Seen on the street in Kyiv.

Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

“The Mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” -- The TOFF *

"Foreign Relations Boil Down to Two Things: Talking With People or Killing Them." -- Unknown

“Speed is a poor substitute for accuracy.” -- Real, no-shit, fortune from a fortune cookie

"If you believe that you are talking to G-d, you can justify anything.” — my Dad

"Colt .45s; putting bad guys in the ground since 1873." -- Unknown

"Stay Strapped or Get Clapped." -- probably not Mr. Rogers

"The Dildo of Karma rarely comes lubed." -- Unknown

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

* "TOFF" = Treasonous Orange Fat Fuck, A/K/A Dolt-45,
A/K/A Commandante (or Cadet) Bone Spurs,
A/K/A El Caudillo de Mar-a-Lago, A/K/A the Asset., A/K/A P01135809

Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Flu Strain H1Z1

Washing your hands will do you no good.

(We told you Brits that there would come a day when you would regret disarming your population. But did you listen?)


(Yes I know it's a joke.)

Johnny Appleseed

Has anyone gone to one of these? There aren't any that are less than 3 hours from Misfit Domi, but it still sounds intriguing.

I'd probably have to get a .22 rifle, though. 400 rounds through a Mosin 91/30 would beat the crap out of me, even with a recoil pad.

The Pro-Torture Church

White evangelical Christians make up the pro-torture church. 62% say that torture is often or sometimes justified. When you add in the 17% who say that it is rarely justified, you get to a stunning 79% of evangelicals who would gladly put you on the rack and tear your limbs out.

The people least likely to approve of the use of torture are the heathens who don't go to church.

If I were a Christian and if I believed in all of the "Prince of Peace" and "turn the other cheek" and "God is Love" stuff that I see on the signboards outside of the churches, I'd be seriously depressed at that.

But I am not a Christian.


Chrysler Goes Under

Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 today, reportedly after a small group of lenders refused to go along with a deal to restructure the company.

If you care to know who today's villains are, they are: Perella Weinberg (some kind of exclusive investment outfit), Stairway Capital (hedge fund, another bunch of greedy fucks) and the OppenheimerFund. Of course, they deny it, but what can you expect from those goniffs?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


The launch of a 1/10th scale model of a Saturn V:

That model stands over 30' high.

The real thing:

It has been 36 years since the last flight of a Saturn V (launch of the Skylab).

Oh, the Cat-ity

I trimmed Jake's and Gracie's claws this morning before I went off to work. Neither one are fond of the process, but other than a few growls and moans, it was no big deal. Jake did gum me to show he wasn't happy.

I saved George for tonight. In over a dozen years, I have never cut his claws too closely. I've never cut them to the quick. But from the drama, you'd think that I was attempting to do surgery on him with the top from a can of cat food.

Because he is such a pain in the ass, I wound up having to cut 14 of the 18 claws. I do his back claws first, he hates having them done more than the front ones and if I do the back ones after the front ones, he struggles too much.

When I finished, he made a beeline for the scratching pad and got to work on sharpening them back up.

A Child's Idea of a Tragedy

From one of my favorite blogs: The Washing of the Cubboo.

Warning Shot

Olympia Snowe in today's New York Times:
There is no plausible scenario under which Republicans can grow into a majority while shrinking our ideological confines and continuing to retract into a regional party. Ideological purity is not the ticket back to the promised land of governing majorities — indeed, it was when we began to emphasize social issues to the detriment of some of our basic tenets as a party that we encountered an electoral backlash.
I see no sign that the party of Hoover is listening.

Anyone know any feelthy-rich conservatives who are willing to cough up the cash necessary to get a new party off the ground? (Save your pixels; the Libertarians are not it.)

Mike, Look Up the Definition of "Emergency Preparedness"

Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele defended GOP opposition to pandemic preparedness funding in the stimulus bill in an interview with CNN Tuesday, saying the party had no way of knowing that such a threat might actually materialize. "Did we know this at the time of the vote?" Steele asked. "Don't come back and make this link six months after the fact ... we don't know what tomorrow holds." He added, "I'm not going to sit here and accept that connection."
That has to rank among the top of the list of Lamest Political Excuses in History. I gather that Steele figures that the Gods of Fire will make an appointment before a fire breaks out in his home.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

RINO, DINO, Same-O, Same-O

I have read a few things on some conservativish blogs basically saying: "Good riddance to Specter, he's a RINO. And the other RINOs such as McCain, Snow and Collins can join him."

Be careful what you wish for, guys.

Right now, the inability of the Obama Administration to pass a new assault-weapons ban hinges on a handful of "Blue Dog" Democrats in the Senate who have made no secret about their opposition to a new AWB. The math is such that now they can block it. But as the Right keeps tightening up their ideological purity tests and losing seats in the Congress as a result, the ability of the blue Dogs to stop a new AWB will be diminished.

The GOP will have little effect on national policy if it keeps shrinking towards a core of bitter white guys who think the Civil War turned out badly. The businesses and industry groups who used to fill the coffers of the RNC will not continue to do so, they will give their money to those who can influence policy. This already has begun to happen.

The GOP, as a national party, is bickering about ideological purity as it drifts down towards the political equivalent of crush depth. Instead of doing whatever it can to hang onto viable politicians who identify with the GOP, they have been purging the moderates in primaries and then losing the seats in the general election. The GOP is becoming increasingly ideologically pure and irrelevant.

Maybe folks on the Right think this is a good thing. But they should ponder that if the Democrats gain many more seats, the Blue Dogs won't be able to stop another AWB, or worse. And this time, if anyone thinks that the next iteration of the Brady Bill will also have a sunset provision, they are seriously fooling themselves.

Trusting Specter

I don't. For that matter, I don't trust Joe Lieberman.

Say that you are the CEO of a company. There is a person who works for your toughest competitor, be it a crackerjack engineer, a top-notch saleswoman, a really savvy finance guy. You decide that you want that person working for you, so you make subtle contact and gradually woo that person from your competitor.

