view from mars

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

Friday, February 17, 2006

i heart glenn greenwald

What he says. All of it.

terror comes home

It's only terrorism if they're brown-skinned "ragheads" right Ann?
A fourth Albemarle County boy has been charged in a plot to bomb Albemarle and Western Albemarle high schools.

The suspect, a 13-year-old Jack Jouett Middle School student, was arrested at school at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and charged with conspiracy to use an explosive device to destroy a schoolhouse and conspiracy to commit murder.
Another 13-year-old Jack Jouett student, a 15-year-old Albemarle student and a 16-year-old Western Albemarle student were arrested two weeks ago.

Last year I was introduced to a new type of safety precaution while working in Albemarle Co. public schools (ok, technically I don't work for the county but that's neither here nor there -- the bottom line is that I witnessed the following crazy shit.) When I was in school (that is, when I actually attended public school,) we, naturally, were drilled monthly on school evacuation in the event of a fire. You hear the fire alarm go off, you stand up, push in your chair, walk silently out the door to the designated area. Blah.

Last year I witnessed an "intruder drill." Yeah. There's no alarm, no walking-single-file-and-be-quiet-dammit. There's some cryptic password broadcasted over the PA system, prompting the teachers to lockdown the room -- close the blinds, turn off the lights, lock the door, and huddle with the class kneeling down in a corner furthest from the windows and the door.

Try coaching a kid with autism through that (incidentally, my student did fine but one can imagine the horrible possibilities.) Once when I was in high school (actually a hell of a lot more than once, but this incident is remarkable in many ways) there was a bomb threat called in, and we students had to cross a four-lane avenue to the grassy area in front of an adjacent development just in case the school actually did blow up and flaming bits of my alma mater were to rain down upon us. The remarkable part is that they let all the kids go home about four hours early because they figured it would take as long to search the school and declare "all-clear" or some such reassurance. It was the most serious in a presently timely rash of bomb threats, and, needless to say, the last time students were allowed to be freed into the community (I went to the mall with my friends -- my parents had no idea.)

The Daily Progress continues:

The teens, believed to be friends, are alleged to have chatted online to strategize, with plans to blow up the schools by the end of the year.

Police seized two shotguns, computers and other evidence from the boys' homes during the first three arrests. Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Camblos declined to say whether evidence had been seized from the fourth suspect's home.

Asked whether he considered the boys' plot a serious threat, Camblos replied, "We don't file charges unless we think it's serious."

Remember in Fahrenheit 9/11 when Michael Moore interviews Virginians who talk about terrorists bombing the local Wal-Mart?

Seriously, what the fucking fuck. Bush and his pack of fear-mongerers have succeeded in forcing people to believe the only way to stay safe IN RURAL VIRGINIA is to vote for republicans, because dangit them islamo-fascists like nuthin' more than eatin' babies and if you ain't afraid like us you can git the hell out.

Meanwhile real plots grow underneath our noses, and we twiddle our thumbs while intra-school communities fester with the anomie and indifference that engenders bullying and ostracision. Indeed, our Dear Leader works diligently to rob our schools of the enriching extra-curriculars that foster a vibrant community. I'm sure in prep school and at Yale he didn't make anybody feel like complete shit.

it's not obstruction of justice if you're a republican

Momentum for a congressional inquiry into President Bush's domestic spying operation, which had seemed likely two months ago, appears to have dropped dramatically.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked a proposed investigation as the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said he had reached an agreement with the White House to pursue legislation establishing clearer rules for the controversial program.

Why does this guy get to determine whether or not the Nation gets to find out about the illegality of the president's authorization of domestic surveillance? (as if there is any doubt about that, go read Glenn)

I like Arianna's take on the guy and his truly birdshit-loony appearance on last week's Meet the Press:

Sen. Pat Roberts, who, I kid you not, tried to make a point about the NSA scandal to his fellow panelists -- former Senator Tom Daschle, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) -- by pulling out a bottle of pills and admonishing the group that "everybody ought to take a memory pill."


But while Roberts may have nailed the memory problem, he was not so good on the solution. Because if his own memory is evidence of the powers of his pills, he should demand a memory-pill recall.

Senator Roberts, as you may know, is the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and, as such, was one of the few legislators briefed by the administration on its warrantless spying program. So you might expect him to get at least the most basic facts about the program right. Especially when he bragged early on in the show that he "knew exactly what was going on."

Then why was he still claiming that the program was just about "phone calls from terror cells"? That's simply false. Of the thousands of calls monitored under the warrantless eavesdropping program, fewer than 10 a year have been suspicious enough even to prompt further investigation.

