If We Keep Wetting Our Pants, the Terrorists Win

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Comments: (1)

Skippy has been doing some great updates on the MIT student who was nearly killed for wearing a name tag at Logan Airport. Star Simpson made the appalling error of being geeky while picking up a friend at the airport. Aside from nearly being shot for wearing jewelry, she now faces a potential five year prison sentence. Meanwhile, that bastion of geekdom, MIT, has pretty much hung her out to dry.

For my money the most salient point was made by Brandom Keim of Wired Science.

Are you fucking kidding me?

What happened is so grossly wrong on so many levels that I hardly know where to begin. Since when did a circuit board on a sweatshirt look like a bomb? Since when did suicide bombers walk around with bombs on the outside of their clothing? If the people in charge of protecting us are stupid enough to think this, how hard would it be for real bombers to fool them?

Exactly. Six years after 9/11 and we're still using methods that might possibly protect us from terrorism on Bizarro World.

Meanwhile, even Thomas Friedman has figured out that our post-9/11 mindset is destroying the country.

What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.

It is not that I thought we had new enemies that day and now I don’t. Yes, in the wake of 9/11, we need new precautions, new barriers. But we also need our old habits and sense of openness. For me, the candidate of 9/12 is the one who will not only understand who our enemies are, but who we are.

Before 9/11, the world thought America’s slogan was: “Where anything is possible for anybody.” But that is not our global brand anymore. Our government has been exporting fear, not hope: “Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.”

The flatearther has also noticed that amidst all our insanity and fucked up priorities, our entire infrastructure is falling apart. Pay attention folks. We're gonna need geeks like Star Simpson if we're going to rejoin the modern era.

Someone Take the Shovel Away from Limbaugh

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Comments: (2)

Because he's just digging himself in deeper with this sad attempt to clarify his troop bashing comments. A hat-tip to Jules Siegel on Pff, who alerted me to Rush Limbaugh's attempt to correct the record on his use of the term "phony soldiers." Limbaugh's explanation?

I was not talking, as Contessa Brewer said here, about the anti-war movement generally. I was talking about one soldier with that "phony soldier" comment, Jesse MacBeth.

But Limbaugh did not say "phony soldier." He said "phony soldiers," plural.

It only gets worse from there.

Media Matters had the transcript, but they selectively choose what they want to make their point. Here is -- it runs about 3 minutes and 13 seconds -- the entire transcript, in context, that led to this so-called controversy.

But, even as Limbaugh accuses Media matters of creative editing, he provides a transcript that is creatively edited. His "entire transcript" is missing over a minute of dialog between his "phony soldiers" comment and his subsequent reference to the infamous Jesse MacBeth.

I love the smell of desperation in the morning.

Also worth a look is Jon Soltz's blog on The Huffington Post, in which he poses the following challenge to Limbaugh:

My challenge to you, then, is to have me on the show and say all of this again, right to the face of someone who served in Iraq. I'll come on any day, any time. Not only will I once again explain why your comments were so wrong, but I will completely school you on why your refusal to seek a way out of Iraq is only aiding al Qaeda and crippling American security.

Ball's in your court.

And if you're in the mood for some really creative editing, (or "creative edititing," as it says on the video) this wing-nuttized version of Soltz's appearance on "Hardball," discussing Limbaugh, was the only one I could find on YouTube.

Chicken-Hawk Limbaugh Maligns Troops

Friday, September 28, 2007

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Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

Old Glory Rooster

Well, that didn't take long. As I said on the occasion of the Senate's censure of MoveOn.org:

They are not interested in protecting the troops from criticism any more than they are in providing for their actual needs. They are only interested in protecting their political "tools," which is exactly what General Petraeus is.

Republicans will continue to aid and abet attacks on any service member, active duty or retired, who does not spout GOP talking points, or dares to criticize the neocon agenda.

Leave it to Rush "Boil On His Butt" Limbaugh, to unload his venom on all the troops who don't share the grand neocon vision. As per Media Matters:

LIMBAUGH: There's a lot more than that that they don't understand. They can't even -- if -- the next guy that calls here, I'm gonna ask him: Why should we pull -- what is the imperative for pulling out? What's in it for the United States to pull out? They can't -- I don't think they have an answer for that other than, "Well, we just gotta bring the troops home."

CALLER 2: Yeah, and, you know what --

LIMBAUGH: "Save the -- keep the troops safe" or whatever. I -- it's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.

