Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

~~~

~~~

"FETUS,

TRANSGENDER, VULNERABLE, ENTITLEMENT, DIVERSITY,

EVENDENCE-BASED, SCIENCE-BASED."

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Stupidest Man on the Internet, Jim Hoft...

...gets it WRONG AGAIN!  And his thousands of little conservabots continue to pass along his bullpuckey.



From Jim Hoft, the Gateway Idiot Pundit 

 "Just in case you want more Obama in your life… AT&T is loading iPhones with emergency alerts from Barack Obama… That you can’t switch off. 

 Engadget reported: AT&T has begun rolling out Wireless Emergency Alerts updates for iPhone 4S and 5, so you won’t be the last folks to know if the entire northern hemisphere is about to be covered in ice à la Day After Tomorrow. You’ll receive a notification from the carrier when your update is ready, but only if you’re using iOS 6.1 or higher. 

 Once installed, AMBER and Emergency alerts are automatically sent to your phone unless you switch them off via Settings. However, should you be tired of Obama, just know that there’s no way to switch off Presidential alerts. So now Barack can track your calls and send you messages, too."




 "Seems old Dim Jim forgets that the WARN Act (passed in 2006) is what allows AT&T and the other wireless providers to send region-specific notifications for AMBER alerts, Sever Weather alerts, and other alerts that maybe you might want to know about to protect yourself. 

 Dim Jim also fails to realize that all recent weather radios also support SAME notifications." 


It's not for nothing that Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit is known as the Stupidest Man on the Internet!

h/t LGF

Saturday, June 29, 2013

I Salute Texas State Senator, Wendy Davis








"Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world."  --Marilyn Monroe


Friday, June 28, 2013

The Stupids of the Republican Party

There is so much awful in the report below on GOP state representative Daryl Metcalfe, that it is difficult to decide which part of it is the most shocking.  How do idiots like Pennsylvania Republican State Representative Daryl Metcalfe get elected?  Apparently the folks in his district are so ignorant of the US Constitution that they elected a representative who reflects their stupidity on our First Amendment rights.

This story will just add to the volume of evidence that is piling up and demonstrating how irrelevant the GOP has become on both the state and federal level.

GOP Rep. Metcalfe is under the impression that this country has become a theocracy and that people like him will prevail. He needs a good strong cup of reality, and so do the people who voted for this anti-American religious zealot.


"As is the case in many states, many in Pennsylvania are considering how to proceed in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, and on Wednesday, state Rep. Brian Sims (D) of Philadelphia rose to address the issue with his legislative colleagues. But Sims, the first openly gay member elected to the state House, was not allowed to deliver his remarks -- one of his colleagues raised a procedural objection to block him from speaking. 

And why is that? 

Republican State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who prevented Sims from addressing the chamber on DOMA, explained himself this way: "I did not believe that as a member of that body that I should allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God's law," 
Metcalfe had told WHYY of Philadelphia. 

Maybe now would be a good time to note that the separation of church and state still exists; American policymakers' ability to discuss Supreme Court rulings should not be based on one person's interpretation of "God's law"; and theocracies, as a rule, are not a good idea. 

Pressed for further explanation by the Associated Press, Metcalfe didn't back down, adding, "For me to allow him to say things that I believe are open rebellion against God are for me to participate in his open rebellion. There's no free speech on the floor." 

 Do you ever get the feeling some folks just aren't cut out for public service? 

Let's also note that two of Sims' Democratic colleagues rose to defend him, and they were blocked from speaking, too. 

Update: Metcalfe is the same state lawmaker who argued in 2009 that any U.S. military veteran who supports combating climate change "is a traitor." 

In an email Metcalfe wrote at the time, he added, 'Remember Benedict Arnold before giving credibility to a veteran who uses their service as a means to promote a leftist agenda. Drill Baby Drill!!!' "  h/t The Maddow Blog

And then we have this nut who wants to reinstate criminal penalties for what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms:

From The Inquisitor:


"Virginia AG, Ken Cuccinelli’s ideas on sex itself are outdated and patronizing. This becomes even more apparent when we see what he has asked of the Supreme Court: 


 Cuccinelli wants the court to reconsider a March 2013 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit striking down the state’s “crimes against nature” statute. The 4th Circuit ruled that the law did not pass muster in light of the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, which struck down the latter state’s anti-sodomy law as an unconstitutional criminalization of Americans’ sexual conduct. The Virginia law, however, remained on the books. Cuccinelli wants that law reinstated because he thinks that it is “an important tool that prosecutors use to put child molesters in jail.” Pardon me but isn’t there already a Virginia law against child molestation? It shouldn’t matter what a pedophile does: the fact that s/he is molesting a child in the first place is surely enough to prosecute. Why ask for an additional law that will impact those who aren’t pedophiles when the law already deals with the issue? "



Darwin save us from such knuckleheads!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

THAT DIDN'T TAKE LONG!

