Just shut the hell up – stupidity reigns

I get it.  Don’t objectify women.  Respect.  Dignity.  All that stuff.  But really, I think holding 13-year-old kids to the same standard is fine until you start talking 10 years juvenile detention for horseplay.

Two 13-year-old Oregon boys are facing serious sex charges for allegedly slapping female classmates’ bottoms as a form of horseplay.

. . .

“These cases are devastating to children,” he [the DA prosecuting the case] said. “They are life-altering cases.”

So, um, today’s winner of the Blahg’s very first “Shut-the-hell-up-and-stop-being-stupid” award.  Sadly, I suspect I’ll have to award it repeatedly now that it exists.

And some people might disagree with me that the punishment is too harsh, doesn’t fit the act, and all that stuff.  It’s OK.  I’m fine with others being wrong.

[tags]Stupid, Shut the hell up, WTF?[/tags]

Unsurprisingly TSA no flight is wrong again

Some people still don’t get that maintaining a list of names is an idiotic way to determine terrorist threats and using that list to deny airplane entry is beyond moronic. Especially in the case where an 8-year-old boy isn’t allowed to fly home because he’s on the list of known terrorists.

An 8-year-old boy expecting to catch a plane home is denied entry for appearing on a terrorist no-fly list, reported MyFoxKansasCity.com.

Bryan Moore was set to catch his first plane trip when he arrived at an airport in Cortez, Colorado to fly home after visiting his sister, said the report.

According to the story, the TSA rules specify that children aren’t to be barred when their names appear on the list. Of course, given how poorly known the rules are by TSA employees, that’s small comfort in general and it was clearly worthless in this case. That shouldn’t matter, though, because the number of false positives from this are absurdly beyond any acceptable level of lost time due to error. Senator Kennedy has been denied entry to an airplane because of this list. Catherine Stevens, wife of Senator Ted Stevens, has been denied access to planes because her name is close to that of barred singer Cat Stevens. The accuracy of this list has been covered all over the web-o-tubes (hint: it’s horridly low). The problem with non-unique identifiers as blocking a mechanism has been well-covered by many security experts. Yet instead of implementing smarter security, our government just trims 20% off the list and calls it done.

Poor kid just wanted home.

[tags]8-year-old blocked from travel as a terrorist, Further proof of non-security of names of terrorists, Security , Terrorism, TSA[/tags]

US court determines Presidents and NSA are not subject to US law

Sadly, I just don’t have time to do this story in the manner it deserves.  I’m preparing for a trip, and won’t have time to completely cover this until returning from travel.  But the story is too important to let wait until then.

Overturning a lower court decision that President Bush’s unlawful wiretap authorization after the 9/11 attacks, a U.S. appeals court has ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit against the NSA for wiretapping.  The simple reason is the court stated that since none of the plaintiffs could prove their 4th amendment rights had been violated by the wiretaps.

The appeals court ruled that the plaintiffs didn’t prove they had been affected by the NSA’s Terrorist Surveillance Program, authorized by President Bush in 2002. The program allowed the NSA to monitor communications between U.S. residents and people in other countries with suspected ties to the terrorist group al-Qaeda.

The plaintiffs argued, among other things, that the program violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, protecting U.S. citizens against unreasonable search and seizure. But none of the plaintiffs could prove their Fourth Amendment rights had been violated, wrote Appeals Court Judge Alice Batchelder.

“The plaintiffs cannot show they have been or will be subject to surveillance personally,” Batchelder wrote.

Well, here’s the kicker.  Because the program and all information collected is classified, no one can EVER prove their 4th amendment rights have been violated.  Quite literally, the court has ruled that any program initiated by a President and stated to be classified complete protects the government from all legal repercussions.  Think about this carefully before you dismiss it.  That means, for instance, that if Hillary were to win the election next year (please dear ${diety} no, but just suppose) and she determined she needed to eavesdrop on political opposition.  If she were to start doing this and claim it was classified, no one could bring any legal weight against her.