CALLER 2: No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.

LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.

CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they're willing to sacrifice for their country.

Yes, from the man who could not serve his country in Vietnam, because of an anal fissure, a delightful new term: "phony soldier." Pretty horrifying, especially when you consider just how many of those "phony" soldiers are taking it in the shorts in this misbegotten adventure. Yes, a good number of the troops who are actually doing the fighting and the dying are really phonies, by Mr. Limbaugh's standard.

Media Matters cites the New York Times op-ed by seven 82nd Airborne soldiers who expressed their disenchantment with our Iraq involvement and conclusion that we need to withdraw and let the Iraqis regain their dignity by ending our occupation of that country. Two of those seven "phony soldiers" have already paid the ultimate price in Iraq.

But those seven soldiers are just the tip the of the "phony" iceberg floating in our armed services. As of December of last year, it is the minority of our active-duty military who agree with Bush's policies in Iraq. Washington Monthly quotes an E&P article, which is no longer extant on its servers:

Barely one in three service members approve of the way the president is handling the war, according to the new poll for the four papers (Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Times). In another startling finding, only 41% now feel it was the right idea to go to war in Iraq in the first place.

And the number who feel success there is likely has shrunk from 83% in 2004 to about 50% today. A surprising 13% say there should be no U.S. troops in Iraq at all. [...]

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents think today's military is stretched too thin to be effective.

That poll did not, apparently, address the idea of a phased withdrawal from Iraq. An earlier Zogby poll did. When offered a range of questions on the subject, 72% favored some schedule of withdrawal spanning a year. So, by that poll, 72% of our troops are "phony."

Here are some things a chicken-hawk like Mr. Limbaugh cannot possibly understand. Just because our troops are committed to completing whatever mission is assigned to them does not automatically mean that they support the politics behind it. They commit to do what their country, through its representatives, asks of them, and put party and politics aside. That is how our professional military is set up; to be an apolitical institution. The disenchantment we are currently seeing in our military has to do with the increasing sense of futility about the overall mission.

Spc. Don Roberts told the AP, "I don't know what could help at this point..... What would more guys do? We can't pick sides. It's almost like we have to watch them kill each other, then ask questions."

Sgt. Josh Keim, who is on his second tour in Iraq, said, "Nothing's going to help. It's a religious war, and we're caught in the middle of it. It's hard to be somewhere where there's no mission and we just drive around."

Sgt. Justin Thompson added that a troop surge is "not going to stop the hatred between Shia and Sunni." Thompson, whose 4-year contract was involuntarily extended in June, added, "This is a civil war, and we're just making things worse. We're losing. I'm not afraid to say it."

As much as Mr. Limbaugh might want to dismiss those soldiers from the Army's 5th Battalion as "phony," they are real and they represent a growing number of troops who do not think they can be effective in Iraq. By judging our troops according to a political litmus test -- and alternately lionizing and bashing them based on how they represent the GOP agenda -- Limbaugh and his ilk demonstrate their total lack of understanding about what honor really means.

Likewise, the Senate, including 22 Democratic members, completely misconstrued what MoveOn.org was saying with the ad they wasted time and our tax dollars condemning. General Petraeus has betrayed the American people by acting as exactly the kind of political tool that the UCMJ forbids him from becoming.

So, will the Senate be condemning Rush Limbaugh for his scurrilous attack on those military members who have dared to question the efficacy of our Iraq policy? I won't hold my breath.

Dharma Queen

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Comments: (2)

Mandala of Padmapani

I have taken the rather unusual step of deleting a site from my blogroll. I think that merits some explanation. A while ago I started to blog about the issues that were emerging on the very new community blog, Docudharma, but got too busy with more pressing matters to finish the post. This is as far as I got:

Not a week into its very successful launch, the new community blog Docudharma is well into its first major Docudrama. So young in blog years to already be deep in a multi-diary meta war. Not that surprising when one considers that one of the new blog's frontpager/administrators is none other than Armando. It seems someone dared to suggest that name-calling is less than constructive and suggested that fellow bloggers try to be civil. The reaction from Armando came swift and sure, in a diary designed to nip that civility thing in the bud.

The problem with this is that the folks who write this type of comment will wield "civility" like a club in an attempt to stifle debate. I know it. I lived it.

Yes, it's true. Armando is a battle-scarred warrior for the right to hurl vile epithets, and his temper finally cost him his comfy orange cushion, as detailed here.