Now that person is working for you. Do you trust him? Do you think she is loyal to your company? After all, you've just shown that your new employee can be bought, for you just did it.

I don't trust either one. I probably trust Specter even less, for I well remember that when the party of Hoover was in control of the Senate, he made brave noises about confronting the Bush Administration on wiretapping and other blatant violations of the Constitution. But when it came to to pick up the hammer and bring it down, Specter reached for the Nerf hammer.

Specter is a weasel. He may be the Democrat's weasel, now, but he is still a weasel.

One Step Closer to Being Wiped Out by Skynet

The Autonomous Rotorcraft Sniper System:

Great. Just fucking great. Beside the "Terminator" stuff and the need to start studying up on how to survive a robot uprising, I sure hope the Army has considered this:

One fine day, we may be at war with a force that is not comprised of Koran-spouting illiterates with AK-47s. Anything that is controlled by a radio signal may be either jammed or possibly spoofed. In this context, "spoofing" would be acquiring control of it and using against our own troops.

Another Victory for the Club for Growth

Arlen Specter has switched parties. That leaves 40 from the Party of Hoover left in the Senate.

I do not feel at all bad for the GOP. One of these days, they may learn the lesson that if you run a party based on the whacko fringe, you are going to be a small minority. The GOP has surrendered to its radicals and they have been energetic in punishing anyone in the party who does not hew to the Gospel of El Rushbo.

The GOP has abandoned any claim to the political middle, which may be one of the reasons why, even in a congressional district where they had a clear majority in party registrations, they still lost a special election a few weeks ago.

Look for Susan Collins and/or Olympia Snowe to be next to jump.

Hard to Improve on "Great"

Bring back the Spad!

Or a reasonable facsimile.

The Super Tucano isn't exactly a Spad, but it'll do for now. Of course, Not-Invented-Here Syndrome is alive and well in the Air Force, so they are going to look to convert their trainer into a attack aircraft that is less capable than the Super Tucano.

Smacking Down the Swine Flu

The Daily Show takes on the hype around the Swine Flu:

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Jason Jones does "paranoid crazy person" better than most:

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Battlestar Galactica- "Daybreak, Pt. 2" -- 1 month later

No, I didn't go back and watch it again. I'm not going to. I'll stick with my original reaction.

I see that the DVD for the opening of the next series "Caprica" has been released. Frak that shit. I'm not going to trust those putzim again.

Some People Change Their Principles

I guess it depends on who is in power, at least for some politicians:
"There is no place for abuse in what must be considered the family of man. There is no place for torture and arbitrary detention. There is no place for forced confessions."
That was Newt Gingrich in 1997.

Of course, by 2009, he was singing a slightly different tune. Gingrich probably knows, in his soul, that torture is evil, but since so much of the Republican base is pro-torture, he cannot afford to alienate them.

"Ah Always Rely On the Kindness of Strangers..."

"...not to key my fucking Mercedes."

Not that I would ever do such a thing. But seriously. If your car is that precious to you, go rent a fucking garage.

The Republicans Better Not Try to Cut Funding For Asteroid Monitoring

For if they do, sure as shit, we'll have a planet-killer inbound in less than six months. That is the way that the GOP's luck has been going recently, what with Governor Bobby "Volcano" Jindal coming out against volcano monitoring a few weeks before Mt. Redoubt erupts (threatening an oil terminal) and then Susan "Pandemic" Collins stripping funding for pandemic preparations a couple of months before a swine flu outbreak.

That's the way things seem to be breaking for the Party of Limbaugh. The GOP could strip funds from DBP for planning against a zombie infestation and we'd be head-shooting the undead by the end of the year. What the hell, they lost the special congressional election in NY-20 a few weeks ago in a district that has nearly 100,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Let's Just Send Tea to Texas

Gov. Rick Perry Saturday asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 37,430 courses of antiviral medications from the Strategic National Stockpile as a precaution after three cases of swine flu were confirmed in Texas.
Yes, that is the very same Rick Perry who, eleven days ago at the tea-baggery protests, said this:
"I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state."
And this:
"Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that."
Oh, sure. When everything is going well, douchebags like Perry rail and scream at the Federal government. But when Hurricane Ike slammed into Galveston, Perry had zero problem with asking the Federal government for help. There was not one Texas teabagging protester at the border to stop FEMA trucks.

That didn't stop the teabaggery fiasco from happening not eight months later. How soon they forget. They all want the Federal government to step in and help them, but horrors of horrors if they actually have to pay taxes!

Now, with a chance that a serious pandemic is in the offing, Governor Perry is in the forefront of asking the Federal government for help.

So here, for your viewing pleasure, is a photo of a world-class hypocrite: The Governor of Texas, the not-exactly-honorable Rick Perry:

This Pandemic Has Been Brought to You By the Republican Party

That is the story in the Nation, which reported that the Republicans were very proud in being able to strip nearly a billion dollars' worth of funding for pandemic flu preparations from the stimulus bill. As noted in the article, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was a leader in the move to strip funding for pandemic preparation. As she brags in her own website:
Sen. Collins expressed concern about a number of spending provisions, including $780 million for pandemic-flu preparedness.
I predict that, if the swine flu turns into a real pandemic, you will see Republicans running for cover on this even faster than sick people going to the pharmacy with a prescription for Tamiflu.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bush: Don't Say You Were Not Warned

In 2002, the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (the people that ran the SERE training) sent a memo to the Pentagon's chief lawyer about the effectiveness of torture:
Conceptually, proponents [of torture] envision the application of torture as a means to expedite the exploitation process. In essence, physical and/or psychological duress are viewed as an alternative to the more time-consuming conventional interrogation process. The error inherent in this line of thinking is the assumption that, through torture, the interrogator can extract reliable and accurate intelligence. History and a consideration of human behavior would appear to refute this assumption.
Note also that the memo stated that if the US uses torture, that will be seen by the rest of the world as license to torture Americans.


By special request, I am featuring Gracie in today's Caturday post.

Here, she is hanging out on the bed early one morning.

She was not very interested in looking at the camera.

This shot is of Gracie towards the end of a yawn. I love the way her nose is wrinkling.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Ferguson Rifle

The world's first military breechloader.

The Ferguson rifle was interesting, but it is really relegated to the "what if" or "if only" category. As the linked article noted, breechloading blackpowder rifles did not become widely accepted until metallic cartridges were developed. But within a couple of decades, smokeless powder was in use and most militaries with an ounce of sense rapidly phased out their blackpowder rifles.

It should surprise nobody that the US Army was one of the last to make the switch.

It is Not Often That Keith Olbermann Underplays This

But on the issue of torture, he certainly did:

How Rumor-Mongering Works

Stephen Colbert shows how it is done:

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Making Terrorists and Radicals the Bush Way

A McClatchy investigation found that instead of confining terrorists, Guantanamo often produced more of them by rounding up common criminals, conscripts, low-level foot soldiers and men with no allegiance to radical Islam — thus inspiring a deep hatred of the United States in them — and then housing them in cells next to radical Islamists.
That this happened is really no surprise.
In a classified 2005 review of 35 detainees released from Guantanamo, Pakistani police intelligence concluded that the men — the majority of whom had been subjected to "severe mental and physical torture," according to the report — had "extreme feelings of resentment and hatred against USA."
No shit, which is why the NYPD and other police departments have made so many friends in minority communities. It's one of the reasons why the French lost Algeria; if you abuse the inhabitants of an area, all you do is make enemies.

That the Bush Administration and the US Army was ignorant of history is no real shock. George W. Bush has been the best recruiter that the Islamic militants have ever had.

We will be reaping the results of this for many years to come.

I Am Shocked, Shocked, To Learn That

the lobbying group for the fossil fuel industry suppressed the findings of its own scientists that the science linking climate change to carbon dioxide emissions was irrefutable.

They were and still are as despicably dishonest as the tobacco industry.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Overthinking the Prosecution Problem

Some legal scholars think it will be difficult to indict Dick Cheney, George Tenet, Porter Goss, Donald Rumsfeld (and George Bush. I submit that they are overthinking the problem.

The obvious charge is a charge of command responsibility, otherwise known as the Yamashita (or Medina) Doctrine.

These are the elements of the charge:

1) A war crime has been committed;

2) Those committing the atrocities/war crimes were under the command of the defendant;

3) The commander knew or should have known, based on the surrounding circumstances at the time, that the subordinates were engaging impermissible conduct; and

4) The commander failed to prevent or punish those responsible for the commission of such crimes.

The last three elements are "gimmies." The torturers both in the CIA and in the military were under the command of Bush and Cheney. The military torturers were under the command of Rumsfeld, the CIA torturers were under the command of Tenet and Goss. The four potential defendants not only knew of the commission of war crimes (element 3), they authorized and approved of them (element 4). That is clear from the record and from the statements of many of the defendants, which would be admissible.

So the sole area to argue about at trial will be whether war crimes took place.

I don't see the prosecution's case-in-chief taking longer than a day to put on after the opening statements are made. The defense is going to have to argue on the first element. They will have to argue that the torture wasn't really torture, for the other elements of the charge are indeed "gimmies" to the prosecution.

Trying the bosses will not be hard. That is why you probably will not see any of the senior officials of the Bush Administration taking any trips to Europe anytime soon.

If you do not think that a charge of command responsibility is not a serious one, consider this:

We hung General Yamashita.

Connecting the Dots

Rachel Maddow drives home the point that the White House was the root of the use of torture.

This all came from the desire of George Bush and Dick Cheney to create a reality that did not exist. The justification claimed by the defenders of torture, that it was a "ticking time bomb" scenario, is just bullshit.


Torture Does Not Work

That is the assertion of this piece in the Times of London.
The Allies in the Second World War learnt that lesson early on. While the Gestapo employed verschärfte Vernehmung (“enhanced interrogation techniques”, the term favoured by the Bush Administration) British and American interrogators adopted far more sophisticated methods, using psychological pressure that produced extraordinary results.

“Violence is taboo,” wrote Robin “Tin Eye” Stephens, the fearsome monocled martinet who ran Britain's wartime interrogation centre in London. “Not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information.”
That torture not only does not work, but produces even more determined enemies once knowledge of it leaks, has also been proven in conflict after conflict.

The most troubling thing about this whole sordid affair is that there is ample evidence that the conservatives, from Dick Cheney to Justice Antonin Scalia and, of course, all of the lockstep GOP congresscritters and the propagandists at Fox News and elsewhere, have been taking their talking points from a fictional television show. That is far more insane than taking away medical advice from M*A*S*H.

The idea that our government took policy and interrogation advice from a fictional TV show is both rather depressing and it speaks to the lack of any intellectual depth in the Bush White House. Bush may have not been the retarded loon that many of us suspect he was (and remains), but it is clear that he was profoundly incurious about anything and everything that went on during his tenure in office.

It probably would have been better for the country if the Bush Administration had taken this from M*A*S*H:

and just offed themselves.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What About Lynndie England?

Is there any doubt, now, that what happened at Abu Ghraib was not just a bunch of "renegade guards on the third shift abusing prisoners", but that it was indeed part and parcel of the torture program instituted by the Bush Administration?

Why, if it so wrong to prosecute the CIA's torturers, was it right and honorable to go after a bunch of junior enlisted men and women for doing what they were ordered to do?

But that is no surprise, is it? They weren't rogue guards, they were doing what the men in the shadows told them to do. Only they were stupid about it; they took photos, the photos leaked out and the Bush Administration, made up of a group of ghouls not noted for personal courage, hung them out to dry.

That is another reason, to my mind, why we need to prosecute the senior members of the Bush Administration, including Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. They ordered this and then, when the troops were caught, they cut them loose to face the wrath of the civilized world.

Does anyone now doubt the utter cowardice and soullessness of Dick Cheney? He is as close to evil incarnate as we have had in the upper levels of our government in many a year.

Why Texas Should Consider Seceding

So idiots like this congressman have to stay there:

Gaaah! The Stupid!

By the way, did anyone check Michele Bachmann's birth certificate? She must have gone to school with that guy.


"Utter Fucking Failure" Is Not the Standard

That seems to be the line from the man nominated to be the new boss of FEMA:
Craig Fugate, who oversaw the response to back to back hurricanes in Florida, said at his confirmation hearing Wednesday that he'd hold the Federal Emergency Management Agency to a "much higher standard of success" than its Hurricane Katrina performance.
No shit. I sure hope that FEMA has a standard that is higher than "miserable failure." Otherwise, we'll be in for just another ride on the FEMA Failboat.

Torture Nation

In this post, I discussed how the SERE training techniques, the ones used to develop the Bush Administration torture methods, were based on the Chinese interrogations which were designed to elicit false confessions.

Not it turns out that eliciting false confessions is exactly what the Bush Administration desired.
The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.
Oh, there were evildoers, all right. They were located in the West Wing, the Executive Office Building and the E-Ring of the Pentagon. They were men who cared nothing for the facts, they only wanted that the captives who were tortured "confess" to something that was not true.

There is, in point of fact, no significant difference between the Bush Administration's use of torture in this decade and the use of torture over fifty years ago by the Communist Chinese.

The "conservatives", who continue to defend everything that the Administration of George Bush and Dick Cheney did, are indeed this decade's "Good Little Germans".

Torture Nation

JPRA instructor Joseph Witsch: “The physical and psychological pressures we apply in [SERE] training violate national and international laws. … I hope someone is explaining this to all these folks asking for our techniques and methodology!”
I suspect that was indeed explained and the response from Cheney and Rumsfeld was "does it look like we give a fuck."

This is the Senate report (263 page PDF file)


Earth Day

Earth Day is a day that is celebrated in the same spirit as National Brotherhood Week.

Torture Nation

Now it is confirmed that the Bush Administration was having people tortured well before they told their lawyers to justify torturing people.

The Obama Administration's view that those who tortured based on the the legal memos are not going to be prosecuted. That begs the question of whether those who tortured before the memos were written can be prosecuted.

What has bothered me, besides the blatant violations of both US and international law by the Bush Administration, is the fact that the theoretical underpinning of the entire torture program was faulty. The torture techniques were reverse-engineered from the SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, escape) program, which was first developed by the Air Force following the Korean War. The SERE program was designed to train Air Force aircrew to resist the forms of interrogation used by the Chinese during the Korean War.

When the Chinese tortured American prisoners during the Korean War, their goal was not to gain useful intelligence. The Chinese wanted the prisoners to confess, on camera, to war crimes. The Chinese tortured the prisoners for propaganda purposes. The Chinese wanted to extract false confessions, knowing that under torture, people will say anything it takes to get the torture to stop.

One did not have to be a Ph.D. level historian to understand that torture produces false confessions. The Romans knew that. The Holy Roman Inquisition knew that, though they had the same level of concern for the truth that the Chinese did (and, apparently, still do).

The Bush Administration's willful blindness about both the illegality of torture and the unreliability of torture should be prosecuted. It will be prosecuted.

Two more thoughts: Dick Cheney is going public to argue that torture was a good thing. At this point, he is arguing less for history and more to save his own neck. Cheney knows that not every one of those lawyers involved in the torture memos will go quietly. At least one of them will lay the blame at Cheney's door.

Second: The Bush Administration has been out of power for three months and the discussion has moved from whether war crimes were committed and whether investigations and trials should be conducted to now who should be investigated and tried. Consider how quickly other nations have moved to clean up after their own war criminals. In most cases, it takes from at least a decade (Argentina, Chile, Peru) to, in the case of Japan, never, for a nation to come to grips with the criminal acts committed by its government.

We're getting there in a fraction of a year. I submit that is something we should take some pride in.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Say You Have a Customer Service Business

And say that you have, like so many other businesses, seen revenues drop off as a result of the Bush/Greenspan Recession.

Would you:

A) Figure out a way to lower prices on some services to attract more business.
B) Adjust your hours to make it more convenient for your customers who also have jobs.
C) Raise your prices.
D) Cut your hours, thus making it less convenient for people to use your business.
E) A and B.
F ) C and D.
G) None of the above.

If you chose Answer "F", you probably are the Postmaster General of the US.

And, in a nutshell, that is one of the reasons why your organization is dying. The very last thing that the Postal Service cares about is providing decent customer service.

My local post office has cut its service hours a lot. Not two miles down the road from them is a UPS store.

One fine guess as to where I now go to send packages.

Aren't We Lucky

That this guy wasn't around on April 19, 1775:

On the other hand, maybe it would have been better if he was. The Lobsterbacks's officers would have been so convulsed with laughter that the Minutemen could have killed most of them with butter knives.

(The photo was from one of the tea-baggery events.)


Is China Buying Our Sole Source of Naval Nuclear Fuel?

Springbored thinks so. PetroChina, which is controlled by the Chinese government, is apparently buying McDermott International, which is now the only seller of nuclear fuel to the U.S. Navy.

McDermott also manages our Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

So where is the "Dubai Ports" level of outrage? Where are the bloviators who were so upset by the prospect of an Arab company running US ports? Shouldn't they be more upset by the idea of a bunch of Commies running our petroleum reserve and selling nuclear fuel to our navy?

Surveillance State

Two FBI workers used surveillance cameras to watch teen-aged girls in dressing rooms. Since the criminal complaint refers to them as "police officers", odds are that they were indeed FBI agents.

Besides the ookyness of the story itself, does anyone know why the FBI has a "satellite control room" in a fucking mall in Fairmont, West Virginia?


The "Response to Torture" Strategy

So now it becomes apparent what the strategy of the Obama Administration is: Let the momentum build for an investigation to the point that they can credibly say: "We had no choice but to launch a criminal investigation."

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Cat's View of the World

After all, cats were worshipped in ancient Egypt.

Bribery. Conspiracy. Espionage. Extortion. Obstruction of Justice. Pick One or More.

This is all over the blogosphere, I've seen about six posts about it, all keying off a story on Congressional Quarterly's web site:

Allegedly, the NSA wiretapped Rep. Jane Harman (D, CA) promising a "suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington."

Then Attorney General Gonzales stepped in and allegedly used that information to "persuade" Harman to line up behind the Bush Administration's expansive wiretapping by using his muscle to kill an FBI investigation of Harman.

Not that it did anyone any good. The charges proceeded. Gonzales was fired. The wiretapping is under fire. And Harman, who wanted to become the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and who also apparently wanted an intel job with the Obama Administration, was not given those jobs.

An ethics investigation needs to be opened on her. If all of the above is proven, she needs to be sanctioned and, at the least, lose all intelligence and security committee assignments and have her security clearances reduced to those that would be given to the Russian ambassador.

UPDATE: Might not have been an Israeli agent, after all. If not, then this story means nothing, beyond the obvious point that the NSA was indeed wiretapping American citizens and that high officials in the Bush Administration used the information generated for political purposes. Which is not exactly surprising.

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a word-processing program that was written by the same sort of sick fucks as who would think it funny to smear axle grease on a wheelchair ramp.

That is all.

Were You Rushed For Time When You Got Ready For Work This Morning?

You could have saved some time by washing with caffeine soap.

"We Only Had To Waterboard Those Guys A Couple of Times"

That was the claim by the torture justifiers in the CIA and the Bush Administration. They said that they waterboarded those guys and they stared spilling their guts in less than a minute. That was a leading point in their "this was no big deal" argument.

Turns out that was just bullshit. If they had to waterboard those guys that many times, either waterboarding was not as effective as they claimed or, if it was, the use of waterboarding was more sadism than interrogation.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Too Bad President Clinton Didn't Think To Say:

It's time for reflection. It's not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back and any sense of anger and retribution.
If you ever do anyone any harm or otherwise break the law, just try the Obama Administration line of "let's look forward and not back in retribution or anger."

Let me know how it turns out. I imagine that the answer will be "badly."

It's a damn good thing that these mooks in the Obama Administration were not running things in 1946, for it's a near certainty that Goering and the rest would have enjoyed a comfortable retirement.

Tailwheel Airplanes Keep You Humble

I went flying both yesterday and today. Yesterday was my first flight in two months; there was a good crosswind blowing. I made three acceptable landings at my home airport, which has a narrow runway.

Today, there was virtually no wind. I was too relaxed while landing, for I came as close to a groundloop as I probably can without wrapping the airplane up in a ball. I barely kept it on the runway.

The lesson from the airplane was clear: "Pay attention to me." You cannot get too full of yourself when you fly a tailwheel airplane, for it will show you the folly of pride in a way that a nosewheel airplane will not.

This is a Pitts Model 12 coming in for a landing. The engine is a Russian-made radial of anywhere from 360 to 400HP. To say it is a "hot airplane" is a mild understatement.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Death By Food

The Krispy-Kreme Burger.

Chicken-Fried Bacon:

And the Fifth-Third Burger:

So Texas Wants to Secede?

As Erik noted here, Texas has previously seceded from two nations. Both times, Texas seceded because Texans were determined to own slaves.

Both times, Texas fought in the defense of the right of rich people to own slaves. (I'll bet that they don't mention that at the Alamo.)

Now, the moronic governor of Texas (there is some redundancy in that) wants to secede to defend the right of rich people not to pay more than a minimal tax rate. And just like the previous two times, you'll find people who will never benefit from those policies lining up to fight in defense of them.

Erik also noted that because of the Civil War and Reconstruction, in which Texas agreed to rejoin the Union, the terms by which Texas originally joined the Union were nullified.



Bella watches over the back yard.

Camouflage. Jake haz it.

A seagull snacks on a ham bone from Easter.

I woke up this morning to George lying on my chest, purring, and looking at me from a distance of about three inches. He'll do that at night, but as the room is rather dark, what I see is a black hole that has the outlines of a cat. If he's close enough and he yawns, I can see a light-colored palate and tongue in the middle of the black cat-shaped hole.

Torture- Not For Information, But For Sadism

From today's New York Times:
The first use of waterboarding and other rough treatment against a prisoner from Al Qaeda was ordered by senior officials despite the belief of interrogators that the prisoner had already told them all he knew, according to former intelligence officials and a footnote in a newly released legal memorandum.

The escalation to especially brutal interrogation tactics against the prisoner, Abu Zubaydah, including confining him in boxes and slamming him against the wall, was ordered by officials at C.I.A. headquarters based on a highly inflated assessment of his importance, interviews and a review of newly released documents show.

Abu Zubaydah had provided much valuable information under less severe treatment, and the harsher handling produced no breakthroughs, according to one former intelligence official with direct knowledge of the case. Instead, watching his torment caused great distress to his captors, the official said.

Even for those who believed that brutal treatment could produce results, the official said, “seeing these depths of human misery and degradation has a traumatic effect.”
So now, if you connect the dots, it becomes clearer (at least to those who are not still drunk on Bushie-Brand Kool-Aid). The program to torture people was run out of the Vice President's office by Dick Cheney and David Addington. They bear direct responsibility for ordering it, and Bush, of course, is guilty under the doctrine of command responsibility.

Second, what is clear is the signal that is being given by the CIA: They are not going to take the bullet on this one.

Third, color me hugely unsympathetic that the torturers are suffering psychological problems as a result of torturing people.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Befehl Ist Befehl

The Director of National Intelligence, a gent named Dennis Blair, released two statements yesterday regarding the release of the torture memos and the revelation that the NSA was engaged in broad spying on Americans. You can read the statement to the press here and the letter to the intelligence community here. Both are PDFs.

Both, frankly, are deeply self-serving pieces of shit. The first one ends with this corker:
What we must do is make it absolutely clear to the American people that our ethos is to act legally, in as transparent a manner as we can, and in a way that they would be proud if we could tell them the full story.
Note that is another way of saying "yes, we did bad things, but if you knew what we know, you'd agree."

I say to that: Bullshit. You will explain, sooner or later, why your people engaged in acts of torture and murder by torture. You can justify yourselves to us, now, or you can justify yourselves to a skeptical war crimes tribunal down the road. But you will give a full explanation.

The second statement basically restates the first one and additionally sidesteps the allegations that the NSA was grossly overbroad in its eavesdropping.

Both statements reiterate the whiny-ass excuse of "we were told to do this and the lawyers working for those who told us to do it said it was legal." Which is a fancy way of restating the old German excuse of "befehl ist befehl", or "orders are orders."

That excuse didn't play very well in the Nuremberg Tribunals. I doubt if it will play very well now.

(Thanks for the memos)

With Bacon and an Oxygen Cylinder

You can make a plasma torch!

American ingenuity!


Portrait of a War Criminal

We have so much to be proud of in this great nation.

Unfortunately, we also have much to be ashamed of, as well. We can begin to rectify that by putting this man on trial under the Yamashita Doctrine.

Digging Out of the Recession

I believe that Newton's first law of motion is the reason we will emerge from our current economic woes. That law states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. How does that relate to the financial #$%*storm we're now cowering under? Allow me to explain.
The full post is here.

Torture Nation

Does anyone believe that if Iran, say, captured an American soldier, kept him awake for eleven days straight, bashed his head and body against plywood walls with a towel around his neck, forced him to stand and sit in stress positions finessed by the Communist Chinese, stuck him in a dark coffin for hours, and then waterboarded him, that the New York Times would describe him as a victim of "harsh interrogation techniques"? Do you think Mike Allen [of Time magazine] would give anonymity to a top Iranian official who defended these techniques as vital to Iran's national security?

The last seven years have revealed that almost the entire American establishment views itself as immune to the moral and ethical rules it applies to every other country in the world. Now we know, at least. And you can be sure they will protecting each other to the bitter end.
I have no faith anymore in the Fourth Estate's ability to act a a bulwark to protect our liberties and freedoms. They're often great around the margins, in dealing with small-time corruption and abuses of power, but the Bush Administration engaged in the systematic commission of war crimes while the large news organizations closed their eyes to what went on.

They were the "good little Germans" of the Bush Administration.

"I Vas Just Followink Orders, Mein Herr!"

[President] Obama said that C.I.A. officers who were acting on the Justice Department’s legal advice would not be prosecuted, but he left open the possibility that anyone who acted without legal authorization could still face criminal penalties.
That is an astonishing position to take and one that is clearly not in line with Nuremberg Principle IV:
The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.
Anyone with a conscience should have known that what the Bush Administration was doing was a war crime.

We cannot allow the current position of "it's OK if you were relying on the opinions of one of our scumbag lawyers who we told to justify anything we have told you to do" to stand. Our claim to be a nation of laws is on the line. If we give our own torturers a free pass on this, then we will never have the moral grounds to criticize anyone else for human rights abuses.

It also shows that the conviction of Chuckie Taylor on charges of torture was the height of hypocrisy, for we are going to let our own torturers escape any accountability for their crimes.

The Daily Show Takes on the Tea-Baggers

First, Jon Stewart observes that Fox News has flipped from regarding protesters as pinheads and traitors to regarding protesters as patriots.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Nationwide Tax Protests
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Then John Oliver observes that the protesters know fuck-all about what tyranny actually means.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Tea Party Tyranny
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

I can't think of anything to add.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Torture Nation

The Bush torture memos can be downloaded from the ACLU here. I haven't read them, as of yet. From what I have heard, one will have to wonder why the doctors and lawyers involved have not had their licenses revoked.

Bush turned this nation into a nest of war criminals. Sooner or later, we are going to have to come to grips with that fact and start holding people accountable in proceedings that have the option of ending with a lengthy stay in a Federal Graybar Hotel.

Physical Conditioning

These girls have it!

I'll bet that any one of those kids would put the squids watching it to shame in any test involving physical condition.

Reciprocity, I Haz It.

Found a new blog that has this one in its blogroll: My Corner to Vent.

Consider yerself added.

Anybody Want to Buy a Mall?

Or 200 of them? General Growth Properties, Inc., the second largest operator of shopping malls in the country, has gone bankrupt. Of course, the CEO is saying something along the lines of "strong fundamentals," as they deal with over 100,000 creditors.

Right. Which is why malls around the country are in trouble.

I Am Shocked, Shocked, To Learn That

the National Security Agency has been vastly "overcollecting" the telephone calls and e-mails of Americans.
Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic, although one official said it was believed to have been unintentional.
"Unintentional", my ass. Anybody who is surprised by any of this clearly has either not been paying attention or has spent the last eight years drunk on the Kool-Aid of the Bush Administration. Those who were paying attention to how the NSA was going about doing its unconstitutional work warned that this was going to happen.

Of course, some of it was not exactly an accident:
... in one previously undisclosed episode, the N.S.A. tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant, an intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Big surprise, there. What would be less of a surprise would be to find out that Dick Cheney or his chief henchman, David Addington, had something to do with it.

Grounding the Zodiacs

The National Transportation Safety Board has asked the FAA to immediate ground all Zodiac CH-601XL aircraft. You can read it here (PDF).

Flutter of the flight controls is a very bad thing, as in "it'll kill you very fast."


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Don't Let the Screen Door Hit You in the Ass, Rick

..answering news reporters' questions, [Texas Governor Rick] Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union, though he said he sees no reason why Texas should do that.

"There's a lot of different scenarios," Perry said. "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."
Please do. Oh, please, please, please do. We can string barbed wire around the Texas border with New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. Hell, we can build the wall that the foaming-mouthed Republicans want to keep out illegal immigrants from Texas.

If Texas were to secede, does that mean that none of the Bushies would be eligible to run for office?

Mocking the Tea-Baggers

is about as challenging as setting up a row of watermelons and then shooting at them from fifty feet away with a Ma Deuce.

So go surf the blogroll if you like. I'll pass.


Mel Gibson's wife has filed for divorce. She's blaming on infidelity and he's blaming it on the Jews. Right about now, Mel is looking for a good Gentile lawyer.
David Letterman, April 14, 2009

Right-Wing Police Enforced Politically Correct Behavior (Reason No. 37,842 Why You Should Hate the New York Yankees)

Displaying patriotism is mandatory in Yankee Stadium and is enforced by the lovable badge-wearing, gun-toting fascists of the New York Police Department. The guy should count himself lucky that there wasn't a broomstick nearby.

Maybe someone in authority ought to point out to the goons in the NYPD that "God Bless America" is just a fucking song. It is not the National Anthem. And even if it was, what business of it is the cops when some guy chooses to go to the crapper?


Outrage From the Wingnuts

The DBP released a report on the rising danger of right-wing extremism. (PDF file)

"How dare they monitor us," they cry. "What about our civil liberties," they moan.

Yeah, well, color me unimpressed on two counts.

First, the report is a real piece of shit. It is little more than a recitation of the things that the extreme Right did in the 1990s, with a mention that the election of President Obama pissed those folks off, concluding in "we otta watch them thar folks." If the bureaucrats in Homeland Security paid a contractor more than a hundred bucks to produce that, they were swindled.

Second, I have a hard time taking the rantings of the Wingnuts about this even close to seriously. During the Bush Administration's time, the Right thought it was a fine idea to: Monitor believers of a mainstream faith, infiltrate peaceful antiwar groups (classifying the Quakers as "potential terrorists" in the process), detain people for long periods without trial, torture people, wiretap everybody without warrants, engage in "sneak-and-peak" searches, snoop through peoples' bank records without a warrant, data-mining of all Americans, and so on and so forth. The Right not only approved of that, they cheered them on and they wanted even more.

Well, we warned them. We warned them that the tools they were so earnest in giving a Republican president would be there come the day that a Democrat became president. They ignored us. We warned them to heed the words of Pastor Niemoller. They laughed us off.

They're not laughing now.

Pardon me for thinking that the outrage of the Hindenbergs on the Right here is colored by politics and that, if a Republican is elected president in the next decade, tramping all over the Bill of Rights will again be in style among conservatives.

Do I think it is wrong to monitor groups based solely on their political beliefs? Absolutely. But I think I also would be less than honest if I did not admit to a bit of schadenfreude. All of the surveillance powers that the Right thought were good for the government to have, at least when Bush was in power, are now being turned against some of the far-Right groups; the Right is being hoisted on its own petard.

Now the Right is all concerned about preserving civil liberties and freedom from government surveillance. And so:

A: Where were you for the last eight years?

B: Welcome to the party, pal.

The Telescope Repair Man

Dr. John Grunsfeld.

He makes housecalls. In orbit. The upcoming Hubble repair mission will be his third (and last) repair call to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What She Said

If you haven't seen the YouTube video of Susan Boyle singing, then watch it and then read this.

The Crossbar Hotel Will Have Six Reservations

For the Bush "pro-torture" legal team.

Let's see if any of those weasels have the stomach to go and fight the charges.

Besides that, how does it work that in this country, we will have a sitting Federal appellate judge who is also an indicted war criminal?

It'll also be a great recruiting pitch for the University of California at Berkeley's law school: "Come learn from our esteemed staff of professors, one of whom is an indicted war criminal."

Might I Respectfully Suggest Using a 5"/54?

The U.S. is considering new options to fight piracy, including adding Navy gunships along the Somali coastline and launching a campaign to disable pirate ''mother ships,'' according to military officials.
Rockeyes might work, as well.

When Newsweek Sounds Like Fox News

As in "whaaa, we don't have the votes in Congress to ram through what we want!"

Predictably, it is about guns.

There seems to be a herd aspect to this, rather than any sort of organized move to push for gun control. The various editorial pieces (which were disguised as "news" by ABC and CBS) all lament that they want gun confiscation control, but they don't have the votes in Congress to get it and that the Democrats are unreasonable in not committing political seppuku by ramming through a gun control bill.

Hey, Bobby Jindal, Are You Against This Research, Too?

Geologists are trying to figure out how earthquakes are set off and how to predict them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

Sully's right: If you are going to click on one link today, click on this one, and watch it. Make sure your speakers are turned up.

If that doesn't touch your soul, then I don't want to know you.

There Be Pirates

Thanks to a commenter with the handle of "AOLBites" (gotta love that one), here is a link to a map showing the location of pirate incidents.

Ratcheting It Up

Last week, the French Navy shot and killed two pirates. Yesterday, our Navy killed three more. Predictably, the Somalis are threatening violent reprisals.

For the pirates, piracy has, up until now, been a low-risk endeavor, at least after boarding the ship. The crews still get paid while they are held by the pirates, the companies make a claim to their insurers for the costs.

Not any more.

Here is what I would recommend:

First, set up a convoy system from the mouth of the Red Sea to the waters of Oman and Kenya, extending as far out into the Indian Ocean as necessary. Any vessel that sails within a convoy will be defended. Any vessel which approaches the convoy without permission would be deemed to be hostile and would be subject to being fired upon without warning.

Second, proclaim that any vessel that sails independently within those waters does so at their own risk and, if they are taken by the pirates, they are on their own. This can work with the maritime insurers if they were to make sailing outside of a convoy almost prohibitively expensive.

Third, strike at the support system for the pirates.

Shooting individual pirates may, at times, be necessary. But the idea that killing a few pirates will deter the rest is, to my mind, almost insane. Life in Somalia, which was never easy, has become brutally hard since the fall of the national government almost 20 years ago. There is no education system and very little chance for anyone to advance in life. The one who made out the best in the Maersk Alabama incident may well be the pirate who was captured and who, although facing a very long time in Federal prison, will easily outlive all of his contemporaries and will probably receive a reasonable education.

Human life is cheap in Somalia. To many young men, the risky life of a pirate is a far better choice than a hardscrabble life as a farmer or fisherman.

We and the French have opened the ball on these people. We had better be ready to go further.

The Damage Wreaked by Bush Goes On and On

Another criminal case, another judge pissed off at the Justice Department's blatant ethical misconduct. All driven by another batshit-crazy "loyal Bushie" prosecutor who, like the rest of the Bush Administration, apparently believes that ethics are for other people.

Avoid Suffering From This Syndrome

This is primarily directed towards the Right, as my sense of it is that liberals are far less willing to give Obama a pass on this. Conservatives, on the other hand, are now expressing outrage over all of the things they thought were good ideas when Chimpy was drooling daily in the Oval Office.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Quote for the Day

John Cole:
Anyone who thinks that several most likely illiterate Somali thugs, armed with AK’s and probably geeked to high heaven on khat, decided to attack a flagged American container ship as a test because there is a perception that Obama is weak, is just a full-fledged idiot and should be institutionalized.

I Was Watching This Piece From the Brits

The topic was the talking head newsreaders. First he blasted the ones in Old Blighty, then he laid into the ones over here. I just about lost it when he said that "Fox generally leans more to the right than a man who just had his right leg blown off."

"Bill [O'Reilly] gets wound up by virtually anything to the left of Mussolini, hectoring and yowling like a wolf that's got his nuts caught on a coat-hanger. "

Don't worry, he also gets his whacks in on Hannity and Beck.

Too funny.


Piracy in Somalia

Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars has a reference to an opinion piece by Johann Hari which explores the origins of Somali piracy. Susie quotes great chunks of the article and then states that "in the big picture, the Somali pirates are acting in self-defense".

For the purposes of this post, I will stipulate that everything that Hari alleges about the conditions in Somalia, that European nations were both overfishing Somalia's fishing grounds and were dumping poisonous waste there, rather than pay for proper disposal, is true.

When you apply those facts to the ongoing piracy, the rationale does not pass the "so, what" test.

When a crime or offense has been committed against you, nowhere in any form of civilization does that permit you to strike out against those who had no culpability for what happened to you. The "poor Somalis are engaged in a form of rough justice and self-defense" argument is the same as saying that if someone were to break into your home and steal stuff, you would be justified in grabbing your gun and engaging in random carjacking.

The justification espoused by Somali pirates and their apologists is, when you get right down to it, the same rationalization that the Bush Administration used to justify the invasion of Iraq: "We've been wronged and we're going to strike out at the nearest suitable target."

To my knowledge, there is not a scintilla of evidence that ties the M/V Maersk Alabama or any of the other ships which were hijacked by pirates to any of the offenses alleged by the Somalis. The piracy has to be knocked back. It is time to start taking actions beyond patrolling the seas and looking for a bunch of thugs with AKs and RPGs.

Shoot the archers, not the arrows
. (Not that there is anything wrong with also shooting the arrows.)


As a veteran of the Great Canoe Club, allow me to raise a steady middle finger to all of those people who accused the Navy of "dithering on the high seas" while four pirates were holding Captain Phillips of the M/V Maersk Alabama hostage in a lifeboat.

Captain Phillips is free and well. Three of the pirates are now "good" pirates. The fourth pirate is in custody.

The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

George Bush in retirement. His main focus is keeping the bubble intact, so that no one can confront him about his crimes.

While he is relaxing and enjoying the life of no responsibilities, he might want to spend some time reading up on the Yamashita standard, so he can gain an understanding of why, one fine day in the future, he might feel the chilling embrace of handcuffs about his writs and get to hear a cell door slam shut behind his ass.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

CMP Ammo Shortages

They sold out of the Lake City loose .30 M2 ball and the HXP M2 ball in cans with 20-round boxes. All they have for new orders is HXP ball in Garand clips and, due to the volume of orders, they are rationing customers to ten cans a year.

The backlog between ordering and shipping is advertised at 60 days. It has been longer.

I still am of the opinion that the current "OMG, Obama's gonna ban gun and ammo sales" hysteria is overblown. But there is no doubt that the MSM has decided that they want to push gun control, not after I skimmed though ABC News's hit-job from last night in which their propaganda point was "you shouldn't want to own a gun for self-defense, on account of you're probably not rained to use it and the only thing that will happen is a kid will find it and shoot himself or his friend."

If you live in a congressional district that recently shifted from GOP to Democratic, or if one or both of your senate seats also shifted from the GOP to the Democratic party, it may be worth your time to drop a letter to those folks to let them know that you're watching them on this and to strongly suggest that if they want to hold onto their majority, they forget all about passing new gun control legislation.


Introducing Ozark's new DC-9 service!

They were flying Martin 4-0-4s


I drove to a friend's house (there now) and she has TCM on. The movie is "Little Dorritt", an adaptation of a Dickens novel of the same title.

I'd rather be forced to watch more episodes of Krod Mandoon. I'd almost rather insert a knitting needle in one ear and then rap on the end with a hammer until it came out the other ear.

I hate adaptations of Dickens novels.