Saturday, May 20, 2006

Nearly Forgot...Cat Blogging

For those of you uninitiated, this is a nine banded armadillo. Armadillos come in various "bands". No, not musical bands although the Dusty Armadillos are a band. The reference is to the number of bands around the middle of the armadillo. This one has nine. Duh! It's native to North America (another American exclusive) and is very prevalent in Texas, a tiny state in the southwest US. Tiny in comparison to many countries.

Welcome to the Discovery channel of the internets. Enjoy your stay.

Will Post Little For A Few Hours

I'll be away from home and my dear computer for a few hours. My Gawd! I have a life outside blogging and reading blogs, news sites, neatorama and such.

Jill from Brilliant at Breakfast is now a certified, registered contributor to spiiderweb and may throw you a bone or two while I'm busy elsewhere.

This might be a good time to plug Bloglines. Disclaimer: I use Bloglines, but have no other connection at all.

That said, it's a good aggregator and has a feature I especially like. It indicates (with boldface) if there are new posts on a site since you last visited. It saves you the time of going to a site only to learn nothing new has been posted. It also alerts you to new posts. If you don't like it, just stop using it.

Escaped Convict Captured 38 Years Later

Very interesting story. Its one of those that make you question what is "right" and what is "just".
After 38 years, Michael Robert Smith figured no one was looking for him anymore. He escaped from prison on June 7, 1968, while serving time for a robbery conviction, then headed to Nevada, then New Jersey and into a marriage that didn't work out. Finally, five years ago, Smith moved to a tiny trailer in a heavily wooded area of Creek County, Okla. It turned out the California Department of Corrections was still on his trail.

Authorities found him Thursday, his clothes paint-splattered from one of the few jobs he could hold without a driver's license or other identification.

"He looked at the ground a little bit, then he looked up and said, `Yeah, that's me,'" Creek County Sheriff's Detective Les Ruhman said Friday. "He didn't dream people would be looking for him for so long."

There is nothing specific in the article about how Smith lived his life. My impression is he lived lawfully and harmed no one in those 38 years. Is imprisoning him because he escaped right or is it just?

If one believes imprisonment is meant to rehabilitate people, then the just thing to do is to give him amnesty. Read his reaction when confronted. Does he seem like a rabid dog that needs a cage? Does he seem docile and civilized?

I'm impressed with the law enforcement effort effected. After so many years it's impressive they found and captured him. Had he been robbing, burglarizing or been otherwise unlawful, I'd champion incarcerating him, but he seems to have been a model citizen.

How many years have you gone without any law enforcement figure checking your ID? Smith apparently was never even caught spitting on the street.

(read more)

Japan To Likely Pull Troops From Iraq

Seems like the coalition of the willing are becoming the coalition of the intelligent. Anyway Japan will probably pull out.

This comes after the announcement that Italy may also pull its troops out under their new prime minister who labels the fighting in Iraq as a "grave error".
Japan has begun making arrangements with the United States, Britain and Australia on a possible withdrawl of its troops from Iraq beginning in June, a press report has said.

The move Saturday was initiated as the southern Iraqi prefecture of Al-Muthanna, where the troops are stationed, was expected to regain authority from the multinational force by the end of June, the daily Yomiuri Shimbun said in its evening edition.

Japan, which renounced war under a US-imposed 1947 constitution, has some 600 troops in Iraq on its first military mission since World War II to a country where fighting is under way.

Japan may make a decision on the troop withdrawl as early as June and immediately start pulling out the troops, initially to neighbouring Kuwait, the daily quoted government sources as saying.

There are government leaders who can make intelligent decisions about what is right for the people and what is wrong with earlier decisions and make corrections. Of course we don't have such a leader.

Bush Wants Newcomers To Learn English

I stole that headline from here. Don't need the story.

I would like Bush to learn English. He's a complete embarrassment.

Seriously folks, this is just stupid. The official or national language will be the dominant one by default. This is a waste of Congress's time and your tax dollars.

Immigrants will learn English, if they can, if they need it to function effectively. If they don't need it they won't learn it and that's fine with me.

I say if they can because I've tried and can't handle a second language. Scusi, no habla Español si vous plait lah.

BTW, I do believe Cat is the default dominant language in the US. Dog would be second most dominant.

Better Late Than Never I Suppose

It seems those other church people have had enough.
The religious left is back.

Long overshadowed by the Christian right, religious liberals across a wide swath of denominations are engaged today in their most intensive bout of political organizing and alliance-building since the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s, according to scholars, politicians and clergy members.

In large part, the revival of the religious left is a reaction against conservatives' success in the 2004 elections in equating moral values with opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Religious liberals say their faith compels them to emphasize such issues as poverty, affordable health care and global warming. Disillusionment with the war in Iraq and opposition to Bush administration policies on secret prisons and torture have also fueled the movement.

It would be good to point out, when the religious right says we libruls are attacking religion, they should say their brand of religion.The moderates and leftward at least to me are just fine. Its the fundie wingers who are troubling.

With their influence on politics at the moment we're heading toward a puritanical theocracy and away from enlightenment. Their brand of religion includes the ugliest aspects of human nature; bigotry, intolerance, vengefulness and bullying. And to my mind the most horrid part of their brand is that they want to cram their beliefs down our throats and legislate those beliefs into law. That's the problem.

And I'll fight that style religion in any way I can when I'm not busy forcing women to have abortions, helping gays convert straights or killing puppies.

(read more)

Feeling Secure? Well Don't #5

This is just great. Who is really running the US? Big business is.
Under intense pressure from shipping companies concerned about costly delays, the Coast Guard is tipping off some large commercial ships about security searches that had been a surprise, according to high-ranking Coast Guard officials.

The searches began after the Sept. 11 attacks as part of a major revamping of the Coast Guard and its new antiterrorism mission. But shipping companies say the surprise boardings at sea cause unnecessary delays, costing up to $40,000 an hour.

