Archive for May, 2006

This is not getting out of hand. It’s way beyond that now. We are watching our rights, our privacy, our Constitution, our nation — crumble before our very eyes. So this is what the death of democracy feels like. For me it feels like numb, helpless outrage. Are you ready for the latest outrage?

Here it is, from Capitol Hill Blue:

Now that he is officially sworn in as the new head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael Hayden plans to build a vast domestic spying network that will pry into the lives of most Americans around the clock.

President George W. Bush told Hayden to “take whatever steps necessary” to monitor Americans 24/7 by listening in on their phone calls, bugging their homes and offices, probing their private lives, snooping into their financial records and watching their travel habits.

Can I prove this in a court of law? No. Do I know it is happening? Yes, without a doubt. Enough sources within the CIA, FBI, NSA and Pentagon have come forward in recent days to warn about Hayden’s plans for an expanded, consolidated spy network aimed at Americans, not terrorists, and violating numerous laws that prohibit such activities against citizens of this country.

“What Hayden plans to do is not only illegal, it is immoral,” says a longtime CIA operative who may retire early rather than participate in what he sees as an illegal extension of the spy agency’s activities.

The article goes on to mention that resignations are at an all-time high at The Agency. The reporter, Doug Thompson, wishes he could prove this to us. I guess we have to take his word for it for now. But would I be surpised if every word were true? Not one bit.

I wish I could prove this. I wish one, just one, source on the inside was willing to come forward and allow his or her name to be used but those who might be tempted see what happened to Mary McCarthy, the CIA employee fired and under threat of prosecution for leaking information about CIA torture camps in Europe.

But I know it is happening. People I’ve known for years and trust tell me it is happening and the past record of spying, lies and deceit by the Bush administration point to just such an operation.

This nation is under attack. We, the people, are under attack. And the enemy in this case is not an Islamic radical hiding in a cave in Afghanistan but a cabal of truly evil men and women at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and on Capitol Hill aided by carefully-picked, law-ignoring appointees at the Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, a black glass-walled building at Fort Meade, MD, and a complex in Langley, Virginia.

Not the normally sedate language we’re used to reading in the press. But he’s right. We are under attack. Let me say it again:

We Are Under Attack. By Our Own Government.

Oh man, that guy thought he was sooooo cool for about 5 seconds. Then, notice at the end how he has to roll off the truck and onto the concrete. Smooth, right? Well, not quite. Look how he almost gets crushed by the rear tire of his truck after the truck plows into the telephone pole.

Pretty fuckin’ funny, though. I enjoyed the part where he almost died. Seriously — this is just so fucking stupid. What if some little girl decided to ride her bike into the street right as this numbskull was getting onto his windshield? She could’ve been flattened, and this his little joke wouldn’t be so funny, would it? Ah well, not that I’m totally against “riding the whip” — I just don’t think you should do it in urban or suburban areas. Go out in the sticks, man!

…After you fix your truck, that is.

So, we catch any terrorists yet?

…Or have we only managed to infringe on the rights of 300 million Americans?

The NSA surveillance program is not about catching terrorists. Don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise. It’s not going to work if they don’t listen to the calls themselves (they do). Their data mining is worthless unless they attach to it other information such as your social security number, medical records, financial records and criminal history.

No, the reason why they’re monitoring all of us is because the paranoid, fascist, psychopaths in charge of the country think that there are 300 million potential terrorists out there. Of course, when they say “terrorist” they mean anybody who doesn’t agree with the Bush clan. That means, Democrats, libertarians, academics, certain members of the media, teachers, those crazy Hollywood liberals, anybody who uses the internet, and of course, grandmothers. Ooohhh!! What a scary bunch!

Of course, with Bush’s polls in the lower 30s, you can add a good chunk of his Republican base to the list. As his numbers continue to spiral downwards Bush will get more and more paranoid and he will actually turn on his base and attack former friends. It should be amusing to watch.

The whole immigration debate is a good example of how Bush will be forced to choose one side of his base over the other. Corporations love illegal immigration because it provides cheap labor. Social conservatives hate illegal immigration because they don’t like brown people and they think those brown people might be stealing their jobs (and they’re probably right, since the corporations love cheap labor, like I said). So, who will Bush side with? He’s gonna piss off somebody; that’s a given. But in the end, I think Bush will side with the corporations since they are his bread and butter. The social conservatives thought he was one of them; they thought wrong. Again.

Personally, I could give a fuck as long as they don’t build a Great Wall of Terror between the US and Mexico. That would just be stupid. Yes, illegal immigration is a problem, but let’s not overreact here. What we need are more workers visas for Mexico. Most illegal immigrants actually return home after sending a bunch of cash back to Mexico. This creates economic problems in Mexico, of course. I really don’t know what the ideal solution is; I just hope GW doesn’t annex Mexico.

Trying to get your records from the NSA…

…is not easy. However, I wish this guy a lot of luck in his endeavour. I hope he appeals and wins. I think the justification he needs to use is pretty obvious: It’s his data.

