the last two decades at least.

In sum, I seriously question the judgment of anyone who -- in the face of the orgies of secrecy the U.S. Government enjoys and, more so, the abuses they have accomplished by operating behind it -- decides that the real threat is WikiLeaks for subverting that ability. That's why I said yesterday: one's reaction to Wikileaks is largely shaped by whether or not one, on balance, supports what the U.S. has been covertly doing in the world by virtue of operating in the dark.

  Glenn Greenwald

I'd say providing that information certainly would have been a socially worthy activity, even if it came as part of a more-or-less indiscriminate dump of illegally obtained documents. I'm glad to see that the quality of discussion over possible US efforts to stymie Iran's nuclear ambitions has already become more sophisticated and, well, better-informed due to the information provided by WikiLeaks.

  The Economist

Where Are Today's Mario Savios?

It seems to me that they don't exist. I have often lamented that the 60s, which seemed primed to change America - and the world - for the better, failed so miserably.

Thanks to Barry Eisler for this reminder.

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UPDATE: Barry Eisler obviously disagrees with me that there are no Mario Savios today. He must be seeing a different world than I see.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Meanwhile in Afghanistan

A gunman wearing an Afghan border police uniform killed six NATO service members during a training mission Monday in the east of the country, NATO forces said in a statement.

The shooting marks the single deadliest incident for NATO troops since a Sept. 21 helicopter crash that killed nine Americans. It's also likely the latest in a series of incidents in which Afghan security forces turned on their NATO trainers.


Rolling Downhill Like a Snowball Headed for Hell

Enacted by Congress in 1970, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to conduct a review of the potential environmental effects of their proposed actions, making it one of the few proactive environmental laws.


As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, more commonly known as "the stimulus," officials granted over 179,000 exemptions from NEPA to recipients of federal stimulus funding.


While the stimulus bill was being debated in Congress in 2009, numerous companies lobbied for environmental exemptions, but their efforts were ultimately rebuffed by environmental advocates.

But while companies may have failed to pressure Congress into issuing legislative exemptions from environmental oversight, federal agencies granted exemptions to 96 percent of stimulus projects so far, according to documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

The energy companies BP, Westar Energy and Duke Energy, chemical manufacturer DuPont, and ethanol maker Didion Milling were among the companies to receive "categorical exclusions" from the National Environmental Policy Act.


The energy company Westar Energy received a $19 million dollar stimulus grant and exemption from NEPA despite the fact that it recently settled a major air pollution case by paying a half billion dollars in penalties.

Likewise, a stimulus project at a BP owned refinery in Texas received an exemption from environmental oversight even though it was the site of a deadly 2005 explosion and later emitted 500,000 pounds of harmful air pollutants over the course of 40 days.

Another energy company, Duke Energy received an exemption for its stimulus project while in the midst of two of the biggest air-pollution cases in the nation's history.

  Raw Story

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


The NYT has the documents.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Besting the Soviets

Aside from our competition with Joseph Stalin regarding show trials and the state police, we have, as of today, been warring in Afghanistan for as long as the Soviets were there: 9 years, 50 days. Tomorrow, we will have surpassed their futile record.

And I know we've claimed the war in Iraq to be over, but we're still there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Know Your Rights

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Why You're Treated Like a Criminal at the Airport

The TSA guys are trying to look more systematically for PETN. That is why they have adopted these more intrusive methods. And, there has been chatter among the terrorist groups abroad about launching attacks on American airliners with this relatively undetectable explosive.


The problem with PETN is that it cannot be detected by sniffing dogs or by ordinary scanners. But if you had a pouch of it on your person, the new scanners could see the pouch, and likewise a thorough pat-down would lead to its discovery.

  Juan Cole

They still couldn’t find it if you, say, had it up your ass.

And, a suicide bomber put some up his anus and used it in an attempt to assassinate the son of the Saudi minister of the interior (which does counter-terrorism). Yes, he was the first ass bomber, and he missed his target, though he no longer cares about that, what with being dead and all.


The question is really what level of risk Americans are willing to live with. On the one hand, studies suggest that the crotch bomber could not really have brought down the airliner over Detroit last year, even if he had been able to detonate his payload. And, 500 million Europeans decline to take off their shoes when they travel by air, but there haven’t been any successful shoe bombings over there, nevertheless.

On the other hand, it would only take a few small teams making a concerted effort at bombing airliners, to spook travelers and consumers.