"We're trying to facilitate commerce and keep the port secure — and sometimes the two conflict," said Capt. Paul E. Wiedenhoeft, who is in charge of the port complex here at Los Angeles and Long Beach. "When possible, we're trying to give shippers as much notice as we can."

So when there's a conflict, forget about that silly port security. Its not like its the Coast Guard's mission to protect our ports or anything. On the otherhand, if they throw stuff overboard it isn't getting into the country. I wonder what's lying on the bottom of the ocean just off our coasts?

BTW, that is not a Photoshopped© image. Isn't that the perfect cutter name?

(read more)

Risking Anonymity Of Federal Air Marshals

How do you keep an armed person's identity a secret when boarding an airplane? That's one of the problems that needs answers.
A report to be taken up by Congress next week is harshly critical of the Federal Air Marshal Service, concluding that more steps need to be taken to preserve the anonymity of the marshals.

The draft report by the House Judiciary Committee, a copy of which was provided to The Associated Press on Friday night, identified several policies by the service that the report concluded undercut the goal of preserving the marshals' anonymity.

The report, entitled "Plane Clothes: Lack of Anonymity at the Federal Air Marshal Service Compromises Aviation and National Security," cites the service's dress code, which is supposed to prevent marshals from drawing attention to themselvec [sic].

"In practice, however, many federal air marshals indicate that the dress code actually draws more attention to the identity of the federal air marshals because of its rigid requirements that prevent federal air marshals from actually blending in with their surroundings," the report says.

But this is probably the best (read worst) example in the report. You won't believe it. Remember, the whole idea is too prevent terrorists from recognising marshals or preventing them from doing their jobs.
The report also faults the service for requiring marshals to stay at designated hotels and show their credentials upon checking in. It said that in one instance, the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport Hodel [sic] in Florida [shown above] designated the service "company of the month" because of the number of rooms it had reserved at the hotel.

"This public designation essentially advertises for any terrorist wishing to attack a location populated by a concentration of federal air marshals that such a target is the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport," the report says, referring to the hotel. [emphasis mine]

That hotel manager, if she/he doesn't get demoted, just threw away a lot of business. And there's a good chance no other Sheraton will be used in Fort Lauderdale either.

(read more)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Firedog Lake Is Having Problems

Right now its impossible to link to Firedog Lake. Hope their server is functioning soon.

In the meantime. They have a post about the Taliban. I offer a couple posts of my own about our "crushing" the Taliban.

First post.

Second post.

I offer these posts because Firedog Lake has this post.
Violence is surging across Afghanistan, as the Taliban steps up attacks on NATO and other peacekeeping troops across the entire nation. Now the Afghan government is blaming Pakistan for allowing militants to train in that nation and then cross the border to incite violence. The Pakistani’s are denying involvement. Great, now an already unstable region is even more unstable.

Yes. Even though you can't access Firedog Lake, I can intuitively surmise what they will post. Scary, huh?

Main Stream Media Can Be Affective

By reporting on the big oil tax break Bushco handed out, Ed Andrews forced Congress's hand.

Dems Will Take House?

Well they may or may not. This guy does a fine job of parsing the polls and everything looks good for the Dems unless it doesn't. Confused? Read his analysis and you'll be more confused. The numbers, and other factors, don't promise anything.
IN SEPTEMBER of 1984, an ABC/Washington Post poll asked registered voters whether they preferred a Democrat or a Republican to represent their congressional districts. By a 15-point margin, respondents favored Democrats. On Election Day 1984, Democrats lost 14 seats in the House. In 1996, a similar question produced a 14-point edge for Democrats; in that election they gained 9 House seats. The lesson is that polls are important tools for understanding politics. Except when they're not.

And he adds this.
And Democrats have shown time and again that they can blow a lead like nobody's business.

(read more)

Da Vinci Code Benign Or Evil?

How about a couple contrasting opinions about The Da Vinci Code.

In this corner.
A few pundits are arguing that Christians should read the bestselling book The Da Vinci Code and see the movie to "engage the culture" and as a tool for evangelism.

By that argument, we should encourage people to read other popular, but infamous, works: Chinese dictator Mao Zedong's Little Red Book, or The Communist Manifesto. Or, why not Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic diatribe popular in Muslim circles?

And now for something completely different.
From the furor over The Da Vinci Code, you'd think World War III was about to erupt. Dan Brown's blockbuster - first the book, now the movie opening today - has ignited a fight among many Christians over whether it should be shunned as blasphemy or used as a starting point to win converts.

Let's take a deep breath here. This is a work of fiction. Why not treat it like other popular novels of historical fiction, such as The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel or Lincoln by Gore Vidal?

BTW on the subject of Mao Zedong. It wouldn't hurt to read him.
If the U.S. monopoly capitalist groups persist in pushing their policies of aggression and war, the day is bound to come when they will be hanged by the people of the whole world. The same fate awaits the accomplices of the United States.

Apparently Bushco has read Mao. Unfortunately they bought into the wrong parts.
Every Communist must grasp the truth, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war; but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun, it is necessary to take up the gun.

Rebuilding Iraq Society

Just how do you go about rebuilding society when hundreds of thousands of your middle class have fled the country?
Deaths run like water through the life of the Bahjat family. Four neighbors. A barber. Three grocers. Two men who ran a currency exchange shop.

But when six armed men stormed into their sons' primary school this month, shot a guard dead, and left fliers ordering it to close, Assad Bahjat knew it was time to leave.

"The main thing now is to just get out of Iraq," said Mr. Bahjat, standing in a room heaped with suitcases and bedroom furniture in eastern Baghdad.

In the latest indication of the crushing hardships weighing on the lives of Iraqis, increasing portions of the middle class seem to be doing everything they can to leave the country. In the last 10 months, the state has issued new passports to 1.85 million Iraqis, 7 percent of the population and a quarter of the country's estimated middle class.

