The Watering Hole; Friday March 28 2014; Outrage

Courtesy of online dictionary, a partial definition:

out-rage:
noun
1. an act of wanton cruelty or violence; any gross violation of law or decency.
2. anything that strongly offends, insults, or affronts the feelings.
3. a powerful feeling of resentment or anger aroused by something perceived as an injury, insult, or injustice: Outrage seized the entire nation at the news of the attempted assassination.

That pretty much summarizes my opinion of each and every one of the policies which have come to define today’s Republican Party, aka the GOP aka the Tea Party aka the AFP (American Fascist Party). In brief summary, this is the American political party that does not give a tinker’s dam about ANYTHING that has ANYTHING to do with ANYTHING other than money and power. They care nothing for culture, for civilization, for we the people, for education, for science, for the environment, for wildlife, for _______ (fill in the blank with ANY word other than money, or power, and save me however many thousands of pages it would take to list everything in the universe that’s hated or dismissed as insignificant by Republicans).

While y’all are doing that, I’ll post here an account of the latest atrocity that’s causing my blood to boil. It’s brief, summarized in a few short paragraphs describing outrageous actions by Republicans in the state of Idaho, courtesy of the Center for Biodiversity. It reads (highlights their own):

Idaho’s official policy is that “wolf recovery efforts be discontinued immediately, and wolves be removed by whatever means necessary.” The state has already killed more than 300 wolves and now plans to ramp up the massacre, slaughtering another 500.

Idaho’s legislature created a new “Wolf Control Board” just days ago — made up of hunters and ranchers and funded with $400,000 of taxpayer money — to shoot, trap and gas the state’s last remaining wolves.

Though Idaho’s wolf population has plummeted by 42 percent since federal protection was stripped away, the state — left in charge of wolf “management” — wants to kill another 500 of these ecologically precious predators. That will drive their population down to an unsustainable level of just 150.

There is, of course, zero logical reason for such stupid and ridiculous wildlife policy other than the all-too-typical (and common) Republican hatred of virtually everything other than themselves, and the money and power they spend their respective lifetimes cultivating.

The next step, the only chance remaining for Idaho wolves, will be if the US Fish and Wildife “Service” should ultimately decide to follow the science (rather than the hatred) and restore the endangered species tag to wolves in the lower 48. Sounds like the obviously logical choice to be made, but then when Republicans have any input at all on most anything at all, the concept of ‘obviously logical’ goes flying out the window. Every freakin’ time.

OK, rant over. Hopefully the embedded message — that the Republican “philosophy” of death to everything and everyone but the rich and powerful is the absolutely WORST government option that this country could ever choose. Sadly, pretty close to fifty percent of the apparent electorate supports and even votes for such dirt. Wish I had available the means to make the needed repairs, but it’s probably far more simple to train a colony of sewer roaches to dress for dinner than it is to convince half the population that they’re voting only for their own destruction.

OPEN THREAD; ANY and ALL ANTI-GOP RANTS WELCOME!

The Watering Hole; Thursday October 17, 2013; “Democracy Under Assault”

In a recent Op-Ed on Truthout.org concerning the GOP-Tea Party economic agenda, longtime Professor of Economics Richard Wolff made note of an obvious and history-verified truism, that “Many Germans in the years before 1933 dismissed the little man with the mustache: He could never take power, let alone keep it.” They were, of course, woefully mistaken, and millions from around the world died in result. Are we about to find ourselves on that same cliff edge? True, we don’t seem to have, at least at this point in time, any little man with the mustache, but we surely do have far too many who appear to think much as he did. They call themselves the Tea Party, and to at least the casual eye they do indeed have a very similar agenda embedded within the shallowness of their self-imposed political and religious fanaticism, one that reads something like . . .

“An evil exists that threatens every man, woman, and child of this great nation. We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland.” (1)

It May Be Hard to Believe, But GOP Will Become Even More Extreme, Respected Political Forecasters Say.  So reads the title of an article written by Stephen Rosenfeld in which he discusses the conclusions reached by Stan Greenberg, James Carville and Erica Seifert in their recent analysis of a series of focus groups from three red states. Rosenfeld summarizes their findings by noting that the resulting “Democracy Corps report is an illuminating profile of the GOP’s three main factions: the Tea Partiers leading today’s brinkmanship, the evangelicals lining up behind them, and overlooked but still significant moderates. At the front of this stampede are right-wingers who believe they are fighting for political survival in an era where white-run America is vanishing and they’ve lost the culture war.” He also remarks with no equivocation that the “analysis portends that the Tea Partiers and Evangelicals, comprising more than half of the party, will ramp up the rhetoric, accuse Obama of tyranny and possibly even pursue impeachment.

On the broadest scale, it doesn’t require a lot of imagination to grasp the fact that the Tea Party’s Evangelical faction is a major driving force behind much of today’s GOP intransigence; attitudes can be contagious, after all, especially when goals are so simple to define. Their primary operating premise seems to be, simply stated, that the government should, and in fact must, accept that

“. . . its first and foremost duty [is] to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life.” (2)  [underscore added for emphasis]

Amanda Marcotte carries the Evangelical intransigent attitude thesis forward in her essay entitled, Four Reasons Right-Wing Christians Salivate for the End times.  She begins by noting that “While there’s much about the Christian right that’s difficult for the rest of us to understand, the preoccupation with the ‘end times’ is close to the top of the list.” She points out that Three out of four evangelicals believe Christ will return soon. This is, of course, mostly wishful thinking—they believe they’re seeing the end of the world because they want to see the end of the world. Why . . . ?”   According to Marcotte, their Four Reasons are:

1. They don’t think they’ll be around for the worst of it.
2. The end of the world would mean they get to have the last word.
3. It provides a distraction from and an excuse to avoid the real problems in the world.
4. They want to see the non-believers punished and themselves instated as the rightful rulers of all mankind.