Holy shit, it's hot today

Weather.com says it’s 97 degrees Fahrenheit right now in my neck of the woods. It’s hot! Sweaty-ass hot. Real hot; damn hot!

But, personally, I like the heat. Even when it’s that sticky heat where your clothes are stuck to your skin by virtue of the fact that your skin is completely covered in a fine layer of sweat. Yeah, it’s awful, but I like to think of it as my own personal, portable suana.

It’s supposed to hit 100°F soon. I can’t wait! :-)

Okay, check this gallant argument out:

The Bush administration has asked federal judges in New York and Michigan to dismiss a pair of lawsuits filed over the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program, saying litigating them would jeopardize state secrets.

In papers filed late Friday, Justice Department lawyers said it would be impossible to defend the legality of the spying program without disclosing classified information that could be of value to suspected terrorists.

National Intelligence Director John Negroponte invoked the state secrets privilege on behalf of the administration, writing that disclosure of such information would cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security.

The administration laid out some of its supporting arguments in classified memos that were filed under seal.

So lemme get this straight. Not only is Bush saying that the spying program is so secret that they can’t tell us what it’s for, their legal justifications are themselves secret. WTF?!

That says to me that this adminstration is so desperate that they would sink to nothing more than a lowly tug-of-war over power. And that is not a good sign.

The possibility of a Bush coup has occurred to me on more than one occasion. They’re such a slimy bunch I consider it a disturbingly likely scenario. I hope it won’t come to that. But their line of argument (which is that their argument is classified!) is patently ridiculous. I smell a rat. What are they hiding from us?

What if the truth of why they’re spying on us is too horrible for them to ever reveal? Just like the true reason we went to war in Iraq. Or the truth of the 2001 anthrax attacks? Who knows? Not me. But I have my suspicions. I mean, the Bush gang hasn’t exactly been the most trustworthy; ever, really. They pulled some dirty tricks to get into power in the first place, like what they did to John McCain in 2000.

I hope it’s hot in DC this summer. Sweltering hot. I hope the full power of the awful stink in Washington is revealed to everyone there, because the only people who seem to be in the dark about Washington corruption are the Washington insiders who are so often turning out the lights. In this case the Bush Administration is not only turning off every light it can find, it’s also smashing them so we can’t turn them back on. The shards of the lights of truth will surely cut the Constitution to shreds if we let that beast continue to attack the light. You know what I’m sayin’?

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

George W. Bush
8-5-2004

Wow, can you say “desperation”? He’s like a cornered rat, showing his teeth and trying to gouge anybody who comes anywhere near him.

Dennis Hastert is accusing the FBI of deliberately leaking the story that ABC news ran with earlier today. He’s also threatening to sue ABC News for defamation. Lucky for him, he’s got a friend in Bush, who sealed the records the FBI seized from William Jefferson’s office for 45 days:

President George W. Bush on Thursday ordered records seized from Louisiana Democratic Rep. William Jefferson’s office to be sealed for 45 days in order to work out a dispute over the documents with the U.S. Congress.

Leaders of the House of Representatives are outraged that the FBI seized a computer hard drive and two boxes of papers from Jefferson’s office. They contend the search violated the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches.

In a statement, Bush said he was taking the unusual step of directing the Justice Department to seal all the materials recovered from Jefferson’s office last weekend for the next 45 days.

That is unusual. That gives Hastert and Jefferson 45 days to get ready for the shit that is about to go down. You know, this morning I wasn’t sure how deep Hastert was in this mess, but from his reaction it’s starting to look like he’s neck deep in this shit. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, however, since he was probably chosen by Tom DeLay for his post as Speaker of the House.

Keep an eye on Hastert as this story progresses. Who knows where it will lead.

Guilty!!

Man, this is why we have electric chairs, right? Okay, that might be a little much, but it’s still good to know that these two crooks are going to jail:

Former Enron Corp. chiefs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were convicted Thursday of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud in a case born from one of the biggest business scandals in U.S. history.

The verdict put the blame for the demise of what was once the nation’s seventh-largest company squarely on its top two executives. It came in the sixth day of deliberations following a trial that lasted nearly four months.

Burn, fuckers, burn. Their shenanigans have ruined the lives of many employees and investors. Now it’s time to pay.

Actually, my earlier comment about electric chairs is actually quite apt since was largely responsible for the rolling blacks out in California a few years ago.

The system seems to be working today. What a pleasant change. Now we just get 10 years of appeals and blah blah blah. Oh well. The important thing is the message that corporate crooks are not above the law. We still have to await sentencing, though, so it remains to be seen how much time they will serve.

ABC News’ The Blotter is reporting that Hastert might be under investigation for his role in the Abramoff scandals:

Federal officials say the Congressional bribery investigation now includes Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, based on information from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.

Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government.

