Mar 19

Iraq, 5 years on

5 years ago today, the Bush administration began the single largest foreign policy disaster – and probably largest single blunder – in American history. They lied to the people, the world, and the media. They broke laws, destroyed our image and worldwide power, and bankrupted our economy and military for generations to come. Oh, and they also directly killed more than 4,000 American troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis.

Though it has largely disappeared from the collective kewl kid narrative, many people looking at the situation rationally at the time were not only right about the administration’s lies and the ill-advised nature of the war, but they were also right about the effects. Much of the media and the enablers of this imperialist adventure would like to forget their role in making this happen and marginalizing those of us who were correct from the start. It is important to not let the narrative become one of “everyone believed Saddam had to go” or “it’s not important how we got there,” because neither statement is true.

Honor our servicepersons’ sacrifice and our country by remembering the past honestly. It’s the least we can do.

Feb 05

Maybe this is what Saddam was working on

I found this in a bunker near Tikrit
Pop Its

Teen faces WMD charge after plastic egg explodes

An 18-year-old Elizabethtown man is charged with possessing a weapon of mass destruction and other offenses over a plastic egg explosion.

Police say he ignited a plastic egg filled with plastic air-gun pellets in a flea market, hitting at least five people and causing alarm. It happened Saturday afternoon at a Saturday’s Market in Londonderry Township, Dauphin County.

Ignoring, for the moment, the patent absurdity of charging someone with using a “weapon of mass destruction” when that “weapon” caused, and could cause, no destruction at all, let alone “mass destruction” and all of the negative reflections upon the state of our society and policing if this charge were indeed levied… is it even possible to lay this charge on the kid?

Mebbe.

Pennsylvania statutes1 show that this incident probably meets the statutory definition … but only by the barest whisker, if at all. The statute allows for bring this charge if a person “without lawful authority to do so, intentionally, knowingly or recklessly possesses or manufactures a weapon of mass destruction.”2

Naturally, this begs the question: what is a weapon of mass destruction under Pennsylvania law?

I’m glad you asked, Johnny! Because the answer is in the same statute. A “weapon of mass destruction” is “A biological agent, bomb, chemical agent or nuclear agent.”

A plastic egg filled with plastic pellets is not a biological, chemical, or nuclear agent, leaving the only possibility of bomb. What is the definition of “bomb” under this statute? “An explosive device used for unlawful purposes.”

And that’s where the sliver of possibility resides. I’m pretty sure the egg went BANG and was used in the creation of calamity, thus it likely satisfies both elements of the definition. Absurd, but likely.

Now, this statute, or at least that provision, is certainly ripe for some constitutional void-for-vagueness challenges (a “bomb” is a weapon of mass destruction? Really? No matter how big?), which I’m certain we won’t see here as the strategy was likely one intended to make the kid take a plea bargain. By a similar reading of this statute, it would make no difference if the kid had a plastic egg, EFP, or a box full of Pop-Its that scared three biddies.

Welcome to the new GOP world of bedwetting fear. Make sure you carry spare undies for every time a gnat farts in your direction.

1. 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2716

2. The article says charged with possession, but if he possessed here, he also used and likely manufactured.

Jan 27

Sunset on the Empire

I’ve been talking about the decline and fall of the American empire forever (or close thereto. No, really), but it appears that the New America Foundation realizes they want some skin in that game.

Many saw the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as the symbols of a global American imperialism; in fact, they were signs of imperial overstretch. Every expenditure has weakened America’s armed forces, and each assertion of power has awakened resistance in the form of terrorist networks, insurgent groups and “asymmetric” weapons like suicide bombers. America’s unipolar moment has inspired diplomatic and financial countermovements to block American bullying and construct an alternate world order. That new global order has arrived, and there is precious little Clinton or McCain or Obama could do to resist its growth.

[Colbert]Bow before me for I am mighty![/Colbert]

Jan 26

Tales of the American Taliban

Retroactive fines 5 years later for nude buttocks.

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $1.4 million fine against 52 ABC Television Network stations over a 2003 broadcast of cop drama NYPD Blue.

The fine is for a scene where a boy surprises a woman as she prepares to take a shower. The scene depicted “multiple, close-up views” of the woman’s “nude buttocks” according to an agency order issued late Friday.

Oh, do fuck off censors, would you?

Jan 22

Travesty of Justice

Jose Padilla sentenced to 17 years in prison

Jose Padilla, once accused of plotting with al Qaeda to blow up a radioactive “dirty bomb,” was sentenced Tuesday to 17 years and four months on terrorism conspiracy charges that don’t mention those initial allegations.