After a brief analysis of each point, she posits that their “eagerness to see the non-believers punished is so strong in the Christian right that many are unwilling to wait until the so-called “Tribulation” described in the Left Behind books, and to a lesser degree the Bible, is upon us. That’s why, after any great tragedy, there is a rush of eager-beaver pastors willing to say this is what people have coming for being sinners . . .”

“If . . . we are decent, industrious, and honest, if we so loyally and truly fulfill our duty, then it is my conviction that in the future as in the past the Lord God will always help us.” (3)

“Democracy Under Assault”  is the title of a book (published in September of 2004 and summarized here) by author Michele Swenson. Its subtitle reads, “Theopolitics, Incivility and Violence on the Right.” The book is based on the not-so-elusive thesis that theology-based politics invariably see  Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and in so doing, disavow/dismiss science entirely — especially the science which underlies and defines evolution, environmentalism, the thesis that intelligent life may exist elsewhere in the universe than on the Earth — or, for that matter, any other ‘inconvenient’ (read: anti-Christian) science-based premise. Interesting that the book is every bit (if not more) ‘current’ today than it was upon its publication nine years ago; that fact tells a rather gruesome tale, it would seem.

A pair of 2006 reviews of the book on Amazon.com vividly demonstrate the intellectual divide that continues to run rampant in this country. A five-star review proclaims the book to be . . .

“An in-depth examination of the war against pluralistic democracy waged by an unholy alliance of religious nationalists, the hard-core gun lobby, corporate plutocrats and anti-tax, anti-government activists. The book describes the fractured church-state divide, assaults on the independent judiciary, resurrected nineteenth-century science and socioeconomic Darwinism, as well as the revisionist history marking the U.S. rightward political turn.”

And then there’s this one, a one-star review:

“This book saddened me to the depths….I finally had to discard it. I love my country and am heavy-hearted to read such hatred toward people of faith.”

In summary, who knows but what many might one day soon agree that the Tea Party and other factions defined as extreme right do indeed see themselves as convincing evidence that

“It makes no difference whatever whether they laugh at us or revile us, whether they represent us as clowns or criminals; the main thing is that they mention us, that they concern themselves with us again and again, and that we gradually in the eyes of the workers themselves appear to be the only power that anyone reckons with at the moment.” (4)

The last nearly three weeks of government shutdown — along with, of course, the technique of holding the nation’s economic future hostage (simply as an attempt to force the hand of those in government who actually understand they serve ALL of ‘We the people’ rather than just the Evangelical and Neofascist factions) — demonstrate with no hesitation that the United States finds itself, this day, in serious and perhaps even ultimately fatal trouble. Stated another way,

“The greatness of every mighty organization embodying an idea in this world lies in the religious fanaticism and intolerance with which, fanatically convinced of its own right, it intolerantly imposes its will against all others.” (5)

Time will tell.

Oh, and by the way, I purposely left the quotes numbered 1-5 above unattributed when presented in order to make perhaps a larger case, to ultimately offer a broadened summation, as it were, of the “Democracy Under Assault” thesis. In that vein, suffice to say that each and all are the verbatim words of one person only. And no, that person is not Pat Robertson, not Jerry Falwell, it’s not even Rafael “Ted” Cruz or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin. Nope. The words belong solely to that “little man with the mustache,” Adolf Hitler. Political fanaticism, stoked by religious fanaticism, is apparently a permanently-recurring human condition/affliction, one that is currently underway in the United States courtesy of the melding of the Evangelical biblical literalists with the Fascist contingent of the GOP, those far right fanatics that proudly call themselves the Tea Party. Thus, the history of power acquisition via fear, via greed, is in the process of repeating once again. Here. Here where the attitude of the masses remains the traditional, where the process of “Democracy Under Assault” by political radicals and religious fanatics is by and large “dismissed” by we the people on the basis that they “could never take power, let alone keep it.”

And lest we forget or choose to ignore, here stands a rather vivid statement of method, words which will, with luck, serve to remind:

“(T)he determined gangster is always in a position to make political activity and efforts impossible for decent people. In the name of law and order, the state authority gives in to the gangster and requests the others please not to provoke him.  –Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf   [underscore added for emphasis]

Or, as above-noted Economics Professor Richard Wolff put it,

“The Republican-Tea Party alliance operates a weapon of mass deflection, protecting capitalism from criticism. Sadly, the Democrats neither expose nor attack the Republican project.[underscore added for emphasis]

For further information on the undercurrents which predict and precurse the evolution of democracy to fascism, see: Actung, sie verlassen JETZT den Americanischen Sektor.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Friday January 4, 2013; “ACHTUNG, SIE VERLASSEN den AMERIKANISCHEN SEKTOR”

I know I’m not alone when it comes to having a deep and abiding concern that major factions in the United States are doggedly pursuing the imposition of a form of government which is classically defined (see: Robert Paxton) as “a system of political authority and social order intended to reinforce the unity, energy, and purity of communities in which liberal democracy stands accused of producing division and decline,” i.e. Fascism. Since the advent of modern “conservative” thought and politics in this country, the slope of decline has been tilted downhill, and moreso than ever before beginning with the “election” of George W. Bush in 2000, followed by the electoral ascendency of the so-called Tea Party in 2010.

