Friday, August 18, 2006

Maybe he did read it...

Quotes from Camus' The Stranger (translation)

"I would rather not have upset him, but I couldn't see any reason to change my life. Looking back on it, I wasn't unhappy. When I was a student, I had lots of ambitions like that. But when I had to give up my studies I learned very quickly that none of it really mattered."

"At that time, I often thought that if I had had to live in the trunk of a dead tree, with nothing to do but look up at the sky flowing overhead, little by little I would have gotten used to it."

"...for the first time in years, I had this stupid urge to cry, because I could feel how much all these people hated me."

"They [the jury] had before them the basest of crimes, a crime made worse than sordid by the fact that they were dealing with a monster, a man without morals."

"But all the long speeches, all the interminable days and hours that people had spent talking about my soul, had left me with the impression of a colorless swirling river that was making me dizzy."

"How had I not seen that there was nothing more important than an execution, and that when you come right down to it, it was the only thing a man could truly be interested in?"

"'I am on your side. But you have no way of knowing it, because our heart is blind.'"

They never heard of MapQuest?

"If we leave before the mission is complete, if we withdraw, the enemy will follow us home."

So our "enemies" are lost puppies? Guys who won't ask for directions? God help us.

A picture is worth a thousand words

But please feel free to add some more.

Crony Capitalism

SEC Charges Former Officers of Military Body Armor Supplier with Financial Fraud

Washington, D.C., Aug. 17, 2006 - The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced the filing of securities fraud charges against Dawn M. Schlegel and Sandra L. Hatfield, two former officers of DHB Industries, Inc., a major supplier of body armor to the United States military and law enforcement agencies. The SEC alleges that Schlegel, DHB's former Chief Financial Officer, and Hatfield, DHB's former Chief Operating Officer, routinely overstated the value of the company's inventory and directed the booking of numerous fraudulent journal entries in order to reduce the company's cost of goods sold. This had the effect of falsely increasing the company's gross profit margins, and in some instances, net income. As a result of their misconduct, DHB materially misstated key financial information in filings with the SEC and in public statements.

Summer Reading

Note to the White House:

Please stop insulting our intelligence. I know that your entire political strategy involves your belief that the American public is collectively as stupid as a very large bag of hammers (note: we do not necessarily disagree). However, please don't expect us to believe that the president is reading absurdist novels and discoursing on existentialism amidst brush-clearing breaks.

Many have noted the irony of his choice of "reading material," Camus' The Stranger, which involves a westerner killing an Arab without remorse, but give us some credit. Camus? No.

Perhaps he was LISTENING to a cut from Billy Joel's The Stranger:

You might have heard I run with a dangerous crowd
We ain't too pretty we ain't too proud
We might be laughing a bit too loud

No, not even that.

this would be more believable.

I searched my soul for some tiny piece of it that retained the capability to feel sorry for her, and still nothing.

I stole that title from a friend's email.

Watching Katherine Harris, who helped engineer the debacle in Florida which has caused such ruinous harm to our world, suffer a public and catastrophic defeat, is truly the most beautiful example of Schadenfreude we have seen in a very long time.

From (Site Pass required):

The event was called "Soaring for the Senate," and the idea was to show off some of the high-profile endorsements Katherine Harris has received. The problem? As the Orlando Sentinel reports, not one of the nine endorsing officials listed on Harris' event flier showed up for Thursday's event, and one of them said that he actually supports somebody else in the race.

Harris sounds hurt about that last one. "They called back twice and said he'd be here," she tells the Sentinel. "He said he was going to be here on the stage with me today."

Bimodal Expectations for November

The upcoming elections, and the possible results, have been getting a lot of play recently online. Various pundits and tinfoil-hatted experts have been pontificating and spewing wisdom.

I've decided that we're going to get one of two possible outcomes:

1) The Republican and neocon cabal will be destroyed in a flood of holy fire, with ballots from coast to coast demonstrating the nation's utter sickness of corruption, death, greed, hatred, racism, theft, and the desecration of our most sacred national beliefs. The Democrats will take back the House and the Senate, with room to spare, in a wave which would make the 1994 GOP takeover look like nothing.

2) The GOP and Diebold will lie, cheat, steal, use dirty tactics, disenfranchise voters, use hatred and ignorance to divide the electorate like never before, make up fake victories in their war against humanity...and only manage to lose a few seats in Congress.

Barring the most corrupt, conspiracy-laden beliefs, is it possible that anything else happens?

