Saturday, August 04, 2007

The incumbant's choice: Plomo e Plata?

In Mexico, when criminal elements wish to influence a public official, they offer them a choice; "Plomo e Plata;" "Lead or Silver." In other words, take the nice bribe or we shoot you.

I'm probably not the first to observe the probability that the highest priority for warrentless wiretapping, data mining, "sneak and peek" warrents and presumed other secret surveillance efforts have been aimed at compromising public officials of all parties who might have sudden attacks of conscience in the face of the administration's march toward the establishment of a totalitarian state.
This Can't Be Happening!: "The Democrats in this Congress are a bunch of spineless cowards and willing enablers, and they now bear the chief responsibility for establishing the elements of an American police state.

For that is clearly where this nation is headed.

There was no need to give the president new warrantless surveillance powers. Would be terrorists are already fully aware of the government's spying capabilities and certainly are being cautious in their use of phones and email to communicate. Moreover, the secret FISA court has demonstrated that it is most accommodating of spying requests, having only rejected one such request from the President and National Security Agency in the past two years. It is obvious then that what the president is seeking is expanded power to spy on Americans. And incredibly, despite his 27-percent support rating in the polls, and despite widespread public fears of this kind of government snooping, he is getting it.

Sen. Feingold has been one of the staunchest defenders of the Constitution, voting against the USA Patriot Act and against the invasion of Iraq, but he is wrong to imply that before Friday's betrayal of that document, the Senate was acting as an independent body. Both the Senate and the House ceased playing their constitutional role and became rubber stamps a long time ago."
There's no telling what interesting tid-bits might turn up in the closets of long-time legislators, but the net effect seems to be a state of sheer terror at the idea of asserting their plain constitutional duty. And frankly, this pansy-assed complacency doesn't make a heck of a lot of political sense, either. So i'm starting to presume, frankly, that key members of Congress have been confronted with the possibility of what might occur to them if they don't play ball. Consequences such as what happened to Rep. Jackson spring to mind. But the "financial death penalty" is a nice lever too - and then there's always direct threats of violence against person or family.

Most probably, simple blackmail would be enough to get things to go the President's way on critical issues such as this. Let them have their meaningless symbolic gestures; so long as they accomplish nothing substantial, such as, say, bills of impeachment or cutting off funding for the war.

There are two Democrats in particular that need to be held accountable; both Nancy Pelosi and Nevada's Harry Reid must be removed from office by the voters. Between them, they have made a satisfactory peaceful resolution of our current constitutional crisis that much more difficult. I, personally, have run out of patience with Sen. Reid and will be voting for any non-republican warm body other than him in 2008.

Presuming we have elections in 2008, a question that becomes more and more open with each passing day.

Blackmail, election 2008, corruption, bush administration, Congressional Democrats, rubber stamp, plomo e plata, lead or silver.

If the US is a battlefield in the War on Terror, Who are "The Terrorists?" You, that's who.

First Amendment Militia - Free Press Uniform Tee shirt


First, a little history lesson on the justification for the Iraq war by means of deceit, deception and demagoguery.



As a result, even deeply conservative Republicans are troubled; Bruce Fein, for example, is speaking out against Bush and his badly-hidden agendas. What agendas? Well, with all the utter bullshit flying about, it's difficult to say for sure, but a few truths are emerging. Alternet is bold enough to baldly come to this conclusion about the Administration's domestic spying agenda.

The extraordinary secrecy surrounding the spying operations revealed in Alberto Gonzales' Senate testimony is not aimed at al-Qaeda, but at the American people.
They proceed to back it up with both reason and evidence, evidence based primarily on Gonzalez's awkward and obvious perjuries.

Sorry, Perjury is a legal term. Let me restate it; his lies.

Anyway, here's some reason to seriously doubt assertions that a total cloak of secrecy on the matter of the extent of domestic surveillance is vital to national security.

[T]here's no reason to think terrorists would change their behavior significantly if they knew that the U.S. government was engaged in massive data-mining operations, poring through electronic records of citizens and non-citizens alike.

The 9/11 attackers mostly stayed off the grid and many of their transactions, such as renting housing, would not alone have raised suspicions. Indeed, the patterns that deserved more attention, such as enrollment in flight-training classes and the arrival of known al-Qaeda operatives, were detected by alert FBI agents in the field but ignored by FBI officials in Washington -- and by Bush while on a month-long vacation in Texas.

Bruce Fein is far more troubled by the threat the President poses to the future of this nation than any number of Al-Queda attacks.

Via Raw story, a dry, but thorough excerpt from his statement before Congress regarding legal and constitutional issues surrounding the President's willful misinterpretation of the AUMF as justification for domestic surveillance in violation of FISA.

President Bush’s intent was to keep the program secret from Congress and to avoid political or legal accountability indefinitely. Secrecy of that sort makes checks and balances a farce. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Popular government without popular information is impossible. Neither Congress nor the American people can question or evaluate a program that is entirely unknown. Mr. Bush could have informed Congress that he was acting outside FISA without disclosing intelligence sources or methods or otherwise alerting terrorists to the need for evasive action.

