Donkey Punch

July 31, 2008

Terrorism Season.

I am sitting here in my office on the 9th floor of an office building in downtown Seattle, listening to the annually occurring, soothing sound of war planes roaring around.

That’s right, it’s Terrorism Season in Seattle.

Every year the Blue Angels come roaring into Seattle for Sea-Fair, an month long celebration of… summer? The Blue Angels appear every year and wow the crowds with two days of highly choreographed aerial acrobatics. To prepare for this display, they practice for about 2-3 hours on Thursday and Friday prior to the performance.

A few years ago I was working at a sales job that just happened to be two blocks from the end of Boeing Field, the airfield any military aircraft coming into Seattle proper use to land and take off. It was then when I first realized how terrifying these machines are. They are all speed, sound, and fury.

When I was young we would go to the air show at Forbes Field in Topeka, Kansas and watch the Blue Angels. The fascinated me. I just couldn’t get enough of the spectacle. It was then I decided to be a fighter pilot. What could be cooler?

I was a perfect candidate for pilot. I’m medium sized (5′ 8″), generally healthy and fairly intelligent. I even visited the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and dreamed of multiple-g maneuvers and various acrobattery. An Air Force recruiter recognized this in High School, and was pretty aggressive in trying to recruit me.

Somewhere along the way I decided that I could not be a military pilot. Maybe it was because my grandfather died in WWII and I understood, deep down, that war sucked. Maybe it was the pencil drawing in my bathroom when I grew up that had a picture of a Vietnam-era soldier sitting on his helmet, head in hands, bearing the caption, “War, when you are at it, is horrible and dull.” Or maybe it was because the tone-deaf recruiter liked to call me around 9 am on Saturday mornings (Keggers were de rigueur Friday night entertainment at Topeka High School). But somehow, I realized that no matter how fun it would be to fly those birds, at some point the leadership may ask me to rain death on people, many of which would be innocent. I was fairly sure I could not do that with a clear conscience, so I let that dream go. I still harbor a small wish to pilot a vehicle that can go close to 2000 MPH, but we all have unrealistic wishes.

Back to Sea-Fair. Yesterday there was a ‘parade’ of Navy vessels in Elliot Bay featuring some kind of small battleship shooting its deck guns at downtown Seattle. I realize they were blanks, but WTF? Couldn’t they point them at the Kitsap Peninsula or something? I could not help to think of the Soviet-era parades featuring all manner of terrible killing machines. And today we get the ultimate terror display, the impossibly nimble, loud and effective F/A-18 Hornet.

When I was working at the end of the airfield I invited a beautiful friend of mine to stand on top of a nearby building and watch them take off and do their thing. When I wasn’t distracted by her beauty (I wonder where Morgan went…), I kept thinking about how the impression of these flying machines must change when you are aware that they could unleash their fury upon you or your loved ones at any time. They come up over hills with no warning. They move so quickly you have to constantly adjust to keep up with them. And they are loud. Extremely loud. Once you see and hear one of these drop its payload, just the sound of those engines must incite abject terror. These planes are relics of a time when nations fought nations. What is their purpose now except to remind everyone how powerful and violent we are as a nation?

So now we fight a faceless enemy, The Terrorists. But how many places in the world fear the mere sound of these Terror Machines? How many parents’ blood runs cold at the first echoing howl announcing the presence of the Hornet? How do we claim any moral superiority to The Terrorists if we do what they do, only ten times bigger and ten times worse? Not to mention the fact that our government regularly terrorizes its own population, like some kind of Al-Queda proxy, with all sorts of thinly veiled threats, colored alerts, unnecessary and ineffectual security measures, and bold pronouncements of imaginary threats (Remember the run on duct tape?)

So Fuck You, Blue Angels. Take your terror show somewhere else. I’m more interested in displays of peace.

Here’s Tom Tomorrow‘s take. I hadn’t even thought of this angle:


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July 21, 2008

No Shame.

Well, they aren’t even trying to hide it any more.  Via Glennzilla, here is the goodie bag that all atendees of the Democratic National Convention will recieve.

See anything funny about it? I notice that the frackin’ AT&T logo is the biggest damn thing on the bag.  Even the letters for AT&T are in a larger font than anything else.

As the Hep Cats say today, WTF ?

The whole system is bought and paid for by corporations that have no interests beyond making the very rich richer.  That is the reality we live in.  We are a top-heavy imperialistic power that is listing dangerously.  I seriously wouldn’t put it past our current leaders to come up with a way to suspend our democracy and try to install Bush as President for Life.

Start growing a garden.  Hug your neighbors.  Be nicer.  I think we’re in for a hell of a ride.