And now, as I ponder this notion of fascism slowly tightening its grip on our otherwise “We the people” form of a Constitutional Democratic Republic, for some reason or other I invariably begin to recall phrases written in, of all things, German. Like this one, for example, the words on a post-war sign at divided Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate; the sign read:

ACHTUNG, SIE VERLASSEN den AMERIKANISCHEN SEKTOR.
(Attention, you are leaving the American Sector.)

Germany was, at the time, a country divided and ‘managed’, resp., by the victors in the Second World War, i.e. the US, France, Britain, and the USSR. German fascism had been terminated by the allies, and from the ashes of war a new and democratic nation was emerging in West Germany, one which lay alongside but still quite apart from the communist state — the Soviet sector — in the East. The city of Berlin was itself entirely within the boundaries of East Germany, but West Berlin (British, French, and American sectors) was on full display as a veritable island of democratic prosperity within the otherwise bleak totalitarian state.

Fascism, however, was dead. The allied victory assured it. Well, sort of . . .  save for an apparent embedded tendency of governments in locales all around the globe to gradually succumb to those power and greed-based interests which are invariably common to political “right wing” styles of governance, a reality from which the United States has, sadly and clearly, not been exempted.

In August, 2009, Sara Robinson posted an essay on Firedoglake entitled, FASCIST AMERICA: ARE WE THERE YET? In it she writes:

It’s so easy right now to look at the melee on the right and discount it as pure political theater of the most absurdly ridiculous kind. It’s a freaking puppet show. These people can’t be serious. Sure, they’re angry — but they’re also a minority, out of power and reduced to throwing tantrums. Grown-ups need to worry about them about as much as you’d worry about a furious five-year-old threatening to hold her breath until she turned blue.

Unfortunately, all the noise and bluster actually obscures the danger. These people are as serious as a lynch mob, and have already taken the first steps toward becoming one. And they’re going to walk taller and louder and prouder now that their bumbling efforts at civil disobedience are being committed with the full sanction and support of the country’s most powerful people, who are cynically using them in a last-ditch effort to save their own places of profit and prestige.

We’ve arrived. We are now parked on the exact spot where our best experts tell us full-blown fascism is born. Every day that the conservatives in Congress, the right-wing talking heads, and their noisy minions are allowed to hold up our ability to govern the country is another day we’re slowly creeping across the final line beyond which, history tells us, no country has ever been able to return.

Ms Robinson notes that she “relied on the work of historian Robert Paxton, who is probably the world’s pre-eminent scholar on the subject of how countries turn fascist.” Paxton authored, in 1998, a lengthy and very detailed essay that was published in The Journal of Modern History in which he very precisely defined fascism and described the conditions which predict and precurse the evolution of a fascist state. Robinson quotes Paxton and by so doing effectively summarizes his fundamental thesis:

Fascism only grows in the disturbed soil of a mature democracy in crisis. . . .

From . . . the Rapture-ready religious right to the white nationalism promoted by the GOP through various gradients of racist groups, it’s easy to trace how American proto-fascism offered redemption from the upheavals of the 1960s by promising to restore the innocence of a traditional, white, Christian, male-dominated America. This vision has been so thoroughly embraced that the entire Republican party now openly defines itself along these lines. At this late stage, it’s blatantly racist, sexist, repressed, exclusionary, and permanently addicted to the politics of fear and rage. Worse: it doesn’t have a moment’s shame about any of it. No apologies, to anyone. These same narrative threads have woven their way through every fascist movement in history.

I can find no argument to counter the very real prognosis that the Constitutional Democratic Republic, America, in which many around the world have found solace and hope for nearly 250 years is teetering on the brink — not the brink of today’s oft-cited “fiscal cliff,” but one which is far more serious, far more dangerous: the Fascist cliff. And once we fall, the chances of return to what ‘We the people’ have long considered to be reality will automatically disappear; our fate will be sealed. I propose that a sign be posted on the Fascist Cliff’s most visible edge, a sign that reads:

ACHTUNG, SIE VERLASSEN JETZT den AMERIKANISCHEN SEKTOR!

Attention: You Are Leaving NOW the American Sector!

When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.  ~Sinclair Lewis, 1935

When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. ~Sinclair Lewis, 1935

This is today’s open thread. Speak your mind!

The Death of a Nation (a retrospective on the W. Bush era, Part 10: END PAPERS)

The George W. Bush presidency ended on January 20, 2009 with the inauguration of the 44th American President, Barack H. Obama. Hope sprang eternal that times had finally changed, that the American electorate had finally awakened from the fog of its deep sleep, that a new era had indeed finally dawned. Unfortunately, such was not to prove the case. The Republican Party immediately went on the defensive and vowed, essentially, to use every last shred of their power, their influence, to cause Obama to fail . . . the more miserable the failure, the better. It was an act of national disloyalty, perhaps bordering even on treason, the likes of which no living American had ever seen, much less pondered. And while Obama did manage to implement a few meaningful projects and programs in his first couple of years, the Republicans were, by and large, successful in their opposition.

