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Monthly Archives: November, 2008

Re: Lieberman Or Why We Need A "Viable" 3rd Party

(I posted this on a number of group blogs. I got the most response, though somewhat hostile, over at the Daily Kos. I got more supportive feedback at the Booman Tribune, where I also argued we should recruit someone like Tom Morello to take a shot at the Illinois Senate Seat for 2010. (By the way, “viable” means he has to raise at least 2 million dollars by the end of 2009.) I haven’t posted it earlier because we were getting other contributors besides myself and Uncle Scam and I wanted to let their lights shine for a day or two…)

Re: Lieberman Or Why We Need A “Viable” 3rd Party

by pshropshire
Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:39:45 PM EST

Edit My Story…

I read with some interest the mean things that Markos said about Ralph Nader, arguably the greatest journalist who has ever lived. I voted for Barack Obama but with eyes wide open. I think he’ll be better and more sensible than the Republicans in power. But we really need to take a deeper look at our loyalty to the democratic party and the democratic party only if we’re really serious about things like the rule of law applying to everyone or even getting out of wars that would be more honestly defined as crimes. In short: if you really want to put the fear of god into Democrats, then you need to start supporting third party candidates. This crazy idea that we just keep giving them more money no matter how horribly they treat us simply isn’t beginning to fly anymore.

First, we need to take an honest look at the questions of electing democrats versus progressive policy. It’s clear that if you look at the last several years we’ve been successful at electing democrats. It’s also very clear that we’ve failed miserably to enact progressive laws, get our people into offices that matter and in some cases we’ve even failed to ensure some fairly common sense conservative rules that we believe in like: the rule of law applies to everyone or shouldn’t democrats support the party’s nominee? Crazy ideas like that. So we might have a situation where Howard Dean has no role in the current administration but Joe Lieberman does! This is why we work hard for Democrats? I would hope not.

Two, why does the DNC establishment continuously fuck us over? Glenn Greenwald outlines the reality of our situation.

It is worth remembering that the Democrats who are going to exert dominant political control are the same ones who have provoked so much scorn — rightfully so — over the last several years, and particularly since 2006. This is the same Democratic Party leadership which funded the Iraq War without conditions (and voted to authorize it in the first place); massively expanded the President’s warrantless eavesdropping powers; immunized lawbreaking telecoms; enacted the Patriot Act and then renewed it with virtually no changes; didn’t even bother to mount a filibuster to stop the Military Commissions Act; refrained from pursuing any meaningful investigations of Bush lawbreaking; confirmed every last extremist Bush nominee, from Michael McConnell to Michael Mukasey; acquiesced to even the worst and most lawless Bush policies when they were briefed on them; and on and on and on. None of that has changed. That is still who they are.

Joe Lieberman didn’t merely campaign against Barack Obama and several other Democrats. That’s the least of his sins. He was not only among the most vocal supporters of the Iraq War, but at least as bad, has endorsed and supported every last radical Bush policy to expand executive power and surveillance activities while destroying core constitutional liberties and checks and balances. He used his Chairmanship for only one purpose: to block oversight into Bush scandals and corruption. He has spouted the most defamatory attacks, not only against Barack Obama, but against war opponents generally. More significantly still, Democrats in his own state — his own constituents — booted him out of the party, no longer wanting to be represented by him.

Remember the arrogance of that Obama turnaround on FISA? Well, the answer is, under the current Daily Kos construction, we have no where else to turn. What else can we do? “Where else can you dirty fucking internet beatnik hippies go? Just give me some more money and shut the fuck up,” Obama might as well have said. He’ll probably say something like that a lot during the next four years. Obama will probably do things that any sensible person would never equate with real “change”.

Here are the Markos rules as far as I can figure them out: We support the democrats no matter what they do. We don’t support Republicans, which I think is smart because they’re an evil party (there shouldn’t be a party that represents private interests against the greater good at every fucking turn)but we also don’t support third party candidates who would better represent us. Further, we won’t expend any energy into building viable third party candidates and/or well funded well organized third party runs. Now, to me, those last two facts, the reality that we don’t support third party candidates or will work to build a viable third party infrastructure, doom us to irrelevance. This is why we lose. I might stress that this is also why we will continue to lose. They simply don’t fear us. Finally, this Markos construction is a boon to the Republicans. I can very easily see a scenario where the republicans stop all meaningful reform/stimulus over the next two years, declare all dem efforts “fails” and make big gains in 2010.

