This is just sickening: “The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee rejected a proposal to investigate the Bush administration’s program of conducting electronic eavesdropping without warrants, while agreeing to create new congressional panels to increase oversight.. (See the full article in Bloomberg.)
In other words, “We, the Republican congress, have decided not to investigate the President’s violations of FISA and the 4th Amendment, and instead have chosen to make his actions legal retroactively.” Man, what if Clinton had as lap-dog of a congress as this one? He wouldn’t have been impeached! Oh, but wait: cheating on your wife and then lying about it is much, MUCH worse than running illegal wiretap programs (yes, as in “multiple” — there’s more than one) against innocent Americans.
I’m sure Nixon was praying for spineless lap-dogs like these just before he resigned. But Bush? He has them! Except for a few exceptions, the entire Republican congress is made up of nothing but criminals protecting a corrupt administration.
The Culture of Corruptions created by the Republicans make me ashamed of ever having been affiliated with the party. (Yes, I am a registered Republican. Not for long, thought. These criminals have done a great job in pushing me to the not-quite-as-dark-side of the force.)
Update: More from Unclaimed Territory:
The Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday rejected Sen. Rockefeller’s motion to hold hearings to investigate the President’s warrantless eavesdropping program by an 8-7, strict party line vote. Yet again, every Senate Republican followed White House instructions not to investigate the President, and this time did so despite the statements of several of those GOP Senators just within the last 8 weeks that such an investigation was urgent and necessary.
Sen. [Captain Obvious] Rockefeller stated the obvious: Emerging from a closed-door session in which Democrats lost two party-line votes, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), the vice chairman of the committee, said the outcome pushed the panel “further into irrelevancy” and reflected the influence of the Bush administration.“The committee is, to put it bluntly, basically under the control of the White House,” said Rockefeller.
Irrelevant indeed, Mr. Rockefeller. So when do we officially replace the “c” with a “k” in “America”?
Rather interesting developments in the whole “Who screwed up Katrina” situation:
From the AP: In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could [UPDATE]
breach top levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans’ Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.
SEE THE FOOTAGE HERE, available in QuickTime (.mov) and Windows Media Player (.wmv).
More information can be found here:
Updates as I find them. Check out the links for tons more information from people who blog a lot more than I do. Oh, and from news sources as well. (Look, even Faux News got into the act.)
UPDATE: From MSNBC: (Video available here.) It looks like the entire “failure all around” scenario is shaping up to be just that: failure all around, especially at the federal level. Not only did Bush and his cronies screw up the event with their “fog of bureaucracy”, but a new video shifts the blame more to the state (while at the same time not exonerating the federal government in any way).
(It should be noted that this was during the actual hurricane, so any delay in communication should be expected. We have taped evidence that Bush knew the worst case scenario, where Michael Brown basically begged for federal government assistance. But what about the governor? What was she doing all this time? How was she preparing for this worst case scenario?)
My question is, in a city that’s shaped like a bowl, what’s really the difference between a levee getting topped and breached? Severity? In either case the city’s still getting flooded, with water that has no place to go.
According to MSNBC, “[Max Mayfield] warned only that the levees might be topped, not breached, and that on the many conference calls he monitored, ‘Nobody talked about the possibility of a levee breach or failure until after it happened.’”
My question stands. The administration is relying on the whole “topped, not breached/it’s all Brown’s fault” argument as their excuse for not getting help in right away, but doesn’t this seem like — oh I don’t know — relying on a technicality like “depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”?
This makes for a great spin of events for the Bush, aka “The Teflon President,” aka “Spinmeister W”.
[UPDATE]: The Moderate Voice has a lot more information on this new video. Newsweek has an item about a hastily produced “missing transcript” of a video conference call â€” a transcript that hadn’t been provided to Congress but was hastily sent to Newsweek by the White House. Although no one knows for sure (yet), it would appear this was shoved forward due to the emergence of the highly damaging video…
I got this from “Eagle Eye” Quantum Skyline:
News of this phishing scam became public today. To be honest, this one would have got me.