Oh keep singing, Jackie-boy! Keep on singing. Let’s nail all of these bastards. If you are corrupt, as I believe the majority of Congress is, then you should pay for it. We can’t just let these weasels run amok in our government; there has to be some accountability.

So, did anybody wonder why Hastert was sticking up for a corrupt Democrat the other day? Well now you know the answer. He’s worried about his own office getting raided by the FBI. Unfortunately, the Jefferson raid has tipped him off, so he’ll no doubt be hiding any incriminating evidence in the weeks ahead.

The Blotter also has an update on the Hastert connection:

Despite a flat denial from the Department of Justice, federal law enforcement sources tonight said ABC News accurately reported that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is “in the mix” in the FBI investigation of corruption in Congress.

Speaker Hastert said tonight the story was “absolutely untrue” and has demanded ABC News retract its story.

Law enforcement sources told ABC News that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has provided information to the FBI about Hastert and a number of other members of Congress that have broadened the scope of the investigation. Sources would not divulge details of the Abramoff’s information.

Oh I love it: “a number of other members of Congress…” Get them all! There’s obviously tons of corruption in our government, but only now do they seem to be actively investigating it. Getting Abramoff to rollover and start singing was a major score. He was right in the middle of things and he knows all the major players at the congressional level. As a lobbyist, that’s his job.

Speaking of lobbyists, the problems with our government and its endemic corruption can be traced to these professional lobbyists, whose job seems to consist of bribing congresspeople in the way closest to “legal” as possible. Obviously, they have to step over the boundary quite a bit. The system seems to encourage this corruption — at least, it seems systemic to me.

Personally, I think lobbying should be illegal. Just flat out, ILLEGAL. I think it’s just wrong. It’s quasi-legal bribery. It corrupts our government at every level by giving a huge advantage to the rich and powerful who can afford these lobbyists — you just know that Abramoff and his firm charges over a hundred bucks an hour. Shit, I bill at $115 an hour (for my firm) and I’m just a web designer. Abramoff probably charged over $200/hour… okay, I just googled it. It’s worse than I thought: He was billing up to $750 per hour!).

The rest of us are effectively locked out of the Washington-game if we can’t pony-up the obscene amount of money it costs to bribe -er, I mean “lobby” a congressman. Is that fair? Is that democracy?

If we don’t clean up the system now, we’re gonna have to deal with it again later. It won’t be long before the snakes are back, and shit, the Bush cabal is still in charge and they’re more corrupt than anybody. We need massive systemic change in Washington or our democracy is effectively over.

Reuters is running a story on the wire that quotes Fitzgerald as saying that Cheney’s feelings on the matter are directly relevant to the case.

Could this be a prelude to a Cheney indictment? A guy can hope.

“At the time, the vice president, rather than other potential witnesses, was upset that his personal credibility had been attacked unfairly in his view,” Fitzgerald said.

…(snip)…

In the court filing, Fitzgerald said Libby has acknowledged that the vice president directed him “to get out to the public all the facts” in response to the article.

“Therefore, the state of mind of the vice president as communicated to defendant is directly relevant to the issue of whether defendant knowingly made false statements to federal agents and the grand jury regarding when and how he learnt about Ms. Wilson’s employment and what he said to reporters regarding this issue,” Fitzgerald said in the court filing.

Oh man. He is so guilty. Cheney that is. Of course Libby is guilty; he was just following Cheney’s orders, like any good right-hand-man should do. In this case, though, they overplayed their hand and got caught. Well, maybe they just got sloppy. They fight so dirty with detractors, you have to wonder why Cheney and Co. are filled with so much hate.

A Superfund Site in the Sky — 9/11 Still Kills

Boy, this is creepy. From the article:

The vacant 41-story former Deutsche Bank AG building looms above ground zero, contaminated with toxic waste and still holding tiny body parts more than four years after the trade center collapsed onto it on Sept. 11, 2001. Removing it from the landscape has become a more challenging task than cleaning up the twin towers.

“That’s more or less a vertical Superfund site, and we’re living right next to it,” said neighborhood resident Esther Regelson, referring to a federal program for cleaning up the nation’s most polluted industrial sites. She is concerned that taking down the building improperly will contaminate the area even more.

I think I feel another rant coming on, but I will try to bite my tongue. The short version is this: After 9/11 the Bush administration pushed the EPA to say everything was A-OK in New York, probably because they didn’t want to evacuate the whole city for years while they cleaned it up (is New Orleans, post-Katrina, a karmic punishment for this move?). Well, guess what — the air wasn’t safe, the dust was certainly not safe and people are starting to die from Sept. 11-related ailments, such as lung cancer. The Twin Towers were huge liabilities even before they fell because they were filled with asbestos (and other toxins like mercury, lead and fiberglass). Now it seems that the 9/11 death toll might start slowly creeping up if you count people who were exposed to toxic air/materials in the days right afterward.

Almost 5 years later 9/11 is still a forceful event, and the punch it packs can bring death to those who were there that fateful day. There are still many questions about that day that have yet to be fully answered…