If any President does anything in violation of current law but declares all information about it to be classified, no one can do anything about it if this ruling stands.  This is an insanely dangerous ruling, and it sets America up for very bad executive branch programs in the future.  It’s especially sad to me that the ACLU actually takes on a case that they should, and because they can only speak of the potential damage of the program, it gets thrown out.  All the cases judges let the ACLU run through that they win, and one this important gets dismissed?  Sad.  A pathetic show of judicial ruling.

[tags]US court appears to hate America, Court declares President above the law[/tags]

President Bush declassifies what we already knew as justification for letting more Americans die in Iraq

I suppose realizing that Americans are generally tired of his bad presidency and bad Iraq war handling, President Bush has declassified intelligence stating that terrorists still want to attack America (an unsurprising bit of Intel for us) and that they plan to use Iraq as a haven to plan the attacks.

President Bush, outlining repeated foiled plots by al Qaeda to attack the United States since the terrorism of Sept. 11, 2001, today described a select piece of once-classified information to support his argument that terrorists hope to make Iraq a “safe haven” for planning new attacks on the U.S.

“Al Qaeda leaders have repeatedly made it clear that they intend to strike our country again,” Bush said in a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy. “There is a reason that these and other plots have thus far not exceeded. Since Sept. 11, we have taken bold action at home and abroad to keep our people safe.

“Now, in 2007, we are in a pivotal moment in this battle,” the president said. “Our security depends on helping the Iraqis succeed in defeating al Qaeda in Iraq.”

Continue reading on for my rant.

Continue reading “President Bush declassifies what we already knew as justification for letting more Americans die in Iraq”

Olbermann explains how our government has failed us

All around, our government has failed us on its handling of the Iraq war according to Keith Olbermann. Of course, many will dismiss him as a left-wing nut spouting nonsense. Given Gallup polling that shows roughly 60% of Americans want a deadline set for withdrawal from Iraq, it’s hard to legitimately dismiss this rant as not representative of a large and growing portion of the American public’s beliefs. And while I’ve supported President Bush’s troop surge plan (although I’ve called it insufficient in scope), I’m losing faith in the situation, too. To me, Olbermann’s rant hits dead-on the reality of how Democrats have failed us on our involvement with Iraq by backing down on the troop withdrawal requirement in funding continued war efforts.

A Special Comment about the Democrats’ deal with President Bush to continue financing this unspeakable war in Iraq-and to do so on his terms:

This is, in fact, a comment about… betrayal.

Few men or women elected in our history-whether executive or legislative, state or national-have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear:

Get us out of Iraq.

Yet after six months of preparation and execution-half a year gathering the strands of public support; translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, the Democrats have managed only this:

  • The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president-if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history-who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats “give the troops their money”;
  • The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans;
  • The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.
  • The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.

You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions-Stop The War-have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.

Olbermann’s rant goes on far beyond what I have quoted above, and it is one of the best monologues on our government’s failures of late that I have seen. This story is one of my most highly recommended reads that I’ve ever taken the time to post.  The link includes a video to go with the transcript.
President Bush has decided to keep letting Americans die in Iraq, and rather than taking control and righting this executive abuse, our Congress has folded. I’m sure fear of losing votes motivated this for the Democrats, which is exactly why they deserve to lose our votes – we need purposeful leadership in our Federal government right now, and it is nowhere to be seen. The sad reality is, though, the current Republicans in office have mostly lost any right to our votes as well by supporting President Bush’s ongoing removal of freedoms in America, meaning we are left with few or no incumbents who deserve to remain in office.

I’m afraid the Democrats have just cost themselves the majority in the next election. The Republicans have spent six years supporting the Executive office in stripping away so much of what makes America great and a world leader, therefore proving they should not hold a majority. This means that I can already see the next election will absolutely suck for Congressional positions and for the President. There is no worthy leadership right now in the White House nor Congress. Our politicians have failed us far more than normal, and have done so for varying reasons – incapacity to see anything other than a moronic “Stay the course” farce, unwillingness to stand up to an abusive President, fear of losing personal and party power, lack of understanding of what constituency wants, and so on. I honestly pray that in the next year, some actual leadership emerges in either party and we start seeing a way to a more sane nation. And I thank Keith Olbermann for his rant that got me to open and make my own mini-rant.

