Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The blindness of loyalty

"It is sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons."
--George W. Bush, August 27, 2007


Heckuva job, Al.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The future of the Internet without Net Neutrality

LOLLAPALOOZA WEBCAST: SPONSORED/CENSORED BY AT&T?

From Pearl Jam's website:

"After concluding our Sunday night show at Lollapalooza, fans informed us that portions of that performance were missing and may have been censored by AT&T during the "Blue Room" Live Lollapalooza Webcast.

"When asked about the missing performance, AT&T informed Lollapalooza that portions of the show were in fact missing from the webcast, and that their content monitor had made a mistake in cutting them.

"During the performance of 'Daughter' the following lyrics were sung to the tune of Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick in the Wall' but were cut from the webcast:

"- 'George Bush, leave this world alone.' (the second time it was sung); and

"- 'George Bush find yourself another home.'

"This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media.

"AT&T's actions strike at the heart of the public's concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media.

"Aspects of censorship, consolidation, and preferential treatment of the internet are now being debated under the umbrella of "NetNeutrality." Check out
The Future of Music or Save the Internet for more information on this issue."

Here is the unedited footage:


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rudy Giuliani's Five Big Lies About 9/11


Here is a must read article by Wayne Barrett from the Village Voice about Rudy Giuliani's fictitious hero persona.

Protect America from itself

Forty-one Democratic Congresspeople voted "yea" on Bush's ironically named "Protect America Act;" 16 Democratic senators did likewise [Evan Bayh (Indiana); Tom Carper (Delaware); Bob Casey (Pennsylvania); Kent Conrad (North Dakota); Dianne Feinstein (California); Daniel Inouye (Hawai‘i); Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota); Mary Landrieu (Louisiana); Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas); Claire McCaskill (Missouri); Barbara Mikulski (Maryland); Bill Nelson (Florida); Ben Nelson (Nebraska); Mark Pryor (Arkansas); Ken Salazar (Colorado); Jim Webb (Virginia)]. What were these people thinking? Why exactly do they believe this incompetent sitting president deserves approbation for continued attack on our basic liberties?

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, angrily chastised his colleagues for bending to the administration's will. "The day we start deferring to someone who's not a member of this body ... is a sad day for the U.S. Senate," Feingold said. "We make the policy -- not the executive branch."

What's at stake?

The law:
  • Defines the act of reading and listening into American's phone calls and internet communications when they are "reasonably believed" to be outside the country as not surveillance.
  • Gives the government 6 months of extended powers to issue orders to "communication service providers," to help with spying that "concerns persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States." The language doesn't require the surveillance to only target people outside the United States, only that some of it does.
  • Forces Communication Service providers to comply secretly, though they can challenge the orders to the secret Foreign Intelligence Court. Individuals or companies given such orders will be paid for their cooperation and can not be sued for complying.
  • Makes any program or orders launched in the next six months last for a year after being authorized.
  • Grandfathers in the the current secret surveillance program -- sometimes referred to as the Terrorist Surveillance Program -- and any others that have been blessed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
  • Requires the Attorney General to submit to the secret surveillance court its reasons why these programs aren't considered domestic spying programs, but the court can only throw out those reasons if it finds that they are "clearly erroneous."
  • Requires the Attorney General to tell Congress twice a year about any incidents of surveillance abuse and give statistics about how many surveillance programs were started and how many directives were issued.
  • Makes no mention of the Inspector General, who uncovered abuses of the Patriot Act by the FBI after being ordered by Congress to audit the use of powerful self-issued subpoenas, is not mentioned in the bill.

In short, the law gives the Administration the power to order the nation's communication service providers -- which range from Gmail, AOL IM, Twitter, Skype, traditional phone companies, ISPs, internet backbone providers, Federal Express, and social networks -- to create possibly permanent spying outposts for the federal government.

These outposts need only to have a "significant" purpose of spying on foreigners, would be nearly immune to challenge by lawsuit, and have no court supervision over their extent or implementation.

Abuses of the outposts will be monitored only by the Justice Department, which has already been found to have underreported abuses of other surveillance powers to Congress.

[The above summary is from Ryan Singel's Wired Blog. Worth reading.]

How these Dems could willingly give these powers to a White House that has already shown the most egregious indifference to the rule of law is beyond me.

At least none of the candidates voted for it. And it lasts just 6 months. So Karl Rove has 6 months to wiretap all of the Democratic presidential candidates. In between leather parties, that is.

Why I hate Bill O'Reilly (or is Rupert Murdoch the anti-christ?)

I've never really known just what rock Bill O'Reilly crawled out from under. All of a sudden here was this celebrity Fox News wingnut propagandist, seemingly materialized out of some old coke-euphoria dream of G. W. Bush. I had never even known the guy existed before. Which leads me to suspect that, much like Jonah Goldberg, this odd form of human life is manufactured, promoted and elevated by the corporate media empires that find their personalities so useful.

There are actually many reasons why O'Reilly fills me with gleeful homicidal fantasies, but it can all be encapsulated by watching
this snippet of his show where he treats a chapter president of Iraq Veterans Against The War with such callow and shallow disregard that I wanted to grab his scrawny rooster neck through the screen and pop his swollen head like a pimple. Of course, all of this is framed within the useful litany of lies that this boor espouses daily on behalf of the junta of thugs and criminals currently ruining the country.

My favorite little moment of pearl-like disingenuousness is when Willy Boy actually uses the word "propaganda" to describe the truth about the war in Iraq, a wonderful example of the Orwellian techniques by which the FoxNews machine bamboozles its base of brain-addled couch potatoes. All-in-all
Geoffrey Millard conducted himself with aplomb against the lily-livered chickenhawk.

Watch it here.

Which brings me to my parenthetical subtitle regarding O'Reilly's f├╝hrer. I love the irony that Britain and Australia's most successful purveyor of tabloid soft core porn is the standard bearer for the right wing noise machine. Y'know, family values and all that. But their hypocrisy is already legion - we know. How many rabid born-again flag waving GOP homophobe buttwads have now been revealed as philanderers, pederasts and closeted homosexuals (and how many are still to be outed, eh, Karl?).

So now Murdoch has his hands on the bulwark of the oligarchy, the Wall Street Journal. Editorially, the WSJ has always been extremely rightwing, but everyone at least gave them plaudits for keeping their news reportage objective and meticulous (I don't know - I never read it). Most analysts figure that will soon be a thing of the past, as Rupert
positions his new acquisition to counter the perceived "liberal bias" of the NY Times.

I figure that there can only be 2 reasons why Rupert has showered Hillary Clinton's campaign with money. He either figures she is absolutely the Dem that any mediocre Republican can defeat, or else he views her as the one Dem he can work with if she gets elected. I think it the latter, personally. Hillary is a corporate soldier through and through. Never forget it was her hubby's administration who got the media consolidation ball running by which Mr. Murdoch has profited so royally.