July 17, 2008

The most concise critique of the Bush administration yet.

h/t List of the Day

But let’s not just focus on the negative:

h/t ISHKUR

Added bonus from Ishkur:

July 3, 2008

The Nuremberg Defense

Go ahead, call it out. I’ve Godwinned my post before even getting past the title.

The Nuremberg Defense is a legal defense that essentially states that the defendant was “only following orders” (“Befehl ist Befehl”, literally “order is order”) and is therefore not responsible for his crimes. The defense was most famously employed during the Nuremberg Trials, after which it is named.

Our Senate is going to come back next week and vote on the new FISA bill. For those of you that don’t know what that is, here’s a brief overview via Bill Moyers:

On January 27, 1975, the Senate, in the wake of the Watergate scandal and alarmed by recent allegations of intelligence service misdeeds, voted to establish an 11-member investigating body along the lines of the recently concluded Watergate Committee….

In reaction to the Church Committee reports pushing for oversight, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, which established a secret FISA court responsible for issuing warrants for domestic wiretapping activity. The FISA court consists of seven judges appointed by the Chief Justice and who serve for seven years.

In December 2005, the NEW YORK TIMES reported that President Bush had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on American phone calls and emails without obtaining a warrant from the FISA court. That revelation was met with consternation, and investigations, by many in and outside of the political realm.

In August 2007, a temporary amendment to FISA passed called the Protect America Act, which as President Bush explains, modernizes FISA by “accounting for changes in technology and restoring the statute to its original focus on appropriate protections for the rights of persons in the United States – and not foreign targets located in foreign lands.”

Bascially, the FISA bill passed in 1978 provide a framework in which we can spy on people, but supposedly prevents the President from abusing his power and spying without review from a court (exactly what Bush has been doing). The consequence for violating FISA is (again, supposedly) a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Right now there are more about 40 civil lawsuits against the telecoms for breaking the law and allowing the government access to huge amounts of our communications. Their defense? We we only doing what we were told. Sound familiar? Remember that the telecoms have large legal departments, and don’t do anything unless it is reviewed by these lawyers in order to expose themselves to minimum liability. There is no way they thought this was legal (unless their legal departments consisted of Liberty University hacks).

When the Senate gets back in session on Monday, they are planning passing an update to the FISA bill that the House passed last week. It is a complete sham. They want to retroactively immunize the telecoms for breaking the law because…wait for it…the telecoms were only doing what they were told.

Did you know that the government started the wiretapping program 7 months before 9/11? We know this because a former CEO of Qwest, Joe Nacchio, was tried and convicted of dumping stocks. During the trial it came out that on February 27, 2001Nacchio had a meeting with a representative from the NSA to discuss the Groundbreaker program, essentially the farming out of the NSA’s Information Technology to the telecoms. It was estimated that the program was worth 2-5 billion dollars in new revenue for the telecoms. (Many critics have said that the Groundbreaker program was actually just a cover for massive illegal wiretapping.) Here’s Naccio’s lawyer, Herbert Stern:

In the Fall of 2001, at a time when there was no investigation of Qwest or Mr. Nacchio by the Department of Justice or the Securities and Exchange Commission, and while Mr. Nacchio was Chairman and CEO of Qwest and was serving pursuant to the President’s appointment as the Chairman of the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, Qwest was approached to permit the Government access to the private telephone records of Qwest customers.

Mr. Nacchio made inquiry as to whether a warrant or other legal process had been secured in support of that request. When he learned that no such authority had been granted and that there was a disinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process, including the Special Court which had been established to handle such matters, Mr. Nacchio concluded that these requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act.

So Joe Nacchio says no (Qwest is the only company known to have raised objections) and six years later he is rotting in jail.

So our congress is attempting to codify the Nuremberg Defense. And although months ago this issue came up Barack Obama pledged to do anything to stop retroactive immunity, now that he has the nomination he has decided it is good for the country and he supports it.

What really concerns me is that when discussing this issue with friends, I have heard the “They were just doing what they were told” bullshit. Check out this comment from an excellent post about Obama’s position on this matter from the American Conservative:

I work in private industry, in construction, and if the government came to me and insisted that I build something that was vital for national security but violated a few laws, and was assured that this wouldn’t be a problem, and that if I did this I would be rewarded, and if I didn’t that I wouldn’t get many government contracts again, what exactly should I be expected to do?

That is some scary stuff. But he keeps digging:

If we make our entire system of laws dependent not on the government following the law, but on private individuals bucking the government’s inducements and extortions, we have a crazy system of checks and balances in place.

