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Saturday, December 31, 2005



No Man Is Above The Law

The ALCU is running this as a full page ad. Copy and pass along. Link





































































This is a good ad. It's clear. It's not a laundry list. The message is simple. No one is above the law. It's asking for a simple action: a call to a Member of Congress requesting an investigation. And it calls to something commonly understood by every American: the system of checks and balances.

If the wingers really want to contest that -- regardless of who says it -- well, we can truth squad 'em with their comments regarding a certain former President and his unfortunate choice of recreational activities. Above the law, indeed. Consensual sex, however tawdry, is not illegal. Lying about it under oath is, and we know the results from that. I suspect *cough cough* lying under oath is one of the lesser offenses of which President Bush and Vice-President Cheney may be accused.

And regardless whether we ever see an impeachment of President Bush and Vice-President Cheney, it's important to insist that the process be followed, with the full force and intent of the law.



categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: American Myths | Theodore Roosevelt Quotes | Theodore Roosevelt Quotes | No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we as | Quotations of Theodore Roosevelt by The Theodore Roosevelt Association | Is Bush Above the Law | Bill Frist, Tom DeLay Speak Out on Impeachment: " No Man Is Above | No Man Is Above The Law | What is Rule of Law | Selwyn R. Cudjoe - No Man Is Above the Law Let Justice Prevail

9:50:24 PM    


Friday, December 30, 2005



Friday Cat Blogging


























categories: Humor
Other Stories according to Google: Watermark: Friday Cat Blogging | Watermark: Friday Cat Blogging | Watermark: Friday Cat Blogging | Carnival of the Cats | The Washington Monthly | Bibi's box: Friday Cat Blogging | Friday Cat Blogging | The Countess: Friday Cat Blogging | The Moderate Voice - Friday Cat Blogging | The Daily Dirt Chess Blog : Friday Cat Blogging 5

12:38:13 AM    


Thursday, December 29, 2005



Brokebudget Mountain - The Sequel

While this is certainly embarrassing and sickening, unseemly for a human man, let alone a "pundit", it's just Matthew's EMOTION ... laid bare and unashamedly.

It's not misinformation. Sadly, we have to take Matthew's word that he is smitten.  Link

This year, of all the news anchors, columnists, pundits, and reporters whose work we've critiqued and corrected, one man stands alone as a clear successor to the O'Reilly throne. We are pleased to announce broadcast journalist, former newspaper bureau chief, former presidential speechwriter, and best-selling author Chris Matthews has earned the title of 2005's "Misinformer of the Year." At times, it has even been difficult to tell the difference between 2005's Misinformer of the Year and his predecessor.

For your reading pleasure, we've compiled some highlights of Matthews's most egregious false and misleading claims, as well as his glowing and gushing praise for President Bush.

Without further ado:


  • Chris George, Part 1: Bush sometimes "glimmers" with "sunny nobility." On MSNBC's Hardball, during a discussion with Washington Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley of the effects on President Bush and his administration of the investigation into the leak of the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame, Matthews said "[S]ometimes it glimmers with this man, our president, that kind of sunny nobility." [Hardball, 10/24/05]


  • Chris George, Part 2: "Everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs ..." Insulting the majority of Americans who hold an unfavorable opinion of President Bush, Matthews exclaimed on Hardball: "Everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs, maybe on the left," adding, "I mean, like him personally." [Hardball, 11/28/05]

  • Chris George, Part 3: Matthews praised Bush speech as "brilliant" even before it was delivered. Before Bush had even delivered his November 30 speech at the U.S. Naval Academy, Matthews used variations of the word "brilliant" twice to describe it, while deriding Democratic critics of the Iraq war as "carpers and complainers." [MSNBC live coverage, 11/30/05]

  • Chris George, Part 4: Bush "belongs on Mount Rushmore." Recounting his experience at a White House party, Matthews said that he "felt sensitive" during his interactions with the president, adding: "You get your picture taken with him. It's like Santa Claus, and he's always very generous and friendly." He continued: "I felt like I was too towel-snappy with him," explaining that Bush had noted his "red scarf" and remarked that he looked "preppy." During the same show, Matthews stated: "If [Bush's] gamble that he can create a democracy in the middle of the Arab world" is successful, "he belongs on Mount Rushmore." [Hardball, 12/16/05]

  • Matthews on the filibuster debate: Democrats are "just sort of pouting and bitching." Matthews weighed in on the filibuster debate in May, declaring: "I think the Democrats started this fight. I think they did. ... You know, I think Democrats should win more elections. That will solve their problem." Days later, in discussing the Senate compromise agreement to avert the "nuclear option" to ban judicial filibusters, Matthews repeatedly espoused Republican talking points, claiming, among other things, that because of the recent bipartisan agreement aimed at averting the "nuclear option," Democrats can stop "pouting and bitching ... [and] actually participate in legislation now"; that Republicans might "get double-crossed or screwed by the Democrats"; and that the Republican position that every judicial nominee deserves an up-or-down vote "sounds great to me." [Hardball, 5/18/05]

  • Matthews repeatedly smeared Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. On April 24, Matthews attacked Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) by referring to her as a "sort of a Madame Defarge of the left." On May 30, Matthews questioned Clinton's ability to lead, expressing surprise that retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an NBC military analyst, wasn't "chuckling a little bit" at the idea of Clinton giving orders to the troops as commander in chief. On July 11, Matthews said Sen. Clinton "looked more witchy" because she criticized the Bush administration's homeland security spending priorities on July 8, a day after the London bombings. On July 27, Matthews asked Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) if he thought Sen. Clinton is a "big-government socialist." [Hardball, 5/30/05; The Chris Matthews Show, 4/24/05; Hardball, 7/11/05; Hardball, 7/27/05]

  • Matthews falsely claimed Democrats accused Alito of being "lenient on the mob." During MSNBC's coverage of the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court, Matthews repeatedly misrepresented a document about Alito that was circulated by Democrats. Waving the document around on camera -- but not quoting directly from it -- Matthews falsely claimed that the document accused Alito of being "lenient on the mob" and made the baseless assertion that, by mentioning a case involving organized crime, Democrats were "go[ing] after [Alito's Italian] ethnicity." In fact, the document, available here, made no mention of Alito's ethnicity and simply noted that he lost a high-profile mob case -- not that he was "lenient" on anybody. [Hardball, 10/31/05]

  • Matthews made false claim about Jan. 30 Iraqi election. In praising the Iraqi election in January, Matthews falsely claimed that no insurgent attacks had occurred at polling places on election day. In fact, attacks on Iraqi polling places were widely reported during the January 30 elections. [Hardball, 1/31/05]

  • Matthews distorted poll data to claim Catholics are increasingly Republican. Matthews cherry-picked poll data to support his misleading claim that Catholics have voted increasingly Republican since 1960. In fact, exit poll data indicate that Catholics are actually a swing constituency: In every presidential election since 1980, a majority or plurality of Catholics have voted for the candidate who won the popular vote, including Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and Al Gore in 2000. [The Chris Matthews Show, 4/10/05]

  • Matthews's panels consistently skew to the right. Matthews has hosted numerous MSNBC panels that contained far more conservative commentators than progressives. In 2005, the trend was especially prevalent during MSNBC's presidential inauguration coverage; and both before and after Bush's State of the Union address. While moderating discussion panels on Hardball, Matthews has repeatedly emphasized the liberal allegiances of progressive guests while failing to note that other guests on the same panels were Republican.

  • Matthews distorted Murtha's Iraq proposal. Matthews repeatedly suggested that Rep. John P. Murtha's (D-PA) call for a redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq was inconsistent with his record of being "known as the soldiers' friend" and "pro-Pentagon, pro-soldier." The suggestion echoed news reports that described Murtha as being "usually pro-military" -- implying that his position on redeployment is not -- and a "pro-military" Democrat, suggesting that the typical Democrat is not. [Hardball, 11/18/05]

  • Matthews resurrected false claim that Saddam let Sunni fundamentalists "come in for ... training." Matthews falsely claimed that, prior to his overthrow by U.S.-led forces, Saddam Hussein allowed Islamic terrorists to train for chemical warfare in northern Iraq. In fact, as the Los Angeles Times noted on June 15, 2003, the training camp, operated by Kurdish Islamic fundamentalist group Ansar al-Islam, "was in an autonomous Kurdish region not ruled by Hussein." [Hardball, 11/9/05]

  • Matthews falsely insisted that the ongoing insurgency in Iraq was unexpected. Ignoring evidence that the Bush administration received repeated prewar warnings of the potential for a sustained insurgency in Iraq, Matthews insisted that the continuing bloodshed had not been anticipated. Matthews suggested that the "enduring" nature of the Iraqi insurgency was a surprise and told viewers that he didn't "know many people who expected it to still be going on this long." However, as reported by USA Today, "Military and civilian intelligence agencies repeatedly warned prior to the invasion that Iraqi insurgent forces were preparing to fight and that their ranks would grow as other Iraqis came to resent the U.S. occupation and organize guerrilla attacks." [The Chris Matthews Show, 9/25/05]

  • Matthews falsely attacked Wilson over Niger trip's genesis. Matthews falsely accused former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV of claiming during his July 6 Meet the Press appearance and in his July 6 New York Times op-ed that Vice President Dick Cheney had sent him on his February 2002 trip to investigate whether Iraq had tried to acquire uranium from Niger. In fact, Wilson never made such a claim in either his Times op-ed or his appearance on Meet the Press. Wilson wrote in his Times op-ed that CIA officials, not the vice president, asked him to go to Niger; discussing his op-ed on Meet the Press, Wilson said that the "the question [of Iraq seeking uranium from Niger] was asked of the CIA by the office of the vice president." [The Chris Matthews Show, 7/24/05]

  • Matthews mischaracterized Democratic efforts to complete intel probe as "disingenuous," "using crocodile tears." Matthews baselessly assigned motives to both the Democrats' support for authorizing the president to take the country to war in October 2002 and their recent push to complete "phase two" of the Senate Intelligence Committee's probe into the prewar intelligence on Iraq. Matthews characterized Democrats' efforts to fully examine the Bush administration's handling of the intelligence as "disingenuous," "using crocodile tears," and "trying to climb down off the war." Matthews ignored Democrats' argument that the judgments provided to Congress on the Iraqi threat prior to the vote were later found to have been false or exaggerated. [Hardball, 11/1/05]
Chris has strayed so far off the reservation, that Tip O'Neil must be rolling in his grave over what Matthews has become.

Matthews' show has morphed into "Softball" with his pathetic buttsmooching of the current administration.

Like Woodward, Matthews has become enamored of being one of the popular crowd and has sold his integrity to maintain his good standing with Jr. and his "crew" of criminals.

Chris, it's not the horserace that is important! It's the substance. Good call by Media Matters for America - and not just for the above atrocities...

As Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler has consistently pointed out, Matthews was the phoniest, fakest shill for the RNC in 2000 - his smears of Gore were just awful. He gave a repeat performance in 2004, giving the Swift Boat Liars credibility when they deserved none.

In a way, 2005 is not Chris's best work - that comes in an election year, when he can smear, distort, pretent to read minds, and just plain old make s*** up.

When I heard Matthew's story about the red scarf and the Christmas party. It sounded like a romantic diary entry from a teenage girl. I did not realize Matthews was ever an actual journalist until I read it here.



categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google:

10:19:09 PM    



Illegal Wiretaps Fail To Make Dent In Terror War


The Bush administration's surveillance policy has failed to make a dent in the war against al Qaeda. This kind of shortsightedness is the reason why empires always fail to win guerilla wars:


U.S. law enforcement sources said that more than four years of surveillance by the National Security Agency has failed to capture any high-level al Qaeda operative in the United States. They said al Qaeda insurgents have long stopped using the phones and even computers to relay messages. Instead, they employ couriers.


"They have been way ahead of us in communications security," a law enforcement source said. "At most, we have caught some riff-raff. But the heavies remain free and we believe some of them are in the United States."

Several members of Congress have been briefed on the effectiveness of the government surveillance program that does not require a court order.


Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, who was briefed by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the matter, said he plans to hold hearings on the program by February 2006.


"There may be legislation which will come out of it [hearings] to restrict the president's power," Mr. Specter said.

The law enforcement sources said the intelligence community has identified several al Qaeda agents believed to be in the United States. But the sources said the agents have not been found because of insufficient intelligence and even poor analysis.


The assertions by the law enforcement sources dispute President Bush's claim that the government surveillance program has significantly helped in the fight against terrorism. The president said the program, which goes beyond the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, limits eavesdropping to international phone calls.


The sources provided guidelines to how the administration has employed the surveillance program. They said the National Security Agency in cooperation with the FBI was allowed to monitor the telephone calls and e-mails of any American believed to be in contact with a person abroad suspected of being linked to al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.


At that point, the sources said, all of the communications of that American would be monitored, including calls made to others in the United States. The regulations under the administration's surveillance program do not require any court order.

"The new regulations don't require this because it is considered an ongoing investigation," a source familiar with the program said.

The sources said the Patriot Act was based on the assessment that al Qaeda had established cells in Muslim communities in the United States.


Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union confirm that the FBI has monitored and infiltrated a range of Muslim and Arab groups, including the Washington-based American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.


But despite the huge amount of raw material gathered under the legislation, the FBI has not captured one major al Qaeda operative in the United States. Instead, federal authorities have been allowed to use non-terrorist material obtained through the surveillance program for investigation and prosecution.


In more than one case, the sources said, a surveillance target was prosecuted on non-terrorist charges from information obtained through wiretaps conducted without a court order. They said the FBI supported this policy in an attempt to pressure surveillance targets to cooperate.


"The problem is not the legislation but lack of intelligence and analysis," another source said. "We have a huge pile of intercepts that never get translated, analyzed and thus remain of no use to us. If it [surveillance] was effective, that's one thing. But it hasn't been effective."


Could it be that Al Queda isn't doing vegan cookouts, Gay Pride marches or Quaker peace meetings?

I know it's hard to believe, but they might have other interests.



categories: Outrages
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10:13:47 AM    


Wednesday, December 28, 2005



Inspiration For Mr. Potters Everywhere

Being forced to watch this movie for all eternity would be like finding yourself in one of those "Twilight Zone" episodes in which the same torture keeps happening again and again.

Before all the leftover Christmas turkey is gone, there may still be time to have a look back at the classic Salon.com article from December 2001 concerning the central flaw in It’s a Wonderful Life—that Pottersville, the supposedly nightmarish town that would have sprung up had George Bailey not existed, actually looks a hell of a lot more fun than Bedford Falls, which it replaces in George’s Clarence-inspired hallucinations. Put more succinctly by the writer, Gary Kamiya: “There’s just one problem: Pottersville rocks!” After making a hilarious, point-by-point argument (weakened only when he mistakenly calls the taxi driver Bert—of course, the cabbie is Ernie; Bert is the cop), the writer concludes with this salient point:

In Capra's Tale of Two Cities, Pottersville is the Bad Place. It's the demonic foil to Bedford Falls, the sweet, Norman Rockwell-like town in which George grows up. Named after the evil Mr. Potter, Pottersville is the setting for George's brief, nightmarish trip through a world in which he never existed. In that alternative universe, Potter has triumphed, and we are intended to shudder in horror at the sinful city he has spawned -- a kind of combo pack of Sodom, Gomorrah, Times Square in 1972, Tokyo's hostess district, San Francisco's Barbary Coast ca. 1884 and one of those demon-infested burgs dimly visible in the background of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.

There's just one problem: Pottersville rocks!

Pottersville makes its brief but memorable appearance during that tumultuous scene when George, who has just been bounced from Nick's Bar and is beginning to seriously freak out, rushes down the main street. Many bartenders, after being subjected to this insufferably patronizing sermon -- "Off with you, my lad, and be lively"? "That's a good man"? -- on top of being ordered to make an insultingly impractical drink, would simply reach behind the bar and bring down a baseball bat upon the head of the offending customer. To his credit, Nick does not. Instead, he delivers a speech that, while perhaps not as gracious as it could have been, is a model of frankness and concision. "We serve hard drinks for men who want to get drunk fast," he tells Clarence, "and we don't need any 'characters' hanging around to give the joint 'atmosphere.'"

I have made, I believe, a definitive case that Pottersville has gotten a bad rap and that Bedford Falls is grossly overrated. But if there are any who are still unconvinced, I would just like to remind them of one little detail: in the real world, Potter won.

We all live in Pottersville now. Bedford Falls is gone. The plucky little Savings and Loan closed down years ago, just like in George's nightmare. Cleaned up, his evil eyebrows removed, armed with a good PR firm, Mr. Potter goes merrily about his business, "consolidating" the George Baileys of the world. To cling to dreams of a bucolic America where the little guy defeats the forces of Big Business and the policeman and the taxi driver and the druggist and the banker all sing Auld Lang Syne together is just to ask for heartbreak and confusion when you turn off the TV and open your front door.

So don't fight it. It's a Pottersville world! Welcome jitterbuggers! Get me -- (ka-ching!) -- I'm giving out wings!




categories: Outrages
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9:21:45 PM    


Saturday, December 24, 2005



Happy Holidays, From My Family To Yours




































Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Fight!



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1:23:40 AM    


Friday, December 23, 2005



American Girl Caves To The Heat

The AFA believes that the Girl's Inc. "I Can" band leads to dead fetuses and wanton dykery.


A short while back the bible-beaters were up in arms over American Girl dolls, and the line's affiliation with Girls Incorporated, which helps young, underprivileged young women build a sense of self-respect and self-determination. The problem is that Girls Inc. also teaches girls about their bodies, health and sexuality. The big siren went off in AmTalibanland.

The all-too-familiar bigots at the American Family Association ran a petition campaign with this message spamming out to American Girl President Ellen Brothers and Mattel Chairman Bob Eckert. (Mattel owns American Girl):

I have been made aware of your cash donation and continuing proceeds through the "I Can" bracelet to Girls Inc.

I feel American Girl and Mattel has made a tragic mistake in partnering with Girls Incorporated, a pro-abortion, pro-lesbian advocacy group.

After viewing the Girls Inc. website, I am convinced your financial support for them will cause a lot of American Girl fans and consumers to abandon their longtime loyalty and faithfulness to your company.

I implore you to reconsider your partnership with Girls Inc. and let me know of your decision. Your response to my concerns will greatly affect how I choose to do business with American Girl and Mattel in the future.
Well, which road did Mattel take -- the Kraft path ("screw you" AmTaliban"), maybe? No, like Ford, Mattel caved in to the bible beaters. (CBS):
That was until the Wiesners found out that the American Girl company donates money to an organization called Girls Incorporated, which offers support to underprivileged girls. Girls Inc. also endorses Roe v. Wade - the right to abortion and it promotes acceptance of homosexuality. It's an association that families like the Wiesners are protesting with their wallets.

"This year, we're not going to buy any of the products for Christmas," Wiesner says bluntly.

...American Girl, which just launched its first ever major ad campaign in its 20-year history, released a statement saying it is "profoundly disappointed that certain groups have chosen to misconstrue American Girl's purely altruistic efforts."

Also Mattel, the maker of the doll has decided it will not renew its partnership with Girls Inc. which runs out this year.
I can almost guarantee you that Mattel won't do a mea culpa in the end as the automaker did. Joyce M. Roch, President of Girls, Inc., responded to the controversy on its site.
Recently, our mission to help girls develop their self-esteem and self-reliance has become the target of false, inflammatory statements from people who are pursuing a narrow political agenda.

Girls Incorporated stands on its long positive history. The millions of lives we have touched speak for who we are and our values. Thanks to all of you who believe in our mission of inspiring girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Together, we will continue to work to help all girls realize their potential.

"In addition, since 1992 Girls Inc. has provided over $1.8 million in college scholarships to girls who have become leaders in all walks of life and has played a crucial role in advancing girls' rights through supporting legislation such as Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act. Recently, our mission to help girls develop their self-esteem and self-reliance has become the target of false, inflammatory statements from people who are pursuing a narrow political agenda."

I have to agree with Senator Barack Obama -- this is silly. These people are boycotting American Girl because Girls Inc. wants to see women succeed outside of the home. Women can be whatever they want! Organizations like Girls Inc. don't need to encourage women to be homemakers -- there have been hundreds of years of encouragement ingrained into our culture. And the "Christian" churches advocate baby-making and homemaking more than enough.

What I find dangerous in all this is that these "Christians" are trying to co-opt "feminism." I'm a glutton for punishment, so sometimes I listen to Relevant Radio -- the "orthodox" Catholic talk radio station. They've talked about how we should view women in light of the gifts God has given them. (Which is code word for uteruses.) They argue this is the new feminism -- respecting women for who/what they really -- or rather, what God made them (i.e. baby-factories). Unsaid in all of it is the view that God created women to be mothers. The consistent absence of a discussion of what God created women to be is incredibly conspicuous.



categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: American Girl Feels the Heat | WorldNetDaily: American Girl feels heat of protest | WorldNetDaily: American Girl feels heat of protest | WorldNetDaily: American Girl dolls to protest company | WorldNetDaily: American Girl boycotted | American Girl Feels the Heat | PLAL Press Release: Oct 24, 2005 | American Girl Feels The Heat | Fortune.com - Innovators Hall of Fame | Heat and Light in Zaragoza, Spain

10:45:03 PM    



Bin Laden Niece in Glamour Shots

The niece of Osama Bin Laden has posed for provocative photographs for an American magazine.

Wafah Dufour, an aspiring musician and model, is the daughter of the al-Qaeda leader's half-brother Yeslam.

She appears stripped to ostrich feather lingerie, and in a bubble bath, in photos for American GQ magazine.

US-born, she says she is an American, and distances herself from her uncle. "Everyone relates me to that man, and I have nothing to do with him," she says.

Ms Dufour, 26, took her mother's maiden name after the events of 11 September 2001.

She lived in Saudi Arabia, where Bin Laden is from, until she was 10, before moving on to Geneva and back to the US.

'Like any New Yorker'

She says she never sees any of the extended Bin Laden clan, including her father.

"There are 400 other people related to him, but they are all in Saudi Arabia, so nobody's going to get tarred with it. I'm the only one here," she said.

Her father and Osama Bin Laden are among more than 50 children fathered by Mohammed Bin Laden, a Yemeni immigrant to Saudi Arabia, and construction magnate.

Ms Dufour was in Geneva when the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US, masterminded by her uncle, were launched.

She said: "I was freaking out, crying hysterically, watching this in horror. I was like 'Somebody's bombing my city, and I wanna go home!'"

"I was born in the States, and I want people to know I'm American, and I want people to understand that I'm like anyone in New York. For me, it's home," she said.



categories: Miscelleous
Other Stories according to Google: blah, blah, black sheep || chrisafer.com | growabrain: Celebrities Archives | TIME.com: Where Osama Is a Rock Star -- Page 1 | CNN.com - Transcripts | WALEG: June 2005 Archives | Blogcritics Category: Music: Popular and Standards | Backwards City: 07/01/2005 - 07/31/2005 | The Gossipist: July 14, 2005 Archives | NJ.com - Weblogs | Happy unColumbus Day

9:11:50 PM    



Friday Cat Blogging

The best thing about Winter Solstice?

The days start getting longer from here on out.

Happy Winter Solstice Day!






















categories: Humor
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12:02:56 AM    


Thursday, December 22, 2005



The Onion: Coal Now Too Expensive To Put In Christmas Stockings



CHICAGO--With winter's onset driving the demand for surface coal to record-high levels, the mineral's cost is now beyond the reach of low- and middle-income Americans who wish to punish their naughty children. "Coal in one's stocking is meant to serve as an admonishment or warning, not as a dependable grade-B investment," said William Menchell, a commodities adviser for T. Rowe Price. "In today's market, children should only have their stockings stuffed with lumps of coal if they have been studious and obedient, and show an interest in long-term investments in the energy sector." For more affordable punitive options, analysts point to the relatively stagnant switch market, which could soon go the way of coal if demand increases for combustible wooden sticks.


categories: Humor
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10:20:26 PM    



Technology At The Root Of The NSA Wiretap Scandal

12/20/2005 12:38:54 PM, by Hannibal

A good question was raised by a caller on TOTN (Talk of the Nation) yesterday. she asked if this technology was used by the administration during the 2004 election to spy on the kerry camp and peaceful protestors of the administration (i'm paraphrasing). without FISA/FISC oversight, and without any transparency, how can this be trusted? The FBI already missused such powers against civil rights leaders (including MLK).

The answer she got was "trust us"

ARS technica Article Link

When the NSA wiretapping story first hit the pages of the NYT a few days ago, there were clearly a huge number of unanswered questions. Is the wiretapping that the President has authorized illegal under the FISA act? Is it unconstitutional? If it's illegal, does the President have the authority to violate the law if he's acting in the best interests of the republic? And then there's the question of why the NYT sat on this story for over a year before going public with it.

I'm not really going to make any attempt to answer questions of legality and constitutionality, because the Internet is full of armchair constitutional scholars right now who're fighting tooth and nail over these questions, generating much heat but very little light. Instead, I'd like to point your attention to some later developments in this case that clearly indicate that there's much more going on here than we initially assumed. When the truth comes out (if it ever does), this NSA wiretapping story will almost certainly be a story not just about the Constitutional concept of the separation of powers, but about high technology.

To return to the last question in the first paragraph, let's take a look at the NYT's own answer. The quotes below are from NYT executive editor Bill Keller's statement on the matter:

A year ago, when this information first became known to Times reporters, the Administration argued strongly that writing about this eavesdropping program would give terrorists clues about the vulnerability of their communications and would deprive the government of an effective tool for the protection of the country's security...
As we have done before in rare instances when faced with a convincing national security argument, we agreed not to publish at that time.

"We also continued reporting, and in the ensuing months two things happened that changed our thinking... Second, in the course of subsequent reporting we satisfied ourselves that we could write about this program -- withholding a number of technical details -- in a way that would not expose any intelligence-gathering methods or capabilities that are not already on the public record.

(Emphasis in the above quote and in all subsequent quotes is added.)
So the NYT sat on this story for a year in part because they were concerned that they wouldn't be able to report it without revealing some crucial technical details of how the program works.

Now let's take a look a statement of former senator Bob Graham (D-FL), who was one of the few senators to be briefed on the program. From a new Washington Post article:

"I came out of the room with the full sense that we were dealing with a change in technology but not policy," Graham said, with new opportunities to intercept overseas calls that passed through U.S. switches.

Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly has rounded up a few more quotes like those above (including the NYT quote), that also help make a very good case that what's at issue here is some kind of new NSA surveillance technology:

  • Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, telling reporters why Bush didn't simply ask Congress to pass a law making the program clearly legal: "We've had discussions with members of Congress, certain members of Congress, about whether or not we could get an amendment to FISA, and we were advised that that was not likely to be - that was not something we could likely get, certainly not without jeopardizing the existence of the program, and therefore, killing the program."
  • President Bush, answering questions at Monday's press conference: "We use FISA still....But FISA is for long-term monitoring....There is a difference between detecting so we can prevent, and monitoring. And it's important to know the distinction between the two....We used the [FISA] process to monitor. But also....we've got to be able to detect and prevent."
  • Senator Jay Rockefeller, in a letter to Dick Cheney after being briefed on the program in 2003: "As I reflected on the meeting today, and the future we face, John Poindexter's TIA project sprung to mind, exacerbating my concern regarding the direction the Administration is moving with regard to security, technology, and surveillance."
This last quote above, the one about TIA, is especially telling. TIA was a massive electronic intelligence gathering program designed to mechanically sift through phone calls, emails, and other electronic communications in order to build pictures of how individuals fit into larger networks. We covered TIA here on Ars, but of all the coverage I think Caesar's initial take on it seems the most directly applicable to the current situation:

This system's purpose would be to monitor communications and detect would-be terrorists and plots before they happen... This project is not interested in funding "evolutionary" changes in technology, e.g., bit-step improvements to current data mining and storage techniques. Rather, the amount of data that the directors are anticipating (petabytes!) would require massive leaps in technology (and perhaps also some massive leaps in surveillance laws). According to DARPA, such data collection "increases information coverage by an order of magnitude," and ultimately "requires keeping track of individuals and understanding how they fit into models."
"Massive leaps in surveillance laws" indeed. TIA became public in 2002, and Congress quickly put the kibosh on it. This is right about the time that Bush secretly signed the executive order authorizing the new NSA wiretap program.

So, are TIA and the NSA wiretapping directive related? That probably depends on what you mean by "related." I doubt seriously they're the same thing, but it's entirely possible that the undescribed new technology used in the NSA wiretapping program was also going to be deployed as a part of TIA's massive data collection efforts.

My main point in bringing up TIA is twofold: 1) TIA-like efforts are still going on (Defensetech catalogs some), and 2) the government has been trying to use new technology, like database tech and voice recognition, for domestic surveillance for a long time. And when I say a long time, I mean well before the current administration came into office.

The domestic electronic surveillance ball really got rolling under the Clinton administration, with the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). CALEA mandated that the telcos aid wiretapping by installing remote wiretap ports onto their digital switches so that the switch traffic would be available for snooping by law enforcement. After CALEA passed, the FBI no longer had to go on-site with wiretapping equipment in order to tap a line�they could monitor and digitally process voice communications from the comfort of the home office. (The FCC has recently ruled that CALEA covers VOIP services, which means that providers like Vonage will have to find a way to comply.)

CALEA opened up a huge can of worms, and PGP creator Phil Zimmermann sounded the alarm back in 1999 about where the program was headed:

A year after the CALEA passed, the FBI disclosed plans to require the phone companies to build into their infrastructure the capacity to simultaneously wiretap 1 percent of all phone calls in all major U.S. cities. This would represent more than a thousandfold increase over previous levels in the number of phones that could be wiretapped. In previous years, there were only about a thousand court-ordered wiretaps in the United States per year, at the federal, state, and local levels combined. It's hard to see how the government could even employ enough judges to sign enough wiretap orders to wiretap 1 percent of all our phone calls, much less hire enough federal agents to sit and listen to all that traffic in real time. The only plausible way of processing that amount of traffic is a massive Orwellian application of automated voice recognition technology to sift through it all, searching for interesting keywords or searching for a particular speaker's voice. If the government doesn't find the target in the first 1 percent sample, the wiretaps can be shifted over to a different 1 percent until the target is found, or until everyone's phone line has been checked for subversive traffic. The FBI said they need this capacity to plan for the future. This plan sparked such outrage that it was defeated in Congress. But the mere fact that the FBI even asked for these broad powers is revealing of their agenda.

Read the quote above carefully, and see if it doesn't ring any bells for you. The salient points that Zimmermann makes are these:
In 1995, back when the Pentium Pro was hot stuff, the FBI requested the legal authorization to do very high-volume monitoring of digital calls.
  • There's no way for the judicial system to approve warrants for the number of calls that the FBI wanted to monitor.
  • The agency could never hire enough humans to be able to monitor that many calls simultaneously, which means that they'd have to use voice recognition technology to look for "hits" that they could then follow up on with human wiretaps.
It is entirely possible that the NSA technology at issue here is some kind of high-volume, automated voice recognition and pattern matching system. Now, I don't at all believe that all international calls are or could be monitored with such a system, or anything like that. Rather, the NSA could very easily narrow down the amount of phone traffic that they'd have to a relatively small fraction of international calls with some smart filtering. First, they'd only monitor calls where one end of the connection is in a country of interest. Then, they'd only need the ability to do a roving random sample of a few seconds from each call in that already greatly narrowed pool of calls. As Zimmermann describes above, you monitor a few seconds of some fraction of the calls looking for "hits," and then you move on to another fraction. If a particular call generates a hit, then you zero in on it for further real-time analysis and possible human interception. All the calls can be recorded, cached, and further examined later for items that may have been overlooked in the real-time analysis.

In a recent press conference, Deputy Director for National Intelligence Michael Hayden said the following (via Defensetech):

And here the key is not so much persistence as it is agility. It's a quicker trigger. It's a subtly softer trigger. And the intrusion into privacy -- the intrusion into privacy is significantly less. It's only international calls. The period of time in which we do this is, in most cases, far less than that which would be gained by getting a court order.

This sounds pretty much like what I've described above. And yes, this kind of real-time voice recognition, crude semantic parsing and pattern matching is doable with today's technology, especially when you have a budget like the NSA.

The "softer trigger" here is a phrase that's on a watch list, or a call with an abnormally high volume of a certain type of vocabulary. The "agility" bit is a reference to the technology's ability to move from call to call, taking small slices. That's also probably what's behind the claim that the technology is less intrusive than a traditional wiretap, because the time slices are very short.

Finally, I know a lot of people are bringing up Echelon here, and Echelon is indeed relevant. However, the relevance isn't in how the NSA program is connected to Echelon - it probably isn't - but in the fact that Echelon is yet another example of a government-run, high-volume, automated intelligence gathering project that looks for certain words or phrases in samples of electronic communications.This really goes to the crux of the matter. Any "terrorist" worth his salt would certainly have better tradecraft than to use any kind of "plainly spoken" phrase that would be picked up by the government filters. After all, we trained a lot of the people who trained these people during the Soviet war in Afganistan, and I can't imagine the CIA wouldn't teach them these simple principles of tradecraft.

You might catch some of the "stupid" ones. Or the non-trained ones. Or the home-grown ones not connected to a "professional" terrorist group. But, you could probably catch those people through legal means too, and not risk impeachment and public outrage. So, if not for terror (which seems to be the administration's "stock" response for everything since 9/11), then why?

The neo-con stated goal of ensuring Republican control of the country seems a likely candidate to me.

The implication of this type of surveillance is that you monitor everyone. Or at least a huge chunk of them.
Whether you think that is right, wrong, justifiable, etc. it's obviously a massive change which dictates a public discussion. But I suspect, or at least hope, that a significan number of Americans would be genuinely opposed to such a change in surveillence techniques. In my thinking, the fact that it might be computers listening instead of people doesn't change the nature of the privacy invasion. If anything, it makes it worse because what would have been impossible with humans (listen to every single phone call) because possible with computers.

Even if the article is wrong in guessing that this is what's behind the current tiff, I do think that this type of approach is coming if not already here. Take for example 'roving wiretaps'. I haven't seen any discussion of how exactly that works. It could very well involve tapping all phones in an area a scanning for the voiceprint of the wiretap subject.

Another example of late. The story about the student who got a visit from the government for requesting a book by Mao for inter-library loan. If you assume that the student was not already under surveillance, the only way for that to happen is if the governement is monitoring all inter-library loans. Which would certainly explain why they are so tight lipped about the library record provisions in the Patriot act.

So to take a stab at making a "real world" layman's example of this technology: This is basically like cops going around neighborhoods, opening up your front door, and glancing around real fast to see if there's anything suspicious. If they don't see anything, they move on to the next house. If something doesn't look right, they hang around and check things out more closely.

Sound about right? If that's the case, then yeah, I can see why they
A) wouldn't want to go to Congress to ask for a change in the law, and
B) wouldn't want to try to get a warrant for these.

In both cases, they'd be told to go fly a kite. So, if this is the case, it's probably what I expected when the story first broke. It's another case of "they might say no, so let's not ask."



categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: The new technology at the root of the NSA wiretap scandal | Ars Technica - The PC Enthusiast's Resource | NSA wiretap followup: Why computer-automated mass surveillance is | President Bush, NSA accused of wiretap abuse | Ask Ars: routinely dropping WiFi connectivity | muthos megahertzos | Whitedust Security Portal - The new technology at the root of the | digg / technology | Indymedia Estrecho/Madiaq: inicio | New Hampshire IMC: mediacenters

8:02:15 PM    


Wednesday, December 21, 2005



Diebold Hack Hints at Wider Flaws

Kim Zetter at Wired

Election officials spooked by tampering in a test last week of Diebold optical-scan voting machines should be equally wary of optical-scan equipment produced by other manufacturers, according to a computer scientist who conducted the test.

Election officials in Florida's Leon County, where the test occurred, promptly announced plans to drop Diebold machines in favor of optical-scan machines made by Election Systems & Software, or ES&S. But Hugh Thompson, an adjunct computer science professor at the Florida Institute of Technology who helped devise last week's test, believes other systems could also be vulnerable.

"Looking at these systems doesn't send off signals that ... if we just get rid of Diebold and go to another vendor we'll be safe," Thompson said. "We know the Diebold machines are vulnerable. As for ES&S, we don't know that they're bad but we don't know that they're (good) either."

Thompson and Harri Hursti, a Finnish computer scientist, were able to change votes on the Diebold machine without leaving a trace. Hursti conducted the same test for the California secretary of state's office Tuesday. The office did not return several calls for comment.


Information about the vulnerability comes as states face deadlines to qualify for federal funding to replace punch-card and lever machines with new touch-screen or optical-scan machines. In order to get funding, states must have new machines in place by their first federal election after Jan. 1, 2006.

Optical-scan machines have become the preferred choice of many election officials due to the controversy over touch-screen voting machines, many of which do not produce a paper trail. Optical-scan machines use a paper ballot on which voters mark selections with a pen before officials scan them into a machine. The paper serves as a backup if the machine fails or officials need to recount votes.


The hack Thompson and Hursti performed involves a memory card that's inserted in the Diebold machines to record votes as officials scan ballots. According to Thompson, data on the cards isn't encrypted or secured with passwords. Anyone with programming skills and access to the cards -- such as a county elections technical administrator, a savvy poll worker or a voting company employee -- can alter the data using a laptop and card reader.

To test the machines, Thompson and Hursti conducted a mock election on systems loaded with a rigged memory card. The election consisted of eight ballots asking voters to decide, yes or no, if the Diebold optical-scan machine could be hacked.

Six people voted "no" and two voted "yes." But after scanning the ballots, the total showed one "no" vote and seven "yes" votes.

Diebold did not return several calls for comment.

Thompson said in a real race between candidates someone could pre-load 50 votes for Candidate A and minus 50 votes for Candidate B, for example. Candidate B would need to receive 100 votes before equaling Candidate A's level at the start of the race. The total number of votes on the machine would equal the number of voters, so election officials wouldn't become suspicious.

"It's self-destroying evidence," he said. "Once ... the machine gets past zero and starts counting forward for Candidate B, there's no record that at one point there were negative votes for Candidate B."

Thompson said a second vulnerability in the cards makes it easy to program the voting machine so that it thinks the card is blank at the start of the race. This is important because before voting begins on Election Day, poll workers print a report of vote totals from each machine to show voters that the machines contain no votes.

"The logic to print that zero report is contained on the memory card itself," Thompson said. "So all you do is alter that code ... to always print out a zero report (in the morning)."

David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and chair of California's Voting Systems Technical Assessment and Advisory Board, said that programming software on a removable memory card raises grave concerns.

"The instant anyone with security sensibility hears this, red flags and clanging alarms happen," Jefferson said. "Because this software that is inserted from the memory module is not part of the code base that goes through the qualification process, so it's code that escapes federal scrutiny."

The vote manipulation could conceivably be caught in states where election laws require officials to conduct a 1 percent manual recount to compare digital votes against paper ballots. Parallel monitoring, in which officials pull out random machines for testing on Election Day, might also catch vote manipulation.

But Thompson says machines could be programmed to recognize when they're being tested so as not to change votes during that time. And a manual recount that only examines 1 percent of machines might not be broad enough.

"The question is, if you have altered a memory card in just one of the polling places or even just on one machine, what are the chances that the machine would fall under that 1 percent?" Thompson said. "That's kind of scary."



categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Douglas W. Jones on the Diebold FTP Story | Douglas W. Jones Myths and Facts Rebuttal | O'Reilly Network Developer News | Douglas W. Jones Myths and Facts Rebuttal | ballotpaper log Archives | Ballotpaper.org : Politics Archives | Creative Librarian » Computing News | Security highlights from around the Web - Computerworld | The Conversation + 01 - News and General Talk + VOTe fraud. e | qwghlm.co.uk: qwghlmBlog: March 2004

10:51:53 PM    



The Loyal Citizen's Contract With the American Government:
Citizens Contract by The Rude Pundit


Considering the responses of Bill Kristol, the Wall Street Journal, and others to President Bush’s affirmation of warrantless domestic spying by the NSA, perhaps it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff in this America. The Rude Pundit believes a new "contract" of sorts is needed between the government and the American people. Howzabout this:

"I (the undersigned) believe President George W. Bush when he says that the United States of America is fighting a 'new kind of enemy' that requires 'new thinking' about how to wage war. Therefore, as a loyal citizen of President Bush’s United States, my signature below indicates my agreement to the following:

"1. I believe wholeheartedly in the Patriot Act as initially passed by Congress in 2001, as well as the provisions of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act. Therefore, I grant the FBI access to:

"a. my library records, so it may determine if I am reading material that might designate me an enemy of the nation;

"b. my financial records, including credit reports, so it may determine if I am contributing monetarily to any governmentally proscribed activities or organizations;

"c. my medical records, so it may determine if my prescriptions, injuries, or other conditions are indicative of terrorist activity on my part;

"d. any and all other personal records including, but not limited to, my store purchases, my school records, my web browsing history, and anything else determined as a 'tangible thing' necessary to engage in a secret investigation of me.

"I agree that I do not need to be notified if my records have come under scrutiny by the FBI, and, furthermore, I agree that no warrant is needed for the FBI to engage in this examination of my personal records. Additionally, I agree that the FBI should be allowed to monitor any groups it believes may be linked to what it determines to be terrorist activity.

"2. I believe that the President of the United States has the power to mitigate any and all laws passed by the Congress and that he has such power granted to him by his status as Commander-in-Chief in the Constitution as well as the 2001 Authorization of Military Force, passed by the Congress, which states that the President can use 'all necessary and appropriate force' in prosecution of the war. Therefore, I grant the United States government the following powers:

"a. that the National Security Agency, under the direction of the President, may tap my phone lines and intercept my e-mail without warrant or FISA oversight;

"b. that the President may hold me or other detainees without access to the legal system for a period of time determined by the President or his agents;

"c. that the President may authorize physical force against me or other individual detainees in order to gain intelligence and that he may define whether such physical force may be called 'torture':

"d. that the President may set aside any and all laws he sees as hindering the gathering of intelligence and prevention of terrorist acts for a period as time determined by the President, including, but not limited to, rights to political protest.

"I agree that the Judicial and Legislative branch should be allowed no oversight of these activities, and that such oversight merely emboldens the terrorists. I also agree that virtually all of these activities may be conducted in complete secrecy and that revelation of these activities amount to treasonous behavior on the part of those who reveal these activities to the press and the citizenry.