Roberts was also dead wrong about the time constraints following the FISA law would impose on the President, claiming that it takes "five days... eight days..." to obtain a warrant. Is there anybody who has remotely followed this story who by now doesn't know that the FISA law allows the President to begin a wiretap without a warrant and continue it for 72 hours before asking for a retroactive warrant?

This asshole, who is clearly SENILE AS HELL, gets to decide whether or not Dubya gets his ass handed to him and thrown in the slammer where he belongs.

The corporate media, of course, happily annoints republican almost-dissenters as the Saviours and Holy Defenders of Truth and Reason. Fox "News" carries this piece from the AP:
The decision to give Congress more information came as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., announced he was drafting legislation that would require the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the constitutionality of the administration's monitoring of terror-related international communications when one party to the call is in the United States.

It also came as Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., chairwoman of a House intelligence subcommittee that oversees the NSA, broke with the Bush administration and called for a full review of the NSA's program, along with legislative action to update the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
She and others also wanted the full House Intelligence Committee to be briefed on the program's operational details. Although the White House initially promised only information about the legal rationale for surveillance, administration officials broadened the scope Wednesday to include more sensitive details about how the program works.

And even Raw Story fell for Sensenbrenner's stunt:
The Republican Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has issued 51 questions to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on President Bush's warrantless wiretap program.

The letter, issued to Gonzales today and acquired by RAW STORY, demands answers to myriad legal questions on the program, which involved eavesdropping on Americans' calls overseas. Sensenbrenner has given Gonzales a Mar. 2 deadline to respond.

OMG you guys aren't we so lucky we have such responsible and level-headed republicans inexplicably rescuing us from Dubya's naughty spying program? If I had the motivation, I might explore a little more in depth how the upstanding Congresswoman from New Mexico initially very publicly pledged an investigation into Abu Ghraib, then voted against it. Or I might talk about how Specter refused to put Gonzales under oath when he "testified" in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. You get the idea.

Too bad they're all lying sacks of shit. As BushCo's approval ratings continue to plummet, they just can't help themselves. As their prospects for November seem bleaker and less open to widespread fraud, all they can do is rely upon what's worked so well for the republican party for the past 40 years -- suckle from the teet of the Powers that Be, then lie through their fanged teeth about it or quietly capitulate to the Beast.

Conyers speaks, you listen:
Today, the House Judiciary Committee considered my resolution of inquiry on the domestic spying program. The Resolution was rejected 16 to 21, with all Democrats and one Republican (Congressman Hostetler) voting for it.

A few quick impressions: first, I was surprised at how half hearted the Republican defense of the program was. I would even go further -- while some offered a full throated defense of the program, many of my Republican colleagues seemed almost sheepish about it, and many did not speak about it at all.

Second, Republicans repeatedly asserted that the documents were not needed because Judiciary Chairman Sensenbrenner has unilaterally submitted 51 questions (pdf) to the Attorney General, and that the Attorney General would testify at a general oversight hearing at some undetermined point in the future. I and the other Democratic Members responded that this was wholly inadequate, and that to fulfill their constitutional oversight role the Committee needed to obtain documents from the Administration and hold separate hearings on the NSA issue.

More to the point, while some news outlets touted the Chairman's letter, his questions are, in my view, inadequate. A close reading of them reveals that the first 38 questions essentially ask the Department whether they think the program is legal. They have already given us their answer on that. The remaining questions are so general, that they can be answered by a google search of what is already in the press.

A few are such softballs it is hard to take them seriously. Take number 18, for example -- "Do you agree that it is debatable as to whether the United States homeland is still a target of al Qaeda?" Wonder what the Justice Department will answer. That sounds like the Fox News question of the day.

Pretty much.

The republican answer? Craft legislation working hand-in-hand with the White House to legalize BushCo's, how to put it, less-than-strict-constructionist interpretation of the Fourth Amendment.

Continuing from the Courant's piece referenced at the beginning:
White House and congressional officials said the discussions are focusing on DeWine's proposal, which also would create a new subcommittee on the Senate Intelligence Committee solely to monitor the NSA program.

Silly me -- of course it will all be alright if there's a republican-controlled subcommittee overseeing the program. Let's just forget that this program has been going on since 2002, as have the other related programs Gonzales said he couldn't comment on to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Let's just forget that god-knows-how-many-poor-assholes have been spied upon by this "terrorist surveillance program" without a warrant and without them ever knowing about it. Let's just forget that for the past four years BushCo has been routinely shitting upon the Fourth Amendment, and are willing, indeed hoping, to continue that tradition. From the Courant:
"To simply exclude communications from the coverage of [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] and allow secret wiretapping without a warrant ... would be a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment," said Kate Martin, director for National Security Studies at George Washington University, in an e-mail message.

