Saturday, July 31, 2004

Miami's disappearing and reappearing e-voting data 

First Miami-Dade County election officials said the electronic voting records from the 2002 Florida gubernatorial primary were conveniently lost forever due to a computer crash—well, not exactly a crash but a corruption of the wonderful software in their shiny, new ES&S; system—and, alas, there was no backup.

Well, you know how computers are. They crash; software corrupts. It's too bad that our election officials can't or won't grasp that as they go on touting the wonders of e-voting, especially e-voting that leaves no paper trail to conduct pesky recounts. But I digress.

When that brought more howls of protest from the opponents of touchscreen voting, the most miraculous thing occurred yesterday. A disk, which had been tucked somewhere or other in the bowels of the county elections office, was disgorged and on it, lo and behold, was the 2002 data.

But did that satisfy those skeptical ingrates who don't believe in fairy tales, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy, and who oppose paperless voting? Nope!

"There are now more questions than before," Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, told the Orlando Sentinel. "I certainly want the disk, I certainly wish someone would test the original disk they are now claiming they found and determine when that disk was made, where it came from, whether it's been tampered with and if anyone's opened it."

What makes this miraculous find smell so fishy is that the county says it did not have a backup system until last December.

Freedom and democracy Bush-style 

Arabic News is reporting that Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zeibari is threatening to shut down the Baghdad office of al-Jazeera and several other Arab TV channels, claiming their coverage of the situation in Iraq is biased and deviant.

In an al-Jazeera interview, Zeibari said that " we will not be tolerant with this unilateral coverage of the situation in Iraq and we will not permit those who hide before the freedom of the media… This provocation is not only in al-Jazeera, rather in the Arab TV channels, al Manar and the world.. became channels of provocation against the interest, security and safety of the people of Iraq and the Iraqi government will not be easy with these behaviors."

Well, Zeibari is just following in the footsteps of the freedom-loving Bremer, who shut down Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Al Hawza, setting off a wave of mayhem that continues to this day. But Bremer was just following the lead of the freedom-loving George W. Bush who said, “There ought to be limits to freedom.”

And we all know what George has done to limit our freedoms, too. And more of those limits will be coming if he manages to hang on to the White House.

Medical personnel in Iraq complicit in torture and Gitmo prisoners subjected to medical experiments? 

The New England Journal of Medicine is reporting that “U.S. doctors, nurses, and medics have been complicit in torture and other illegal procedures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay.”

Then there is the matter of two French citizens, Mourad Benchellali and Nizar Sassi, recently returned to France after being held for more than two years in the US military prison in Guantanamo. According to their lawyer, Jacques Debray, both men told him, “We have emerged from hell.”

Debray told Reuters that both men have concerns about the “interrogation techniques and medical experiments” at Guantanamo. He said that Sassi, in a letter, claimed “bizarre” medicines had been given to inmates at night and that one had caused some prisoners to break out in rashes.

Dr. Josef Mengele may be dead, but his playbook is still being used with the blessing of those compassionate conservatives squatting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.

Now what were Rummy and and Lt. Gen. Paul T. Mikolashe, the Army inspector general, saying about the use of torture not being a systemic problem; that it all was the work of a “few bad apples” who suffered from poor training, slapdash organization and outmoded policies? That isn't saying much about the mighty US military, is it?

And from all that has come oozing out, despite Rummy's efforts to force it back in the tube, torture—which he insists on calling “abuse”—wasn't among the outmoded policies. Nor have the Bushies been able to make those damning memos disappear—the one cooked up in the Pentagon on March 6, 2003, and the Bybee Memo of August 1, 2002, on how to circumvent the laws, national and international, prohibiting torture.

US Census Bureau tracking Arab-Americans for Dept. of Homeland (In)Security 

Its apology for having its data used to round up Japanese-Americans during World War II notwithstanding, the US Census Bureau has now provided the Department of Homeland (In)Security with detailed information about where Arab-Americans live.

While what the bureau did is legal and the bureau claims it provided no names, its actions raise a lot of questions in the Bush-induced climate of fear that all Arabs want to kill Americans. Will the next move be to round up all the Arab-Americans and cart them off to internment camps for “their” protection?

Saturday, July 24, 2004

House bill strips federal courts of jurisdiction in same-sex marriage cases 

When at first you don't succeed, do an end run and strip the federal courts of the power to protect a minority's civil rights.

And that's precisely what the House Republicans did last week in passing the so-called Marriage Protection Act, which prohibits the federal courts, including the US Supreme Court, from deciding whether a state must recognize a same-sex marriage legalized in another state.

This goes beyond President Clinton's stupidity in pandering to Christian zealots by signing the Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, to the very essence of what the Bill of Rights is all about: protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

What has these tyrannical religious zealots' panties in a wad over same-sex marriage is beyond me. Nor can they explain how a loving same-sex married couple living next door to them is going to have a deleterious effect on a heterosexual couple's marriage. Of course, not too long ago, their predecessors fought against legalizing interracial marriage, with the same arguments that the republic would collapse if people of different races married.

For once, The New York Times got it right: “This radical approach would allow Congress to revoke the courts' ability to guard constitutional freedoms of all kinds. And although gays are the subject of this bill, other minority groups could easily find themselves the target of future ones.”

While some legal scholars agree with the bill's author, Representative John Hostettler (R-Ind.), that Congress has the power, under Article III of the Constitution, to strip the courts of their jurisdiction in this and other matters that strike their fancy, I don't read it that way, especially when it comes to the Supreme Court. Yes, the Constitution gives Congress the power to establish “inferior courts,” but nowhere can I find where it is given the power to prohibit the lower courts or the Supreme Court from adjudicating cases that arise under the Constitution.

Republicans have a habit of setting up slippery slopes, which they often are the first to slide down, such as the amendment limiting presidents to two terms. The presidential term limit amendment came about when they got their knickers in a twist over Roosevelt winning four terms. It came back to bite them when Eisenhower could not run for a third term, had he chosen to do so, nor could their darling Reagan.

Now what if a Democratic majority in Congress passed a bill stripping the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction to decide the victor in a close or stolen election? Surely, the Republicans would go for that, yes? Or might they be too busy peering into bedrooms to notice?

Friday, July 09, 2004

Oops, Bush's crucial military records were destroyed 

How convenient! It only took the Pentagon four years to come up with this tale, claiming George W.'s crucial Texas Air National Guard payroll records were destroyed, allegedly with those of “numerous other service members,” during an operation “to salvage deteriorating microfilm.”

"Destroyed" in 1996 and 1997, yet. Even more convenient, considering he obtained a new Texas driver's license in 1995. A tidying up operation in preparation for a run for the White House?

In a letter signed by C. Y. Talbott, chief of the Pentagon's Freedom of Information Office, that accompanied a CD-ROM of Bush's records that had already been released, Talbott said, “Searches for backup paper copies of the missing records were unsuccessful.” Some 60 pages of Bush's medical files and other records were also withheld on privacy grounds.

How interesting that the records “destroyed” were only for the first quarter of 1969 and the third quarter of 1972. The question of whether Bush was paid for these quarters, which would prove whether he fulfilled his obligation or deserted, could be cleared up from his income tax returns for 1969 and 1972. Yes, people in the military have to file tax returns. It's doubtful that the dog that ate the microfilm is still around.

We don't need no steenking elections 

With each passing week, the cacophony grows louder about having to call off this year's elections in the event of another “terrorist attack.”

The corporate media chorus keeps dutifully singing, “The terrorists are coming, the terrorists are coming” to Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft's tune, “We Don't Know Who; We Don't Know When; We Don't Know Where; We Don't Know How, but We Have Credible Evidence and the Attack Will Be Bigger than 9-11.”

Gotta keep that fear card in play, not to mention having a game plan if the Pakistanis fail to pull Osama out of a cave—preferably during the Dems' convention—to save Bush's sorry derriere.

Far fetched? Not when you consider retired General Tommy Franks' remarks to the right-wing NewsMax last November: "It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world—it may be in the United States of America—that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important."

Goodbye, freedom! Hello, dictatorship!

The “replacement” government—also known as the Armageddon Plan—is already in place. And the numbskulls in Congress are being urged to commit suicide by voting for an unconstitutional provision that will allow for “emergency elections” should the vast majority of them be wiped out in an attack on the Capitol.

To further the diabolical plan, the Bushies want to make sure there are as few as possible foreign journalists in the country to record the event. To accomplish that, the new visa rules that take effect next week will require foreign journalists whose visa are expiring to leave the country in order to renew them at a US embassy or consulate abroad. It could take from four weeks to six months before their applications are processed. Neat, huh?

Be afraid, folks. Be very afraid. Our only hope of thwarting this scheme and keeping the freedoms we still have is by spreading the word of what is on the Bushies' drawing board to as many people as possible.

A classic Bush temper tantrum 

Like the kid on the playground who can't stand losing and picks up his baseball bat and goes home, an angry George W. stomped out of a press briefing Thursday when asked questions about his relationship with indicted former Enron chief Kenneth Lay, whom Bush had dubbed “Kenny Boy” back in the salad days when Lay and his wife were pouring some three-quarter of a million dollars in GOP campaign coffers from 1989 to 2001.

Not able quite yet to shout, “Off with their heads,” Bush's temper grows shorter by the day. Asked during a campaign appearance in North Carolina how John Edwards, John Kerry's choice for vice president, stacked up against Dick “Potty Mouth” Cheney, Bush snapped, “Dick Cheney can be president.”

Yeah, right, if old Snarling Potty Mouth doesn't wind up in an orange jump suit for his “big time” Halliburton skullduggery. But at a cabinet meeting, in response to aides worried about Cheney being indicted by a French court and the probes undertaken by federal prosecutors who haven't yet figured out how to sweep the Cheney-Halliburton scandal under the rug, Bush reportedly growled, “F*uck ‘em all.”

Aren't you so f*cking glad, that f*cking Bush and Cheney brought f*cking honor and dignity back to the f*cking White House?

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Is Bush planning to pull another PR stunt in Iraq? 

Is Bush planning to pull another PR stunt in Iraq?

The word floating in from a military source in Iraq is that George W. may be planning another quick photo-op in Baghdad for three purposes: stealing the thunder from John Kerry's announcement of his choice for vice president; tamping down Saddam Hussein's performance last Thursday in a dubious “court” (what little of it US authorities didn't censor) by strutting macho-like to show the Iraqi people he is stronger than Saddam; and attempting to boost his sinking poll numbers.

Ah, but there is another element to the Bushistas' madness, according to the source: “The last time Mr. Bush was here General Sanchez requested all the kids who saw Mr. Bush write home to their families and local newspapers to tell them how happy they were that Mr. Bush came to visit them. A few moments ago we were ordered to have thousands of ‘commemorative presidential' letterheads published for distribution to the kids so that their letters home will saturate the States and many more letters than last time will make it into the media…This PR crap that Mr. Bush's Karl Rove dreams up is disgusting. Are we over here fighting an insurgency or reelecting [sic] a bad commander in chief?”

You have to admit that there is no bottom to the filth the Bush cabal comes up with. And how can someone who wasn't elected be reelected?

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