"3. Finally, this document is my statement that I believe the President of the United States and the entire executive branch, as well as all departments and agencies involved, as well as all of its personnel, will treat these powers I have granted them with utmost respect. I believe that these powers will not be abused, nor will any of the information I have given them permission to examine be misinterpreted. However, should such abuse or misinterpretation occur, I agree that such actions are mere errors and no one should be subject to investigation, arrest, or employment action as a result.

"My consent freely given,
"(Your signature)"

C'mon, Michelle Malkin, Byron York, John Hinderaker, and all the rest of you good Bush lovers. Sign on up. Send it in to the White House. Let 'em know that you have nothing to hide. Or nothing you don't care about sharing.


categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Atheist Law Center: Advocates for Atheist Rights-Absolute | STATEMENT OF JORDAN M. TRUCHAN BEFORE THE HOUSE ARMED SERVICES | The Pledge and the Contract : an Example Lesson from Active | Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie | Center for Immigration Studies | GlobalSecurity.org - Reliable Military News and Military Information | SDTV: American Gov't Transcript | Brownson: American Republic: Chapter 12 | Taking the Blame | War and Public Opinion - American Government - US News Classroom

9:53:35 PM    



Earlier Resignations on Principle --Lest We Forget

These fed-up Bush officials so disagreed with administration policies that they preferred the uncertainty of the unemployment line to toeing the party line.

Other Resignations on Principle
Ariana Huffington published these letters of resignation from the Bush House on principle (along with her interpretations, omitted here), back in 2003. It's clearly time for Ariana to update this ever-growing file again, starting with Judge Robertson.

Mike Dombeck, Forest Service chief, resigned March 27, 2001, after four years on the job.
What he wrote in his resignation letter: "It was made clear in no uncertain terms that the administration wants to take the Forest Service in another direction ..."

John Brown, Ph.D., was a Foreign Service officer for nearly 25 years, having served in London, Prague, Krakow, Kiev and Belgrade. He resigned March 10, 2003.
What he wrote in his resignation letter: "I cannot in good conscience support President Bush's war plans against Iraq. The president has failed to: explain clearly why our brave men and women in uniform should be ready to sacrifice their lives in a war on Iraq at this time; to lay out the full ramifications of this war, including the extent of innocent civilian casualties; to specify the economic costs of the war for the ordinary Americans; to clarify how the war would help rid the world of terror; to take international public opinion against the war into serious consideration."

Bruce Boler, an EPA state water quality specialist, resigned from his post Oct. 23, 2003, because his bosses at the EPA accepted the findings of a controversial study that concluded that Florida wetlands discharge more pollutants than they absorb.
What he wrote in his resignation letter: "... ultimately the politics of southwestern Florida have proven stronger than the science ..."

Isam al-Khafaji, a member of the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Counsel, resigned July 9, 2003.
What he wrote in his resignation letter: "I feared my role with the reconstruction council was sliding from what I had originally envisioned -- working with allies in a democratic fashion -- to collaborating with occupying forces."

Eric Schaeffer, director of the EPA Office of Regulatory Enforcement, resigned Feb. 27, 2002.
What he wrote in his resignation letter: "I can not leave without sharing my frustration about the fate of our enforcement actions against power companies that have violated the Clean Air Act ... We are fighting a White House that seems determined to weaken rules we are trying to enforce."

John Brady Kiesling, a 20-year veteran of the Foreign Service, whose last job was that of political counselor, U.S. Embassy, Athens, resigned on Feb. 27, 2003.
What he wrote in his resignation letter: "Until this administration it had been possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my president, I was also upholding the interests of the American people. I believe it no more. I am resigning because I have tried and failed to reconcile my conscience with my ability to represent the current administration. I have confidence that our democratic process is ultimately self-correcting."

Karen Kwiatkowski, office of the undersecretary of defense, Near East Bureau, resigned on July 1, 2003.
What she wrote in her resignation letter: "While working from May 2002 through February 2003 in the office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Near East South Asian and Special Plans in the Pentagon, I observed the environment in which decisions about post war Iraq were made ... What I saw was aberrant, pervasive, and contrary to good order and discipline ... If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of 'intelligence' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post Hussein occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the office of the Secretary of Defense."

...I remember the lump I felt in my throat back in 1973 when Elliot Richardson resigned his Cabinet post rather than acquiesce to Richard Nixon's demand that he fire Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox.

...As Richardson told Nixon: 'Mr. President, it would appear that we have a different perception of the public interest.'



categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: The Corner on National Review Online | CJR Daily: "Hey Jailbird - Forget About That Award!" | [Texas] Early voting and a thought-for-the-day | Behavioral Interviewing Training, Competency-based. Management | Carthage - Augustine Institute | SparkNotes: Fear and Trembling: Terms | Can We Be Good Without God? - 89.12 | US Catholic Bishops - Social Development & World Peace | TheCorporateCounsel.net Blog | Arthur Schopenhauer

11:26:02 AM    



'Girls Gone Wild' Creator Probed About Police Record



The creator of the "Girls Gone Wild" video series was barraged with pointed questions in court this morning designed to counter his claims that he was the victim of robbery, kidnapping and extortion at his Bel-Air mansion last year.

Joe Francis, 32, who made a fortune persuading young women to bare their breasts for the camera, testified that an armed intruder stole cash and possessions and then forced him to make a humiliating, half-naked video.

Francis identified his assailant as Darnell Riley, 28, who is accused of six felony counts of burglary, robbery, carjacking, kidnapping and attempted extortion.

In Los Angeles County Superior Court today, Riley's lawyer fired back at Francis, grilling him on his own police record.

Defense attorney Ronald Richards asked Francis about a theft arrest in North Carolina, and a case pending in Florida alleging that he filmed minors for one of his videotapes and was charged with racketeering, prostitution, obscenity, child pornography and possession of an illegal drug.

"Is it true you have a 47-count indictment against you in Florida?" asked defense attorney Ronald Richards.

"I cannot answer any questions about this case, per advice of counsel," Francis answered.

Francis declined to answer half a dozen times more, citing his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment.

Under questioning by Richards, Francis acknowledged in the past, he had accused four other people of extortion. But he said those cases, about which no details were available, were separate from today's charges.

"Nobody else broke into my house and put a gun to my head," Francis testified.

Francis testified that after he returned home from a night of partying Jan. 22, 2004, Riley broke in, pulled a gun on him and videotaped him, seminude, making sexually humiliating comments about himself. He then threatened to distribute the video unless Francis paid him $300,000 to $500,000.

Riley has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His preliminary hearing is expected to end today

Police were tipped to the case by tabloid magnate and socialite Paris Hilton, Francis' former girlfriend, who heard discussion of the alleged plot at a party.

Over prosecutor Hoon Chun's objections, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Bernard F. Kemper on Monday allowed the media to film portions of the partially obscured video when it was presented in court, but banned broadcasters from televising Francis' testimony.

Francis said Riley took his watch, $1,100 in cash and his cellphone but demanded more. "He said, 'I need $100,000 in cash right now or you're going to die,'" Francis testified.

Francis was unapologetic this afternoon following his testimony.

"Even if you think I'm a bad guy cause I do 'Girls gone Wild', it didn't give him (Riley) the right too break into my home and rob me and threaten me," Francis told reporters outside the courtroom.

"I don't want attention from this in my life," Francis said. "To relive this is even more painful."


categories: Miscelleous
Other Stories according to Google: Parents Beware: ' Girls Gone Wild ' Videos Sold In Stores! | Japan Today - News - Hiroshima murder suspect carried passport | Drew Curtis' FARK.com -- Archives for '2003-12-14 23:59:59' | Drew Curtis' FARK.com -- Archives for '2004-04-11 23:59:59' | Tabloid News Archives - April 2004 - Week 1 | Tabloid News Archives - September 2003 | David Lee Roth - Interesting Motherfucker | »«TBogg»« | LP: Saving the presidency..Why bother? (Bush amnesty plan ) | Warrenellis.com » 2005 » September

12:13:21 AM    


Tuesday, December 20, 2005



President Bush Presents A Clear And Present Danger To The Rule Of Law


Ok, the guy who wrote this column, Bruce Fein, was a Justice Dept official under Ronald Reagan and recently wrote a piece for the Wash Times about how Alito is fabulous because he's just like Scalia and Thomas. This guy is no liberal in conservative clothing. In fact, he's a constitutional scholar. The conservative wing of the Republican party is clearly not happy with what Bush is doing, and thank God. We may have some surprising allies.

Forget our base. We ought to be targeting THEIR base:
President Bush presents a clear and present danger to the rule of law. He cannot be trusted to conduct the war against global terrorism with a decent respect for civil liberties and checks against executive abuses. Congress should swiftly enact a code that would require Mr. Bush to obtain legislative consent for every counterterrorism measure that would materially impair individual freedoms....

But there are no checks on NSA errors or abuses, the hallmark of a rule of law as opposed to a rule of men. Truth and accuracy are the first casualties of war. President Bush assured the world Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction before the 2003 invasion. He was wrong. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared Americans of Japanese ancestry were security threats to justify interning them in concentration camps during World War II. He was wrong. President Lyndon Johnson maintained communists masterminded and funded the massive Vietnam War protests in the United States. He was wrong. To paraphrase President Ronald Reagan's remark to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, President Bush can be trusted in wartime, but only with independent verification....

Mr. Bush acclaimed the secret surveillance as "crucial to our national security. Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends and allies." But if that were justified, why was Congress not asked for legislative authorization in light of the legal cloud created by FISA and the legislative branch's sympathies shown in the Patriot Act and joint resolution for war? FISA requires court approval for national security wiretaps, and makes it a crime for a person to intentionally engage "in electronic surveillance under color of law, except as authorized by statute."

....The president maintained that, "As a result [of the NSA disclosure], our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk." But if secrecy were pivotal to the NSA's surveillance, why is the president continuing the eavesdropping? And why is he so carefree about risking the liberties of both the living and those yet to be born by flouting the Constitution's separation of powers and conflating constructive criticism with treason?

What's the point of being a rubberstamp judge when BushCo can't even be bothered rubber-stamping any more?

Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work.

You know why? Integrity. We need more people in this country to walk their talk.

But wait - Bush said he had consulted NASA! What did NASA say about all the wire-tapping?????

Curiously, they are silent on the matter. Hmmm. What does this mean?

It's a great night for good news: Abramoff ready to squeal, FISA judge resigns, and the wire taps weren't just to overseas locales.