A mere 382 comments later, DavidByron, of all people, completely nails Armando's central point.

Armando knows the correct club to use is to be a moderator and threaten to ban people.

Because that, indeed, is the central thrust of his tirade.

You;d be surprised (4.00 / 3)

how uncivil these civility discussions become.

I think discussing and urging "civility" should be a banning offense here.

I am only half kidding.

by: Armando

Strangely, Armando was right. The civility lecturing on that site has gotten downright weird, but the lectures are coming from the blog administrators; especially one ek hornbeck. With a hat-tip to catnip, hornbeck recently posted as a guideline for Docudharma behavior, the eightfold path of Buddhism.

The Four Noble Truths-
  • Life means suffering.
  • The cause of suffering is desire.
  • There is a way to stop suffering.
  • The Eight Fold Way.

The Eight Fold Way-

  • Right View
  • Right Intention
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

And hornbeck means business. As further down in "meditations on the cause of suffering" he explains that infractions will result in suspensions and banning. Here's a snippet:

They are committed to ethical conduct, of which one part is Right Speech. Let's review the elements-

  • Abstention from false speech that deliberately lies and deceives.
  • Abstention from slanderous speech and the malicious use of words against others.
  • Abstention from harsh words that offend or hurt others.
  • Abstention from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth.

Well, still working on that last one myself, unless you define it as gossip which some scholars do.

Another part of ethical conduct is Right Action- kindness and compassion, honesty, respecting the belongings of others, and keeping sexual relationships harmless to others.

If you don't want to be ethical- leave.

If you don't want to be here- leave.

We're here to work on the last 4 parts of The Way.

If you are developing new bad habits. If you are not abandoning old bad habits. If you are not developing new good habits or maintaining and perfecting the same-


Mental energy is the force behind right effort. The same type of energy that fuels desire, envy, aggression, and violence can on the other side fuel self-discipline, honesty, benevolence, and kindness. Without effort nothing can be achieved.

If you're not going to make an effort I'll not waste any of mine on you.

If I see you misbehaving I'll suspend you. If a Contributing Editor complains about you in the Admin Forum I'll suspend you.

First, no questions asked.

This is a temporary suspension. The intention is to keep you from doing any more damage to yourself or others. You will not be able to post (comments or essays) or rate.

A notification will be put up in the Admin Forum and as many Admins and Contributing Editors as care to contribute will discuss your case and debate the appropriate punishment. This process may take 24 hours.

Most punishments will take the form of suspensions, either 2 days or 1 week. You will not be able to post (comments or essays) or rate. You may receive multiple suspensions and they may be greater or lesser depending on severity and frequency of the offense. All Administrative Punishments will be reviewed by budhy.

Sounds like hornbeck is well on his way to becoming an illumed being. He's got it down, except for that idle chatter thing. Yeah, that one's hard. Further down the thread he demonstrates some of his perfected "right speech." I'll just post a handful for purposes of contemplation:

Pity Me. (3.00 / 3)

I don't pity you at all. You're a liar.

The Buddha would not save you if he could. Your path is your path and your path is the path of a known liar.

Why do you demand a link from me? (4.00 / 1)

You've lied in this thread.

AND you've claimed your Whiny Ass Titty Baby self is a tough as nails war correspondent who went to Oxford AND Cambridge.

Or some unproven crap like that.

Pity me.

I have no pity for you- loser.

"Whiny Ass Titty Baby," is one of hornbeck's favorite phrases, though sometimes he renders it in the simpler version WATB. (Note to self: Must check to see if that sterling phrase is from the Lotus Sutra). But, his most impressive example of "right speech" was imparted to one Sabrina an Pff:

Coward am I? (79.33 / 15)

Here I am.

I like it Swedish style, strapped together at the wrist and just the one knife, but I'll gut you any way you want.

It seems that some took offense at hornbeck's words and, apparently, did not think they exemplified "right speech" at all. In fact, it has been suggested that they constituted a threat of violence, which is illegal. Hmmmm....

This is not the first time the administrators of Docudharma have been accused of hypocrisy. There've been other incidents, like the way Buddydharma, site proprietor, promises in the site FAQ:

One thing we do NOT do here is pre-emptively ban. You will be warned, in public if you are getting close to being banned. You have the right to argue that, you have a right to appeal it.

