January 17, 2006

birthday wishes for MLK


The fourth in a series of ads run by the ACLU. Yes, I know I'm a couple of days late. Don't hate.

Posted by Gene at 01:46 PM | Comments (1)

January 05, 2006

aclu ads: national security vs. democracy?

Did you see the new full-page ads the ACLU placed in the New York Times over the last week? Comparing Bush's actions and statements on electronic surveillance of citizens by the NSA to Nixon's actions during Watergate, they ask: "What should we do when the U.S. President lies to us and breaks the law?" Very provocative.

bushnixonwiretappingnytadthumb122905.gif bushnixonwiretappingnytadthumb010506.gif

More details on the ACLU's full-court press including the ads, ACLU's call for a special prosecutor, and various FOIA requests are available for your perusal at www.aclu.org/spyads.

The ACLU considers this a non-partisan campaign to protect democracy in the United States. The Bush administration considers the disclosure of its secret program a dangerous affront to national security in a world of terrorist threats. Various conservative individuals and groups go so far as to call the New York Times treasonous for exposing this mess. Apparently this is something both reasonable and unreasonable people can disagree on.

I'm with the ACLU on this one. Of course, I'm a card-carrying member type, so I would.

Posted by Gene at 02:39 PM | Comments (3)

June 29, 2005

is robin hayes withholding evidence of iraq's involvement in 9/11?

CNN reports on statements made by Rep. Robin Hayes (R - North Carolina):

"Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11," Rep. Robin Hayes said.

Told no investigation had ever found evidence to link Saddam and 9/11, Hayes responded, "I'm sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places."

Hayes, the vice chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism, said legislators have access to evidence others do not.

CNN goes on to cite the report of the 9/11 Commission, as well as statements made by the President, that no evidence has been found that Iraq was involved in the 9/11/2001 attacks.

As George Lakoff has observed, frames are powerful constructs that facts simply bounce off of. Rep. Hayes certainly places a lot of faith in this particular frame, perhaps emboldened by the statistics about how many people believe this demonstrably untrue assertion.

Can someone explain to me why it is a good thing that Rep. Hayes is the vice chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism?

Posted by Gene at 07:03 PM | Comments (0)

October 31, 2004

trick or treat


"Iraq will have elections in January. Think how far that country has come from the days of torture chambers and mass graves. Freedom is on the march. Freedom is taking place around the world, and America is more secure for it. I believe everybody longs to be free. I believe deep in everybody's soul, there's a yearning to live in a free society. I believe all these things because freedom is not America's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world."

-- George W. Bush speaking in Columbus OH, 10/29/04

Posted by Gene at 11:23 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 23, 2004

ACLU blogs gitmo hearings

Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, is more or less blogging the first military hearings at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base for detainees accused of terrorist acts. Romero is one of around 65 invited observers including 53 members of the media, and representatives from several NGOs including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and ACLU.

"Two themes have come out of this first day of briefings. One is the ambivalence that the military has toward NGO participants and even the broader media. They want to give us access, but not too much access. They want to be transparent, but the transparency can’t go too far. For instance, tomorrow, members of the media will travel to Camp Delta, but unfortunately the NGO participants were told that we cannot attend that tour, even though we have been given full security clearance to sit in the commission room on Tuesday.

"The second theme is that there is a great desire to show how the commissions and the tribunals are fair and just, and how they mirror the American system of justice. But yet, when you compare the rules for both the commissions and the tribunals, you find serious departures from either military justice proceedings or regular criminal proceedings. For instance, under the Combatant Status Review tribunals, which are “administrative” we were told, each detainee is assigned a personal representative who is not a legal representative and whose conversations with the detainee are not confidential in any way. In fact, this personal representative is able to provide both exculpatory and inculpatory evidence that he gleans in his “personal representation” of the detainee.

"How this all plays out, I hope to be able to tell you more in coming days. As I said to one of the reporters today, this isn’t about the guys in the orange jumpsuits, this is about us. This is about what rules and values will guide an American system of justice that we can hold up to Americans and to the entire world. So far, I have no comfort to give on that front and I doubt that much will change by the end of the week."

Posted by Gene at 06:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 06, 2004

quarantining dissent

This article, "Quarantining Dissent: How the Secret Service Protects Bush From Free Speech" ran in the local SF Chronicle Sunday and is now on the SF Gate website. It is a must-read.

"When President Bush travels around the United States, the Secret Service visits the location ahead of time and orders local police to set up "free speech zones" or "protest zones," where people opposed to Bush policies (and sometimes sign-carrying supporters) are quarantined. These zones routinely succeed in keeping protesters out of presidential sight and outside the view of media covering the event."

Do these people really say the words "free speech zone" without irony? I know we live in the age of political Doublespeak, but this is truly infuriating. It's one more, particularly stark example of how the Bush administration is destroying the values of this country in the name of national security.