Then, in 2010, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the Citizens United case and declared, in effect, that corporations were ‘people’ with all attendant rights and privileges. Days later, the final purchase of the government by private funds began in earnest. In November of 2010, the small Democratic majority in the House of Representatives was overturned, and the filibuster-resistant Democratic majority in the Senate was reduced sufficiently to virtually guarantee that no significant legislation could be passed for at least the balance of Obama’s first (and, in the hopeful eyes of the GOP, his ONLY) four year term.

Today, the processes implicit in the Death of a Nation continue to accelerate without pause as we again stand on the edge of an electoral abyss not at all dissimilar to those of 2000 and 2004. The current Romney-Ryan Republican ticket supports without hesitation or critique virtually each and all of the nonsensical policies of George W. Bush, including unlimited aggressive war, the destruction/elimination of every vestige of the social safety net, the eternal task of improving the financial status of the extremely rich at the expense of everyone else, and state level imposition of whichever manner of voter suppression or voter fraud might be required to guarantee for all time an enduring Fascist-theocracy (aka ‘conservative’ Republican) style of American “governance”, the Constitution be damned.

The bottom line is simple: tomorrow — Tuesday, November 6 2012 — we shall learn, finally and for certain, the precise percentage of mental incompetence which has come to define the American  electorate.

Meanwhile, below are a few closing comments alongside a wealth of quotations on the matter of national death and its consequences. From Gandhi to John Denver with plenty of George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler (among numerous others) in between, a summation lurks.

**********

End Papers
(April, 2005)

The United States of America clearly stands on the precipice, on the very edge of a deep and dark chasm in which lie the ruins of those who have come before us, now forever gone.  On previous pages here, we have (barely) skimmed the essences of America’s current dilemma and made some note of current players, agendas, and the realities their combination have so far imposed. Others, too, have watched these same forces at work and have added their comments.  Perhaps a review of a few – in no particular order – can assist in clarifying the moment by looking at opinions, past and present, which have bearing on what has been and what is now, in order to help predict what might yet come our way.  To some, the list may seem long, but they should rest assured it is exhaustingly abbreviated and is by no means complete – yet its words paint a picture, a frightening picture.  Read on, that which others have said; I shall add a brief comment at the end. Continue reading

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

The Watering Hole – Wednesday, 10-27-2010: Hump Day: ROMANS 13

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1)

This verse is the “Christian” underpinnings of Evangelical Capitalism, the neo-evangelical movement sweeping the Teabaggers. When viewed from the vantage point of the poor and working class, it counsels against rebelling against authorities.

But, when viewed from the vantage point of the wealthy, it justifies everything. By being “converted to Christ” a rich man now has the faith to know that he was bestowed his riches and power directly from God. Ergo, his will is God’s will. If a dictator chooses to murder hundreds of thousands of his own citizens, it is made possible because God has given him the power to do so.

When the rich and powerful come to believe they are God’s Chosen on Earth, that they have been “saved” and that man’s law no longer applies to them, we have a defacto theocracy. The Family has been building this theocracy world-wide for the past 80 years or so, using “prayer groups” in the halls of power. Their organizational structure emulates that of the early Nazi party, before it came to power; small groups acting autonomously for a common goal. It is the same organizational structure that terrorist groups like Al Qaeda use.

The Family has had about 80 years to infiltrate the halls of power around the globe. Only now is their influence being seen openly by the masses. That can only mean their grip on power is now fait accompli, they have nothing to fear from the masses because the masses are no longer capable of deposing them. Indeed, this election is a test of their ability to use their power openly to manipulate the masses into giving them even more power, more control, more wealth.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

Reasonable Suspicion v. Probable Cause

REASONABLE SUSPICION

Reasonable suspicion is a term used to describe if a person has been or will be involved in a crime based on specific facts and circumstances. It may be used to justify an investigatory stop. Reasonable suspicion is more than a hunch that a crime has committed but does not require as much evidence as probable cause.

To evaluate reasonable suspicion, the court must decide if a reasonable person or reasonable officer would also infer that a person is involved in a crime were the circumstances the same.

The Supreme Court ruled in Terry V. Ohio that an individual may be stopped and frisked by law enforcement agents based on reasonable suspicion. The court found that this type of detainment (referred to as a Terry Stop) does not violate the Fourth Amendment, which restricts unreasonable search and seizure.

A person may not be arrested based on reasonable suspicion – an arrest is made based on probable cause. However, if probable cause develops during an investigatory stop, the officer may arrest the suspect.

When would an investigatory stop for reasonable suspicion be appropriate?
Continue reading

The Watering Hole: August 1 – A National Day of Grief

On this date in 1988, Rush Limbaugh began his national radio show. Rush suffers from overdoses of Oxycontin.

Also on this date in 1966, Charles Whitman killed 15 people from a tower at the University of Texas in Austin before being killed by police. An autopsy revealed that Whitman suffered from a brain tumor (glioblastoma) that could well have explained his actions.

Frank Schaeffer Author of Crazy for God Tells it Like it is

Wow, I just saw this interview of Frank Schaeffer by DL Hughley and was blown away. Finally somebody tells it like it is. No beating around the bush (no pun intended) and no pulling punches. He states what everybody knows, but is too chicken to say.