Padilla, an American citizen, was taken on U.S. soil (with Ashcroft holding a press conference to announce the grab of the dirty bomber), held without charges for 3.5 years,1 in solitary confinement, denied access to an attorney, and tortured.2 I’ve mentioned this before.

Without even going to the elements of what appears on the surface to be a Thought Crime more than an actual crime, there is no conceivable way by which this trial could be imagined to have been fair or Padilla’s civil rights upheld. Any one of the elements above would be sufficient in a system still beholden to the rule of law to create a mistrial; taken together the are a nightmare of coercion, duress, and authoritarianism.

This verdict is a black eye on the Department of Justice, the prosecuting attorneys who did not resign rather than try this case, the judge, the judicial system, the media, the Bush administration, and America.

Just fucking embarrassing.

I’m sure my shame and anger will comfort the now-physically and mentally broken Padilla while he’s in solitary confinement and on suicide watch for the next 17 years.

The Bush administration and the DoJ forwarded an argument in this case, and one that has apparently stood, that the President has the power to declare anyone – even a United States citizen – to be an enemy combatant and outside the jurisdiction of our system of laws. Again, I’ve talked about this before. Gentle reader, from the results of this case, you too could be deemed an enemy combatant. At any time. In any place.

I hope you like Uzbekistan. Or at least windowless rooms in hot climates. I also hope you aren’t too attached to your fingernails, skull, or skin.

Note: unlike John Cole, I don’t think this sentence is a rebuke to the Bush government. To reach that stage, you first have to accept the Bush-DoJ interpretation of enemy combatant and that this was a fair trial. A real rebuke would have dismissed the case. This is just mealy halfassed reasonableness by the judge.

1. Remember, the Bush DoJ held Padilla for more than 2 years in a Navy brig in order to keep him from the reach of US courts.

2. The tapes of Padilla’s interrogations have, naturally, vanished and could not be produced at his trial. Convenient, no?

Jan 22

A New Role for the Fed

The Fed, a secretive, unelected, group in the best of times has two goals to meet via their implementation of fiscal policy: one, keep unemployment low; and two, keep inflation under control. Where there’s ever been a conflict between 1 & 2, they’ve always, always picked inflation control over job growth.

Well, after this morning’s emergency session, and we have confirmation of a new third role for the Fed – they’re also Wall Street’s Bitch.

The Federal Open Market Committee has decided to lower its target for the federal funds rate 75 basis points to 3-1/2 percent.

The Committee took this action in view of a weakening of the economic outlook and increasing downside risks to growth. While strains in short-term funding markets have eased somewhat, broader financial market conditions have continued to deteriorate and credit has tightened further for some businesses and households. Moreover, incoming information indicates a deepening of the housing contraction as well as some softening in labor markets.

Oh, there had been hints before about the Fed pulling out the patent leather and gags any time their daddy fund managers came a’knockin, but today’s out-of-the-blue rate drop ices that cake. Or creams that banana. Or rims that job. Wev.

Now, given my current employment and market positioning, this is all good news for me, but I’m worried about what it means for the country. Because now we have a (quasi, but for all intents and purposes) governmental body making policy based on the whims of a tiny numbers of private corporations and individuals.

Then again, this is the third Gilded Age and a similar (though inverse) relationship has existed before, so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised.

Jan 17

The GOP Work Ethic

Lucky duckies working longer hours and having two jobs == FANtastic! (now stay away from my inheritance the death tax!)

I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We’re the workingest state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs.

To me, the statement is an indictment on our country and current way of life. How is it that we can live in the wealthiest, most advanced1, bestest country in the world… and our people have to work harder and longer than any other developed nation just to scrape by? We’ve got more than we need of food, toys, things, and space. Why is it that our society is like this?2

But I didn’t say that. Michelle Bachmann did.

Who is she? Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), a bosom buddy of Bush the lesser and a christianist of the strongest sort. She graduated from a nonaccredited law school (and still got a job being an attorney for the IRS) that was an adjunct of Oral Roberts university (gee, that situation sure sounds familiar) and her stances are strongest when they are anti-gay, anti-choice, and anti-separation of church and state.

But it’s not like her statement is out of the norm for for her social circle. Just ask “never had to work a day in my life” Bush!

GEORGE W. BUSH: Good. Okay, Mary, tell us about yourself.

MS. MORNIN: Okay, I’m a divorced, single mother with three grown, adult children. I have one child, Robbie, who is mentally challenged, and I have two daughters.

MS. MORNIN: That’s good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute.

GEORGE W. BUSH: You work three jobs?