Three: What is a viable third party run?You don’t need a 50 state plan, at least initially, to prove our point to the democrats. You really need to focus on what I’ve been calling my 5/25 plan. You need to fund 25 house races and 5 senate races. You need at least 1 million dollars to compete for a house seat and at least 2 million to compete, realistically and viably for a senate seat. Now, this is where the expertise of the Kos community could come in handy. What 25 house seats would you pick to make your point? I frankly think they should run “Lieberman” style. Run them in the primary first and even if they lose run them in the general. We already have two senate opportunities in Delaware and Illinois for 2010. Tom Morello has openly talked about dipping his toe into the political waters in Illinois. I actually wouldn’t mind Ralph Nader as a Delaware senator because I think he would use the fillibuster. The truth of the matter is that five senators that use the old fashioned Jimmy Stewart fillibuster could change congress. Just once, I’d like to see a senator as supportive of child healthcare as they are for wall street bailouts. I’d love to see a senator talk about that over a several day fillibuster as well. (You would need a stubborn asshole to do that…Nader looks right to me…)

Finally, if you like being disappointed by the dems, then don’t keep your third party options option. Just keep giving them money and clap harder. I might note that both David Sirota and Glenn Greenwald have organizations in place that could start searching for and funding viable third party runs and candidates. It’s clear that’s what they’re thinking. Feel free to steal my 5/25 plan and start real change. That would make the dems take notice. Primary challenges aren’t going to do it. Most of these guys look at “public service” as an audition for “K Street” anyway…Time to try some new ideas.

Go watch The Acid Jazz Channel.


We Should Put Pressure on the Dems by:

. Giving them money no matter how often they betray us on core issues. 0%
. Vote Republican because we should cut our noses to spite our faces or vice versa. 33%
. Support viable well funded third party candidates to show that we have options too. 66%
. Clap Harder! 0%

Votes: 3
Results | Other Polls

Adam Curtis- The Living Dead

Adam Curtis kick
The long sought after 1995 three parter has been notable by its absence from the web.

On the Desperate Edge of Now- This episode examined how the various national memories of the Second World War were effectively rewritten and manipulated in the Cold War period. For Germany, this began at the Nuremberg Trials, where attempts were made to prevent the Nazis in the dock—principally Hermann Göring—from offering any rational argument for what they had done. Subsequently, however, bringing lower-ranking Nazis to justice was effectively forgotten about in the interests of maintaining West Germany as an ally in the Cold War. For the Allied countries, faced with a new enemy in the Soviet Union, there was a need to portray WW2 as a crusade of pure good against pure evil, even if this meant denying the memories of the Allied soldiers who had actually done the fighting, and knew it to have been far more complex. A number of American veterans, including the writer Kurt Vonnegut, told how years later they found themselves plagued with the previously-suppressed memories of the brutal things they had seen and done. The title comes from a veteran’s description of what the uncertainty of survival while combat is like.

Part One:

Enjoy, download, share, torrent before some killjoy comes along.

Also see, 1992
Pandora’s Box: A Fable From The Age Of Science
Pandora’s Box, subtitled A fable from the age of science, is a six part 1992 BBC documentary television series written and produced by Adam Curtis, which examines the consequences of political and technocratic rationalism. Curtis’ later series The Century of the Self and The Trap had similar themes. The title sequence made extensive use of clips from the short film Design for Dreaming, as well as other similar archive footage.

Just as, ‘the power of nightmares’ and ‘the century of the self’, you wont be seeing this on tv folks…

Software Being Developed to Monitor Opinions of U.S.

Almost everything is being put into place whilst America sleeps on… Post election is going to be a white knuckle ride for people who still cherish inherent rights and freedom. The system is being put in place to begin targeting dissenters, Constitution enthusiasts and whomever the state deems an “enemy combatant. Their target is definitely blogs and sites that promote information contrary to the agenda of the Fourth Reich and resistance to it. Read here: Software Developed to Monitor Opinions or in it’s entirety below.
The Camps, the “Law” and Now the Targeting System

Software Being Developed to Monitor Opinions of U.S.


WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 — A consortium of major universities, using Homeland Security Department money, is developing software that would let the government monitor negative opinions of the United States or its leaders in newspapers and other publications overseas.

Such a “sentiment analysis” is intended to identify potential threats to the nation, security officials said.

Researchers at institutions including Cornell, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Utah intend to test the system on hundreds of articles published in 2001 and 2002 on topics like President Bush’s use of the term “axis of evil,” the handling of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, the debate over global warming and the coup attempt against President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

A $2.4 million grant will finance the research over three years.

American officials have long relied on newspapers and other news sources to track events and opinions here and abroad, a goal that has included the routine translation of articles from many foreign publications and news services.

The new software would allow much more rapid and comprehensive monitoring of the global news media, as the Homeland Security Department and, perhaps, intelligence agencies look “to identify common patterns from numerous sources of information which might be indicative of potential threats to the nation,” a statement by the department said.

It could take several years for such a monitoring system to be in place, said Joe Kielman, coordinator of the research effort. The monitoring would not extend to United States news, Mr. Kielman said.

“We want to understand the rhetoric that is being published and how intense it is, such as the difference between dislike and excoriate,” he said.

Even the basic research has raised concern among journalism advocates and privacy groups, as well as representatives of the foreign news media.

“It is just creepy and Orwellian,” said Lucy Dalglish, a lawyer and former editor who is executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Andrei Sitov, Washington bureau chief of the Itar-Tass news agency of Russia, said he hoped that the objective did not go beyond simply identifying threats to efforts to stifle criticism about an American president or administration.

“This is what makes your country great, the open society where people can criticize their own government,” Mr. Sitov said.

The researchers, using an grant provided by a research group once affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency, have complied a database of hundreds of articles that it is being used to train a computer to recognize, rank and interpret statements.

The software would need to be able to distinguish between statements like “this spaghetti is good” and “this spaghetti is not very good — it’s excellent,” said Claire T. Cardie, a professor of computer science at Cornell.

Professor Cardie ranked the second statement as a more intense positive opinion than the first.

The articles in the database include work from many American newspapers and news wire services, including The Miami Herald and The New York Times, as well as foreign sources like Agence France-Presse and The Dawn, a newspaper in Pakistan.

One article discusses how a rabid fox bit a grazing cow in Romania, hardly a threat to the United States. Another item, an editorial in response to Mr. Bush’s use in 2002 of “axis of evil” to describe Iraq, Iran and North Korea, said: “The U.S. is the first nation to have developed nuclear weapons. Moreover, the U.S. is the first and only nation ever to deploy such weapons.”

The approach, called natural language processing, has been under development for decades. It is widely used to summarize basic facts in a text or to create abridged versions of articles.

But interpreting and rating expressions of opinion, without making too many errors, has been much more challenging, said Professor Cardie and Janyce M. Wiebe, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Pittsburgh. Their system would include a confidence rating for each “opinion” that it evaluates and would allow an official to refer quickly to the actual text that the computer indicates contains an intense anti-American statement.

Ultimately, the government could in a semiautomated way track a statement by specific individuals abroad or track reports by particular foreign news outlets or journalists, rating comments about American policies or officials.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, said the effort recalled the aborted 2002 push by a Defense Department agency to develop a tracking system called Total Information Awareness that was intended to detect terrorists by analyzing troves of information.

“That is really chilling,” Mr. Rotenberg said. “And it seems far afield from the mission of homeland security.”

Federal law prohibits the Homeland Security Department or other intelligence agencies from building such a database on American citizens, and no effort would be made to do that, a spokesman for the department, Christopher Kelly, said. But there would be no such restrictions on using foreign news media, Mr. Kelly said.

Mr. Kielman, the project coordinator, said questions on using the software were premature because the department was just now financing the basic research necessary to set up an operating system.

Professors Cardie and Wiebe said they understood that there were legitimate questions about the ultimate use of their software.

“There has to be guidelines and restrictions on the use of this kind of technology by the government,” Professor Wiebe said. “But it doesn’t mean it is not useful. It can just as easily help the government understand what is going on in places around the world.”

You get that? The empire must always gauge the resistance. What, you guys don’t support the glorious War on Sentiment!?

It’s a P.K. Dick world now…

*terror, war war, terror, terror and fear, al CIA duh, duck tape, anthrax, snipers, color codes, WMD etc, etc…

Just in case you thought there were two parties…

Reading this post blew me away: Lambert at Correntewire found this tidbit at Steve Clemon’s blog:

A senior Obama campaign official shared with The Washington Note that In July 2008, the McCain and Obama camps began to work secretly behind the scenes to assemble large rosters of potential personnel for the administration that only one of the candidates would lead.

Lists comprised of Democrats and Republicans were assembled, sorted into areas of policy expertise, so that the roster could be called on after the election by either the Obama or McCain transition teams.

This kind of out-of-sight coordination is rare between battling presidential camps and provides some indication that both Obama and McCain intended to draw expertise into their governments from both sides of the aisle — or at least they wanted to appear interested in doing so if the information leaked out about the list development process.

Just as one of the commenters over there states, “i’m not really that surprised–it’s seeing it admitted, and printed, that’s surprising”…

Vigilant Shield 09: A Cover for Illegal Domestic Operations?

On November 17, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) concluded Vigilant Shield 09 (VS09), described in a press release as a training exercise focused on “homeland defense and civil support.”

Launched by President Bush in 2002 in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, NORTHCOM has been mired in controversy since its creation. Among its more dubious accomplishments were illegal domestic spying operations in conjunction with the Pentagon’s shadowy Counter Intelligence Field Activity unit (CIFA) that targeted antiwar activists.

Despite CIFA’s shut-down and the alleged dismantling of its TALON database (now incorporated into the FBI’s Guardian Threat Tracking System), SourceWatch revealed that “in accordance with intelligence oversight requirements, the DoD will maintain a record copy of the collected data.” One can’t help but wonder whether that “record copy” of TALON somehow migrated into a NORTHCOM database.

But the NORTHCOM-CIFA liaison wasn’t the only episode of illegal military spying on Americans to come to light. In May, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Marines, including a Colonel and the co-founder of the Los Angeles County Terrorist Early Warning Center, stole top secret intelligence files from Camp Pendleton’s Strategic Technical Operations Center.

Among the documents filched by the intelligence privateers were those marked “Top Secret, Special Compartmentalized Information,” the highest U.S. Government classification. The files included surveillance dossiers on the Muslim community and antiwar activists in Southern California.

Before being run to ground by investigators, the spy ring regularly received and disseminated secret files and surveillance reports transmitted by Lauren Martin, a Navy reservist who worked as an outsourced intelligence analyst at NORTHCOM headquarters in Colorado Springs. Martin was responsible for the region that included Southern California.

Details on VS09 are few and far-between. However, according to U.S. Northern Command News, VS09 “included scenarios to achieve exercise objectives within the maritime, aerospace, ballistic missile defense, cyber, consequence management, and counter terrorism situations.”

The training exercise ran concurrently with “other Department of Defense-sponsored and international exercises to more realistically test the synchronized response of federal, state, local and international mission partners in preparation for homeland defense, homeland security and civil support missions in the United States and abroad.”

A November 5 press release described that the concurrent exercises included “U.S. Strategic Command GLOBAL LIGHTNING 09 and BULWARK DEFENDER 09; Canada Command DETERMINED DRAGON; California National Guard VIGILANT GUARD; and the State of California GOLDEN GUARDIAN.”

Global Lightning 09 is a plan to use nuclear weapons in the event of a surprise attack while Bulwark Defender was described by Matthew Rothschild in The Progressive as the Pentagon’s “cyberspace protection outfit.”

California’s Vigilant Guard and Golden Guardian were state-wide training exercises that concluded November 18 around planning for a catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake along the San Andreas fault. If so, this would be an appropriate training venue for the California National Guard. Why then, fold disaster preparations into a planning scenario for the use of nuclear weapons in the event of a “surprise attack”?

Described as a “Command Post Exercise (CPX),” many of the forces involved were “notional,” in other words, real units and their equipment “were not deployed from their home bases.”

However, the rapidly expanding role of the U.S. military in “domestic civil-support operations” and the breadth and scope of NORTHCOM “training exercises” are troubling, to say the least.

In September, Army Times revealed that the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT) was deployed October 1, under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, “the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.”

As Army Times noted, the BCT’s “new mission” is the first time “an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.”

Perhaps a disturbing harbinger of things to come, “military support” of “civil authorities” arises precisely during a period of extreme systemic crisis not seen since the Great Depression and points to the rapid expansion of an “emergency preparedness complex” as a discrete operational division of the U.S. National Security State.

National Exercise Program: “Emergency Preparedness” or Martial Law?

more at the link as well as many embedded links…

Obama Haters: You’re Missing the Opportunity of a Lifetime

I haven’t been commenting on politics much lately, because there are plenty of others who either better express what I’d like to say, or have better insights and change my mind. Johnny Brainwash has the wisest take on the election of Barack Obama I have read:

To All The Obama Haters…

You’re wasting the opportunity of a lifetime.

No, I haven’t swallowed the hope pill. I have no illusions about the Obama administration, the Democratic party or electoral politics. But whatever pill *you’ve* swallowed must have been awfully bitter, because it’s sure left you with an ugly look on your face.

I’ll agree from the start, Obama won’t deliver the change we want. He’s an establishment candidate who’s risen up within the ranks of the machine. It’s not enough that he’s better than the alternative- the hope he’s sold millions will sooner or later be dashed.

But wait. Look at that last sentence. Maybe you’ve missed the crucial word: millions.

The essence of political change is mobilization, and Americans are mobilized now like they haven’t been for a generation. Right now, thanks to Obama, they’re fired up. They feel involved, like they have a personal stake in the process. They want change, and they’re willing to pitch in to make it happen.

Full Story: Dysnomia

The comment from Trevor Blake is important.

I agree with Nick Pell’s 10 reasons not to drink the hope kool-aid (here’s another one: his staffing choices, which began with the selection of arch-drug warrior, war monger, and Democratic Party insider Joe Biden as VP), and wound up registering a “protest vote” for Cynthia McKinney here in Oregon on election day. That said, I think there are plenty of reasons to be happy that Obama won, and if the polls were closer in my state I certainly would have voted for Obama.

In addition to the large scale mobilization of progressively-minded people (Trevor’s warnings duly noted), here are some reasons to be hopeful:

Democrats, historically, do a better job with the economy

Democrats, in recent history, have gotten fewer people killed in armed conflicts

Bonus unrelated links:

The new currency war (an article on alternative currencies)

Lone No More: a look at alternative gun culture

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