Since 1978, FISA has informed the world that the United States spies on its enemies, and disclosing the fact of the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program would not have added to the enemy’s knowledge on that score. That explains why the Bush administration continued the program after The New York Times’ publication. Second, President Bush’s refusal to disclose the number of Americans that have been targeted under the surveillance program and the success rate in gathering intelligence useful in thwarting terrorism from Americans targeted makes a congressional assessment of its constitutionality or wisdom impossible. Fourth Amendment reasonableness pivots in part on whether the government is on a fishing expedition hoping that something will turn up based on statistical probabilities, like breaking and entering every home in the United States because a handful of emails might be discovered showing a communication with an Al Qaeda member. Without knowing the general nature and success of the surveillance program, Congress is handicapped in fashioning new legislation or undertaking other appropriate responses.

Third, President Bush’s interpretation of the AUMF is preposterous, not simply wrong. FISA is clearly a constitutional exercise of congressional power both to protect the Bill of Rights and to regulate the power of the President to gather foreign intelligence through either electronic surveillance or physical searches during both war and peace. The necessary and proper clause in Article I authorizes Congress to legislate with regard to all powers of the United States, not simply those of the legislative branch. Congress was emphatic that FISA was intended as the exclusive method of gathering foreign intelligence through electronic surveillance or physical searches. And FISA was enacted when the United States confronted a greater danger to its existence from Soviet nuclear-tipped missiles than it does today from Al Qaeda. The argument that the AUMF was intended an exception to FISA is discredited by the following. Neither any Member of Congress not President Bush even hinted at such an interpretation in the course of its enactment, including a presidential signing statement. The interpretation would inescapably mean that the AUMF also was intended to authorize President Bush to break and enter homes, open mail, torture detainees, or even open internment camps for American citizens in violation of federal statutes in order to gather foreign intelligence. To think Congress would have intended to inflict such a gaping wound on the Bill of Rights by silence is thoroughly implausible. The AUMF argument was concocted years after its enactment. It does not represent a contemporaneous interpretation entitled to deference. Further, numerous provisions of THE PATRIOT ACT would have been superfluous if the AUMF means what President Bush now says it means. Finally, FISA is a specific statute prohibiting the gathering of foreign intelligence in both war and peace except within its terms, whereas the AUMF is silent on the issue of foreign intelligence. The specific customarily trumps the general as a matter of statutory interpretation. FISA is more definitive against the President than the failure of Congress to enact legislation in Youngstown because the former tells the Commander-in-Chief “you cannot act” whereas the latter simply said “we are not conferring this power to seize private businesses.” Fourth, President Bush has evaded judicial review of the legality of the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program by refusing to use its fruits in seeking FISA warrants or in criminal prosecutions. Pending private suits are problematic because of difficult standing questions. The President’s evasion of the courts makes it proper for Congress to step into the breach to express its on view on the legality of the spying program. Fifth, President Bush’s theory of inherent prerogatives under Article II to justify warping a natural interpretation of the AUMF would reduce Congress to an ink blot in the permanent conflict with international terrorism. The President could pick and choose which statutes to obey in gathering foreign intelligence and employing battlefield tactics on the sidewalks of the United States, akin to exercising a line-item veto over FISA and its amendments.

Of course, the question to all of the above is why. What possible motive would the President have for taking these and many other steps that have alarmed a growing proportion of the informed public? Dave Lindorff, writing at Counterpunch.org, suggests that a declaration of martial law is the next step in the evolution of the President's ambitions and notes that everything is in place save an appropriate pretext.

From the looks of things, the Bush/Cheney regime has been working assiduously to pave the way for a declaration of military rule, such that at this point it really lacks only the pretext to trigger a suspension of Constitutional government. They have done this with the active support of Democrats in Congress, though most of the heavy lifting was done by the last, Republican-led Congress. [Emphasis Mine]

The first step, or course, was the first Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed in September 2001, which the president has subsequently used to claim-improperly, but so what? -that the whole world, including the US, is a battlefield in a so-called "War" on Terror, and that he has extra-Constitutional unitary executive powers to ignore laws passed by Congress. As constitutional scholar and former Reagan-era associate deputy attorney general Bruce Fein observes, that one claim, that the US is itself a battlefield, is enough to allow this or some future president to declare martial law, "since you can always declare martial law on a battlefield. All he'd need would be a pretext, like another terrorist attack inside the U.S."

The 2001 AUMF was followed by the PATRIOT Act, passed in October 2001, which undermined much of the Bill of Rights. Around the same time, the president began a campaign of massive spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, conducted without any warrants or other judicial review. It was and remains a program that is clearly aimed at American dissidents and at the administration's political opponents, since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court would never have raised no objections to spying on potential terrorists. (And it, and other government spying programs, have resulted in the government's having a list now of some 325,000 "suspected terrorists"!)

The other thing we saw early on was the establishment of an underground government-within-a-government, though the activation, following 9-11, of the so-called "Continuity of Government" protocol, which saw heads of federal agencies moved secretly to an underground bunker where, working under the direction of Vice President Dick Cheney, the "government" functioned out of sight of Congress and the public for critical months.

It was also during the first year following 9-11 that the Bush/Cheney regime began its programs of arrest and detention without charge-mostly of resident aliens, but also of American citizens-and of kidnapping and torture in a chain of gulag prisons overseas and at the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay.

The following year, Attorney General John Ashcroft began his program to develop a mass network of tens of millions of citizen spies-Operation TIPS. That program, which had considerable support from key Democrats (notably Sen. Joe Lieberman), was curtailed by Congress when key conservatives got wind of the scale of the thing, but the concept survives without a name, and is reportedly being expanded today.