Tomorrow should be something when the mealy-mouthed MSM wakes up to this.


categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Yale Law School | @YLS | "But What's the Legal Case for Preemption | Committee on the Present Danger | First Amendment to the United States Constitution: Information | President Bush Meets with Prime Minister Blair | Democracy Itself is in Grave Danger | LA Weekly: Features: Clear and Present Danger : The Air That We Breathe | Daily Dunklin Democrat: Columns: Nat Henthoff | Impeachable Offense | Consortiumnews.com | The Washington Monthly

11:52:28 PM    



Slut-O-Meter


How slutty is your blog, quantitatively speaking?

Slut-o-meter evaluates the promiscuity of the subject you enter by comparing the number of Google search results with and without "safe-search" enabled. A complete slut would return unsafe results and no safe results. Alternatively, a clean name should produce the same number of safe and unsafe results. The "promiscuity" percentage we give you is calculated as follows:

Magicformula

Negative Promiscuity? Huh?

If you're wondering why some subjects have a negative promiscuity, well, you're not alone. In general, this happens when the number of safe results is greater than the number of unsafe results (or if there are no unsafe results whatsoever). We're not quite sure why this is the case, but we believe that Google is not telling us the truth.

Results for "Earl Bockenfeld's Radio Weblog": Promiscuity: -38.11% (287 / 753)

 Hat tip to Majikthise: Promiscuity: 6.02% (130000 / 2160000)


categories: Internet
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8:47:44 PM    



Bush's Snoopergate

The president was so desperate to kill The New York Times' eavesdropping story, he summoned the paper's editor and publisher to the Oval Office. But it wasn’t just out of concern about national security.

I don't think I've ever read anything as scathing as this from the mainstream media. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter lays it on the line and spells out a damn good case for impeachment, which I suspect is what he intended.

Here are some samples, but please read this entire article and pass it around:
President Bush came out swinging on Snoopergate—he made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

No wonder Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act....

No, Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker. He insists he had “legal authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing force.” But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law. And the post 9/11 congressional resolution authorizing “all necessary force” in fighting terrorism was made in clear reference to military intervention. It did not scrap the Constitution and allow the president to do whatever he pleased in any area in the name of fighting terrorism....

This time, the president knew publication would cause him great embarrassment and trouble for the rest of his presidency. It was for that reason—and less out of genuine concern about national security—that George W. Bush tried so hard to kill the New York Times story.

In the meantime, it is unlikely that Bush will echo President Kennedy in 1961. After JFK managed to tone down a New York Times story by Tad Szulc on the Bay of Pigs invasion, he confided to Times editor Turner Catledge that he wished the paper had printed the whole story because it might have spared him such a stunning defeat in Cuba.

This time, the president knew publication would cause him great embarrassment and trouble for the rest of his presidency. It was for that reason—and less out of genuine concern about national security—that George W. Bush tried so hard to kill the New York Times story.

Bush today was saying, he took the oath of office to uphold the Constitution. So whatever he says or does therefore upholds the Constitution. That makes barroom sense, I quess. This is government of drunken fools, the rest of us be damned. Apparently.

Bush had his "I AM NOT A CROOK, moment when he said "I am not a dictator!" I don't know if he quipped, "But I play one on TV." That's the one that goes in the history books.

Senator Byrd Just Gave the "Fuck the King" speech on the Senate floor, THE PRESIDENT IS NOT ABOVE THE LAW. Reccomended viewing to those who have no hope for this country. By the way, he was really pissed!

Americans have been stunned at the recent news of the abuses of power by an overzealous President. It has become apparent that this Administration has engaged in a consistent and unrelenting pattern of abuse against our Country's law-abiding citizens, and against our Constitution.

I continue to be shocked and astounded by the breadth with which the Administration undermines the constitutional protections afforded to the people, and the arrogance with which it rebukes the powers held by the Legislative and Judicial Branches. The President has cast off federal law, enacted by Congress, often bearing his own signature, as mere formality. He has rebuffed the rule of law, and he has trivialized and trampled upon the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizures guaranteed to Americans by the United States Constitution.

I am reminded of Thomas Payne's famous words, "These are the times that try men's souls."

These astounding revelations about the bending and contorting of the Constitution to justify a grasping, irresponsible Administration under the banner of "national security" are an outrage. Congress can no longer sit on the sidelines. It is time to ask hard questions of the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of the CIA. The White House should not be allowed to exempt itself from answering the same questions simply because it might assert some kind of "executive privilege" in order to avoid further embarrassment.

The practice of domestic spying on citizens should halt immediately. Oversight hearings need to be conducted. Judicial action may be in order. We need to finally be given answers to our questions: where is the constitutional and statutory authority for spying on American citizens, what is the content of these classified legal opinions asserting there is a legality in this criminal usurpation of rights, who is responsible for this dangerous and unconstitutional policy, and how many American citizens' lives have been unknowingly affected?

Dick Durbin, Senator from Illinois said "Senator Byrd's speech should be read by every American...."


categories: Outrages
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12:57:30 AM    


Monday, December 19, 2005



JibJab's Year 205 In Review

The latest one is really a good one.



categories: Humor
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11:24:08 AM    


Wednesday, December 14, 2005



Widow Of Slain Soldier Grateful For Support

The despicably vile Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps finally met his match in a large group of military veterans armed with the collective roar of over 100 motorcycle engines in Chelsea OK during the funeral for Sgt John Glen Doles.  Too bad the motorcycles were not present in Topeka KN  but the 500 friends of Sgt. Dominic Sacco held their own against the vile Crypt Keeper, Fred Phelps.

The widow of Army Sgt. Dominic Sacco, killed last month in Iraq, says she's grateful that people stood up to anti-homosexual pastor Fred Phelps' protest outside her husband's funeral service.

About 25 Phelps followers protested during the Dec. 2 service, but some 500 veterans and other supporters lined both sides of the street outside the funeral home to show their disgust for Phelps and his group.

"The support alone on the day of my husband's funeral was enough for me," said the widow, Brandy Sacco. "I was extremely impressed. All I could do was cry. What do you say?"

She had endorsed the idea of a counter protest when Phelps vowed that backers of his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka would picket the funeral. Phelps and his followers have protested more than 60 funerals of soldiers across the country, claiming their deaths are part of God's wrath against the United States.

Brandy Sacco said the turnout in Topeka illustrated the public's distaste for Phelps' tactics.

"If they need to protest, go to Congress and the White House," she said. "Don't protest a fallen soldier."

There have been offers to baby-sit her children, infant son Anthony and 4-year-old daughter Elissa. Neighbors brought food. They offered condolences, sometimes struggling to put into words the sense of loss.

"I've received over 200 sympathy cards," the widow said. "People I don't even know, or know Nick's parents, have donated thousands of dollars to my son's memorial fund."

Sacco, 32, grew up in Albany, N.Y., and had been stationed at Fort Riley since 1997. Assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 13th Armor, he was killed during a firefight Nov. 20 at Taji. It was his second deployment to Iraq, and he was the 59th soldier from the post to die in Iraq.

At least 2,150 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

I give the Phelps' spawn a lot of leeway to spew their garbage because they were horribly beaten as kids, they've had a rough life. Poppa Fred is apparently a real monster who went after his wife and kids with baseball bats, axe handles, mattocks, etc. This is all well known in Topeka, where Fred has been operating his "church" (actually just him and his extended family) for many years. You can read all the sickening details investigated by a local newspaper and included as Exhibit A in a legal document here

Warning: it's not for the weak of stomach.

Does God Hate Fred Phelps?  We don't presume to speak for God unlike a lot of other people.

What we do know is that we are gay, straight, bi, Latino, Southern, Asian-Americans, of German ancestry, Boston Irish, forty something, twenty something, Catholic, Atheist, Jewish, heavyset, athletic, legally blind, hearing-impaired, tall, short, masculine, gender-neutral, feminine, transgender, polyamorous, monogamous, married, single, parents, children, professionals, students, singers, dancers, web designers, janitors, teachers, artists, aspiring rock stars, taxpayers, sisters, brothers, neighbors, friends, and lovers, who won't stand for intolerance, hatred, and violence against the people we love.


categories: Outrages
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6:09:23 PM    


Monday, December 12, 2005



Thank You, Sgt. Julia Atkins

An Army sergeant from Bossier City has been killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb that detonated near her military vehicle.

Sgt. Julia Atkins, 22, died Saturday when the vehicle ran over an insurgent's bomb in Baghdad.

Atkins was a military police officer on second tour of duty in the war, family members said.

Her father, Billy, said Atkins was scheduled to leave Iraq in February. She was planning to get out of the Army, go to college and get married. Her fiancé is also stationed in Iraq.

"I'm proud of her. She served her country and everything. We know the obligation, the burden we had to bear," said Mr. Atkins, who also served in Iraq with the Louisiana National Guard.

Funeral arrangements are pending. Atkins' body has been flown to a military morgue at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Atkins was the 50th female soldier to die in the Iraq war since 2003. Forty-eight were from the United States.

Atkins was stationed at Ford Hood, Texas, her father said. He said he spent time with her at Fort Hood when he went there for training before his National Guard unit was sent to Iraq.

She was travelling with SGT Horn and SPC Linville. SGT Horn suffered minor head injuries. SPC Linville suffered shrapnel injuries to his legs. Both will be sent to Germany for further evaluation.




categories: Outrages
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8:04:56 PM    


Sunday, December 11, 2005



Family Mad When Marine's Body Arrives As Freight

Well, they won't even show the coffins when they have Amrican flags on them.


The San Diego family of a Marine killed in Iraq are upset at the way their loved one's body was sent home. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident.

There's controversy over how the military is transporting the bodies of service members killed overseas, 10News reported.
A local family said fallen soldiers and Marines deserve better and that one would think our war heroes are being transported with dignity, care and respect. It said one would think upon arrival in their hometowns they are greeted with honor. But unfortunately, the family said that is just not the case.


Dead heroes are supposed to come home with their coffins draped with the American flag -- greeted by a color guard.


But in reality, many are arriving as freight on commercial airliners -- stuffed in the belly of a plane with suitcases and other cargo.

"When someone dies in combat, they need to give them due respect they deserve for (the) sacrifice they made," said John Holley.John and Stacey Holley, who were both in the Army, made some calls, and with the help of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, Matthew was greeted with honor and respect."Our familiarity with military protocol and things of that sort allowed us to kind of put our foot down -- we're not sure other parents have that same knowledge," said Stacey Holley.

The Holleys now want to make sure every fallen hero gets the proper welcome.The bodies of dead service members arrive at Dover Air Force Base.From that point, they are sent to their families on commercial airliners.Reporters from 10News called the Defense Department for an explanation. A representative said she did not know why this is happening.
Barbara Boxer For President! This is not about the dead soldier; it's about the family. The soldier is dead and doesn't know his body is being treated like so much merchandise. It's the families, who are alive and in indescribable pain already at losing a son or brother or dear friend, and then have to deal with the anger of knowing their government doesn't care enough about the soldiers to treat their bodies with dignity and respect in death.