The TSA is doing a fine job of that on its own.

Al-Qaeda in Yemen is openly talking of a low-tech, high-explosive war against US economic interests, a war of a thousand cuts. Its planned method? PETN-based mail bombs.

Mail is about to go the way of newspapers, though.

And this could all have been avoided if our foreign policy had been based on decency and global justice instead of greed and world dominance. Oh well, the earth would be a wonderful place if it didn’t have people.

....and hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Speaking of Karzai

Hamid Karzai bald-facedly stole the presidential election in 2009. The parliamentary elections of 2010 were so riddled with fraud that ten percent of the winners had to be denied their seats even by Karzai’s hand-picked electoral commission, and there are charges that the wrong ten percent were thrown out.


My guess is that the war is mainly an example of mission creep. The US and other Western powers stood up the Karzai government in late 2001, and they would suffer a loss of face and a geostrategic reversal if he were hanged from a lamp post like Najeeb, one of his Soviet-installed predecessors. So then they have to do whatever they can to prop up the Kabul government, including crash training for 400,000 troops and police to maintain security.

Despite having gotten where he is through US and NATO help, President Hamid Karzai has been revealed to be on a $2 million a year retainer by Iran. And, his brothers and circle are allegedly highly corrupt, getting unsecured loans from a bank they run to buy posh villas in Dubai.


And now a further cruel pretense has been advertised, that the war will be over in 2014. Mostly.

  Juan Cole

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

The Disaster in Afghanistan

Altogether 24 candidates were disqualified from parliament because the Independent Electoral Commission found them guilty of fraud.


Among the candidates disqualified was a cousin of president Hamid Karzai.


The NYT reports that, in petty retaliation for the disqualifications, Karzai’s attorney general, Mohammad Ishaq Aloko, is threatening two officials on the country’s two electoral commissions with prosecution for defaming the nation.


Meanwhile, a new Pentagon study submitted to Congress reports that “combat incidents [are] up 300 percent since since 2007 and 70 percent since last year…” The Pentagon propagandistically called this massive increase in violence “slow progress” and the MSM dutifully put the stupid phrase in their headlines. The report also admits that even in the face of a huge American build-up of troops, the Taliban have retrained their command and control and remain effective fighters.

  Juan Cole

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Running Downhill

Snippets of edifying articles from Paul Craig Roberts, former associate editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal and President Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy. Do yourself a favor and read the full columns.

Reporters repeat the lie that the unemployment rate is 9.6%. This is a specially concocted unemployment rate that does not count most of the unemployed. The government’s own more inclusive rate stands at 17%. Statistician John Williams, who counts unemployment the way it is supposed to be counted, finds the unemployment rate to be 22%.

  American Job Loss Is Permanent

The decline of the US manufacturing work force reduced the political power of unions and the ability of unions to finance the Democratic Party. The end result was to make the Democrats dependent on the same sources of financing as Republicans.


Today both parties are dependent for campaign finance on Wall Street, the military/security complex, AIPAC, the oil industry, agri-business, pharmaceuticals, and the insurance industry. Campaigns no longer consist of debates over issues. They are mud-slinging contests.


Quantitatively, Republicans will be more inclined to more rapidly dismantle more of the social safety net than Democrats and more inclined to finish off the remnants of civil liberties. But the powerful private oligarchs will continue to write the legislation that Congress passes and the President signs. New members of Congress will quickly discover that achieving re-election requires bending to the oligarchs’ will.

  The Impotence of Elections

On September 24, Jason Ditz reported on Antiwar.com that "the FBI is confirming that this morning they began a number of raids against the homes of antiwar activists in Illinois, Minneapolis, Michigan, and North Carolina, claiming that they are ‘seeking evidence relating to activities concerning the material support of terrorism.’"

Now we know what Homeland Security (sic) Secretary Janet Napolitano meant when she said on September 10: "The old view that ‘if we fight the terrorists abroad, we won’t have to fight them here’ is just that—the old view." The new view, Napolitano said, is "to counter violent extremism right here at home."

"Violent extremism" is one of those undefined police state terms that will mean whatever the government wants it to mean. In this morning’s FBI’s foray into the homes of American citizens of conscience, it means antiwar activists, whose activities are equated with "the material support of terrorism," just as conservatives equated Vietnam era anti-war protesters with giving material support to communism.

