Category Archives: Politics

Move Over Blackwater, Here’s InfraGard

Yesterday on Thom Hartmann’s Air America program, he discussed something called Infragard. I didn’t hear what they were talking about because my focus was split, but the few phrases I could hear made me come back to the computer later so I could find out what that was all about.

Here’s the message on the front page of InfraGard’s website:

Learn more about InfraGard:

InfraGard is an information sharing and analysis effort serving the interests and combining the knowledge base of a wide range of members. At its most basic level, InfraGard is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the private sector. InfraGard is an association of businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement agencies, and other participants dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the United States. InfraGard Chapters are geographically linked with FBI Field Office territories.

I don’t know about you, but that gave me the creeps.

What are we supposed to think? There are people running our government that are twisted enough to compare the upcoming 9/11 trials with the Nuremberg trials. Now they’re privatizing the FBI. This InfraGard thing is sick. It can morph into just about anything. They have guns and they are authorized to use them.

Blogger Kate Chase at All Things Democrat breaks down the new guard:

Yet, with all these terrific failures comes a report in The Progressive that the Bushies, ever the good friend to the worst corporate offenders – many of the same ones the Bushies offer HUGE tax breaks to in a bizarre new form of corporate welfare at the same time these creeps take jobs elsewhere – launched a program called InfraGard that:

  • reports potential threats of an attack to corporations when mere mortals are not allowed to know (you may pay a hell of a much bigger percentage of your income on taxes than Exxon or Halliburton, but you just don’t rate knowing if you’re about to be bombed)
  • encourages corporate leaders to “report” “problematic” employees (perhaps union organizers, those who might talk against the Bush Administration over the water cooler?) and others (say, their biggest competitor)
  • potentially “rewards” these corps with extra corporate welfare
  • makes US as taxpayers foot the bill to supply FBI agents and homeland (in)security folks to “interface” with the companies in the organization.

This is just the short list; because so much is secret about it, we can’t put it to a pull stink test.

(more)

Frankly, I’m surprised they haven’t just seized power outright. I figured there would have been an announcement on that back when the sweaty dude, McClellan, was the Press Secretary.

With just ten months left until Bush supposedly leaves office, the suspense is killing me.

Russia accuses U.S. of ‘new arms race’ – Plan to use Romney’s hair in new hardened silos, Putin says

Outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday charged the United States with planning to base nuclear ICBMs in new hardened silos, made from the hair of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Putin made the allegation in his last major speech as president to Russia’s State Council.

“It’s not our fault. We didn’t start it . . . funneling multibillions of dollars into developing hair replacement systems,” Putin stated. “But Russia has always responded to fashion challenges, and very soon we are going to develop and deploy our own line of purely defensive salon products.”

Putin said his successor as President, Dmitry Medvedev, would immediately begin taking high doses of the hair growth medication Propecia.

President Bush, busy stuffing envelopes at McCain For President headquarters, said he wanted to study Putin’s speech before issuing an official response. “But for an outgoing president, Putin’s statement doesn’t sound very outgoing,” Bush said.

Putin, who is taking up the position of Prime Minister, said the U.S. possesses experimental new polymers found only in the hair of Romney, the ex-Republican presidential candidate.

“When our military analysts first saw photos of Romney’s hair, clearly it was like a helmet,” said Putin. “But then we began thinking: what if this premise became silly? What if Romney’s hair has military applications?”

Putin described attempts by Russia’s Federal Security Service to obtain a sample of Romney’s hair to analyze, but was unsuccessful despite multiple attempts. In the end the job was given to Russian astronomers based in the Ural Mountains, who decided to bounce laser light off Romney’s head during campaign rallies in New Hampshire.

“It was not very difficult to do, because we were working with such a big target,” said Dr. Alexandra Frandlovna, who led the team that did the research. She spoke to Carson Kressley, military affairs correspondent for the Lifetime network. Frandlovna said spectroscopic analysis of the reflected beams revealed the presence of the new polymers.

Frandlovna said missiles placed in silos hardened with the Romney polymers would increase the chances of the missiles surviving a retaliatory strike, effectively giving the U.S. a first strike capability.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger today disagreed that Romney’s hair was necessarily strategically destabilizing. He said the contretemps reminded him of a 1970s east-west faceoff, when President Nixon accused Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev of touching off a hairy arms race. That time, the U.S. agreed to share depilatory technology with the U.S.S.R., defusing the crisis, according to Kissinger.