Six states, all of them southern and all with a past history of institutional racism against African-Americans, among others, are moving forward with plans to restrict and make difficult the ability of minorities and the poor to vote.  Among those states are Mississippi and Alabama, two southern states with the worst historical records on racial issues.  The federal government had a vested interest to stay involved with how these traditionally racist states treated their minorities.  With the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, these states can do whatever they wish to make voting more difficult for whomever they please.





"...six states have already started moving on restrictions, many of which have adverse effects on the abilities of minorities, young people, and the poor to exercise their right to vote: 

Texas: The Lone Star State saw its strict voter ID law and redistricting plan blocked by the DOJ and federal courts last year. Just two hours after Tuesday’s decision came down, the state’s attorney general issued a statement suggesting both laws may go into effect immediately. On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed slightly modified congressional maps into law, apparently deciding not to veto them and reinstate the more blatantly discriminatory maps blocked by the court. These new maps will not be screened by the DOJ. And Thursday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated two federal court decisions that had relied upon the VRA in blocking the voter ID law and redistricting plan. 

Mississippi: The state legislature approved a voter ID scheme in 2012, but it has not received DOJ clearance. Despite the restrictions, Mississippi’s secretary of state said Tuesday they would proceed with implementing the voter ID law and that “We’re not the same old Mississippi that our fathers’ fathers were.“ 

Alabama: In 2011, the state passed a law requiring photo ID to vote, but never cleared it with the DOJ. Both the attorney general and the secretary of state said Tuesday they believed their plans could now be implemented in time for the 2014 elections. 

Arkansas: In April, the Arkansas legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto to pass their voter ID legislation. With preclearance out of the way, the state law can now be implemented without DOJ review. 

South Carolina: The Palmetto State passed a similar voter ID law in 2012, but DOJ at least succeeded in delaying its implementation. South Carolina’s attorney general issued a statement following the decision, lauding the Court for allowing the preclearance states to “to implement reasonable election reforms, such as voter ID laws similar to South Carolina’s.” 

Virginia: Unlike several of the other states, Virginia’s voter ID plan was not scheduled to be implemented until July 2014 anyway. But unless Congress replaces the preclearance formula before then, Virginia will also likely be able to move forward with its plan.

From the Miami Herald on the gutting of the VRA:

"Of this there should be no doubt: The impact of the ruling will be to weaken the rights of voters at a time when politically driven efforts to suppress voter registration and turnout have increased in GOP-leaning states all across the country. 

Voter ID laws, restrictions on early voting (which led to embarrassingly long lines in Florida last year), extreme gerrymandering of congressional districts — all these tactics and more have become more evident in recent elections. The court’s ruling means there’s no cop on the beat to prevent these malicious actions, encouraging those intent on curtailing voting rights to do as they please."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Minestra of News

UPDATE BELOW


After several days in the great state of Vermont visiting with wonderful friends and enjoying a Joan Baez concert in Rutland, I've come home to a minestra of news. Some good, very good, and the one on voting rights, very awful.

First, the awful, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act:


The SCOTUS majority must actually believe that the worst of the southern states would have brought about the changes in voting rights for minorities without the federal government stepping in.   And they must also believe that those reddest of red states won't set in place impediments to voting for minorities who traditionally vote for the Democratic Party in those states. 

Why would minorities feel confident about their ability to vote, when it took federal intervention to right those awful wrongs that were endemic in those reddest of red states?

People aren't racist anymore, you say?  Really.  Where did all those racist jokes and cartoons and jibes at the first bi-racial president about his being "lazy" or not a real American come from?  HINT:  Not from local Democratic Party politicians in liberal states.  Those ideas and suspicions about Mr. Obama and his "angry" and "uppity" wife [often depicted as a primate] came from pols associated with traditionally conservative states and the Republican Party.  

And to my conservative friends who believe there is no need to oversee how individual states develop their voting requirements, please read THIS.  It is NOT a matter of a simple ID, which can be easily procured.  Texas is going to make it more difficult for minorities to vote.  And now they can do so without any oversight by the feds.  

I believe there is still a strong undercurrent of racism in this country, and the election of Mr. Obama has caused it, like a bloated corpse, to rise from the murky depths of this nation's soul to remind us all of what we had hoped was gone forever.








The Return of Jim Crow

The Good and the Very Good:

5-4 Vote Extends Federal Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses


The Supreme Court issued a pair of opinions expanding gay rights, ruling unconstitutional a law denying federal benefits to married same-sex couples and effectively permitting gay marriage in California.