Anti-war activist Mick Kelly, whose home was raided, sees the FBI raids as harassment to intimidate those who organize war protests.

I wonder if Kelly is under-estimating the threat. The FBI’s own words clearly indicate that the federal police agency and the judges who signed the warrants do not regard antiwar protesters as Americans exercising their Constitutional rights, but as unpatriotic elements offering material support to terrorism.


Americans are the most gullible people who ever existed. They tend to support the government instead of the Constitution, and almost every Republican and conservative regards civil liberty as a coddling device that encourages criminals and terrorists.


Americans are too gullible, too uneducated, and too jingoistic to remain a free people. As another Nazi leader—Herman Goering—said, "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. Tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peace-makers for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger.

  It’s Official: The US Is A Police State

Making Stalin Proud - Part 3

I am old enough to remember the Nixon years, and I was a presidential appointee, confirmed by the US senate, in the Reagan administration. For those of you too young to know and those who are too old to remember, President Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment simply because Nixon lied about when he learned about the burglary of the Watergate office of the Democratic party.


If the dastardly President Nixon had a Justice (sic) Department like the present one, he simply would have declared Woodward, Bernstein, and the Washington Post to be a threat and murdered them by merely exercising the power that the Obama administration is claiming.


The neoconservatives’ Iran/Contra scandal almost brought down President Reagan. It is unclear whether President Reagan knew about the neocon operation and, if he did, whether he was kept in the loop. But all of this aside, what do you think would have been President Reagan’s fate if he, or his Justice (sic) Department, had declared that Reagan had the power as commander in chief to murder anyone he considered to be a threat?


Today in Amerika, approximately 25 years later, the ACLU has to go to federal court in order to attempt to affirm that "if the Constitution means anything, it surely means that the president does not have unreviewable authority to summarily execute any American whom he concludes is an enemy of the state."

In reply, the Justice (sic) Department told the court that murdering American citizens is a "political question" that is not subject to judicial review. The "freedom and democracy" government then invoked the "state secrets privilege" and declared that the case against the government’s power to commit murder must be dismissed in order to avoid "the disclosure of sensitive information.”


The argument by the Justice (sic) Department that the executive branch has unreviewable authority to kill Americans, whom the executive branch has unilaterally, without presenting evidence, determined to pose a threat, was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center For Constitutional Rights.

The outcome of the case will determine whether the neoconservative and Israeli stooge, president George W. Bush, was correct when he said that the US Constitution was nothing but a "scrap of paper".


If the Obama Regime wins this case, the US will have become a dictatorship.

  Paul Craig Roberts

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

The Airline Lottery

Buy a ticket, risk jail.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is warning that any would-be commercial airline passenger who enters an airport checkpoint and then refuses to undergo the method of inspection designated by TSA will not be allowed to fly and also will not be permitted to simply leave the airport.

That person will have to remain on the premises to be questioned by the TSA and possibly by local law enforcement. Anyone refusing faces fines up to $11,000 and possible arrest.


"We have to ensure that each person getting on every flight is secure," [TSA Chief John] Pistole said.

  Palm Beach Post

If Americans were more thoughtful and less gullible, they might wonder why all the emphasis on transportation when there are so many soft targets. Shopping centers, for example. If there were enough terrorists in America to justify the existence of Homeland Security, bombs would be going off round the clock in shopping malls in every state. The effect would be far more terrifying than blowing up an airliner.


Indeed, the TSA with its Gestapo attitude and methods, is succeeding in making Americans more terrified of the TSA than they are of terrorists.

Make up your own mind. What terrifies you the most. Terrorists, who in all likelihood you will never encounter in your lifetime, or the TSA that you will encounter every time you fly and soon, according to Pistole, every time you take a train, a subway, or drive in a car or truck?

  Paul Craig Roberts

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Making Stalin Proud - Part 2

Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan in 2002, the only survivor of a firefight and an air strike on a Taliban position. He was near death, with wounds to his eyes and shoulder and shot twice in the back. The Americans accused the boy of having thrown a hand grenade during the military encounter that resulted in the death of a US soldier.


The charge against Khadr is an invention. We don’t know whether Khadr was a combatant or just happened to be in the place where the American attack took place.


If a case can be worse, it is the case of the young American educated neuroscientist, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.


Siddiqui and her three young children were kidnaped. Siddiqui was tortured and abused by the Americans and their Pakistani puppets simply because Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, according to Wikipedia her second husband’s uncle, mentioned her name during one of the 180 times that he was waterboarded.


Siddiqui’s young children apparently are still missing. While she was in detention, Siddiqui herself was shot in the stomach by an American soldier, allegedly after she managed to seize his rifle and point it at him. This absurd story was enough for federal judge Richard Berman to sentence her to prison for 86 years for assault with a deadly weapon and attempting to kill U.S.personnel.


The hallmarks of the remade US legal system, thanks to the “war on terror,” are coerced self-incrimination and indefinite detention or murder without charges or evidence. “Freedom and democracy” America has resurrected the legal system of the Dark Ages.

  Paul Craig Roberts

Trouble in Korea

Every year, the South Korean military holds a massive exercise called Hoguk, or “Defending the Nation,” in which tens of thousands of troops from across the services work on their coordination in the face of an attack. And every year, the North Koreans denounce it as “dangerous war maneuvers” as that simulate an invasion. So this year’s exercise, featuring 70,000 troops, many drilling in the Yellow Sea, should come as no surprise. It’s expected to begin shortly.

Except early today, the North began shelling the inhabited island of Yeonpyeongdo, about two miles south of the maritime armistice line. According to the Korea Times – which headlines its piece “1st NK Attack on S. Korean Soil” — the North’s army is believed “to have about eight 27-kilometer-range 130mm howitzers and eight 76 guns with a range of 12 kilometers,” presumably at use in the strike.

TV cameras captured destroyed buildings on the island spewing black smoke and villagers running in panic. South Korean troops returned fire with their K9 Thunder howitzers and put its F-16 fighter jets on alert. According to the Korea Herald, President Lee Myung-bak has ordered a “multiple-fold retaliation,” including a strike on the North’s “missile base near [its] coastline artillery position” if the North doesn’t deescalate hostilities.


The Obama administration blasted the exchange in a statement emailed to reporters. “The United States strongly condemns this attack and calls on North Korea to halt its belligerent action and to fully abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement,” press secretary Robert Gibbs said, adding that the U.S. is “firmly committed” to defending South Korea and to “the maintenance of regional peace and stability.”


That's what we need right now. War on yet another front.

Making Stalin Proud

In the 1930s, that great legal innovator Joseph Stalin introduced the show trial. The accused would stand up in court and willingly, even eagerly, confess to the most fantastical crimes. At the first great show trial, in 1936, Grigori Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev and other former senior Communist party members admitted to being members of a terrorist organization. They said they had plotted to kill Stalin and other Soviet leaders. In the following years, as Stalin's purges picked up steam, show trials featured increasingly incredible stories, usually involving the accused admitting to being agents of Western imperialism.

What made men confess to things that were unlikely, sometimes impossible and usually unsupported by other evidence? Torture. Sleep deprivation, beatings, and threats against their wives and children. To stop the pain, you had to confess to whatever it was that the interrogators wanted to hear. And then you had to get up in court and willingly confess to it all over again.

The trial of Omar Khadr has been called a travesty of justice, a violation of the rule of law, a kangaroo court and lots of other things beside. But what it really was, was a show trial.

On the main charge, "murder in violation of the laws of war" (a crime that doesn't appear to even exist in international law, given that combatants who kill other soldiers in combat are not violating the laws of war), the chief evidence against the then-15-year-old child soldier was his own confession. And that confession, made years ago and long since recanted, was obtained under conditions that any normal human being would describe as torture.


This week, Omar Khadr was offered the following choice: plead guilty, or face two different routes to life in prison. He could go to trial, and thanks to a confession that would be laughed out of any real court of law, he'd probably be convicted. But even if the court somehow found him not guilty, the U.S. reserved the right to detain him indefinitely as an enemy combatant. The only sure way to get out of jail early was to tell his interrogators what they wanted to hear.


On Monday, Khadr was even forced to cop to other crimes, including the killing of two Afghan soldiers, something he wasn't even charged with, and for which the prosecution appears to have had no evidence. And, in a nice touch that Stalin would have appreciated, Khadr appears to have also been forced to sign away his right to sue his jailors for the various forms of deprivation and abuse that he was subject to. In court on Monday, Col. Patrick Parrish repeatedly asked Khadr to confirm that he was agreeing to these terms willingly, that he really, truly, sincerely wanted to plead guilty all of his own accord. Khadr said yes.