But, then, pre-emptively banned people. This thread is really worth a read. It's a study in poor leadership. Peeder sums it up quite well, in his criticism of Buhdydharma.

Gotta say (5.18 / 17)
This public execution of Miss Devore, complete with "do you have anything to say before we turn the switch?", is one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen online.

I mean, where have we gotten to? It's as if new technology creates a regression in civilization.

But basically it's just about people having no experience with power over others.

The humor value alone, in that thread, when Buhdydharma explains his own spiritual guidelines makes it well worth picking through. Unlike hornbeck, he's not, in fact, a Buddhist. He studies "the tao." Oh, but he doesn't study "the texts." He's apparently also missed, in his studies, that simply no one spells it with a t, any more. It's Daoism.

But being a poseur is not reason enough for me to de-link Buhdy's site. It's funny as hell, but it's not cause for such a drastic step. It's the hypocrisy, stupid.

Look, I'm not now, nor have I ever been, looking to find some sort of utopia in the blogosphere. Every site owner does things I disagree with; things I would do differently were it my site. It needn't be terminal. But Buhdy's defense of his actions, which amounts to his repeated protestation that he is "not perfect," isn't gonna cut it for me.

I don't know. The site is young, and Buhdy is new to his leadership role. Perhaps both will mature and Docudharma will become a functional blogging instrument. If that happens, I will gladly re-link.

In the meanwhile, it's pretty hard to defend having site administrators -- people who can see every member's IP address -- like that pit viper Armando and someone who talks about gutting a woman in some archaic Swedish duel. Scribe summed it up well for me, in this exchange:

the fact that (5.18 / 11)
you are being totally dismissive and insulting to everyone here who objected to eks violent comment, and you are defending him every way you possibly can, which clearly means you have no problem with that kind of communication coming from one of your own admins. When I put that together with how I see you already stepping up to protect Armandos right to be assholish whenever he wants, while not allowing anyone to attack him, I see a good ol boys club in action already, bud. Whether you intended this or not,this is sure how it looks to me, for one.

After a whole ten days. (1.75 / 4)
Yeah THATS fair.


And if I was dismissive I wouldn't come here at all.

The standards of perfection are a bit strict don't ya think?

Yeah, yeah, we get it. You're not perfect. But, dude, you're not even tryin.'

Neo-Nazis Target Jena 6

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Comments: (1)

The American National Socialist Workers Party has reportedly targeted the Jena 6 and called for some vigilante justice.

The FBI is reviewing a white supremacist Web site that purports to list the addresses of five of the six black teenagers accused of beating a white student in Jena and "essentially called for their lynching," an agency spokeswoman said Saturday.

Sheila Thorne, an agent in the FBI's New Orleans office, said authorities were reviewing whether the site breaks any federal laws. She said the FBI had "gathered intelligence on the matter," but declined to further explain how the agency got involved.

CNN first reported Friday about the Web site, which features a swastika, frequent use of racial slurs, a mailing address in Roanoke, Va., and phone numbers purportedly for some of the teens' families "in case anyone wants to deliver justice." That page is dated Thursday.

I have been unable to find a functioning site associated with the national organization. I did, however, locate the blog of "the party's" putative leader, Bill White. Apparently they're IP jumping, because of being shut down. The blog also currently lists the address info, but I will not reprint that here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Back On-Line


We are back up on an IP address:


and will move to this address:



Bill White, Commander
American National Socialist Workers Party

There are a few technical issues involved in moving this, but be patient -- things will be worked out today. Right now, we are waiting for the Overthrow.com DNS changes to resolve and setting up ASP on Hal's Linux box.


This information is still available all over the web and other ANSWP websites, but if anyone is missing it:

Looks like they're pretty determined to get these guys killed.

Editor's Note: I'm not going to post links or updated IP info because I will not assist them in evil. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Senate Condemns Free Speech

Friday, September 21, 2007

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So, let me get this straight. A Senate which could not pass legislation to provide our troops with adequate rest between deployments or to restore habeas corpus can waste time and tax dollars censuring MoveOn.org. Is this what our Senate is good for now? Condemning free speech? Squelching dissent?

Republicans escalated a rhetorical war with Democrats over political advertising on Thursday, as the Senate voted 72 to 25 to condemn an attack on the U.S. commander in Iraq by the liberal activist group MoveOn.org.

