Friday, July 01, 2005

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Bush is not Lord

Worship as Higher Politics

George W. Bush is not Lord. The Declaration of Independence is not an infallible guide to Christian faith and practice. Nor is the U.S. Constitution, nor the U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights. "Original intent" of America's founders is not the hermeneutical key that will guarantee national righteousness. The American flag is not the Cross. The Pledge of Allegiance is not the Creed. "God Bless America" is not the Doxology.

The not-so-subtle equation of America's founding with biblical Christianity has been shown time and again to be historically inaccurate. The founding was a unique combination of biblical teaching and Enlightenment rationalism, and most of the founding fathers, as historian Edwin Gaustad, among many others, has noted, were not orthodox Christians, but instead were primarily products of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment, we should recall, has never been much of a friend of biblical Christianity.

Yes, Diebold Systems Hackable. Really.

Rep. McKinney (D-GA) Discusses Hack as Diebold Flips Out

Yes. What was your first clue?

Diebold Election Systems on their Touchscreen Units
More on e-Voting
Hacking Democracy
More Voting Stuff
Avi Rubin and Me, Election Officials
Election Issues Cost Votes
Alameda County invokes performance clause in Diebold contract
Diebold Knew: Attorneys warned firm that use of uncertified vote-counting software violated state law
Voting Machines In Indiana Highly Suspect
Diebold Decertified in California

If you can't bear to read any of those, just read this one.

Sidra Vitale, Election Official. My play-by-play on the California gubernatorial recall election.

Blair Invokes Cheney Defense on DSM

Cheney: Iraq will be 'enormous success story'

But, you have to recall that this is the guy who thinks GTMO is a tropical paradise. So, your mileage may vary.

Cheney said he had not read the so-called "Downing Street memo," a document written by a British official in the fall of 2002 suggesting that President Bush had already decided to remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and that U.S. officials were over hyping intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to build support for the policy.
However, the vice president said the premise of the memo -- that a decision to go to war had been made months before the March 2003 invasion -- was "wrong."
"Remember what happened after the supposed memo was written. We went to the United Nations. We got a unanimous vote out of the Security Council for a resolution calling on Saddam Hussein to come clean," he said.

Tony Blair said:

The attacks, he said, made it necessary to "draw a line in the sand here, and the country to do it with was Iraq because they were in breach of U.N. resolutions going back over many years."

So, are you saying you cherrypicked your battlefield on the basis that Saddam was uncooperative?

Despite his strong linkage of the Iraq campaign to the Sept. 11 attacks, Blair denied that the decision to go to war had been fixed long before it was carried out. He said the so-called "Downing Street memos," which suggest the Bush administration had made up it mind to invade by 2002, painted a distorted picture.
"People say the decision was already taken. The decision was not already taken," he said.

Oh? So that meeting you had in July 2002 really blew chunks, huh? Dearlove was full of it, and the young pup Rycroft taking minutes did a terrible job when he wrote "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."

Boy, who are these people briefing you, and why haven't they been fired for grossly misrepresenting the situation to you?

 | After Downing Street

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Prison Ships?

US faces prison ship allegations

The special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, said the claims were rumours at this stage, but urged the US to co-operate with an investigation.

US in Talks with Terrorists

Iraq Realities Force Bush to Respond

The Times story, based on unidentified Iraqi sources, described two meetings earlier this month between an American team that "included senior military and intelligence officers, a civilian staffer from Congress and a representative of the US embassy in Baghdad." Representatives for insurgent groups included members of Ansar al-Sunna, "which has carried out numerous suicide bombings and killed 22 people in the dining hall of an American base at Mosul last Christmas," the story said.
"Washington seems to be gingerly probing for ways of defusing home-grown Iraqi opposition and of isolating the foreign Islamic militants who have flooded into Iraq to wage holy war against America under the command of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq," said the Sunday Times.

Critiquing Bush Fort Bragg Speech

Text of President Bush's speech (as released to press)

"I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country. And tonight I will explain the reasons why."

OK. Thesis statement: it's worth it. The rest of the speech should be a point by point proof that "it's worth it".

Foreign fighters converging in Iraq to "fight the advance of peace and freedom".

" freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty as well."

The terrorists believe Iraq to be "central front" of "war on terror".

So...because 'all' the terrorists are now in Iraq, we must defeat them there. That seems kind of circular, we made Iraq the "central front" of the the war on terror by invading.

...nature of enemy (evil), savage acts didn't stop Iraqis from voting, blah blah, advancement of freedom cannot be stopped.

...Iraq as "ally in the war on terror and a beacon of hope in a part of the world that is desperate for reform".

...Rebuilding country after/at war (hard).

To complete the mission, we will prevent al-Qaida and other foreign terrorists from turning Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban -- a safe haven from which they could launch attacks on America and our friends. And the best way to complete the mission is to help Iraqis build a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself.

(That's code for we're going to be there a long time.) This just reiterates the initial statement that because Iraq is where the terrorists are, that's where we have to fight them.

...Iraqi training...

"We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed and not a day longer."

...Effects on other nations (citing Libya), our enemies are evil...

We fight today because Iraq now carries the hope of freedom in a vital region of the world, and the rise of democracy will be the ultimate triumph over radicalism and terror. And we fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we will fight them there, we will fight them across the world and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won.

Pretty much the same as above.

...evil must be confronted...

And we know that this great ideal of human freedom entrusted to us in a special way and that the ideal of liberty is worth defending.

(that's code for we're God's chosen people)

...Our soldiers (great - well, they are), our enemy (evil), 9/11, kumbaya.

Hm. Point by point, huh? Domino effect on middle east, and terrorists just happen to be in iraq so we must fight them there. I'd have felt like there was more of a point by point analysis if the domino effect had gotten a bit more of an explanation. Or, any, actually. It seems like "it's worth it" because they're evil and we're good, and that's just a touch simplistic for me, you know?

Call for Resignation urges Bush to apologize and resign.

"Thanks to the Downing Street Memos, we now know that George Bush deliberately and systematically lied about his reasons for invading Iraq. Iraq had no stockpiles of WMD's and no ties to Al Qaeda, and George Bush knew it. Bush even lied about the start of the war, which began with bombing 'spikes' in June 2002," said Bob Fertik, President of

from Shakespeare's Sister

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Downing Street Minutes Headed for House of Representatives

Downing Street Minutes to Hit House Floor

Congressman John Conyers, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee are asking their colleagues in the House of Representatives to join them on the evening of June 28 to discuss the Downing Street Minutes on the floor of the House.

 | After Downing Street

Because It's the People on the Ground Who Matter

You know, the ones without enough body armor.

Shakespeare's Sister lays out some truth about the real betrayed in this war: the troops.

Serving Liberals Talk Back to Karl Rove

Question Time

General who admitted 'Secret Air Strikes' to become Chief of Staff of Air Force? Well, let's ask some pointed questions during his confirmation hearing.

General Moseley nominated for CSAF

Pot, Meet Kettle

Ignoring Facts

At his press conference Wednesday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld criticized two of America's "largest newspapers" -- without naming them -- for excessive and often "erroneous" coverage of U.S. military detainee abuses.

Erroneous, eh? That wouldn't be because of running the lies you told them, would it?


In Alaska, 68 miles of contentious asphalt

But Emily Ferry, a conservationist for the Alaska Transportation Priorities Project, says the expense of road construction is being deliberately underestimated to win support, and many believe the actual cost will reach $1 billion because of the challenging terrain. The day the highway opens, if it ever does, it will be known as the most perilous in the world because of avalanches, she says. One state official said it will require an ongoing arsenal of bomb shells being detonated for seven months of the year to prevent snow slides.

Stupid. This road is f***ing stupid.

Murkowski makes it sounds like Alaska needs California-dense infrastructure or something, that it has to "catch up" from only having become a state in 1959. As if your state's street cred is all about, well, streets. That's f***ing stupid. There's 630,000 people in the whole state. We don't need freeways. Alaska's not California, and this is not some sort of highway version of the 'space race' or something between the states.

Monday, June 27, 2005

This just made my whole day

Philadelphia Mandates Black History for Graduation


CA Guard Anti-Terrorism Intel Unit?

State Guard forms anti-terrorism intelligence unit

Although Guard officials said the new unit would not collect information on American citizens, top National Guard officials have already been involved in tracking at least one recent Mother's Day anti-war rally organized by families of slain American soldiers, according to e-mails obtained by the Mercury News.
Creation of California's intelligence unit is already raising concerns for civil libertarians who point to a string of abuses in the 1960s and 1970s when the military collected information on more than 100,000 Americans, infiltrated church youth groups, posed as reporters to interview activists, monitored peaceful protests and even attended an elementary school Halloween party in search of a ''dissident.''
''The National Guard doesn't need to do this,'' said Christopher Pyle, a former Army intelligence officer who first exposed the military's domestic spying operations in 1970. ''Its job is not to investigate individuals, but to clear streets, protect facilities and help first responders.''

I'm very confused by this. What is the CA National Guard's mission?

Generally, the National Guard is called upon to help the state deal with natural disasters and riots.

CA National Guard's Mission:

Provide mission ready forces to the federal government and protect the public safety of the citizens of California by providing military support to civil authorities during natural disasters and other emergencies and provide service and support to the local communities in which we work and live.

(CA National Guard's History)

This comes off as scope creep in a major way. Do we really want all the state guards forming their own agencies to address this particular subject? Won't you just get the same problem the Bush Administration has complained about for decentralized (and therefore uncommunicative with one another) information-gathering?

More than Just Fixing in DSM - secret air strikes, too

Remember those memos? Have you read them yet? You should go read them. It's OK, I'll wait. Take your time. Pay close attention to the one that mentions beginning strikes before getting authorization to do so.

The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

"Spikes of activity", conveniently a month before congressional elections.


General admits to secret air war

THE American general who commanded allied air forces during the Iraq war appears to have admitted in a briefing to American and British officers that coalition aircraft waged a secret air war against Iraq from the middle of 2002, nine months before the invasion began.
Addressing a briefing on lessons learnt from the Iraq war Lieutenant-General Michael Moseley said that in 2002 and early 2003 allied aircraft flew 21,736 sorties, dropping more than 600 bombs on 391 “carefully selected targets” before the war officially started.

 | After Downing Street

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Extraordinary Rendition a Crime in Italy

Italy Judge Orders Arrest of 13 CIA Agents

ROME - An Italian judge on Friday ordered the arrests of 13 CIA officers for secretly transporting a Muslim preacher from Italy to Egypt as part of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts — a rare public objection to the practice by a close American ally.
The Egyptian was spirited away in 2003, purportedly as part of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program in which terror suspects are transferred to third countries without court approval, subjecting them to possible torture.

"That's Not Thoughtful Policy, That's Marketing"

Not just old news, the British documents raise important questions on the White House's credibility

Granted, finding a way to end the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq is at present more pressing than re-examining the rationale that was developed to start the war there more than two years ago. But the so-called Downing Street memos are still too significant to be dismissed as simply old news -- as the White House would like -- or left to historians.
They speak to the credibility of the administration of President George W. Bush, which is now telling the American people that significant progress is being made in Iraq and the murderous insurgency there is in its final throes. Meantime, U.S. military leaders say rebel attacks have remained constant at 50-60 a day, and last month was the deadliest for Iraqi civilians since the March 2003 U.S. invasion.

The eight memos also show British concern, bordering on alarm, for the lack of American plans for post-war Iraq at a time when the Bush administration was selling the belief that Iraqis would welcome their liberation and quickly embrace democracy. It has not, obviously, been such a smooth transition.
Most important for today, the evidence reflects an administration that makes a major decision and then finds or fits the evidence to back it up and sell it. That's not thoughtful policy. It's marketing.

LOCAL COMMENT: Conyers letter

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the Conyers letter was "simply rehashing old debates that have already been discussed."

I love how the White House says things like that, as if the fact that you brought something up before and didn't get an answer then means you've somehow magically gotten an answer so why are you asking now? Being stonewalled earlier is not "discussed".

Everytime I hear these people open their mouths, it's to say the same crap I've heard people say to me in the corporate world to get out of answering a question, or said myself, when I needed to be evasive. "I think if you go back over X you'll find it was already addressed" -- well, no, if it was already addressed we wouldn't still be asking. Can't just answer yes or no, because the answer is not what the client wants to hear: you're delayed, you screwed it up, you can't do the work, or it's going to cost twice as much, or whatever. Sheer cover-your-ass and avoidance.

I'm sick of it. I want some truth.

 | After Downing Street