The original communist torture techniques, which for a time inspired the standard operating procedures at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo and the secret black sites, were not designed to elicit truth. They were designed to produce false confessions: That was the whole point. They were designed to force people to say what interrogators wanted to hear -- yes, I am a capitalist stooge, yes I am a Trostkyite, yes I am a terrorist.

And now Guantanamo's very first military tribunal has its first guilty verdict, thanks to those methods of coercion first perfected for the Soviet Bloc show trial.

  National Post


A short history of airport security: We screen for guns and bombs, so the terrorists use box cutters. We confiscate box cutters and corkscrews, so they put explosives in their sneakers. We screen footwear, so they try to use liquids. We confiscate liquids, so they put PETN bombs in their underwear. We roll out full-body scanners, even though they wouldn’t have caught the Underwear Bomber, so they put a bomb in a printer cartridge. We ban printer cartridges over 16 ounces — the level of magical thinking here is amazing — and they’re going to do something else.

This is a stupid game, and we should stop playing it.

  NY Times

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Negotiating With Terrorists

KABUL, Afghanistan — For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement.

But now, it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all. In an episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, United States and Afghan officials now say the Afghan man was an impostor, and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little.

“It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. “And we gave him a lot of money.”


Time to declare victory and get out. Well, past time, but now would be better than later. We are obviously dealing with people much smarter than we are.


This is what $70 billion a year in whiz-bang, top-shelf "intelligence" buys you. -- Chris Floyd

Monday, November 22, 2010


Abandoning the "transformational" model of his presidential campaign, Obama has tried to govern as a "transactional" leader. These terms were coined by political scientist James MacGregor Burns 30 years ago. "Transformational" leadership engages followers in the risky and often exhilarating work of changing the world, work that often changes the activists themselves. Its sources are shared values that become wellsprings of the courage, creativity and hope needed to open new pathways to success. "Transactional" leadership, on the other hand, is about horse-trading, operating within the routine, and it is practiced to maintain, rather than change, the status quo.

The nation was ready for transformation, but the president gave us transaction. And, as is the case with leadership failures, much of the public's anger, disappointment and frustration has been turned on a leader who failed to lead.

Obama and his team made three crucial choices that undermined the president's transformational mission.

He abandoned the bully pulpit of moral argument and public education.

He chose to lead with a politics of compromise rather than advocacy.

He chose to demobilize the movement that elected him president.

By shifting focus from a public ready to drive change — as in "yes we can" — he shifted the focus to himself and attempted to negotiate change from the inside, as in "yes I can."

  LA Times

Via The Vigil.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

America - the Shining Beacon on the Hill

But even had [accused Terrorist Ahmed Ghailani] been acquitted on all counts, the Obama administration had made clear that it would simply continue to imprison him anyway under what it claims is the President's "post-acquittal detention power" -- i.e., when an accused Terrorist is wholly acquitted in court, he can still be imprisoned indefinitely by the U.S. Government under the "law of war" even when the factual bases for the claim that he's an "enemy combatant" (i.e. that he blew up the two embassies) are the same ones underlying the crimes for which he was fully acquitted after a full trial. When he banned the testimony of the key witness, Judge Kaplan, somewhat cravenly, alluded to and implicitly endorsed this extraordinary detention theory as a means of assuring the public he had done nothing to endanger them with his ruling.

  Glenn Greenwald

And furthermore...

Director John Pistole told reporters Monday that for the time being the TSA had no plans of doing body cavity searches.

"We're not going to get in the business of body cavities, that's not where we are," Pistole said.


"We are taking some risk by not doing any screening, but it's the balance of what is the appropriate level of risk versus screening," he said.

"We want to treat each passenger with dignity and respect," Pistole added.

  Raw Story

For the time being.

The very soul of dignity, that.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Republican Leader John Boehner, confirmed Friday that members of Congress are exempt.

Of course.

And how's this for dignity?

One employee of ABC News who opted for the pat-down instead of the full body scan claimed that a TSA agent actually felt inside of her underwear.

"The woman who checked me reached her hands inside my underwear and felt her way around," said ABC News producer Carolyn Durand. "It was basically worse than going to the gynecologist."

A retired teacher from Lansing, Michigan, says he had to walk through an airport and board a plane covered in urine after TSA agents tore open his urostomy bag during a pat-down.

A flight attendant who is a breast cancer survivor says she was horrified when, during an "aggressive" pat-down at the Charlotte, North Carolina, airport, she was ordered to expose her prosthetic breast to two female TSA staffers.

Video of TSA agents searching a shirtless 5-year-old boy has become an internet sensation. A Utah man reportedly removed his son's shirt during the screening process after the boy was too shy to let TSA agents search him.

  Raw Story

And what of THIS?

In a related incident, a man at Lindbergh Field was arrested after stripping down to his underwear to avoid undergoing a TSA pat down, NBC San Diego reports.

"TSA needs to see that I'm not carrying any weapons, explosives, or other prohibited substances, I refuse to have images of my naked body viewed by perfect strangers, and having been felt up for the first time by TSA the week prior, I was not willing to be molested again," he said in a statement released by his attorney Sunday.

  Raw Story

He was arrested!

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Boycott Body Scanners

Wednesday, November 24.

John Tyner turned down an invitation to step into one of the new body scanners springing up in US airports which offer security guards an all but naked view of passengers. When he refused, the guard at San Diego said he would have to submit to a body pat-down and then went on to describe what that meant.

Tyner said he was fine with that up to the point where a hand would explore his groin.

"If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested," he said.

Needless to say, Tyner didn't fly. Instead he was threatened with a civil suit and a fine of $10,000 (£6,200). A week later, the incident has reverberated across the country to the halls of Congress and prompted a campaign for travellers to boycott body scanners next Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving and one of the busiest for American airports.


[TSA Chief John] Pistole was also forced to defend the introduction, at the beginning of this month, of more probing body searches for those who do not wish to go through the scanners. The searches include a firm pressing of a security guard's hand on genitalia and breasts.


This is just outrageous.

"I'm not going to change those policies," he said. The TSA chief said that most air passengers, given a choice between a plane full of people who have been screened and one where they have not, would choose the former: "I think everybody will want to opt for the screening with the assurance that that flight is safe and secure."

Think again, you idiot ass. Think again. And to all you folks who say you don't mind taking off your shoes to go through security checks because it makes you feel safer - you probably deserve to have your junk touched. Where did you think this would lead? And what happens when the next terrorist smuggles something on board a plane via body cavity? X-rays and pat-downs don't reveal that. Will it then be okay to have a random cavity search of passengers?


On Thursday, Congressman Ron Paul introduced legislation to counter what he called the "calamity" of airport security. It proposes barring the government from doing what ordinary citizens would not be allowed to do to strangers – photographing them naked or touching their private parts.

Thank you, Congressman Paul. I will not be flying anywhere that requires an x-ray or a pat-down. It's just outrageous that we let our government do this to us. Jennifer Abel says it clearly and well.


For all the noise, a CBS poll this week found that four out of five Americans see body scanners as a necessary security measure.

The terrorists have won.

In a Nutshell

Few things are less meaningful in our current political culture than the words and commitments that come out of Barack Obama's mouth.

  Glenn Greenwald

A couple examples:

Obama emphatically vowed in October, 2007 (when he was seeking the Democratic nomination) that -- as his spokesman put it -- he "will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies," only to turn around eight months later (once he had secured the nomination) and not only vote against the Dodd/Feingold filibuster of the FISA bill that vested retroactive telecom immunity, but also then voted for the underlying bill itself.


[H]ere's what Barack Obama said on [indefinite detention] in May of last year when he placed himself in front of the U.S. Constitution to give us a lecture on the principles and guarantees in that document:

In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight.
A year-and-a-half later [...] his official policy is that no charges are needed, and no trials or even military tribunals required, in order to imprison someone forever.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Wrong Tool for the Job

You cannot fruitfully address social problems with a mechanism designed to create private profit [the capital market system] -- just as you cannot build a peaceful, stable society with an organization designed to kill people and blow things up [the military]. Yet multitudes are suffering and dying all over the world from these delusions. And because they augment the wealth and dominance of the powerful, these corrosive myths will continue to be propagated with evangelical fervor by those same elites and their sycophants -- to the detriment of social needs, of national security, of the common good and the daily lives of countless individuals.

  Chris Floyd

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ensured Failure

[Oil] spill expert Ed Overton has been a ubiquitous presence in the media throughout the Gulf oil spill disaster.


Yet in nearly every media appearance, and even during congressional testimony, Overton, an environmental chemist, has omitted this long-term, high-level contracting position for the federal government through LSU, a Raw Story investigation has found.


Additionally, as professor emeritus, Overton confirmed to Raw Story that he officially retired from LSU and no longer receives a salary from the university; all his income tied to his university association since May 2009 has come through grants and contracts, and mostly through his work for NOAA. The latest NOAA funding for his work was a $1.3 million five-year grant.


LSU received $5 million from BP upfront as part of a $10 million grant over the next 10 years.

In speaking with LSU’s Office of Research and Economic Development, Raw Story also found that, while all studies performed by the university will be scientifically peer-reviewed, BP decides what areas LSU will research.

None of this funding, for instance, will go toward the study of the long-term health impacts on the “locals”.


“What gives me the credibility is that I’ve been doing this as part of the NOAA team for a long time,” Overton said.

  Raw Story

Women & Gays - Stay Down Where You Belong

Senate Republicans voted unanimously Wednesday against a bill that would work to ensure fair pay for women, the Paycheck Fairness Act. The vote was 58-41.

Despite the Senate having majority support, Democrats couldn't muster the 60 votes they needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.

  Raw Story

Obviously there are no real Democrats left.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Oh Jesus

Kiss ass much, Obama?

Former President George H.W. Bush is among 15 people selected to be awarded the presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Wednesday night.

The Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor, is awarded for "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."


The announcement was made a day after former President George W. Bush respectfully declined to criticize President Obama, during a press conference in Dallas at the future site of the Bush library.

  Raw Story

"If Hillary gave up one of her balls and gave it to Obama, he'd have two." [--James Carville]


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Help Yourself

From Barry Eisler:

I have a feeling most people who suck at argument believe they're actually good at it. They're not, and in fact they're not even arguing -- they're masturbating. Good argument is intended to persuade another. Masturbation is intended to pleasure the self. It's the people who can't tell the difference who mistakenly think they're good at argument. I hope this article will improve the effectiveness of people who are interested in good argument. And I hope it will help people who until now have been masturbating to recognize what they've been doing, and to stop doing it in public.

  Heart of the Matter

Continue reading...

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

George Didn't Just Go Away

And as always, he leaves nothing for the comedians.

George W. Bush, Decision Points: “Being the sober guy helped me realize how mindless I must have sounded when drunk.”


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Meanwhile, in the War on Pakistan

A U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region on Saturday killed four suspected militants, intelligence officials told CNN


Based on a count by the CNN Islamabad bureau, Saturday's drone strike was the 91st this year compared to 52 in all of 2009.

The officials asked to not be named because they were not suppose to talk to media.


How the Democrats Lost the House

They tried to out-thug the Republicans, and just couldn't pull it off.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

How We Do Things in Texas

Texas will not compete for a potential $700 million in federal grant funding for schools, Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday, because it could give Washington too much say in deciding what the state's students should learn.

His decision to forgo the money available in the Race to the Top grant competition defied pleas from local school leaders who said their districts could use it.

  Houston Chronicle

The Environmental Protection Agency released the first-ever guidelines for states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources, primarily through energy efficiency measures


The Associated Press reports (via the Austin American-Statesman): “[...] Texas, which is the leading greenhouse gas producer in the nation, has refused to meet the new federal guidelines.”

  American Independent

Texas officials charged with protecting the environment and public health have for years made arbitrary subtractions to the measured levels of radiation delivered by water utilities across the state, according to a series of investigative reports out of Houston.

Those subtractions, based on the test results' margin of error, made all the difference for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ): without the reduction, demonstrated levels of dangerous radiation would have been in excess of federal limits for years.

This was being done in direct contravention of an order by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which told state regulators in 2000 to stop subtracting the margin of error.

The findings are part of an investigation by Houston CBS affiliate KHOU.


In an editorial, the paper called Republicans' fight to protect industry over environmental regulations a "dangerous roll of the dice" when it comes to federal dollars, noting that new regulations require the state to create a permitting authority to govern emissions, but it refuses. When the new rules take effect next year, the state's energy industry could effectively be brought to a standstill, with no new construction being permitted.


"Is this what [Governor] Rick Perry means when he talks about standing up to the feds?" The Texas Observer asked.

  Raw Story

I do believe it is.

Governor Perry down here in my state is still the Governor for over 2 million Texans who voted for the other guy.