We all know who the problem in this country are. I am gald somebody has the courage to say it on national TV.

All I can say is “It’s about time.”

Remember the Anthrax?

biohazardApparently Rep Rush Holt does. He is introducing HR 1248, the Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act of 2009. He plans on this being a 9/11 commission style panel to investigate who sent the Anthrax to top Democratic leaders and left leaning media.

Personally, I hate the term 9/11 commission, because they did such a poor job of investigating 9/11.  But, that is another topic.

Glenn Greenwald has a lot of great information on his web site, plus there is a video of Rep Holt speaking about this on the house floor. So, why does Rep Holt care so much about this? Apparently, the anthrax letters were sent from his district.

I hope this commission does its job and gets to the bottom of why a substance as deadly as anthrax was used to get Democrats to vote in favor of invading Iraq. If you will remember, the anthrax was blamed on Saddam Hussein. This is what led to the aluminum tubes and mushroom cloud statements. This anthrax attack on US soil was the beginning of the entire Iraq debacle.

So, anybody who is concerned that we were lied into Iraq has to look at the fact that the people that saw through the lies and were against the invasion were sent anthrax to get them to comply.

Also, anytime one of these right wingers says there hasn’t been a terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11, remind them of these terrorist attacks that happened after 9/11.

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Don’t miss these articles…

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A number of important articles have been written since the secret legal memos from the Bush Administration were recently released. We have been told there are more memos soon to released that may prove even more disturbing that these, but for now, here are three articles that came out today that need to be read and discussed.

First, by Robert Parry (Consortium News): How Close the Bush Bullet

Second, from Naomi Wolf (Common Dreams): Yoo and The Subversion of Liberty Narrowly Averted

If you haven’t read Naomi Wolf’s book “The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot“, then go out and find yourself a copy. It is a warning for all our citizens—a clarion call. EVERY American should read it and know what to watch for in order to preserve what we as a nation throughout history have fought and died for. She actually created a film based on her book here.

And third, from Marjorie Cohn: Memos Provide Blueprint For Police State

How close did we come to losing our country as we know it? Are we still in danger from what was changed with the knowledge or consent of “We The People”? What is being done now to prevent this from happening again? Will President Obama take the steps necessary to give back the powers grabbed by President Bush and restore this enormous breach of public trust and loss of rights and freedoms under our Constitution?

Continue reading

Talking “bad” about Palin infringes her 1st Amendment rights

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ABC News’ Steven Portnoy reports: In a conservative radio interview that aired in Washington, D.C. Friday morning, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin said she fears her First Amendment rights may be threatened by “attacks” from reporters who suggest she is engaging in a negative campaign against Barack Obama.

Heil Palin

Heil Palin

Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama’s associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks.  Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate’s free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said. “If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

You have got to be kidding me. I realize that it is asking too much that someone running for the second  highest office in the land should have a grasp of what the constitution says.  I realize that it is a god-damnned piece of paper in some Republican’s eyes and is meaningless to those some people.  I, though, am outraged that this stain on American politics can so brazenly distort the Constitution of the United States of America! Ms. Palin, please allow me to provide you a quick civics lesson, ok? You betcha!
This is the text of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Freedom of speech was specifically written into the constitution to allow the press to freely speak out against the government. This right is supposed to maintain the ability of the people to be able to know what its’ government is doing and the press to report it.  Let’s take a closer look.

Continue reading

Naomi Wolf sounds the warning again – louder this time!

In Naomi Wolf’s The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (NY TImes Bestseller), she describes the “ten classic steps dictators or would-be always take when they wish to close down an open society.” Wolf makes abundantly clear that “each of those ten steps is now underway in the United States today. She gives a number of examples in recent history, and talks of the ten steps always seen in a ‘closing’ society as it slides into fascism.

Here is the video of Naomi Wolf speaking on “The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot“.

Naomi Wolf has now come out with a new, and far more urgent book called “Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries“. 

In Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries, Ms. Wolf illustrates the breathtaking changes that can take place when ordinary citizens engage in the democratic system the way the founders intended and tells how to use that system, right now, to change your life, your community, and ultimately, the nation. 

With the events of this last week, especially October 1st, she has a new sense of urgency that she articulates clearly in the following video as she sounds a loud, urgent warning

This video is startling and terrifying. I read her earlier book “The End of America”, and I find her very credible. She is clearly upset and yet totally coherent and focussed on the message she is trying to get across to all Americans.

The following video is of Rep. Brad Sherman  from the 27th District of  California, (that Naomi Wolf referred to in the above video), standing on the floor of Congress saying that some congressmen were threatened with Martial Law if the bailout bill was not passed.

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Bailing on the Bailout

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The following is a comment by John Smith in response to this article on Bush’s Give Us $700 Billion Dollars Unfettered By Any Oversight Whatsoever Wall Street bailout.

Dear Member of Congress:

You are being asked to assign unprecedented powers to an unelected, and unaccountable former Wall Street banker, under the guise of bringing stability to the markets and solvency to our banking system. With one hastily thrown together vote, you are going to create the most powerful human being in world history – Henry Paulson.

