Friday, June 7, 2013


noun \ˈpri-zəm\
3: a crystal form whose faces are parallel to one axis; especially : one whose faces are parallel to the vertical axis

In other words, two-faced.

The British newspaper The Guardian today revealed that "the National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian."

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims "collection directly from the servers" of major US service providers.

Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.

In a statement, Google said: "Google cares deeply about the security of our users' data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government 'back door' into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data."

Several senior tech executives insisted that they had no knowledge of PRISM or of any similar scheme. They said they would never have been involved in such a program. "If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge," one said.

An Apple spokesman said it had "never heard" of PRISM.

The NSA access was enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under Obama in December 2012.

Ohhhh, please! Doesn't anyone remember this fun-filled program with the spooky title and logo from the Bush years?

Did you really believe them when they said it was going away? When has ANY technology ever "gone away" when there was still an opportunity to use it? Ask the citizens of Nagasaki, for example: there was no need in 1945 to nuke them too, but we had a spare atomic bomb lying around waiting to be used! Information technology is more powerful than most people realize, far more powerful than a mere nuclear device. Did you notice how quickly the Boston Marathon bombers were identified? Do you think that could have been done that rapidly even ten years ago?

Americans don't, as usual, pay attention. This program started under Bush. The NSA is building a huge data storage center in Utah, large enough to keep a record of every internet search and cellphone call and email made, sent, or received on the planet. Large enough that its capacity is measured in yottabytes (1 yottabyte = 1 trillion terabytes, or 1 quadrillion gigabytes). Hell, it's even got its own Wikipedia page! None of this is a USA secret.  None of this was hidden from the public. PRISM may have been a top-secret program, but is it a surprise? And we KNOW that once the government - any government - has the capability to do something, it will.

But what's in the news? Manufactured "scandals" about the administration, columns and columns of words about movie and music stars; sports elevated to a status
practically indistinguishable from religion. Why? Because it keeps your eyes off what really matters, and most Americans remain blissfully unaware of these issues until they displace the news that Michael Jackson's otherwise unremarkable child attempted suicide, which affects perhaps 0.0000025% of the American populace.

We weren't "betrayed." Our elected officials did as we asked: they tried to protect us. We were too stupid to understand what we were really asking for, and too distracted to keep an eye on what they were doing in our name. And now some of us have the goddamn nerve to act surprised.

Parts of this post taken from an earlier rant on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Michele Bachmann Is A Stupid & Crazy Bitch, Part #1,984--and (Hopefully) Jail-Bound Too!

Michele Bachmann (R-CrazyTown) announced that she will not seek a fifth term in office by means of a video released at 02:00 last Friday; an act of typical cowardice for her and her tea party ilk. And although the announcement of her decision to forgo another term came shortly after I announced my return to the blogosphere, I won't make anything of it. More likely, it's the ethics investigations and other accusations of improper conduct that loomed larger in her thoughts.

Now, just a few hours ago, the Huffington Post, linking from Take Action News, reports that the FBI has new evidence in its criminal investigation of Bachmann:
According to sources close to the criminal investigation of Bachmann's presidential campaign, the FBI has now been given sworn testimony and documents alleging Bachmann approved secret payments to Iowa state Senator Kent Sorenson in exchange for his help and support in that state's 2012 Presidential caucuses. Ethics rules explicitly prohibit Iowa lawmakers from accepting payments from Presidential campaigns or PACs. Investigation sources tell Take Action News the FBI is examining money laundering allegations against Bachmann, as well as possible wire fraud and mail fraud.

Hmm, I wondered where David Schuster had gone. The rats are leaving the sinking ship, with little love or loyalty lost. The investigation actually began, according to Mother Jones, when a member of her own staff filed a complaint with the Feds:
In January, Peter Waldron, Bachmann's former national field coordinator, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. Waldron, a Florida evangelist who did outreach work to Christian conservatives for Bachmann in Iowa, alleged that her campaign violated federal statutes in five separate incidents.
Wow, even Nixon received more loyalty from his people! Apparently, Michele was too dirty for a fellow Christian conservative. Waldron is followed by other members of her staff who have agreed to testify and speak with the FBI, the FEC, and other investigatory bodies.

