Saturday, June 04, 2005

Minnesota Star Tribune Notices Downing Street

Secret no more: Downing Street memo

 | After Downing Street

Getting the Press Out and Paying Attention

World Forum Takes Note: John Kerry Criticizes News Media, Joins Call For Inquiry On Downing Street Memo

 | After Downing Street

Korangate, Qurangate, Potayto, Potahto

Pentagon: U.S. soldier kicked a Quran US admits roughing up a few Korans.

You might say, so, what's the big deal, Sid, coupla towelheads get their book a little dirty? Big whoop.

In which case, I might say you're an ignorant fool, if I was feeling particularly charitable. Because 'big whoop' is right. Defiling the Koran is very, very, big whoop.

Americans in particular wear a set of cute little blinders about, oh, everything, including religion. Anyone not-like-us doesn't really exist, get it? We don't see 'em on TV, or see pictures of them, so they must not be real. So, we get told that "out there" -- somewhere beyond the magic boundaries of Americaland, where everyone is white and Christian -- there are these funny brown people who get upset if you touch their book, eh, who cares?

News flash, fellow Americans: they care. Also news flash: there are more of them than there are of us (there are 1.3 billion Muslims "out there"[*], and 300 million Americans "in here"[**]) . And, news flash #3: many of them are willing to die over stuff like this, especially if they can take you out with them.

Yeah. Chew on that for a while. Tastes good, don't it?

Defiling the Koran isn't like someone throwing your Holy Bible across the room in a fit of rage. Or, even, say, urinating on it. Or touching it, even though the toucher isn't Christian. Ripping the pages. Writing obscenites in it.

Defiling the Koran isn't like touching a book, even the "holy book", is to an [American] Christian. It's like walking into a church, dropping your drawers in the middle of Easter Services, and shitting on the altar, then taking that shit in your hands and smearing it all over the preacher, the attendees, and then climbing up that big ol' cross in the middle of everything and shoving a nice big handful of your shit down Jesus' throat.

And then, walking out as if nothing untoward had happened. Hey, man, what's the big deal? It's a church. Just a building, right? Big whoop.

Newsweek didn't tell us anything new

Why is it so easy for Muslims to believe that Americans did this to their precious Korans, the living word of God? Because Americans have lied since day-fucking-one to everyone. About September 11th, who caused it (a bunch of Saudis), what to do about it (forget Afghanistan, let's invade Iraq), where the WMDs are (there aren't any), how many people have died (brown towelhead types don't count), about torturing said brown people, so this makes it all VERY EASY TO BELIEVE, since Americans obviously are the sociopath country who don't see anyone else around them as real in any way, shape, or form, and stick pins in little animals for fun, that they'd display the same lack of concern for a book -- and worse, actively trash it -- even though it is the cornerstone of a Muslim's practice of their faith.

[**] US Census

I'm listening to NPR right this second, going on about how Newsweek's retraction didn't make anti-Americanism go away, and how this is all Newsweek's fault. Well, that's because the Newsweek retraction didn't really stop anything. People are still being detained and tortured, and that includes having their religion actively defiled. Newsweek didn't create anti-Americanism, this retraction ain't gonna make it go away.

Friday, June 03, 2005

MoveOn, FAIR Urge Contact Media About Downing Street Memo is urging members to contact media about the Downing Street Memo.

FAIR's been doing so for a while: Network Viewers Still in the Dark on "Smoking Gun Memo".

The Washington Post's ombudsman, Michael Getler, who the previous week (5/8/05) had mentioned reader complaints about the Post's lack of memo coverage without evaluating their substance, revisited the issue with a much more critical eye in his most recent column (5/15/05). (The ombud gave back-handed credit to FAIR and the group Media Matters for America—both "self-described media watchdog organizations"—for prompting him to delve into the story.)