The reason why this phishing scam is so good is that it uses a completely valid certificate for SSL based (read: encrypted) communication with your browser. Most users are educated only to check for the little lock icon in their browser, because phishers were traditionally too lazy to use an SSL certificate. However, for the price of $69.99, a domain, and a MySQL database, anyone can create a decent phishing site
The thing is, very few people check the SSL certificate of their banks…
Take a second to check out Quantum’s post, and from now on also check your bank’s Security Certificates. While you’re at it, stop by the Anti-Phishing.org website and educate yourself on how not to give up your banking information.
For those of you interested in cryonic suspension and life-extending technologies, here’s an interesting read from the Sydney Morning Herrald: “US doctors have developed a method of inducing hypothermia to shut down the body’s functions for up to three hours. In tests, they reduced the body temperature of injured pigs from 37C to 10C before operating on them and then reviving them.”
I wonder how this will affect our understanding of near-death experiences?
(For more information on cryonics, see The Alcor Life Extension Foundation’s website.)
Sorry about the silence folks. No excuse other than more important things are getting in the way. I’ll be back soon, if not full force, at least enough to report on the holidays, (Christmas, Channukah, New Year) and thoughts thereof.
By the way, if you’re in Fort Lauderdale, or plan to be here during Christmas, there WILL be Christmas-day services at Calvary Chapel. Pastor Bob figured that although most people would be with their family (and would probably have attended one of the 9 services in 5 days before Christmas), some may not have family to go to. For them, he decided to open the church doors for a 10:15 service on Sunday, Christmas Morning. I won’t be there (I wish I could be; I’ll be in Tampa), but if you’re in the area, drop by Christmas morning and say hello. (Or drop by to one of the three Saturday services and enjoy some good ol’ fashioned worship.) Someone you yet don’t know might need you.
Of course, if you’re not in the area and wish to check out services anyway, you can always watch online. I’m not sure if the Sunday Christmas services will be Internetelevised. If you go to their page, http://www.calvaryftl.org, and look at the top banner it’ll tell you whether they’re internetelevising services. No message, no service. Still check out the Active Word page to download some of the services in MP3 form.
Here are the service times over the next few days:
Slashdot is currently featuring a story by OSTG‘s Editor-in-Chief (and my former boss) Robin ‘roblimo’ Miller titled A Recipe for Newspaper Survival in the Internet Age in which he answers the question “How do we [the newspapers] adapt to the Internet?”
You’d think, with all the smart people working for newspapers, that by now most of them would have figured out how to use the Internet effectively enough that it would produce a significant percentage of their profits. But they haven’t. In this essay I will tell you why they’ve failed to adapt, and what they must do if they want to survive in a world where the Internet dominates the news business.
Interesting read for anyone working as a journalist or reporter, on or off the Web.
President Bush was at a news conference today and was asked the following question:
Q: Hi, Mr. President. Thank you. Did Karl Rove tell you the truth about his role in the CIA leak case? And do you owe the American people an apology for your administration’s assertations that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby weren’t involved?
Good question. Let’s see how Dubbya answers:
THE PRESIDENT: We’re going through a very serious investigation. And I will — have told you before that I’m not going to discuss the investigation until it’s completed.
Ok, nice, diplomatic “political” response: say a lot without saying nothing, and cover your butt. We get it, you don’t want to answer. But he continues:
And we have got a — my obligation is to set an agenda, and I’ve done that. And the agenda is fighting and winning the war on terror, and keeping the economic vitality and growth alive, dealing with the energy problem, nominating people to the Supreme Court that adhere to the philosophy that I can depend on — Judge Alito being such a person. I noticed today that they’ve got a date. I’m disappointed in the date, but happy they do have a firm date for his confirmation hearing. We’ve got to recover from the hurricanes. So I’ve got a lot to do, and will continue to focus on the people’s business.