The only problem with the declaration of martial law, aside from the fairly straightforward matter of generating a suitable pretext, is the question of "you and what army." Lindorff continues:

Bruce Fein isn't an alarmist. He says he doesn't see martial law coming tomorrow. But he is also realistic. "Really, by declaring the US to be a battlefield, Bush already made it possible for himself to declare martial law, because you can always declare martial law on a battlefield," he says. "All he would need would be a pretext, like another terrorist attack on the U.S."

Indeed, the revised Insurrection Act (10. USC 331-335) approved by Congress and signed into law by Bush last October, specifically says that the president can federalize the National Guard to "suppress public disorder" in the event of "national disorder, epidemic, other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident." That determination, the act states, is solely the president's to make. Congress is not involved.

Fein says, "This is all sitting around like a loaded gun waiting to go off. I think the risk of martial law is trivial right now, but the minute there is a terrorist attack, then it is real. And it stays with us after Bush and Cheney are gone, because terrorism stays with us forever." (It may be significant that Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate for president, has called for the revocation of the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq, but not of the earlier 2001 AUMF which Bush claims makes him commander in chief of a borderless, endless war on terror.


I've devoted extensive thought to the imposition of Martial Law and the resulting Civil War that I strongly believe it would provoke. The key to my understanding has always been the lack of available boots on the ground and the very important question as to the percentage of US forces who are willing to fire upon fellow citizens. I've mentioned this as an imponderable, simply because there is no real way to know until it happens, but I'm quite certain that obedience to presidential orders cannot be taken for granted. Lindorff concludes with the observation that, due to overuse of the existing military and an increasing resistance to continued service on the part of vital mid-level officers who would be vital to such an enterprise, it's increasingly unlikely that the president could impose martial law - at least, not upon the United States as a whole. I and many others publicy doubt the ability of the current available forces to pacify California, or even Greater Los Angeles.

But then, the Administration must be aware of that. So expect a continuation and escalation of covert actions against the American People, particularly those that present either symbolic or direct threats to the President, or to his network of backers and advocates. I particularly expect the administration to use "The Financial Death Penalty" against a number of carefully selected targets, along with an effort to keep those actions secret for as long as possible, while the Pentagon - through it's contractors, such as Blackwater - attempts to develop an "off the books" force of mercenaries that
could be relied on.

I must rely on others better positioned than I am to discern how well-advanced such efforts are, if they exist, and to what degree they are feasible. But there are hints and rumors out there that covert activity is not the sole province of the President's Men. There are a lot of former military people with quite current skills who are disaffected and determined to do something.

My conclusion is that the Administration wold be well advised to put off it's apparent plans for world domination at least another generation.

But then again,
when has the Administration ever profited from being well-advised?

Update:
CRIMES AND CORRUPTION OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER NEWS: This Can't Be Happening!

Dave Lindorff wrote:

To readers of the This Can't Be Happening! website:

In a curious coincidence, the day that this site published an article on the string of steps that this government has taken to put in place the legal niceties to Prepare for a Potential Declaration of Martial Law, including a sidebar on the possibility of an assassination of Pat Tillman,
my site suddenly ceased allowing me to access it for any further editorial changes.

I have been in repeated contact with the help desk (sic) at Earthlink, and have been informed that the site's pages have been "Fatally Corrupted."They advised me that I might have to rebuild the site and start over.

When I pointed out that the site itself is still up and available to readers, and so should be recoverable on the server, they said that they would attempt to fix it, making it a "priority" item.

That was yesterday.

It has now been locked down for a total of 4 days.

Not sure what to make of the whole thing at this point, though it could all just be coincidence
and innocent ineptness at Earthlink.

Dave Lindorff
dlindorff@mindspring.com
Interesting, don't you think?

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Friday, August 03, 2007

10.545% Clickthru Ratio on PPP Sponsored posts.

From the payperpost blog:

We now have data from over 40k bloggers and 8k advertisers to prove the naysayers wrong. The truth is that not only do people click on sponsored posts, on average they click through at a higher rate than any other media I am aware of. 10.545% average CTR to be exact (this is an average over all opportunities, obviously some will be much higher and some will be much lower).
My experience in buying Google AdWords is to expect an average of somewhere between .5-1.5% CTR. Sure, I have had keyword campaigns that might have hit as high as 5% or 6% in extreme cases (like buying the keyword "payperpost"), but that is few and far between. I also know that a good campaign on MySpace might deliver a .05% CTR and that other campaigns I have run through Adbrite and similar media networks deliver a lower CTR than search marketing in my experience.


I've been running websites for the last fifteen years. Let me tell you, it's damn hard for an honest man to make a living doing it. The best results always came from some form of personal recommendation. Even then, it would be one or two percent. These results are astonishing, and I think payperpost has stumbled upon an entirely new phenomenon.

What we have is a combination of viral marketing and testimonial marketing, the two most powerful forms, working together in a new synergy due to the nature of blogging, blog networks and services such as del.icio.us stumbleupon, digg, furl and others. All of these things deliver results particular people are directly interested in, to a page that has a personal recommendation of the product or service. The likelihood of at least a "courtesy click" is very high.

But it goes the other way. Regular readers of a blog or it's feed will tend to have a very good idea of the writer's credibility. Now, it's hard to say what my credibility is with my readership (comments would help with that, folks, are you all mute?), but I stake a great deal on the value of my word. I won't talk something up for a mere five or ten bucks, nor will I take an assignment that would require that I say something I don't believe. I certainly won't pretend to have a valuable opinion when I don't. So the odds of the post itself being dug, stumbled or furled by readers goes up too.

Of course, there are cases where I admit that I'm guessing out loud, and this is one of them. A better than ten percent response is bizarre. Possibly some of this is due to the novelty of the format, and it may taper off as banner ads did. But my gut tells me that this is potentially more robust, and my head tells me that it's inherently more ethical. As a blogger, I much prefer it to keyword-driven models, because I get to choose what I associate with my name, and it's certainly paid me more than ANY advertising format would have at my traffic levels.

Ten point five four five percent click-through! I still have trouble wrapping my head around it. It's a marketer's wet dream, and with ratios like that, if they are stable, justifies rates that could really support mid-rank bloggers like myself.

That is the important part, not just from a personal standpoint, but from the standpoint of citizen journalism. It's not a format that will translate easily to corporate sites, it all depends on the integrity of the individual. I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out over the next couple-few years, because I'd really love to see a few of us avoid being co-opted by big media ourselves.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Ultimate Anti-Yellow Ribbon Magnet Picture

clipped from nataliedee.com
The image “http://nataliedee.com/012405/ribbon-based-economy.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
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John, John, why persecuteth thou me?

Mike Savage needs a hug. He's clearly gotten all tense and irrational, though I should resist suggesting that he could benefit from some Hot Savage Love. I wouldn't wish to presume upon Dan Savage's sense of decency and propriety. (Dan Savage is the Liberal answer to Michael Savage and is therefore completely unsafe for work outside of Portland, Seattle and San Fransisco.)

Media Matters - Savage: "You're telling me there's no possibility of a conspiracy by the Democrats" to cause Roberts' seizure?: "Savage asked, 'Am I to believe there's no connection between Charles Schumer on Friday saying he would never appoint, or never, excuse me, approve another Bush appointment to the court, to any court? And then the chief justice suffers a so-called seizure two days later? You're telling me there's no possibility of a conspiracy by the Democrats to have caused this seizure in some manner?' He added: 'Tell me it's not possible, and I'll tell you you're a liar.'"

I should point out that it's pretty clever rhetoric, too. Can I definitely state it's impossible? Nope. I'm a pretty good rhetorician myself, but even I can't prove a negative.

I cannot prove that 9/11 was not a conspiracy. Actually, it had to be a conspiracy, the open question is "by whom and to what end?" But likewise, absent much relevant evidence to rule it out, I cannot prove it was not a conspiracy that included Bush and Cheney.

See how this works?

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It's just absence of evidence - and the only thing we can say for sure is "we don't know." And therefore, if we deny his claim as absurd, he actually can characterize it as dishonest. We can only honestly take bets on the likelihood of some possible causative factor. So I cannot HONESTLY rule out the possibility that John Roberts was fed something to trigger a seizure, any more, than, say, I can rule out that the seizure was caused by the stress of a troubled conscience or sheer, overwhelming cognitive dissonance.

I would have to say that stress of some type - either physical or mental - is more probable than, say, a liberal getting their hands on a drug or device that would trigger a seizure at a particular place and in a particularly convenient point in the news cycle.

I'd have to render it as being as likely an occurrence - I mean, in terms of predictability and certainty of causation - as Paul being struck down on the Road to Damascus.

Come to think of it, Paul, prior to his seizure, enjoyed a social role not entirely unlike that Roberts has played over the years. I suppose the only way to come to even a tentative speculation is to see what Roberts' rulings look like in the coming years.

But as for "Dr." Savage - Well, let's just say I smell the funk that comes from seeing the end of the gravy train in the near distance. Savage, like the rest of the remaining Right Wing noise machine, are a remaining fringe speaking to a an ever-diminishing fringe, with the general ratings of right-wing talk and tabloid formats plunging like stunned ducks.

If they manage to convince themselves of what they say enough to be convincing to their remaining audience, I presume it's either due to medication, or the lack of it. And in Savage's case, I think that, unlike Rush or O'Rielly, it's due to a clear absence of essential medication!

Yes, folks, marijuana (and to a lesser, but significant extent, Cuban seed and Dominican tobaccos) are appropriate herbal treatments for bilious humors, while alcohol is contraindicated.

So, as a caring gesture, why don't you send him a nice, big black cigar...

Cohiba Black Churchill 49*7''

...and tell him to suck on it.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Our Apoplexic Destinizer



Ok, folks, it should be clear to anyone of any philosophical or political persuasion that politics no longer apply to the question of whether George Bush should continue in office. Self-preservation trumps politics in all rational beings.

Think Progress » Report: In Meeting, ‘Wild-Eyed’ Bush Thumped Chest While Repeating ‘I Am The President!’: "Georgie Anne Geyer writes today in the Dallas Morning News about President Bush’s strange behavior during a recent meeting with “[f]riends of his from Texas.”

But by all reports, President Bush is more convinced than ever of his righteousness.

Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated “I am the president!” He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of “our country’s destiny.”"

It seems increasingly apparent to me that "our country's destiny" in the eyes of George Bush is some Dispensationalist twaddle, where, after the rivers run red with blood and nuclear and biological Armageddon sweep the world clean of both civilization and sanity, Jesus returns, on a "just in time basis," courtesy of a Heavenly FedEx Skylift.

Israel's Soldiers breaking silence.