The opinion, delivered by Justice Anthony  Kennedy:

 "The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity...By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment."

UPDATE:


"GOP demanding Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage 

(Yahoo News) Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, and other conservative members of Congress say they will attempt to introduce in the coming days a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Following the Supreme Court's ruling deeming the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, several Republicans expressed their disappointment with the decision and vowed to take action. Apparently, this means an amendment to the Constitution."


Senator Rand Paul (Crackpot, KY) tried to backpedal on his idiotic statement on same-sex marriage.  What he and other loonies on this subject apparently haven't the brains to understand is that CONSENTING ADULTS marrying each other will not automatically confer legality to adults marrying non-consenting children and animals.  A German Shepherd dog or a box turtle cannot say "yes" to having sex with a human being, neither can a child give his or her "consent" to an adult who wants to have sex with an underage human being.  

Conservatives and Libertarians apparently have a difficult time in understanding this simple fact, therefore, they make jackasses of themselves when they state that allowing consenting adults to marry each other will lead to beastiality and pederasty.


  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

CONSERVATIVE HEARTBREAK: NO IRS SCANDAL LINKED TO PRESIDENT OBAMA!




To their heartbreaking dismay, disappointment, and horror, conservatives learned that President Barack Hussein Obama had nothing to do with the IRS actions involving 501c(3) organizations.  

The conservative blogs that I read when the story broke warned that even though there wasn't any evidence linking the White House to the IRS "scandal" at the moment, all we had to do is wait, because everyone knows that Mr. Obama is a corrupt, Commie, Soshalist, Kenyan Usurper not worthy of the office of the Presidency of the United States, and because MOOCHELLE!

The conservative noise machine literally fell over themselves trying to pin a scandal on Mr. Obama, and they were sure they had a juicy one in this.

Well, they were wrong.  Again.  Just like they were wrong about trying to make a "scandal" out of the Benghazi tragedy.  It must be frustrating to be wrong so often.  But never fear, the conservative noise machine, led by FAUX NOOZ will be ready to serve up another failed attempt to destroy Mr. Obama's presidency.

The Congressional conservatives may not be able to walk and chew gum at the same time when it comes to passing any jobs bill, but they sure are adept at churning up their base with promises of scandals and impeachment.





McConnell Admits to Disappointed Conservatives That Obama Did NOT Order IRS Tea Party Probes 





Addressing the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute this Friday, Mitch McConnell delivered a substantively different speech than he did a year ago, when he railed against the supposed anti-free speech administration of Barack Obama. 

To a room of undoubtedly disappointed conservatives, McConnell acknowledged that the recent much-ballyhooed actions of the IRS did not have any connections to the White House. “There might be some folks out there waiting for a hand-signed memo from President Obama to Lois Learner to turn up,” McConnell said. “Don’t hold your breath

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stephen Colbert's Beautiful Tribute to His Mother



Stephen Colbert is always funny, incisive, witty, but in addition to that, I've always been aware of his inherent goodness that shines through, even when he is at his biting, comedic best.  He wants us to know that his mother had a lot to do with that.  She must have been a remarkable woman.





Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The GOP: Can't Get Out of the Stupid Zone












Full Transcript Reveals That Darrell Issa Lied About Obama Involvement In IRS Scandal



"By releasing the full transcript of interview with the IRS Screening Group manager, Rep. Elijah Cummings has proven that Rep. Darrell Issa lied about Obama’s involvement in the IRS scandal. Rep. Cummings absolutely destroyed Issa’s conspiratorial claims that Obama was masterminding the IRS scandal: 

 This interview transcript provides a detailed first-hand account of how these practices first originated, and it debunks conspiracy theories about how the IRS first started reviewing these cases. Answering questions from Committee staff for more than five hours, this official—who identified himself as a “conservative Republican”—denied that he or anyone on his team was directed by the White House to take these actions or that they were politically motivated."



**************************


via HuffPost:


"While the [abortion] vote offered a chance for members from socially conservative districts to flex their political muscles, some moderate Republicans grumbled about the leadership’s decision to hold a vote on a controversial measure with no chance of going beyond the House.

'I think a lot of people are shaking their heads and not understanding why we’re doing this,' said one GOP official, who added that votes on hot-button social issues don’t help the party maintain much-needed Republican seats in moderate districts. 

Republican Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania bluntly told The New York Times that the vote is 'a stupid idea.' ”





**********








Another awkward remark about pregnancy from a Republican lawmaker:


GOP Rep Says Rate of Pregnancy From Rape Is 'Very Low'





Rep. Michael Burgess, a Texan: 

"Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful. They stroke their face. If they're a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?"