But House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the U.S. should act quickly to insure Romney’s hair does not fall into Russian hands. “His head should be shaved and the hair burned,” said Boehner. He said the former presidential hopeful should be irradiated and placed in indefinite protective custody.

In a precautionary move, the State Department today placed restrictions on leading U.S. hair stylists, prohibiting them from traveling to Russia or places within its sphere of influence.

When reached for reaction, celebrity stylist Jose Eber commented, “Turkmenistan and the Arctic are not really high on my list of must-see vacation hotspots,” Eber said.

Mitt Romney – Biggest Asshole of the Week

Provo UT (f-A-ke. P.)Mitt Romney

If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.

— Mitt Romney in a speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference

Well Kvatch… I didn’t really mean to imply that 52% of the electorate are un-American ‘surrender monkeys’. I just wanted to make it clear that we need a Republican in office to ensure the continuation of our godly mission to bring democracy to the heathen Muslim, wealth to the deserving upper-classes, and perpetual indebtedness to the rest of you (especially you Democrats). That’s all.

— Mitt Romney speaking with Kvatch Kopf from an LDS Celebrity Retreat in Provo, UT

Duck and Cover

Let’s see… What was I going to blog about… It was something significant I read online…

Oh, here it is.

We’re in a new arms race with Russia.

Putin’s pissed because something called NATO plans to expand (BBC video here).

Hold on a second…

I looked up this NATO… turns out we have something called allies. Anyone know why they didn’t help us liberate Iraq?

Anyway, these NATO people plan to include Poland and the Czech Republic in something called a missile defence shield. Here’s a look at what a missile shield over Eastern Europe might look like.

“It is already clear that a new phase in the arms race is unfolding in the world,” Mr. Putin said. “It is not our fault, because we did not start it.”

Man, he’s got us there.

So reset your doomsday clocks to about three minutes before midnight and if you see a flash of light in the distance… do what the kid in this picture did and you’ll be just fine.

iNews Friday – 2/8/2008

From the iNews 9000 Turbo Wi-Fi Headline Translator:

Headline: Hamas to Work with Egypt to Seal Border with Gaza Strip
Translation: Ziploc promises new Gaza Strip design totally leak-proof

Headline: US strike on Qaeda leader seen as limited success
Translation: Qaeda fails to settle with writers – Bin Laden videos placed on extended hiatus, reruns to start March 1

Headline: Pentagon is split on Iraq withdrawals
Translation: “We explained very clearly when Iraq opened its account that there would be a penalty for early withdrawal”

Headline: Police take Britney to hospital
Translation: Sting drives, Andy Summers programs the GPS, Stewart Copeland films it for documentary

Headline: Giants upset Patriots
Translation: Super Bowl schadenfreude sweeps the nation

Headline: Bush wants more Earth monitoring
Translation: “Earth is where the terrorists live,” Bush says

Headline: Scientists Grow Human Skin In France
Translation: Built-in odor of Gauloise smoke masked by cologne

Headline: Limbaugh Weighs In
Translation: Highway Department demands damage deposit to use truck scales

Headline: Super Tuesday Hangover
Translation: Good bye, Suuuper Tuesday / what’ll a fading Huckabee do?

Headline: US: al-Qaida in Iraq training children
Translation: Bush says SCHIP veto was anti-terror move

Headline: White House says waterboarding not torture
Translation: No permanent injuries, say Avalon and Funicello

Headline: CIA Destroyed Tapes as Judge Sought Interrogation Data
Translation: Porter Goss’s Rosemary Woods impression was hit of 2005 CIA Thanksgiving party

Headline: Clinton, Obama camps split along generational lines
Translation: On your mark, let’s start: the Democratic Family Feud!
Headline: McCain’s next test: Convince the right
Translation: Unfortunately, Leni Reifenstahl no longer available to direct campaign video

Headline: Little progress in airport security
Translation: What TSA needs is a $25 dollar charge to check your bag

Real ID – When Persuasion Won’t Do, Try Coercion

Real ID is coming for you pork-chop! Despite years of delays, unfunded mandates on the states, and some states’ outright refusal to comply, the Feds intend to put the requirements of Real ID into force in May.