This is being done for the purposes of fixing a “crisis” that has suddenly, in the last hour, been presented to Congressional leaders. This act would remove the constitutionally mandated powers of regulation of the money supply, and the value thereof, from Congress and give it to an unelected member of the President’s cabinet. According to the act, this person would be above judicial review, and be allowed a $700,000,000,000 revolving line of credit to print money on behalf of the United States government. That is more power than anyone has ever had – anyone. Caesar did not have this power.

This should sound eerily familiar.

In March of 1933, after the “crisis” of the Reichstag Fire, newly named Chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler, petitioned the German Reichstag to give him plenary powers over the affairs of German government. The Reichstag transferred its power, on an emergency basis, to the Cabinet of Germany for a period of four years, and this was called “The Enabling Act”. This was to deal with the perceived “crisis” of Communists within the German government, when the “crisis” was never fully substantiated. It is believed by most historians that the Reichstag Fire was a deliberate act to coax the Reichstag into giving up its power.

That history did not end well.

You are being goaded into giving Henry Paulson plenary powers over the economy and government spending, money supply, and value of that money. Those powers belong to you, held in trust for the citizens of the United States. Our Founders gave you those powers TO PREVENT THE VERY SCENARIO THAT SECRETARY PAULSON HAS PRESENTED TO YOU.

You are being manipulated.

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Update: Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar Released After Illegal Arrest at RNC

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Democracy Now!

UPDATE

Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar Released After Illegal Arrest at RNC

Goodman Charged with Obstruction; Felony Riot Charges Pending Against Kouddous and Salazar

ST. PAUL–Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar have all been released from police custody in St. Paul following their illegal arrest by Minneapolis Police on Monday afternoon.

All three were violently manhandled by law enforcement officers. Abdel Kouddous was slammed against a wall and the ground, leaving his arms scraped and bloodied. He sustained other injuries to his chest and back. Salazar’s violent arrest by baton-wielding officers, during which she was slammed to the ground while yelling, “I’m Press! Press!,” resulted in her nose bleeding, as well as causing facial pain. Goodman’s arm was violently yanked by police as she was arrested.

On Tuesday, Democracy Now! will broadcast video of these arrests, as well as the broader police action. These will also be available on: www.democracynow.org

Goodman was arrested while questioning police about the unlawful detention of Kouddous and Salazar who were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman’s crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were arrested on suspicion of rioting, a felony. While the three have been released, they all still face charges stemming from their unlawful arrest. Kouddous and Salazar face pending charges of suspicion of felony riot, while Goodman has been officially charged with obstruction of a legal process and interference with a “peace officer.”

Democracy Now! forcefully rejects all of these charges as false and an attempt at intimidation of these journalists. We demand that the charges be immediately and completely dropped.

Democracy Now! stands by Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar and condemns this action by Twin Cities’ law enforcement as a clear violation of the freedom of the press and the First Amendment rights of these journalists.

During the demonstration in which the Democracy Now! team was arrested, law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force against protesters and journalists. Several dozen demonstrators were also arrested during this action, including a photographer for the Associated Press.

Amy Goodman is one of the most well-known and well-respected journalists in the United States. She has received journalism’s top honors for her reporting and has a distinguished reputation of bravery and courage. The arrest of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar and the subsequent criminal charges and threat of charges are a transparent attempt to intimidate journalists.

Democracy Now! is a nationally-syndicated public TV and radio program that airs on over 700 radio and TV stations across the US and the globe.

Video of Amy Goodman’s Arrest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYjyvkR0bGQ

Intensify the nationalism, quick!

If it wasn’t enough to thoroughly trash our country, now they expect us to fix it…by working til we die!

Is retiring early unpatriotic?

If boomers all turn in their keys at age 55, 62 or 65 and head for the Tuscan hills, that great sucking sound you’ll hear is untold amounts of taxpayer dollars being leached from the economy. That is money heirs will have to replace or do without.

It’s an act Yarrow calls “profoundly selfish and unpatriotic.”

You can’t make this shit up! Who would have thought it, its us who are being selfish. They suggest in the article working until you are 75- for your country. 

I also would like to call out a shout to just plain lying to the people. From this statement, emphasis mine.

The debt currently stands at $9.3 trillion and is largely driven by rising Medicare and Social Security costs.

Huh? And I thought is was the war and all the supplemental spending for the war. I guess I am just ignorant.

Here is another gem from this article.

Today, the average life expectancy is 78, and if you make it through your 50s, you’re likely to live into your 80s or beyond.

Cool, I might have 5 years to relax before I die! Won’t be able to do much on my walker, but hey, what does that matter?

So pleas Critters and others, please let me know I am not the only one that thinks this is WAY over the top and ridiculous! There is even more crap if you can stomach the article in it’s entirety.

From Worse to Worser

Here’s today’s collection of craziness from around the Internets.

McCain’s plan for healthcare? Make sure you don’t have any. No healthcare, no problemo, right? Well, you can have it if you can afford to pay for it on your own, because your employer will probably no longer be doing so (if you’re lucky enough to have an employer and you’re further lucky enough that your employer offers it!)

Mark Kleiman and Steve Benen take on McCain’s lack of an economic policy. Of course, McCain’s “plan” will be touted throughout the right-wing blogs and by the talking heads ad nauseum. (Oh, for another “Appeasement” moment! I especially loathe that smug, lying Brad Blakeman on MSNBC’s Verdict.)

