Torture, lies and spies

posted 12.21.05

So... the secret torture prisons weren't enough. No, King George needed to spy on the citizenry, too! What a suprprise! (Not to anyone who'd been paying attention...) Never mind there are already laws in place that would have allowed him to get the information he was after. And supporters of this thug call me unpatriotic? Hullo! We don't live in a monarchy - not last time I looked - frickin' Christian Nationalists and their war without end are ruining our country.

The Truth About Bush's Warrantless Spying (American Progress, 12.19.05)
Presidential Power in Wartime (OnPoint, 12.22.05, audio file)
Bush allowed spying on Americans in US after 9/11 (CSMonitor, 12.16.05)
Presidential Power or Abuse? (OnPoint, 12.20.05)

Enjoying life in the Thugocracy?
Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior (Standard-Times, 12.17.05)
(CORRECTION - BURN ALERT: Federal agents' visit was a hoax: Student admits he lied about Mao book (South Coast Today, 12.24.05)
So ready to believe the worst... gee, I wonder why? (see above)

And then there's this game going on in Washington before the holiday recess (ooh, brinksmanship!). They're going to shove the Patriot Act, tax cuts for the rich, cuts in healthcare for the poor and elderly down our throats, by hook or by crook: Congress's Holiday Shenanigans (American Progress, 12.21.05)

BUT - not oil drilling in Alaska! Not in a defense spending bill, anyway - of course, that means the torture ban didn't go through too (how ironic, a torture ban attached to a defense spending bill...):
Republicans fail to end Alaska drilling debate (Reuters, 12.21.05)
Fireworks on Capital Hill (OnPoint, 12.22.05)

Yeah, so - happy holidays and what not.

A glimmer of hope

Finally! Sanity! The supernatural may be true, but it AIN'T science! And furthermore, you can't teach it as such! So there! Nyah, nyah! Anyone know this judge, John Jones? I wanna kiss him! And the irony here is, he was appointed by George W. Bush...
'Intelligent Design' Barred from Dover, Pa. Schools (NPR, 12.20.05)
Judge bans teaching intelligent design (Reuters, 12.20.05)
The Dover Case Decision (OnPoint, 12.21.05, audio file)

Let there be light

It's December 21st! This is my favorite day of the year. "E-gads, woman! It's the first day of Winter, what's wrong with you? Brrr-chill, and whatnot!" (You've obviously been reading my blog for much too long, you sound just like me...) Anyway, chill or no, it's the shortest day of the year - longest night - which means... Tomorrow will be just a smidge longer! And the day after, longer still! thrilling, no? We're tilting and spinning our way through space toward the light. Let there be light!

As it's the Solstice, and stuff, I'll give you all a little present - something to comemorate the cyclical nature of life and all that - it's a poem, written by yours truly. It's called, "Cycling Through":

Periodically, troubled my gut.

Periodically, tendered my bits.

Periodically, rolled my coaster.

Cramps, cramps, oh! - cramps.


Periodically driven to poetic depths.

So there you have it! And best wishes for a very Happy Solstice for you and yours! And one more thing, here's an excellent holiday tune you can listen to online, Kurt Ellings's "Cool Yule". And... if you're really good, I might have something for you early in the new year. <wink, nudge> Ya got poetry, tunes and potential - not bad. So drop me some season's greetings, already, let me hear how it's going for you.


In the news

Congratulations to the Iraqis for their election - best of luck with the aftermath...
A Change in Tone, Not Strategy (AmericanProgress, 12.19.05)
Sunni alliance hails Iraq election as success (Reuters, 12.17.05)

White House, McCain reach deal on torture ban (Reuters, 12.15.05)

Congrats to our friends across the pond - it isn't gay marriage, but it's something:
Elton John to tie knot with long-term lover David (Reuters, 12.20.05)

As early as 2002:
Group Claims U.S. Ran Secret Afghanistan Prison (NPR, 12.19.05)

What's up with Iran?
Iran Nuke Talks Resume (Here and Now, 12.21.05)

Excerpt: The Iranian president has called for Israel to "be wiped off the map," has called the Holocaust "a myth" and just this week, he banned all Western music from Iran's airwaves

So, like, if Israel bombs any Iranian nuclear reactors, we can just say - "What reactors? Those were just a myth - a figment of your psychotic imagination. Here's a shiney object, go play with it."

Never underestimate the ingenuity of a New Yorker:
NY commuters forced to improvise (Reuters, 12.21.05)

This gets filed under - "What'd they ever do to you?"
Canadian artist bug-eyed over insect 'wallpaper' (Reuters)

Polar bears drown as ice shelf melts (TimesOnline, 12.18.05)

Hurry up with this stuff (see article above):
Ramp generates power as cars pass (BBC, 12.16.05)

Flaking out

posted 12.11.05

Something I don't expect to see while trying to push piles of sloppy wet snow of off my car? Lightening.

Something I don't expect to hear while engaged in this activity? Thunder.

Welcome to New England! Today we've got it all - snow, sleet, rain, thunder, lightening... just wait a few minutes, I'm sure we can generate a few frogs and dogs.

Visibility was totally crap out there! For some dumb-ass reason we were driving in the squall - we rarely drive in inclement weather, and yet there we were - midst all the other morons, inching and fishtailing our way down the ice and snow encrusted boulevard... Joy.

So, it's not December 21, but it's winter nonetheless. So... winter... what's good about it? Hmm... well, if you look really, really, close at it, snow's not so bad. As a matter of fact, it's kinda cool. I'm rather fond of a shapely sort of snowflake. Look at this arrangement of classic snowflake shapes photographed by New England's own eccentric bachelor, "Snowflake Bentley".

images of snowflakes by Snowflake Bently

Photo by Wilson Bentley c/o National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce (NOAA)

Just goes to show what too much snow can do to a man circa 1902... You can explore more of his great photos at the Snowflake Bentley site - nifty stuff.

Though if you're really into snowflakes, you might want to make your own using this snowflake designer.

Speaking of unique weather, here's an odd phenomenon - waterspouts.

Think of me today, as I'm shovelling large amounts of slush and crud about the street... Ah, winter!


Dr. Rice is feeling blowback for the administration's use of torture. (Ah, such compassionate Christians, these!) People argue that the information that comes from torture is unreliable, so they shouldn't use it... As if information is the reason this administration is pro-torture! Information is only a convenient means to their previously concluded end - a tool that enables their agenda. So what's right, is what they believe and torture is a handy way to bring people around to their point of view. If you've cheated and bullied your way into power your entire life, it's pretty difficult to see pain and torture as an ineffectual control mechanism.

The argument for the war, it turns out, was partially based on information that was extracted from an Al-Queda Libyan captive Ibn al-Shaykh al Libi: Suspect Fabricated Story of Al Qaeda, Iraq Links (All Things Considered, 12.09.05). That information, repeated again and again in the run up to the war, turned out to be wrong. Other "intelligence", you may recall, was based on forged documents...

That, and they're pro-torture because they're terrified that terrorists think they're girly men. "They're chopping our heads off with swords, for christ sake! All we can do is go into some country and kill 100,000 people! Who the hell is that going to threaten? Not a twisted bunch of bastards with effective promotional videos. We need to get ahold of some of them, dress them up in something degrading, like women's underwear, and let dogs bark at their cocks - yeah, that's what real men would do! This is war - dammit - there shouldn't be girlie laws on what we can and can't do!" And mistakes? Those happen - it's war, and war is messy.

I'll note that while these revelations have been made, the president's approval rating has gone up 5%. Of course, good numbers on the economy have also come out... Extrapolate as you see fit.

Excellent discussion:
Rendition in the Hot Seat (OnPoint Radio, 12.08.05, audio file)

Mistaken rendition:
Outsourcing Torture (The New Yorker, 02.05)

Even the Economist thinks there might be a problem...
So, what’s all the fuss? (The Economist, 12.07.05)

Senator McCain is at least rational:
U.S. Torture: Who'll Break First?: Rice, Bush, McCain all say no compromise

One of his colleagues disagrees:
A fellow torture victim splits with Sen. McCain


"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.

On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." -- H.L.Mencken


Let's hope they keep themselves busy with crap like this:
Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas (OnPont Radio, 12.09.05)

And have less time for bullshit like this:
Ford to remove some ads in gay publications (12.06.05)

Anti-gay efforts target Ford, Wells Fargo (, 12.05.05)

While I'm on the subject - has a nifty week in review page.

In the news

Tom DeLay has been pronounced politically over:
The Week in Review (NewsHour, 12.09.05)

What the hell?!
Neil Bush Meets the Messiah (AlterNet, 12.05.05)

Oh, really? What a surprise...
Military Says It Paid Iraq Papers [to Print] News (Washington Post, 12.03.05)

Just for the photo of Dr. Rice:
US shifts to ban cruelty to detainees abroad (Reuters, 12.07.05)

Yahoo Brings Questioners Together With Answers (TechNews World)

Meanwhile, on the American street...
Informing in the Inner City (Here and Now, 12.06.05)

Watch yourselves:
Online scammers go spear-phishin' (c|net news, 12.05)