***************




Congressman Claims People Struggling To Survive On Food Stamps Are ‘Intentionally Buying Overpriced Food’



Robert Reich explains why the GOP can't get out of the Stupid Zone:


"...the Republican base is entrenched in certain states that are older, whiter, and more rural than the rest of America than rest of the country; and senators and representatives from these states naturally reflect the dominant views of their constituents — which are increasingly out of step with where most of the nation is heading. 


Despite all the post-election rhetoric about the necessity for change emanating from GOP leaders who aspire to the national stage, the national stage isn’t really what the GOP is most interested in or attuned to. It’s directed inward rather than outward, to its state constituents rather than to the nation. This structure also blocks any would-be “New Republicans” such as Chris Christie from gaining the kind of power inside the party that a New Democrat like Bill Clinton received in 1992. 

The greater likelihood is a steady eclipse of the Republican Party at the national level, even as it becomes more entrenched in particular states. The GOP’s national role will be primarily negative — seeking to block, delay, and filibuster measures that will eventually become the law of the land in any event, while simultaneously preaching 'states’ rights' and praying for conservative majorities on the Supreme Court. 

In other words, more of the same."

More GOP "stupid."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The New Young Atheists

I read a interesting article in The Atlantic on atheism and the young people, mostly ex-Christians, who've come to embrace it.

This isn't about the famous "New" atheists we've all read and know:  Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, et. al.  This article explores the young men and women who, through serious self-reflection and examination of their religions, have rationally left behind Christianity and become nonbelievers.

Here are some of the highlights:


They had attended church 

 Most of participants [in the study] had not chosen their worldview from ideologically neutral positions at all, but in reaction to Christianity. Not Islam. Not Buddhism. Christianity. 

 The mission and message of their churches was vague 

 These students heard plenty of messages encouraging "social justice," community involvement, and "being good," but they seldom saw the relationship between that message, Jesus Christ, and the Bible. Listen to Stephanie, a student at Northwestern: "The connection between Jesus and a person's life was not clear." This is an incisive critique. She seems to have intuitively understood that the church does not exist simply to address social ills, but to proclaim the teachings of its founder, Jesus Christ, and their relevance to the world. Since Stephanie did not see that connection, she saw little incentive to stay. We would hear this again. 

 They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life's difficult questions 

 When our participants were asked what they found unconvincing about the Christian faith, they spoke of evolution vs. creation, sexuality, the reliability of the biblical text, Jesus as the only way, etc. Some had gone to church hoping to find answers to these questions. Others hoped to find answers to questions of personal significance, purpose, and ethics. Serious-minded, they often concluded that church services were largely shallow, harmless, and ultimately irrelevant. As Ben, an engineering major at the University of Texas, so bluntly put it: "I really started to get bored with church." 

 They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously 

 Following our 2010 debate in Billings, Montana, I asked Christopher Hitchens why he didn't try to savage me on stage the way he had so many others. His reply was immediate and emphatic: "Because you believe it." Without fail, our former church-attending students expressed similar feelings for those Christians who unashamedly embraced biblical teaching. Michael, a political science major at Dartmouth, told us that he is drawn to Christians like that, adding: "I really can't consider a Christian a good, moral person if he isn't trying to convert me." As surprising as it may seem, this sentiment is not as unusual as you might think. It finds resonance in the well-publicized comments of Penn Jillette, the atheist illusionist and comedian: "I don't respect people who don't proselytize. I don't respect that at all. If you believe that there's a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward.... How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?" 

 Ages 14-17 were decisive 

 One participant told us that she considered herself to be an atheist by the age of eight while another said that it was during his sophomore year of college that he de-converted, but these were the outliers. For most, the high school years were the time when they embraced unbelief. 



**************





Poll Shows Fivefold Increase in Ranks of U.S. Atheists 

The survey also shows a downward trend in the number of people who say they are religious. 

 A new poll suggests that 1 in 20 Americans now call themselves atheists, a fivefold increase from the last time the survey was taken in 2005. The Religion News Service reports that, to go along with the jump, just 60 percent of Americans now identify as religious, down from 73 percent the last time the Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism poll was taken seven years ago. The decline has also been felt in many other countries around the world, including double-digit drops in several European and North American countries.


****************





American Atheism is rising and Christians don't like it


Young Americans 

Young Americans in the 18 to 25 age group are more likely to accept Evolution. Among Americans over 40 the majority believe in creationism. 

Young Americans are less likely to go to church; the decline in Christianity is happening mainly as each new generation is less inclined to be religious or to believe in God. Some deconversions happen among older people as well though. As the proportion of atheists increases, ordinary people will increasingly get to know atheists and will increasingly see that we are moral. 