This Isn't Great News

North Korea may be readying a long range ballist missile for launch. One capable of reaching the US.

(update below)
(update II below)

North Korea may be preparing to launch a long-range ballistic missile that could reach parts of the United States, Japanese media reports said on Friday, but Japan's government said it did not believe a launch was imminent.

Quoting unidentified South Korean government officials, public broadcaster NHK said satellite pictures showed there have been signs since early this month around a site in northeastern North Korea that pointed to a possible firing in the near future.

Analysts have said, though, that development of a multiple-stage version of a ballistic missile that can take payloads deep into the continental United States is years away. [emphasis mine]

Oh, not to worry according to analysts. Unless you live in Alaska.

Maybe now is a good time to make nice with Kim Jong-il. Ya think?

(read more)

(update) I realised after posting that I jumped to a conclusion with insufficient info. Not knowing the date of the image above, its impossible to tell if they have added more rings to that map or if the next ring would reach Seattle, Portland and maybe other cities. I concluded the next ring, assuming past steps in gaining range, would only reach Alaska.

(update II) Holy cow! That didn't take long. I only suggested making nice with Kim Jong-il about 20 minutes ago.
A leading Republican senator is preparing legislation that aims to jump-start stalled nuclear talks with North Korea by putting the political weight of the U.S. Congress behind specific elements of a deal.

The draft written by Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and obtained by Reuters, appears to go beyond what the Bush administration has laid out publicly in defining what Pyongyang must do to end the nuclear crisis and what it could expect in return.

Critically, it offers a timeline under which such steps would occur.

(read more)

Ah, The Monkey Wrench To Jam The Works

I've been waiting for this to come up. Illegal immigrants won't trust the government. Why should they? I'm a citizen and I don't.

Besides, once their guest-worker visa expires they have to return home. Then they have to worry they'll never get another guest-worker visa. Yeah, their gonna jump on this offer for sure. Especially if they've been here illegally for 10 years or so and know they can elude capture.
Martin Saucedo, an illegal immigrant from Michoacan, Mexico, would like to participate in a guest worker program like one Congress is considering as a part of sweeping immigration reform.

But he's worried whether a proposal to grant millions of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship is really just an effort to find and deport them.

"It's not a good idea. It won't give us what we need, to be able to come back," Saucedo said in Spanish during a break from clearing tree branches from power lines while working at a landscaping company.


"Absolutely there is concern," said Kathleen Walker, vice president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "'The government is your friend' is not the mantra of this area. ... For those who feel they have nothing in their home country and have lived underground for years, how is that an incentive for them to come forward?"


Maria Robles, 55, an immigrant from Monterrey, Mexico, said in Spanish she is glad her permanent legal residency application has already been approved because she would be afraid to apply for it in the current political climate.

"Many times the government says one thing, but in the end they might want to just deport all the immigrants back to their countries," she said.

Maria's got that right.

(read more)


There was only one reason to go to Yuma, AZ. Photo Ops all the time.

I told you so.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Climbing Everest is so difficult I'm amazed anyone could do it. This guy is truly extraordinary.
Sir Edmund Hillary has hailed double amputee Mark Inglis's conquering of Mt Everest a "remarkable effort".

Inglis, who lost his lower legs to frostbite 23 years ago, reached the summit of the world's highest peak overnight - the first double amputee ever to do so.

I have trouble climbing 3 flights of stairs.

Earthquake Rose

This is too cool.

Photo Op, Photo Op

Guess where Bush is going?

President Bush is trying to show the immigration problem instead of simply talking about it.

As the Senate debates a major overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, Bush is traveling to Yuma, Ariz. Yuma is the embodiment of the system that Bush frequently describes, where desperate people risk their lives for a chance to earn decent wages from U.S. employers hungry for their labor.

OK, I'll bite. How in hell do you show the immigration problem? Can't get my head around that one. But Bush can pose and strut to show he's tough. Bet he doesn't use his stupid "Bring them on!" line.


This from Overheard in New York.
Man: Do you think a minute is the same in Egypt as it is in New York?
Woman: I guess so, I don't know.
Man: 'Cause you know that song "In a New York Minute," I think a minute is different here. It's probably shorter.

--American Airlines terminal, JFK

These people can vote, folks.

Bush Raises Money For GOP

This pretty much is the whole story.
President Bush helped raise $17 million for his party on Wednesday at the Republican National Committee's annual spring gala.

That is just plain obscene for one fund-raiser. That 29% must really be rolling in dough.

Funny, Funny Writer

This via the Kansas City Star.
The Boston Globe’s Peter Canellos writes that in his immigration speech, President Bush “stood in an unfamiliar place — the political center — and tried to persuade people of firm, unyielding principles on both sides to embrace his multifaceted approach” to immigration reform.

Although Bush was clearly aiming most of his remarks to House GOP leaders, the speech was noteworthy because of his “willingness to serve as a national convener, bringing together all sides,” Canellos wrote.

The speech “served as a reminder that another Bush exists behind the caricature of the cowboy warrior — a conciliator of some delicacy and sensitivity.” [emphasis mine]

OMG! You can't parody this stuff.

US To Fence 370 Miles Of US-Mexico Border

I personally hoped this wouldn't happen, but knew it was just a matter of time.
The US Senate has voted to build a fence along about 20% of the border with Mexico as part of an effort to bring illegal immigration under control.

The amendment sponsored by Jeff Sessions, the conservative Alabama senator, will authorise the construction of a three-layer fence along 370 miles (600km) of the lengthy border.

It would also see the construction of barriers to block vehicles along about 500 miles (800km) of the border.

My prediction -- In the 2008 Summer Olympics, Mexico will take all three medals in the pole vault competition.

(read more)

Why Gas Prices Are High

Because Bushco wants to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and these prices are convincing Americans its necessary.
ABC News/Washington Post Poll. May 11-15, 2006. N=1,103 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3 (for all adults). Fieldwork by TNS.