President Bush entered the fray for the first time, describing a newspaper ad sponsored by MoveOn.org -- which ridiculed Army Gen. David H. Petraeus as "General Betray Us" -- as "disgusting."

"I felt like the ad was an attack not only on Gen. Petraeus, but on the U.S. military," Bush said at a news conference. "Most Democrats are [more] afraid of irritating a left-wing group like MoveOn.org . . . than they are of irritating the United States military. That was a sorry deal."

That Senate Republicans would pose such legislation with the backing of the President himself should come as no surprise. GOP blowhards have a documented history of exploiting members of the military as symbols and not giving a good goddamn about the actual, material needs of the men and women who serve. But this move is mind-numbingly hypocritical. Where was their outrage when John Kerry was Swift-Boated, when pasty-faced chicken-hawks sported purple heart band-aids, when Saxby Chamblis ridiculed the courage of Vietnam Veteran and triple amputee Max Cleland, or when GOP operatives impugned the service record of Congressman Murtha? But, no. When Barbara Boxer offered an amendment that would have condemned attacks on any service member, it failed. They are not interested in protecting the troops from criticism any more than they are in providing for their actual needs. They are only interested in protecting their political "tools," which is exactly what General Petraeus is.

Republicans will continue to aid and abet attacks on any service member, active duty or retired, who does not spout GOP talking points, or dares to criticize the neocon agenda. Yet, 22 Democrats have, with all the cravenness that defines that party, sided with Republicans on this idiotic bill. Read 'em and weep.

Jane Hamsher summed up this idiocy well the other day and it stuck with me.

It’s just such a basic, elemental principle at play here — you don’t help the right wing out by repeating their talking points, ever. Why was this so hard to grasp?

Why, indeed.

Why Do the Republicans Hate the Troops... and Puppies?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

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Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

Golden Retriever Puppy Wrapped in US Flag

As discussed here, Jim Webb's bill would have mandated "dwell time" to give our exhausted troops a break. It stood a good chance of passing until Senator Warner did a 180 and withdrew his support. In the end only 6 Senate Republicans showed that they give a damn about the well-being of our fighting men and women.

Senate Republicans blocked a plan on Wednesday to give U.S. troops in Iraq more home leave, defeating a proposal widely seen as the Democrats' best near-term chance to change President George W. Bush's Iraq strategy.

The measure to give troops as much rest time at home as they spent on their most recent tour overseas needed 60 votes to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate; it received just 56 votes, with 44 against.

It had been offered by Sen. Jim Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran and former Navy secretary. The Democrat said U.S. troops are being "burned out" by repeated redeployments to Iraq, with tours of up to 15 months and less than a year off in between.

Suing God

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Comments: (1)

Sistine Chapel: God Dividing the Waters and Earth (Pre Restoration)

Make it a class action suit and I'm in.

[Nebraska] State Sen. Ernie Chambers sued God last week. Angered by another lawsuit he considers frivolous, Chambers says he's trying to make the point that anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody.

Chambers says in his lawsuit that God has made terroristic threats against the senator and his constituents, inspired fear and caused "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants."

The Omaha senator, who skips morning prayers during the legislative session and often criticizes Christians, also says God has caused "fearsome floods ... horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes."

He's seeking a permanent injunction against the Almighty.

Portrait of a Chicken-Hawk

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Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

Frederick W. Kagan

Glenn Greenwald, whose forthcoming book is on the meaningless chest-thumping of chicken-hawk culture, offers the following illustration. He quotes Fred W. Kagan, whose argument against Jim Webb's proposal for allowing our troops more time at home between deployments, is that it will be a bureaucratic nightmare.

So this amendment would actually require the Army and Marine Corps staffs to keep track of how long every individual servicemember had spent in either Iraq or Afghanistan, how long they had been at home, how long the unit that they were now in had spent deployed, and how long it had been home...

Greenwald makes the point, and it's a good one, that weighing some paperwork concerns against the welfare of our troops is "almost too much to bear." But, with all due respect to Mr. Greenwald, the bureaucratic difficulty argument offered by Kagan isn't worth its weight in paper. My first thought reading that statement: I'm pretty sure they do that now. So, I called my husband at work. Being a Marine Corps officer, he has a little experience with these matters. His thoughts:

That's what admin shops do. All of that data is tracked now. At most you might have to collate it into a central database, a spreadsheet if you will, and post it. It might add a step, maybe two.

