Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Feeling a little pig-fluey?

After meeting with Mr. Obama, Sen. Collins expressed concern about a number of spending provisions, including $780 million for pandemic-flu preparedness. "I have no doubt that the president is willing to negotiate in good faith, that he wants to have a bipartisan bill," Sen. Collins said.
Thank goodness Maine's own Susan Collins had the foresight to strike that bit of spending from the stimulus bill. Standing strong on this particular 1/1000 of 1 percent of the bill in the name of fiscal discipline in these tough times must have been a hard row to hoe.

Anybody else feeling a bit of sniffle coming on?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind

"They have deeply corrupted themselves...therefore God will remember their iniquity, God will visit their sins." Hosea 9:9

Jane Harmon's come-to-the-Lord moment is here:
"Maybe I'm even wiretapped now."
And what a surprise, right Jane? I mean, who could have imagined that plainly and vastly unconstitutional violations of privacy would ever be used against the Protectors of the Nation?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Suddenly, finally, and perhaps too late, the media. But only because it suits someone else's shadowy motives to bring down Congresswoman Harmon. But she deserves to be laid low. In 2005
Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.
That should have been enough to bring her under investigation. And indeed, it was:
[The Justice Department was] prepared to open a case on her, which would include electronic surveillance approved by the so-called FISA Court, the secret panel established by the 1979 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to hear government wiretap requests.
Representative Harmon was primed to fall into the crosshairs of the Bush Justice Department, headed by Alberto Gonzales. This was a dangerous place to be for a Democrat. Well, for most Democrats (and many ordinary citizens). But, oddly, not for Jane Harmon. In fact, Abu Ghonzales himself was looking out for her. Why?
Gonzales said he "needed Jane" to help support the administration's warrantless wiretapping program, which was about to be exposed by the New York Times.

Harman, he told Goss, had helped persuade the newspaper to hold the wiretap story before, on the eve of the 2004 elections. And although it was too late to stop the Times from publishing now, she could be counted on again to help defend the program

He was right.

On Dec. 21, 2005, in the midst of a firestorm of criticism about the wiretaps, Harman issued a statement defending the operation and slamming the Times, saying, "I believe it essential to U.S. national security, and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities."

Pelosi and Hastert never did get the briefing.

And thanks to grateful Bush administration officials, the investigation of Harman was effectively dead.
But now, years later, the tapes of the tapes made of the phone calls with the Israeli agent have come into the light. Somehow. And what do we hear from Ms. Jane Harmon, righteous defender of the integrity of the intelligence community?
"I am outraged that I may have been wiretapped by my government in 2005 or 2006 while I was ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee."
Earlier, on MNSBC, she expressed "disappoint[ment] that my country -- I'm an American citizen just like you are -- could have permitted what I think is a gross abuse of power in recent years." "I leave it to Glen Greenwald to sum this up precisely:
[W]hen the U.S. Government eavesdropped for years on American citizens with no warrants and in violation of the law, that was "both legal and necessary" as well as "essential to U.S. national security," and it was the "despicable" whistle-blowers (such as Thomas Tamm) who disclosed that crime and the newspapers which reported it who should have been criminally investigated, but not the lawbreaking government officials. But when the U.S. Government legally and with warrants eavesdrops on Jane Harman, that is an outrageous invasion of privacy and a violent assault on her rights as an American citizen, and full-scale investigations must be commenced immediately to get to the bottom of this abuse of power.
Right wingers are fond of saying, "A liberal is a conservative who hasn't been mugged yet." Greenwald says, "a 'civil liberties extremist' is a former Bush-enabling, Surveillance State-defending Blue Dog who learns that their own personal conversations were intercepted by the same government that they demanded be vested with unchecked power."

Reap it, Jane.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Nice shot.

By now we've all heard of the rather dramatic rescue of Captain Richard Phillips by the Navy and the SEAL team.

The first thing I thought of when I heard the story is the same thing some pundits are making much of: that's one hell of a shot -- times three.

Think about it: your target is between 100 and 300 feet away, and is about the size of lunch tray. You're bobbing up and down and side to side. Your target is also bobbing up and down and side to side, but on a different, faster rhythm. If you miss, the hostage could get shot (maybe even by you). It's dark enough that you need nightvision goggles.

So -- amazing shot, right?

But here's the kicker: all three guys made the same amazing shot at the same time.

I don't know whether to be proud or terrified.

Anyway, welcome home, Captain Phillips.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009