"Would you favor or oppose allowing oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska?"

Securing Mexican Border

Tom Burka has the story.

Yes I know. Antonio Banderas is Spanish and legal.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Do We Have The Tools To Rule Our Country?

I posted a comment on another site and mentioned liberal political sites. Another commentor, admitting politics is not his/her strong suit, asked if liberal is left or right. Its great they would ask.

My question is, if people are so disengaged from the political arena, how can they possibly make an informed choice between candidates, referendums and such? They have no choice but to vote for faces and nice sounding people or nice sounding words.

Its imperative Dems educate the voters. Intelligent, well informed voters will mostly vote Dem. They'll know which party cares about them rather than their bosses.

To the commentor -- I'm not denegrating you in the least. Please don't take offense.

Bush Loved TV. I'm Sure of it

I have this theory. Bush watched a lot of TV and particulary the Flip Wilson Show during the early 70's. Flip came up with one of the most clever lines ever uttered. It goes, IIRC.
A lie is as good as the truth if you can get someone to believe it.

Pretty much sums up Bush's approach to honesty.

When Is UK Gonna Quit Emmulating US?

Major breaking story topic in UK? Immigration. The UK's current immigration story does differ a bit from the US's.
A senior immigration official shocked MPs when he told them it wasn't known how many people ordered to leave the country had actually been removed.

Dave Roberts, the immigration service's director of enforcement and removals, also admitted to the Commons home affairs committee yesterday that he had no idea how many of the 50,000 people supposed to report regularly to immigration officials actually did so.

His admission that no records were kept of what happened to immigration offenders who have been told to leave the country prompted disbelief amongst the MPs conducting an inquiry into Britain's immigration control.

Bush's clone seems to be as inept at putting competent people in sensitive jobs as is Bush. I wouldn't surprise me at all if it came out the US has the same problem as told in this story.

(read more)

Go Ahead And Contradict Me

Rush Limbaugh interviewed Dick Cheney on his radio program. The following is on the subject of immigration and specifically brown immigrants.
[Cheney:] What you've got in the Senate bill is a bill that goes after border enforcement but also in the -- you've got Hagel-Martinez, and there's a Kennedy-McCain [bill].


[Limbaugh:] Second thing is, Democrats, Mr. Vice President, are, frankly, getting away with being total bystanders and spectators on this. They offer no solution themselves, yet they continue to sit around and criticize the administration and the Republicans over this. [emphasis mine].

Uh, didn't Cheney mention a Kennedy-McCain immigration bill earlier? There's a Republican Kennedy? Guess I missed that. Of course Cheney had no qualms about letting this "mistake" slide.

Then at the closing of the show, Cheney had this.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: All right, it's good to talk to you, Rush. You render a great service out there by hosting these debates. [emphasis mine]

Subtle, huh? It'll be a cold day in hell before Limbaugh would debate Cheney on any topic. He's too busy kissing his ass. This was a slow pitch softball game masquerading as an interview.

Hah! You thought the image I chose didn't fit the story. Didn't you?

US Back In Somalia

I haven't anything to add...yet. Except to point out this is being done clandestinely.
More than a decade after U.S. troops withdrew from Somalia following a disastrous military intervention, officials of Somalia's interim government and some U.S. analysts of Africa policy say the United States has returned to the African country, secretly supporting secular warlords who have been waging fierce battles against Islamic groups for control of the capital, Mogadishu.

The latest clashes, last week and over the weekend, were some of the most violent in Mogadishu since the end of the American intervention in 1994, and left 150 dead and hundreds more wounded. Leaders of the interim government blamed U.S. support of the militias for provoking the clashes. [emphasis mine]

(read more)

This Isn't Going Well At All

Its like trying to deal with Bush. Iran's Ahmadinejad just isn't biting the EU's carrot.
Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ridiculed a European Union plan to offer incentives in exchange for his country agreeing to halt sensitive nuclear work.

"They say they want to give us incentives. They think they can take away our gold and give us some nuts and chocolate in exchange," Ahmadinejad a [sic] rally in the town of Arak.


"We accepted a suspension for two years," Ahmadinejad said, referring to a now-moribund deal with leading EU members Britain, France and Germany.

"This was a bitter experience for the Iranian people. The Iranians won't be bitten twice on the same spot," he told a crowd of thousands, drawing chants of "Death to America" and "Ahmadinejad, we love you."

Now I just wish I could avoid seeing Ahmadinejad's side of it.

He runs an independent country and doesn't want others dictating what he can and can't do. He has signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which he is threatening to ignore, which gives him the right to enrich uranium, but only for peaceful purposes. He does have some good points.

I also wish I didn't see his words as a taunt that will ultimately get Iran invaded.

(read more)

The Key To The Fight In Iraq

The truth is, the insurgents (a term I hate, but you know who I mean) can't lose. They have time on their side.
U.S. forces in Iraq, locked in a war that cannot be won by military force alone, are facing a weapon that tends to favor insurgents -- time.

The war is in its fourth year and public support is waning. According to opinion polls taken in May, a majority of Americans think that invading Iraq was a mistake and that things in Iraq are going badly. The souring public mood does not bode well for the prospects of prevailing over an insurgency U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said could last another decade.

"The (counterinsurgency) effort requires a firm political will and extreme patience," says the draft, now going through revisions and expected to be issued in summer. "The insurgent wins if he does not lose, while the counterinsurgent loses if he does not win. Insurgents are strengthened by the common perception that a few casualties or a few years will cause the United States to abandon (the effort)."[emphasis mine]

Its pretty clear. The coalition forces can't win because there's no head of state to surrender and they'll never kill them all. Ergo the foe doesn't lose and wins by default.

We Shall See If This Happens

Suddenly Bush will allow oversight of his Terrorist Surveillance Program? As stated in the title, I'll believe it when I see it.
The White House, in an abrupt reversal, has agreed to let the full Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees review President George W. Bush's domestic spying program, lawmakers said on Tuesday.