Actively promoting Humanist morality and showing that we are trustworthy human beings may help reduce prejudice. 

Deconversions 

Some deconversions in the United States and elsewhere happen because atheists show believers their faith is irrational but most happen because people see this for themselves. Adults, even intelligent older children and young teenagers, if they hear or read a non-Christian folk tale, piece of mythology treat it as fiction. 

When people have been told persuasively from early childhood to believe the bible not all see the similarity between biblical and other mythology but increasing numbers see this. Shrill atheism may increase the rate of deconversion marginally, it certainly makes atheists more confident. Even if New Atheism were to stop (which is unlikely) the steady erosion of Christian faith will continue.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Night Poetry







THE FLYING HOUSE OF LORETO*

I’ve always wanted to meet one of those gray, bug-eyed aliens,
the ones who get blamed for our missing time, for the little metal

beads found stuck up our noses, the sexual probings, egg implantations.
It never happens.  I make myself available to them:  walk the beach

at night far from buildings, lights, anything that might scare
them away.  I think they avoid me.  I’m too willing to cooperate,

say yes to the cc’s of blood, the clumps of follicles, yes to the speculum,
(as long as it’s body-temperature, space-age plastic). I’m wild to have them

take specimens to Coma Bernices with my name printed in Alien on each vial.
In Loreto, Italy, they say the Virgin’s house was transported on the backs

of angels from Nazareth to the Anconan coast.  Why not?
I want my aliens; they have their flying house.

                                                                           --S.K.




*The Virgin's House in Loreto

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Edward Snowden, the "hero" people are talking about,,,



...divulged US secrets to Communist China:




Waiting for those who believe this guy's motives were pure and patriotic to comment on this:


From the Associated Press:

HONG KONG (AP) — For months, China has tried to turn the tables on the U.S. to counter accusations that it hacks America's computers and networks. 

Now, former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden may have handed Beijing a weapon in its cyber war of words with Washington. 

In an interview with the South China Morning Post newspaper, Snowden claims the U.S. has long been attacking a Hong Kong university that routes all Internet traffic in and out of the semiautonomous Chinese region. 

Snowden said the National Security Agency's 61,000 hacking targets around the world include hundreds in Hong Kong and mainland China, the paper reported late Wednesday. 

The Post, Hong Kong's main English-language newspaper, said Snowden had presented documents to support those claims, but it did not describe the documents and said it could not verify them. Snowden's comments were his first since the 29-year-old American revealed himself as the source of a major leak of top-secret information on U.S. surveillance programs. 

He flew to Hong Kong from Hawaii before revealing himself, and the Post said he is staying out of sight amid speculation the U.S. may seek his extradition.

Some hero.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Talented Mr. Snowden




From the little information available online surrounding Edward Snowden, one wonders how this young man advanced so far and so quickly in our prestigious intelligence establishments in so little time and with no formal education.

Here is an amazing time line that illustrates the phenomenal rise in position and wealth in two of the most prestigious intelligence agencies of the US government by a young man who had less than a high school diploma:


June 21, 1983

Born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Mother, clerk in U.S. District Court, MD
Father, officer in U.S. Coast Guard




1999

At 16 years old, he and his family moved to Ellicot City, MD where he studied computing at Anne Arundel Community College to obtain his high school diploma.

He dropped out.

Later he obtained his G.E.D. (Where?)



May 7, 2004

At age 21, he joined the U.S. Army


September 2004

Discharged from the army because of two broken legs suffered in a training accident




Employment

No dates available



N.S.A.

Security Guard at a covert facility at the University of Maryland.

What covert facility is at the University of Maryland??

Why did he take a job as a security guard, when later we learn his works on IT security with the C.I.A.?

He went from being a security guard at N.S.A. to I.T. security at the C.I.A.   Strange.


C.I.A.

Worked on IT security.

Where did he get the qualification to work on IT security?  Unknown, since all we know is that he earned a G.E.D. after dropping out of Anne Arundel Community College where he was trying to earn his high school diploma.



2007

C.I.A.

At 24 years old and with nothing more than a G.E.D., he is placed by the C.I.A. in Geneva, Switzerland, WITH DIPLOMATIC COVER.

His job:  Computer network security.

Why would he need DIPLOMATIC COVER for an I.T. position?


2009

Snowden left the C.I.A. for a private contractor (who?) inside a N.S.A. facility on a U.S. military base in Japan.



May 2013

Snowden worked for Booz, Allen, Hamilton less than 3 months as a system administrator at a N.S.A. facility in Hawaii earning, according to B.A.H., $122,000/year.


June 10, 2013

Fired from Booz, Allen, Hamilton.