Apparently Mr. Kagan is laboring under the misconception that we don't currently keep records on "every individual servicemember" (I mean, they're just cannon fodder, right?) and that all of our current deployment logistics, after-action reports, awarding of medals, combat pay, hazardous duty pay, tax deferments, supply, specialized training, activating reservists, reporting of deaths and casualties, etc., etc., etc... All of it is just happening by magic. War is a bureaucratic nightmare, Mr. Kagan.

That is reason number... ok, I've lost count... why lazy, fat fucks, with no military experience, whatsoever, should shut the fuck up about what is and isn't a hardship for our men and women in uniform.

But Kagan's defense against Webb's defense of our troops is even more disingenuous than his erroneous inflation of a few paperwork headaches. Kagan goes on to explain that Webb's plan to legislate hard rules about the length of "dwell time" will "severely constrain the pool of units and personnel that could be sent." And that's the heart of the problem, now isn't it. We. Don't. Have. Enough. Troops. Not to fulfill the grand vision of global of hegemony envisioned in his lazy, fat-fuck, neocon, wet dream. And we can't possibly go to a draft, because that would mean that Bush's chicken-hawk base might have to actually put their own tiny dicks into this fight and whatever support is left for this catastrophe will evaporate in a nanosecond.

Blackwater: Throwing Out the Mercs

Monday, September 17, 2007

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Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

Aerial View of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

The Iraqi government wants Blackwater out of Iraq, following an incident that has left at least 8 Iraqi civilians dead.

"We have revoked Blackwater's license to operate in Iraq. As of now they are not allowed to operate anywhere in the Republic of Iraq," Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf said Monday. "The investigation is ongoing, and all those responsible for Sunday's killing will be referred to Iraqi justice."

But the Iraqi government will face an uphill battle. Blackwater, like other private military contractors, is functioning virtually outside the law.

The question of whether they could face prosecution is legally murky. Unlike soldiers, the contrators are not bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Under a special provision secured by American-occupying forces, they are exempt from prosecution by Iraqis for crimes committed there.

Blackwater will most assuredly fight their de-licensing and they will have the full backing of the Bush Administration, because these extra-legal corporate warriors are integral to the "war on terra." I fully expect the Iraqi government to cave to US pressure.

Tens of thousands of foreign private security contractors work in Iraq some with automatic weapons, body armor, helicopters and bulletproof vehicles to provide protection for Westerners and dignitaries in Iraq as the country has plummeted toward anarchy and civil war.

. . .

Many of the contractors have been accused of indiscriminately firing at American and Iraqi troops, and of shooting to death an unknown number of Iraqi citizens who got too close to their heavily armed convoys, but none has faced charges or prosecution.


It's the Oil, Stupid -- Part Infinity

Saturday, September 15, 2007

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A Chapopero, Literally the Tar Man, Shows His Oil-Covered Hands

I really tire of saying this. We are in Iraq for oil. And the latest pol to attest to this obvious reality: Alan Greenspan. With his memoir set to pub on Monday, news that Greenspan has been taking the piss out of the Bush Administration for its crappy economic policies has been bubbling out all week.

However, it is his view on the motive for the 2003 Iraq invasion that is likely to provoke the most controversy. “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,” he says.

Greenspan, 81, is understood to believe that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the security of oil supplies in the Middle East.

You Don't Say

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Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

"Over the past two and a half years, I have seen tyranny, dishonesty, corruption and depravity of types I never thought possible. I've seen things I didn't know man was capable of."

-- Alberto Ganzales

Alberto Gonzales on the occasion of his resignation from the post of Attorney General of the United States; September 14, 2007.

It's Raining 300 Men

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I've been spending an unhealthy amount of time on YouTube for the last couple of days and I have only one thing to say. This is fucking hilarious.

Inside the Conservative Brain

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

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Cat Scan Images of Brain

Conservatives and liberals think differently and I don't mean on the pressing issues of our times. I mean that our brains literally function differently. The latest study attesting to these cognitive differences can be found in the LA Times.

The results show "there are two cognitive styles -- a liberal style and a conservative style," said UCLA neurologist Dr. Marco Iacoboni, who was not connected to the latest research.

Participants were college students whose politics ranged from "very liberal" to "very conservative." They were instructed to tap a keyboard when an M appeared on a computer monitor and to refrain from tapping when they saw a W.

M appeared four times more frequently than W, conditioning participants to press a key in knee-jerk fashion whenever they saw a letter.