In the short term, this means that you won’t be able to access federal buildings or board airplanes if either 1) your state is not able, or does not intend, to comply with the standards that Real ID sets out for photo identification or 2) you don’t have a valid US Passport (which does comply). (Set aside, for a moment, that there is no published law that allows the airlines to require identification nor law that allows them to refuse to transport you if you fail to produce it. David Gilmore got caught up in the ‘unpublished law’ side of this issue, but that’s another story entirely.) TSA, on the other hand, can and does require identification for you to pass through its security checkpoints.

So…if you live in one of those states are you stuck? Probably not, but you’re almost certainly going to be in for the kind of scrutiny usually reserved for those unlucky individuals on one of TSA’s “extra security measures” lists.

But the real issue for DHS is: How to get all those recalcitrant states on board with the program? And at least one DHS official has come up with a novel idea: Require a Real ID before you can purchase over the counter medication. Got allergies? Need Claritin? “Then I’ll need to see your federally approved photo ID, please.” The howling from residents in those states will be heard from space.

I suppose that when simple persuasion won’t do, why not try coercion? Smacks of the tactics that Great Britain is using to trick their citizens into becoming part of their new “dossier database”.

Mukasey: U.S. does not torture

Attorney General calls it “private conduct,” “lifestyle choice”

Days after refusing to rule out the use of waterboarding, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey has attacked congressional Democrats, calling the investigations of torture a violation of basic privacy rights.

“We don’t consider anything we do to be torture, and I find the Democrats’ inquiries a distasteful intrusion into people’s private conduct,” Mukasey said today on the “Jerry Springer” public affairs television program.

“Bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism, or ‘BDSM,’ is a time honored lifestyle choice that deserves as much respect as traditional marriage,” said Mukasey, to gasps and hoots from the studio audience.

“What happens at Guantanamo Bay and the global network of secret prisons is a private matter between men and women, interrogator and detainee, master and servant, top and bottom, Christian and Muslim,” he said, dodging a flying chair.

“Alternative lifestyles occur in the illegal enemy combatant community in the same proportions as society in general,” said the attorney general. “We test each new detainee at time of intake, and we use what we find to protect the homeland, as well as have a bit of fun,” he said.

For the first time, Mukasey divulged protocols used by the Justice Department in matching interrogation methods with prisoners. All suspected illegal enemy combatants are evaluated according to the DSM-IV, categorized, then paired with intelligence agency staff or security contractors with complementary interests.

The attorney general warned of a slippery slope should Congressional investigations result in prosecutions.

“If BDSM is equated with illegal torture, where does it stop? Today it makes for grand political theater in the Judiciary Committee, but tomorrow anyone experimenting with a pair of fur lined manacles could be hauled before the World Court in The Hague,” said Mukasey, referring to the judicial body set up by former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander The Hague.

Mukasey said Congress “should get its nose out of people’s bedrooms, and put it where it belongs — in their telephone calls and emails.”

Mukasey provided a 2006 Justice Department Inspector General report that generally approved of the techniques, but found fault with the failure to provide detainees with safe words.

Bush Administration supporters in Congress said such a problem is correctable, and proves once and for all that U.S. practices do not violate the Geneva Conventions.

Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) issued an impassioned plea asking his colleagues to drop further inquiries into torture. “I beg Congress: stop nosing around in the private lives of illegal enemy combatants and their interrogators,” Craig said.

Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) agreed: “Don’t tie the hands of those protecting us from terrorism. Or if you do, use silk neckties.”

Previously at Wiseline Institute NW:New eatery does soup right, by Michael B. Mukasey

Imagine

Imagine a new government retaining all the department and authority heads put in place by the previous administration. Then imagine the new government giving those people the opportunity to generate policy rather than be apologists for the administration.

Australian PM Kevin Rudd has done just that, held on to John Howard’s hand picked ‘stooges’. For Rudd these people represent a powerful storehouse of knowledge and experience, albeit frustrated by the former PM.

Now imagine a new government creating a forum of 1000 citizens to develop a vision for the countries future. Again, if Rudd is ego driven the ego is to be an historical success story, the 1000 we are told will consist of the ‘usual suspects’.

