Why Don’t We Know Much About Right-Wing Terrorists? Conservatives Fired The Guy Studying Them. Parker, J., Addicting Info (Jun. 2015).
In response to that report, Johnson was destroyed. It wasn’t his integrity or claims that got him in trouble, his facts were solid. Instead, it was the inconvenient truth that much of the threat comes from right-wing conservatives, and even more awkwardly, radical right-wing conservatives who say and think a lot of the same things mainstream right-wing conservatives say and think.
And this will play out again and again, until our nation wakes up and realizes the lives of minorities, the safety of children, and truly combating terrorism in all its forms demands that we put our deference to conservative feelings aside and look at the rotting underbelly of the radical right-wing. Pretending it’s not there just isn’t working.
[What is this “deference to conservative feelings” you speak of? I am quite sure I have never heard of it. –Ed.]
Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others. Cole, J., Juan Cole (Aug. 2012). (“White terrorists are called ‘gunmen.’ What does that even mean? A person with a gun? Wouldn’t that be, like, everyone in the US? Other terrorists are called, like, ‘terrorists.'”) [Cole wrote this in 2012, people. 2012. And the media still won’t get it right. Now why do you suppose that is? –Ed.]
Blackhawks fans riot and for some reason it’s not sensationalized by the media. Siede, C., Boing Boing (Jun. 2015).
The Chicago Tribune mentions a fan who put his hands around a police officer’s throat to try to stop him from arresting another man who had climbed a traffic light. Elsewhere, the windows of a police SUV were smashed and at least five people were arrested.
As far as I know, no media outlets are asking why these mostly white participants would destroy their community and no Blackhawks players have been asked to condemn the riots. Meanwhile when protests for racial equality in places like Ferguson and Baltimore resulted in property damage, the media was quick to condemn the rioters, sensationalize the events, and ask activists to denounce the violence.
2ND AMENDMENT, GUNS
[CONTENT NOTE: D00d drops the C*NT word a lot.] [h/t Don Ardell]
POLICE, RULE OF LAW
Today: Cop shoots, kills ex-wife in front of multiple cops. They standby and do nothing. jerseyjoew, Daily Kos (Jun. 2015). (“While taking him into custody, some of the officers hugged him and patted him comfortingly on the back, the witness said.”) [%$@$#*!. –Ed.]
Judge disqualifies all 250 prosecutors in Orange County, CA because of widespread corruption. King, S., Daily Kos (May 2015). (“Orange County has a secret system of evidence manufacturing and storage that they have used in countless cases, and the collusion is unraveling dozens of cases and may soon unravel the careers of countless prosecutors and law enforcement officers who’ve maintained it for decades.”)
HEALTH CARE, RULE OF LAW
Government arrests 243 in largest crackdown on health-care fraud. Bernstein, L. and Horwitz, S., Washington Post (Jun. 2015).
In Miami, the owners of a mental-health treatment center allegedly billed Medicare for tens of millions of dollars’ worth of intensive therapy that actually involved just moving people to different locations. Some of them had dementia so severe that they couldn’t even communicate.
In Los Angeles, prosecutors say, one doctor collected $23 million for more than 1,000 power wheelchairs and other equipment his patients didn’t need — which he often didn’t even provide.
And in Michigan, another physician allegedly prescribed unnecessary narcotic painkillers in return for the use of his patients’ IDs to generate additional false billings. When they tried to escape the scheme, authorities say, he threatened to cut off the medications, to which his patients were addicted.
[I would really like to know the political orientation of these (alleged) fraudsters, particularly their views on single-payer. Because I have some very, very strong suspicions about that. –Ed.]
White Chivalric Phallacy. Jadehawk, Secular Woman (Jun. 2015).