Fear! Terrorists! Hurricanes! Economy! Supreme Court! Strong Leadership! Integrity! (Talk about a lot of BS. If you check out the speech, you’ll see that there’s a LOT more where that came from.)
Worst. President. Ever.
Click here for the complete speech, in case the White House suddenly happens to delete this page. Read more…
NOTE: This post may contain racy material. I’m not usually this uncouth. This is also a total rant which will at least be a bit funny, and at most kill part of your brain in the most horrible manner possible. You’ve been warned.
Last edited 20 October 2005. — Here we go again. Another hurricane, heading our way. Really, this is getting ridiculous — and old.
A couple of days ago, I read the following headline on Fark:
God remembers that Tampa has never been directly hit by a major hurricane in the modern era, seeks to rectify that situation
Ok, pretty funny headline, especially since I read it Sunday while in Tampa. Apparently, Tropical Storm Wilma was at that time somewhere south of the Yucatan peninsula. (You know, where that comet struck 65 million years ago which wiped out the dinosaurs, as well as 80% of all life on Earth.) Due to some amazing atmospheric foot-work, that storm was (edit:and still is) predicted to head pretty much straight north, then take a sharp, 90-degree angle turn east, towards Tampa. Since nothing ever hits Tampa, this meant that Tampa’s surrounding areas should start preparing for another hit. Heck, just to be safe, even Tampans (pronounced “Tampons”, like that thing women use when they’re “not so fresh”) were being told to get ready, since this might have been the area’s very first direct hit in something like 900 years.
Key words: might have been.
Ok, which of the following statements is false?
A) America sees scenes otherwise only known in African capitals. The forces of order are absent. Anarchy and chaos reign. Supermarkets are plundered, helicopters shot at.
B) Moscow offers to send rescue teams and other aid to the US.
C) Canada sends police to help protect US cities.
D) A Bosnian television station offered to raise money to help the US.
E) In Kosovo, a civil emergency unit made up of former ethnic Albanian rebels offers to send a team to help rebuild parts of the US.
F) Sri Lanka pledges to send money and disaster relief experts to the US.
G) El Salvador offers to send soldiers to the United States to help police zones in the US.
H) None of the above.
Ok, I admit it: I’m a news junkie. (Given my journalism background, is that really any surprise?)
I’ve been following the news updates from the Gulf coast pretty closely, especially those coming “out of” (for a lack of a better term) New Orleans. With everything that’s going on there, the news makes for some frighteningly addicting — uhm — entertainment. (Again, for a lack of a better term.)
I won’t bore you with all the news about lootings and fires, or the Mad Max-like post-Apocalyptic scenes taking place there since you can find those on just about any news website. (For video, check out FoxNews.com and MSNBC.com. For updates straight from the city itself, check out NOLA.com) What I’ll bore you with instead is the following question: Is New Orleans worth re-building? And if so, why?
First of all, let’s start with what may seem like a crude, tasteless, and extremist comment: Let’s forget about rebuilding New Orleans. Sure, it was fun while it lasted, but let’s face it, it’ll take years to rebuild, it’ll cost billions of dollars, and unfortunately this will probably happen again. Why not just give the money that would be spent in rebuilding to the refugees and businesses, and have them rebuild somewhere else, maybe somewhere that’s not, you know, below sea level?!
This, of course, doesn’t include all the shipping that goes on through these. That needs to be rebuilt, but the city itself hasn’t served the purpose of a trading port in a long time, and the port can be self sufficient. Heck, it would also probably be more secure.
Now, since it’s my tax dollars going to save their butts, maybe I should have a say, right? I mean, isn’t that how democracies work? Yeah, I know, we live in a republican democracy. Ok, so then we’ll do it the Republican-Democratic way: I vote for funds to be given to them if they rebuild somewhere else (democracy), but they can play Toxic Crusader and rebuild in Swamp New Orleans if they want (republic). Just not with my tax money. (Libertarian!)