The NSA opinion

The opinion in the wiretapping case is very well-reasoned and is tightly written. She carefully distinguishes between the wiretaps and the data mining under the "state secrets" privilege. She noted that the "TSP' claims were based "solely on what Defendants have publicly admitted," and hence not privileged, while the data mining claims were barred by the secrets privilege. The bifurcated analysis, clearly written with an eye toward surviving appellate challenge, is very persuasive.

The sticky issue in these cases is always the notion of "standing." Federal courts may only hear "cases" or "controversies" brought by parties with recognized justiciable interests. They cannot issue advisory opinions or rule on questions unless put forth by a party that suffered actual harm. To use the jargon, standing requires a showing of an invasion of a legally protected interest that is 1) concrete and particularized and 2) actual or imminent rather than conjectural or hypothetical. There must also be a 3) causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of and 4) it must be likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.

She finds real harm done to specific persons, such as scholars, journalists and (bastards) attorneys, as the surveillance actually interfered with their work.
"Here, Plaintiffs are not asserting speculative allegations. Instead, the declarations asserted by Plaintiffs establish that they are suffering a present concrete injury in addition to a chill of their First Amendment rights. Plaintiffs would be able to continue using the telephone and email in the execution of their professional responsibilities if the Defendants were not undisputedly and admittedly conducting warrantless wiretaps of conversations."
The problem with standing challenges, which will definitely be asserted on appeal, is that it is an easy way out for appellate panels that don't like the result but don't want to go on record in addressing the merits. Another way out comes from the nature of the ruling. This was a grant of summary judgment, a judgment on the pleadings before trial. Such an order involves a finding that there is no question of material fact, and the issue presented to the court is purely a question of law. Appeals courts can reverse that finding, by holding that there were factual issues that needed resolution, without speaking to the merits (and also embarrassing the district judge in so doing).

I honestly am not all that familiar with the 6th Circuit. Quite a few W appointees sit there, so panel makeup will be crucial (these cases are normally heard by a panel of three judges). However, she is certainly sending them a well-crafted district court opinion with no glaring holes.

And kudos to Judge Taylor for some great lines:

We must first note that the Office of the Chief Executive has itself been created, with its powers, by the Constitution. There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all “inherent powers” must derive from that Constitution.

Indeed, since Ex Parte Milligan, we have been taught that the “Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace. . . Again, in Home Building & Loan Ass’n v. Blaisdell, we were taught that no emergency can create power.

Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Double wow.

"The President of the United States, a creature of the same Constitution which gave us these Amendments, has undisputedly violated the Fourth in failing to procure judicial orders as required by FISA, and accordingly has violated the First Amendment Rights of these Plaintiffs as well."

ACLU v. NSA (Eastern District of Michigan). Opinion here.


Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, running as an independent, gets 53 percent of likely voters, with 41 percent for Democratic primary winner Ned Lamont and 4 percent for Republican Alan Schlesinger, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

New Member

Welcome Dienne to our little group. Dienne is a frequent and thoughtful contributor to the Tribune's Voice of the People blog and a welcome addition here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rush's Dumber Brother

RDB (Rush's Dumber Brother) said that "the political party that is known for nothing if not for politicizing the War on Terror claims to be upset that Vice President Dick Cheney was `politicizing' the war when he suggested that Ned Lamont's primary victory over Joe Lieberman could embolden terrorists."

OK, I could refute that, with the landslide of evidence of how the GOP has used "terror" as a bludgeon throughout the Bush years, and has done NOTHING but politicize this nonsense, while ignoring REAL security, but that would be putting on the defense case in the Scopes trial.

RDB went on to claim that "we have never ceased vigorous pursuit of bin Laden." Hmm, the administration dissolved the bin Laden task force? And RDB failed to note that GWB effectively caved into bin Laden's demands by withdrawing troops from Saudi Arabia? But then again, he is RDB.

On Fox News....

I usually don't watch Fox News, because I am not part of their target demographic:

but sometimes, the train wreck impulse just takes over. On Hannity and Colmes last night (Colmes pictured below)

Dick Morris, disgraced buffoon who insists on being called a "former Clinton advisor," said that without the grossly unconstitutional NSA wiretapping program, "the Brooklyn Bridge would certainly have been destroyed."

Right. Iyman Faris? The psychotic Ohio truck driver who wanted to bring down this:

with this:

Amazing. First of all, the truck driver was a delusional psychotic. Next, I doubt that Roebling's masterpiece could br brought down with a blowtorch.

And that whole constitution thing?

