Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Remedy for Known And Famous Liars

If it looks like a fragging, and a doctor thinks it probably is a fragging, and then the fragging appears to have been covered up by very high level officials, it is unsurprising that people start asking "Why WAS Pat Tillman Fragged, anyway?
Documents shed light on Tillman’s death - Military Affairs - "SAN FRANCISCO - Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“The medical evidence did not match up with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors — whose names were blacked out — said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away."
A group of three in the head strongly suggests aimed fire to me. So the pressing issue is why he was shot and by whom. While I, unlike many fairly reasonable people, am loath to speculate, I find the cover-up itself all the evidence I need to know that whatever the truth is, it probably does not reflect well upon the unit, the Rangers, or Pat's chain of command. That would included our "Deciderator" and Commander in Chief.

This is just one more example of why this administration and it's chosen military leadership no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt. It appears they lie reflexively.

I for one see no need to "wait for all the evidence to come in" to damn them for obvious self-service at the expense of Tillman's family, and the news is full of such ham-fisted coverups, from Gonzolez lying (with an excruciating lack of either skill or panache) to Dick Cheney's absurd claims that he's either a member of the executive branch or not, depending on what statutes are most inconvenient to him that day.

The old saying that, "where there's smoke, there's fire" applies here. When there's so very much smoke, sane people do not wonder so much how the fire started, much less who's fault it is, as to how to put it out.

Me, I say we put them ALL out. Every. Single. One. Impeach the lot. Bush, Cheney, Gonzo, Snow, Chertoff, everyone who has been APPOINTED by Bush; everyone.

It really doesn't matter if they are corrupt, unable to question authority, incompetent, intimidated, blackmailed , brainwashed or just comically gullible. Anything that would explain the motivations for the absolute crapstorm of lies we have been subjected to is reason enough to laugh the bastards out of office. On a sharp, narrow rail.

Bruce Fine on Kieth Olberman

A succinct roundup of the very apolitical reasons why George Bush, Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzolez must go, and why the "political leadership" risk THEIR offices in refusing to allow the question to come to the table.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Well, there went the family values voters....

Vittter is mocked in The Hill for attempting to rebrand himself the Republican Party as "Fiscal Conservatives. - Senate GOP to Vitter: We’ll handle the Republican reputation from here, thanks: "Senate GOP to Vitter: We’ll handle the Republican reputation from here, thanks
By Daphne Retter
July 26, 2007

Oh, how we would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) rose to speak during a Tuesday policy lunch.

Only seven days earlier, he had delivered a heartfelt apology at the same weekly meeting. Fellow Republicans responded with thunderous applause, and most refused to tell reporters how Vitter had addressed his forced public admission that he had committed a “serious sin” and was linked to an alleged prostitution ring.

So just imagine their confusion when Vitter scrambled to his feet a week later. Would he apologize again? Had he committed some new sin?

But no. Instead, he launched into a speech about his thoughts on “rebranding” the party by reclaiming the fiscal conservative mantle.

Yes, that’s right: Vitter, on improving the Republican image.

This time, his colleagues held the applause."

Of course they will all try to fly Vitter's lead kite themselves. Gee, the only topic where they have LESS credibility that on "traditional family values;" fiscal responsibility.

Speaking of health care: Cheney's Pre-Existing Condition

Cheney to get new defibrillator Saturday | Reuters

Clearly there's a widespread shortage of the still-beating hearts of unbaptized infants....

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ok, I've just written a paid post about virtual phone cards, and in order to convince me and my readers, they gave me access to some lovely data. Pingo is a service of a major long distance broker - which means they move VAST amounts of data.

So let's do a little data-mining.

First, the current rate quoted for domestic US long distance is 1.8 cents/minute.

Let's look at rates from the US to Mexico:

Mexico 9.0¢
Mexico - Chihuahua 4.0¢
Mexico - Guadalajara 2.8¢
Mexico - Mexico City 3.0¢
Mexico - Mobile 27.9¢
Mexico - Monterrey 3.0¢
Mexico - Puebla 3.0¢
Mexico - Tlaxcala 5.0¢

Clearly there is enough voice and data traffic via phone between the US and Mexico to justify these rates - rates that for Mexico City, Monterrey, Puebla and Guadalajara are roughly a penny more than US domestic long distance rates quoted by Pingo.

That's an interesting factoid, don't you think?

Let's look at Canada.

1.8 cents/minute, the same as the domestic rate. (with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii.) Hm.

So, from a telecommunications standpoint, Canada and the US are the same market. That I knew already, but it's a surprise to me that so much of Mexico is too. And it cannot be all due to "illegals" calling home. Rates like this are due to big blocks of business traffic being brokered back and forth.

But just to make sure, let's see what a South American would have to cough up to call home from the US.

Bolivia 7.8¢
Bolivia - Cochabamba 5.8¢
Bolivia - La Paz 5.8¢
Bolivia - Mobile 11.8¢

Still not bad, but much more in line with what I would have expected for a call across the equator.

Now, I could mine this rate chart all day for interesting correlations. For instance, I would have expected much lower rates for calling China, considering our enormous trade deficit. I wonder if this reflects infrastructure issues, regulation, or a preference for doing business via web and through brokers. I'd have to know more to be sure, but it's information sources like this that provide a really accurate picture of the patterns of trade and globalization. There's all kinds of sources for "impartial" information about the perils and virtues of Globalization. Me, I prefer the raw data generated by people who have a direct interest keeping that data "clean." It may not tell you what is going on politically, and certainly it will bear no resemblance to what any politician or activist will tell you.

But that's a good thing.

In the case of North America, this gives us a graphic and unavoidable truth - there already IS a North American Union. The powers that be just want to tax it, regulate it, and otherwise impede what is obviously a large and largely unregulated market that primarily benefits those involved in it.

It's anarchic; it's developed as much in spite of government as because of it, and while that has been a fact with the deeply entwined economies of the US and Canada for years and years, a similar commingling with brown folks alarms xenophopbes.

Well, I'm afraid it's a little late. Due to some rather dumb immigration and enforcement policy, it's been easier for Mexican illegals to establish households here than to simply cross the border for seasonal work. This means, of course, there's no reason to concentrate on seasonal work - and now far more than the lettuce crop depends on Mexican workers, documented and otherwise.

You know, sometimes policies are so stupid, so obviouly likely to produce the opposite of the advertised intent, you gotta wonder which is more likely - stupidity or deception. And seeing as I believe this policy change occurred under Bush.

Well, this an many other such data-points tells me that our cultures and economies are entwined to the point where we should be re-considering the whole concept of the "illegality" of economic migration, and more importantly, ask the obvious question of who it benefits when the flow of labor this way and money that way is choked off.

From the rumbles and rumors I get, it seems to me that economic migration is putting more pressure on the Mexican government than it is on ours - and that the price of educating and providing such small services as our government offers can and should be written off as the best foreign aid package ever. It's a serious threat to a corrupt elite that is very comfortable with maintaining a feudal system that benefits nobody but those in charge.

The United States does not give foreign aid without strings, and there have never been such potentially lucrative strings as these. For one thing, by entwining the economic destiny of the entire stretch of Mexico from Tijuana to the Gulf with our own, we have accidentally created what amounts to a buffer state that is not any more loyal to Mexico City than it is to Washington - but more dependent on the economy of the US Southwest than it is on the rest of Mexico.

And any circumstances that allows you to educate the children of potential competitors and enemies - we should be turning HANDSPRINGS, folks!

This gives us a potential headlock on the whole intellectual and economic future of an entire nation with a troubled history of outright mismanagement and lots of lovely economic opportunity going to seed. It's your free market capitalist's wet dream.

Alas, real free maket capitalism is about as likely to be permitted to exist as actual communism. Neither lend themselves to huge concentrations of wealth or power, so they have to be "fixed." Usually in the name of those who would otherwise actually benefit from either system run honestly.

Now, prepare yourself for a complete change of topic, although it also derives from prepaid phone cards. Randi Rhodes was talking about Alberto Gonzales and his repeated perjuries regarding the illegal and unconstitutional domestic surveillance program.

It's depressing to have to observe this, but the explosion in pre-paid (and therefore untraceable) cel phones and pre-paid (and therefore, untraceable) phone cards is probably NOT due to an explosion of illegal activity, but rather an entirely legitimate concern that our government is far too interested in our business.

Randi Rhodes just speculated aloud again that the reluctance to impeach Bush is directly due to proceeds from illegal domestic surveillance. Or in other words, this has always been a completely political administration with policies that are always driven by political outcomes and the political outcome of this illegal wiretapping was Watergate all over again, at the wholesale level.

Ever wonder why there has been such complete party loyalty among republicans? That is not all that usual - there are lots of different sorts of Republicans in both House and Senate? So why haven't they voted as you'd expect? Hm.

Well, if you pay cash, pre-paid long distance, cel phones and internet solutions make it impossible to connect a person with a credit card or bank account. And these days, seeing the advantage of that is not paranoid, it's prudent.

This president has just given himself the power to confiscate the assets of anyone who he deems to be giving "aid and comfort" to "the enemy." The statute is so broad that it could be used to take Ron Paul's assets for saying that 9/11 was at least in part a response to years of US meddling in the middle east. It could be used to seize Hillary Clinton's assets and political war chest in order to prevent her from potentially "interfering with the rebuilding of Iraq" by being, you know, elected.

Seriously, as written, that could occur. And it might well occur to anyone less visible than Ron Paul or Hillary Clinton.

At this point, it's pretty obvious that the government is trying, at least, to filter through every conversation, every internet post, every email to find useful intelligence.- and now they are apparently opening snail mail with far fewer safeguards than previously existed.

Yet, Al Queda flourishes, Bin Ladin is free and many of our ports and I believe ALL of our passenger rail terminals are operated by Middle Eastern companies.

So it would seem to me that winning the "war on terror" is no the priority of this program. Unless the source of "terror" is the terror of Republicans being placed at risk of being held accountable, investigated, audited and brought before war-crimes tribunals.

So, if you are likely to say such things on the phone and have the desire to be discreet about it for some reason regarding, say, personal and financial liberty, you might start considering your own personal information security plan. You don't need an urge to be getting away with something to enjoy privacy of communications - you just need to be concerned about the likelihood of someone deciding that something you are doing disturbs them.

And without the right to habius corpus, they won't even have to admit they disappeared you.

Paranoid ranting? Alas, not for the last six months. As Randi suggested, it's time to consider how you look in a tin foil hat, because if they can't read your thoughts, it ain't because there isn't a program trying to achieve just that.

As for Congress, whatever you desire, however you would prefer to handle this, you also are facing a crisis point. It's time to tell George to "Publish and be damned to you, Sir!"

When the president of the united states is mad enough to arrogate to himself powers not even King George would have dared presume, he's mad enough to do anything. It's past time worrying about your political future - it's time to concentrate on personal survival. If Bush succeeds in consolidating power as he is clearly doing, you won't have either a political future, or any future outside of barbed wire.

Initiate impeachment procedures immediately and you will have the support of the American People. There's no better time to do it, because whatever indiscretions suddenly appear, the timing of their appearance will be damning. So cowboy up, put on your BIG girl panties and cope. You have the great fortune of having lived in interesting times.

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The eBoyscout is always prepared

Here's one vital survival tool for the rational paranoid, even those of us who have taken our personal communication wireless - the humble and ever present pre-paid phone card.

Yes, this is an advertisement. But I stand by it.

Like most cel customers, I get a great deal on calls to the US and Canada - after seven PM. On my plan, it's free. But what if it's NOT after seven pm? SO not free! Therein lies the rub - and the same issue arises for people using landlines. In an increasingly global culture, you simply cannot expect the people you need to suddenly call to be in a convenient time-zone.

But the real issue for the rational paranoid is - what if the battery goes dead? What if there's no service, or worse yet, I'm roaming? It's time to find a pay phone - oops, no freaking change! With debit cards, who the hell carries change? A pre-paid phone card in your wallet is more than just convenience, it's instant peace of mind. And with Pingo, you will get up to four hours of international calls free, just for signing up.

That's a lot of "Help! Send Money," or "come get me" calls.

That's why everyone who leaves the house at all needs a phone card. You, your kid, your spouse and your babysitter.

You would like to know if your babysitter is suddenly deported, right? I kid, I kid.

As far as I know, must cell contracts do not include free international roaming, and on a land line, even the next county can be a long distance call. At their rates. Pingo gets around this by offering both toll-free access numbers and a huge list of local numbers, world wide.

But. And there IS a but. Pingo is a virtual calling card. I'm not sure they even send you a printed reference card.

Yes, you can use your virtual card it just as you would an ordinary convenience store card, but it's advantage is that their technology allows you to attach it to one or more pre-approved phones, so in most cases where you would want to save on long distance, you never have to fish it out of your wallet and punch in access codes.

Having to dig for that card kinda sucks the spontaneous fun out of calling your Grams, eh? But you still get all the advantages of an actual phone card, including your right to punch in ten and twelve digit numbers.

It's all administered through the web, using credit, debit or PayPal to recharge your card automatically as needed. There are a host of other powerful tools that make it a very attractive choice for small businesses who need to communicate worldwide. It gives you the sorts of deals and administration options I imagine big corporations enjoy. All in all, it's a damn attractive service.

If you are wanting a card in your wallet that leaves no paper trail - sorry, this isn't that solution. Spies, smugglers and anyone else "flying under the radar" will need to continue using the ordinary, rather limited pre-paid cards, along with the ordinary, rather limited pre-paid cell phones.

But a virtual phone card attached to your cel number will solve the whole issue of making that emergency long distance call easy and affordable at any time of day or night and you won't need to worry about a shocking bill. Because it attaches to your pone, and you can pre-program numbers, you hardly need to think about it. All your long distance calling is budgeted and bought at discount rates.

But Wait! There's More!

Let's say you went over to China to do some business or just take a tour, and there was this guide that you wanted to call you to let you know about something you missed out on during your trip. Well, even at Pingo rates, it's kind of unlikely the average Chinese person is going to have a spare thirty-two cents a minute lying about. But, well, you do! You WANT that tip! And you can easily set them up to call you from their home or business phone, on the fly, from your laptop.

It's a fully scalable personal and business long distance solution, and you really should check it out if you need to pick up the phone and make international calls more than, say, once a couple of months. You'll save money, and there won't be any ugly surprises when the bill arrives.

Finally, my fellow bloggers should check out the Pingo Affiliate Program.
I f you have the right sort and right level of traffic, this could be a significant source of revenue.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

An Intelligence Brief for the First Amendment Militia.

People have the right to be stupid. shirtI came very close in my youth to being scooped up by Navy Intelligence - as a recruit, not a suspect.

I have the sort of mind thatlends itself to the detachment and educated paranoia required to be a good intelligence analyst and I was heavily courted based, I suspect, on test results that really should have been confidential. Ah, but it was the Cold war, don't you know. Even the dismal results of my physical during my ASVAB panel didn't discourage them. After all, it was highly unlikely I'd get any exercise at all, much less risk combat after boot camp, and they were very willing to promise that my physical limitations would be taken into account. However, the coin flip came down against them - otherwise, I'd probably have had quite a different life.

I have never had any difficulty raising my right hand with my left on my own integrity and swearing to "protect and defend the constitution against all threats, foreign and domestic," but even then, I had some hints that it might not be possible to honor that oath AND honorably serve in a military capacity.

Remember, this was just before the final whimper of the Vietnam war and at the height of the Cold War, back when actual professionally qualified paranoids were taking National Security very damn seriously indeed, on both sides. And if a civil liberty or the odd civilian got caught in the gears, very well and oh, too bad.

At the time, I didn't have the intellectual basis to tell you why that was all wrong and an entirely futile and pointless exercise - but somehow, I knew that The Greatest Game was not for me.

But I never stopped thinking in the way that made me potentially valuable, and indeed, what I do now is not dissimilar to what a CIA analyst does, or a Wall Street analyst, for that matter. It's all about putting together disparate shreds, hints, trends and fragments of apparently unrelated information from obscure sources to develop a crude picture that, while imperfect, is ideally better than nothing.

And that is what this paper is; a deeply incomplete and inherently unreliable picture which I hope will yet be better than nothing, erring on the side of prudent paranoia.

There's more...

The Internet is an outright stampede of information, giving me access to information no government - much less a would-be totalitarian government - is comfortable having widely known. Indeed, there's been no need to access any information that's particularly obscure or even from fringe sources. It's all out there, you simply have to integrate it through the lens of a nasty, suspicious, cynical and un-trusting mind.

I have no government or even media contacts worth the name. Indeed, I have very few contacts. Come to think of it, outside of family... damn few.

All of this comes from the stream across my screen - which means that my conclusions are potentially verifiable by anyone with Internet access.

So consider the following to be the product of an untrained but suitably paranoid intelligence para-professional, who has been tracking the domestic and foreign affairs situation since 2001 - when 9/11 concentrated my attention.

I have two immediate concerns: First, distinct hints and rumors that the Bush Administration is considering the idea of generating a pretext to declare martial law and suspend elections. The pretext is concern one, for it's certain to involve mass casualties exceeding 9/11, but the second, martial law, is my most serious worry. Not because I think that the Bush Administration can successfully impose martial law and a subsequent totalitarian state. It's because I fear they believe they can succeed. Whatever the outcome, that presumption promises mass casualties equaling or exceeding the First Civil War.

Chertoff has spread broad hints about his "gut feelings," about the likelihood of a bi coastal terrorist attack, presumably to test the depths of our remaining credulity, and that is only one such hint.

I don't know what his sources have told him, but mine suggest that to be a very bad plan. Skepticism about 9/11 itself has grown deeper and broader with every release of information and piece of evidence that indicates a complete lack of official interest in who was responsible and how it was accomplished.

The lack of any sensible, much less humane or responsible action in response to the information the general public KNOWS the administration must be aware of makes me grimly unwilling to presume anything that remains unknown to reflect well upon George Bush.

There is a high probability that a number of radicalized activists would assume it to be a false-flag operation and a much larger population would consider it to be a distinct possibility. Should there be a national response of the imposition of martial law in response to widely separate terrorist attacks, many would feel justified in operating under just that assumption. Some might take immediate action - but the true threat to the Administration are those who quietly fall off the grid, or worse yet, remain in place.

Bluntly, this administration has squandered it's credibility to the extent that if they say the sky is NOT falling, there will be a run on umbrellas.

If the immediate response to an apparent terrorist attack was to declare martial law, disarm the population along with local law enforcement while rounding up Muslims, liberals and intellectuals for indefinite detention, I think there would be the great likelihood of an immediate outbreak of fairly well-organized resistance, seemingly from nowhere.

The Department of Homeland Security places great store in analyzing Internet chatter. So do I. To give one example, I was rather surprised to learn that there are more than 35000 results for Ghillie suits. That's "sniper camouflage" for the uninitiated. Of course, most recommend them for paintball games, even when selling military surplus or providing instructions on how to make your own.

But how else would you train an effective small infantry unit these days in a cost effective and secure manner?

Paintball, Lazer Tag and war gaming of all kinds, online and off.

So that one piece of data is an indication of an already organized and trained potential resistance, one that has very possibly evaded the serious attention of intelligence agencies.

But as tempting as it is to dismiss and disparage the current occupants of the White House as blind, ideological fools, I do not believe they are so foolish as to have not foreseen resistance as a certain outcome. Indeed, with all the talk in the MSM about Al-Queda setting up cells in the US, I would guess that any such resistance would be welcome and immediately attributed to Al-Queda.

Further, I think they may well be anticipating that response and planning on using initially isolated acts of resistance to clamp down with an iron fist, to confiscate all weapons from civilians - in order to keep them out of the hands of terrorists, of course - and generally impose a rule of fear enforced with systemic brutality, trusting that civilian inertia, compounded with outright terror will allow the minority of reliable Bushistas in and out of traditional military to keep a lid on civilian unrest.

I would argue that such a gamble might have worked two or three years ago, but with the administration so obviously on the run and so very dependent on their ability to delay legal sanctions against them, I doubt the majority of Americans will suspend disbelief in their favor. As a result, they cannot rely on civilian co-operation with martial law. It will quickly become clear that there will be a need to literally occupy many, if not most cities in the West, Northwest and Northeast, simply to secure strategic assets. It will be critical to maintain transport across the Midwest, so even certain cities that might be reluctant to resist martial law will find themselves under highly repressive federal control.

That is to say, under ideal circumstances, if you wished to preclude any organized uprising, that is what you would have to do. But, as with Iraq, the forces needed to do the job, and the forces available to do the job differ significantly in terms of numbers, equipment, preparedness, training and, indeed, in almost every other regard, with the most significant distinction being "reliability."

I've run the math, and even by withdrawing all armed forces from everywhere - including all National Guard troops and reserves- it would be by my calculations difficult to impossible to control either California or Texas in the face of a determined insurgency. I do not think that the employment of mercenaries would help for long - mercs like to be paid and dislike casualties. Furthermore, they would be paid in debt funded money under circumstances where the economic basis for the currency is in abatement - or out of scant gold reserves. Either way, it's not a long-term proposition.

I consider Iraq to be a much better template for something resembling "success" in controlling a large, unruly region, and frankly, I expect that "region" to include the United States as a whole. There might be more initial support within the highly religious Red States, at least outside of the urban areas - but it may be that Katrina has undermined that expectation to a significant degree, and the rural population is likely to be less controllable. In any case, the areas that will arguable present the greatest difficulty in terms of government control also represent the greatest concentrations of manufacturing capability and expertise. This geographic fact places absolute limits on how long such an effort can be sustained.

Now, let's consider the implications of the Secret Service's new Uniformed Division. I'm not sure whether to compare them to the SS, the Gestapo or the Praetorian Guard.

Let's say they have 2000 effectives. No, let's add a Fermi. 20000. Is that enough? I'm not sure it's enough to actually hold the Legislative district against determined opposition. It's certainly NOT enough to hold Washington DC as a whole, much less enough to act as a national police force.

But it's existence is pretty clear evidence that Bush doesn't trust the Capital Police, FBI or CIA, or the intelligence assets of the State Department to keep him safe and properly informed.

Blowback. It's a bitch.

I'm assuming that the capital would be abandoned as unsecurable, possibly even sacrificed, in a move that would dispense with any number of inconvenient legislators and civil servants. This leaves a number of alternate command and control facilities - but also communicates to the American people just how very terrified the Junta (for that is what it will be, at that point) is of them.

Now, remember what sorts of people did the vetting for the critical civilian personnel sent to Iraq? I bet they have done an equally good job vetting applicants for the SS Uniformed Division. I believe that because their political reliability will be of necessity an overriding concern, essential to any of the three likely intended missions. So they are not likely to be drawn from the best or the brightest - they will be drawn from the unimaginative and the reflexive authoritarians, people who automatically follow orders and go by the book with a touching belief in the effectiveness of overwhelming firepower.

Such were the men of the SS Panzer division that "took" the Warsaw Ghetto. Theirs was not to reason why, theirs was but to do or die. I believe more than ten percent did, with enough total casualties as to render the entire formation useless.

It's not difficult to imagine their performance being just about as good as FEMA's before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. But even if it were perfectly competent, with absolutely secure communication and years of tactical experience as a unit, it probably still would not matter.

At this stage of the game, building such a force with any expectation of it performing as well as existing units is a forlorn hope, and it's only the choice of those who have no other other choices. That should tell you something of the actual strength of the President's hand.

I'm fairly sure that the SSUD will not be greatly more effective than, say, a highway patrol division or a sheriff's department in a counter-insurgency role, although they should perform decently in terms of providing base security wherever the President and Vice President have gone to ground.

But I don't think that even those refuges will be as secure as, well, as secure as I would wish, were I in that position.

For example, I doubt that state and local law enforcement will be on the "side" of a federal military government, for one very good reason; local law enforcement officers will be "suspect number one," the very first to be disarmed and sent to detention camps or drafted into service in locations far distant from any unofficial contacts they might have.

I think it's safe to assume that from how the military handled Iraq's security forces, and I'm afraid it makes a great deal of operational sense in terms of who is in a position to organize and equip an effective resistance. Seeing as the various state Highway Patrols and Investigation agencies are as likely to be loyal to their governors as to the President, the same distrust and dispersal is likely to be expressed toward them. Likely such persons will either be imprisoned or drafted into service in some other state, and with the families of some held hostage in FEMA camps when that seems prudent.

In fact, if I were an LAPD officer, I'd be considering some personal fall back options right now, which might include clandestine arrangements with the Crips and or the Bloods. They, after all, will be high on the "round up and remove" lists too.

The Pirate Lafitte turned the tide for us in New Orleans, way back when. There is plenty of precedent for the support of freedom by Organized Crime - even when it's not actually in their long term interest. "Lucky" Luciano's support for the war effort was critical in WWII for instance.

Consider the sheer number of trained military leaders that have resigned their commissions or retired over the last several years. I don't consider it wise to presume that trained tactical and strategic minds have remained idle or stopped talking to one another.

Now, consider how excruciatingly vulnerable the military infrastructure is to sabotage, and how few military secrets will exist when people realize that their secrecy oaths no longer bind them.

So, the advantage federal forces have against the American people are not so great as might first appear, and indeed, they only really hold the upper hand so long as people are as yet unsure as to what lengths the Administration might go to remain in power and un-prosecuted.

Once there is an outright breach of the peace and United States armed forces are engaged in open warfare against the American people, any such advantage disappears. We - the civilian population - have overwhelming numerical superiority, superior local knowledge and a very startling amount of individual firepower. We will enjoy internal lines of communications by definition, will probably be able to enjoy at least rough parity in terms of intelligence and will have much better morale.

Meanwhile, individuals all over the US know how to brew fuel from - well, damn near anything that will ferment, or be pressed for oil, and they will generally prefer to operate on foot in any case.

So, bye-bye refineries and oil storage depots, and therefore goodbye to government mobility. You can presume that freeways and rail transport will be disrupted - they are obvious deathtraps for the armed forces.

BTW, ever wonder what a Barrett .50 semi-automatic rifle would do to an unarmed surveillance helicopter? Pretty much the same as it would do to an armored copter, if it had armor piercing ammo. There are a LOT of them in civilian hands, even at ten grand a pop, and even more less costly bolt-action .50 cal boy-toys. Any of them, in the hands of a competent marksman, can reach out and touch someone at ranges in excess of a mile.

Among other inconvenient facts, this means that local civilian forces can deny the use of a huge number of airports to the Government. One or two rounds though an engine on takeoff or landing, repeat as necessary. Our military relies very heavily on air superiority for success, and unlike in Iraq, I doubt very much their planners should take that luxury for granted.

Oh, would it cost ten grand to fabricate a knock-off of a Barrett in a basement machine shop? Not hardly. I can get precise plans for the equally useful Ma Deuce and BAR off the Internet. Despite the slick sales brochures from the manufacturers of fancy air defense missile systems, a quad .50 is a damn respectable deterrent to anything with wings.

Remember, an insurgency doesn't have to contest air superiority - they just need to make maintaining it expensive. That task is relatively cheap.

"But it's ILLEGAL for civilians to own armor piercing ammo and fully automatic weapons" you gasp incredulously!

Yeah. Illegal - and damned easy to fabricate, in quite a few calibers. As well as explosive ammunition and Teflon coated ring perpetrators for handguns. Mortars? Home depot has lots of pipe. A ten gauge shotgun shell works just fine as the propellant for a 30mm mortar round. Another one will impact-detonate it. The whole thing could be made from PVC pipe. Military grade weapons are not actually more expensive than civilian grade weapons, in general, they are far LESS expensive, designed to be mass-produced from cheap materials.

All that is required is a state of martial law - and widespread contempt for those attempting to enforce it.

Of course, "silvertips" for taking out elk are perfectly legal. Your average weapon for antelope or elk with such a round up the spout will put a hole the size of your head in a human being - and body armor without ballistic plates won't stop them. A head shot at a hundred meters or more is pretty trivial for a good hunting piece with upscale optics. A WWII surplus Garand rifle (30.06 caliber) can put a solid brass bullet through an engine block at 500 yards.There are hundreds of thousands of such weapons and surplus rounds in civilian hands.

Remember that given the force and equipment depletion caused by the Iraq War, any government forces will be lucky to have armored vehicles capable of stopping 9mm hardball.

Fully automatic weapons, handguns and long-arms of all varieties, hand grenades, silenced weapons that evade metal detectors, disposable rocket launchers and of course explosives such as C4 can be easily created in small machine shops and basements. If you are crazy enough to run a meth lab, well, creating explosives isn't a great deal more dangerous - and no easier to detect.

How's that War on Drugs going? Any widespread shortage of methamphetamine? Didn't think so.

Anyone with a two year college physics degree could use C4 to create a crude but effective "Plate Charge," such as has been used in Iraq. Hell, we have amateur rocketeers that for legal reasons have to take their contraptions to White Sands or Woomera to shoot them off. For FUN.

Would you be willing to assume them all to be good, loyal Republicans willing to tolerate a dictatorship - or would at least a few be casting around for suitable warheads?

But I'd fully expect there to be plenty of current military munitions available, up to and including stinger missiles, antipersonnel and anti-tank mines, even artillery... along with the national guard veterans who "liberated" them. Quite possibly along with the entire force complement of the local armory.

Now, an insurgency might start out as a tiny, doomed minority, and my worst case fear assumes Bush adminsitration planning on such a doomed and fringe resistance as the actual pretext for the imposition of Martial law.

But the probable overreaction to either a genuine or false-flag insurgency would surely work just as it has in Iraq, for exactly the same reasons, because it would be the same people in charge, operating with the same equipment and operational doctrine - and drawing from the same troop supply. In other words people who believe against all evidence that it's militarily possible to occupy, pacify and control a large modern urban area with a hundred years of hidden, forgotten and unrecorded infrastructure.

You may as well attempt to eradicate the roach population.

All an effective insurgency needs to do is avoid direct conflict while inflicting cheap casualties, The Iraqis haven't shown any great depth of imagination in that regard and are still doing fairly well.

Even if you throw in as many as 50 thousand Christianist fanatics as shock troops, people who gobble up "Left Behind" and "The Turner Diaries" as gospel, that simply makes the conflict a "target-rich environment." This is aside from the difficulties of training and equipping such a horde, or the wisdom of creating our very own domestic Taliban.

I leave aside the imponderable question as to what the rest of the world would do if the United States descended into a protracted civil war of any degree of intensity, but I doubt very much a Bush Junta could rely on the absolute neutrality of either immediate neighbor.

Now, this is a possible future I do not wish to experience. I encourage passive resistance, protest and proactive first-amendment activities at this point, especially when those activities approach that which the administration would prefer to refer to as "espionage," and reasonably sensible people would refer to as "whistleblowing."

People should be particularly alert for suspicious governmental activity. If you see somebody who reeks of G-Man in a place he shouldn't ougtta be - report it to your local emergency co-ordination facility. And by local, I mean "town, city or state." Meanwhile, take pictures with your cel phone, just in case something should happen later.

If you don't have a cel phone that takes pictures, get one. Ideally, a pay as you go cel phone.

Oh, yeah, that's another thing. How successful do you think that the government could be in shutting down or filtering internet access, when the opposition doesn't care about such trivia as bandwith theft, IP spoofing, illegal use of encryption, hiding pirate server farms in sewers, while the infrastructure, software and the majority of all computer talent is resistant to the whole idea?

I'd be stunned if, under conditions of a general civil war, that government communications would be secure or their servers immune from attack, if for no other reason than the widespread disaffection of federal employees who have access to such networks - either with passwords, or with keys to junction rooms.

Obviously, the latest executive order enabling the seizure of assets from anyone the Administration THINKS might be a threat to their war effort in Iraq, underlines the depth of concern the administration has regarding this possiblity, seeing as it's written so broadly it may as well be one of Richileu's Letters d'Cachet.

While liberals and leftists and activists understandably feel a great deal of concern, seeing as the immediate effect is to criminalize the peace movement, this seems to me to be much more directly aimed at those who have been loyal up to now, or up to a point. Cindy Sheehan is not so wealthy that such "asset forfeiture" could preclude her activism. No, it's aimed at the Coors family, the DuPonts, the Mellons and the Scaifes - anyone with enough personal resources to be able to seriously threaten the government, and the cussedness to do so. I'm sure there's a few millionaires and billionaires of various political persuasions who are even now shuffling portfolios and real property with that end in mind.

People who have enough money for this to be a serious threat are also quite capable of seeing the threat for what it is, no matter what attempts there are to camouflage it as being aimed at "them Liberal hippy peaceniks."

I have absolutely no idea how effective such threats will be, though, but my assumption is that that threatening very wealthy and powerful people with arbatrary forfeiture is unwise, to say the least. There are very wealthy people who are not part of the Bush crowd - but who are not unconnected or to be presumed to be toothless. And then there are those who are of the Bush crowd, who may well be of a mind to instruct Bush as to which is the tail and which is the dog that wags it. The threat is likely to be taken more personally and more urgently by people with a few mere millions in property and little liquidity - which represents a big foot on the neck of most small and medium entrepreneurs.

The only way I see they have a faint chance of pulling off a successful coup is by killing off as many "Liberals" as possible in some orchestrated or subcontracted terrorist attack that is so shocking, so horrifying that nobody could believe that it was not the work of some radical group of madmen. You know, like 9/11.

Look up "Project Monarch." You will find it within the tinfoil hat zone of the Internet, but nonetheless, it's existence and activities were confirmed in congressional hearings, where the CIA promised faithfully that all such programs have been shut down.


The government has long been fascinated with the potential uses of crazy people, and a great many changes in government and society seem to involve the convenient and inexplicable access of a crazy person to an inconvenient one. JFK, say. Or Bobby. Or Martin. So this would only be a difference of scale.

Evaluate for yourself the probable target zones and discuss the eventualities with those you trust and distrust alike. But for myself, I'd say get the hell out of the Bay Area, at least. After all, an earthquake would be a damned good pretext for a little "liberal cleansing." Consider how many people from New Orleans have disappeared into FEMA camps, where they languish still.

By the by - if you are working at NSA or any other intelligence agency - I am specifically speaking at you. Run this post of mine through your own brain with any additional information you might have. Come to your own expert conclusions and determine your best course, considering the worst-case implications of what you know and how many ways everything could go south for you and your loved ones.

Consider also where your true loyalties lie and what you may have said or done to indicate less than absolute willingness to personally suicide for the greater glory of Bushco. Consider who might well mention such reservations in their pursuit of career advancement. Then take such steps as seem reasonable and prudent, while remembering a famous quotation: "Two may keep a secret, if one of them is dead" - Benjamin Franklin.

Everyone else, buy yourself a copy of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert A. Heinlein. With cash. Off line. From a used book store.

Resistance is not at ALL futile.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Apparently, I am a Conspiritor!

It's the Ethics, Stupid! Ron Paul for President
I love answering rhetorical questions!
Ron Paul Support is a Conspiracy, claims National Media: "Major media outlets have denied fund raising reports, rally attendance, and record breaking internet support as the work of a small secretive group of Ron Paul supporters conspiring to defraud the public. Is it time for them to give up this conspiracy theory before they lose credibility?"

Why, yes. Yes, it is.

His grassroots campaign boasts twenty thousand members and he has over 20,000 videos dedicated to him on YouTube.Com, dwarfing all other republican candidates. He sells out rallies wherever he attends and has won a straw poll in crucial New Hampshire. In fact, there is only one metric which measures his support to be on the same level as second tier candidates, national polls. National polls ask small groups of people, often less than one thousand, who they plan to support for the White House. In July of 2007 how can this be taken as a metric of anything besides name recognition when the election is over 12 months away.
I'm old enough to remember catcalls of "Jimmy who?" I recall them being reported as news by the MSM. That was President Jimmy Carter.

And then there was President Clinton - written off in the early stages as a nobody from nowhere, certainly not anyone to take seriously.

So I don't take anything very seriously this early in the campaign. But Dr. Paul's appeal to the sensibilities of independent voters, rather than to partisans of either party, is surely a threat to the "mainstream candidates."

I'm pretty sure that Ron Paul would be pleased as punch to get a mere ten percent of the vote - a goodly slice of the electorate, if you think in terms of message as being as or more important than winning. And indeed, one tremendous difference you can gather from watching Ron Paul speak is that he clearly doesn't give a tinker's damn how any particular statement is going to go down with any particular audience. From any sane political viewpoint, there are some positions he should distance himself from - but he simply will not. He believes as he believes, votes as he votes and let's the chips fall where they may.

That impresses me a hell of a lot more than his stands on issues that I disagree with.
Like millions of other voters, I can calculate the difference between what a President would like to do, and what Congress, Courts and Constitution will allow. Nor am I concerned that "Dr. No" will trample the Constitution in his crusade to restore it. I think his strong Constitutional stance is key, giving the dubious respect for Constitution and civil liberties displayed by the current Supreme Court And as much as I look forward to a probable sweep of Congress by progressive brooms - I very much doubt that a majority of them would understand how to write a bill that is Constitutional. The Presidential veto will be key in restraining their enthusiasm.

That is why he's the choice of this blog and this blogger for the Republican presidential nominee.

So many amendments, so little concern.

UPDATE: We have video! (Courtesy of OwellianNation)

You know, there should be some political blowback for this.

The 74-year-old retired mathematician who is fighting Kensington officials over his right to sell buttons urging President Bush's impeachment was arrested yesterday at a farmers market and charged with trespassing.

Alan McConnell, who had been selling his "Impeach Him" buttons at the Howard Avenue market for about a half-hour without a permit, lay down on the pavement after Montgomery County police asked him to come with them. After McConnell failed to respond to a request that he "please stand up," four officers each grabbed one of his limbs and carried him to the front seat of a squad car.

Now, many have dismissed this as a non-issue from a common-sense viewpoint. These people were speaking from the perspective of organizers of public events in public spaces that require permitting and juried vendor selection.

Comment at Impeach Bush Blog by Mimi Morris — July 22, 2007 @ 1:47 pm

I'm totally in favor of impeachment, but this is a manufactured grievance. As an organizer of a long-running (and *very* progressive) event that relies on both city permitting and juried vendor selection, I recognize that what this guy is doing is jumping the line.

If he wants a booth from which to reach the patrons brought in by the market's organizers, he can go through the same process all the other vendors did. If the event's organizers choose not to give him a booth (which they won't, since what he's selling is not produce) he has every right to reach the same number of potential buyers by standing on the adjacent sidewalk, offering his buttons to people as they come and go from the farmer's market.

But to insist on his alleged right to do business within the permit area without having gone through the process is simply stealing access to an audience built by someone else for another purpose — and that would be true even if he were not aggressive about it.

It's not about free speech. If he were giving the buttons away free, he *might* have a case…but maybe not. The Sixth Circuit just decided a case two years ago that gave ballot petitioners the right to circulate in crowds gathered by permit holders in public parks, but AFAIK event permit holders still have the right to ask anyone who is even giving away materials to do so outside the permit area.

And that's as it should be. Imagine how you would feel if, having spent months or years building an audience and organizing a political or cultural evvent designed to raise money for good folks who cooperated in your process, some corporation decided to bring in a squad of salesmen to disrupt traffic flow and siphon off the interest of your cutomers.

Permitting of public spaces is one of the few areas where public policy actually works for the common good. Please rethink the knee-jerk reaction that assumes this well-intentioned man was wronged. Considering how many times he was asked to take his business outside the area, it should be clear that he was seeking this confrontation. Noisy self-made martyrs do our common cause no real good.
There are plenty of actual free speech violations going unheeded. This isn't one of them.

But according to one supporter also commenting further down-thread, that's not the case with the Kensington Farmer's Market.

  1. As a Kensington resident I supported Alan's efforts and the demonstration on Saturday. Alan did not need a permit. There are no rules for the Kensington Market. I know this becuase I asked the person in charge of the market at the Town of Kensington who admitted they do not have rules written down. So they make them up as they go. Alan has been selling buttons at the market for over a year!

    He is also not in people's faces, he simply asks passers-by if they would like a button. No more aggrssive then those who man booth at the mall.

    Comment by Pam — July 23, 2007 @ 8:58 am

So, if that is the case, the question returns to whether this is selective enforcement of arbitrary rules. Again, IF so, that's definitely an issue that is worth dramatizing in order to resolve in court. Furthermore, it appears that the conflict is between the Mayor of Kensington and McConnell.

Three weeks ago, McConnell was issued a trespassing warning after being asked to leave the market. McConnell has said that he sold the buttons at the market for months without a license. Last week, Fosselman canceled the market because he was concerned that McConnell's "potentially aggressive" supporters might endanger the safety of customers. On Thursday, two Montgomery County police officers issued McConnell an updated trespassing warning, while a Kensington official gave him a citation for selling at the market without a permit. That ticket carries a possible $500 fine.

McConnell got another of those citations yesterday before his arrest, but he continued to sell his buttons for $1 apiece even as Kensington code enforcement officer Louise Hamilton filled out the ticket. Hamilton said the mayor requested that she come to the market to see whether McConnell was selling his buttons without a license.

Meanwhile, those who oppose holding Bush accountable for his constitutional vandalism are weighing in.

  1. You and those like you are misguided and un-American. I support your being watched and, if deemed necessary, rounded up and either imprisoned or deported.

    Comment by Mike — July 22, 2007 @ 10:35 am

Ya know, buddy, if this were Stalinist Russia, Communist China or Cuba, you'd be right. That would be the "patriotic" thing to do. Me, I support the vicious mockery of any such would-be Stalinist until they do something unfortunate enough to permit us to round them up and imprison them, with the option of voluntarily renouncing their citizenship in favor of emigration to a country that better supports their authoritarian point of view.

But most folks, commenting on various sites, simply said "get a permit." The question is, though, CAN you get a permit? Is it reasonably priced? Is the process itself designed to discourage First Amendment activity? Remember, commercial speech is still protected speech. Indeed, we must ask, has the permitting process become politicized? Seeing that this conflict seems to have become a personal power-struggle between the Mayor and the elderly McConnel, it seems to me something worth investigating.

In particular, the canecellation of the market because of concerns that McConnel's supporters were "potentialy aggressive" sets off my bullshit alarm. It strikes me more as potentially being ploy to pressure other venders into supporting the mayor's agenda.

Just because a town is left-leaning, it does not follow that it's government is, especially within unelected positions. The intent of infiltrating local government by stealth in order to monkey-wrench liberal agendas is something Ralph Reed has spoken about at length to his Christianist-Conservative supporters. More on that here.

And remember what these buttons say. "Impeach Him." It IS a loaded issue, and it does make some folks hot under the collar. Including, say, Mayors and Permiting enforcement officials.

The fact that McConnel was arrested for trespassing tends to suggest to me the possiblity that they prefer to try him for a technical violation, rather than the one they were really upset about. Indeed, I wonder about the charge itself,

If you can control the permitting and licensing process, you can bankrupt people who disagree with your political views in a nearly invisible way, so this is a question that needs to be asked. Now, thanks to the good professor, is likely to be a matter of fact to be determined in a court of law.

Even if that is not true, it's the height of sloppiness to simply assume that it would have been possible to simply apply for and get a permit to sell buttons. If nothing else, the possibility of pure administrative indifference and/or incompetence should have crossed some minds.

While I'm not a constitutional scholar, it strikes me as extremely dubious that such a venue could exclude the sale of political materials without running afoul of the Constitution in some way, if the venue is administered directly by the town of Kensington. Were it simply the venue organizers, perhaps it would pass the constitutional sniff test, but once any government becomes involved, it's an iffy proposition.

The other thing that disturbs me about this story is the lack of attribution. "Some people said" he was being "too aggressive." Really? Who? And what, by chance, would this person's political viewpoint be? Note that he's been doing this very thing for months and months. Surely, if the matter is as serious as the arrest would seem to imply, it's serious enough for the facts of the "offense" to be clearly communicated to the media - and on to us. But I feel less informed now than when I was completely ignorant of the entire matter, an hour or so ago.

In the final analysis, when there are conflicts between public policy in public spaces and the rights of free speech, free press and freedom of assembly, the letter of the law should not impede the spirit of constitutional intent. Any restrictions on individual liberty need to be narrowly drawn, with unassailable public policy grounds for such restrictions.

And remember also that the McCain-Fiengold campaign finance reform bill was struck down by the Supremes as an unreasonable limitation on PAID political speech - so if it's true for a few hundred thousand dollar television ad, it should also be true for the choice to buy a one dollar button.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Petty Partisanship and the MSM

This is an important Media Matters editorial, and you should read the whole thing, but since it's written "top down," I'll quote the top.

Media Matters - "Media Matters"; by Jamison Foser Annotated

America's political reporters don't like John Edwards, and have tried to destroy him.

But don't take my word for it.

Marc Ambinder was one of the founders of ABC's The Note and is a contributing editor to the National Journal's Hotline newsletter. The Note and the Hotline consist largely of links to and excerpts of political news and commentary by other reporters with ample doses of snark and Rove-worship thrown in. Whatever they may lack in insight and judgment, The Note and the Hotline are at the center of the D.C. political media establishment.

Ambinder, in other words, is a political reporter whose job has largely been to understand the political media.

\This week, Marc Ambinder explained why the media has covered John Edwards' grooming regimen so much and Mitt Romney's so little:
There is a difference in the political reality: fairly or unfairly, a healthy chunk of the national political press corps doesn't like John Edwards.

Fairly or unfairly, there's also a difference in narrative timing: when the first quarter ended, the press was trying to bury Edwards. It's not so much interested in burying Romney right now -- many reporters think he's the Republican frontrunner.

Now, if reporters dislike a candidate, that's their business. But when they wage a relentless and petty campaign to "bury" that candidate, that's our business. All of us.

And we've been through this before.

The 2000 election was close enough that any number of things can fairly be described as having made the difference. But what Bob Somerby describes as the media's "War Against Gore" was undoubtedly one of the biggest factors in Bush's "victory." The contempt many political reporters felt for Gore is clear, as is the inaccurate, unfair, and grossly distorted coverage of Gore that decided the campaign. And, again, you needn't take my word for it: Bob Somerby, Eric Alterman, Eric Boehlert, and others have chronicled the acknowledgements by working journalists of their colleagues' hate for Gore. Jake Tapper described reporters "hissing" -- actually hissing -- Gore. Time's Eric Pooley described an incident in which a roomful of reporters "erupted in a collective jeer" of Gore "like a gang of 15-year-old Heathers cutting down some hapless nerd."

And Joe Scarborough -- conservative television host Joe Scarborough; former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough -- has said that during the 2000 election, the media "were fairly brutal to Al Gore. ... [I]f they had done that to a Republican candidate, I'd be going on your show saying, you know, that they were being biased."

Somerby has long argued that one of the reasons the media's hatred for Gore was able to define the 2000 campaign so completely is that too few people talked about it -- and demanded that it stop -- at the time. Indeed, as he writes today, too many of those who should be combating these nonsensical but damaging storylines repeat them instead:
But then, inside Washington, establishment liberals and Democrats often seem congenitally unable to understand the shape of the past fifteen years. Haircuts -- and earth tones -- have destroyed the known world! But so what? Dems and libs keep reciting these trivia! We keep inviting the public to draw conclusions from these idiot tales.
One recent example occurred during Wednesday's Lou Dobbs Tonight, when Air America Radio host Laura Flanders said that Barack Obama has "kind of become the female on this race. ... He's seen as the weaker -- cute, attractive. ... Hillary is the one with the balls." In just a few moments, Flanders managed to suggest that a male progressive is feminine and that a female is masculine -- one of the conservatives' favorite tactics for marginalizing progressives -- and to equate being "female" with being "weak." With progressives like Laura Flanders, who needs Ann Coulter?

For anyone who would rather fight these absurd media storylines than repeat them, coverage of Edwards' haircut presents a valuable opportunity to do so.

The thrust of it is to complain every time you see this sort of thing happening. And don't just rely on Media Matters to catch it for you, keep a weather eye out, report it to Media Matters AFTER bitching about it yourself to the blogosphere and everyone you know. And be impartial.

For instance, the stunts being pulled by the MSM and the Republican establishment to bury Ron Paul are equally dishonorable and an equal disservice to the American people.

I dispute as equally absurd that there is a "vast right/left wing conspiracy" within the media. But there is a LOT of sloppy, shallow and plain idiotic commentary and a clear lack of the most essential professional ethics. I don't expect reporters to support or oppose all candidates alike, but I do respect an equal, non-partisan reporting of the facts. The examples cited above are not just innuendo, not just improper commentary and shallow analysis - they are a betrayal of the media's duty to be a CREDIBLE watchdog on society and politics.

Congressman Ron Paul is right...

It's not just "Godless Liberals" and "Surrender Monkeys" who oppose the war and demand the return of our Civil Liberties. Real Conservatives want an end to this long national nightmare.

Jim Babka, writing in Free Market News

Ron Paul for Liberty 2008 printPlease share with concerned friends . . .

Subject: Habeas corpus, military tribunals, Iran

Congressman Ron Paul is right. The terrorist threat is primarily blowback from decades of bad foreign policy in the Middle East, much of it hidden from the American people. As Congressman Paul has noted, this is the conclusion of studies by both the CIA and the Defense Department.

Sadly, U.S. foreign policy has only gotten worse since 9-11. Nearly everything our politicians have done has only served to further radicalize the Islamic world.

Yes, we know, the reasons for Islamic extremism have now moved beyond U.S. foreign policy, to include cultural issues. This is a cancerous development. But this tumor was first created by our foreign policy, and that is also where the cure must begin.

We can start by restoring our own values.

The use of torture, the repeal of habeas corpus, and the creation of Kangaroo Court military tribunals, has made us look like hypocrites, creating anger and distrust around the world. But it isn't too late to turn the tide back in our favor.

The effort in the Senate to pull-back in Iraq is going to fail. That's okay. It was a weak proposal anyway. But the possibility of victory in restoring habeas corpus and ending the military tribunals remains strong. A vote on these issues could happen today, as soon as the debate over the Iraq proposal ends.

Passing these measures would send a strong message to the world -- the United States may sometimes go astray, but eventually we return to our principles.

We cannot predict when the Senate will vote on these measures. Not even the Senate leaders know: We called and asked the Senate Majority Leader's office. But it will happen soon, and probably without warning. One of these measures isn't even available for review on the Internet. But thanks to our coalition involvement with other organizations who have staff working the halls of Congress, we know it exists, we know what it does, and we know it is about to come to a vote.

We must maintain our pressure on the Senate to pass . . .

* S. 576 to dismantle the military tribunals

* S. 185 to restore habeas corpus

Please keep sending messages and making phone calls on these two bills. Tell your representatives what these amendments would do. Believe it or not, they may not know. I mean, it's not like they actually read this stuff before they vote on it!

It is especially important for you to take action if you have a Republican Senator, or Senator on this list: Alexander, Coburn, Coleman, Collins, Crapo, Domenici, Hagel, Lugar, Martinez, Murkowski, Snowe, Sununu, Shelby

You can send your message here.

Also, please keep sending messages asking Congress to take action to stop an attack on Iran. We will have more to say on this issue once the votes on S. 576 and S. 185 have passed. But it should be obvious, without further analysis from us, what a disaster it would for the United States to attack Iran.

Congress is asleep at the switch on this issue. We must wake them up. Tell them you have heard disturbing reports that President Bush may be planning to attack Iran. Tell them to wake up and take steps to prevent this.

You can send your message here.

Ok, don't just sit there, CLICK something!

Cafepress T-shirt sale reminds me, I need at least 4 new shirts!

Support This Site

The timing on this sale could not be better - I've worn my favorite designs to death. My "No Whining" shirts are especially threadbare and stained, and I really want to get one of my cool new metallic versions on black or dark colors.

Now, you might think of this as a commercial post. I'll admit, there's an overlap, but this post is what I am gonna buy. This is actually sparked by something Randi Rhodes said some months back, talking to people who felt that they "couldn't do anything" about the way things are going in this country. They either couldn't afford to donate to a cause, or didn't have the time to get involved, or really didn't see how either thing could make a difference.

She said, at the very least, you can wear a t-shirt! If you are a social sort of person, if you like shopping, if you go to the mall or the movies, put on a shirt that takes a stand and wear it. Yes, it takes some guts. You might endure some rude stares, maybe even rude questions about your patriotism. But that's the whole idea. Have some answers ready to go. Remember, if you are wearing your message to a mall during peak hours, it could be seen by hundreds, even thousands of people. That, folks, is something. It's something very important, because it said you, personally find this message important enough to be seen in public.

This design is one that I have had some real success with: On the back, it says "surefire exit strategy: send chickenhawks, not body armor."

This speaks to my strongest reason to not support the war; the loudest supporters are the farthest behind the lines.

I'm absolutely sick of the obvious fact that those who stand to gain the most from this illegal, immoral and misrepresented "war on terror" are the last ones to go and put their pink butts on the line for it. Could it be because they know how little such sacrifices matter, in the end? Could it be that they understand that it's intent is to cripple the ability of the states to defend themselves from the Federal government? The fed can hire endless numbers of mercenaries using a bottomless purse filled with debt-based currency, while the states cannot, and currently rely on the Pentagon for rcrutment and pay. Hm. There might be a problem there...

Or could it be that they are just fine with it because it's a Republican war, they have Republican connections, so "rocking the boat" is bad for business - but sending off the second son isn't any good for it, either.

Anyway, it's some combination of greed, evil and complacency, and I won't stand for it. The only people I will suffer to tell me about my duty to "support the troops" or argue the merits of the war on terror have an Iraq Combat Ribbon.

A Little Rebellion Fitted T-ShirtNow, I like to create shirts that support my views from the moral and political high ground. When it comes to high ground on both fronts, it's hard to argue with Thomas Jefferson, at least when he's speaking of the Constitution and the duties of the citizenry.

This shirt combines an elegant design with some very pointed words:

I hold that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and is as necessary in the political world as storms are in the physical.

I intend to wear this proudly, as a patriot who is deadly serious about his duty to question authority with the annoying persistence of a three-year-old.

Or you might prefer the version that says this:

When the government fears the people there is liberty; when the people fear the government there is tyranny." -Thomas Jefferson

join the 2nd Amendment Militia
I'm too old, too fat and too slow to even bother to arm myself against the eventuality of joining a militia, as defined under the Second Amendment. But when it comes to the First Amendment, I can snipe with the best. And in a very direct way, these shirts are ammunition in what the "other side" has branded a "Culture War" with the intent of imposing a theocracy that will literally outlaw everything even vaguely fun, and any and all speech that's critical of our new churchstate, it's leadership and Prophets. Or is that Profits?

Ok, this one is a zazzle shirt - so I only have two for the Cafepress sale. But this one can be customized with your own blog url on either front, back or both; you can even upload your own graphics. So I really wanted to mention that, in context. If you do that, please link to this post AND upload an image to Zazzle showing your cool new shirt!

I'm seriously thinking of turning it into a graphic for a blogroll if there's any interest.

My Passionate Sense Ash Grey T-ShirtOk, well, lets see, what else do I want. Well, I want one of these.

"My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities." Albert Einstein.
You might not think of that as political, but it defines my politics. My views of social justice and ethics are not dependant upon who my frends are, where I go to church or what party I'm affiliated with. I have Asperger's syndrome, and in as an innofensive way as possible, I'd like you to know that your views on these matters don't matter a tinker's damn to me.

It's not you, really. It's my own unique mental wiring.

I damn well adore this feature of my mind. It makes it a hell of a lot easier to be ethical. For instance, it doesn't bother me a bit to shed a friendship over a point of principle. I don't need to "belong" to a group or a cause to feel complete, so I don't have any problem dissociating myself when they go sour.

You won't ever find ME changing my principles to fit my audience and the fortunes of political correctness, unlike
Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney or Hillary Clinton - just off the top of my head. One in 166? Only? Clearly we need to breed...

Tech No Whining Dark T-ShirtOk, well, there's the Aspergers keyword for the day, so on to the next shirt. I desperately need a new "no whining" shirt. This one has a newer design and it's BLACK! Woot!
Best of all, it's something everyone agrees on. (Even those who whine incessently themselves.)

Me, when I think of "wining," I think of Bill O'Rielly, and the sort of "Christian" who feels "persecuted" by "happy holidays" signs at Wal-Mart, or grumblings about restrictions on hate speech directed at gays, single mothers and people who believe in abortion choice. Apparently, within the tiny little abscesses they call "brains," they consider it to be a religious right to say that "faggots should be killed" or that "abortion doctors should be hunted down and killed" or that "godless liberals" should be "hung."

This is whining. Aside from hate speech, it's whining, and an admission that none of these "Core Christian Values" are gaining any ground in the marketplace of ideas - even with mainstream Christians. Nope, when you start trying to intimidate and terrorize people into compliance, it means your rational arguements - well, maybe they aren't as rational as you thought. So resorting to hate speech is whining and winging. It's a childish temper tantrum, really. It's a demand of "If you don't let me win, I'm going to hit you/"

I won't let children get away with this, and I've no reason to let grown up, so-called Christians get away with it either. The only difference is that children really don't expect to get away with that tactic if there are any grownups around.

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Disclosure policy for Graphictruth

This policy is valid from 22 July 2007

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact Bob King (firewheelvortex at yahoo dot com).

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.

I am occasionally compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though I receive compensation for posts or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

I would like to disclose the following existing relationships. These are companies, organizations or individuals that may have a significant impact on the content of this blog. We are active in a political movement which influences our blog: Libertarian philosophy and currently, the Ron Paul campaign.

We have a financial interest in the following that are relevant to our blogging: T-Shirt designs and various other products we use to illustrate posts, via, and others.

To get your own policy, go to

Ethics, Effective Advertising and PayPerPost.

Your Pay Per Post assignment, should you choose to accept it: Hang a post on the following link:
word of mouth ethics

This AM I needed a break from all the depressing, disturbing and outrageous nonsense from Washington, and I knew if I checked my email, my stumbleupon or my clipmarks, I'd be up to my earlobes in bile by noon. Well, what to do, what to do? Well, I hadn't taken PayPerPost assignment for a few days, and if I'm not safe from politics there, I won't be safe anywhere!

So I went looking for an opportunity that was worthwhile and decided to check out the latest PayPerPost sponsored opportunity because it offered me twenty bucks for my time. Hey, I'm a Libertarian - I don't have to pretend that money isn't important to me. Twenty bucks is a nice way to start the day.

But, since I'm not a Republican, I can also admit that there are a few things I won't do for money. Indeed, the idea that the ethics of all things, matters is the essence of "the party of principle." Of course, that's also where the arguments start. So when required link was, word of mouth ethics, I knew this was my assignment.

I'm an ethics blogger and I've written a lot of advertising copy over the years in many capacities. So, this is, like, an expert opinion. (I have a briefcase somewhere, and I'm almost certainly from out of town.)

home: advertisers : code of ethics

Disclosure is Required

We believe it is essential to maintain transparency about the relationship between advertisers, bloggers and blog readers. Bloggers that accept payment for reviewing or promoting your product or service must adhere to PayPerPost's strict policy on disclosure. This policy is intended to protect both the blogger and your company from giving anyone the impression of a conflict of interest or the appearance of impropriety. To that end, we have created tools such as "Disclosure Badges" and a "Disclosure Policy Generator" to help the bloggers inform their readers.

There's more, and you should read it if you are at all interested in becoming a PayPerPost advertiser or a "Postie", a blogger who helps support their site with paid posts. But right now I'm speaking to advertisers, and why you should always, always, always use the disclosure badge found at the bottom of this post.

As illustrated by the graphic, that disclosure badge creates a popover that speaks about your company. There are two very good reasons for doing this:

Our disclosure requirements are designed to comply with FTC regulations that state: "When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product which might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience) such connection must be fully disclosed." As an advertiser it is your responsibility to make sure each post meets this FTC requirement. The easiest way to do that is to require each post to contain a Disclosure Badge, a feature that is provided at no extra charge to advertisers. If you ever feel that a blogger hasn't adequately disclosed we request that you flag that post in our system and send it to our review team.
The second reason should be obvious: It provides a link to a goodly amount of copy and a graphic that's entirely under your control, and is consistent across your entire PayPerPost campaign. Anywhere else, you'd be charged boucoup bucks for this. Heck, it's larger than most banner ads! So you benefit both from the individual perspective of the blogger and direct speech about your company to the consumer.

But enough about why it's "beneficial" to you. It's ethical, because it's honest, factual information about your company and if you have not yet figured out that honest people prosper in business in the long term, I probably don't want to be associating my name with yours.

I am an honest, ethical person and I disclose all paid opportunities that I take. I don't take all that are offered to me, either. They have to fit my blog, my interests and my sense of personal ethics. So while it's up to the advertiser as to whether to use the disclosure badge, I much prefer ads that do, because that tells me - and my readers - something about their sense of ethics.

As to my sense of ethics; well, all I had to do to get the $20 bucks was 200 words of gush about PPP. There's a lot more than that here, and that seems pretty typical across the board, looking at random examples of PPP entries on other blogs. My philosophy for something like this amounts to "Full measure, pressed down and running over." In parallel, I also want a post that is, in fact, a post, something worth signing MY name to, and again, I think you will find that to be the case with most other Posties. Feel free to bench or ban any bloggers that don't meet your standards!

But by the same token, I want an offer that inspires me. I'll take a five dollar assignment over a ten dollar one if the five dollar offer is interesting and gives me something that inspires something worth sayings. Give me a little more than "fifty words about BlaCo's kool IM plugins." Give me some ideas, give me links to pictures of your product or service - the more the better. Tell ME why I should bother visiting. And have the humility to accept posts that are honest reactions; don't restrict posties to purely positive posts. What you lose in positive mention, you will gain in expert, motivated feedback. That's worth a lot more than five or ten bucks.

One final note; I've said it before, but I'll say it again. PPP's list of opportunities is a gold mine for bloggers, even when they are opportunities they are not qualified for. Buzz is buzz, and you can find that anywhere, but I've always considered advertisements, and where they are placed to be a vital clue to emerging issues and ideas. So I keep checking.

And meanwhile, the money rolls onto my PayPal debit card, which is building up a nice little balance. What am I going to do with that? Well, whisky, cigars and good books are always on my mind. And I could use some new t-shirts too!

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