Observations on the world today.

Thursday, July 29, 2004


The New York Times > Washington > Whistle-Blowing Said to Be Factor in an F.B.I. Firing
A classified Justice Department investigation has concluded that a former F.B.I. translator at the center of a growing controversy was dismissed in part because she accused the bureau of ineptitude, and it found that the F.B.I. did not aggressively investigate her claims of espionage against a co-worker.

The Justice Department's inspector general concluded that the allegations by the translator, Sibel Edmonds, "were at least a contributing factor in why the F.B.I. terminated her services," and the F.B.I. is considering disciplinary action against some employees as a result, Robert S. Mueller III, director of the bureau, said in a letter last week to lawmakers. A copy of the letter was obtained by The New York Times.


The Edmonds case has proved to be a growing concern to the F.B.I. because it touches on three potential vulnerabilities for the bureau: its ability to translate sensitive counterterrorism material, its treatment of internal "whistle-blowers," and its classification of sensitive material that critics say could be embarrassing to the bureau.

The Justice Department has imposed an unusually broad veil of secrecy on the Edmonds case, declaring details of her case to be a matter of "state secrets." The department has blocked her from testifying in a lawsuit brought by families of Sept. 11 victims, it has retroactively classified briefings Congressional officials were given in 2002, and it has classified the inspector general's entire report on its investigation into her case. As a result, groups promoting government openness have accused the Justice Department of abusing the federal procedures in place for classifying sensitive material.
And yet, ask 15 or 20 strangers on the street who she is, and it's doubtful that any will have ever heard of her.

Damn it, this story matters. This is the story of John Ashcroft's incompetence. This is the story of why intelligence before 9/11 failed. This is the story of how George W Bush leads misleads our country!

People need to hear this shit!



Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 

I had an idea today. Well, I have ideas all of the time, but this one was a good one.

Picture this. It’s Thursday evening. The democratic national convention is building to a crescendo. Somebody - maybe John Edwards (?) - has just announced, "The next president of the United States of America, John Forbes Kerry!" People are shouting and cheering. A camera holds for several moments on an empty stage. Finally Teresa Kerry walks out and silences the crowd. "I’m sorry," she announces, "but my husband will not be joining us inside the Convention Center. He is here in Boston, but he felt that he had a more important place to address us from."

A screen drops behind her, and we see the image of a cyclone fence enclosure. The image dissolves to a closer shot, and John Kerry is seen at the front of the cage behind the wires. "My fellow Americans," he says, "this is the free speech zone which John Ashcroft’s Secret Service agents insisted we build. It looks like a cage because they insisted on extra security precautions when we insisted if it had to be built it should at least be erected just outside the convention hall. I had hoped to be with you all to celebrate my acceptance of your nomination, and in fact, I do accept. But so long as dissent in America is only allowed in designated free speech zones, I feel that this is the proper place to be the standard bearer of our party."

From that point he could make whatever speech he has already prepared. The point is, something has got to be said about that deplorable pen. Even that stupid bitch Coulter took a swipe at us for it.
Apparently, the nuts at the Democratic National Convention are going to be put in cages outside the convention hall. Sadly, they won't be fighting to the death as is done in W.W.F. caged matches. They're calling this the "protestor's [sic] area," although I suppose a better name would be the "truth-free zone."
What better way to silence the critics and to dispel ALL of the myths about Kerry than by embracing the compound as both the symbol of what we are fighting against and the place we prefer to the complacency of Bush’s dissent-free theocracy? With one simple act, Kerry would define himself as brave, decisive, bold, and absolutely opposed to the silencing of dissent.

Now somebody forward this to the campaign quick. We’ve only got a few hours to arrange for the satellite feed.



Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Misleading the Sheep 

My Way News
The New York-based research group reported that its index for consumer confidence rose to 106.1 in July, up from 102.8 in June and well ahead of the figure of 102.0 that investors had been expecting. It was the highest level for the indicator since June 2002.
This is a very misleading paragraph and headline. The high point for the consumer confidence level under Bush was when he first took office. It dropped precipitously for two years.


Assuming another miniscule rise every month until the election, we can expect to see similar headlines the whole time. All that this means is that for now consumer confidence is higher under Bush than the low under Bush, but it's still not as high as when he took office.



Shove It, Tribune-Review 

ThePittsburghChannel.com - News - Kerry Defends Wife's 'Shove It' Comment
"We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics," Heinz Kerry said during a reception at the Massachusetts Statehouse.

Minutes later, in an exchange that was captured on camera by Channel 4 Action News anchor Scott Baker and his photographer, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Colin McNickle asked Heinz Kerry what she meant by the term "un-American activity."

Heinz Kerry told McNickle, "I didn't say that," and asked him why he was putting words in her mouth. When he again asked the question, she responded, "I didn't say 'activity' or 'un-American,'" and turned away to speak with Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

Shortly after their first exchange, Heinz Kerry went up to McNickle and asked if he worked for the Trib. He said he did, and she replied, "Of course." When he tried to question her again, she said, "You said something I didn't say. Now shove it."
Now, while it is true that she did use the word "Un-American," the way that the reporter characterized her use of the word was to couple it with the word "activities." "Un-American Activities" has a very specific conotation and history very different from Heinz-Kerry's use of the term "Un-American Traits." She was right to deny it.

And I think she was kind in telling the SOB to shove it. She should have told him to go fuck himself.