The Republican chairmen of the Senate and House panels disclosed the shift two days before a Senate confirmation hearing for Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden as the new CIA director, which is expected to be dominated by concern over the program.

The chairmen said separately that Bush had agreed to full committee oversight of his Terrorist Surveillance Program rather than the more limited briefings allowed up to now.

Of course we'll also have to see of what the oversight consists. Will he allow them to put limits on him? Very doubtful. Or will it be a case of "You can look, but don't touch" like the courts.

Must Read IMHO

Beat the Press has a very interesting post. How can you have a secure ID if it is obtained by using easily forged documents?

In hunting for a suitable image for this post (couldn't find), its clear how easy a birth certificate is to forge because there are 50 different formats! Every state does it differently. And it appears each particular state's format has changed through the years. There must be thousands of different birth certificate styles out there.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Lazy Blogging

Big Shot Bob has a good post. Can you say police state? I thought you could.
We have a police start [sic] now. Don't cringe that this is some sort of extreme, over-the-top claim.

When you have a government that freely spies on its own people and journalists for political purposes (which is to keep the journalists from revealing anything that might embarrass the administration) -- and who in the world would think that the Busheviks aren't using the information for political purposes: that is their raison d'etre -- without any accountability, you have crossed the threshold into a police state.

The Bush Administration is violating the Constitution with impunity. The Stepford and moderate Republicans give him a pass and the "Jellocrats" just demand "an investigation," as if a real one would happen or was needed.

I love the term "jellocrats", however I do think it needs a capital "J". Maybe Jello©crats?

(read more)

Vetrans Send Bush Their Medals As Protest

I understand this man very well.
He had protested. He had become president of the San Diego chapter of Veterans For Peace.

He had helped put up thousands of white crosses around San Diego County to mark the dead in a solemn display called “Arlington West.”

And still . . . .

The war goes on. Three years, two months. With more than 2,300 U.S. soldiers and Marines dead.

What more could David Patterson, an electronics technician from California, do about it?

There was this: He could give up his military medals. Send them directly to President Bush, care of the White House...

Image is of Air Force Good Conduct Medal.

(read more)

The US Borders 2 Countries

File this under unintended consequences?
Every 4.7 seconds, on average, a cargo truck rumbles across the border from Canada to the United States. More than 6,000 passenger cars cross to the United States every hour. Inspectors on both sides wave through nearly 70 million visitors a year.

Officials in both countries fear that President Bush's tough new measures on the Mexican border will increase calls for tighter restrictions on movement over the bridges and highways leading in and out of Canada. Canadian officials already are trying to fight a U.S. plan to require a passport or a new identity card for travelers at the land border by Jan. 1, 2008.

The image is of the Peace Arch on the Canadian border. There is a park there and a set of gates which are always open and the inscription May These Gates Never Close. The park was built in happier times.

FCC To Investigate Phone Companys?

This story reports an FCC commissioner is calling for an investigation, but doesn't make it clear if he has the authority to start one.
The Federal Communications Commission should investigate whether phone companies are violating federal communications law by providing calling records to the National Security Agency as part of an anti-terrorism program, an FCC commissioner said Monday.

"There is no doubt that protecting the security of the American people is our government's No. 1 responsibility," Commissioner Michael J. Copps, a Democrat, said in a statement. "But in a digital age where collecting, distributing and manipulating consumers' personal information is as easy as a click of a button, the privacy of our citizens must still matter."

USA Today reported last week that AT&T Corp., Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. began turning over tens of millions of phone records to the NSA after the spy agency requested the records shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The paper reported that the NSA is building a massive call databank to analyze calling patterns.

The telecommunications company Qwest said it refused to cooperate with the NSA after determining that doing so would violate privacy law.

BellSouth came out with a statement denying they were involved.
BellSouth said yesterday that it had not shared customer calling records with the National Security Agency, denying a report last week that it was among three major telephone companies to have done so.

BellSouth, the country's third-largest local phone company, said that after an internal review it had found no evidence that it had even been contacted by the agency.

"From the review we conducted, we cannot establish any link between BellSouth and the N.S.A.," Jeff Battcher, the company's spokesman, said in an interview. "We wouldn't have made this bold statement if we weren't confident about this."

I Often Praise The GAO

The Government Accounting Office is about the only watchdog on duty in DC. They are about as devoid of politics of any government agency, but something bothers me about this story.
The government won't be ready for another major disaster such as Hurricane Katrina unless the Pentagon takes a more aggressive role in the federal response, congressional investigators said Monday.

Poor planning and confusion about the military's role contributed to problems after the storm struck on Aug. 29, 2005, and without immediate attention improvement is unlikely, the Government Accountability Office said.

It urged the Defense Department to establish procedures to speed aircraft, troops and reconnaissance gear to hurricane-stricken areas when local and state officials are overwhelmed as well as beef up communications support to Homeland Security officials, who have the lead role in a disaster.

"The devastation of Katrina and the issues it revealed serve as a warning that actions are needed," said the report by Congress' investigative arm. "Without urgent and detailed attention to improve planning, the military and federal government risk being unprepared."

Responding to the study, Assistant Defense Secretary Paul McHale said the Pentagon has taken several steps to improve its disaster response.

In recent weeks, defense officials have stocked up on cellular and satellite phone vans, begun updating their emergency response plans and have placed specially trained military personnel into the Federal Emergency Management Agency regional offices. [emphasis mine]

It becomes more and more disturbing how the military is taking such a prominent role in this government. Yes we need the manpower and equipment available from the military in an emergency such as Katrina, but do we really need them inside FEMA? Just asking.

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Legal Immigration To US

Why would people from Mexico risk possibly going to jail or death to illegally cross into the US? This might well be part of the answer.
Clutching a small American flag as she posed for a photo, Maria Montenegro wore the fatigued but satisfied smile of someone who had just completed a marathon. In a sense, she had.