Wikipedia


*****************



Snowden has said that he has a "predisposition to seek asylum in a country with shared values," and that his ideal choice would be Iceland. But that looks increasingly unlikely.  The other two "shared values" countries he may seek asylum in are China (Hong Kong) and Russia.  Two countries with totalitarian governments.


"Snowden fled to Hong Kong when he knew publication of his leaks was imminent. In his interview, he said he went there because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent.”

This may be true, in some limited way, but the overriding fact is that Hong Kong is part of China, which is, as Snowden knows, a stalwart adversary of the United States in intelligence matters.  Snowden is now at the mercy of the Chinese leaders who run Hong Kong. As a result, all of Snowden’s secrets may wind up in the hands of the Chinese government—which has no commitment at all to free speech or the right to political dissent. And that makes Snowden a hero?"  --Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker




*****************

I find it exceedingly strange that Edward Snowden could have held positions with the C.I.A. and N.S.A. without any obvious academic credentials or demonstrated technical expertise.  As of now, I am unable to find where he received his training for his IT jobs.  I'm still looking, but there isn't a lot out there on this young man.

The most glaring anomaly is his DIPLOMATIC COVER given to him by the C.I.A.


The link from Wikipedia says this on diplomatic cover:


"In espionage, an official cover operative is an operative who assumes a position in an organization with diplomatic ties to the government for which they work. Official cover operatives are granted a set of governmental protections, and if caught in the act of espionage, they can request diplomatic protection from their government. In other words, official cover operatives are agents officially recognized by their country."



More:

"Among the questions is how a contract employee at a distant NSA satellite office was able to obtain a copy of an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a highly classified document that would presumably be sealed from most employees and of little use to someone in his position. A former senior NSA official said that the number of agency officials with access to such court orders is 'maybe 30 or maybe 40. Not large numbers.' 


[skip] 

'The spy you want in an organization may not be the executive assistant to the secretary of state; it may be the guy in the bowels of the IT department because he has system-administrator privileges and because that person is also in a position to insert malware into your system to facilitate remote access,' Brenner said. Further information about Snowden’s personal and professional life was scant Monday."




*******************



Maybe there are explanations for all the questions in this post.  I'm still looking.  But I do find all of what we DO know very curious.  How did Edward Snowden get so far so quickly with so little?  

I know what I'm thinking.  Is anyone else thinking the same?

The Talented Mr. Ripley could learn a few tricks from the very talented Mr. Snowden.


"Tell Me What is Being Done in My Name."

People who read this blog know that I'm a fan of the great Charlie Pierce.

His recent blog post describes what I and, I believe, many other Americans think about the recent disclosures on the government's "data mining" Americans' phone calls and emails.

I have stated that I have no idea how a democracy--our government--in today's world should balance the need to protect this country and the imperative to follow the Constitution.


Charlie Pierce:

" OK, let us persist in the notion that I am an American citizen. Let us persist in the notion that I am the citizen of a self-governing political commonwealth. Let us persist in the notion that I have a say -- and important and equal say -- in the operation of my government here and out in the world. Let us persist in the notion that, in America, the people rule. If we persist in these notions -- and, if we don't. what's the fking point, really? -- then there is only one question that I humbly ask of my government this week. 

Please, if it's not too damn much trouble, can you tell me what's being done in my name? 

That has been the essential plea of the citizen of a democratic political commonwealth for going on 70 years now, since the war powers and their attendant influence detached themselves from -- or were abandoned entirely by -- the constitutional authority in which they were supposed to reside. That was the plea that was answered, officially, by the incredibly brave Frank Church and his committee, and by the House Committee on Assassinations (the case of the murder of a president in broad daylight is still open, by the way). That was the plea that has been answered, unofficially, by Ron Ridenhour about My Lai, and by Sy Hersh about a lot of the things the Church committee opened up, and by those guys in Lebanon with the mimeograph machine concerning Iran-Contra, and by Bob Parry and so many others during the era of Reagan triumphalism, and by people like the invaluable Charlie Savage and Jane Mayer and others when the country lost its mind after 9/11, and, yes, by Jeremy Scahill and whoever he talks to, and, yes, by Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, too. 

Just tell me what is being done in my name. I'm a big boy. 

I am not made of spun sugar. I know my country -- and therefore, since we are in an era in which the distinction between civilian and military casualties is as ephemeral as it was in Atlanta, or Dresden, or My Lai, me -- has enemies. I know that it is the obligation of my government to protect me from them. That is right there in the Preamble. Thing is, though, it comes after the requirements to form a more perfect union, establish justice, and ensure domestic tranquility. And it comes a fk of a long way after the most important three words of all. 

 'We, the people.'

 Is that a great comma or what? 