We white women need to talk about this; we need to talk about the fact that “raping our women” has been a tool of white, colonialist patriarchy for a very long time. The racial and sexual “purity” of white women, the chivalric protector-role of white men, and the imagined animalistic aggressiveness of non-white men together constitute an important framework for the hierarchies of white patriarchy. When these hierarchies are threatened, anti-black violence in white woman’s name becomes the means to re-establishing them…
White women have a responsibility to stand up and refuse to be used like that; not just as individuals rejecting such violence being done in our names, but as a social class rejecting, uncovering and ultimately deconstructing the systemic role in the oppression of men and women of color assigned to us by white patriarchy. That is solidarity; that is intersectional feminism. Let us not be silent and remain complicit with white patriarchy on this.
WAR, RAPE, GUNS
Suicide rate of female military veterans is called ‘staggering’. Zarembo, A., Los Angeles Times (Jun. 2015). (“Cesena’s death highlights two likely factors in the rates. First, she had reported being raped by a fellow service member…The second factor was Cesena’s use of a gun, a method typically preferred by men.”)
HEALTH CARE, HUMAN RIGHTS, CONSERVATIVE PERSONALITY DISORDER
House GOP Tries to Eliminate Public Funding for Family Planning. Crockett, E., RH Reality Check (Jun. 2015).
The House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee’s new budget proposal would zero out funds for Title X, the only federal program devoted to providing low-income people with family planning services, birth control, well-woman visits, cancer screenings, screening for sexually transmitted infections, and other preventive services.
The bill would also cut comprehensive teen pregnancy prevention programs by 81 percent, while doubling funding for unproven abstinence-only teen sex education programs.
Polling shows that 81 percent of Americans support continuing Title X’s efforts, and research shows that investing in family planning saves up to $7 for every dollar spent.
[“Fiscal conservatives,” everyone. –Ed.]
The Fearless Gaze of Mary Ellen Mark: A Friend Remembered. Leen, S., National Geographic (May 2015). (“Iconic documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark passed away on Monday, May 25. She was well known for her penetrating work and for the number of photographers’ lives she touched in a myriad of ways.”) [h/t SJ]
The Eastern Cougar will be officially listed as extinct — almost 80 years after last sighting. Davies Boren, Z., The Independent (Jun. 2015). [Exhibit No. 5,235,834 that humans are a terrible invasive species. –Ed.]
New NASA data show how the world is running out of water. Frankel, T.C., Washington Post (Jun. 2015).
HUMAN RIGHTS, RULE OF LAW
Court: High-level Bush administration officials can be sued for abuse. Fenton, J., Al Jazeera America (Jun. 2015).
Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the American University Washington College of Law, said, “It’s the most plaintiff-friendly circuit-level ruling in a post-9/11 suit by a mile.”
“Given that the government will almost certainly appeal, this will be a crucial test case for the Supreme Court on whether any post-9/11 government misconduct should ever give rise to damages claims,” Vladeck told Al Jazeera.
[I’m sure we can all count on SCOTUS to get this right. –Ed.]
100-Year-Old Woman Says ‘Booze’ Is The Secret To Longevity. Shah, Y., Huffington Post (Jun. 2015). [I fucking knew it! –Ed.]
[CONTENT NOTE: racism, ableism (mental health-flavored), transmisogyny.]
Because it just wasn’t terrible enough for Fox News to frame a mass murder of nine black people at their church by an unequivocally racist white man as an “attack on faith,” here comes Fox pundit Erick Erickson to straighten everybody out about the Real Problem™. You see, liberal society is plagued by “a mental illness” characterized by “overwhelming narcissism and delusion” — yes, a conservative actually said that with a straight face — and therefore “cannot recognize what crazy or evil looks like.” Exhibit A for this little theory? Caitlyn Jenner. That’s right: accepting trans people is proof positive that liberals are ignoring “real evil” and allowing mental health problems to run rampant.
“A society that looks at a 65 year old male Olympian and, with a straight face, declares him a her and ‘a new normal’ cannot have a conversation about mental health or evil because that society no longer distinguishes normal from crazy and evil from good.”