I suspect Rudd has a vision for the future; one where government is not the sole arbiter of what is good for the country; one that harnesses the best resources of the population without partisan concern. It is an exciting vision.

Privacy and Security – Not a “Zero-sum Game”

Are you concerned about privacy in the US? Worried that the government is coming to harvest your secrets? Well you damn well should be!

Warrantless wiretapping merely tested the waters; Data siphoning by NSA was just a prelude. Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell has got plans for every bit that flows in the US, plans that were hinted at by a member of the team putting together the new Cybersecurity Initiative:

In order for cyberspace to be policed, internet activity will have to be closely monitored. Ed Giorgio, who is working with McConnell on the plan, said that would mean giving the government the authority to examine the content of any e-mail, file transfer or Web search. “Google has records that could help in a cyber-investigation,” he said. Giorgio warned me, “We have a saying in this business: ‘Privacy and security are a zero-sum game.'”

The New Yorker

Supported by the same false dichotomy used for every power grab since 9/11—privacy must be traded to achieve security—McConnell plans to turn the Internet into one vast government overseen database. Consider that for a moment. Every email, every IM, every VoIP, every transaction (even presumably the “secure” ones) will be available to the NSA, CIA, FBI, IRS, TSA, DHS, and whomever else can get a hold of the data.

And to defend this nonsense, the Feds use an intellectually dishonest argument, the little lie that goes: “The US government can be trusted not to abuse such expansive authority.” Though, we already know that this is not the case. Hell…Bu$hCo wants to grant retroactive immunity to telcos for participating in sweeping abuses of the 4th Amendment. (Remember you only need immunity when you’ve done something wrong. The law already indemnifies you if you had reason to believe what you were doing was legal.)

But let’s cut to the chase: A ‘zero-sum’ relationship between security and privacy only holds water as long as GOVERNMENT ITSELF IS NOT THE THREAT. Clearly here, as in other modern democracies, this is no longer the case.

I Want In On This Conspiracy Theory

A new conspiracy theory surfaced this past week. When that happens, you have to decide quickly if you’re going to believe it or not–no slow pokes, sitting on the fence, waiting for facts (like these facts here) to materialize. Oh no, I took that approach too many times and I missed out on some damn fine conspiracies–Don Siegelman, Sibel Edmonds, the AIPAC espionage trial, the fired U.S. Attorneys, Dick Cheney’s safe fire, Dick Cheney’s blood alcohol level when he shot that guy, and many more.

Well, I’ll admit, I was actually all over those conspiracies, but this story about someone (read: our international overlords) cutting off vast swaths of the internet, including Iran’s, stinks to high heaven.  Every day since Bush has been President one could make the case that “something is brewing,” but something is brewing.

Yet, the square media is already calling us nuts whackjobs:

From ABC (servants of the Mouse):

Conspiracy theories emerge after Internet cables cut
By Simon Lauder

Is information warfare to blame for the damage to underwater internet cables that has interrupted internet service to millions of people in India and Egypt, or is it just a series of accidents?

When two cables in the Mediterranean were severed last week, it was put down to a mishap with a stray anchor.

Now a third cable has been cut, this time near Dubai. That, along with new evidence that ships’ anchors are not to blame, has sparked theories about more sinister forces that could be at work.

For all the power of modern computing and satellites, most of the world’s communications still rely on submarine cables to cross oceans.

When two cables were cut off the Egyptian port city of Alexandria last week, about a 100 million internet users were affected, mainly in India and Egypt.

The cables remain broken and internet services are still compromised.

(more)

So, the pejorative term ‘conspiracy theory’ is being thrown at this event by the very trustworthy American theme park-military-industrial-pharmo-media complex.

Despite the lack of a thorough debunking, I feel inclined to just shrug it off and go, “Eh, probably nothing. Move along.”

But moving along becomes a bit difficult when I read that story, then, within two minutes, I come across this sweet little story. You see, the military part of our theme park-military-industrial-pharmo-media complex has internally characterized the internet as an enemy “weapons system”.

Eh, probably nothing to it. Sure thing.  No big deal that ships’ anchors didn’t cut the lines the way Egypt said they did.  Move along.  Right.

By the way something, Greg Laden has a sweet map of all the under sea internet cables.