Each participant was wired to an electroencephalograph that recorded activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that detects conflicts between a habitual tendency (pressing a key) and a more appropriate response (not pressing the key). Liberals had more brain activity and made fewer mistakes than conservatives when they saw a W, researchers said. Liberals and conservatives were equally accurate in recognizing M.

I'm not a researcher, but I have to wonder if this test was entirely fair. I can't help thinking that putting a W in front of a right-winger would trigger a Pavlovian response and skew the results.



Assuming that the proper controls were, in fact, implemented, this study is one in a growing body of research showing that there is a genuine difference in the way liberals and conservatives are wired. Conservatives appear to be more rigid and fixed in their ideas, whereas liberals are more open to new concepts. It may also explain their tendency to move in lockstep and not question authority.

As per John Dean, "While not all conservatives are authoritarians, all highly authoritarian personalities are political conservatives." A hat tip to RightwingFucktard for finding this gem. Dean's new series in Findlaw is based on his research into the role of authoritarianism in the modern Republican Party. Dean, a Goldwater conservative, who testified against his former boss President Richard M. Nixon, authored the searing indictment of a Republican Party gone wrong, Conservatives Without Conscience. In the first part of a three part series on central findings of his study, Dean writes:

There are two types of authoritarians: leaders (the few) and followers (the many). Study of these personalities began following World War II, when social psychologists asked how so many people could compliantly follow an authoritarian leader like Adolf Hitler and tolerate the Holocaust. Early research was based at the University of California, Berkeley, and it focused primarily on followers, culminating in the publication of a The Authoritarian Personality (1950) - a work that broadly described authoritarian personalities. The book was quite popular for decades, but as the Cold War ended, it had been on the shelf and ignored for a good while.

. . .

At the outset of Conservatives Without Conscience, I provided a quick and highly incomplete summary of Altemeyer's findings, explaining that his empirical testing revealed "that authoritarians are frequently enemies of freedom, antidemocratic, anti-equality, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, power hungry, Machiavellian, and amoral." To be clear, these are not assessments that Altemeyer makes himself about these people; rather, this is how those he has tested reveal themselves to be, when being anonymously examined.

[Bob] Altemeyer has tested literally tens of thousands of first-year college students and their parents, along with others, including some fifteen hundred American state legislators, over the course of some three decades. He has tested in the South and North of the United States. There is no database on authoritarians that even comes close in its scope to that which he has created, and, more importantly, these studies are empirical data, not partisan speculation.

I Want a Failure Pile in a Sadness Bowl

Monday, September 10, 2007

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Methinks KFC was a little tweaked by Patton Oswalt's riff on it's "Famous Bowls." I can't watch the commercials showing the graphic layering of mashed potatoes, corn, chicken nuggets, etc., without throwing up a little bit in my mouth. KFC's newest commercials, though, are clearly a marketing wizard's attempt at damage control, now that Patton Oswalt's shot across their bow has gone viral. You know the ones. They show a woman sitting at her desk, eating her lunch like a proper lady. Or as the folks on the Commercials I Hate Forum put it:

The way the woman explains it is just annoying.
"I'm eating KFC's extra crispy chicken, which actually requires a fork and a knife."
Who talks like that?

Who talks like that? Only a company that's afraid of being perceived as being on the slippery slope to a "lunch gun."

Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Patton Oswalt!

Some Thoughts On Labor Day

Monday, September 03, 2007

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Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

This is the opening sequence from what I believe is one of the most under appreciated movies of all time, "Joe Versus the Volcano." Protagonist Joe Banks undertakes a Joseph Campbellesque "hero's journey," which frees him from the illusory demands of wage slavery. Anyone who has seen the movie will recognize the elements of Campbell's "monomyth."

This fundamental structure contains a number of stages, which include (1) a call to adventure, which the hero has to accept or decline, (2) a road of trials, regarding which the hero succeeds or fails, (3) achieving the goal or "boon," which often results in important self-knowledge, (4) a return to the ordinary world, again as to which the hero can succeed or fail, and finally, (5) application of the boon in which what the hero has gained can be used to improve the world.

The story-line also incorporates many elements which would be familiar to shamanic practitioners; most notably the symbolic death/rebirth experience which frees the man from the limitations of the ego.

"Man is born free, but is everywhere in chains."
-- Jean-Jacques Rousseau