Now because conservatives are constitutionally incapable of meaningful self-reflection, their dehumanizing rhetoric and vile policies can never be the problem. This is why they resort to all sorts of fact-free rationalizations, victim-blaming, denialism and projection, rather than ever admit to being factually and morally wrong and changing their views accordingly. If conservative policy isn’t working, well, that just means we clearly need more of it. Q.E.D. Let’s arm the clergy!
I can damn well recognize what evil looks like. It looks like Dylann Roof. It also looks like Erick Erickson. Because he will never, ever take a hard look in the mirror and own his repulsive, deadly and toxic shit, I have taken the liberty of illustrating what the rest of us see when we look at him.
[h/t the fierce and fabulous feminace for inspiring this graphic, by calling Roof “RacistFuck McBowlCut.”]
Police and federal law enforcement agencies were in the midst an all-out manhunt Thursday morning for the gunman they say is responsible for killing 9 people in a Charleston South Carolina church Wednesday night in what police described as a hate crime.
The suspect opened fire on a bible study group at the historic black Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun street, killing eight people…Two other people were rushed to the hospital where one died.
Early Thursday morning, police released pictures from surveillance footage showing the suspect, a younger white man, approximately 21-25 years old, as well as the car he was driving, police said.
According to a local NAACP official, the gunman told a survivor he’d let her live so she could tell everyone what happened. According to Police Chief Gregory Mullen, the shooter sat with the churchgoers at the bible study for about an hour before opening fire. One of the victims was the church’s Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who is also a Democratic state Senator.
The Palace offers its deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the victims, to the Black community which has suffered egregious and unspeakable violence at the hands of whites for countless generations, and to all the good and decent people of Charleston for their unfathomable loss and pain.
South Carolina governor Nikki Haley—one of the starving grovelers at last Saturday’s big festival “to call on Jesus on behalf of America, that He might hear our cry and heal our land”—issued a statement calling for more prayers:
While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another.
Please join us in lifting up the victims and their families with our love and prayers.
Yes, by all means let’s have more prayers. Obviously, the problem is not enough prayers. The shooting victims were at a church, doing bible study, ferchrissakes. Only in the twisted mind of the conservative does a demonstrably failed policy compel ever more of the same.
And I really hate to interrupt Nikki Haley’s prayers—if only because praying temporarily prevents her from unleashing other calamities on the people of South Carolina—but those of us who prefer to dwell without our heads ensconced comfortably up our own asses actually do understand what motivates someone to “enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another.” Ask the terrorist Scott Roeder, who killed Dr. George Tiller in his church, and he’ll tell you: he considers himself a soldier in the “Army of God.”
Sound familiar? “Allahu Akbar,” anyone?
This is terrorism, people. Flip the script and put a Muslim in a white church doing the same goddamn thing, and then try to tell me the word terrorist wouldn’t be blasting from every “news” report and splattered across every paper and magazine. And terrorism does not just happen, magically and inexplicably, out of nowhere—not in the US, and not in the Middle East. It is almost invariably an emergent property of conservatism, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or non-religious. Thus we have the spectacle of the conservative governor of South Carolina utterly mystified by the motivations of the shooter whilethe fucking confederate flag flies at the state capitol.
But fear not! Multiple law enforcement agencies are on the case, looking for a white man who killed nine black people in their church. If he is caught, we can be sure he will be swiftly brought to justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law—although not if he turns out to be a cop who “feared for his life” while sitting at the bible study he crashed, of course. And not under terrorism charges, either: the Justice Department just announced it is investigating the shooting as a “hate crime,” not a terrorist act. The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing by four KKK members in 1963 was unequivocally deemed an act of white supremacist terrorism. But I guess that term is just a little too inconvenient right now, huh?
We can expect to watch the corporate media perform all of their usual macabre dances: The Lone Wolf™, The Mental Illness®, The Let’s Blame Anyone But Ourselves©.
No one will demonize and pathologize white culture, or white parenting, or white music.
No one will enact meaningful restrictions on (white) access to guns; if anything, they will do precisely the opposite.
No one will ask why the NSA and dozens of other government surveillance agencies and their countless, unaccountable private contractors—all singularly justified and lavishly funded in the name of fightingterrorism—were unable to stop him.
No one will drone bomb anyone and everyone whose behavior is similar to his.
No one will cage him for years without due process, or torture him to extract information about his associates.
Whites will do anything—anything—rather than take a good hard look in the mirror.
Lone Wolf, my ass. It doesn’t even work as a fucking metaphor: wolves run in packs.
A Facebook pic of the suspect now being sought in the shootings, Dylann Storm Roof, shows him wearing a jacket with two patches on it: they are the flags of apartheid South Africa and white supremacist/colonialist Rhodesia.
Didn’t I just fucking say that “No one will enact meaningful restrictions on (white) access to guns; if anything, they will do precisely the opposite?”
Conservative pastor E.W. Jackson, a former Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Virginia, told Fox News on Thursday that all clergy should be armed because a white South Carolina shooter attacked a historically black South Carolina church for it’s “biblical views,” not because of racism.
Fox news is unabashedly portraying the shooting as an “attack on faith,” because Christians are sooooo persecuted in this country for their biblical views.
Witnesses said Dylann Roof stood up at the church and said he was there “to shoot black people.” I just want to reiterate: Fox News says this was an “attack on faith.”
The cousin of the church’s pastor who was killed quoted a survivor who said Roof told the church: “I have to do it. You’re raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go.”
OUR women? TAKING OVER the country? I cannot express the depth of my contempt for these views and every single person who is sympathetic to them.
John Mullins, who went to high school with Roof, told The Daily Beast:
“I never heard him say anything, but just he had that kind of Southern pride, I guess some would say. Strong conservative beliefs,” he said. “He made a lot of racist jokes, but you don’t really take them seriously like that. You don’t really think of it like that.”
Strong conservative beliefs. I guess racist jokes are just like rape jokes: not to be taken seriously. Don’t bother to confront these comedians. Get a sense of humor, everyone! You’re so oversensitive, and PC, and shit! FREEZE PEACH!!!11!!
Who else’s opinions do we even need? On anything? Ever?
With the usual caveat (#notallsouthcarolinians), I’m with @BastardKeith: “New plan: take your confederate flag down, South Carolina. Then set it on fire. Then put it out by pissing on it. Then go fuck yourself.”
The early afternoon was sunny and warm yesterday as My Amazing Lover™ and I strolled through West Chelsea toward Hudson River Park. Though the route would take us out of our way, we were hoping to catch a cool breeze coming off the water as we made our way downtown, back to the West Village. Our path also held the sweet, sweet promise of encountering fewer annoying tourists than taking the High Line, and fewer ginormous-baby-stroller-toting brunch-goers than a more direct route down Eighth Ave.
If you’ve never been to West Chelsea, it is an architectural wonderland. Spared from the ($electively applied) restrictions of the West Village historic district, in recent years the neighborhood has become a Mecca of sorts for wealthy moguls and visionaries erecting all sorts of innovative and whimsical structures. I’ve always been partial to Shigeru Ban’s Metal Shutter Houses on 19th Street, a short walk from the West Side Highway, where you can also see Frank Gehry’s IAC building and Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Avenue.
Frank Gehry’s IAC Building (2007); behind it and to the left is Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Avenue (2010).
[IMAGE: Beyond My Ken]
Then there is Renzo Piano’s much ballyhooed new Whitney Museum, which, I’m sorry to say my friends, I do not get. Like, at all.
Whitney Museum from the Hudson River. NO.