[tags]Keith Olbermann calls out Democrats for failing America, Olbermann rant on Iraq war failures by Executive and Legislative branches[/tags]

Steve Jobs figures out how to charge more for music and music lovers everywhere thank him

What the hell is going on here? Steve Jobs comes up with a way to make Apple even more profitable via a major music label DRM-free offering, announces it to the world, and consumers thank him for higher prices? I know, I know – there’s a bitrate bump, too. I still don’t see the value. To me, the higher quality, DRM free tracks need to get the current price (typically $0.99 per track, I believe) and the DRM, hate-the-consumer protection covered tracks should get a price discount. Or if there’s just no chance of dropping the price on the current bitrate stuff, at least offer it at the same price but without hate-the-consumer protection on it. But I supposed that’s why I’m sitting here criticizing others instead of running a multi-billion dollar computer corporation – I lack vision.

I’ve been buying DRM-free music for years. My current preferred provider is Audio Lunchbox, but there are many others. While they don’t offer the breadth of music Apple has, they offer enough that I like that I don’t care to give my money to less consumer friendly companies that assume I am a thief.

Continue reading “Steve Jobs figures out how to charge more for music and music lovers everywhere thank him”

A possible restoration of rights and protections for Americans?

Finally we see a few members of Congress are growing the spines we need them to have to take back our rights and freedoms that have been slowly stripped away by President Bush, his lackies, and the until-recently roll-over-and-give-him-everything Congress. We have Senators questioning and harshly criticizing FBI Director Robert Mueller for the abuses of the PATRIOT act that have recently come to light. Members of the House Judiciary Committee look to be working to curtail the FBI’s record-gathering powers if these abuses aren’t fixed. Congress-critters, aware that since Karl Rove can’t even tell the truth under oath (premium content – I can post some of the information if requested, but it should be viewable via temporary pass), he and others in the Bush enclave shouldn’t be trusted to give believable statements in non-transcribed, non-recorded, non-mass media provided, not under oath questioning.

That means that subpoenas are authorized for certain White House advistors to require testifying under oath on the recent firing of several US attorneys general last year. It appears that the Congress-critters aren’t willing to accept Tony Snow’s “Executive Privilege is bad for Clinton and good for Bush” flip-flopping now. So maybe, just maybe, we’ll start to see our rights actually protected by our government rather than secretly stripped away via classified executive orders and Presidential signing statements which lack any legal force. Only time will tell.

Of course, I don’t expect this will lead to impeaching the man who is so committed to violating our rights, but I can always hope for that positive outcome.

[tags]Some in Congress may be growing enough spine to protect America from Presidential abuse[/tags]

Department of Justice issues massive report on PATRIOT act abuse

The federal government has a web site dedicated to spreading lies and propaganda stating that the PATRIOT act is good for the country and never has caused anything bad. What’s so odd about that is that while it appears to be a Department of Justice site, that is the department that has just written a massive, damning report on the many abuses of the PATRIOT act. Of course, there are still too many Americans (not surprisingly, mostly conservatives with a smattering of independents) blinded by their love of our current President, regardless of how many times he lies and deceives, who believe the executive branch representatives when they say the PATRIOT act is not abused and that Americans’ rights are protected under the PATRIOT act.

We have to suffer Presidential signing statements, though they carry no legal force, regardless of President Bush’s determinination to make the Executive branch also function as the Legislative branch. We have an attorney general who states that Constitutional protections against taking rights away don’t mean we actually have those rights. We had ongoing discussion among various high-level political folks about the validity, legality, and appropriateness of torture, especially in terms of dealing with Al Queda prisoners. To me, the fact that even the easily followed guidelines in the PATRIOT act which allow our government to ignore our Constitutionally protected rights are not followed is not hard to believe.

I’ve been opposed to this law even when I thought the bad provisions were at least subject to the oversight written into the law. Now that I see that those charged with protecting us can’t even resist abusing the simple rules which allow for paper trails, I’m totally disheartened. When are we going to see this undone? Why can’t the liberals do something useful with their tiny majority in Congress to get rid of this? My theory is lack of backbone, but I’m open to other interpretations.