Monday, July 26, 2004

The Moore the Merrier 

Dems close convention door to Moore
The Democratic Party apparently doesn't want Michael Moore.

The famed filmmaker who delivered a major assault on the Bush administration in his blockbuster film "Fahrenheit 9/11" was declined credentials to the Democratic National Convention in Boston next week, according to Sam Riddle, a longtime political consultant and friend of Moore.
My first thought when I read this was - so what? Moore is a film maker. Not a pundit, not a politician. Not even long-standing democrat really. He was a Green party member who initially supported Nader four years ago. Additionally, the democrats have decided that they want to go with a positive message in this convention so that attention can focus on their vision for America for a change. Moore is a genius, but he is also very strident. And his movie is baggage in that sense. (But that sense only.)

However, then I learned that the rumor isn't even true.
Michael Moore will walk the Democratic convention floor after all.
Frankly, I think it would have been better if he wasn't there. But if Bob Novak can be there, what the heck.



Sorry To Sound Like a Broken Record About Bush's Broken Record 

Democratic Underground Forums - Bush's UNDESIRABLE Discharge from the National Guard

The administration, and Bill O'Reilly have been claiming for months that we already had all of Bush’s records from the military, but that was never true until recently. The AP sued and got those records under the freedom of information act. Not before, however, the government claimed that the records had been inadvertanty destroyed. But this week they finally gave all of the records up (or so they say.) There is still no DD214, the "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty."

However, on page 24 of the forms we find this:
DD FORM 258AF will be furnished.
This suggests that Bush never got a DD214 release, but a DD258 release instead. So the question is, just what is a DD258 release, and where is THAT form?

Well, I cannot answer the second question, but I may be able to answer the first. According to the Code of Federal Regulations: §887.7;
Those persons whose character of service was under other than honorable conditions or dishonorable are not eligible for CILs. However, an official photocopy of the report of separation or certificate of discharge (DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty, or equivalent form), if available, may be sent on written request of the member.

(a) On the DD Forms 214 issued before October 1, 1979, the following items will be masked out before a photocopy is sent out:
(1) Specific authority for separation.
(2) Narrative reason for separation.
(3) Reenlistment eligibility code.
(4) SPD or separation designation number (SDN).
(b) For DD Forms 214 issued after October 1, 1979, send one copy with the Special Additional Information Section, and one copy without it.
(c) If a report of separation is not available, furnish a brief official statement of military service. Use the letterhead stationery of the issuing records custodian. File copy of the statement in the master personnel record (MPerR).
(d) If (obsolete form) DD Form 258AF, Undesirable Discharge Certificate, has been issued, it may be replaced with DD Form 794AF, Discharge Under Other Than Honorable Conditions.
(e) A $4.25 fee may be charged for issuing a document under this section, with the exception of paragraph (d) of this section.
(Emphasis mine: Mister)

So what does that mean?

Well, according to my reading of §887.7 subsection d. of the Code of Federal Regulations - form 258AF is a now-obsolete form issued by the Air Force for the equivalent of "Discharge Under Other Than Honorable Conditions," though it was not a dishonorable discharge per se (although it would be considered one by today's standard since the modern equivilent - form 794AF - is a dishonorable discharge.) Also, according to the paperwork which the government supplied to the AP, George Bush was issued such a form of release from military service.

As I understand it, there are several reasons that one can get an Undesirable status. For example, alcohol use or drug possession. Also perhaps this was punative for his missing his physical. There may be other explainations too. For example; homosexuality. Truth is, I don't know why the form says DD258. Maybe Bush can supply the form so we'll all know.

John Kerry, on the other hand, has three purple hearts, a bronze star and a silver star as well as an honorable discharge from the US Navy.



Sunday, July 25, 2004

It's the New Purple Pill Called Caveat Emptor 

The New York Times > Washington > In a Shift, Bush Moves to Block Medical Suits
The Bush administration has been going to court to block lawsuits by consumers who say they have been injured by prescription drugs and medical devices.

The administration contends that consumers cannot recover damages for such injuries if the products have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In court papers, the Justice Department acknowledges that this position reflects a "change in governmental policy," and it has persuaded some judges to accept its arguments, most recently scoring a victory in the federal appeals court in Philadelphia.


In the Pennsylvania ruling, issued Tuesday, the appeals court threw out a lawsuit filed by Barbara E. Horn, who said her husband had died because of defects in the design and manufacture of his heart pump. The Bush administration argued that federal law barred such claims because the device had been produced according to federal specifications. In its briefs, the administration conceded that "the views stated here differ from the views that the government advanced in 1997," in the United States Supreme Court.

At that time, the government said that F.D.A. approval of a medical device set the minimum standard, and that states could provide "additional protection to consumers." Now the Bush administration argues that the agency's approval of a device "sets a ceiling as well as a floor."
I am the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end.

The government's argument is that this actually helps consumers by giving the drug companies some assurance that releasing their blessed products will not result in lawsuits. This is idiocy.

If a drug company can bribe the FDA into passing a defective product (and I am not saying that this has happened) then the consumer is left with absolutely no protection whatsoever. If the FDA simply makes a mistake (as bureaucracies will) then what recourse will the victim have?

I wouldn't wish ill on anyone, but it would be divinely punctilious if Dick Cheney's pace-maker was to short out during the vice-presidential debate, and John Edwards was to walk up to him and hand him a business card offering his services.



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