Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Widespread Failure of Intelligence

The excuses the president's men and the talking-point commandos of the Blogosphere make about the apparent legality of his decision to sacrifice the career of Valerie Plame, and very likely the lives of CIA agents and staff in foreign nations who worked with her at the CIA front, Brewster Jennings are starkly self-serving fantasies.

There is legal culpability, and then there is personal responsibility. Republicans are all in general agreement that a lack of personal responsibility is the cause for all our social ills. Well, if poor black welfare mothers can undermine our social fabric by their lack of personal responsibility, imagine what happens when rich white republicans in elected office play games with the power we donate to them, in expectation of faithful execution of the duties of their various offices?

I do not expect to hear whining about technicalities.

This president has committed acts that are factual "High Crimes and Misdemenors." He has, in fact, used executive branch national security assets as if they were low-value poker chips. And these national security assets are, in fact, lives. Perhaps in some cases, the past tense is appropriate. But, as is proper, the CIA will neither confirm nor deny. But there may be a few more stars on the wall at Langley when it becomes possible, for reasons of national security, to admit that someone died in the service of their country due to the geopolitical ambitions of purblind fools like George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld.

NOC NOC, Who's There?

There is truth, and there are consequences.

If only they WOULD outsource some intelligence!

The Raw Story | On Cheney, Rumsfeld order, US outsourcing special ops, intelligence to Iraq terror group, intelligence officials say:

"One of the operational assets being used by the Defense Department is a right-wing terrorist organization known as Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), which is being “run” in two southern regional areas of Iran. They are Baluchistan, a Sunni stronghold, and Khuzestan, a Shia region where a series of recent attacks has left many dead and hundreds injured in the last three months.

One former counterintelligence official, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the information, describes the Pentagon as pushing MEK shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The drive to use the insurgent group was said to have been advanced by the Pentagon under the influence of the Vice President’s office and opposed by the State Department, National Security Council and then-National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice.

“The MEK is run by a brother and sister who were given bases in northern Baghdad by Saddam,” the intelligence official told RAW STORY. “The US army secured a key MEK facility 60 miles northwest of Baghdad shortly after the 2003 invasion, but they did not secure the MEK and let them basically be because [then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul] Wolfowitz was thinking ahead to Iran.�"

My estimation of the brilliant strategic imagination of Cheney and Rumsfield continues to implode. What could POSSIBLY go wrong with arming and encourage Islamist terrorists, like Osama Bin Ladin, for example?

One is led to wonder if the thinking amounts to, "well, it worked once, it might work again."

George, the voices in my head says the voices in your head aren't God.

I don't often reprint press-releases, much less in full. This is an exception. If this is documented to the usual standards of The Beeb - high - than it explains a great deal about George Bush.

President George W Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, a new BBC series reveals.

In Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, a major three-part series on BBC TWO (at 9.00pm on Monday 10, Monday 17 and Monday 24 October), Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minister, and Nabil Shaath, his Foreign Minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003.

Nabil Shaath says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"

Abu Mazen was at the same meeting and recounts how President Bush told him: "I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state."

The series charts the attempts to bring peace to the Middle East, from President Bill Clinton's peace talks in 1999/2000 to Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last August.

Norma Percy, series producer of The 50 Years War (1998) returns, with producers Mark Anderson and Dan Edge, to tell the inside story of another seven years of crisis.

Presidents and Prime Ministers, their generals and ministers tell what happened behind closed doors as peace talks failed and the intifada exploded.

Israel and the Arabs: Elusive Peace - Mondays 10, 17 and 24 October, from 9.00 to 10.00pm on BBC TWO.

Laura Bush and the Lie Clock

Every once in a while you get a clue. This clue ended up in my email. Every once in a while we need to look away from what we leet types do - read and blog - and pay attention to the media of folks who don't pay much attention to most media. Or in other words, "the common wisdom," a little insight into what the broad general culture believes.

Now, the thing about these email chains is that they are not passive. Anything that causes anyone not laugh or sniffle hits the bit bucket. The fact that this got to me at all proves that it's been approved for distribution hundreds, if not thousands of times.

Were I George Bush, this would scare the crap out of me. But then, if I were George Bush, I probably woudn't realize how stupid I was.

Laura Bush died and went to heaven.

As she stood in front of St. Peter at the Pearly
Gates she saw a huge wall of clocks behind him.