Posted by Gene at 12:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bush in 30 seconds

The Bush in 30 Seconds contest finalists are out. A couple of them are amazingly good, or egregiously ugly depending on your point of view. Me, I like In My Country (requires QuickTime) for its simple plot subterfuge, effective reference to an established genre, and clean, direct messages. YMMV, but go vote for your favorite in any case.

[via Lessig Blog]

Posted by Gene at 12:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 07, 2003

californians: get used to this

Ahhhhhahahahaha hahahahahaha hahahahaha hahahahahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahahahahahahaha hahaha hahahahaha hahaha hahahaha hahahahahahaha hahahahahaha hhahahahahahahahaha hahahahaha hahahahahaha hahahahaha hahahahahahahaha hahaaaa haaaaaaahaaaaaaa hahahaha hahahahaahahaha hahaha hahahahahahahahaha hahahaha hahahahaha hahahahahahaha hahahahaha hahahahahaha hahaaha hahahahahaha hahahahahaha hahahahaha hahahahahahaa hahahahahahaha hahahaha hahahahahaha hahahaha hahahahaahhaha hahahahahaha hahahaha hahahahahahahah!!!!!!!

(As of 8:00pm PDT, major news outlets are calling the recall election in favor of throwing out Davis and electing Arnold. Assuming they have not jumped the gun, we are now the Official Laughingstock of the Planet)

Posted by Gene at 08:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 22, 2003

Phil Agre on the conservative revolution

That last post rang a bell, which turns out to have been forged in TNO 2(1), the January 1995 edition of Phil Agre's influential newsletter, The Network Observer.

One sign of the ongoing decimation of the liberal coalition is its nearly complete lack of rhetorical traction in rebutting conservative arguments. We can see this, for example, in the impunity with which conservative rhetors have appropriated words like "elites" (a term which no longer includes bankers but does include journalists), "bigotry" and "hate" (now used to signify opposition to the political program of religious conservatives), and "political correctness" (a term which formerly was rarely used in seriousness by anyone but sectarian Leninists but which now routinely conflates social dissent and political repression).

Remember how George Bush I used the phrase "a card-carrying member of the ACLU" to skewer Michael Dukakis during the 1988 campaign?

Posted by Gene at 05:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Brian Eno -- astute political observer?!

Brian Eno wrote a surprisingly sharp article in the Guardian Observer, titled "Lessons in how to lie about Iraq". Surprising to me anyway, which is clearly a comment on my ignorance and not on Eno's apparently quite vital intellectual force. He describes the overt manipulation of public understanding by the US government to win support of the invasion of Iraq, drawing examples from Rampton & Stauber's new book Weapons of Mass Deception. To wit:

What occurs to me...is that the new American approach to social control is so much more sophisticated and pervasive that it really deserves a new name. It isn't just propaganda any more, it's 'prop-agenda '. It's not so much the control of what we think, but the control of what we think about. When our governments want to sell us a course of action, they do it by making sure it's the only thing on the agenda, the only thing everyone's talking about. And they pre-load the ensuing discussion with highly selected images, devious and prejudicial language, dubious linkages, weak or false 'intelligence' and selected 'leaks'.

This reminds me of something Phil Agre wrote some years back, I'll have to dig for it.

Posted by Gene at 04:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 18, 2003

it's the truth, stupid

In today's column the occasionally brilliant Jon Carroll, daily wit for the SF Chronicle, would like you to know that the Emperor Has No Clothes:

People with something to hide usually try to hide that something. Not a remarkable leap of logic, but lots of people are refusing to make it. The Bush administration doesn't have anything to hide, it's just, let's see, behaving prudently, or protecting executive privilege, or refusing to speculate.

That last excuse is used for the question, "How much is the occupation of Iraq costing?" The Defense Department refuses to speculate. I mean, the Pentagon brass could look at the invoices and the pay stubs and get a rough idea, but they're unwilling to do that.

Why? Because they want to protect the president. Why? Because he has something to hide. He has consistently lied to the American people about how much the war would cost -- and how long it would last, and why we were fighting it, and, gosh, just about everything.

Now I'm well aware the Bushies aren't the first lying bastards we've seen in the White House, and yes, prevarication runs left, right and center on the political spectrum. But this time it's worse than usual. There is a surreal quality in the way that bold untruths are told, then covered over with halfhearted excuses and intellectual dishonesties -- it's as if they know that we citizens will see right through the ruse, and at the end of the day we just won't care. Or, as Carroll concludes:

I'll take the Frappucino, please, heavy on the nepenthe.

Wake up, people, the truth is calling.

Posted by Gene at 10:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 07, 2003

terminate this

So Conan the Barbarian is running for governor after all. In case there was any shred of a doubt remaining, California has officially become the Most Embarassing State to live in. What a farce.

I wonder if he'll blog.

Posted by Gene at 01:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack