Thursday, May 31, 2007

Those Damned American Leninists...

Check this out...
WASHINGTON: The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. A beef producer in the western state of Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.

The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.
As Rick Perlstein notes:
First, observe the contempt for liberty. When E. coli conservatives say self-regulation is preferable to government, they're even lying about that. Second, observe the contempt for small business. When a small company wants to - voluntarily! - hold its product to a higher standard, the government blocks it, in part because bigger companies have to be protected from the competition, in part because a theoretical threat to the bottom line (false positives) trumps protection against a deadly disease.
Leninists, I say. Leninists!

How many goddamn times do I gotta say it before it will sink in and people will believe it?
  • Capitalism can only be overthrown by revolutionary means? Check.

  • Officials are elected democratically, but once they are elected, all party members must abide by their decisions? Check.

  • Any attempt to reform capitalism by means other than state coercion are doomed to fail? Check.

  • Orchestrating the overthrow of existing government by undemocratic means, seizing power on behalf of its rank and file constituents, and setting up a dictatorship of the C- students? Check.

  • Using the powers of government to "educate" the electorate, so as to remove the various modes of "false consciousness" the "liberal elites" have instilled in them in order to make them more docile and easier to exploit economically? Check.

I'm getting pretty damned tired of having to point this out to people...

Telecom Wonkery

Apparently, props must needs be given up to John Edwards for stepping up with an open letter to the Federal Communications Commission on the subject of Internet accessibility and the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction.
Dear Chairman Martin:

The upcoming 700 megahertz spectrum auction presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape the next generation of American technology.

In recent years, the Internet has grown to touch everything and transform much of what it touches. It's not the answer to everything, but it can powerfully accelerate the best of America. It improves our democracy by making quiet voices loud, improves our economy by making small markets big, and improves opportunity by making unlikely dreams possible.

As you know, the Federal Communications Commission is now preparing to auction the 700 megahertz slice of the spectrum. This "beachfront" band is particularly well suited to wireless broadband because it has wide coverage and can easily pass through walls.

By setting bid and service rules that unleash the potential of smaller new entrants, you can transform information opportunity for people across America -- rural and urban, wealthy and not. As much as half of the spectrum should be set aside for wholesalers who can lease access to smaller start-ups, which has the potential to improve service to rural and underserved areas. Additionally, anyone winning rights to this valuable public resource should be required not to discriminate among data and services and to allow any device to be attached to their service. Finally, bidding should be anonymous to avoid collusion and retaliatory bids.

I urge you to seize this chance to transform the Internet and the future.

John Edwards

(Via TPM Café.)

Stoopidest Things Ever Said Part Oh-Who-The-Hell-Is-Counting-Anymore

[Updated Below]
Oh. My. God. NASA is at it again... No minor functionary grappling with half-understood metaphors, today; no, no, this morning we bring you none other than NASA Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, Michael Griffin.

Now I will pull out the relevant exerpts here, but you really need to hear the actuality of this guy talking on NPR's Morning Edition. Hear him wrestle with a long expected question that he is vainly hoping won't come.

For context, Griffin was answering criticism from a writer who was questioning NASA's emphasis on manned space flight and a new Moon/Mars program, which has left Earth Science programs in NASA looking for loose change in the cushions of the break room couches...

Check it:
"Q. It has been mentioned that NASA is not spending as much money as it could to study climate change — global warming — from space. Are you concerned about global warming?

A. I'm aware that global warming exists. I understand that the bulk of scientific evidence accumulated supports the claim that we've had about a one degree centigrade rise in temperature over the last century to within an accuracy of 20 percent. I'm also aware of recent findings that appear to have nailed down — pretty well nailed down the conclusion that much of that is man made. Whether that is a longterm concern or not, I can't say.

Q. Do you have any doubt that this is a problem that mankind has to wrestle with?

A. I have no doubt that … a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change. First of all, I don't think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown. And second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take.

Q. Is that thinking that informs you as you put together the budget? That something is happening, that it's worth studying, but you're not sure that you want to be battling it as an army might battle an enemy?

A. Nowhere in NASA's authorization, which of course governs what we do, is there anything at all telling us that we should take actions to affect climate change in either one way or another. We study global climate change, that is in our authorization, we think we do it rather well. I'm proud of that, but NASA is not an agency chartered to, quote, battle climate change."
So let me get this straight...

We know global warming is a man made problem, and NASA's answer is "sorry, it's not my job, man..." Shorter Griffin: "Because Fuck You! That's Why!"

Hate to burst yer bubble, bubba, but it is in fact yer job.

I am sorry to be such a picker of nits, but when the Executive Freekin' Director of NASA does not understand the actual law that created and enables his agency, then I feel more than a little obliged to set the record straight.

I would direct Mr. Griffin to his own fnorking web site, where we find Public Law 85-568, also known as the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958. In the very first section of the very first section, we find Congress expounding on the reason for creating NASA, where they say, ex-plicit-lee:
(d) The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives: (1) The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;[...]
That's the very first policy goal outlined in the enabling legislation for NASA.

Then, of course there is the entirety of Title IV of the act, which is all about NASA's responsibility for Earth Science:



Sec. 401. (a) The purpose of this title is to authorize and direct the Administration to develop and carry out a comprehensive program of research, technology, and monitoring of the phenomena of the upper atmosphere so as to provide for an understanding of and to maintain the chemical and physical integrity of the Earth's upper atmosphere.
So you see, Mr. Griffin, it really kinda is yer job to study the Earth relative to it's "chemical and physical" integrity.

And also, you absolutely have to love, "I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."

Yeah, because who are we to say the increasing drought, crop failure, weather extremes are necessarily bad things...

You know, it's not like political tools like Griffin surprise me anymore. But it doesn't make their ignorant pronouncements any less easy to swallow. For the guy in charge of NASA to go on a national radio news program and pronounce that NASA has no responsibility for participating in the science of global climate change is simply stoopid on a level that makes me question Griffin's very reality.

If this was a Turing test, he would have failed.

At the very least, he fails the "drooling idiot" test. But such is the legacy of an administration that has elevated political cronyism to an art form not seen since the Stalin era of the Soviet Union.

We need scientists... we get politically reliable monkeys. Of course, we all know that reality has that well documented liberal bias...

[Update 1.o] Apparently, we here at the Mojowire were not the only ones who caught that bravura performance by the dancing monkey yesterday. Scientists all over NASA are grimacing and shaking their heads today and calling for Griffin's resignation. In particular noted climate scientist James Hansen had some unkind words for Griffin.

NASA's official PR person's response: "It's NPR's fault for asking Griffin questions about global warming..." Which I guess is true enough...

mojo sends

Thursday, May 24, 2007

...Or The Terroiristes Will Win!

Via Digby's Hullaballoo, I see this disturbing report in The Washington Note about how the Cheney Administration is trying to throw President Cheesemonkey under the bus. Check out the conclusion:
The zinger of this information is the admission by this Cheney aide that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake by aligning himself with the policy course that Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, Michael Hayden and McConnell have sculpted.

According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the "right decision" when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the President's hands.

On Tuesday evening, i spoke with a former top national intelligence official in this Bush administration who told me that what I was investigating and planned to report on regarding Cheney and the commentary of his aide was "potentially criminal insubordination" against the President. I don't believe that the White House would take official action against Cheney for this agenda-mongering around Washington -- but I do believe that the White House must either shut Cheney and his team down and give them all garden view offices so that they can spend their days staring out their windows with not much to do or expect some to begin to think that Bush has no control over his Vice President.

It is not that Cheney wants to bomb Iran and Bush doesn't, it is that Cheney is saying that Bush is making a mistake and thus needs to have the choices before him narrowed.
Obviously, the Vice President doesn't believe in the Divinity Of Dubja. So, Dear Leader needs to be shown an offer he can't refuse. Obviously.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It's Always Worse Than You Imagine…

…even taking account of the fact that it's always worse than you imagine.

Our friends are starting to notice the disturbing news coming out of the Senate hearings into possible misconduct in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)— in particular, the implications of the recent testimony by James Comey suggesting the President, in March 2004, sent his chief of staff (Andrew Card) and his chief counsel (now the Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales) to pressure a heavily medicated John Ashcroft (then the Attorney General) into overruling the acting Attorney General (Deputy AG, James Comey) and sign off on reauthorizing the President's illegal domestic wiretapping program. Ashcroft refused and the President went ahead and ordered the program to continue without reauthorization from DOJ.

A lot of people are noticing where Comey said the entire senior leadership of the DOJ— including the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller— was ready to resign rather than reauthorize the domestic spying program. They're noticing that the program had been running for two years already (this was supposed to be a reauthorization) and, by then, it had become so heinous that even the Dread Sith Lord, John Ashcroft, couldn't stomach it anymore. They're also noticing that Comey later felt the need to bring Ted Olsen as a witness with him to the White House to speak with Card about resolving the crisis, and that Card wouldn't let Olsen into the room with him during the meeting.

The question keeps arising: what was so freaking horrific about the domestic spying program that even John Ashcroft couldn't abide it? Hence, the title of this post.

I mean… come on, now. You know what these thugs and criminals were doing. Do I have to spell it out for you?

Prepare yourself now. There's a non-zero probability that you will soon have to be swallowing down helpings of bad news about how the FBI became the private opposition research and black bag team for a whole slew of GOP election fraud games. You may find yourself learning that DOJ operatives have been using NSA wiretap transcripts for personal financial gain, maybe even sleazy sexual extortion in tight congressional races.

It is always worse than you imagine, even taking account of the fact that it is worse than you imagine.

Our Late Great Middle Eastern policy.

H/T to Andrew Sullivan for highlighting this. Unsurprisingly, it's a particularly tasty bit of nuttery from our old friend James Dobson, interviewing one Joel C. Rosenberg, about the upcoming end times. Sink your teeth into this:
Unless you begin look at this as a student of the Bible, a follower of Jesus Christ, and begin to say, OK, the Bible gives us some guidance on this. We can't say for sure that this is a prophetic event, but as followers of Jesus Christ, our command is to "be strong and courageous." That's what God said to Joshua four times in the first chapter of Joshua. We who have the Holy Spirit in us should not cower in the face of this, because the Muslims are lost, and because they are lost they are being driven I believe by THE ENEMY in a way that will confront us but we know that Jesus Christ is powerful and we know he is moving in the Middle East. I think what is most exciting in the Middle East is a story the media is missing: that in the last 30 years in Iran, there are now more than one million Muslims who have converted to faith in Christianity in Iran. If that's not evidence that we are living in the last days, I don't know what is.

Uh..even if that stat about Iran were true, it would still only constitute a minute fraction of the over 70 million people that live in Iran. Of course, Iran is diverse and there is a sizable Christian population in Iran, so I suspect Mr. Rosenberg is, um..mixed up about what was already there and what "converted". Nevertheless, you gotta love the way he gets his "Late Great Planet Earth" on. The problem is, unlike the 70's when it floated around the freaky christian fringe, it's the bedrock of a set of assumptions that our nations foreign policy is based on.

You know, S9 frequently laments how people like this make him feel like a wingnut conspiracy theorist. For my part, I've come to the conclusion they simply scare the shit out of me. Once you accept this is a fundamental assumption of a large portion of the conservative movement, you begin to see how their ideology makes a certain sense where it didn't before. Although it might be debatable to what degree it shapes our policies, I think you can make a pretty good argument it plays a role.

The best part, because you knew it had to have a creamy chocolate center, is this:
Joel, you are doing a great work. What you just mentioned of people in the Pentagon and the CIA are asking you for interepretations of what you see that allowed you to write these books. I think that's done by divine inspiration. And I appreciate it.

No, Thank YOU Mr. Dobson!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Fallwell, 1933-2007

Well, the gang over at FreeSaltLick are doing the potty-dance with barely disguised glee for this... so I won't keep them waiting.

How will I remember Fallwell the Hutt?

As a poisonous thug who befouled in every nest he could con his way into. He was a cancer on the American body politic and on the Christian faith; a consumate grifter whose fraudulent mix of snake-oil religion and demagogic politics knew only expedience and whose ideology served only his own self-enrichment, as he bilked the suckers and rubes unfortunate enough to want to pay their two-bits to see the "egress."

2 Peter 3:10: "The day of the Lord cometh, like a thief in the night..." Well, Jerry... you are going to stand tall before the Man, today.

You gots some 'splain' to do.

mojo sends

Byzantine (If by 'Byzantine' you mean cut rate gangster comedy)

Okay... well all know that the current junta in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice is a gang of all around venal, mendacious, incompetent boobs. No surpises there; just like the rest of the administration.

But, when exactly did they become the Warner Bros. Cartoons episode of "The Sopranos."

You all remember the episode where Sparky G. and Andy Card paid a midnight visit to the hospital to get domestic spying approved by the AG? Well, now we are getting a better view of exactly what weridness transpired that night...

I mean, you can't make this shit up... well, you could, but you'd be laughed out of the pitch meeting:
"According to [Deputy, then-acting, Atty. Gen. James] Comey, he was on his way home when he got a call from Ashcroft's wife that Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card were on their way to the hospital*. Comey then rushed to the hospital (sirens blaring) to beat them there and thwart "an effort to overrule me."

After Comey arrived at the hospital with a group of senior Justice Department officials, Gonzales and Card arrived and walked up to Ashcroft, who was lying barely conscious on his hospital bed. "Gonzales began to explain why he was there, to seek his approval for a matter," Comey testified. But Ashcroft rebuffed Gonzales and told him that Comey was the attorney general now. "The two men turned and walked from the room," said Comey.

A "very upset" Andrew Card then called Comey and demanded that he come to the White House for a meeting at 11 PM that night.

After meeting with Justice Department officials at the Justice Deaprtment, Comey went to the White House with Ted Olson, then the Solicitor General to the White House. He brought Olson along, Comey said, because he wanted a witness for the meeting..."
This is absolutely priceless. Alberto Gonzalez and Andy Card trying a cut rate Jedi mind control bit on a half-dead John Ashcroft; "John... just blink if you want the wire tapping, or softly moan in pain if you want us to just continue with the program..."

There is no bottom. Get ready, there's a lot more to be told. And it will be over the course of this year...

mojo sends

Monday, May 14, 2007

Some GOOD News For A Change…

Via the fine Cursor.Org, we see that Coral Ridge Ministries is cracking up. Yay! I see no downsides to this development.

Friday, May 11, 2007

We Know Where You Live (and that's just for starters)

Via Pharyngula, comes this rather disturbing anecdote that claims U.S. Border Patrol is subjecting bloggers who criticize their policies and procedures to punitive searches and online harassment (emphasis mine):
For a while now, Border Patrol agents at the Checkpoint on US 35 just north of Laredo have been making it clear that they have read my October, 2005 post, "Criminalizing the Political Lie". Yesterday evening, as I drove through [...] an agent (I usually look at the name badge, but it was late, and I was tired) told me he liked my "blog site," ironically smiling at me as he said, "you're Barber de Chiva," right? [...]

But read the comments from last night (by following the links to the original post, above), and you'll get a really solid feel for what passes for any kind of national security discussion down here. Among the training BP Agents receive (and it isn't a light regimen) is, of course, preparation for dealing with folks who don't like to be stopped every night driving home from work to have their various cars -- silver, red, what-have-you -- sniffed by dogs. Raise any questions about it, and you get the standard court-case spiel (once at home, I head straight for the law library in our guest room) and the barely-concealed aggression you see in this guy's comments. The "I-know-what-you-drive-and-where-you-live" stuff is only slightly mitigated, in his comments, by the "you hurt our feelings by calling us stupid" stuff.

Let me make something clear, agents and other readers, I don't have anything against any specific US Border Patrol agents. I have a problem with the fact that raising objections to USBP policy and procedure results in veiled threats and/or punitive searches. I have a problem with the unquestioned assumptions guiding the implementation of checkpoints like these. I want, obviously, to be able to express dissent without fear -- the agent claims familiarity with the constitution, but he seems to be missing key points.

For the record: I am sorry if my comments in 2005 caused hurt feelings. I wasn't really making an overt argument, then, about the Border Patrol, but leaving agents like this one with the impression that I think he's a "knuckle-dragger" obviously doesn't lead to productive dialogue, either; I regret that.
Anybody here remember the motto of the U.S. Border Patrol? "Honor First."

I think we may have some confusion in the ranks about what the word "honor" means.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Stoopidest Thngz Evar Sed, Part 0x7FFFF!

Think Progress has the awful bleating of Dick Morris explaining the Flypaper Theory of American counter-terrorism:
MORRIS: I think that withdrawal from Iraq — it obviously gives al Qaeda a huge victory. Huge victory. On the other hand, if we stay in Iraq, it gives them the opportunity to kill more Americans, which they really like.

One of the things, though, that I think the antiwar crowd has not considered is that, if we’re putting the Americans right within their arms’ reach, they don’t have to come to Wall Street to kill Americans. They don’t have to knock down the trade center. They can do it around the corner, and convenience is a big factor when you’re a terrorist.
Go ahead and watch the video clip if you can stomach it. He says it just like it reads.

At this point, the horror of FauxNews™ is more than my feeble brane can take. I feel like I'm sitting across the table from Citizen O'Brien in 1984 as he patiently delivers a completely frank explanation of the regime's inner workings, free of all official propaganda, given with the complete assurance that nobody has the power to use the information gained in any way dangerous to the regime[*].

If you want to know an accurate picture of the future, imagine a size-12 men's stiletto-heel pump stamping on a 19-year-old soldier's face, forever.

[*] Verbiage ganked from the Wikipedia entry on Mustapha Mond.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Okay, let's go through this again..

Brad Delong is eternally optimistic:
Back in 1998, 1999, and 2000 there was a deal to be struck: bring the existing Social Security system back into balance with a combination of (small) tax increases and (moderate) future benefit cuts, and supercharge it with add-on private but regulated and insured personal accounts. But neither Gingrich, Hastert, Armey, Delay, or Lott were interested in such a deal--it would give another substantive public-policy victory to Bill Clinton, you see. After 2000 Bush was interested in--well, it was never clear what Bush was interested in, for different advisors said very different things, and Bush never proposed a planBut the deal that was there to be struck in 1998, 1999, and 2000 is still there to be struck, if program design and decision-making can be moved out of the White House to locations with credibility.

Brad is wrong on two counts here. First, that the sole reason that a Social Security reform deal was not struck during the 2nd Clinton Term was to deny Clinton a policy victory. Now, that certainly would have been sufficient reason for any of the kooks he mentions to prevent it from happening, but that's not the main reason the GOP Congressional leadership would never have struck such a deal with Clinton. The reason is that they want Social Security destroyed, not reformed. It's really that simple. All this talk of grand reform is simply a canard the current republican party leaders throw around at Beltway reporters to perpetuate the Kabuki Theater of bipartisanship they act out in front of the Tim Russerts and David Broders of the beltway press. The idea that anyone other than a few moderate republican dead-enders would even contemplate doing anything to a) help the long term survival of Social Security or b) socialize the risks of retirment even further is profoundly absurd.

The second point that Brad is wrong about is the notion that negotiation on a complex policy issue is remotely possible with anyone in the Republican Party in Washington. The whole party from top to bottom has developed and fed upon a visceral hatred of the New Deal and anything to do with it, and with a few exceptions, has purged anyone from the leadeship in the GOP in Washington who has the slightest interest or competenence in a complex policy solution, particularly to a problem they don't believe exists! The only solution is to drive them so far out of power that even the post-Hoover wilderness will look like the Elyisian Fields by comparison.