The Decline and Fall of the American Empire
Where are we going, and what are we doing in this handbasket? It sure is getting warm...
Updated: 4/12/04; 2:17:01 AM.



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Monday, April 12, 2004

George Bush is never wrong

[The Bush Administration] can't admit to mistakes. They have to be right all the time. As their time in office increases, they are spending more time fighting rear-guard actions trying to prove that they were right or cover up the fact that they were wrong.

At the moment, they are refraining from releasing Clinton-era records relating to al Qaeda, almost certainly because they contradict assertions about Clinton made by Bush officials. They have to be right, even when they're wrong. The administration has a nasty habit of threatening people in its own administration who seek to disprove the current alleged facts, even though said facts are not in fact factual.

The administration even tried to shut up a critic by blowing his wife's cover as a CIA agent. That's the moral equivalent of hiring a hit man to go get her. And they did because they had to be right.

And of course they have to be right that invading Iraq was a smart move in the war against terror. They are now trapped in a situation that is historically a disaster, a "war" that they cannot win, a situation that they will only make worse no matter which way they turn.
2:16:58 AM    

Howard Stern and the First Amendment

The odious Clear Channel radio barony's firing of Howard Stern only puts a period at the end of the sentence. The people who run that company are contemptible, because their action combines flagrant politics and cowardice -- quite a combination.

But save your real contempt for the FCC, its cowardly chairman, Michael Powell, and his craven colleagues. Egged on by a Congress that has shown frightening disdain for free speech, the FCC has gone on its only holy war against "indecency."

[Dan Gillmor's eJournal]
1:49:05 AM    

Sunday, April 4, 2004

The Fall of the Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment protects US citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. In Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi, however, the requirement that police obtain warrants before searching a building is under attack. []
6:22:14 PM    

Did You Know?

Did you know that in January 2001, the United States Commission on National Security, co-chaired by former senators Gary Hart (D) and Warren Rudman (R), delivered a report to President Bush and Congress concerning the threat of terrorism?

Did you know that the report "warned that a devastating terrorist attack on America was imminent and called for the immediate creation of a Cabinet-level [homeland] security agency"?

Did you know that in the spring of 2001, spurred on by this report, members of Congress introduced a bill to create a homeland security agency?

Did you know that in May 2001, President Bush shot this down?

4:05:11 PM    

Saturday, April 3, 2004

MSBlast epidemic far larger than believed

CNET has learned that the worm compromised millions of computers, far more than was previously thought. [CNET]
5:58:17 PM    

Thursday, April 1, 2004

Senator Daschle's statement on the abuse of government power

In recent days leading congressional Republicans are now calling for an investigation into Mr. Clarke. As I mentioned earlier, Secretary O'Neill was also subjected to an investigation. Clarke and O'Neill sought legal and classification review of any information in their books before they were published.

Nonetheless, our colleagues tell us these two should be investigated, at the same time there has been no Senate investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity as a deep cover CIA agent; no thorough investigation into whether leading Administration officials misrepresented the intelligence regarding threats posed by Iraq; no Senate hearings into the threat the chief Medicare Actuary faced for trying to do his job; and no Senate investigation into the reports of continued overcharging by Halliburton for its work in Iraq.

[via Boing Boing Blog]
9:48:26 PM    

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

How E-Voting Threatens Democracy

Electronic voting is supposed to streamline the process and rid us of the hanging chad. But the technology is rife with problems, creating the specter of botched returns and deliberate election rigging. Although many election officials defend the system, e-voting still can't be trusted. Nor, apparently, can many of its more ardent boosters. [Wired News]
9:23:36 PM    

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Congress Moves to Criminalize P2P

Two senators introduce legislation that would impose jail time for sharing as little as one file, while the House may consider another that would lower the bar to take people to court. Looks like entertainment lobbyists are winning their war against peer-to-peer networks. [Wired News]
9:59:57 PM    

Monday, March 15, 2004

Bush's wife, mom worried

Time reveals a Bush-Cheney strategy to take better advantage of their incumbent status: More photo-ops. "Sources tell TIME that employees at the Department of Homeland Security have been asked to keep their eyes open for opportunities to pose the President in settings that might highlight the Administration's efforts to make the nation safer. The goal, they are being told, is to provide Bush with one homeland-security photo-op a month." [Salon]
8:52:20 PM    

Bush booted from cockpit?

