Arranology

Archive for March 2007

Trickle-Down Stupidity: Education and the RWNM (Updated)

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Reagan conservatives are big fans of trickle-down economics and have foisted it on us several times. The idea is that if we let rich people get richer, some of it will eventually “trickle down” to the rest of us. That’s a pretty good description of Bush’s economic “plan” over the last six years, and it has been a dismal failure.

But there is another trickle-down theory that has worked, and worked brilliantly:

Trickle-down stupidity.

For a solid quarter-century, conservatives have relentlessly preached against eggheadism, denigrating smarts not attached to the making of money because the smarter and more educated you are, the more likely you are to be liberal. Liberals are less frightened, less stingy, and less likely to go into anaphylactic shock if someone uses a word with more than two syllables.

Because both conservatives and the religious right depend on blind faith and a near-total ignorance of history, science, and logic for their existence, they have spent a good deal of that 25 years attacking education and educated people. After all, it’s almost impossible to sell someone who has passed a junior high science class the idea that the sun revolves around the earth. You need a nation of morons to do that, and the Right has pursued and encouraged the entitlement of universal stupidity – the doctrine that every American has the right to be dumb as a brick – with undying fervor.

And it’s working. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

March 31, 2007 at 1:12 pm

Libby, Doan, and Sampson: Systemic Firewalls?

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The key to understanding Kyle Sampson’s testimony yesterday is this:

For all the nonsense being written in the MSM about his “dramatic” appearance contradicting – or “challenging” as the WaPo’s Dan Egger has it – Gonzo’s pathetic attempt to pretend he knew nothing about all this attorney-firing business, the plain fact is that Sampson gave the Committee absolutely nothing it didn’t already have. Every opportunity he had to expand the Committee’s knowledge about the process – who said what, when they said it, who they said it to, etc – Sampson rejected with the litany we have come to know so well from all the Bushies:

“I don’t know.”

“I can’t remember.”

“It wasn’t my job.”

Dana Milbank is much closer to the truth of it when he points out:

Sampson seemed content to fall on his sword rather than naming names when he was questioned about the prosecutor mess. Only the red felt on the witness table concealed the blood. “I could have and should have helped to prevent this,” Sampson offered. “I let the attorney general and the department down. . . . I failed to organize a more effective response. . . . It was a failure on my part. . . . I will hold myself responsible. . . . I wish we could do it all over again.”

The witness fessed up to an expanding list of sins. He admitted that the Justice Department was trying to circumvent the Senate confirmation process. He confessed that he proposed firing Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor in the Valerie Plame leak case. “I regretted it,” he explained. “I knew that it was the wrong thing to do.”

But this blood-letting was severely confined, a pin-prick rather than a deep incision. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

March 30, 2007 at 12:48 pm

The Gonzo 8: Sampson’s Testimony

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Spent most of the day watching the Judiciary committee hearing with Kyle Sampson and wanted to jot a quick observation before I have to leave for work.

I have now spent two days in a row – and many more going back to January – watching Bush Admin figures testifying in front of Congress, and the pattern is always the same, what I call the Sgt Schultz Defense:

1. “I don’t remember.” “I don’t recall.” “I have no memory of that.”

This was the way Reagan answered questions in the Iran/Contra trial, but he had Alzheimer’s. What’s everybody else’s excuse?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

March 29, 2007 at 5:33 pm

The GSA and Rove’s Politicization of Our Govt

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The politicization of almost every agency of the federal govt during Bush’s administration as shown currently in both the matter of the US Attorneys who were fired and the political meeting attended – illegally – and participated in – illegally – by GSA Administrator and GOP hack Lurita Doan, along with the multi-layered levels of corruption and corporate purchasing of virtually every said agency, and adding in the comprehensive Bushian policy of putting foxes in charge of every govt henhouse, ought to give us pause to consider in depth what all that politicization was about.