She asked,
"What are all those clocks for"?

St. Peter answered,
"Those are Lie-Clocks.
Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock.
Every time you lie, the hands on your clock will move".

"Oh", said Laura.

"Who's clock is that"?

"That's Mother Teresa's.
The hands have never moved,
indicating that she never told a lie".

"Whose clock is that?"

"That's Abraham Lincoln's clock.
The hands have only moved twice,
telling us that Abe only told 2 lies in his entire life".

"Where's George's clock"?
Laura asked.

"George's clock is in Jesus' office. He's using it as a ceiling fan . . . "

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ah, so that's what a "unitary executive" is.

Balkinization: Reductio Ad Dictatorem

"This theory, taken to its logical conclusions, gives the President the ability to treat anyone living in the United States, including particularly U.S. citizens, as wartime enemies without having to prove their disloyalty to anyone outside the executive branch. In so doing, it offers him what can only be called dictatorial powers-- that is, the power to suspend ordinary civil liberties protections on his say so. The limits on what the President may do under this theory are entirely political-- the question is whether the American people will stand for what the President has done if they discover what he has done in their name. But if the American people don't know what their executive is doing, they can hardly be in a position to object. And so the President has tried to keep secret exactly what he has done under the unreasonable and overreaching theory of Presidential power that his Administration has repeatedly asserted in its legal briefs and public statements.

Attorney General Gonzales' latest admission should hardly surprise us once we understand how much power the President actually thinks he has. Given that we will probably never know what the President has been doing in our name, we can only hope that he has not actually tried to exercise all the power he (wrongfully) thinks he possesses.

An Enlightening Fog of Lies and Evasions.

Our leaders think by refusing to tell us "certain things" that we will not have the ability to discern what those "certain things" are.

But if you read the ongoing story regarding FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds the patterns of refusals starts building a vague shape that lead to a pretty safe assumption: that there has been a pattern of political interference to protect the leadership of Saudi Arabia from questions by our press and by our investigatory bodies.

What might we find? One does not have to speculate as to that; we merely need presume that it's something we would profoundly disapprove of. It is stupid to tolerate such interference with national security for anyone's political comfort, or for the sake of diplomatic niceity nor is it wise to trust anyone who interferes in such matters and then hides behind "national security" in order to avoid accountability.

National Security is not the same thing as "Personal Political Survival."

I do not care if the Saudis were complicit in 9/11 in conspiracy with likeminded Dominionists and Theocrats here, as some would suggest. It's equally likely the Saudis would be deeply embarrassed by revelations that they were deeply tied to and directly supported Osama Bin Ladin - for reasons they perhaps felt good and proper.

Or it could just have been State Department collywobbles about interrogating the leaders of a sovereign nation that controls a big hunk of our energy supply.

But conspiracy, cowardence or calculation matters not in comparison to the sheer idiocy of thinking that if the government does not investigate, nobody else will consider doing so, or consider the "shape" revealed in the fog of lies.

Big Brass Alliance

I lost my alliance links in the last crash and I'm trying to get them back. Since I'd lost this image, I needed to go get it, and in the process found a thing or two worth reading.

AT&T Defends Their "Fat Pipe To NSA"

In response to the EFF's lawsuit against AT&T for funneling...well...everything, straight to the NSA, the telecom giant revealed yesterday how they intend to defend themselves: Deprive the plaintiff of the evidence.

Full story at Blognonymous added 2006-04-12 11:27:02

An Inconvienent Truth

Al Gore has made a movie around his speech's last year regarding Global Warming. You can view the trailer here. You can go to the website for here and take a short test on how you factor into this crisis that will eventually overtake us

Full story at Its my right to be left of the center added 2006-04-12 10:03:17

In our land of Republicans and Democrat-Republicans, it's too bad there isn't any opposition party that Feingold could turn to! If, like me, you are sick of the Repugnants

Full story at Blue Collar Politics Blog added 2006-03-15 05:32:38

A Must-Read

The New Yorker: FactWould President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?

I cannot possibly extract talking points from this - it's all critically important and I will not pick out a gotcha here or a scare quote there. Go. Read. Think.

Dear Ken, we have you by the balls; Yours sincerely: Howard Dean.

What little I know about Howard Dean would lead me to believe that he would never ask a question with such devastating implications without already having answers in hand.