Who killed the electric car? Why, GM did. And now, they are planning to cut thousands of white collar jobs and debating whether to sell more of their brands or completely shut down production. Apparently, June saw GM’s sales drop to the lowest in 15 years. Imagine if it that one millionth electric car sold had been a GM instead of a Toyota. Further imagine all the downstream jobs that might have been created in every area of parts, to manufacturing, to distribution. Nah, don’t. It will just make you cry.

Did you see Dana Milbank freak out over the economy?

What about those polls? They suck! First, there’s the pet owners choosing McCain over “petless” Obama because McCain owns pets. And then there is this lunacy: eight out of 10 people say supporting U.S. policies around the world is seen as an act of patriotism, BUT, protesting U.S. policies you oppose is also patriotic, according to two-thirds of those polled. HUH?

Oh, and six in 10 see wearing a pledge flag indicates that a person is patriotic.

McCain continues to play funny with the money.

What’s Homeland Security doing to make flying a further nightmare safer? Well, first, there is the Introduction of “behavior detection” technology at major US airports where you can be arrested if you act in a way that “might distract or inhibit a screener from effectively performing his or her duties.” Oh, and there’s that little added bonus of a $1500.00 fine.

But, wait, there’s more! Travelers, prepare to be tortured!

Now, usually I wouldn’t be one to link to the Washington Times but I cannot recall seeing something as chilling as this:

A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser®. According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers.

This bracelet would:

  • take the place of an airline boarding pass
  • contain personal information about the traveler
  • be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage
  • shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes

The Electronic ID Bracelet, as it’s referred to as, would be worn by every traveler “until they disembark the flight at their destination.” Yes, you read that correctly. Every airline passenger would be tracked by a government-funded GPS, containing personal, private and confidential information, and that it would shock the customer worse than an electronic dog collar if he/she got out of line?

This makes RFID seem like child’s play!

Are you scared yet?

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Heh. I’m getting popcorn…

ThinkProgress:

Over a week ago, Faiz did a post on ThinkProgress about Rove’s attorney saying he would agree to testify in the case of former Alabama Governor Siegelman. At the time, I thought “that ain’t happening,” but I was sure I was wrong since Rove would probably be under subpoena.

MSNBC’s Dan Abrams reported:

ABRAMS: We asked this question to his attorney: Will Karl Rove agree to testify if Congress issues a subpoena to him as part of an investigation into the Siegelman case? The answer we got — “Sure.”

Silly old gullible me…

But now Luskin is saying that Rove won’t testify unless the White House says he can, claiming that MSNBC took his comments “out of context.” Roll Call reports:

MSNBC provided Roll Call with an e-mail exchange with Luskin that the network broadcast in which a producer asked, “Will Karl Rove agree to testify if Congress issues a subpoena to him as part of an investigation into the Siegelman case?”

“Sure,” wrote Luskin, according to the e-mail. “Although it seems to me that the question is somewhat offensive. It assumes he has something to hide.”

But in an interview with Roll Call, Luskin said that his MSNBC comments were taken out of context.

“Whether, when and about what a former White House official will testify … is not for me or my client to decide,” but is part of an ongoing negotiation between the White House and Congress over executive privilege issues, Luskin said.

To paraphrase the Great Jon Stewart:  The only way that comment could be taken out of context, is if I said “Would I be a big giant asshole if I said ‘Sure?’”  Come on…

By the way, assuming Karl Rove has something to hide, is a safe assumption.  I’m not a gambling kind of girl, but I’d put my life’s savings on that one.

Is claiming “Executive Privilege” a little sticky once you don’t work in the White House anymore?  Anyone…?

Chertoff lays a big one

Peter Swire, a guest blogger on ThinkProgress has written a post about Michael Chertoff’s denial that fingerprints are not “personal data.”

Wow. Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, used to be a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals AND was an assistant U.S. Attorney General. I thought you had to know stuff have jobs like that?

Recently, Chertoff was in Canada discussing the so-called “Server in the Sky” program, which would share iris, palm and fingerprint information between the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. Scary business all by itself, check out the link.

In a recent briefing with Canadian press (which has yet to be picked up in the U.S.), Chertoff made the startling statement that fingerprints are “not particularly private”:

QUESTION: Some are raising that the privacy aspects of this thing, you know, sharing of that kind of data, very personal data, among four countries is quite a scary thing.

SECRETARY CHERTOFF: Well, first of all, a fingerprint is hardly personal data because you leave it on glasses and silverware and articles all over the world, they’re like footprints. They’re not particularly private.

You know what?  This is not a mistake for someone like Chertoff (see his job history, above), this is a blatant lie.  He knows very well that fingerprints are personal data.  His own Department of Homeland Security disagrees with him:

In its definition of “personally identifiable information” — the information that triggers a Privacy Impact Assessment when used by government — the Department specifically lists: “biometric identifiers (e.g., fingerprints).”

But let’s not let truth or facts get in the way of what we want, right Mr Chertoff?

Here’s why fingerprints and other personal data are “extremely personal data.”

A quick web search on “fake fingerprints” turns up cheap and easy methods for do-it-at-home fake fingerprints. As discussed by noted security expert Bruce Schneier, one technique is available for under $10. It was tried “against eleven commercially available fingerprint biometric systems, and was able to reliably fool all of them.” Secretary Chertoff either doesn’t know about these clear results or chooses to ignore them. He said in Canada: “It’s very difficult to fake a fingerprint.”