 Just tell me what is being done in my name. I'm a big boy. I am not made of spun sugar. If you think you need to protect me by dropping drones on people half a world away, or by vacuuming up my personal data, then tell me precisely who is being killed in my name, and why, precisely, I need you to do what you are doing. I'm OK. I can take it. I am goddamn sick and fking tired of self-government being run on automatic pilot -- of gangs of five, or eight, or 22, meeting in secret, wise old bone-worshippers, and deciding things that, a decade later, get murderous religious whack-jobs flying airplanes in to buildings. 

Because what gets decided in secret gets played out in public, always. (Recall the famous Doonesebury cartoon in which the two Cambodian peasants are asked about the "secret bombing" of their country. "It wasn't secret," one of them says. "I said, 'Look, here come the bombers.'") You people jack around with some people on the other side of the planet and, pretty soon, I'm picking pieces of a Starbucks out of my hair, if I'm lucky. 

 Just tell me what is being done in my name. 

Tell me what is being done in my name and I can decide on the level of my own complicity. 

Tell me what is being done in my name and I can decide that I don't want to be complicit at all. 

Tell me what is being done in my name and I can be a citizen, in full, of a self-governing political commonwealth. 

That's your job. That's what those three words, and that great comma, are about. 

Don't tell me it's for my own good. I'm not 12. I know what is for my own good. Don't tell me to trust you. That ship sailed long ago. Goddammit, tell me. Tell me what is being done in my name. And I'll decide if it should continue or not. Tell me what is being done in my name. And I'll tell you if you should keep doing it or not. I will govern and not be governed. Tell me. Just tell me. Before someone else does, with a leak, or a bomb, or an airplane into a building. Tell me what is being done in my name. So I can be ready, when the time comes."

****************

Jeff Toobin takes Edward Snowden down a few notches. Money quote: 


 "These were legally authorized programs; in the case of Verizon Business’s phone records, Snowden certainly knew this, because he leaked the very court order that approved the continuation of the project. So he wasn’t blowing the whistle on anything illegal; he was exposing something that failed to meet his own standards of propriety. 

The question, of course, is whether the government can function when all of its employees (and contractors) can take it upon themselves to sabotage the programs they don’t like. That’s what Snowden has done."

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday Night Poetry



A Little Night Visitor

Italians call him pipestrello, in German, he’s fledermaus;
And it’s true bats are cruelly maligned.  I don’t care.  
Tonight he’s loose somewhere in my house.

Hell hath no horror worse than a bat flying,
from corner to corner and a woman, wildly panicked,
wielding a tennis racket over her head.

This is no operetta, his cries no sweet night music, 
but the echolating noise of a nocturnal flying mammal
who’s hanging from a ceiling beam over my bed.

All the windows are open, all the doors ajar
in hopes that he’ll fly, with some prodding, to a place far 
far away from here where all good bats dwell,
And away from the woman fleeing from him, 
like a bat outta hell.

                                                     --S.K.






Sunday Froth Post

This is the first in a new series: Sunday Froth Post.  

I will attempt to find the most intemperate, out-of-control rantings from the most wildly paranoid elements on the right (so much frothing, but only ONE Sunday per week!)  

For reasons known only to them, these folks are, in addition to being virulent anti-Liberal/Progressives, anti-truth, anti-spell-check, anti-paragraph and anti-English grammar, with a large side order of plagiarism.  All of which makes for a curious olio of Cri du coeur,  Écriture mal grammaticale, et Vol et utilisation des mots d'autres personnes.  

Mon Dieu!

For your amusement only and to keep you informed on their more paranoid, self-pitying, and largely plagiarized from others, rants:

The liberal mind set is that we are all potentially criminals - including the granny who lives down the street - and that we must all be monitored to see if she is carrying bombs under her bra on to an airplane.
Liberals live in their own Bizarro World, liberals will do anything and everything to slander anyone who dares to say it like it is, including lying, slandering, and criminal behavior.. While conservatives believe that the guilty should be punished and those who are irresponsible should suffer the consequences of their bad choices, liberals believe that the guilty and irresponsible should be rewarded at the expense of the innocent and responsible people in America.
Take Susan Rice for example, she either lied about Benghazi or was irresponsible for not knowing the truth. And now Obama is rewarding her with a promotion. Samantha Power said that America is evil and should apologize for its actions, and she is being rewarded by being named U.S. ambassador to the U.N., where she will fit right in with all the dictators that condemn the U.S. How is it that Liberals, time and again, prove that nothing, no morals, no patriotism, nor ability, nor experience, nor logic has any bearing on their propensity to vote for the very worse of candidates?
But in their warped mind it is us conservatives who are the bad guys and we are picking on Dear Susan because like her boss she is Black! These idiots really do need some new material. They are too stupid to realize this proves how ignorant and unintelligent they are because all they can come up with is the sane old race baiting game. Their desperation is pathetic. Yet THEY are the bunch who are still keeping the black man down!
And frankly, Ím getting tired of having to defend myself against their stupid and desperate, baseless charge of labeling conservatives as racists! Especially when we know that occupant of the White House is the Racist-in Chief!
Meanwhile, the Benghazi whistle-blowers, who spoke truth to power, are being persecuted.