Ok, so on top of this we have the whole cultural issue. Isn’t that more a “people” thing? If you moved the whole city inland, would the soul of the city be lost? I mean. more than it will already be anyway, because — let’s face it — most of those people will settle somewhere else, and when given a chance, they probably won’t come back. Landowners and homeowners might. Business owners may, unless it’s a large corporation. (This excludes franchises.) In that case, why bother. Get the insurance money and go build another store somewhere else. Go build another home, rent another apartment, and get another job.
Of course, most of these concerns come from the fact that, geographically speaking, it’s dumb to try to save the city as it is. It’s under sea level. In fact, the city’s shaped like a bowl. (What, it flooded?! OMG!!). This will happen again. The can rebuild the pumps and all the protection the city had — at the cost of billions. But once something stronger comes along — like, say, that Category 5 with 180mph winds that was expected to hit, before it went down to a Category 4 — it’ll happen again.
A bit of a side note: This whole situation — at least, the flooding part of it — reminds me of a quote from Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail:
When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up. And that’s what you’re going to get, Lad, the strongest castle in all of England.
Fitting, isn’t it?
Now, I won’t take into consideration the fact that New Orleans has pretty much proven itself to be the crap-hole of humanity. I mean, even New Yorkers had enough decency to drop the “we be tuff” act for a while after 9/11. (I still admire New Yorkers for that. I may not like the city, but daing it, at least they’re classy.) These idiots are shooting the frig’n help/rescue personnel that’s trying to get them to safety, feed them, and give them medical attention. And why, so they can get their next drug hit?
(I won’t get into the looting of stores part, since it’s pretty obvious that if it’s for survival, it’s necessary, and you don’t need 17 DVD players to survive. )
On the bright side, I’ve heard that 2300 troops are being sent in, hopefully to enforce the “comply or die” type of martial law. Maybe that will calm things down, if only a bit.
Speaking of which, I’m glad to hear some foreign aid is finally getting in. Sad to hear how long it’s taken. Then again, maybe it just seems long because I’ve already been hearing about Katrina for almost 10 days, having gone through the Category 1 version of the storm myself. And not all of it is the foreign government’s fault: I’m sure that if we asked England, we’d have some of their disaster rescue teams here within a day. Key words: “If We Asked.” The US doesn’t exactly need money. What it needs is organizational experience. On top of that, for now, what it also needs is man power, seeing as the Louisiana National Guard — whose job is to take care of stuff like this — is over in Iraq hunting down Baghdad Bob. But that’s an argument for another time.
Now, I haven’t forgotten that it’s not all about New Orleans. Mississippi and Alabama both need help, but then again, they don’t have the problems New Orleans has; bad geographic location and more than its share of bad people. Mobile and Biloxi will rebuild. It’ll take time, but they’ll rebuild. And in those cases, it’s worth it.
Ok, so I’ve given enough reasons why New Orleans isn’t worth saving, but let’s face it: New Orleans is a jewel in the world of the arts. (And besides, the “Shreveport Saints” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.) Maybe the city should welcome its new watery overlords, and take a hint from Venice. Can New Orleans become a River City? Well, why not? It’s in a swamp, it’s sinking, and the buildings are pretty much already all built with a super-strong infrastructure. And, like Venice, I’m sure the rest of the world would have at least some interest in keeping it around, at least enough to help fund its survival like Venice.
Alright, enough of this. This was a rant, plain and simple. The arguments set forth here are the arguments of someone who hasn’t the foggiest ideas of the logistics involved in moving a city, building a river/water city, or whatever. Still, I’m not the only person to ask these questions, and I guess I’m just plain interested in hearing some answers other than “We’ll have to spend $30,000,000,000 of your money to rebuild this city. Live with it.” I don’t mind helping out with hurricane repairs — after all, hurricanes happen, just like tornadoes, earthquakes, and blizzards. But since nature’s already done us the “favor” of tearing down most of New Orleans, why not come up with some imaginative ways to raise it back up?