Lock 'em up. The whole disgusting lot.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

i hate these people

Chertoff called Katrina a storm of "unprecedented magnitude" and "one of the most difficult and traumatic experiences of my life." He said the department must work to improve its communications, particularly between FEMA and the department, and better track movement of recovery supplies.

"I was astonished to see that we don't have the capabilities most 21st century corporations have," he said.

You disgusting pig fucker -- YOU ARE THE PERSON IN CHARGE WHEN THE SHIT HITS THE FAN. I'm sorry you were traumatized when you actually had to face that shit happens. I'm sorry that the sky is falling and all you can do is sit on your hands and wait for Brownie & Co. to decide what to wear on TV before tens of thousands of people get the help they need.

I thought 9/11 changed everything. I thought BushCo was in the business of keepin' Murkins safe. Now we know (again) that they don't give a fuck about you or me or any of the 7,000 people who died/went "missing" in New Orleans that week after the storm.

Chertoff defended some of the department's actions before the storm, emphasizing that a federal emergency was declared in Louisiana ahead of Katrina, one of the few times that had ever been done before a hurricane's landfall.

"We were acutely aware of Katrina and the risk it posed," he said.

These people are in charge of YOUR SAFETY. These people, who lied their asses off and said that no one anticipated the breach of the levees (Bush) and said that they woke up the next morning and read the papers that said New Orleans had dodged a bullet (Chertoff.) Fuck you all -- murderers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

made you look

I got to thinking today after listening to Stephanie Miller of all people (love her, don't learn much from her.)

This latest almost-scandal no one expected couldn't have come at a more perfect time for BushCo.

For an administration whose only area of expertise is that of PR management, the Cheney hunting "accident" is a down-the-middle, sweet spot, touchdown (mental note: no more sports metaphors..ever) opportunity. To trick you, lie, and deflect -- per usual.

They didn't want you to think about this:

Or this (warning: it's a picture of a dead man at the Superdome.)

Or this:

Or this:

These sick fucks only have one thing in mind when it comes to the American people. And it ain't universal health care.

Monday, February 13, 2006

an open letter to va state sen. creigh deeds (d-25)

Why did you vote for a referendum on equal protection?
Sen. Deeds,

I respectfully request an explanation for the vote you cast in favor of a referendum on "gay marriage."

While I respect what I believe your answer will be (that is, that the people should decide what their social structure will be like), I am truly saddened at the failure to capitalize on an important opportunity your vote represents.

The issue of "gay marriage" has been irrevocably clouded by the radical Christian right, and has been used as a wedge issue by the republican party (which, of course, we all know relies heavily on the courtship of Christian radicals.) In the 2004 Elections, the issue was put on the ballot in 11 states, and successfully capitalized on by the republican party to scare Christians into going to the polls to stop what they convinced them to be a threat to the institution of marriage.

You and I both know that the radical Christian right and their beholden republican party have made all sorts of disgusting accusations about "gay marriage" in order to shore up suppor87t among the flock. While "gay marriage" may make some people uncomfortable, the epidemic of divorce is a far graver threat to the instution of marriage than the extension of that right to two loving and devoted individuals.

I am deeply disappointed that it seems that you have either fallen for their bamboozlement, or are too afraid of political backlash to stand up for equal protection under the law. I can't believe that I even have to write this to a fellow democrat -- we know better than to fall prey to the likes of James Dobson and Jerry Falwell.

As democrats, we should fight for the maximization of civil rights whenever and however we can. It is our nature, and it is our belief that the maximization of personal privacy and rights are the only ways to ensure a strong and vibrant nation.

By failing to stand up to the radical Christian right, you have shown me that the fight for equal protection for all Americans is not a priority for you.

As a result, I will not vote for you again for any office.

Thank you for your willingness to represent me. But if you don't fight any attempt to obstruct the maximization of personal privacy and equal protection, you don't support the belief that underlies our party and our nation, and, by extension, are working to undermine those very principles.