Slowly grinding forward, yes, but note that people like us can get attention focused on a subject, even if a bigwig or three would rather it went away.

 | After Downing Street

Kerry Gets the Memo

Kerry assails Bush on Iraq, Downing Street Memo

Sen. Kerry puzzled over the apparent lack of interest by Americans in the Iraq war and the near silence in the U.S. mass media about the so-called Downing Street Memo.
That leaked secret document, the minutes of a 2002 cabinet meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, says bluntly that Mr. Bush had decided to attack Iraq long before going to Congress with the matter, and that "intelligence was being fixed around the policy."
It caused an uproar in Great Britain and badly hurt Mr. Blair in national elections but went almost unnoticed in the United States.
"When I go back (to Washington) on Monday, I am going to raise the issue," he said of the memo, which has not been disputed by either the British or American governments. "I think it's a stunning, unbelievably simple and understandable statement of the truth and a profoundly important document that raises stunning issues here at home. And it's amazing to me the way it escaped major media discussion. It's not being missed on the Internet, I can tell you that."

Damn right, Sen. Kerry. Sic 'em.

 | After Downing Street

Inherited Toxins

Toxins may pass down generations

A team from Washington State University has produced evidence that some inherited diseases may be caused by poisons polluting the womb.

My god. You could be poisoning your great-grandkids *right now*.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Military Lawyers Argue That the War Is Illegal

Military Lawyers Argue That the War Is Illegal.

...the judge said, "I believe the government has just successfully proved that any seaman recruit has reasonable cause to believe that the wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq were illegal."

The Downing Street Memo and Impeachable Offenses

I've joined the Big Brass Blog Alliance, a group of bloggers supporting After Downing Street, itself a coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups that have formed to urge that the U.S. Congress launch a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war.

We can't let this stuff get swept under the rug, I don't care if you're sitting there thinking to yourself how little it matters now that the Bush Administration may have cooked the books on the evidence for war because "we're there now so let's worry about that". No, no, let's worry about both. I can multi-task.

Not bothering to hold our elected officials responsible for possible impeachable offenses committed in the context of a war -- which is a great and terrible step for a nation to take, ever -- means the next time some politician does something, we've set the "worth bothering impeaching over" bar so high that no one will ever be held accountable for their political acts again.

Or, it'll be a variable bar of blowjobs for Democrats and whatever's worse than falsifying evidence to go to war for Republicans. I don't want to know what's worse than the latter. I really don't.

This is not the first time I've written about the "Downing Street Memo", and it won't be the last. I'm going to quote from the same section of it I did last time. This memo is the minutes of a Prime Minister's Meeting held in July of 2002.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

Now, if the President of the United States deceived Congress and the American people about the basis for going to war against Iraq, that constitutes a High Crime under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, which is pretty clear on what to do: "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors".

We have an obligation as American citizens to examine the actions of our elected officials, to hold them responsible for their actions, and to remove them from office if their behavior in their official capacities has been so egregious as to warrant it. Lying to the Senate, one of the three co-equal branches of government (and thus a partner, not a subordinate, to the President) is something that the Founders specifically describe as an act warranting impeachment. The Executive is not supposed to lie to Congress. The Bonifaz memo to Rep. Conyers describes this in some depth, but that's the nutshell.

If the evidence revealed by the Downing Street Memo is true, then the President’s submission of his March 18, 2003 letter and report to the United States Congress would violate federal criminal law, including: the federal anti-conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371, which makes it a felony “to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose...”; and The False Statements Accountability Act of 1996, 18 U.S.C. § 1001, which makes it a felony to issue knowingly and willfully false statements to the United States Congress.

This is the possibility of falsified evidence for a war. By comparison, Nixon resigned over breaking into a fucking *office* in the context of running for re-election.

One of these is much worse than the other.

So, the question that I want answered, is a pretty simple one: did my President lie to my Congress?

Deceive, Inviegle, Obfuscate? Vote Them Out
Downing Street Memo
Bonifaz Memo to Conyers

Pants on Fire, Much?

Wha? Us? Torture? Naw.

Bush denies all, even though the whole world has seen pictures. They call it "making reality"...I call it lying, lying, lying.

Americans who Torture Innocents
Amnesty Intl's 2005 Report
Guantánamo and beyond: The continuing pursuit of unchecked executive power
Human dignity denied: Torture and accountability in the ‘war on terror’

Frienditto is Back

If you don't know anything about Frienditto (, they're this self-proclaimed archiving tool that makes it extremely easy to copy other people's posts to "LiveJournals" (a certain blogging software hosting gobs of journals at

They went down not long after opening up shop, and now they're back, and claiming to archive craigslist posts in addition to livejournal posts. I go to their main "entries" page, though, and I see nothing new, though, and no craigslist archives.

The thing is, they claim to be an archival tool, but they're don't actually seem to be one. If they were, they'd have some actual functionality for archiving. But they don't.

Suppose I want to mirror my livejournal site, so, every time I post to my livejournal, I archive the post via Frienditto - which is inefficient as hell, but suppose I do it anyway. There's no easy way to get to that "archived" post later. This screams to anyone who'll listen that the purpose of this software is not for you, the owner of the journal, to archive your journal. It's for something else. It's for someone else to make a copy of your journal post for some temporary purpose. Not even a permanent one in the sense of keeping something that *they* can access easily later, which the "memories" tool of LiveJournal provides (it works much like setting a bookmark with your browser, and you could always -- hey, get a load of this -- set a bookmark with your browser if you were so inclined), because the same lack of methods to get to that "archived" post later applies no matter who submits the post for "archiving".

The purpose seems to be for someone else to copy your stuff in real time to another location (on the frienditto server) where you can't touch it. In order to, say, poke fun at you on fandom_wank or LJ drama, which people actually do (see, and, for a brief history of fandom_wank, try [*]) and in such a way that you can't make your post go away, or edit it, or anything, because you don't have control over that copy.

And control, over copies, of your work, is kind of the essence of copyright, friends and neighbors.

There's nothing new in Frienditto's legal policy and terms of service, it's still the same "cleverness" I commented on in the following posts:

Clever Girl

Clever Girl, Part II

[*] "fen" is the plural of "fan", as in, a fan of a TV show, or actor, etc.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Deep Throat Revealed

Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat. Wow.

The Washington Post has confirmed a former deputy chief of the FBI was Deep Throat, the source who leaked secrets during the Watergate scandal.

Native Word of the Day

National Native News: Word of the Day.

Of Such Simple Pleasures are a Life Made

From the hilariously funny department, with a codicil from the guild of the very short:

Flea, over at One Good Thing describes Every Little Girl Is a Princess, Story #2, or, The Worst Thing My Mother Ever Did.

The codicil: I am over a foot too tall -- my god, almost a foot and a half! -- for Splashville. I'm so pleased. No, I'm not kidding.

Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act

That's H.R. 1528 over at Big Brass Blog has a discussion of it.

`SEC. 425. (a) It shall be unlawful for any person who witnesses or learns of a violation of sections 416(b)(2), 417, 418, 419, 420, 424, or 426 to fail to report the offense to law enforcement officials within 24 hours of witnessing or learning of the violation and thereafter provide full assistance in the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of the person violating paragraph (a).

(These offenses all seem to be about dealing/manufacturing drugs in the presence of children.)

Um. I'm not sure this is constitutional. I mean, really. First, making a crime of failing to report certain types of drug offenses overrides a state's right to define crimes in their community, which is generally violative of that state's sovereignty. Dealing with criminals is state's business, and then, second, there's the mandatory sentencing guidelines.

I. Infringing on the State.

There's a two prong test under the 10th Amendment that applies here:

1. does the federal action (in this case creating the federal crime described above) commandeer state government?;
2. does the federal action shift political accountability between fed and state, so that citizens don't know who to hold responsible for legislation or action of which they disapprove?

Naturally (hey, this is law school), you could argue it both ways.