[tags]Department of Justice issues massive document of PATRIOT act abuses, PATRIOT act abuses, Continuing loss of rights in America[/tags]

Hateful spew != Great rant

A co-worker sent me a link to what he deemed a “Great Rant” and I went ahead and read it. It’s a great rant in the same manner that Howard Dean’s opposition to President Bush was “Great Leadership and Politicing” I think. The poster of the supposedly great rant is angry, and feels that anger and spewing is equivalent to offering anything worth reading or listening to. Complaining vehemently about the Democrats plans for preventing the Iraqi was surge plan, the writer vomits:

You Democrats, with far too few exceptions, are a disgrace to the sacrifices made by our forefathers, and you have no business referring to yourselves as Americans. Since when is it the Congress’s mandate to run foreign policy, anyway?

If I’m getting my dates right, I believe the US Constitution was penned in 1789. And in the Constitution, we can find that “The Congress shall have Power…

Continue reading “Hateful spew != Great rant”

John Kerry, revisionist historian

Since I know it seems I only bash on President Bush (OK, I almost exclusively bash President Bush – I think he’s a horrible President), I wanted to be sure to share this wonderful display of, ummm, I don’t know what, by John Kerry that a friend sent me recently.

In a recent talk Kerry gave, he spent time covering a lot of the shortcomings we Americans suffer from in regards to our possibly failing to engage in sufficient diplomatic talks with Iran prior to Iran’s current president getting elected. With all the things we’ve done wrong, Kerry makes sure to point out:

“When we walk away from global warming, Kyoto, when we are irresponsibly slow in moving toward AIDS in Africa, when we don’t advance and live up to our own rhetoric and standards, we set a terrible message of duplicity and hypocrisy,” Kerry said.

But there is a little, teensy weensy problem with griping about President Bush bailing on the Kyoto treaty:

On July 25, 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized (although it had been fully negotiated, and a penultimate draft was finished), the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95-0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98), which stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations or “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States”. On November 12, 1998, Vice President Al Gore symbolically signed the protocol. Both Gore and Senator Joseph Lieberman indicated that the protocol would not be acted upon in the Senate until there was participation by the developing nations. The Clinton Administration never submitted the protocol to the Senate for ratification. . . .

Yeah, you read that right. Clinton was the one who walked away from the Kyoto treaty (based in part on a resolution which Kerry voted for). President Bush just never went back to it, what with the lack of timetables and targets for waste producers like China. And I agree with President Bush. Signing the Kyoto treaty as it was presented penalizes us while leaving other large pollutors off the hook.

And one other thing in the linked post I have to agree with:

Why should we believe anything that comes out of this guy’s mouth? It’s bad enough that he’s sitting next to one of America’s enemies bad mouthing his own country, but he’s flat-out lying in what he’s saying as well.

So yes, why listen to him? If you want to see me bashing more politicians besides President Bush, Mr. Kerry is a good target to direct me toward. And my dislike of him grows often.

[tags]John Kerry creates fictional American history, Kerry lies and tells the bad guys (um – Iran) what bad guys we are[/tags]

How not to rebuild – a New Orleans guide

You live in an area where your home is actually below sea level. Your government ignores necessary standard maintainance care for levees for years and performs sub-par repairs when doing any work on them. Your government ignores studies showing the catastrophic damage possible from an exceptionally powerful hurricane. Said hurricane hits, destroys massive amounts of the city, leaves your home flooded and worthless or washed away. You are away for 12 months and more, until finally one day, you find out you are eligible for federal reconstruction funds, so you decide to move back to the city you left and rebuild your home. At this point, what’s the smartest thing to do? Why, rebuild in the same area with the same kind of house and hope for the best.

By ones and twos, homeowners here are reinhabiting neighborhoods, even the most devastated ones, and many view their return as a triumph over adversity.

But experts involved in the rebuilding believe that the helter-skelter return of residents to this low-lying metropolis may represent another potential disaster.

Continue reading “How not to rebuild – a New Orleans guide”