First of all, ordinary police work within constitutional bounds would have turned up this bozo, for what he was worth. Morris also claims that you couldn't get a warrant because you didn't know who, where, or what ahead of time, despite the disgracefully low bar set by FISA, so we had to illegally LISTEN TO EVERYONE. There might be a crime out there somewhere so screw that 4th amendment nonsense!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Great quotes from great men

FDR: If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships--the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.

JFK: A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

Pee-Wee's Big Presidentin' Adventure: The United States of America is engaged in a war against an extremist group of folks..

We're Fightin' "Turr"

WASHINGTON -- As the British terror plot was unfolding, the Bush administration quietly tried to take away $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new explosives detection technology. Congressional leaders rejected the idea, the latest in a series of Homeland Security Department steps that have left lawmakers and some of the department's own experts questioning the commitment to create better anti-terror technologies.

Here's a really GREAT quote

From the soon-to-be new CEO of PepsiCo, Indira Nooyi, who was born and raised in India before coming to the States and taking charge of the company which brings us all KenTacoHut at the age of fifty:

She had compared the five fingers of the human hand to the continents of the world, identifying the dominant middle finger as the US. "If used inappropriately - just like the US itself - the middle finger can convey a negative message and get us in trouble."

"Because the US - the middle finger - sticks out so much, we can send the wrong message unintentionally. Unfortunately, I think this is how the rest of the world looks at the US right now."

She be right.

More Misty Watercolored Memories

From August 2002:
"Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the region, extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad, moderates throughout the region would take heart, and our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced."

Vice President Dick Cheney

Some posts just write themselves

Yes, this is real. I know it sounds like the Onion, but it's the real McCoy.


Office of the Press Secretary

(Crawford, Texas)

For Immediate Release August 10, 2006

Fact Sheet: National Strategy to Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy

High-level corruption by senior government officials, or kleptocracy, is a grave and corrosive abuse of power and represents the most invidious type of public corruption. It threatens our national interest and violates our values. It impedes our efforts to promote freedom and democracy, end poverty, and combat international crime and terrorism. Kleptocracy is an obstacle to democratic progress, undermines faith in government institutions, and steals prosperity from the people. Promoting transparent, accountable governance is a critical component of our freedom agenda.

-- President George W. Bush, August 10, 2006

I'll let you read the rest below, but W is out to stop "high-level corruption by senior government officials, in order to promote transparent, accountable governance!!"

Ladies and gentlemen, the comedy stylings of George W. Bush! He's here all week, tip your servers and drive home safely!

Today, The President Unveiled His National Strategy To Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy, Pledging To Confront High-Level, Large-Scale Corruption By Public Officials And Target The Proceeds Of Their Corrupt Acts. This Strategy Is A New Component Of His Plan To Fight Corruption Around The World.

Public corruption erodes democracy, rule of law, and economic well-being by undermining public financial management and accountability, discouraging foreign investment, and stifling economic growth and sustainable development.

Ø Kleptocracy Is A Threat To The Governments And Citizens Of Both Developing And Developed Countries. Corruption by senior officials in executive, judicial, legislative, or other official positions in government can destabilize whole societies and destroy the aspirations of their people for a better way of life.

The President's National Strategy To Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy

This New National Strategy Builds On The President’s Commitment Made With The G-8 Leaders At Their Recent Summit In St. Petersburg.
At the G-8 summit, President Bush committed to promote legal frameworks and a global financial system that will reduce the opportunities for kleptocracies to develop and to deny safe haven to corrupt officials, those who corrupt them, and the proceeds of corrupt activity.

Ø The Strategy Has As Its Foundation In The President’s Proclamation, Made In January 2004, To Generally Deny Entry Into The United States Of Persons Engaged In Or Benefiting From Corruption.

Ø The Strategy Advances Many Of The Objectives In The National Security Strategy By Mobilizing The International Community To Confront Large-Scale Corruption By High-Level Foreign Public Officials And Target The Fruits Of Their Ill-Gotten Gains.

Ø The Strategy Reaffirms The President’s Commitment To Ensure That Integrity And Transparency Triumph Over Corruption And Lawlessness Around The World, Expand The Circle Of Prosperity, And Extend America’s Transformational Democratic Values To All Free And Open Societies.

Specifically, The Strategy Promotes Our Objectives By Committing To:

Ø Launch A Coalition Of International Financial Centers Committed To Denying Access And Financial Safe Haven To Kleptocrats. The United States Government will enhance its work with international financial partners, in the public and private sectors, to pinpoint best practices for identifying, tracing, freezing, and recovering assets illicitly acquired through kleptocracy. The U.S. will also work bilaterally and multilaterally to immobilize kleptocratic foreign public officials using financial and economic sanctions against them and their network of cronies.