Montenegro, 59, also was holding a piece of paper: a citizenship certificate that she and 24 other newly minted Americans had just obtained in a naturalization ceremony on the National Mall. Asked how long she had been waiting for the moment, the Mexican-born housekeeper said, "Thirty years."

Maria's tale isn't that unusual. Many have to wait decades to become citizens.

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Caveat Emptor

Over at Mahablog there's a good post.

Basically it warns of inaccurate reporting/blogging. It says there need to be many "according to", "allegedly" and other qualifiers because its just so difficult to know what is being offered is accurate or not.

I usually don't offer qualifiers when posting. I've said before I'm offering info which might be useful or personal opinion. I have no direct sources, but rely on blogs, newspapers and TV. Whenever possible, and when I don't forget to, I link to the source I'm using so you can decide for yourself if I've misrepresented the info or if you believe it can be trusted.

That said, I also am quite willing to post a correction if I find I did blog inaccurately (fact) or stupidly (opinion). Of course the stupidly is my call. It is my blog after all.

Have You Joined The Campaign For Our America?

We invite you to join a new grassroots political organization aimed at real campaign finance reform, revealing media bias and exposing fraud, waste and corruption in government.

This is sponsored/initiated by Capitol Hill Blue.

Just click here.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Your Government At Work

File this under "no shit". Politics are hurting residents of NOLA. Who would have thunk it?
If ever there was a moment for the obscure federal flood insurance program to ride to the rescue, it would seem to have been in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Its premiums were supposed to insure homeowners in flood-prone areas and also protect taxpayers from spending billions to bail out flood victims. But with Hurricane Katrina, the program failed on both counts.

Nearly half the victims did not even have flood insurance. Claims from homeowners who were insured, $25 billion worth, bankrupted the program. And the government has had to commit $15 billion in additional taxpayer money for rebuilding in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Now, an effort to rescue the insurance program that grew in Hurricane Katrina's wake is faltering, too. Though experts foresee a generation of fiercer and more frequent storms, Congress seems unlikely to make more than modest changes when it takes up the program in the coming weeks.

Two words. Compassionate. Conservatives. Make that one word. Compassionate.

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Being A litigious Society Has It Merits

I hope, I hope, I hope.
A lawyer who sued Verizon last week on claims it violated privacy laws by turning over calling records to the National Security Agency said Sunday that customers of AT&T and BellSouth want to join the lawsuit.

New Jersey public-interest lawyer Bruce Afran said he and Carl Mayer, an associate of consumer activist Ralph Nader, will decide this week whether to expand the federal lawsuit they filed Friday. It seeks to stop Verizon from providing any more records without a warrant or a subscriber's consent.

"This program is without question the largest intrusion into civil liberties committed by any American administration," Afran said. If other telecommunications companies are named, "it may be the largest class-action ever filed," he said.

The lawsuit seeks $1,000 for every violation of the Communications Act, first passed in 1934, or at least $50 billion for Verizon customers alone.

Sue the bastards!

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National Guard To Patrol Border

So Bush will send National Guard troops to police the Mexico-US border. And what is likely to happen?
The US president, George Bush, is today expected to announce proposals to use thousands of national guard troops to help secure the border with Mexico.

Mr Bush is set to reveal the plans - intended to reduce the number of illegal immigrants entering the US - in a televised address.

It is believed several thousand troops could be sent to the 2,000-mile border, but a White House official said the number was likely to be less than the 10,000 quoted in some reports.

Remember Kent State? How about this? Yep that's just what we need, open season on brown folk.

Guns are dangerous, duh. Its always wrong to employ them when the only people around are innocents or, at most, minor law breakers. Crossing a border isn't a capital offense. Mexico isn't invading US.

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This Is Diplomacy

The EU has an idea how to defuse the impass with Iran and its uranium enrichment program.
The European Union will make Iran a generous offer of technology, economic and other incentives for Iran to abandon sensitive nuclear activities, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said on Monday.

"It will be a generous package, a bold package that will contain issues related to nuclear, economic matters and maybe if necessary security matters," Solana told reporters before a meeting of EU foreign ministers due to work on the offer.


"We have said over and over again that we have nothing against Iran having nuclear capabilities if they are strictly devoted to the production of energy," he said.

Diplomacy is talking, engaging others, offers and counter offers. Diplomacy is not aggressive threats and a loaded gun like Bushco views it.

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You're From Where?

I find it very interesting to go to Site Meter and look at where readers come from when they access spiiderweb. These are not "made up". These are real URLs. I've clicked on some of them. And now a couple recent ones for your amusement.

I may have to make this a semi-regular feature here. BTW, that image is a map of the internets.

TIME, The Water Carrier

Set the meme and the people will follow.
NY-There was a time-say, four years and nine months ago-when news that the government had been gathering up the country's phone records might have been the making of a scandal, or even a constitutional crisis. But although there have been protests from civil libertarians and some criticism on Capitol Hill, early indications suggest the revelation could actually give a political boost to President George W. Bush, reports TIME's Karen Tumulty in the new issue of TIME, on newsstands Monday, May 15th.

A political boost? Come on TIME. Stop putting Repug spin on a horrible situation.

Bushco is tapping your private communications, folks. This isn't politics. This's an assault on your liberty and freedom. Are you having an affair? Want your spouse to know? Trying to cheat on your taxes and asking your attorney how to do it? Discussing your medical condition with your doctor?

You are naked before the government. Are you an exhibitionist?

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Bush To Emulate Blair?

I've posted before that Bush and Blair share more than a "B" at the start of their names. They could be mutated clones. I just hope the comparison plays out if this report is correct.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has told members of his cabinet inner circle that he will step down in mid-2007 and hand power to finance minister Gordon Brown, newspapers said.

The Independent on Sunday and two other newspapers, The Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday, all claimed the 53-year-old premier would go between next year's local, Scottish and Welsh elections and the Labour Party annual autumn conference.