Friday, June 7, 2013

The Conservative Blogs

are all a-twitter and giddy over the revelations coming out about data mining by the government.  They believe their prayers for bringing down the Obama administration have been answered.

Remember when we learned that the Republican President George W. Bush (via The Patriot Act) data mined US citizens' emails and phone calls, and how that brought down the Bush administration.

Oh, and how LOUDLY the conservative blogs SCREAMED about BIG BROTHER?!

No.  Neither do I.

Yes.  I know.  "Change We Can Believe In."  And all that.

Here is something worth reading from the "Immoral Minority" blog:

Courtesy of CNN 

The U.S. government has obtained a top secret court order that requires Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of Americans to the National Security Agency on an "ongoing daily basis," the UK-based Guardian newspaper reported. 

The four-page order, which The Guardian published on its website Wednesday, requires the communications giant to turn over "originating and terminating" telephone numbers as well as the location, time and duration of the calls -- and demands that the order be kept secret. 

If genuine, it gives the NSA blanket access to the records of millions of Verizon customers' domestic and foreign phone calls made between April 25, when the order was signed, and July 19, when it expires. 

While the report infuriated people across the country -- former Vice President Al Gore called the idea "obscenely outrageous" -- a senior official in the Obama administration defended the idea of such an order early Thursday. 

Without acknowledging whether the order exists, the administration official emphasized that such an order does not include collection of "the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber. It relates exclusively to metadata, such as a telephone number or the length of a call." 

"Information of the sort described in the Guardian article has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States, as it allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States," the unnamed official said in a written statement to media. 

The official also insisted that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authorizes intelligence collection. Activities "are subject to strict controls and procedures under oversight of the Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FISA Court, to ensure that they comply with the Constitution and laws of the United States and appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties."

Regardless of whether this data mining is subject to "strict controls and procedures under oversight of the Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FISA Court: or not, the truth is that it is wrong. Just like it was wrong when the Bush administration started it: 

Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.

The difference then was that the news agencies simply did not get as indignant and demonstrate the kind of outrage that they are about to demonstrate now that President Obama is in the White House.

However if anybody expects me to make excuses for this President, and his administration, you are wrong. I fucking hated this crap when Bush was doing it and I hate it just as much now that a Democratic President is doing it.

So if Fox News wants to jump all over this and use it to attempt to attack the President, something they would NEVER have done while Bush was in office, I see that as a good thing, because if people get angry enough perhaps we can finally put a stop to this outrageous spying on American citizens.

You know I heard somebody way back when Obama was first elected say that no President gives up the powers gained by his predecessors. In other words now that this kind of program was in place it was highly unlikely that Obama would not take advantage of it.

Sadly that turned out to be true.


But Charlie Pierce (bless him) gets it just right:

"The companies are so deep in weasel-speak on this one that they never may find their way out. At this point, after over a decade of this, "in accordance to the law" could mean almost anything, and probably does.
(Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog has caught some interesting by-play about the source of these leaks. I admit that leaking an entire PowerPoint presentation is a whopper and indicates some serious power behind the leak.
Other than that, I don't have a lot to say that I didn't say yesterday. We hid under the bed after 9/11 and let a lot of people who don't care much for the Bill of Rights, with one notable (Bang!) exception, run amok.
The NSA access was enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under Obama in December 2012. The program facilitates extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information. The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US. It also opens the possibility of communications made entirely within the US being collected without warrants.  
(And an aside, will you note that, in that paragraph, the previous guy is "President Bush" and the current officeholder is "Obama." That's kind of an odd style quirk, no?)
The government is pushing back, as is expected. There's the "It's not what you think it is" defense, and there's the "It's for your own good" defense, too. (Read all the way through to see Huckleberry Graham wave the Fourth and Fifth Amendments away with his magic wand.) The problem, again, is not what's illegal, it's what's been made legal. Or quasi-legal. Or something. Also, ignore anyone who says that a magic coalition of Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Wyden, and Mark Udall is going to form to repeal The Patriot Act. The Republicans love the Patriot Act, and so do many Democrats. (Hi, Dianne Feinstein!) There are just a few Republicans who don't like the guy using it at the moment..."
DING!  DING! DING!  wE HAVE A WINNAH!