MS. MORNIN: Three jobs, yes.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic that you’re doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)

MS. MORNIN: Not much. Not much.

You know, when he said “Uniquely American,” I think he meant that it was something we should be proud of. What a moron.

On a political note: why on earth do the poor or middle class ever vote Republican? 3 GOP has none of your interests at heart. None! Seriously, the GOP are the Whigs of the 21st century. It’s just embarassing.

1. Depending on your definition. I’m going with the “meaningless cliche” one here, since I can’t really pick out any area besides defense spending where we don’t at least have a near peer.

2. Yeah, yeah, I’ve read Weber. And I’ve already discussed the new Gilded Age in depth. No, seriously. The question was rhetorical this time.

3. We all know it’s about race of course, but I like to believe in the, you know, rational world, not the I-hate-you-for-no-fact-based-reason one.

Jan 16

Ayatollah Huckabeenie

Mike Huckabee in Michigan two days ago

I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that’s what we need to do — to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.

This, ladies and gents, is the true voice of the base of the current GOP. Ye reap what ye sow, piggies.

One question: which god are we talking about here? The petulant spoiled brat of the first half of the book or the dirty fucking hippie of the second? Actually, which gawdly book are we talking about? I want the one with the free slurpees and fields of bubble wrap to roll around in.

Update: It looks like the Ayatollah is advocating some very-Jesus friendly sodomy-type activity

You don’t like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag,” the former governor of Arkansas told a crowd in Myrtle Beach, where he was campaigning in advance of the state’s Republican primary on Saturday. “In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we’d tell them what to do with the pole, that’s what we’d do.

I’m pretty sure that shoving objects in body cavities isn’t in either halves of the christ gawd book. On the other hand, a lot of people who read those do seem to unduly obsess themselves over controlling other people’s poles.

Jan 07

The End of the Clinton Candidacy

The problem, you see, is that she’s a woman

How voters interpret Sen. Hillary Clinton’s composure – emotional, cold or just plain tough -could be a deciding factor in her campaign for the presidency, political analysts told ABCNEWS.com.

Earlier today at a campaign event in New Hampshire, Clinton’s voice broke and her eyes welled up with tears as she spoke to 16 undecided voters about her passion for the election as well as for the country.

You see, she can’t win. If she’s strong and businesslike, then she’s a frigid bitch. If she’s actually emotional, then she’s a crazy bitch (you know how wimmin are!). The Cligina never stood a chance. I give it about -30 minutes before one of the denizens of right blogistan declares that the display of emotion was a calculated move.

For a man, this would be OK (and a classic example of leveraging dominant stereotypes against type to your benefit) because he would be showing his compassion. For a woman in our narrative, there’s no benefit in either direction (see also: how the media treats those who were right about Iraq).

It’s a sad, sad state of affairs and an embarrassment for our country that our sexism and misogyny is so ingrained that this is our level of discourse. Jesus fuck, even Pakistan has had a female Prime Minister (sure she’s dead now and was a corrupt nepotist when alive, but she still had two X chromosomes. Reportedly. I haven’t checked).1

It’s not like I have any love for Clinton or a desire for her to be president – she’s a warmongering centrist carpetbagger with little to offer over the status quo, but I dislike and ridicule her her on policy, not gender, grounds (just in the past couple of days, she’s baselessly called Obama weak on choice and fearmongered with the best of the Busheviks)

Also, fuck you, Edwards.

“I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business,” Edwards told reporters Laconia, New Hampshire.

While anything can be a political, there are far, far classier ways to address this issue. You know, like ones where you don’t come across as callous and sexist. Like, oh, how Obama handled it.

“I didn’t see what happened,” he said, but added, “I know this process is a grind. So that’s not something I care to comment on.”

Score one for wooooo!bama

* Unless it’s not the end and only the beginning. What do you think I am, a pundit?

Side note: “Jesus fuck” is my new favorite expression of exasperation

Jan 06

Proud to be an Amurrikan!

where at least I know my GDPeeeeeeeee

For the first time in more than 100 years, British living standards have risen above those of Americans, a report has declared.

Increasing incomes, longer holidays and “free” healthcare have all contributed to making Britons better off than our friends across the Atlantic, according to the respected Oxford Economics consultancy.

Can we have that talk about socialized medicine v. free market health care discussion again now? How about that “Republicans are good for the economy” one?

Jan 05

Fear of a Barack Planet

Given how the dog whistles have already begun (1, 2, 3, 4) and in preparation from November’s massive hate-n-bigotry fest that’s going to come from the right in November1, I just wanted to get ahead of the curve on this one.