Ø Vigorously Prosecute Foreign Corruption Offenses and Seize Illicitly Acquired Assets. In its continuing efforts against bribery of foreign officials, the United States Government will expand its capacity to investigate and prosecute criminal violations associated with high-level foreign official corruption and related money laundering, as well as to seize the proceeds of such crimes.

Ø Deny Physical Safe Haven. We will work closely with international partners to identify kleptocrats and those who corrupt them, and deny such persons entry and safe haven.

Ø Strengthen Multilateral Action Against Bribery. The United States will work with international partners to more vigorously investigate and prosecute those who pay or promise to pay bribes to public officials; to strengthen multilateral and national disciplines to stop bribery of foreign public officials; and to halt bribery of foreign political parties, party officials, and candidates for office.

Ø Facilitate And Reinforce Responsible Repatriation And Use. We will also work with our partners to develop and promote mechanisms that capture and dispose of recovered assets for the benefit of the citizens of countries victimized by high-level public corruption.

Ø Target And Internationalize Enhanced Capacity. The United States will target technical assistance and focus international attention on building capacity to detect, prosecute, and recover the proceeds of high-level public corruption, while helping build strong systems to promote responsible, accountable, and honest governance.

Monday, August 14, 2006

One possible advantage

The new airport rules may tame one of the most boorish monsters out there--the carry-on hog. You know who you are, trying to stuff a suitcase that could hold a small child into the overhead bin. That is why they have those signs saying "baggage claim" all over.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

While on that same topic....

NOTE: The post below is mine (Peter). The wireless network at the house is on the fritz, and Xanth (my 15-year old son) was still signed in. While I'm sure he would agree with these points, I don't want his mom to bust him for dropping the F-bomb.

The topic--Missing the Point.

America's dumbest president gets off the plane from brush-clearing and headed to a fundraiser and then back to brush-clearing to tell us that whatever happened in Britain was:

"a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation."
George, George, George...

First of all, we are not AT WAR. We are OCCUPYING Iraq, but we are not AT WAR (if you disagree, PLEASE 1) identify the "enemy" and 2) identify the "objective." If you can't do that, from Sun Tzu to Clausewitz, shut the fuck up)

Secondly, I can also hardly find a more laughable term than "IslamoFASCISM." Fascism suggests extreme nationalism and an identity with the corporate state. Hmm, I see no NATIONALISM given these are not nation-states, And "FASCISM?" The identification of the corporate state with the polity? Hardly here (but George--see "Halliburton.").

And of course, this has NOTHING to do with OUR FREEDOMS. It has to do with international arrogance, and yes, lessons unlearned from Viet Nam and the "fall" of the "Soviet Union."

Lessons unlearned, where should I begin?

1) Be honest with your citizenry (read Barbara Tuchman's The March of Folly) Admittedly, the American electorate is not comprised of rocket scientists (DocMagoo excepted) but eventually they catch on.

2) You can't bomb people into liking you.

3) Overwhelming military force cannot change fundamental realities on the ground.


"They" don't give a damn about our "freedoms"--honestly, I wonder if we do.

They care about OUR POLICIES. They "care" about us invading an Arab country without provocation. "They" "care" about us supporting repressive regimes in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. "They" care historically about our support of the Shah, who in terms of abusive dictators, made Hussein look like the shallow end of the pool. "They" care about our unconditional support of Israel, having pissed away our role as "honest broker." "They" care about Abu Ghrahib and Gitmo and 14-year old girls raped and killed.

But what do "they" know?

Missing the Point

Well, now we know that Darth Cheney knew of the "terror" plot when he did his rant:
The thing that’s partly disturbing about it [Lieberman's loss] is the fact that, the standpoint of our adversaries, if you will, in this conflict, and the al-Qaeda types, they clearly are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.
My question/observation is--doesn't this whole thing prove the administration to be absolutely WRONG in their approach to "turr?" Odds are, these British "home-grown terrorists," skepticism intact, are probably pissed at their lap dog Tony Blair and his inexplicable support of W's cowboy game. So, the "war on terror" caused it and good old-fashioned police work stopped it. The administration wants war, which causes death and destruction, and they disparage "law enforcement," which stops it.

At the Battle of Yorktown, when the British surrendered, their musicians played "The World Turned Upside Down." That ditty marked the beginning of what would become the United States of America. Perhaps we should play it again.