I am truly baffled and disgusted at this "democrat"'s sleazy attempt to court liberal voters. Originally, Deeds opposed a republican version of the amendment (read: referendum) because, in his lawerly opinion, the language was too broad. From
On gay rights, Deeds’ position can be classified as a moderately conservative. In May 2004, for instance, Deeds sharply critized Republicans for pushing a “mean-spirited and unnecessary” bill banning gay marriage and legal contracts between unmarried partners.” On the other hand, in February 2005, Deeds voted for SJ 337, a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage in Virginia as “between one man and one woman.” In committee, however, Deeds voted against a sentence in the proposed amendment which would also outlaw civil unions or other such measures which would “approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effect of marriage.” In other words, Deeds holds the majority Democratic view (i.e., almost identical to John Kerry) supporting marriage as between a man and a woman, while also looking favorably upon other arrangements such as “civil unions.”

All that, except for the last part. It's worse. While Deeds may have tried to sideline the broad addition in committee, the language Deeds ultimately voted for contains the provision:
Further, the proposed amendment prohibits the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions from creating or recognizing "another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage."

Seems pretty f-ing clear to me. From the DailyProgress :
"I thought folks had gotten everything they could out of the choice question, so they started whacking on sexual orientation, sexual preference," Deeds said of the conservative forces pushing anti-gay legislative agendas, including bills aimed at banning gay-straight alliance groups in high schools.

"We ought to be about a nurturing environment for all our kids in public schools," Deeds said. "Gay people aren't in four or five closets around Virginia. They are everywhere. They ought to visit their legislators."

Except we did. And it turns out our legislators are pussy DINOs cowering from the Christian crazies who think statutory discrimination is what Jesus wants.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

snowy thoughts

This morning I read a passage from Al Franken's The Truth (With Jokes), that mentioned Paul Krugman's insight about tax cuts during wartime. Paraphrasing, BushCo's "tax cuts" (which of course are really nothing more than an attempt to even out where tax revenue comes from -- rich people pay less and we other folk pay a hell of a lot more) are unprecedented in all of human history.

I guess I had known this from the beginning, but with so many other outrages to keep abreast on, this one fell through the cracks. Let's deconstruct what these "tax cuts" really mean, and how fitting they are as a thesis statement for the past six years of this government.

BushCo's so-called War on Terror has, from the very beginning, been a vehicle for manipulating the public into supporting the various schemes that have been perpetrated in its name. The occupation of Iraq, being the happy centerpiece of the endeavor, illustrates this quite clearly.

The cost, in dollars, of the occupation has far exceeded anything Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz best-estimated (read: lied about) back in early 2003. In BushCo's recent FY2007 budget proposal, which notably included millions for their Social Security privitization scheme, Our Leader proposed an allocation of around $439billion for the Pentagon (not including those timely emergency Congress-please-bail-us-the-hell-out requests every quarter.) And the truth is that less and less of the programs under the umbrella of the Occupation have been directly administered by Shrub and his buddies. The Occupation has been executed in large part by private uber-corporations (google: Halliburton/KBR) with varying degress of success. If by success you mean FUBAR, stealing, lying and general murderousness.

Tax revenue evening out so that we normal folk pay for this shit. Except $9billion can't be accounted for because so many pigs are at the trough no one can figure out which pigs are the piggiest.

So, we normal folk catch the tab, and we do it readily. A few sparkling tidbits from that linked meta-poll:
  • Half of all those polled favor "major cuts in federal income tax rates" that have been implemented by BushCo. (and the same proportion thinks they should be "extended into the future" -- though 15% were unsure and probably didn't know what the hell this meant.)

  • 70% of those polled think taxes should not be increased as a way to "reduce the budget deficit." (41% think it should be done by "lowering domestic spending" on all those lazy welfare queens.)

The rub is, of course, that we normal folk didn't get no kind of tax cut. Only Bush Pioneers like Jack Abramoff, and Paris Hilton and others set to inherit millions who won't have to pay up their due on their fortunate freebies.

Not only do we not want to pay for this shit (even though we already are -- well, China too,) but BushCo has succeeded in convincing us that someone better damn well pay for this shit or else a bunch of howling ragheads are going to come to our Wal-Marts and eat our babies. Another glimpse, from
  • 80% of those polled think the country's top priority should be "defending the country from future terrorist attacks."

SAVE ME FROM THE ISLAMO-FASCISTS (as the ebullient Phil Gingrey termed them on the floor of the People's House), just don't make me pay for it.

And with that, the most disgusting and truly abhorrent new phase in our nation's adolescence -- the "what war?" mentality that engender the aforementioned corporate thieveries. Keep me safe, just don't make me stop driving my big-honkin-SUV. I have a yellow ribbon magnet god dammit!

This funny blip in polling data (because, truly, when else has a country been so disconnected from what it perceives to be as the highest priority for its lawmakers...oh, wait) is the grand sum of the BushCo strategy. Keep 'em scared, and keep 'em stupid. And it's working magnificently.