1. You could argue, no, this does not commandeer state government. It's citizens who are being required to report these drug offenses, and the federal government is in fact allowed to tell citizens what to do, within reason, and use federal resources to enforce federal law. (I know you were all worried.)

But, I think the rebuttal to that is quite a bit stronger. State resources will be used enforcing this law, this behavior, because this law will be all tangled up with state drug statutes and their enforcement. How can you disconnect them? Citizens will ring up state cops if they're following the law (or, more to the point, they'll fail to ring up state cops when they're violating this law). State law enforcement officials will be arresting and booking violators, state courts will be using up their time adjudicating these cases. State resources, in short, will be commandeered to enforce this statute.

2. Anytime you have a federal law possibly infringing on the state's power, you can always argue, "hey, it's a federal law, anyone paying attention in court will know it's a federal statute being enforced, so there's no confusion of accountability between fed and state -- how could there be (and this is where you point) it says 'federal' right there!".

Again, here I think the rebuttal is stronger. It's not about whether a statute has the word "fed" stamped on it in red ink. Who will be seen to enforce it? How do you distinguish the time and money used enforcing this federal directive from other activities of the state? What, do you hire some clerk to manage a spreadsheet listing how much $$ the state courts spend prosecuting this crime? Doing so would just take more time and suck up more resources on the state's part in trying to distinguish between what enforcement of this federal statute costs the state -- for which the ire of citizens should be rightly directed at the federal government, and what was actually the state's own missteps, whatever they may be, for which it should be held responsible by those same citizens. That's what accountability is all about. What wankers do we citizens vote out of office today? State? Or federal? Who do we complain to, the governor, or our U.S. Senator? If we don't know who to go after, political accountability has been destroyed.

II. Mandatory sentencing guidelines.

I'm not going to focus on the impact such guidelines may have on incarceration in state prison for federal crimes, because I don't actually know how that works yet.

But. You could argue that mandatory sentencing guidelines remove decision-making from the jury and the judge and put them in the hands of the legislature that passed the statute in question, thus denying a defendant's due process. Essentially, the decision of their punishment was made before they even showed up, or contemplated a crime. If the jury doesn't make this decision, has a defendant really gotten their jury trial? Or were they tried by the legislature on the day the statute was passed?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Mainstream Media Notices the Lies?

Memorial Day/Praise bravery, seek forgiveness

In exchange for our uniformed young people's willingness to offer the gift of their lives, civilian Americans owe them something important: It is our duty to ensure that they never are called to make that sacrifice unless it is truly necessary for the security of the country. In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed them; we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes. Perhaps it happened because Americans, understandably, don't expect untruths from those in power. But that works better as an explanation than as an excuse. [Emphasis added.]

It turns out that former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill were right. Both have been pilloried for writing that by summer 2002 Bush had already decided to invade.

Raises Fist to Sky

Curse you, Ty! Curse you for making me cry!

You should go read this issue of Peridot Books. Each story is good in its own way. Ty Drago's story "An Hour on The Marble" is really good, and really relevant.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Change is Inevitable

Listen to My Wife

In a world where most people are struggling, the search for "balance" in high-powered jobs has to be counted a luxury. Still, there is something telling (if not downright dysfunctional) when a society's most talented people feel they have to sacrifice the meaningful relationships every human craves as the price of exercising their talent.

The author talks about about how the people primarily trying to address this issue are women, and warns that if men don't get involved, the solutions will be women's, too. (Which, is not necessarily a bad thing, but I get his point: you could wind up with solutions that work for women and not men, or, more likely in my opinion, wind up with solutions that don't work because half the population isn't a part of it.)

Today talented people live in fear of sounding anything less than 24/7. Tell your boss you have to deal with a drinking problem and you'll be fine; say you want more time with your family and you're on the endangered species list. As a result, my wife says, we're being led by a class of people who made choices (because there was no alternative) that are alien to what most of us want.

And when it comes to fixing this problem,

Skeptics should recall that everyone once "knew" that a weekend or a minimum wage would spell economic ruin, too.