Looks like Michele might be going to the Big House. Hey, there's an empty room there, now that Duke Cunningham is out. Wow, what a great "welcome back" present!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Taking Up The Sword Again: For Steve Gilliard

You know, being "Strong: Progressive" hasn't been easy the last year or so. Several deaths of people close to me, a couple of surgeries of my own, the concomitant emotional depression that followed, combined with a heartfelt frustration at the state of our body politic, left me mute with rage and sorrow for the past several months. I've looked at our divided country, and wondered how we came to this pass. I've worried about the future of our Republic, this great American experiment, which was never designed to withstand such concentrated greed, mass ignorance, and widespread apathy. I've despaired that positive, substantial change could be made, and that my little blog and I could make any kind of lasting contribution.

Then the other day I came across Steve Gilliard's blog, still online all these years after his untimely death at the age of forty-two. Steve was an early African-American political blogger, and one of the first contributing editors of the Daily Kos. His courageous and influential writing was one of the first political blogs I'd ever read, and a major influence on my own entry into the blogosphere. And I reread his best-known post, "I'm A Fighting Liberal." Let me share some of it with you:

I'm a fighting liberal

You know, I've studied history, I've read about America and you know something, if it weren't for liberals, we'd be living in a dark, evil country, far worse than anything Bush could conjure up. A world where children were told to piss on the side of the road because they weren't fit to pee in a white outhouse, where women had to get back alley abortions and where rape was a joke, unless the alleged criminal was black, whereupon he was hung from a tree and castrated.

What has conservatism given America? A stable social order? A peaceful homelife? Respect for law and order? No. Hell, no. It hasn't given us anything we didn't have and it wants to take away our freedoms.

The Founding Fathers, as flawed as they were, slaveowners and pornographers, smugglers and terrorists, understood one thing, a man's path to God needed no help from the state. Is the religion of these conservatives so fragile that they need the state to prop it up, to tell us how to pray and think? Is that what they stand for? Is that their America?


For the better part of a decade, the conservatives made liberal a dirty word. Well, it isn't. It represents the best and most noble nature of what America stands for: equitable government services, old age pensions, health care, education, fair trials and humane imprisonment. It is the heart and soul of what made American different and better than other countries. Not only an escape from oppression, but the opportunity to thrive in land free of tradition and the repression that can bring. We offered a democracy which didn't enshrine the rich and made them feel they had an obligation to their workers.


Liberal does not and has not meant weak until the conservatives said it did. Was Martin Luther King weak? Bobby Kennedy? Gene McCarthy? It was the liberals who remade this country and ended legal segregation and legal sexism. Not the conservatives, who wanted to hold on to the old ways.

It's time to regain the sprit [sic] of FDR and Truman and the people around them. People who believed in the public good over private gain. It is time to stop apologizing for being a liberal and be proud to fight for your beliefs. No more shying away or being defined by other people. Liberals believe in a strong defense and punishment for crime. But not preemption and pointless jail sentences. We believe no American should be turned away from a hospital because they are too poor or lack a proper legal defense. We believe that people should make enough from one job to live on, to spend time on raising their family. We believe that individuals and not the state should dictate who gets married and why. The best way to defend marriage is to expand, not restrict it.


It is time to stop looking for an accomodation [sic] with the right. They want none for us. They want to win, at any price. So, you have a choice: be a fighting liberal or sit quietly. I know what I am, what are you?  

I started this blog to speak up, speak out, and raise hell; to identify and illuminate injustices and indignities in American and international politics; to praise the heroes and curse the villains in our world today. And especially, to laugh at the fools, of which there are more than a few! I write to offer my vision and opinions to the world at large, because no one sees the world exactly the same, and I believe that I have something worthwhile to offer in my thoughts and words. I write because I'm damned by the conservatives anyway, so I might as well be damned for something I did as for something I didn't do! I blog because every word written in the cause of progressive politics advances our movement, and also because every additional word in defense of liberalism angers the opposition to no end. I write because that's what I do, I'm liberal because that's what I believe, and I fight because that's how we'll win.

Thank you Steve, for reminding me that I too am a fighting liberal. Watch out world: I'm back.