I have long avoided saying anything about Israel's domestic and military policy because I did not consider myself well-informed enough to comment. But when any government, anywhere has foreign and domestic policies that are clearly causing irreparable to persons both in and out of their legitimate jurisdictions, that government is acting in a way that is clearly unethical. As clearly unethical actions always bring consequences, unethical policies always end up with a very large and painful mess that needs to be confronted, which the following excerpted paragraphs illustrate.

"Preach to Your Own People" Annotated


Mikhael Manekin, discharged from the IDF in 2002 is now the Foreign Relations Manager of Breaking the Silence www.breakingthesilence.org.il which documents former IDF soldiers testimonies about the occupation and oppression of Palestinians, "I am a practicing Jew and in two weeks we go into the month of repentance; which requires acknowledging our sins. We cannot change things until we acknowledge our culpability.

"A few years ago, the soldiers you have encountered at the checkpoints would have been me. Soldiers like myself who served during the second intifada, got our education on the job. You all have visited more places [the past nine days] than most Israelis ever have. Israeli's have no idea what is happening in the occupied territories. But, so far in 2007 we have given more Israeli's a tour through Hebron than we did in 2005 and 2006 combined. Hebron is a ghost town, the settlers are unbearable and every soldier who is stationed there understands the 600 settlers there are psychotic; insane.

"I became very opinionated while in the army, but I kept it all to myself. Nobody talks about it in the army and I was the commander and did not know until after I got out that one of the other soldiers in my unit was feeling the same way, until he gave his testimony. Israeli society wants you to believe you are a bad apple for speaking out because unless you trust the system, it will fall apart. Most Israelis who get out of the army leave the country and are probably all drugged out. They suffer post traumatic syndrome but we are the victimizers. My age group is getting the hell out of here or walling themselves off from society and are not involved in anything.

"Over 450 former soldiers have now given their testimonies and we don't publish any stories without the corroboration coming from another former soldier and the testimonies are kept anonymous.

"We all served in the territories. Some served in Gaza, some in Hebron, some in Bethlehem and the rest served in other places. We all manned checkpoints, participated in patrols and arrests and took part in the war against terror. We all realized that the daily struggle against terror and the daily interaction with the civilian population has left us helpless. Our sense of justice was distorted, and so were our morality and emotions.
"The reality we experienced was made of: Innocent civilians being hurt, Kids not going to school because of the curfew, and parents who can't bring food home because they can't go to work.
The article goes on to state that young people are tending to leave Israel after serving with the IDF in the Occupied Terratories; they are voting against further support and defense of the State of Israel with their feet. Others retreat into the silence and disaffection brought by drugs and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I can only acclaim and honor their sacrifices - and their decision as to the worth of what it has bought. I am no expert - but it seems that those making the decisions that send these young men and women into harm's way are clearly no better equipped than I, or their policies would not have such hideous outcomes.

It's time that Israel divorces itself from the control of the religious fundamentalists who are clearly willing to sacrifice the lives and safety of - well, anyone in the Middle East and certainly all Israelis - for the goal of a chimerical Greater Israel.

I have always been in favor of the State of Israel, and for the longest time I, like many of my fellow countrymen, was willing to overlook the means in the name of the end. I still do, in the case of the establishment of Israel.

But I must state:

"That which is hateful to you, do not do unto others."

Of all the people in the world who should understand why it is both wrong and foolish to deprive others of their liberty and economic opportunity, to subject them to harassment, to herd them into ghettos and subject them to the daily threat of arbitrary and quite possibly deadly violence at the hand of the state or at the hands of persons within the dominant culture, it should be Jews.

It seems to me that the current course of the State of Israel, encouraged by both religious extremists and hard-line Zionists is causing the state of Israel to commit every sin ever committed against it - and I must speak up now, before it is guilty of the greatest crime against the soul of the Jewish people possible - a new holocaust. And that is, I am deeply sad to say, entirely within the realm of possibility, considering the current course of Israeli policy.

I anticipate accusations of anti-semitism, but in fact this is the opposite. I wish to see a powerful, flourishing, happy, peaceful Israel who is at peace with her neighbors, this is what I believe US supporters of Israel have always felt that the Jewish people are entitled to.

But then, it's something all people are entitled to - and it is a goal that cannot be pursued at the expense of others. Aside from being unethical and immoral, it clearly does not work.

Oh, should anyone wish to observe that this advice clearly applies to the US as well - Amen, and Selah.

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Bowen Review Lights Up Humboldt Media

CA SoS Bowen is making big waves with her Top To Bottom Review of voting systems throughout the state. The Humboldt County media is starting to notice, These tests show vulnerabilities in e voting machines from all the major providers, including Sequoya machines used in Nevada.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Oh, somebody needs a SPANKING!

clipped from www.alternet.org

In Violation of Federal Law, Ohio's 2004 Presidential Election Records Are Destroyed or Missing

In 56 of Ohio's 88 counties, ballots and election records from 2004 have been "accidentally" destroyed, despite a federal order to preserve them -- it was crucial evidence which would have revealed whether the election was stolen.

"The missing records reveal where the fraud occurred," said Arnebeck. "You take as an example, Warren County. It is well documented that there was a phony homeland security alert and that was the excuse for excluding the public and the press from observing what was going on during Election Day. So the missing unused ballots would suggest that ballots were remade to fit the desired result."


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In this case I think the lack of evidence is pretty much all the proof we need.

Monday, July 30, 2007

"Christians" attack another book that explodes cultural myths about childhood.

Activist says Nobel laureate's book could be 'child porn' (OneNewsNow.com)


Via Digg, where I hope a lively discussion will ensue.

A pro-family activist in Michigan says legal action against a school district may be necessary after high school students in that district were given a reading assignment which could amount to child pornography.

The president of the American Family Association of Michigan says it's an outrage that officials in one public school district have asked students to read a book that involves the sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl.

Officials in the Howell Public School District were flooded with calls from angry parents after high school students were assigned to read The Bluest Eye by 1993 Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison. The book, originally published in 1970, focuses on Pecola Breedlove, an 11-year-old black girl who, according to comments at Amazon.com, is "spat upon, ridiculed, and ultimately raped and impregnated by her own father."


The top amazon reader review says this:

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful: I would give it a million stars if I could, June 12, 2007 By haile gebre "Rahwa Gebre" (Arcadia, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, I can safely say, is my favorite novel of all time. It's depressing, complex, and downright tragic as an innocent little girl is destroyed by a vicious society set on convincing her that she is both ugly and worthless. Through a brutal rape by her own father, Pecola's life is ruined as her childhood is permanently destroyed and the one pathetic hope that keeps her alive is her strong desire for blue eyes.

Morrison refuses to depict this story in chronological order, as the narrator explains that it is not the "why" that we are able to answer but rather the "how." With that in mind, Morrison quickly summarizes the story and then dives in to the analysis of how this little girl's tragedy was made possible. We, as readers, are then opened up to a broader explanation of not merely this girl's tragedy on an isolated, individual level. Rather, she is the physical manifestation of the psychological problems faced by African-Americans living in a hostile society that told them they were inferior. Pecola's problems are slightly mirrored from those considered at the high ranks of black society (Geraldine), all the way to black society's most tragic victims (the Breedloves). Morrison refuses to allow the reader to simply pity Pecola's mindset. Instead, she forces us, no matter the background or race, to feel guilty. We, a society that has not yet completely embraced people from all portions of our community, are completely responsible for her downfall. Because, Morrison argues, in a world that continually controls us into believing that all minorities are inferior, we have left her to suffer.

But Toni Morrison doesn't stop there, a point that would already label The Bluest Eye as an amazing novel. Morrison expands the picture from psychological racism into a rarely considered topic of psychological sexism. All of the main female characters in this story are in some shape or form sexually assaulted by the dominant male figures. Morrison brilliantly expands the picture to fearlessly explore sexism and how it has damaged the psyche of our nation's society.

I won't lie, I was initially disgusted by several of the scenes in this novel, the main one being a brutal rape described in great detail. But I realized that this book was meant to horrify me and open my eyes to what Morrison was exposing. The book is incredibly complex, so it deserves your utmost attention. I can not overrate this book; you must read it.
Of course it's worth reading the negative reviews. I kind of get the picture of the usual HS lit requirement that any book that is enjoyable or that doesn't "enlighten" you in some way is no better than reading comic books in class. So, if the objection were that such trenchantly depressing and admittedly complex and difficult-to-follow literature might well sour students on reading for pleasure, I'd be jumping up and down with agreement.

However, many objections seemed to focus on how horrible and dirty it was - equating all descriptions of sexual activity with "porn," no matter what the intent of the artist. And that, of course, is the reason stated by AFAM in pushing to get it banned.

It always seems that these efforts come up when it seems like such a book might get children to disclose similar abuse. My wife, an elementary school teacher, has several stories about that, where a book or video provokes disclosure from 5 or more kids in a class of thirty.

As a long time online sexual abuse and sexual rights advocate, I'm very familiar with the depressing fact that scenes such as the book describes are very real, and far more common than we would like to believe. They are crimes that also tend to be perpetuated by a certain type of person; generally an authoritarian personality.

Ever since the publication, half a century ago, of The Authoritarian Personality (Adomo, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, and Sanford, 1950), the idea that social and political beliefs could be understood in terms of basic personality structure has captured the imagination of psychologists. A gripping issue in the era of World War 11, authoritarianism was conceived by these early researchers as the potential for fascism. Then and now, the authoritarian could be characterized as conventional, submissive to authority, and aggressive toward deviants and outsiders (Altemeyer, 1981). [emphasis mine]
P
ersonality and emotional correlates of right-wing authoritarianism;


Attempts to discuss such crimes or disclose such events are often attacked viciously with well-funded smear campaigns and claims that it's "an attack on the family." An examination of the origins of the "False Memory Syndrome Foundation"is highly interesting, as is this Noel Packard paper about their tactics, which might start to seem familiar in the context of this particular controversy.

I think the tactics and strategy the FMS Foundation uses is a formula approach to make people feel unsafe about debating issues about a common sense of truth or morality, or even a personal sense of truth. I think such tactics help set the stage for people to need authority figures such as parents, scientists, doctors and politicians to dictate to them what is truth, justice and trustworthy. Weber
might have called such a network of authority figures a “status society” (1978: 305-6)
History shows us that sometimes people allow others to dictate them - as if they were
“adult-children.” -

Without making any direct accusations, I do observe what anyone can confirm for themselves: the American Family Association of Michigan is the group that is publicly gloating about taking away same-sex benefits from the spouses and children of gay parents.

Personally, I think there should be a special place in hell for those who deliberately and maliciously take actions they know will harm children. In a state the size of Michigan, some spouses and some children will die or become disabled due to their activities as a statistical certainty.

It's also enlightening to read their "religious freedom" page, in which they warn readers that it may become illegal for their kids to beat up "fags" if anti-bullying statutes are passed. The advisory is code-worded, they are not fools - but the message is clear enough, simply by placing the topic ON the "religious freedom" page. They are claiming that they have the right to harass, confront and abuse homosexuals as a legitimate free exercise of religion.

I believe Jesus had something to say about that sort of thing, involving leaping into the ocean with millstone around their neck being a better option than to cause a child to sin.

For myself, I don't find flinging bible quotes to be persuasive, but some do, and whatever else one may say about it, the Bible is a fine guide to practical ethics.

Matthew 18:6
But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Matthew 18:5-7 (in Context) Matthew 18 (Whole Chapter)

If you teach your child to blindly follow authority, to trust it above their own sense of right and wrong, you will be doing just that, for they will, sooner or later, be led by the nose to do something vile. So to shield children from a practical understanding of what right and wrong is, within their own social context, is an evil thing.

But clearly, harm to children in the service of an authoritarian, self-righteous cause gives the good folks at AFAM no difficulty sleeping at night. They link to James Dobson's Focus on the Family. Dobson is the author of one of the milder "baby beating manuals', Dare to Discipline."

I have had personal experience peer-councelling many who know first hand how far such a self-righteous sense of possession and entitlement can go, and how much psychological damage can ensue, even when the abuse does not involve overt incest, literal beatings or both. Far too often, it does.

Please do not confuse this with a condemnation of even the most Conservative form of Christianity. Believe what you will, or do not. My objection is to those who misuse the language of faith to excuse and justify their actions to themselves and to deceptively gain support for those actions from believers. My only criticism is that Christians are far to quick to accept professions of faith at face value, while too quickly forgiving and forgetting manifest and profound violations of trust .

The same reluctance to "know the tree by it's fruit" seems to be extended, culturally, to those in political office who claim to be serving Christian values.

I have long maintained that the thrust of child porn laws, as written, seem more directed at covering up the prevalence of such crimes or even speaking frankly about the crime than addressing the foundational crime. That makes a great deal of sense to a person with the degree of learned cynicism I've developed. Certain people - mostly heterosexual males, mostly within families or other structured contexts - tend to use the abuse of those less powerful, often children, to enhance their own sense of power and self worth. Doing it, getting away with it, and taunting the victim with their powerlessness seems to be a large part of the thrill.

These same people are often those attracted to positions of authority and power - priests, pastors, politicians, police officers - and they tend to co-operate to stifle discussion, investigation and inquiry. For instance, should a reporter choose to do an investigative report on the prevalence of child porn and where it might lead to, they will be hysterically waved off by corporate council. There is no safe way for the media to legally investigate the existence, nature or distribution of child porn in the US or Canada.

You just have to take authority's word that they are taking all necessary steps to thwart a problem that you cannot independently investigate. In any other context, a photograph of a crime is considered evidence. In this case, possession of the image is very often a greater offense in law than the act itself.

I by no means defend the production of child porn. I encourage tracking down those who do produce it to hold them accountable. But such laws make such investigations very difficult indeed, and impossible for any of the actually injured parties who might otherwise be using cheap computer power and face-recognition technology to document evidence of their abuse.

But we are not even speaking of real events. Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye is a work of fiction.

To equate a fictional depiction of all-too-common events written to make the harm such things cause with "child porn" is bizarre. Porn is meant to titillate, and from the description of this book by readers, pro AND con, any judge that got an erection from it clearly would need psychotherapy. This is an attempt to suppress an idea and forestall any discussions or disclosures that idea might provoke. I find their motives repulsive, immoral and essentially if not literally Unconstitutional.

Is child rape indecent? Damn straight it is. And any child suffering it or knowing of another child suffering it should KNOW that it is indecent - and that they can ask for help and be believed. Stories like this serve that task and therefore are very often attacked by such "Family Associations."

It does make one wonder aloud about what their "family values" are, and what the genetic consequences have been over the years.

At this point, drawing attention to the fact that the protagonist is a black girl experiencing life in a segregated town in the 40's seems redundant. It's not that I'm afraid of pointing out the possible racism here, the reluctance to underline that blacks suffer from abuse "just like real white Christians." (I quote from childhood memories.)

I have found that racism is only one small part of the Authoritarian disorder. And without discounting the damage racism does to all those affected by it or tainted with it, it's simply one manifestation of a syndrome that affects all of us every day, limits our freedom, demands our compliance and assigns arbitrary and excessive punishments for failure to conform to Authoritarian demands. You see, you might be tempted to dismiss racism as a factor in your life, and entirely miss the larger point - people who are racists are also dangerous in other ways to other sorts of people.

You see, I keep tripping over the same small circle of people who all seem to tie into the activist Christan Right Wing, Social Conservatives, if you prefer to distinguish them from People Who Follow The Words of Christ. It's a very tight network - and if you do not actually belong to that network, they quite likely have an issue with what you are, who you are, what you believe, or things you like to do.

And I'm sick of it. I am going to say right out loud, right here and right now, that one cannot be either a Libertarian or a real Christian without respecting the rights, freedoms and dignities of others, no matter how wrong or profoundly silly they may be.

Libertarianism centers around the ethical concept of the "non-initiation of force." I will take it a step further. Any sensible reading of the Beatitudes underlines a very significant, universal principle found in many other religions and indeed, non-religious ethical systems; that even to think of committing an imposition upon another person - angry thoughts, lustful thoughts, hateful thoughts - is ethically and morally equivalent to committing the act itself.

Therefore, a Libertarian - if we may be doctrinaire about it - does not hate, does not promote hatred and never speaks toward the idea that "some people" should be "rounded up," any more than a Christian would speak lies or demeaning allegations about the behavior or motivations of others.

The foundation of both Christianity and Libertarian philosophy is a system of personal ethics, a personal accountability to one's own conscience and (again, reading the scorn for the Religious Authorities of the day conveyed by Jesus) at best a skeptical regard for what religious authorities say the Bible says.

----

Authoritarian Personality Disorder (DSM) (note ironic sourcing)

Cluster D Personality Disorders

301.92 Authoritarian Personality Disorder

A. A pervasive pattern of power abuse marked by the compulsion to control others and nullify their civil rights while glorifying one's own imagined societal role, usually indicated by at least nine (or more) of the following behavior traits:

1) A compulsion to categorize, label, measure, and control other human beings.
2) An obsession with class, accompanied by the delusion that he/she is in a class above others.
3) A grandiose sense of self-importance, i.e. feelings of omnipotence and omniscience. Believes he/she knows the psychological and spiritual functionings of others. A persistent belief that he or she is "special" in the sense that he or she is "a healer", "has all the answers", has more knowledge about the mind than others, etc.
4) A fascination with writing and embellishing disparaging fictions about others.
5) A delusion that all people with whom he/she comes into contact are "sick", accompanied by a need to talk about that "sickness" in a compulsive manner.
6) Fetishism: Over a period of at least 6 months, an obsession with wearing expensive and fashionable attire that specifically excites (either sexually or non-sexually) a personal sense of power and control because it raises his/her imagined social plane and advertises the delusionary class difference between him/her and others.
7) Fear of human emotions, accompanied by the strong desire to subdue the emotions of others through the administration of drugs, restraints, electroshock, incarceration, etc.
8) Shows arrogant, haughty, and/or sadistic behaviors or attitudes.
9) Requires excessive admiration and seeks constant proof of being needed by others, usually demonstrated by acquiring larger caseloads.
10) Unconsciously projects his/her own unresolved psychological issues onto others within his/her care.
11) Engages in fictitious gestures of caring and concern (i.e. provoking a false sense of trust), while lacking empathy: is unable to recognize the true needs of others.
12) Commits frequent boundary violations, while at the same time displaying an obsession with the perceived boundary ‘irreverence' of others. Sets arbitrary, pre-mature, bizarre, and/or compulsive limits, as an excuse to humiliate, berate, control, and de-humanize others.
13) Exhibits a fascination with making money off the psychological pain of others.

B. The symptoms of Criteria A developed during, or within a month of graduating from, a clinical training period in Psychology, Psychiatry, Social Work, or Counseling Psychology.

C. The disturbance is not better accounted for by Substance Abuse, Shared Psychotic Disorder (Folie `a Deux), a Manic Episode with delusions of grandeur, Paranoid Type Schizophrenia with delusions of grandeur, or other Psychotic Disorder.


This post has been edited and revised slightly in homage to the Gods of Grammar and Spelling.

Don't fire until you see the color of their authority.

First Amendment Militia - Free Press Uniform Tee shirtFree speech violated, man says :: News :: Post-Tribune

Apparently the anti-freedom forces are alive and well, while nothing has happened about Mitt Romney’s campaign impersonating police officers, it’s apparently quite a challenge to hand out Ron Paul information.

Even after clearing that it’s legal to pass out information in a public park, Joel Ferguson was threatened by police for passing out political information in Hammond recently.

The first time, the police claimed the park was private property, and he had no rights, so Joel went and contacted the city attorney, who said that it was public property.

Even after that Joel has been threatened by the police (and if you think some thug with a gun threatening you isn’t frightening, good for you), who have reportedly said “She’s not here, I am”.


Hat tip to Global Toad for this one. There's great advice for protesters and advocates finding themselves in the same situation in the threads - I quoted this chunk to add a link.

It certainly does take nerve to peacefully assert that you will not go along with police misbehavior.
A great book on this subject is YOU AND THE POLICE! by Boston T. Party. First, know your rights. Joel Ferguson did his homework by contacting the city attorney. When you are confident about your rights, you are empowered to quietly stand your ground and state your position. People confronted by police usually want to end “the scene” as soon as possible. Your willingness to stand there with him for as long as it takes to get him to back off speaks volumes to law officers.

I can't underline this enough; citizens need to steel themselves for confrontation and learn to handle it without escalation. But do not allow yourselves to be herded or made irrelevant by authoritarian bullies. Politely suggest that he kick the matter up his chain of command and make sure that you are not blocking access, disrupting activities or providing any other legitimate pretext for arrest.

Considering the misuse of badges by the Romney campaign, make a point of requesting confirmation of their ID, especially if dealing with anyone in plain clothes. Anyone can say they are a cop or an agent or "With campaign security," but that does not make it so. If they are violating your constitutional rights, you do not have to comply with their directives. Of course, it's best to be in the crosshairs of a telephoto lens on a high-quality cam-corder while doing this - and wearing a wire.

Those who are calmly prepared for confrontation by all legal means and who are not there to provoke a scene will generally enjoy a nice rally with no troubles.

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