News Alert: DNC: Dean Sends Letter To Mehlman on New Hampshire Phone-Jamming:

Ken Mehlman
Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington DC, 20003

Dear Ken,

Yesterday, the AP ran a story entitled "Phone Jamming Records Point to White House." This story provides new details about the role of the New Hampshire Republican Party in the phone-jamming scandal and raises serious questions as to whether the RNC and the White House were actively involved.

As you know, on Election Day, a telemarketer hired by the New Hampshire GOP jammed telephone lines at five state Democratic and one firefighters union get-out-the-vote phone banks. The AP noted yesterday that the "records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 - as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down."

The AP story also stated that virtually all the calls to the White House went to the same number (202-456-6173) which currently rings inside the political affairs office. Although the White House declined today to say which staffer was assigned that phone number in 2002, you may be able to shed some light on the subject, as you were the White House Political Director during that time.

You have often spoken of the importance of making sure that every vote counts. In that spirit, we hope that you will take the necessary steps to clear up the lingering confusion surrounding the RNC and the White House's role in this scandal by answering these questions:

  • James Tobin called the White House two dozen times in three days. Whom was he calling? With whom did he speak? Whom did he work with in the office of political affairs?
  • Tobin worked directly with Terry Nelson, who was then political director at the RNC. When will Mr. Nelson answer questions about his role in the scandal? Whom else at the RNC did Tobin work with?
  • Did the White House authorize this phone jamming scheme and, if so, who specifically did so? Or was the phone jamming authorized by the RNC?
  • Was anyone on the White House staff or at the RNC involved in concocting, authorizing, implementing or concealing this scheme?

The overt effort by the New Hampshire Republican Party to suppress the vote on Election Day in 2002 is unconscionable. The people of New Hampshire deserve an apology. And America deserves to know exactly how deeply the White House and the RNC were involved in the planning and execution of this scheme. We hope you will provide the answers we need so we can move forward together.

Governor Howard Dean, MD

Now, that is how a gentleman puts the screws to someone. "We hope you will provide the answers we need so we can move forward together."

"...Because it would be better to have your word in court than that of your executive assistant, various documents we have obtained and the photocopies from mail room clerk that was working for us."

Greg Palast: Gangster Government -- A Leaky President Runs Afoul of "Little Rico"

If you doubt Greg Palast or Buzzflash, as you may since they are Notorious Liberals, consult any honest lawyer who doesn't have to seek re-election as a Republican.

Or just look up the statutes for yourself.

Greg Palast: Gangster Government -- A Leaky President Runs Afoul of "Little Rico":
"On February 10, 2004, our not-so-dumb-as-he-sounds President stated, 'Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing. ...And if people have got solid information, please come forward with it.'

Notice Bush's cleverly crafted words. He says he can't name anyone who leaked this 'classified' info -- knowing full well he'd de-classified it. Far from letting Bush off the hook, it worsens the crime. For years, I worked as a government investigator and, let me tell you, Bush and Cheney withholding material information from the grand jury is a felony. Several felonies, actually: abuse of legal process, fraud, racketeering and, that old standby, obstruction of justice.

If you or I had manipulated the legal system this way, we'd be breaking rocks on a chain gang. We wouldn't even get a trial -- most judges would consider this a 'fraud upon the court' and send us to the slammer in minutes using the bench's power to administer instant punishment for contempt of the judicial system."

Lies, Damned Lies, and "Christianity."

GLAMOUR Magazine: The new lies about women's health :

"I no longer trust FDA decisions or materials generated [by the government]. Ten years ago, I would not have had to scrutinize government information. Now I don't feel comfortable giving it to my patients." - Ruth Shaber, M.D., OBGYN
That's because increasingly decisions are made and information is presented that has a social and religious agenda, and is often starkly false to fact.

[L]ast year, the office of Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) examined the most popular federally funded abstinence-only sex-education programs and found that nearly 70 percent of them include "serious medical or scientific errors." Among the wholly inaccurate claims: that up to 10 percent of women become sterile after an abortion and that "premature birth, a major cause of mental retardation, is increased following the abortion of a first pregnancy." Says Princeton's Trussell, "It's an outrage. This is clearly another ideological distortion of what the real evidence shows." Yet such erroneous facts continue to be taught in public school districts in Montana, California, Washington, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

As a result, many experts believe abstinence-only programs leave teens unprotected against pregnancy and STDs. "These young women and men who are taught that condoms have a high failure rate say, 'Well they do not work anyway, so why bother?'" observes Kellie Flood-Schaffer, M.D., an ob-gyn and associate professor at Texas Tech in Lubbock, where high-schoolers are taught a strict abstinence-only health curriculum. "I'm a Catholic. I believe in abstinence until marriage. But I'm also a realist. And condoms prevent a huge percentage of STDs and are 90 percent effective against pregnancy."

I've learned over my life that if someone feels a need to lie to me in order to influence me to do what they think I should do, it's either because what they think is probably wrong or at least very arguable. It often seems to bethe case that they are basing their view of right and wrong on values I may well not share, and they are not willing to subject their values to my examination because they have little faith in the outcome.

I do not respect such self-styled authorities - and it's not just oppositional reflex. An authority must be authoritative. If their Authority depends on the ignorance of others, it also means that their advice is quite possibly dangerous, being based on unspoken and unexamined assumptions that may be utterly false.

How did it happen? Many prominent figures in science and public health think they know the answer. "People believe that religiously based social conservatives have direct lines to the powers that be within the U.S. government, the administration, Congress, and are influencing public-health policy, practice and research in ways that are unprecedented and very dangerous," says Judith Auerbach, Ph.D., a former NIH official who is now a vice president at the nonprofit American Foundation for AIDS Research. In fact, Glamour, has found that on issues ranging from STDs to birth control, some radical conservative activists have used fudged and sometimes flatly false data to persuade the government to promote their agenda of abstinence until marriage. The fallout: Young women now read false data on government websites, learn bogus information in federally funded sex-education programs and struggle to get safe, legal contraceptives all of which, critics argue, may put them at greater risk for unplanned pregnancies and STDs.

"Abstinence is a laudable goal," says Deborah Arrindell, vice president of health policy for the nonpartisan American Social Health Association, an STD-awareness group. "But it is not how young women live their lives. The reality is that most women have premarital sex. Our government is focusing not on women's health but on a moral agenda." Consider this a wake-up call.

The religious right is far too influenced by the theology of Augustine, preferring his dour view of humanity even to the tolerant view of Jesus.

"Women," he said, "Are fit only to be wives and whores." Of course, wives need no protection against pregnancy and STD's, and whores deserve none. There's your foundation for "Abstinence Only" sex education - there is no room for those who wish to be neither nether wife nor whore, nor room for men who would prefer neither as well.

It's a very, very limiting world view - especially when you start thinking about your children in that way. Worse yet, if you depend on such “advice” as may be found on such “Christian” resources as the “Family Life Forum” you could easily end up driving your children away, or at least causing them to completely reject your spirituality, moral values and influence.

When the first resorts are censorship, restrictions and coercion – that shows to me a lack of faith in the value of one’s faith in teaching children how to proceed in life when you are not watching. Even if you do manage to cause them to avoid all occasions of sin for the same reason they reflexively avoid open flames and hot stoves, they will not have learned why – just that looking at naked people is something that makes “good” people freak out and beat you. There's one thread there somewhere relating to finding porn on a boy’s computer. Not one post referred to it as being a heaven-sent opportunity to teach important moral lessons, while answering some perfectly legitimate mechanical questions that deeply concern 14 year olds.

Given context, faith and understanding of the meaning of what is up there and given the opportunity to critically examine various moral beliefs and actual versus predicted outcomes – anyone can and should be able to wade through acres of porn without any concern other than boredom. (And possibly friction burns - another little life-lesson.)

The problem is, of course, that those critical thinking skills are so very handy, they tend to be applied to everything in life, especially including those sad collections of dogmas, prescriptions, taboos and false assumptions that most people confuse with the Christian faith.

Counter-example : Red Letter Christians.

In those red letters, He calls us away from the consumerist values that dominate contemporary American consciousness. He calls us to be merciful, which has strong implications for how we think about capital punishment. When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, he probably means we shouldn’t kill them. Most important, if we take Jesus seriously, we will realize that meeting the needs of the poor is a primary responsibility for His followers.

Figuring out just how to relate those radical red letters in the Bible to the complex issues in the modern world will be difficult, but that’s what we’ll try to do.

Gandhi once said that everybody in the world knows what Jesus was teaching in those verses--except Christians! We will try to prove him wrong.

The absolute worst position you can ever be in as a parent is the one that arises from cause your children to feel the need to evade your oversight and guidance. Save for one thing – and that is for them to hold you in contempt for being untrustworthy guides due to valuing superstitious fears over facts. Then, they will assume all your fears are without foundation, and treat even common-sense advice as being faith-based stupidity, instead of just preferring to maintain their own council because they wish to avoid seeing you lose your brains in public.

Trust me on that one. I’m guilty of having rejected the stupid advice of both parents – my mother being a religious addict who’s doctrine changed with the wind and my father – well my father was a racist, a bigot and a traveling salesman who’s only credo was “Never give a sucker an even break.”

I was ashamed of both of them, and not just in the usual teenage sense; they were both equally capable of assumptions about other people that led them to say the most appalling, offensive things. Both of them preferred their delusions and prejudices over any set of positive principles I could see.

Rejecting them both as examples was the only possible way to cope at the time – but that left me to figure out all of that stuff by myself. On the whole, while I’m proud that I was able to do so, I nonetheless had a right to better parenting and better advice and I’ve spent much of my life dealing with the human wreckage left in the wake of such blissful, willful delusions.

Had they actually lied to me about critical matters, and by that lie caused me to come to harm or harm another, as the lies above clearly could, it would be a positive ethical and moral choice to reject them and all they stood for on that basis alone. “Bearing False Witness” is never correct, never justifiable, no matter how you delude yourself that it’s for the best.

Now, I happen to strongly believe that my faith has in fact aided me in coping with a difficult life filled with many bad outcomes. My faith is at base Christian, but by no means circumscribed by any doctrine other than “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I can honestly say I am “born again;” to my great surprise at the age of 15, I took an altar call at a Billy Graham rally. It’s a decision I never regretted, but it never once occurred to me that it gave anyone else the right to judge the validity of my faith, or even be owed comment.

Indeed, in order to avoid such presumptions, I have been generally willing to allow people to assume that my values arise from pagan and eastern influences, when in fact those that I hold and quote are those that solidly confirm my core Gnosis. It’s always nice to have a variety of perspectives and to me, it tends show that many of the things Jesus said are not just true – but pretty obvious to anyone who stops to consider the matter.

So if I say, “an it harm none, do as ye will” it’s as a paraphrase of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s a different view of the same principle, bringing new understanding of that principle. Because, well, there are some things I might want to do unto my neighbor that I might want, but would be harmful to them, or at least, counterproductive.

Setting boundaries, for example; imposing limits and restrictions upon others that I feel that I need and assume that others should welcome, based on my assumptions of their needs and motivations.

I’ve found that leads to very uncertain and dangerous ground, and I have concluded that I am simply not wise enough to intrude into the lives of others or impose upon them (albeit with the best of intentions) and expect any positive outcome.

Some folks who make a very great point of calling themselves "Christian" (and Islamic and Jewish and Scientologist) are widely known by everyone by themselves as "jerks."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Senate Push for Timely Iraq Exit.

"Tell the truth. Fire the incompetents. Get out of Iraq. Have health care for all Americans. These are pretty simple messages, and they're worth fighting for today." - Sen. John Kerry, Meet the Press

John Kerry was appearing on Meet The Press to call for a timely exit from Iraq.

Please sign the petition

I support John Kerry’s Senate resolution for a timely withdrawal from Iraq.

I believe that American combat troops should come home from Iraq in 2006 - not the distant future as President Bush does. Furthermore, I believe we must set a May15th deadline for the Iraqis to form an effective unity government. And, if the Iraqi politicians choose to ignore that deadline, then I believe things will only get worse and we will have no choice but to withdraw immediately.

We want democracy in Iraq, but it’s now the job of Iraqis to build it. Our troops have performed gallantly and heroically. The best way to keep faith with them is to set deadlines for bringing our troops home and getting Iraq on its own two feet. That’s the only way to give their sacrifice its best chance of resulting in success.


Your name here

I signed the petition, of course. It makes sense; we have reached the point of simply enabling a continuing war rather than preventing it.

As always, my support for Kerry is qualified by the fact that he's a Liberal Democrat in the best sense of both words, but nonetheless, he's pretty traditional in his view of the role of government. I trust him to see clearly what's broken; I'm not so sure he's the one I want fixing it. So while I support this campaign - I'm not supporting HIS campaign, save as a last resort.

My libertarian beliefs, and a more general view that our current structure of government is technologically obsolete and an unconscionable waste of time and resources, and is in large measure the means by which we got into this mess. It's something like a dark, coal-fired engine-room, hot, dangerous and difficult to navigate, requiring the knowledge of an engineer to make it go at all, much less anywhere in particular. Now, of course you want to keep stupid people out of dangerous dark places - but there are risks to smart ones being able to do pretty much as they like at the expense of the enterprise. Over my lifetime, I've seen increasing impatience with the proper functioning of government and an increasing reliance on regulatory bailing-wire and legislative duct-tape to manipulate it into doing things that are unconstitutional, impractical or frankly immoral.

What we need is a new and better engine of governance. I don't mean economic philosophy. I don't mean style of government. I mean infrastructure.

We need to rebuild the mechanism that does the practical work of getting from point a to point b, regardless of the who or the why. And in doing so, we need to add some air-filters, smoke alarms and speed regulators to prevent future mishaps of the sort we are currently in the midst of.

In signing this petition, I sent this quote from an earlier post along with it:

I also happen to believe that a robust social safety-net is needed, one engineered so that it doesn't trap people within it's sticky webs by means of punitive restrictions and expensive patronizations. Why? It is best management practice to have ONE system replace hundreds of overlapping and separately administered systems. It saves everyone a great deal of money, and if there is fraud - well, the fewer systems you have, and the fewer decision points in it, the less fraud there will be in an absolute sense.

Hurricane Katrina showed the inability - and the obdurate unwillingness - of our federal government to come running when their citizens needed them. Instead, they hid behind procedure and red tape to avoid being of any use at all - even as the money taxpayers spent towards our government being of use and congress appropriated for their use to that end melted away - like truckloads of ice waiting for authorization to proceed.

We need to start asking what we in common get for our 47% percent investment of our labor into this monstrosity we call government. And we have the right to demand a response.

The total failure of this particular government demonstrates not just ideological problems, but the fact that our infrastructure and regulatory bodies are insufficiently robust to withstand the meddling of political appointees. This needs to change.

But a more fundamental issue needs to change first; our government institutions need to be both transparent and honest; open to review by and participation in by any citizen.

This is coupled to another issue of equal practical value. Practical value. First, your tax dollars should be worked hard, with respect for the effort and time the represent. Second, contact with government at any level should be a positive experience. When you talk to any government official, they should be aware their job is not to control you, but rather to maximize the options (and hence, the liberty) of any citizen, rich or poor.

We also need a system of participatory taxation that allows citizens to legitimately influence their government. I'm in favor of tax simplification, and I generally support the idea of replacing income tax with a universal sales tax of some sort.

But I'd also like to replace welfare with a guaranteed annual income. Why?

Well, it can eliminate all kinds of entitlement programs - and it has a variety of positive economic benefits that are currently taken care of with a huge maze of grants and economic development programs, each with wasteful administrative overhead.

But there's a more important objective here. There are many people in this nation who are pretty smart with money. Let’s use that to keep overall taxes low. To the extent they can make it grow, they get to say where that surplus goes. Lets say you view your GAIN income as play money. Lets say you take that money and invest it for a 10% return. That ten percent is yours to either earmark to any particular budget line item, or to be donated to a campaign-finance pool with any damn strings you like.

We can do this because we have these wonderful things called "computers."

So a billionaire could not just dump a million bucks on a campaign. But he can (I would hope) invest that money for a far better return than most folks in ways that could make a positive social difference and then allocate profits to influence politicians, policy or both. Oh, and George (and anyone else, for that matter) would be free to fund any budget line item to the extent they wished.

And it's a game anyone can play - because there will be a clawback, based on income, minus taxes paid. And these "clawbacks plus" would fund everything that it would be nice if the government could do, if it seemed like a good idea to enough people. So, we are creating a useful and socially responsible game, using money to keep score, and giving recognition and status to people who play it well.

In other words, about half of the federal "budget" would be an un-funded wish-list that would not be accomplished unless enough people felt it was worth it.

The largest reason for having a tax system at all would be to get the nation to sit down once a month and look at the budget. Theirs, that of their communities, and those of their nation – and consider themselves part of and important to each. Imagine a nation in which just half of the population spent an hour or more considering the Way Things Work and how they could be made better.

By taking away the need for our representatives to pack pork and ship it home, we could actually invest in sending smart people who could identify things that need doing, and inform us of them.

Now, some may well say that paying people to not work is insane. And it would be, if it were a general feature of human nature to not work. But I've lived in Canada, and there is a social safety net. People still work; even people on welfare and disability. They volunteer or they get involved in community programs, or they make wonderful artworks; they help out neighbors; all kinds of things. Mostly, they identify potential problems and take care of them before they become big problems. They have the time to be involved in local, provincial and national politics, and are relied on to quite a great extent. GAIN would be the base-level paycheck of any government employee. The “Way off Welfare” could be to find a job – and it could be to seek promotion.

But let it be understood: every citizen is entitled to Welfare – so long as they are fulfilling the constitutional mandate of “Promoting the General Welfare.” There is a “Job Jar” and anyone can drop a job that needs doing into it.

The Canadian system of welfare has done amazing things for the small business community and the entrepreneurial class by making it possible to work on a dream for a year or two, without starving to death. It makes it possible for people to be involved in their communities, to seek further education, and – most importantly – it makes it possible for people to make free-lance and net-based “demand” jobs a full-time career.

The idea is simple; bet on smart people to help you govern effectively instead of betting on stupid people to allow you to get away with governing as you damn well please.

Our government needs to be as lean as possible, with as few full-time employees as possible, relying instead on citizen participation to do much of the work.

Had we used the Internet to address the issue of electronic voting, for instance, I am sure to a degree of factual certainty that we would have saved billions of dollars, and had secure and verifiable voting in 2002. We can do it now. I know that, because much of it has already been identified, tasked and perhaps even worked on to some degree by frustrated computing and encryption professionals.

You see, we do not need a Big Daddy government, and we do not need a Big Mommy either; we need a government that treats us as grownups, until or unless we prove that we are not or cannot function as full adults. Only then should it act toward us in any paternal way.

For most of us, Government should be something we take an active part in to the extent that we can, and to the extent we cannot (or find it more profitable not to,) we need to support the people who do the work of Government.

The attitude of those people toward us should be respectful, co-operative and helpful. We need to start thinking of Government it as a mechanism for effective neighborliness. Neighbors help one another when asked or when needs are obvious, but otherwise mind their own business; especially in regards to matters of private, individual concern.

Our entire economy is becoming driven by service and information. Our government needs to reflect that, because those that regulate us need to understand what it is that we do and what it is that we need. Millionaires, lawyers and religious fanatics govern us. This explains a great deal about our government and who it benefits..

This foresight applies to corporations as much as to government. Despite the clear intention of various Mega-Corps to control and profit by everything in our lives, the ability of people to simply network around them is manifest; at your fingertips. Most of the things Corporations exist to do are actually done as well or better by the thing in front of you, or by individuals networked by means of such things. The reality has already penetrated their IT departments fully, even those where the clue has not yet been transmitted to management or shareholders.

If you want to bet some money for or against this prediction, find small companies who are structured internationally or globally, with all their office structures in the pockets of their employees.

These will be the ones who will be moving and shaking faster and better than anyone else. Ultimately, a corporation has no reason to exist save to bring people together to do profitable things. It was once the best possible way to do it – but the entire decision-making structure of the modern corporation is based on railroads and telegraphs, where middle management was needed to do essentially what a packet-switch network does automatically. Throw in a bit of fuzzy logic to assign value to information based on evaluations of prior submitted information and you might not need a CEO at all.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The "Real" voice of Autism.

The Voice of Autism continues it's PR war against better and more useful perceptions of Autistic Spectrum folks.

The Autism Society of America (ASA) is “the voice of autism.” Their motto is both clever and edifying, because in many cases autistic children cannot speak for themselves. For reasons that remain unclear, autism is the country’s fastest growing developmental disability. If your son or daughter is autistic (including the autism spectrum disorders Aspergers Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder), you must be the voice of your child.

has changed it's slogan in response to "the REAL voice of autism."

About our new slogan

The Autism Society of America, an organization composed almost entirely of non-autistic people and controlled entirely by non-autistic people, which performs few if any useful functions for autistic people, and which on numerous occasions has advocated against the best interests of autistic people, has started to call itself "The Voice of Autism".

In our judgment, such hubris demands a response. So we've changed our tagline to "The Real Voice of Autism"

When we call ourselves "The Real Voice of Autism", we mean by that that we autistics are the real voice of autism, not that we in particular at are. Every autistic, whether he or she contributes to this site, doesn't know this site exists, or hates what we do here, is also "The Real Voice of Autism". If you are autistic, feel free to join us in proclaiming yourself "The Real Voice of Autism"

(P.S.: Preposterous as the Autism Society's claim is, there are plenty of precedents.)

(P.P.S.: Link of the Day about the credibility of the ASA. Enjoy.) Sept 20, 2005

It seems disturbingly ironic that a reporter for a prominant newspaper that serves the Black community accepts the voice of a non-autistic group without at least checking to see if it's not been investigated by another news source.

This is like accepting the Indian Affairs folks word from Washinton that "they are the voice of Native Americans." Or, well, I'm sure you can think of even more apt examples.

There is another aspect of this story that you should cover, Autism manifests differently within the black population. Here's one wild-ass theory for that, included today in the results: I include it as it's purely facinating, and the site also contains a very interesting article on the bioethics of labeling Asperger's children as "defective."

...let's look at one of the key symptoms: high intelligence. Asperger's children are supposed to have lucid speech before four years of age and to have IQs above normal. These traits are pathologized somewhat by calling the speech sometimes repetitive, flat and revolving around the self. The high intelligence is pathologized by calling it obsessive (again, physicians beware, since so many physicians are obsessive), and by finding forms of dyslexia present (whoops! Edward O. Wilson and my entire family have a form of dyslexia that does not interfere with reading ability but does allow one to assume any perspective in perceiving something). These bright children are supposed to lack common sense, which may only mean that they see things more clearly than even their teachers or neurologists do. What would be said about one of my grandson's answers to a kindergarten teacher's question about what was a big thing? He told her, the whole universe was a big thing. Was that lack of common sense? Or perhaps concrete thinking?
Although our cultures are willing to agree that some people exhibit superior physical abilities, they are reluctant to do that for intelligence. Asperger's syndrome may be just a fancy way of calling the class genius a geek or freak.

The Neanderthal theory of autism, Asperger and ADHD There are no active web-sites in black Africa on AS or ADHD and only a few about Autism. The black population in America has a considerably lower prevalence ... - 162k - Cached - Similar pages
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A Suggested Diagnosis of Donald Rumsfield

Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical

Criteria for Staff Personality Disorder

Personality Disorders

Staff Personality Disorder 601.83

A pervasive pattern of condescension, degradation of others, and controlling behavior beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. Condescending or degrading use of body language, vocal inflection, and behavior.
  2. Presentation of two or more markedly different personality styles based entirely on context.
  3. Persistent protection of people in positions of power even if such people have done something unethical or illegal.
  4. Employment in one of the "helping professions", or other situations in which a person has or can secure power over others.
  5. Rigidity in application of rules and explanations to other people
  6. Persistent or stereotyped use of euphemisms, jargon, deceptive language, and double standards in language
  7. Persistent use of degradation, ridicule, and violence, either gratuitously or grossly out of proportion to the situation

See also Rumsfeld, Donald.

From the Guardian Via the Taipai Times and no doubt providing vast amusement to the globe as a whole:
Rice was under pressure to explain her "tactical errors" remark. Rumsfeld was withering in his response, suggesting she did not understand warfare.

"I don't know what she was talking about, to be perfectly honest," he told a radio station in Fargo, North Dakota, earlier this week. "The reality in war is this ... The enemy watches what you do and then adjusts to that, so you have to constantly adjust and change your tactics ... If someone says well, that's a tactical mistake, then I guess it's a lack of understanding ... of what warfare is about."

Oh, no, what ivory-tower Doctor of History could possibly know anything about warfare? Silly woman.

As much as I dispise Condi as "Evilwoman", I am pissed that she put up with this. She's twice as qualified as Rummie. Not that she'd be my pick for secdef, because being twice as qualified as Rummie to be SecDef is still utterly unqualified to - oh, assocate with other human beings, breathe or make a defensible value judgment between the utility of butter vs margerine.

For myself, I'd like a non-evil, non-buttkisser. Her best qualification is that she's not a republican male and therefore not so subject to testosterone poisoning.

Me, I'd suggest Cindy Sheehan. She's actualy perosnally known one soldier, and has spent some time in a ditch, so she's four times as qualified as both together.


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