Yeah, there something crazy going on here all right. But it doesn’t have to do with checks and balances, it has to do with assuming that the government always has our best interests at heart.

I’ve got news for you. They don’t.

May 30, 2008

Hogwash. Hogwash! HOGWASH.

If you want to get up to speed on just how vapid and brainless our media is, read this post by three McClatchy reporters who have been trying to do their job and report instead of mindlessly parroting administration talking points.

Please go read it. One of the reasons we are in the place we are right now is the complete failure of the major media outlets to actually do their jobs. If anything is to get better in this country we must learn from this period in American history that is sure to go down in infamy.

What are you doing still here? Go read it!

h/t Glennzilla

April 22, 2008

I’ve got a question.

Filed under: Bush's Democracy, Diebold — t4toby @ 3:08 pm

How come banks can keep track of millions if not billions of pennies going every which way, each and every day, but we can’t insure that our votes are accurately counted?

Really, what is so hard about this? Is it that the profit motive of the banks encourages them to keep track and there is no such motive for elections? Does it serve some higher purpose to keep the elections opaque?

Seriously, we put a dogdammed slew of people on the moon, and we can’t count votes carefully? It is almost like we’re not interested in having a smoothly running democracy.

Epic over at the Great Orange Satan has some interesting info from Pennsylvania today.

Here’s my idea. We vote on electronic machines. When we ‘pull the lever’, a receipt spits out. We then review the receipt and sign it and drop it into a secure ballot box. Then we check the physical receipts to the electronic tallies. If the difference is too large, we know there has been fraud.

Simple right? WTF?

November 7, 2007

Fuck Nancy Pelosi. (Updated)

Filed under: assholes, Bush's Democracy, Fuck!, impeach, Politics, sycophants — t4toby @ 11:11 am

Fuck Stenny Hoyer.

Fuck Rahm Emmanuel.

I have nothing but anger and contempt for the ‘Leadership’ of the Democratic Party. Assholes, every one of them.

Fuck DiFi. Fuck Shumer.

Fuck!

I will attempt to parse this into something coherent, but for right now, I would like to personally piss in all of their Cheerios.

I have more respect for the Republican Fascists at this point.

I prefer the wolf that dresses like a wolf. At least I can keep an eye on ’em.

These fucking flabberty jibbity spineless wolves in sheep’s clothing?

Fuck ’em.

Update:

Bob Cesca keeps his composure whilst explaining.

He is obviously a better man than I. I have been reduced to a snarling pile of ennui.

November 5, 2007

Remember, remember…

Filed under: Bush's Democracy, impeach, Iran, Politics, Radical!, Revolution, Struggle, war — t4toby @ 1:55 pm

smv.jpg

Happy Guy Fawkes Day, everyone. I thought I’d take today to run down the State of the Union, in honor of the revolutionary spirit.

We already have an acting fascist government.

We are a a hair’s breadth away from starting another disastrous war.

The corporate controlled media is totally complicit in all of this.

Dissent has already been criminalized. They just haven’t started the round-ups yet.

In fact, I think we are one false flag operation from the complete suspension of the Constitution. This would explain why they soldier on on all fronts as if they aren’t going anywhere. No Constitution = No elections.

So call me Chicken Little. Accuse me of being a conspiracy theorist.

I just call ’em as I see ’em.

October 23, 2007

‘Where can anybody be safe from Bush’s democracy?’

Filed under: Bush's Democracy, iraq, Outrage Fatigue, Politics, Surge, war — t4toby @ 12:05 pm

And with that, Mohammed al-Samarrae hits the nail squarely on the head.

‘Whenever we want to open a new chapter with the Americans, to forget the past and try all over again, they drag us into violence, weapons and fighting again. And to sympathize with al-Qaeda against them. All because of their inconsideration for our blood.’

Chris Floyd, guest blogging at Greenwald’s digs, discusses the Glorious Surge and pretty much sums it up:

“We invaded your country under knowingly false pretenses, fixing the intelligence around the policy, because our leaders, who were in possession of vast amounts of intelligence that undermined or refuted their stated casus belli, couldn’t reveal their true, long-held intentions… We destroyed your infrastructure, we destroyed your society, we destroyed your history, we enthroned extremist militias to rule over you, we tortured your sons and fathers in the same hellhole that Saddam used, we killed a million of your people and drove millions more from their homes. And we intend to stay here for as long as we like, in the vast ‘enduring bases’ we are building on your land. Now if you don’t accept this, if you keep shooting at us and trying to make us leave, then we will go on bombing your families in their homes, we will go on killing your women and children, until you stop.”

What can I add to that?

neverforget.jpg