I’m not just talking about the obvious reasons: the Rove/Norquist/Cheney determination to make the US a one-party nation, or Rove’s intention to use govt workers as campaign “volunteers” in much the same way that a mayor might get the fire dept to paint his house on the city dime, or the opportunities to make an illegal buck that it seems virtually every Republican office-holder – including the aforementioned Doan, apparently – jumped at without a moment’s hesitation the instant it was presented to them. I’m talking about something deeper, and the Doan business is the pointer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

March 29, 2007 at 12:57 pm

The FBI and NSLs 5: Don’t Trust Mueller (Updated)

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FBI Dir Robert Mueller wants the Congress to let him keep the power given him by the PATRIOT Act to use NSLs despite his total failure to supervise that use by his agents.

Mueller expressed concern about any modifications to the USA Patriot Act that might “handcuff us” in terrorism investigations, but he also said that the FBI would be willing to jettison its authority to use national security letters if it is granted the power to use administrative subpoenas to collect the same information.

This is a very bad idea. During his tenure, Mueller has made any number of promises to Congress – including a promise made during the hearings on re-authorization of the Act that he would not allow abuse of the power he now admits his agency abused – and somebody’s going to have to point me toward a single one of them he’s actually kept because I can’t find it. Dianne Feinstein rightly complained that there’s no excuse for the lack of supervision Mueller now takes responsibility for.

“This was a very controversial addition to the Patriot Act,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said about the FBI’s authority to use the national security letters. “There were many members that had deep concerns about this. The language was negotiated. We were very specifically trying to put in checks and balances. And then it appears they all just melted into oblivion with sloppy administration.”

Again, Sen Feinstein, it was NOT “sloppy”. It was deliberate. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

March 28, 2007 at 1:27 pm

Posted in FBI, Justice Dept

The FBI and NSLs 4: Not Operating in a Vacuum

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The FBI is still pretending that their use of National Security Letters (NSLs) to obtain information unconnected in any way with national security was a matter of sloppy paperwork and/or “haste”, excuses that don’t even begin to explain either the high numbers of “mistakes” or the constant lies.

FBI agents repeatedly provided inaccurate information to win secret court approval of surveillance warrants in terrorism and espionage cases, prompting officials to tighten controls on the way the bureau uses that powerful anti-terrorism tool, according to Justice Department and FBI officials.

The errors were pervasive enough that the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, wrote the Justice Department in December 2005 to complain. She raised the possibility of requiring counterterrorism agents to swear in her courtroom that the information they were providing was accurate, a procedure that could have slowed such investigations drastically.

Forced to acknowledge the extent of the abuses (as many as 10% of the warrants contained inaccuracies, and possibly a lot more – exact numbers aren’t yet available although IG Fine estimates that as many as 3000 violations may have occurred over the last 3 years), the FBI’s management has moved from minimizing the problem to blaming poor supervision.

In the use of both national security letters and the FISA warrant applications, officials acknowledged that the problems resulted from agents’ haste or sloppiness — or both — and that there was inadequate supervision.”We’ve oftentimes been better at setting the rules than we have been at establishing the internal controls and audits necessary to enforce them,” FBI Assistant Director John Miller said.

But they didn’t “set the rules”, that’s the whole point. What we have here is a process that ignored the rules to get what it wanted. The very same “mistakes” were made on surveillance warrants as were made on NSLs, so the argument that the NSLs got screwed up because agents weren’t used to using them is bullshit.

And what can you say about the idea that after 50 years FBI agents still don’t know how to fill out a surveillance request correctly without supervision?

As disturbing as the lies and weak excuses are, what’s even more disturbing are the way and the reasons they were used. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

March 27, 2007 at 12:09 pm

Socialization in the Blogosphere

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This is one of those “it started out to be a comment on somebody else’s blog but was too long for a comment so I’m making it a post” post. You might want to go read the post that sparked this one before you wade into it. It may not make much sense otherwise.

Chris Bowers at MyDD writes every so often about the phenomenon of blogging itself. His thoughts/insights are usually interesting but it has often seemed to me that he, like a lot of others in the online world, misses a key point:

Online life ain’t real life.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

March 26, 2007 at 10:24 am

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