As a lieutenant in the Texas Air National Guard, George Bush insists he voluntarily stopped flying in 1972 because he simply lost interest in being a pilot. That explanation has never washed (most pilots would rather fly than eat), and now a new possibility has emerged; the Pentagon, suspicious of possible drug or alcohol use, booted Bush from the cockpit. That's the intriguing scenario laid out in a detailed, must-read from Sunday's Spokane, WA., Spokesman-Review newspaper. [Salon]
8:51:26 PM    

In Rumsfeld's own words

"If Iraq did not have WMD, why did they pose an immediate threat to this country?" Rumsfeld countered with: "You and a few other critics are the only people I've heard use the phrase 'immediate threat.' I didn't...It's become kind of folklore that that's what happened."

Folklore, huh? Rumsfeld then issued this challenge: "If you have any citations, I'd like to see 'em." The New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, also on the CBS panel, obliged, reading Rumsfeld his own testimony to Congress in September 2002: "No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people" than Iraq and that "some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent [but] I would not be so certain." [Salon]
8:49:42 PM    

Behind the jobs debacle

Bush's jobs forecast failed because there's been no jobs recovery at all. [Salon]
8:48:01 PM    

Going negative

He's the father of the modern attack ad, and he's behind the Bush campaign's new wave of anti-Kerry spots. Alex Castellanos is known as vicious, irresponsible -- and effective. [Salon]
8:47:51 PM    

The Arabian candidate

How George W. Bush's close ties to Islamic lobbying groups -- and to an accused supporter of Palestinian terrorism -- may have brought him his razor-thin margin of victory in Florida. [Salon]
8:47:32 PM    

British Camp Delta Detainee Speaks Out

The first British suspect to be released from Camp Delta, Manchester-born Jamal al-Harith, gives a damning account of life in Camp X-Ray and Camp Delta in a three part article in today's Daily Mirror. He describes torture, systematic beatings, forced medication, exposure, inadequate sanitation and denial of religious rights, along with the claim that prostitutes were hired to humiliate inmates. []
8:46:54 PM    

Stations playing Bush campaign ads for free during news?

A few nights ago, I was watching the local news on an Hearst-Argyle owned ABC news affiliate, WCVB. They launched into a story about Bush's reelection campaign, and how some of that huge pile of money was being put to action for a new commercial. Then to my surprise they ran it in entirety, full screen, with no voiceover commentary. Our President, with $190M in campaign funds, was getting what seemed suspiciously like a freebie. []
8:46:08 PM    

California attorney general preparing to slam P2P

Wired News just ran an article by Xeni exposing a draft letter circulated by Bill Lockyer, California attorney general slamming P2P. The metadata on the Word document shows that it has been edited/reviewed by the Motion Picture Association of America. Another example of Hollywood using the US government to push its agenda to blame and limit technology which it views as a threat.

It is me, or is this pretty "smoking gun"?

[Joi Ito's Web]
8:44:35 PM    

Is U.S. Grossly Mistreating Guantanamo Prisoners?

If any significant portion of this story -- told by a recently released Guantanamo Bay "enemy combatant" prisoner -- is true, the United States is probably violating all kinds of international laws.

[Dan Gillmor's eJournal]
8:43:18 PM    

Bush Administration Invents Journalists to Tout Programs

  • NY Times: U.S. Videos, for TV News, Come Under Scrutiny. Federal investigators are scrutinizing television segments in which the Bush administration paid people to pose as journalists praising the benefits of the new Medicare law, which would be offered to help elderly Americans with the costs of their prescription medicines. The videos are intended for use in local television news programs. Several include pictures of President Bush receiving a standing ovation from a crowd cheering as he signed the Medicare law on Dec. 8.
  • The deceptions are bad enough. The shamelessness of these people is even more amazing.

    [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]
    8:43:02 PM    

    Copyright Cartel Leads California Attorney General by Nose

    Xeni Jardin got her hands on (Wired News) a draft letter California's state attorney general is circulating among his colleagues in other states. Turns out the letter has the fingerprints of, you guessed it, the copyright cartel in Hollywood.

    The goal this time is to wipe out or clamp down on peer-to-peer technology. The notion is absurd on its face, because the Internet itself is effectively illegal if this stuff is illegal.

    Bill Lockyer has been, on balance, a good AG. But he should not be carrying water for people who would stifle free speech, which is fundamentally the cartel's intent, in the name of protecting copyrights.

    [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]
    8:42:37 PM    

    ghost writing the CA Attorney General's policies

    In the latest example of Word not keeping its secrets, Joi reports that the California Attorney General is circulating a draft letter condeming p2p sharing -- a letter authored by the MPAA.

    [Lessig Blog]
    8:41:27 PM    

    Bush: flag law breaker?

    Skippy sez: "I heard, years ago, about a rule prohibiting the use of the flag in advertising for any means. I committed this to memory, but never looked it up. No one ever believed me when I mentioned it, because I couldn’t cite a reference for it.

    "I looked this up after seeing a link to this page, which compares the latest updates from Kerry's and Bush's blogs side-by-side (ingenious, if you ask me!). It ticked me off that Bush was using the flag, and I decided to find out whether my memory was correct.

    "It turns out that George W. Bush's website is in violation of the United States Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 3. He owes $100, or thirty days in jail." Link

    [Boing Boing Blog]
    8:40:41 PM    

    State Attorney - the MPAA's man - urges P2P ban

    Elected official flaks for Hollywood [The Register]
    8:35:44 PM    

    Bush Family Value$

    Since George Bush [Sr.] raised "family values" as a campaign issue repeatedly, though, it seems only fair to take a look at his own family. A computer search showed that over the past five years stories have periodically surfaced chronicling the individual business antics of the president's sons -- each riding comfortably through life in the slipstream of his father's growing power and influence.
    10:09:32 AM    

    Office of Special Plans

    At Salon, a former lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Air Force describes in withering detail what it was like to be inside the Pentagon during the year leading up to the invasion of Iraq. Five pages of tales on the "Office of Special Plans," the neoconservatives who run it, their continuous bungling, and most significantly, their willful and calculated manipulation of reality to build a case for war on Iraq from the flimsiest premises. []
    9:52:20 AM    

    Choke Collar

    In one day, two examples relating to squashed speech and the RNC: The Republican National Committee is telling television stations not to run MoveOn ads that criticize President Bush. The RNC is trying to convince network execs that the ads are illegally funded, while MoveOn says that "The federal campaign laws have permitted precisely this use of [soft] money for advertising for the past 25 years." []
    9:51:34 AM    

    Saturday, March 13, 2004

    Broadened FBI wiretapping powers would require net "fixes"

    Yesterday the FBI made public its new proposal for wiretapping powers that would powerfully extend such powers to broadband services such as DSL and cable-based access. [Ars Technica]
    10:02:53 AM    

    Microsoft Said to Encourage Big Investment in SCO Group

    More evidence emerged about Microsoft's role in encouraging the anti-Linux campaign being waged by the SCO Group, a small Utah company. [New York Times: Technology]
    9:59:59 AM    

    Lost E-Votes Could Flip Napa Race

    Napa County discovers that one of its e-voting machines did not count ballots correctly in California's primary election. The county may have to recount 11,000 ballots, and change the outcome of at least one close race. [Wired News]
    9:58:43 AM    

    Thursday, March 11, 2004

    Microsoft behind $50 million SCO investment

    Executives from Microsoft Corp. introduced The SCO Group Inc. to an investment fund that provided the Lindon, Utah, company with a US$50 million investment last October, a spokesman for the fund confirmed Thursday. [MacCentral]
    11:39:25 PM    

    GOP shifts priorities, advocates Cheeseburger Bill while Rome burns

    Republican lawmakers are trying to enact the "Cheeseburger Bill," which will sheild restaurant chains from lawsuits for inducing super-sized obesity in their customers.

    Opponents said the legislation was unnecessary and irresponsible in light of this week's government report identifying obesity as a condition fast catching up to tobacco as the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the United States. Democrats said the fact that the House was devoting almost a full day to the proposal illustrated the misplaced priorities of the Republican majority.

    [via Boing Boing Blog]
    11:56:41 AM    

    The great escape

    Immediately after 9/11, dozens of Saudi royals and members of the bin Laden family fled the U.S. in a secret airlift authorized by the Bush White House. One passenger was an alleged al-Qaida go-between, who may have known about the terror attacks in advance. Our first excerpt from "House of Bush, House of Saud." [Salon]
    11:51:39 AM    

    Microsoft Says Latest Software Flaw 'Critical' (Reuters)

    Microsoft Corp. upgraded a recent security warning to "critical" after discovering new ways in which an attacker could run malicious software on a vulnerable computer. [Yahoo! News - Technology]
    11:47:05 AM    

    Tuesday, March 9, 2004

    The American Delusion: Safety

    All the money spent on security to turn the country into a fortress may make us feel better, but it doesn't make us any safer. [Wired News]
    7:45:23 PM    

    Friday, March 5, 2004

    Has Bush no shame?

    Relatives of 9/11 victims say the president's new ad campaign desecrates ground zero -- and demand that he pull it off the air. [Salon]
    5:07:58 PM    

    President Bush: Don't use my husband as your mascot

    A 9/11 widow's open letter to Bush about his new ad campaign. [Salon]
    5:07:42 PM    

    Leaked email suggests a SCO-Microsoft link

    Leaked email suggests Microsoft had their hands in a venture capital deal for SCO. The parties involved deny everything. [Ars Technica]
    5:02:36 PM    

    GOP clerks nabbed Democratic data

    A investigation finds that two Republican Senate staffers accessed thousands of Democratic files without authorization, but leaves open the question of criminal charges. [CNET]
    5:01:03 PM    

    SCO Memo Scandal: Is Microsoft Behind It All?

    A leaked memo from a consultant working with the SCO Group gives theorists ammunition for a long held belief: that Microsoft promotes SCO's legal battles involving Linux. [Yahoo! News - Technology]
    4:59:59 PM    

    Thursday, March 4, 2004

    Obsession with Saddam stymied anti-terror plan

    NBC News reports that before the war in Iraq, the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out the operation of Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq -- but decided against it. Three different times, the Pentagon drafted plans to strike Zarqawi and his network, but the White House was set on its path to wage war against Saddam Hussein and refused. [Salon]

    In other words, Dumbya's obsession with Saddam possibly lead directly to the 9/11 attacks. He might have prevented them, if he wasn't too busy redirecting the priorities of the government to his family and friends' benefit.
    9:00:09 AM    

    The passion of Howard Stern

    The shock jock says radio colossus Clear Channel fired him because he criticized George Bush -- and he's sure as hell not going to go quietly. [Salon]
    8:57:12 AM    

    Leaked Memo Says Microsoft Raised $86 million for SCO

    Eric S. Raymond's Open Source site has a new Halloween memo. The Halloween X memo, which ESR says he received by email from an anonymous whistleblower inside SCO, appears to confirm Microsoft's alleged funding of SCO's anti-Linux initiative. And the actual dollar amounts are much larger than previously rumored! [Slashdot]
    8:54:00 AM    

    Email leak suggests SCO got up to $100m from Microsoft

    VC and IP deals cited as the route [The Register]
    8:47:55 AM    

    Wednesday, March 3, 2004

    Hands Off! That Fact Is Mine

    Congress is considering a bill that would allow companies to copyright databases and other sets of information. Critics say the bill would circumvent the core of copyright law, which says no one can own a fact. [Wired News]
    5:16:37 PM    

    Tuesday, March 2, 2004

    Perle Confesses

    Here's Lisa Rein, detailing Richard Perle's public concession that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. Grab that link, kiddies, and keep it handy for rebutting anyone who thinks it wasn't.

    [via Channeling Cupertino]
    2:00:13 PM    

    Breaking up the BBC

    The government is considering a plan to break up the BBC and remove its independent status in the wake of a bitter row with the state-funded broadcaster over the Iraq war, a report said.

    The dispute came after a BBC radio report alleged in May last year that Prime Minister Tony Blair's government deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction in a pre-war dossier.

    Plans being considered include giving a government media watchdog greater control over the BBC's output

    - Government considering dismantling BBC

    1:55:11 PM    

    Bush plays politics with 9/11 (again)

    Republican speculation that Bush may use ground zero as a convention backdrop has some 9/11 victims' families appalled. [Salon]
    9:42:21 AM    

    Monday, March 1, 2004

    Greenspan, Bush and Social Security: Robin Hoods in reverse

    Alan Greenspan made everyone sit up and take notice yesterday by declaring that, since he thinks raising taxes is a bad idea, the only way to deal with the ballooning deficits the nation faces as the baby boomers retire is to cut Social Security benefits.

    First we lowered taxes with a plan ridiculously weighted towards rewarding the extreme high end of wealthy citizens, while tossing a handful of crumbs to the middle class; now we're told that we have to make up the difference by cutting retirement benefits for the mass of Americans
    9:38:32 PM    

    Clear Channel pulls plug on Howard Stern for Criticizing Bush

    People are wondering if Clear Channel getting religion about Howard has anything to do with Stern's recent political change-of-heart. It was just recently that Stern started trashing President Bush, who he has strongly supported in the past. On the blog Music Angle Michael Fremer says: "On Tuesday, Stern took a strong stance against Bush, the Republican party and the strong stench of fascism and intolerance in the air when it comes to free speech and gay rights, among other things. John Hogan, president and CEO of Clear Channel is a strong Bush supporter. When the war in Iraq began, Clear Channel organized rallys supporting the action and actually banned John Lennon's 'Imagine' and anything by The B-52s. Hard to believe, but true. Stern has great sway over millions of listeners. His political stand is what got him thrown off Clear Channel's network of stations, not his supposed 'indecent' remarks towards women and blacks. This is a sickening development."
    9:37:02 PM    

    Microsoft Lawyer to Run Antitrust Panel for ABA

    It sounds like an April Fool's joke. But it isn't. From the AP, via Dave Farber's IP List: "Microsoft associate general counsel Richard J. Wallis takes over as chairman this summer of the American Bar Association's antitrust section, an unusual role for a corporate lawyer. Even before Wallis' arrival, the panel is already organizing opposition to a congressional plan requiring more aggressive oversight by the courts of such antitrust settlements."... [Tim O'Reilly Weblog]
    9:14:13 PM    

    Another Bush Lie? Looks Like It

    Rocky Mountain News: Bush pledged to back ban in Nov., Musgrave aide says. President Bush pledged to Rep. Marilyn Musgrave that he would support her proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage three months before he made Tuesday's public pronouncement, according to Musgrave's top aide. The White House has said Bush made the decision only after officials in San Francisco and New Mexico presided over same-sex marriages. [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]
    9:13:18 PM    

    Pop Quiz

    Who said this?

    I particularly condemn the way our political leaders supplied the manpower for [the Vietnam War]. The policies -- determining who would be drafted and who would be deferred, who would serve and who would escape, who would die and who would live -- were an antidemocratic disgrace. I can never forgive a leadership that said, in effect: These young men -- poorer, less educated, less privileged -- are expendable (someone described them as "economic cannon fodder"), but the rest are too good to risk. I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well placed... managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units. Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country.
    Look [at pseudorandom] tomorrow for the answer.

    9:12:22 PM    

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