Perry [told] reporters, ”When the outcomes of this election are certified, we will see a substantial conservative presence in both the Texas House and Senate. We are one day closer to seeing the changes we want in Washington.” He then set out to do the hard work Texans elected him to do… sell his book. By the way, in his book he writes, “If you don’t support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol, don’t come to Texas.”

  Margaret & Helen

As of yet, he hasn’t said, “Get out of Texas.” That I’m aware of.

Israel First

The two co-Chairmen of Obama's Deficit Commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, last week unveiled a plan that would entail drastic cuts in most areas of American life, including Social Security and Medicare. Whatever else is true, American citizens are going to experience severe cut-backs in all sorts of benefits and economic security. Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to shovel billions of dollars every year to Israel -- a country which, unlike the U.S., enjoys a booming economy and universal health care coverage.


[Soon-to-be GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor] last month proposed that money to Israel not be classifed any longer as "foreign aid" -- in order to shield it from all cuts. .

   Glenn Greenwald

Universal health care coverage. Isn't that socialist?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Killing the Gulf

And still don't eat Gulf seafood.

In two separate cases, a toxicologist and a chemist independently confirmed their seafood samples contained unusually high volumes of crude oil and harmful hydrocarbons -- and some of this food was allegedly being sent to market.


In another series of tests, Dr. William Sawyer, of the Sanibel, Florida-based Toxicology Consultants & Assessment Specialists, replicated findings of oil in shrimp digestive tracts, but he noted an even higher content of harmful hydrocarbons in the flesh of other edible creatures.

And, Dr. Sawyer said, some of his test samples came from seafood on its way to market, pulled from waters recently classified as safe for commercial fishing activities.

  Raw Story

As always, Dahr Jamail has the most up-to-date and in-depth coverage of the death of the Gulf...or should I say, murder? Read it at his blog.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Just How Safe Are You?

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Pentagon said Wednesday it is satisfied an aircraft -- and not a missile -- was the source of a vapor trail off Los Angeles this week that sparked fears of a mystery missile launch.

It took the Pentagon nearly two days to reach that conclusion after examining video of the plume, FAA radar tracks, its own missile launch detection systems and canvassing the US government.

"There is no evidence to suggest it was anything other than an airplane," said Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman.


That’s absurd. If it was an airplane, one large enough to leave a contrail, then it had a flight plan and all they had to do to find out was to check all flights in that area. That would not have taken two hours, much less two days. And if it was a plane that large and it did not file a flight plan, then they would damn well be finding out why.

There’s something up, and it’s being covered up.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Of Course Not

No charges will be filed against the CIA's former top clandestine officer or anyone else in the destruction of CIA videotapes of harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.


The CIA destroyed its cache of 92 videos of two al-Qaida operatives, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri, being waterboarded in 2005.


Yeah, being waterboarded, and what else?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

It's Sunday

And in the Giant Jesus competition...Poland is set to take the lead.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Summing It Up Nicely

Here's the problem, you gutless fucks. You had majorities. And I KNOW, okay, but all America sees is that you had majorities and you wasted them. Because that's what the GOP told them, and you said, "buh buh buh" and couldn't point to anything you did right, not even with the unwashed hippies holding your arm up for you. You had majorities, and you had Harry Reid, refusing to be mean to Republicans by shoving stuff through. You had majorities, and you had Barack Obama acting like he was already an ex-president and could be gracious and social with these pricks. You had majorities, used them to do some stuff, and then sat back and acted like we should be grateful when we can fucking count.

We can fucking count, out here. We know what 51 means. We know what 257 means. We're not morons. And all the procedural whatsit you argue today, about ConservaDems and Blue Dogs, doesn't mean shit. You had it, and we worked hard to give it to you, and we see you calling things impossible which are just very hard, and we get fucking annoyed, because we don't get to get away with that shit. Not at our jobs and not in our lives.


You had majorities. You had power and you told us you were powerless. Why would anyone reward that with more power? Why would anyone think that's a good idea?


  First Draft

Moving Woes

You no doubt had enough of the elections anyway without my 2 cents. Until I get through this current moving nightmare and stumble back into your world, for some excellent blogging well worth your time, do be sure to read Barry Eisler's latest well written, intelligent and insightful posts dated October 29 & 31.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Okay, So They Couldn't ALL Spell

Click to enlarge.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Rally to Restore Sanity Signs

Part 2

There were signs for the Green Tea Party, the Mr. T Party and the Manatea Party. I did not see any for the Sanitea Party, but there was this: