Category Archives: Why

Government Shutdown Was Planned For Months

Government Shutdown Was Planned For Months By Ed Meese, Koch Bros.

From the article, “So, when you are told by Republicans that the shutdown is he fault of President Obama and Democrats, you can now say with certainty that this is untrue.”

Note the article’s source: FOX news

My comment:
The Union and Confederate soldiers would often get together in the evenings, and then resume hostilities the next morning.  Axis and Allied soldiers would cross the fields between the trenches to share a bottle overnight and then resume hostilities the next day.

One can be friends with a conservative, but one never forgets that they are also, always the enemy.  It is their stated intention to destroy the USA and all that she has come to stand for.  All that it was said she stood for from the moment she was founded, though it has taken a long time to even begin to approach those ideals.  And, even though there is a long way to go to achieve those ideals.  This latest manufactured “crisis” and the looming one in 9 days are just the latest examples of their attempts to do so.
This is what they have said they want, and this is what they have worked hard to accomplish.

Into the Looking Glass

I watched a video this week that I think was very powerful.  I would really like you to take the 7 minutes 37 seconds of your life to watch it, and then let us have an intimate little chat, shall we?

Let me start by saying, I am one of either the lucky ones or the strong ones.  Take your pick.  Either way, I have been through my share, and I do not need anyone’s pity or even sympathy.  At this point, I will give at least as good as I get, and I don’t necessarily say that with any pride.  I simply state it as fact. To be honest, I recognize that sometimes, I can go overboard and tend to escalate the situation, because I simply refuse to back down.  As my father said, I didn’t learn to duck, even when I should.


So, yeah, that’s me now.  It wasn’t always so.  In elementary school and all the way up until about half way through the 8th grade even, I was the target of the neighborhood bullies.  Yep.  I was beaten and verbally abused.  I was the nerd.  And, I took it.  I did; I did.  Something happened one day out on the track field, and I am only vaguely aware of the specifics of the events.  It isn’t the haze of time.  I wasn’t entirely certain what happened even on that day.  I remember leaning on the fence out at the track field, and the little shit, neighborhood bully, Marcel, came up behind me.  He grabbed me in a “full Nelson”, locking his arms through mine and behind my head.  From there, I am not sure how, but I got out and the next thing I know, I have him down on the track. I’m using the asphalt as a grater for his face.  A few moments later, after some screaming from the crowd, the coaches were separating us.  I’m not sure who was more shocked – Marcel or I.  I went over and sat under a tree.  And, that, was the end of that shit.

A lot of other kids haven’t found it in themselves to do the same.  That certainly isn’t to say that I haven’t dealt with other situations.  Other people who thought they were going to bully or intimidate me, or others, into control of a situation.  It is only to say, that was the last time that was going to have any effect on me.

Do you grok?

Martin Niemöller

Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,    First they came for

habe ich geschwiegen,                                   the communists,

ich war ja kein Kommunist.                         and I didn’t speak out

.                                                                           because I wasn’t a

.                                                                          communist.

Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten, Then they came for the

habe ich geschwiegen,                                     socialists,

ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.                    and I didn’t speak out

.                                                                             because I wasn’t a

.                                                                             socialist.

Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,                Then they came for the

habe ich geschwiegen,                                     trade unionists,

ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.                     and I didn’t speak out

.                                                                             because I wasn’t a trade

.                                                                             unionist.

Als sie mich holten,                                            Then they came for me,

gab es keinen mehr,                                            and there was no one left

der protestieren konnte.                                   to speak for me.

Are you picking up what I’m putting down?

When I was 12 in 1984, a full 20 years after the voting rights act that the SCOTUS so injudiciously recently gutted, I was playing in my yard with my brother who was 11.  We lived in a predominately black neighborhood, and we were the minority.  A black family had just moved in next door, with a young daughter.  She was maybe 9 or so.  She came up to the fence tentatively.  Almost fearfully, and asked, “Are you allowed to play with black children?”  Did you read that?!  It brings tears to my eyes as I type it now 28 years later.  “Are you allowed to play with black children?”  That child should never have had that thought much less have had to ask it, and yet, she already knew that in some places, that would have caused problems.  Problems not only for her, but for her family.

How deep does the rabbit hole go?

Apathetic After Shock

There has been a lot of talk recently, of course, about Edward Snowden and traitors.  There has been a great deal of public gnashing of teeth and wailing by our elected leaders over his release of the snazzy Micro$oft PowerPoint slideshow that was not meant for public consumption.  There was a really well done piece explaining how, under the definitions given in the US Constitution, Snowden has not committed treason.  Not going to talk about that today.  Not directly.

Instead, what I find bothersome is just how much acceptance there is about this from the vast majority of people.  I really shouldn’t be surprised, and I suppose I’m not really.  Still, I am disappointed.  When it broke, I had hoped that perhaps this would be sufficient to bring about a ground swell of anger and activity.  There was certainly an initial outburst of shock.  And, yet, very quickly since then …

There has been some small amount of noise at the fringes.  Reddit has been one place where a little activity has taken place.  The Daily Kos, EFF, and a lot of other organizations have quietly come out in opposition.  Note the key word being quietly.  These organizations sent out emails to their members.  I know.  I got some of them.  I certainly didn’t get all of them.  I’m not on all of their mailing lists.  There was some activity on the right.  Again, I know.  I saw some of it.  I heard about other, and I went looking to see if there was any in other places.  At the fringes, yes.  In the heart, in the mainstream?  No.  Not really. was set up to collect signatures.  I want to share with you a screen shot taken from that site on the morning of June 16, 2013.  It is a compilation that shows their “Selected Signatories.”  I’ve compiled the 4 categories that they have on four separate tabs – Organizations, Individuals, Businesses, and Members of US Congress – together for you to take in all at once.

Combined Selected Signatories

As of this morning, they have collected 178,350 signatures.  Please read that again.  That’s a sad number.

No one cares.  The majority of the country is so used to the intrusions of the PATRIOT Act, warrantless searches, surrendering our civil liberties in the name of security, and the concept that “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear,”  that this kind of “revelation” is blasé.  No worries, mate.

According to one poll (as reliable as that may be), 54% of Americans think that Snowden did the right thing in exposing PRISM, but 53% still think he should be prosecuted.  A vast majority of people say they’re following the story closely.  My theory as to why?  Because to most people this is just the next episode in the Bourne Chronicles.  Most people are likely watching to see which scenario happens next.  Will he be subjected to “extraordinary rendition”?  Will he be found dead “by his own hand”?  Will he be mundanely arrested and extradited back to the US?  Will he become an “asset” of the Chinese or some other foreign government that would like access to the information he may still have not released yet?

They are not paying attention because they are interested in or concerned about the actual issues.  I see in both left of center and right of center blogs, as well as the main stream media the over-whelming theme of “Who cares?” about the program itself.  I actually read the words, “I am not sure I care if the government is reading my email or listening in on my phone calls as long as it keeps me safe.”  The majority of the coverage of this case is about who is Edward Snowden?  (My Google search for the term, “Who is edward snowden” returned 1,180,000,000 results)  What is Booz Allen Hamilton?  (A firm most of us had never heard of before.)  Should we be privatizing “national security”?  (A question that probably should have been asked 40 years ago, but which was answered as an inevitable part of the supply-side, conservative domination of the government over that time period.  What did y’all really expect?)  And, so on.  Very little about the intrusiveness of this program which in all likelihood has accomplished nothing in terms of actual security, despite claims to the contrary.

Surprised? No. Outraged? Yes!

Let me begin with a question.  It is a simple question.  We’ll come back to the context in a moment.  In all seriousness.

Why are you surprised?  Or, perhaps, better, why would anyone be surprised?

The Guardian newspaper this week, using leaked documents, “revealed” the existence of “PRISM” – a broad program to collect “so-called meta data on your telephone calls.”  The article goes further to claim that the NSA also has direct backdoor access to the servers of major tech companies (Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and Apple) which between them own the vast majority of all online communications between e-mail, video, and chat.

Again, why would anyone be surprised?  This is really not news.  The specifics of it might be new, but we have known about the existence of this program for years.  I don’t think the public knew the name of the program, or had seen that nifty logo.  The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court was set up in the mid-1970s.  The PATRIOT Act was approved by near unanimous consent (357 to 66 in the House and 98 to 1 in the Senate) and signed into law by George W Bush on 10/25/2001.  It was introduced on 10/23.  So, in less than 48 hours it went from concept to law.  It was then renewed in 2006, and again in 2011 by the current POTUS.  It is these two laws which provide the broad foundations for the program, however, there are many, many other laws which have been passed that have aided and abetted the development of these programs.

Again, why are you surprised?  In 1979, the Supreme Court upheld this kind of invasion of privacy.  They found in the Smith v Maryland case, that collecting, what was called at the time the “pen register” (that is the time equivalent of the meta data), was legal.  This is the modern, technologically equivalent program.  When it goes further into the courts, they will uphold it.

The NSA has been involved in this kind of snooping and has been caught at it before.  We know this.  It isn’t new.  In 2005, the EFF filed a lawsuit against AT&T for illegally cooperating with the NSA to facilitate these actions.  If you read this article, or remember from the time period, you will note that the defense from the administration is almost precisely the same.

In 2006, one of the sitting FISA judges quit the appointment and others urged congress to give the FISA court a direct role in overseeing the wiretapping program.

“The administration defends the eavesdropping program, saying it is only targeting communications to and from suspected terrorists, that government lawyers review the program every 45 days and that Congress authorized the president to track down 9/11 co-conspirators, thereby giving the president the ability to bypass wiretapping laws.”

In 2009, the director of the National Cybersecurity Center resigned, and blamed the NSA’s “pwer grab” as a threat to “our democratic process.

In 2001, William Binney resigned from the NSA  after more than 30 years, including time as director of the World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group, and started blowing the whistle, warning about the size and scope of the NSA’s surveillance program.

This is not tin foil hat conspiracy theory territory.  This is you can only be surprised if you weren’t paying attention.  This is, “If you aren’t angry, you aren’t paying attention” territory.

For most of the last 60 years there has been talk of Project ECHELON.  Not just in tin foil hat, conspiracist circles where we can laugh at it, but also in the halls of government, with official investigations.  There have been actual investigations and acknowledgements of its existence with accompanying refusals to discuss its full expanse.  Sound familiar?

Many in our governments, around the world, took Orwell’s 1984 not as a warning, but as a guidebook, just as many right wingers took Ayn Rand’s work not as a poorly written morality play, but as the writings of a prophetess.

Now, as I said, there is no reason that anyone should be surprised.  However, that does not mean that we should not be outraged, nor does it suggest that we should accept it.  I hope that this will be the moment that people will awake and arise.  I do not expect it, but I do hope for it.  Perhaps we will remember and live up to the words of at least one of the “Founding Fatherstm


An Island Of Care In An Ocean Of Doesn’t

When I started this blog a little over 15 months ago, I had grand expectations of presenting details and facts and having reasoned discussions.  I was quickly reminded that I have a tendency to give people far too much credit for a number of things, which often comes back to bite me in the tokhes.  I tend to expect that people are going to be reasonable, responsive to new information, flexible, and interested in actual facts.  The truth is that most Americans are not actually interested in facts.  Nor are most Americans particularly responsive to new information.  Reasonable?  Nooooo.  This does not leap to mind when most people think of Americans.  Neither in America nor around the world.

Most people go into a situation with their mind already made up, and no amount of information is going to change it.  It would take an extraordinary situation or experience to create any real change within that mind.   More than that, though, it takes a rare individual.

So, for example, you have Dick Cheney, the former Vice-President (since most Americans were unable to identify him was while he was in office), and a truly evil man, who has a lesbian daughter, but maintains that, while he claims to love her, that does not mean she should have the same rights as the rest of America.  Then, you have the much more rare case of Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who “coming to terms” with the reality of his gay son, decides that means his son deserves the same equal rights as every heterosexual in this country.

These two examples picked from millions that could have been chosen, illustrate the two extremes.  On the one hand, we have the much more common, “Don’t confuse me with the facts.  My mind is already made up.” and on the other, we see someone who, much to the surprise (shock even) of many, completely reversed a previous stance in response to new information.  I think that Sen. Portman still holds many positions that are wrong, but on this he puts it very well:

”That isn’t how I’ve always felt. As a congressman, and more recently as a senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples. Then something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way.”

Notice, in particular, that last sentence, because that is the point today.  As much as the issue of marriage equality needs to be addressed in this country, and around the world, that is not the point today.  (I have previously written on that subject, and probably will again.)  I applaud Sen. Portman for showing that he is capable of thinking a subject through, and reaching a new conclusion.  I think that this is very likely a man that while I may very strenuously disagree with his conclusions on a number of other topics, I could at least respect him.  Now, I do grant that a Senator who can’t go through this reasoned process before it hits his own family, so to speak, is not the best choice for a senator, but at least he,as a man, is eventually capable.

I want to make one final point about Sen. Portman, it is this: it is clear that these are not just words from him.  You see, Sen. Portman has previously been such an outspoken opponent that previously some students protested his being the speaker at their commencement, specifically because of this issue.  To even speak the words now is a dramatic change.  Of course, he has to follow through from here with action to be truly meaningful.  But, I am straying, and while that is an important avenue to go down, as I said, it is not where we want to go today.

So, facts rarely persuade people any more.  Maybe they never really did.  Perhaps that too is part of the “goldening” of the past that we are prone to do.  That process that humans tend to go through where we have this nostalgia for and memory of everything in the past being somehow better, and in fact, better than it actually was.

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