Yeah, I think this also demonstrates amazing disrespect for the troops, made all the more ironic by the fact that the current going argument that we should continue to fight in Iraq to honor the sacrifices already made. If we're honoring the sacrifice, being put in a cargo hold next to golf clubs and baby strollers ain't cutting it with me.


categories: Outrages
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10:09:58 PM    


Saturday, December 10, 2005



Are Airport ID Checks Legally Enforced?

John Gilmore is suing the government because he doesn't think he should be required to show ID before boarding a commercial flight. But he claims that the government says the ID requirement is necessary for security but has refused to identify any actual regulation requiring it. What's this with SECRET LAWS?

John Gilmore, an early employee of Sun Microsystems and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the answer should be "no." The libertarian millionaire sued the Bush administration, which claims that the ID requirement is necessary for security but has refused to identify any actual regulation requiring it.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals seemed skeptical of the Bush administration's defense of secret laws and regulations but stopped short of suggesting that such a rule would be necessarily unconstitutional.

"How do we know there's an order?" Judge Thomas Nelson asked. "Because you said there was?"

Replied Joshua Waldman, a staff attorney for the Department of Justice: "We couldn't confirm or deny the existence of an order." Even though government regulations required his silence, Waldman said, the situation did seem a "bit peculiar."

"This is America," said James Harrison, a lawyer representing Gilmore. "We do not have secret laws. Period."

Harrison stressed that Gilmore was happy to go through a metal detector.

On the courthouse steps after the arguments, Gilmore said he felt confident about the case and welcomed a verbal concession from the Justice Department. "I was glad the government admitted it was 'peculiar' and Orwellian to make secret laws," Gilmore said.

The Justice Department has said it could identify the secret law under seal, which would be available to the 9th Circuit but not necessarily Gilmore's lawyers. But any public description would not be permitted, the department said.

WTF? Call me naive, but I've never heard of a secret law. I've heard of secret courts and secret evidence — which are bad enough already — but not secret laws. When did this happen?

And another thing. How could it possibly harm national security to identify the text of the law that requires passengers to show ID before boarding a plane? Maybe someone with a more vivid imagination than me can come up with something, but I can't.

What is this?  Congress is passing laws that the American public isn't allowed to know about? Any of us might be prosecuted under one of these laws that we don't know exists? Courts are being asked to interpret laws they've never seen?

This gives
Kafakesque a very chilling and newly concrete meaning.



categories: Outrages
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9:00:14 PM    



The Ten Internet Commandments

Just a little something to keep in mind, going into the new year.

  1. Thou shalt not buy merchandise found in pop-up ads or spam.
  2. Thou shalt not post thy email address, phone number, address or social security number to the internet, nor shalt thou post anyone else's.
  3. Thou shalt not forget to update thy Windows every second Tuesday.
  4. Thou shalt not connect to the internet without installing an antivirus, nor shalt thou begin a scan without checking for updates.
  5. Thou shalt not connect to the internet without installing a firewall.
  6. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's credit card number, nor his bank routing number, nor his social security number.
  7. Thou shalt not enter thy credit card number without seeing the tiny padlock icon on thy status bar.
  8. Thou shalt not reply to the email from the Nigerian banker.
  9. Thou shalt not forward chain letters to thy friends and family.
  10. Thou shalt not use "password" as thy password, nor thy birthday, nor thy children's names.


categories: Internet
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2:56:31 PM    


Thursday, December 08, 2005



Coulter Wows 'Em At U Conn

No, she wasn't explaining why she appears on The O'Reilly Factor so much. Instead, she was mocking UConn students for making her job even easier than it usually is.


STORRS, Conn. -- Conservative columnist Ann Coulter cut short a speech at the University of Connecticut amid boos and jeers, and decided to hold a question-and-answer session instead.

"I love to engage in repartee with people who are stupider than I am," Coulter told the crowd of 2,600 Wednesday.

Before cutting off her speech after about 15 minutes, Coulter called Bill Clinton an "executive buffoon" who won the presidency only because Ross Perot took 19 percent of the vote.

Coulter's appearance prompted protests from several student groups. About 100 people rallied outside the auditorium where she spoke, saying she spread a message of intolerance.

"We encourage diverse opinion at UConn, but this is blatant hate speech," said Eric Knudsen, a 19-year-old sophomore journalism and social welfare major who heads campus group Students Against Hate.

It wasn't the first time Coulter has had trouble at a university speech. In October 2004, two men ran onstage and threw custard pies as she was giving a speech at the University of Arizona.

The UConn Undergraduate Student Government paid the controversial pundit $16,000 to speak -- and DC's own Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute kicked in untold thousands as well -- but Coulter lasted only fifteen minutes before using chants of "You suck, you suck" as an excuse to cut her speech short and go straight to the Q & A section of the evening.

Sample Q & A:

One student asked what she would do if she had a child who came out as gay.

Coulter replied: "I'd say, `Did I ever tell you you're adopted?'"

After a half hour of that, Coulter went back to her hotel room, counted her cash, and licked a Diet Newport for dinner. If she had better legs, we'd swear she was the new Don Rickles.

TODAY:  A tragic day in history, December 8, 1961 is the birth day of Ann Coulter.



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7:58:31 PM    



Murtha Versus Lieberman - Whose Right?

Lieberman yesterday: "It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril."

Murtha today: "Undermining his credibility? What has he said that would give him credibility?"

MURTHA:Now, you remember, I wrote to the president in September 4th of 2003. I got a letter back in April 6th, 2004. The president didn't write back. I received a response from a deputy undersecretary -- paints a totally rosy, unrealistic picture, saying 200,000 Iraqis -- now, hear what I'm saying -- 200,000 Iraqis under arms, reconstruction projects and 70 percent of Iraqis feel -- or 2,200 reconstruction projects -- 70 percent of Iraqis feel life is good.

The irony is that this was the month with the most U.S. deaths; 137 were killed. But that's what they wrote to me. Then we have Abu Ghraib that very year.

Excerpts of BBC article Laureate blasts Iraq lies

Most politicians "are interested not in truth but in power and the maintenance of that power", the 75-year-old ( Pinter )said.

Politicians feel it is "essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives". "You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good."

Referring to Blair's support for the US-led war on Iraq, Pinter described the "pathetic and supine" Great Britain as "a bleating little lamb tagging behind (the US) on a lead".

He called for President Bush and Prime Minister Blair to be "arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice".

MURTHA: Twenty years it's going to take to settle this thing. The American people is not going to put up with it; can't afford it. We have spent $277 billion. That's what's been appropriated for this operation. We have $50 billion sitting on the table right now in our supplemental, or bridge fund we call it, in the Appropriations Committee. They're going to ask for another $100 billion next year.

MURTHA: But the problem is they're just as vulnerable. The biggest vulnerability we have in Iraq is the convoys. Every convoy is attacked. When I was in Anbar, at Haditha, every single convoy was attacked that goes there to bring the logistics and supplies that they need. That's the most vulnerable part of our deployment.

And if you have half the troops there, you're going to still have to supply them, resupply them on the ground and they're going to be attacked.

When I said we can't win a military victory, it's because the Iraqis have turned against us. They throw a hand grenade or a rocket into American forces and the people run into the crowd and they -- nobody tells them where they are.

I am convinced, and everything that I've read, the conclusion I've reached is there will be less terrorism, there will be less danger to the United States and it'll be less insurgency once we're out.

MURTHA: And yet the National Guard commander called me and said we need a billion dollars in the budget to take care of activities like Katrina. They didn't have radios, today, at four years after the attack of 9/11, didn't have radios to talk to the regular Army in the United States.

I visited four bases, or three bases earlier this year -- Fort Bragg, Hood, and Stewart. The commanders told me the troops going to Iraq, because of lack of ground equipment, were the lowest level of readiness. And now when they got over there, they'd get more equipment. We have a $50 billion backlog of equipment that has to be recapitalized and rehabilitated. So you can see, I'm so concerned.

MURTHA: I have had 12 senators call me -- mostly calling about information.   One senator, I said -- you know, they're all running for president -- but to one senator I said, "This is a watershed event for you, Senator. You'd better get off the middle ground.  And that senator did not like what I said.

MURTHA: Well, he was obviously a Democrat.  Were they all Democrats that called you?

MURTHA: No, no. They weren't all Democrats. But one of the other things I said to this one Republican senator, I said, "You know, I shouldn't have criticized Cheney. He's a good friend of mine." He said, "My wife loved it."



categories: Outrages
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12:40:02 AM    


Wednesday, December 07, 2005



Military Misleads Families About 10 Marine Deaths

It looks like they lied in order to make this seem a "heroic" death the day Bush was giving his "victory" speech.


Pathetic

NEW YORK Why did the U.S. military mislead the media and the families of ten Marines killed near the Iraqi city of Falluja while "on patrol" last week about how they were killed? The military announced on Tuesday that it actually happened at a "promotion" ceremony and they were not on foot patrol as initially reported.

Families of the victims immediately raised questions about the incident and it was unclear whether the site had been properly swept for explosive devices.

The Marines were in a disused flour mill on the outskirts of the city to celebrate the promotion of three soldiers, a military statement said on Tuesday.

As the ceremony ended, the Marines dispersed and one of them is thought to have stepped on a buried pressure plate linked to explosives that caused the devastating blast.

But CNN, for example, reported four days ago, based on military reports, that the dead Marines "were conducting a nighttime foot patrol when a roadside bomb fashioned with large artillery shells detonated."

Misreporting up the chain of command led to the incorrect reporting of the location to the media, Marine officials said.

The death toll was the largest suffered by U.S. soldiers in Iraq in a single incident since August.

Last Friday the Marine Corps had announced that the 10 Marines were on foot patrol and hit in an ambush on Thursday by a roadside bomb, an improvised explosive device, or IED, "made from several large artillery shells," the Marines said, according to the Associated Press dispatch. Eleven Marines were wounded in the explosion.

The attack came was just a day after President George W. Bush had given a speech outlining his strategy for Iraq and saying he would settle for "nothing less than complete victory."

Do they ever tell the truth? They lied about Jessica Lynch and all her buds, they're still lying about it. They lied about Pat Tillman. Who knows how many other stories of soldiers and Marines they've fabricated, lied about? Who knows?

For what it is worth, I saw one of those military analysts on CNN or MSNBC, not sure which, who said that that type of ceremony would never be held anywhere except a secure military base. And certainly not in an abandoned flour mill.

I don't buy the "promotion ceremony" thing either. It's just wrong. They were not there for a "ceremony" in hostile territory. It's still BS.