Please, please, please...

Must Read About The West Wing And US

This post is a sad lament about what our government is and what it could should be.

Got PayPal? Want Your Transfers Investigated?

Why worry about identity theft? Chances are its going to happen anyway because the companies and institutions you trust with your info hand it all over to the government on a pretty regular basis.
The Internal Revenue Service won approval from a federal court to ask PayPal to turn over information about people who might be evading taxes by hiding income in other countries, officials said Tuesday.

A federal court in San Jose gave the IRS permission to ask PayPal -- a company that enables online money transfers -- for account information for American taxpayers who have bank accounts, credit cards or debit cards issued by financial institutions in more than 30 countries reputed to be tax havens. PayPal is owned by San Jose online auction company eBay.

I'll give PayPal a little credit here. It took a court order.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Is Qwest CEO Being Persecuted?

Everyone is jumping to the conclusion Joseph Nacchio has been hounded by Bushco because he refused to give Qwest's phone records to the NSA. Perhaps. I wouldn't put it past Bushco at all, but there may be more to it than that.
Former Qwest Communications International Inc. Chief Executive Joseph Nacchio was indicted December 20 on 42 counts of insider-trading. The charges follow a three-year criminal investigation, which allege Nacchio sold approximately $101 million in Qwest stock in 2001 when he had information indicating the firm wasn’t doing as well as he was telling investors. Qwest has restated earnings for 2000 and 2001, erasing $2.5 billion in revenue and $2.2 billion in earnings. Nacchio vows to fight the charges and is now free on a $2 million bond.

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Sometimes One Vote Counts

It seems that one juror in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial prevented the state's killing him. Thank God someone in the jury room had common sense.
Only one juror stood between the death penalty and Zacarias Moussaoui and that juror frustrated his colleagues because he never explained his vote, according to the foreman of the jury that sentenced the al-Qaeda operative to life in prison last week.

The foreman, a Northern Virginia math teacher, said in an interview that the panel voted 11 to 1, 10 to 2 and 10 to 2 in favor of the death penalty on three terrorism charges for which Moussaoui was eligible for execution. A unanimous vote on any one of them would have resulted in a death sentence.

I agree Moussaoui belongs behind bars. He's a terrorist wanna-be and probably is a dangerous person. Was he involved in 9/11? Certainly not directly because he was in jail. The various accounts of the trial I read from MSM and bloggers seemed unanimous in painting the guy as too loony for even al-Qaida to embrace him. He wasn't affective in plotting and wasn't reliable enough to actually take part in any attack. Sometimes the US justice system works.

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Maybe Its Legal, But Its Definitely Immoral

Does any Repug have a concience or scruples for that matter?
The Department of Homeland Security has invested tens of millions of dollars on a seemingly simple task: creating a tamperproof identification card for airport, rail and maritime workers.

Yet nearly two years past a planned deadline, production of the card, known as the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, has not begun.

Instead, the road to delivering this critical anti-terrorism tool has taken detours to locations, companies and groups often linked to Rep. Harold Rogers, a Kentucky Republican who leads the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security Appropriations.

It is a route that has created jobs in Rogers’ home district and profits for companies that are donors to his political causes.

Rogers, 68, has never been shy about using clout gained over 13 House terms to steer federal dollars to the town of Corbin, Ky.

“Our people will be on the front lines in the war against terrorism worldwide,” Rogers told Corbin leaders in 2003.

Rogers said that any requirements he imposed on the identification card program have been motivated by a desire to end the delays.

I've posted the whole short story. (courtesy link) Original appeared in The New York Times. (no link)

We Can Hold People Indefinitely

That may not come as news to you. Enemy combatants have been held for years. What is news to me and quite possibly you, is these are US Army Reserve officers.
The Army Reserve, taxed by recruiting shortfalls and war-zone duty, has adopted a policy barring officers from leaving the service if their field is undermanned or they have not been deployed to Iraq, to Afghanistan or for homeland defense missions.

The reserve has used the unpublicized policy, first adopted in 2004 and strengthened in a May 2005 memo signed by Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, its commander, to disapprove the resignations of at least 400 reserve officers, according to Army figures.

"I don't think during a time of war you would want to let people go when you have a shortage of people," Army Reserve spokesman Steve Stromvall said when asked to comment on the memo, which surfaced during litigation over the policy. At least 10 reserve officers have sued the Army, saying they should be allowed to get out because they have finished their mandatory eight years of service.

So as a patriot you sign up to give the Army 8 years of your life, if not your actual life, just to find out the 8 years part was a hoax?

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The Divider-In-Chief Can Have Success

And you probably thought Bush would fail at everything he attempted just like he always has. You would be wrong. After succeeding in dividing Americans on almost every issue except his popularity, he set his sights on the rest of the world. And he again finds he has a distinct knack for division.
A one-day summit of eight majority Muslim nations has ended with a statement of support for the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The statement was warmly welcomed by one of the Muslim leaders at the summit, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

President Ahmadinejad, seemingly emboldened by the Bali declaration, thanked fellow D-8 member nations for their support.

'I would like to take this chance to thank member states of the D-8 for committing themselves to defend the peaceful use and the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, which has been enshrined in the Bali declaration,' he said.

The Bali declaration agreed members should cooperate to develop alternative energy sources, including the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

That means we now have at least 3 distinct camps. The US and its European allies demand Iran halt its uranium enrichment program or face sanctions and eventual invasion. Iran's Muslim neighbors are siding with Iran. Russia and China are somewhere in the middle.

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MSM Was On The Case. Not So Much

This is incredible. How can such a liberal MSM be so remiss? Because they liked Libby? Great professionalism there.
That meant in the 24 months after the Plame story broke, there were nearly 400 broadcasts of ABC, CBS and NBC's signature long form news programs and none reported on the leak investigation that reached into the most senior levels of the White House. It was worse if added into the equation was the fact that shows like 60 Minutes and 60 Minutes II include multiple topics within each broadcast. That meant between Sept. 2003 and Oct. 2005, the network news magazines aired at least 750 reports. None were about the most talked-about criminal investigation of the Bush presidency.