Fear of a Barack Planet

By the way, this one is (tm, me), bitches. Y’all betta reckognize!

Speaking of dog whistles, Barack uses his own in that his cadences, sometimes accent and pronunciation, and some phrase usage are all in the manner of black preachers and evocative of the civil rights movement. So while he doesn’t appeal to race directly, I believe his presentation is meant to do so to those listening for such signals. This is no different than Bush’s longstanding code language for the anti-choice radical right either, I just wanted to note that such language usage exists for multiple purposes.

1. It’s going to be a hatred and bigotry fest no matter who the Dem candidate is, of course. Fear and hatred is the only way the right knows how to operate. The most obvious form is going to be racism, but that’s just one of their legion ways of getting their ragegasm on.

Sep 30

We are a Rogue Nation

I haven’t blogged in a long while for a confluence of reasons, primarily work-related. However, I’m also disheartened, sickened, and at a loss as to what we, the People, can do to reclaim our nation from the bloodthirsty authoritarian junta that has destroyed the America I know and love.

So far… I’ve got nothin’.

Absent large scale collective action we, the People, have lost any voice in the direction of our country. Even “our” side is absolutely worthless – the Democrats have done nothing but further the imperialist, disgusting, nation-destroying agenda of the Republican administration. They’ve backed down from every fight, they’ve condemned MoveOn.org, they’ve continued unrestricted funding for our adventure in Iraq all for no purpose. A huge majority in this country is on the side they are supposed to be representing, and they’ve abandoned us. Whether because of cowardice, cooption, or political calculation that the lefties aren’t going to vote GOP so they should take votes from the right (which isn’t going to happen). Let me rephrase, whehter because of cowardice, cooption, or stupidity is of no matter to me. The Democrats have failed we, the People, and we have no one left to turn to except each other. And we cannot collectivize – They own the government, They own the media, and They have the money.

It’s depressing and it makes me spitting mad.

Now, the latest from the megalomaniacal Cheney administration is ramping up to attack Iran. He’s wanted to do this for a long time (he’s so delusional, I would not be surprised if he was suffering from late-term syphillitic corruption), but the military brass was against it sufficiently to make it only a low-likelihood option, though real nonetheless. In the past couple weeks, things have changed: the Lieberman-Kyl amendment (to which Hilary fucking Clinton voted aye) is the equivalent of the Iraq war resolution on Iran passed last week. Then a Senate resolution designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization passed. And now, today, Sy Hersh reveals that the Navy brass (in particular) is on board, the strategy has changed from ‘invade’ to ‘surgical strikes’, and the PR campaign is ramping up.

This summer, the White House, pushed by the office of Vice-President Dick Cheney, requested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff redraw long-standing plans for a possible attack on Iran, according to former officials and government consultants. The focus of the plans had been a broad bombing attack, with targets including Iran’s known and suspected nuclear facilities and other military and infrastructure sites. Now the emphasis is on “surgical” strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere, which, the Administration claims, have been the source of attacks on Americans in Iraq. What had been presented primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism.

Make no mistake, we attack Iran and we are fucked. Our troops in Iraq will be waging Khe Sanh on a nationwide scale, isolated, alone, and attacked in a fashion that is going to chew up our military. Dien Bien Phu will look like a logistical success compared to the meatgrinder our troops are going to be in. Plus, Iran has far more power globally than Iraq did. If we attack them unprovoked, expect them to bring the war here (I’m sure the irony will be lost, yet again, on the Caligulistas in charge). The attacks here will remove all vestiges of the Constitution to which we still cling and we will be living in an outright police state. Less safe and more warlike with every passing day.

I used to think we had about 50 years until the end of the American hegemony, maybe 70. The signs of our collapse were there from the time of Nixon, but it was a slow decline. I would like to thank the Cheney administration for acting as the catalyst that has reduced that number to approximately 0. Their foreign policy combined with their fiscal policy has already put us past the point of no return in terms of our dominance. We’re approximately a hairsbreadth away from cementing the timeline as “yesterday.”

There is no suffering sufficient for what the members of the Cheney administration deserve. There is no forgiveness for any of us either. I hope I meet Cheney in hell so I can pull him further down his impaling stake. It still would not be enough.

Jul 28

Not the America I know, pt. 467

Cop goes apeshit over upside down flag, assaults citizens

The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office arrested activists Mark and Deborah Kuhn in West Asheville Wednesday morning after a complaint that the couple was desecrating an American flag. They say a deputy invaded their home and used excessive force.

If you think this is an isolated example of this behavior, I’ve got a nice bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.