What are they covering?????


categories: Outrages
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11:37:22 PM    


Sunday, December 04, 2005



Not Fooled By Bill O'Reilly's Fake War On Christmas

Peacenik Christians Kidnapped - Rush, Right-Wing Pill Popper Happy

FOX NEWS: "Is the "war on Christmas" hurting your portfolio?"They had a segment on that said (I kid you not) "The liberals attack on Christmas would cause the stock market to drop and ruin the American economy" I was floored. They even had "experts" on the show to explain how bad liberals are and how bad the economy would be if there was no Christmas.

"Every company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born. Without Christmas, most American businesses would be far less profitable; more than enough reason for businesses to be screaming Merry Christmas." Bill O'Reilly

I always thought Jesus wanted people to give away all their money rather than spend it. I find Bill O'Reilly and his so-called "war on Christmas" blasphemous and absurd.

Everytime I see the right try to take advantage of religion I keep thinking about the one time where the gospels showed Jesus show any anger: when merchants and others were trying to take advantage of the synagogue for personal gain.

What would Jesus do? Probably tear apart Bill O'Reilly's set. Nah, Jesus would never have anything to do with the rich and the powerful. They were never his homies.

CPT confirmed on 11/29 that the 4 human rights workers went missing in Baghdad on 11/26. CPT is a program of Brethren, Quaker and Mennonite Churches (USA & Canada). Rush Limbaugh went on his radio talk show talking about how "part of me is glad" they were kidnapped to show those hand-wringing do-gooders a little reality.

I can see all the war-loving Christians piling on right now. "We're no do-gooders. In fact, do-gooding is bad where we come from. We're flag-waving, Arab shooting, yellow-magnetic-ribbon sporting, gas-guzzling car driving, whoring, snorting Christians! Screw those Christians who believe in peace. Unlike Rush, the CPT is praying for the safe return of their hostage members who are ACTUAL REAL Christians Kidnapped in Iraq in this Peacemaker post at Fuzzy and Blue.

"We were very saddened to see the images of our loved ones on Al Jazeera TV. We are deeply disturbed by their abduction. We pray that those who hold them will be merciful and that they will be released soon. We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the US and UK govts due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people. CPT has worked for the rights of Iraqi prisoners who have been illegally detained and abused by the US govt (read CPTers letters here documenting their good works). We were the 1st people to publicly denounce the torture of Iraqi people at the hands of US forces, long before the western media admitted what was happening at Abu Ghraib. We are some of the few internatls left in Iraq who are telling the truth about what is happening to the Iraqi people We hope that we can continue to do this work and we pray for the speedy release of our beloved teammates." While it is sad that anyone is kidnapped and/or murdered by their kidnappers in Iraq, this kidnapping is doubly sad because these are people who truly try to live as the 4 Gospels (that detail the peaceful, tolerant and loving Ministry of Jesus of Nazareth) ask them to live.

These people are selflessly spreading the word of The Prince of Peace thru humanitarian aid-- and they don't have megachurches or TV ministries. They are not spreading the corrupt and sinister words of the nefarious god of the Religious Right-- and don't let the lying God Squad tell you otherwise.

Jesus would be with the old, the sick, the poor, the troubled, the sad and the sinners. He'd be in the loneliest places with the lonliest people, in the cold and in the worst part of town. He'd be with the forgotten people, under a bridge, drinking wine with the homeless.


UPDATE 12/06/2005: Media writer Neil Gabler, a regular Fox news panelist, asserted that Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and John Gibson are "demagogues" who seek to "rally the masses" with their talk of a purported effort to suppress public recognition of the Christmas holiday. On the December 3 edition of Fox News Watch, Gabler said of those making such accusations: "They'll do it every Christmas. They did it last Christmas; they'll do it next Christmas." Later in the segment, Gabler stated:
"The media, particularly Fox media, has been pumping the hell out of this thing."


Jesus was all for tolerance. And to have -- Bill O'Reilly has made this WAR a huge issue. He's obviously getting a lot of feedback. John Gibson has a book about it, another Fox anchor. I think this is largely a fund-raiser for Jerry Falwell to pick up on some run-amok PC.



categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Crooks and Liars | Crooks and Liars | Booman Tribune ~ Boo! | Daily Kos: OPERATION: FALAFEL | Daily Kos: Somebody stole Christmas ? | Daily Kos: Bill O'Reilly Enemies List a Dud | NPR : 'Daily Show' Correspondent Readies 'The Colbert Report' | Oh Really O'Reilly | BuzzFlash - Daily Headlines and Breaking News | Democratic Underground - Latest Threads

12:46:18 AM    


Saturday, December 03, 2005



Rape - Don't Just Blame The Victim, Prosecute Her

She screamed RAPE - so they raped her again!


Via Kevin Hayden--who's known the victim all her life--this truly degrading holiday story about a 17-year-old girl went to police at the urging of her friends after she was allegedly gang-raped by three men, including her boyfriend. The men testified that the act was consensual. After reviewing all the information and statements, prosecutors decided they didn’t think they could prove a rape allegation, and so declined to prosecute the case.

Instead, they later prosecuted the victim for filing a false police report.

Their stories didn't match up, and of course they also didn't match up to the story she told, which was that they raped her. There were "inconsistencies" in the stories that she and each of the three alleged rapists told. Note that "The three men testified Thursday that the acts were consensual"--that is, they don't deny that they all three had sex with her--they just claim that she consented. To sex with all three of them. He also said he relied on the testimony of a Beaverton police detective and the woman's friends who said she did not act traumatized in the days following the incident.

This is obviously pretty troubling. If everyone agrees there were significant disputes over the facts, how was it possible to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the woman's version of the story was the false one? The Oregonian provides only this brief explanation:

[Judge Peter] Ackerman explained his decision, saying there were many inconsistencies in the stories of the four, but that he found the young men to be more credible. He also said he relied on the testimony of a Beaverton police detective and the woman's friends who said she did not act traumatized in the days following the incident.

The woman, who is 19 now, could be sentenced to 30 days and a $1,250 fine.

Kevin Hayden, who was present at the trial, made the following comments.

She had a public defender. The guy was formerly a prosecutor. He really seemed to be on the ball to me, better than most PDs I've ever seen or heard of.

When the young woman went to the police, she told everything, even things about herself that weren't flattering. Had she been trying to frame the guys, wouldn't it be reasonable that she'd leave out such details and cast herself in the best light?

Other things the detective found odd: she did not shower for two days after. The detective said most overshower because they feel dirty afterward. So why did this woman not bathe?

Because she was afraid to be naked. Why's that so hard to believe?

There's more like that. Some of her version does sound unusual to me. But nothing she said sounded beyond belief. I came away wondering how and why her credibility was so questioned, as there really was no evidence, just lots of opinions.
only to have the judge turn around and convinct her of filing a false report because there were "inconsistencies" in the stories that she and each of the three alleged rapists told.

P.S. Oh, and as to "not acting traumatized"??--yuh, well, one of the hallmark symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder is--numbing. Is there supposed to be a "Rape Profile" for Police to test for credibility?

The inmates are SO running the USA asylum.

And btw, I believe this is what you'd call an activist fucking judge.


categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: The Observer | UK News | 50000 rapes each year but only 600 | The Observer | UK News | 50000 rapes each year but only 600 | Immigrations Human Cost | When a friend becomes a victimWhen A Friend is Victimized | Special for Rape Victims | gendergeek: Misogynist Public in Blaming the Victim Shocker | Mirror.co.uk - News - RAPE VICTIMS 'ASKING FOR IT' | TalkLeft: Kobe Bryant and Accuser Settle Lawsuit | Outlook: Rape and Myth an Online Chat with Alice Vachss | feministing: Comment on Hager’s true colors

11:45:52 PM    


Friday, December 02, 2005



Friday Cat Blogging






































categories: Humor
Other Stories according to Google: Watermark: Friday Cat Blogging | Watermark: Friday Cat Blogging | Watermark: Friday Cat Blogging | Carnival of the Cats | Friday Cat Blogging | The Countess: Friday Cat Blogging | Bibi's box: Friday Cat Blogging | The Moderate Voice - Friday Cat Blogging | Mouse Words: Friday cat blogging | Schussman.com: Friday cat blogging

2:01:17 AM    



Victory Strategy



"There's a lack of trust that the president has in Cheney and it's connected with Iraq," a source said.
what a coincidence... I don't trust the Bush regime with anything anymore, and thats connected with Iraq too.

IMPEACH BUSH!

(but impeach Cheney first.)


categories: Politics
Other Stories according to Google: Bush: Iraq conflict ‘will take time and patience’ - Conflict in | Bush to lay out Iraq victory strategy - Yahoo! News | MyDD :: Cheney Attacks, Still No Victory Strategy | Exit Strategy or Victory Strategy ? - Carnegie Endowment for | United Press International - Security & Terrorism - Bush releases | Telegraph | News | Bush signals withdrawal with new victory strategy | The Raw Story | Bush speech to outline ' victory strategy ' for Iraq | CBS News | Exit Plan Or Victory Strategy ? | November 11, 2003 02:45:44 | AM - Bush unveils Iraq victory strategy | Exit Strategy or Victory Strategy ?

1:54:52 AM    



Barbara Bush Ticked At Aides

Wasn't it Nixon who said of Barbara Bush,  "She really knows how to hate"?  Kind of makes a person wonder what she has in store for old Dick and CO. We are so lucky to be living in such times you can't pay for entertainment like this
.

The Washington Note

Barbara Bush is allegedly TICKED off at Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Andy Card, nearly all of them -- except Karen Hughes -- for how her boy is faring in the hearts and minds of Americans.

The matriarch of the Bush clan is colder than North Pole ice right now to those around her son who she thinks have undermined him. I'll tell who my sources are if Patrick Fitzgerald gives a call and makes me -- but the sources are very close to Poppa Bush (41), who has been traveling a bit with some of his old entourage, including Brent Scowcroft and others of the first Bush regime.

The role of Vice President Dick Cheney as the administration's point man in security policy appears over, according to administration sources.

Over the last two months Mr. Cheney has been granted decreasing access to the Oval Office, the sources said on the condition of anonymity. The two men still meet, but the close staff work between the president and vice president has ended.

"Cheney's influence has waned not only because of bad chemistry, but because the White House no longer formulates policy," another source said.

"There's nothing to input into. Cheney is smart and knowledgeable, but he as well as Bush are ducking all the time to avoid the bullets.

Cheney may be tougher to dump than Don Regan, but then again, Barbara Bush is one of those wonders of nature (we hear) who knows no limits and can easily surge beyond category 5 hurricane winds.

Should be interesting to watch the role of the First Mother in the coming couple of months. Watch for a lot to change right after the State of the Union address.

Cheney and Chimpy's mom in a cage match -- until only one of them walks out.  Any bets on who would win?


categories: Politics
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1:21:21 AM    




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