Monte, I’ll take the box marked “chooses to ignore.”  It makes one wonder if the DHS has been treating our “extremely personal data” in such an off-hand manner all along, eh?

White House destroyed computer hard drives

ThinkProgress

The AP reports that yesterday in federal court, the White House disclosed that older “computer hard drives have been destroyed,” the latest revelation in the controversy surrounding missing White House e-mails from 2003-2005.

This news should hardly surprise any of us, since this administration does exactly what it pleases, when it pleases — law be damned — but this really makes me angry.

From the AP article on Yahoo:

The White House revealed new information about how it handles its computers in an effort to persuade a federal magistrate it would be fruitless to undertake an e-mail recovery plan that the court proposed.

“When workstations are at the end of their lifecycle and retired … the hard drives are generally sent offsite to another government entity for physical destruction,” the White House said in a sworn declaration filed with U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola.

Oh yeah, just your everyday disposal of computer hard drives — except it’s the WHITE HOUSE, and they know they’re supposed to keep frickin’ EVERYTHING. But they don’t want to keep everything, because this administration is more crooked than any we’ve ever had before, so they simply do not.

[U.S. Magistrate Judge] Facciola proposed the drastic approach of going to individual workstations of White House computer users after the White House disclosed in January that it recycled its computer backup tapes before October 2003. Recycling — taping over existing data — raises the possibility that any missing e-mails may not be recoverable.

But the Bush administration didn’t simply tape over existing data — OOPS!! — they sent the hard drives outside the White House to be DESTROYED. This behavior is an acknowledgment of guilt, and it’s covering up crimes we probably don’t even have a clue about yet.

At a House committee hearing last month, a computer expert who previously worked at the White House called the e-mail system “primitive” and said it was set up in a way that created a high risk that data would be lost from White House servers where it was being archived.

Under pressure to provide details about its computer system, the White House told the congressional committee that it never completed work that began in 2003 on a planned records management and e-mail archiving system. The White House canceled the project in late 2006 and says it is still working on a new version.

Of course Bush’s email and archiving systems are “primitive” and at high risk of losing data! It’s their stated intention (see the Bush Presidential Lie-berry) to be secretive about EVERYTHING. Bush has been in office for over seven years, and they’re still “working” on an email archiving system? Give me a break!

Wake up, America!!

It would be costly and time-consuming for the White House to institute an e-mail retrieval program that entails pulling data off each individual workstation, the court papers filed Friday state.

Damn right, it would be expensive — and worth every single penny. Get started. Now.

IMPEACH NOW.

Intelligence czar hypes terror threats on Super Tuesday

via: Raw Story

(Update: CIA director publicly confirms waterboarding)

As voters flock to the polls in twenty-four states this Super Tuesday, the Director of National Intelligence and outside groups issued stark warnings about the dangers faced by America and the international community from terrorists.

Oh, here we go again… And, oh so timely…

“Al-Qaeda is improving the last key aspect of its ability to attack the US- the identification, training, and positioning of operatives for an attack in the Homeland [my emphasis],” warned the US intelligence community in an annual threat assessment.

Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, went to Capitol Hill and presented the threat assessment to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He described an influx of “western recruits” into Pakistan’s tribal area, suggesting that such operatives would attack targets in the United States.

The Homeland….the Homeland…, where have I heard that before…?

At the same hearing, CIA Director Michael Hayden publicly confirmed for the first time the names of three suspected al-Qaida terrorists who were subjected to a particularly harsh interrogation technique known as waterboarding, and why.

Read entire article…

Back to “the Homeland”…

(If you haven’t read the following article by Thom Hartmann, you should read it. It is really good.)

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Huckabee Would Amend Constitution to be in”God’s Standards.”

The Raw Story:

The United States Constitution never uses the word “God” or makes mention of any religion, drawing its sole authority from “We the People.” However, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee thinks it’s time to put an end to that.

“I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution,” Huckabee told a Michigan audience on Monday. “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.”

Wow. I mean….wow. Apparently Huck has never cracked a History or Civics book. Um, thanks for making it easier for your opponents…? Keep talking, Huck!

Go here to view the video.

I wondered how long this would take..

via: Raw Story

US drafting plan to allow government access to any email or Web search

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell is drawing up plans for cyberspace spying that would make the current debate on warrantless wiretaps look like a “walk in the park,”[my emphasis] according to an interview published in the New Yorker‘s print edition today.

Debate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act “will be a walk in the park compared to this,” McConnell said. “this is going to be a goat rope on the Hill. My prediction is that we’re going to screw around with this until something horrendous happens.”

The article, which profiles the 65-year-old former admiral appointed by President George W. Bush in January 2007 to oversee all of America’s intelligence agencies, was not published on the New Yorker‘s Web site. (It can be read here in pdf).

McConnell is developing a Cyber-Security Policy, still in the draft stage, which will closely police Internet activity.

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I wonder how this will affect blogging and YouTube?

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Hello from Europe – 419 Days to Go

Is there anything that gets one sailing through the day on a cloud, like belcanto with the divine voice of the unforgotten Luciano Pavarotti? No? Then let’s start the news round-up with “Torna a Surriento”

Here’s the link

You find today’s news round-up below the fold – and there’s even “sex” on the menu. Continue reading