You Think Your Vote Will Count?

Maybe your vote will count and maybe it won't. Or, maybe you won't even get to vote.
Computer security experts say they have found the worst security flaw yet in the oft-criticized touch-screen machines that Maryland voters will use in this year's elections, leaving one computer scientist to warn that the state should have "stacks of paper ballots" on hand in case of a complete Election Day breakdown.

The machines, made by Diebold Elections Systems, are "much, much easier to attack than anything we've previously said," said Avi Rubin, a Johns Hopkins University computer science professor who first cast doubt on the reliability of the technology in a 2003 report.

"On a scale of one to 10, if the problems we found before were a six, this is a 10. It's a totally different ballgame," he said.

The new problem is being described as an intentional hole left in the system to allow elections workers to update voting software easily. Instead of using pass codes or other security protocols, anyone with access to a voting machine could install new software that could easily disable a precinct full of machines, Rubin said.

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If You Are In Amsterdam...Could You Help?

This in from AMERICAblog.
Folks, we have someone launching an electronic attack on the blog, which is very likely a crime. I'd like your help.


I'd appreciate any tech folks and political folks who can help me put pressure on the RIPE NCC folks in Amsterdam, they pretty much control all the blocks of IPs the attacker is using. RIPE Network Coordination Centre is the administrative and technical coordinator for the ISPs and other networks in the region from which this attack is very likely originating. They need to be told what's going on through IPs in their blocks. I'm told they're going to act like it's not their problem. Feel free to let them know it will be their problem as soon as I talk to the FBI. [emphasis mine]

In addition to gumming up the works with a flood of duplicate comments, this activity eats up bandwidth and interferes with other commenters. If you can help John, please do.

McCain Is A Political Animal With No Scruples

This has to be the most disingenuous speech in recent political history.
Sen. John McCain, looking to heal a rift with the religious conservatives who undermined his 2000 White House bid, told students graduating at the Rev. Jerry Falwell's university Saturday that Americans have a right to disagree on issues but should maintain respect for each other.

The Arizona Republican specifically referred to disagreements over the war in Iraq during his commencement address at Liberty University. He noted that the war "has taken innocent life," but he said he has stood his ground in support of it because he believed "my country's interests and values required it."

McCain defended the rights of those who disagree with him and argued that "Americans deserve more than tolerance from one another."

"We deserve each other's respect, whether we think each other right or wrong in our views, as long as our character and our sincerity merit respect, and as long as we share, for all our differences, for all the noisy debates that enliven our politics, a mutual devotion to the sublime idea that this nation was conceived in — that freedom is the inalienable right of mankind, and in accord with the laws of nature and nature's creator," he said.

(read more if you have the stomach)

Oh Shit! We're Going To Attack Canada

The last thing any country needs is to have a supply of oil. Bushco smells it like flies smell shit. Now Canada's oil is looking good.
More expensive to process than the light crude oil of the Middle East, Alberta's oil sands have long remained a largely untapped resource. But with oil at $70 a barrel, it has become economically feasible to extract the thick, sticky bitumen that in former years was used to seal native people's canoes - not fuel a global economy.

Only Saudi Arabia, with 259 billion barrels, has larger oil reserves than the Florida-sized patch that surrounds this Canadian outpost. And a pipeline already exists to carry the oil to a key market: the United States.

Over the next five years, oil companies from Exxon Mobil to France's Total are expected to invest C$60 billion in oil sands. Earlier this week, Shell Canada announced a takeover of Canadian oil-sands producer BlackRock Ventures, valued at $2.4 billion Canadian ($2.17 billion).

At least the logistics will be relatively easy.

There is a small, environmental problem. Excuse me. There seems to be a huge environmental problem.
"With projections that oil-sands production will grow from 1 million to more than 5 million barrels per day over the next 25 years, the air, land, and water of Alberta's northeastern boreal forest is at risk of severe environmental degradation," said the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based environmental organization, in a statement on its website.

The giant smokestacks at the refineries send black smoke into the air that stretches for miles in the clear blue sky above the forest.

"The proposed tar-sands developments will tear a hole in Canada's lungs - our vital boreal forest ecosystem," said Lindsay Telfer of Canada's Sierra Club.

Thank God the US and Canada have the requisite politicians to ignore such problems so extracting the oil can proceed.

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So I get my problem handled and can online. Surprise! My ISP is having trouble. The ISP settled down and Blogger started acting up. Its a conspiracy or really damn poor luck.

Something Sounds Very Fishy Here

At risk of sounding tinfoil hat crazy, is it a coincidence that Bushco is tanking and out of nowhere anonymous sources find highly enriched uranium in Iran?
U.N. inspectors have found traces of highly enriched uranium on equipment from an Iranian research center linked to the military, diplomats said Friday — a revelation likely to strengthen U.S. arguments that Tehran wants to develop nuclear arms.

The diplomats, who demanded anonymity in exchange for divulging the confidential information, cautioned that confirmation still had to come through other laboratory tests.


To argue that it never produced highly enriched uranium domestically, Tehran cites the IAEA's tentative conclusion last year that traces collected from Iranian sites with no suspected ties to the military arrived on equipment from Pakistan.

But the origin of the samples now being studied created some concern in that regard.

One of the diplomats told The Associated Press that the samples came from vacuum pumps that has various applications, including use in uranium-enriching centrifuges at a former research center at Lavizan-Shian. The center is believed to have been the repository of equipment bought by the Iranian military that could be used in a nuclear weapons program.

Didn't Bush already invade Iraq because it had WMD which it didn't? So Iran has them now. Ok! Looks like Bush was only one letter and one country off. Yeah, I think that explains it. Bush is his rocker.

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