[IMAGE: Bill Benzon]
What makes the area even more intriguing architecturally is the juxtaposition—sometimes quite literally—of old structures with new. West Chelsea still retains quiet, tree-lined streets lined with low-rise brownstones sporting exquisite ironwork, none of which would be out of place in the West Village. Then there are the iconic London Terrace Apartments, connected structures that occupy the entire city block bounded by 23rd and 24th Streets and Eighth and Ninth Aves. Constructed during 1929-30, the complex has been called home by some of the city’s most famous residents, from Debby Harry to Chelsea Clinton.
Victor C. Farrar’s London Terrace,
with older low-rise townhouses visible in the foreground.
[IMAGE: Beyond My Ken]
Yesterday the sky was cloudless and the sun was strong, so we Whitey McWhitepersons, who naturally hadn’t bothered to apply sunblock or hats, kept to the south side of 23rd Street for the occasional patches of shade on offer. Still, it was sweltering. I was beginning to wish that I could somehow conjure up some ice cold water when I first saw it, and suddenly it was my blood that was running ice cold. Ladies and Gentlemen and other people of any gender and/or no gender whatsoever, I give you: 344 W. 23rd Street. A.K.A. The Cheyney.
Now you might think evil supervillains would be smarter than to put up signage announcing the location of their secret lairs, but I can assure you that is not the case. Their egos are too enormous so they simply cannot resist—although they often misspell their own names, as Dick Cheney obviously did in this case, in a futile effort to throw certain Intrepid Internet Journalists™ off the scent. He is a clever old weasel, I’ll give him that, hiding his hideout in plain sight like this. I mean, the building is nondescript by any standard. But plunked down among this neighborhood’s glittering architectural gems, it is veritably camouflaged if not utterly invisible. Note too the aluminum bars on the cellar windows: I shudder to think what kinds of Dark Arts are being practiced in that dungeon as we speak!
I quickly put it all together and announced proudly and boldly that I, Your Humble Monarch™, had single-handedly uncovered the Gotham lair of evil supervillain Darth Cheney. Incredibly, my partner remained entirely unpersuaded. But the more My Amazing Lover™ tried to talk me out of my conclusion, the more absolutely certain I became that it was true. “Don’t you see? That’s exactly what he wants us to think!” I insisted, “You’re playing right into his hands!”
Some people just have no appreciation for Intrepid Internet Journalist Genius™.
It would be a few hours before I would contact the International Criminal Court with my invaluable insights and information; I had to take every precaution to ensure none of this would be traced back to me. But in the meantime we trudged on silently in the merciless heat. Shade was scarce along the water, and the Hudson River yielded no cool breezes. Worse, my sandals were giving me painful blisters, and I felt parched and weak.
That’s right: I was in Hell. And I knew that at that moment one of Satan’s very own minions was not far away, gloating. But I can promise Loyal Readers™ this: if he dares set one foot on Perry Street, I’ma totally moon him.
Hey, did you guys know this?
America’s issues are not primarily financial, political or moral. Neither does America’s hope lie in one leader or institution. Our hope is found in the One who desires for us to turn to Him with our hearts. This is our response – to call on Jesus on behalf of America, that He might hear our cry and heal our land.
This is certainly the first I’m hearing of it. Here I was under the distinct impression that the US’s problems are indeed financial, political and moral in nature, but no. Some outfit called The Response is hosting a six hour session of “worship, prayer, fasting and repentance” tomorrow at the North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, South Carolina. Apparently, participants will starve themselves and grovel to some Jeezus d00d in an effort to finally get him off his lazy ass and set to work fixing this fucking mess of a country once and for all. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Louisiana Governor (and Palace Abattoir resident) Bobby Jindal will be there, plus a couple of black d00ds I never heard of. A capacity crowd is expected.
I looked up the venue: it holds 13,295 starving grovelers. Which, you know, got me thinking: what if this Jeezus will not be roused by anything less than 13,296 starving grovelers? I guess we’ll all find out when we wake up Sunday morning and Bernie Sanders is president and conservatives and conservaDems alike have all voluntarily banished themselves to some Free Market™ paradise, like Honduras. Or Somalia. Not that I would wish that on the people of Honduras or Somalia—they have enough fucking problems. Christ. Perhaps a more remote, unpopulated destination would better serve. (Antarctica???) Anyway, the exact details will be left up to this Jeezus personage, provided I guess that the number of starving grovelers meets with his approval.
Charleston is an absolutely fantastic town, and I would not wish thousands or even tens of starving grovelers on anyone. (Well okay, I wish them on each other.) On the bright side, there will be six hours of peace and joy tomorrow in lovely downtown Charleston, and a refreshing 6-hour break from the enactment of draconian abortion restrictions, and tax breaks for billionaires and extractive industries.
Have a great Saturday, everybody else in Charleston!
Iceland put bankers in jail rather than bailing them out — and it worked.
Yglesias, M., Vox (Jun. 2015). (“Instead of embracing the orthodoxy of bank bailouts, austerity, and low inflation, Iceland did just the opposite…Iceland let the banks go bust. Executives of the country’s most important bank were prosecuted as criminals…In the US and Europe, the priority has been on low inflation to protect the asset values of the wealthy. Iceland prioritized jobs, and it worked.”) [Well golly gee imagine that. Also: IRIS ♥ ICELAND because penis museum HELLO? –Ed.]
As the rich become super-rich, they pay lower taxes. For real. Ingraham, C., The Washington Post (Jun. 2015). [America’s Owners FTW! –Ed.]
Cartier Boss Says Thought of the Poor Rising Up Keeps Him ‘Awake at Night’. Truthdig (Jun. 2015). (“We are destroying the middle classes at this stage and it will affect us. It’s unfair. So that’s what keeps me awake at night.”) [Good. –Ed.]
Karl Marx Was Right. Hedges, C., Truthdig (May 2015). (“capitalism had built within it the seeds of its own destruction.”) [h/t SJ]
Why don’t poor people just get jobs? Because they already did. Clawson, L., Daily Kos (May 2015).
US airport screeners missed 95% of weapons, explosives in undercover tests. Kravets, D., Ars Technica (Jun. 2015). [Keeping Us Safe™. I feel safe. Do you feel safe? I feel very safe. –Ed.]
What Motivates Terrorists? Cottee, S., The Atlantic (Jun 2015).
Truth in Media: Origin of ISIS. Swann, B., via Activist Post (Feb. 2015). [VIDEO] (“Swann takes on the central issue of whether or not ISIS was created by “inaction” by the United States government or by “direct” action.”)
GODLESSNESS, SEXUAL ASSAULT
The 5 most appalling “Christian” defenses of the Duggars. Arria, M., Salon (May 2015). [The word Christian should not be in quotes in the title, the implication being that No True
Scotsman Christian would defend the vile actions of the Duggars. That is some epic bullshit right there. Jessa Duggar’s father-in-law is a bible-believing Christian. Carrie Hurd, wife of Heritage Covenant Church Pastor Patrick Hurd, is also a Christian. “Creationist Activist” Eric Hovind is a Christian. Mike Huckabee is a fucking Baptist minister, FFS. If some Christians do not like being associated with these other Christians, that’s unfortunate, but it is not my problem to solve. –Ed.]
Michelle Duggar Defends Smearing Transgender People As Pedophiles: It’s ‘Just Common Sense’. Ford, Z., Think Progress (Jun. 2015). [Christ. What a piece of work she is. –Ed.]
An Ex-Fundie on Why Fundie Victims Defend their Abusers. Naidu, M., Daily Kos (Jun. 2015). [Thoughtful and heartbreaking. –Ed.]
GODLESSNESS, HUMOR, SCIENCE
BuzzFeed’s ’22 Messages From Creationists’ gets translated by science lovers and the results are hilarious. DeadState (Feb. 2014). [Hahaha. –Ed.]
CONSERVATIVE PERSONALITY DISORDER
[CONTENT NOTE: psychological abuse, homophobia/transphobia/misgendering]
Jeb Bush In 1995: Unwed Mothers Should Be Publicly Shamed. Bassett, L., Huffington Post (Jun. 2015). (“He declined to veto a very controversial bill that required single mothers who did not know the identity of the father to publish their sexual histories in a newspaper before they could legally put their babies up for adoption…suggests ‘dressing these juveniles in frilly pink jumpsuits and making them sweep the streets of their own neighborhoods! Would these kids be so cavalier then?'”)
ENVIRONMENT, FOOD, SCIENCE
New information changes few opinions on GMOs, global warming. Science Daily (Jun. 2015).
What Poverty Does to the Young Brain. Ostrander, M., The New Yorker (Jun. 2015). [Ooh! Ooh! I think I know this one! Is it…spontaneously generate bootstraps? –Ed.]
4 Reasons Why the US Police Force Is an Extension of Slavery and White Supremacy (That You Were Probably Never Taught). X, J.D., Everyday Feminism (May 2015). (“I need you to take into consideration the following four historical and contemporary truths about the police, the criminalization of Black people in America, and our subsequent rage.”) [At the very least. –Ed.]
How Philadelphia seizes millions in ‘pocket change’ from some of the city’s poorest residents. Ingraham, C., Washington Post (Jun. 2015).
PRISON + SENTENCING REFORM, HUMAN RIGHTS, RULE OF LAW
‘Ma, I can’t take it anymore': Teen jailed at Rikers commits suicide. Al Jazeera (Jun. 2015). (“Kalief Browder, jailed for three years without trial, spoke out against locking up young people with adults…Browder, now 22, hanged himself on Saturday”) [We do not have a justice system. We have an injustice system. –Ed.]
1920s The swimwear police: No swimsuits at the beach! Wild, C., Mashable (May 2015). [We were all Duggar girls then. –Ed.]
These 25 Examples of Male Privilege from a Trans Guy’s Perspective Really Prove the Point. St. James, J., Everyday Feminism (May 2015).
HARASSMENT + ABUSE, RULE OF LAW
Supreme Court gives Facebook ‘rapper’ second chance in threat case. Wolf, R., USA TODAY (Jun. 2015). [What are the chances that online threats to members of the federal judiciary are taken quite seriously? Kind of like that one hilarious time the high court struck down clinic buffer zones, designed to protect patients from harassers and terrorists, from the comfort and safety of their very own buffer zone. Fuck you, SCOTUS. Fuck you very much. –Ed.]
ART, BLOGGING + WRITING, JOY
…And I Show You How Deep The Rabbit Hole Goes. Alexander, S., Slate Star Codex (Jun. 2015). [A imaginative, insightful and wickedly fun short story. –Ed.]
These Photographs of Zombie Children Will Terrify You. Davis, S., Vice (Jun. 2015). [They do not terrify me, they intrigue me. To the point that if I had children I would totally work with photographer Brittany Bentine to capture them like this, and then hang the shot in a prominent place in the Palace. –Ed.]
Every Question In Every Q&A Session Ever. Ortberg, M., The Toast (May 2015). [Hahaha. Brilliant. –Ed.]
Why hardly anyone dies from a drug overdose in Portugal. Ingraham, C., Washington Post (Jun. 2015). [SPOILER ALERT: decriminalization. –Ed.]
This image perfectly sums up what’s wrong with American health care, according to the Internet. Ingraham, C., Washington Post (Jun. 2015).
Have a nice day.
Anybody remember when Bushco proposed to implement a “Total Information Awareness” program to track everyone and everything all the time? Even in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks citizens balked at mass domestic surveillance, and that is really saying something, my friends. I watched in dumbfounded horror as New York City liberals—liberals!—soiled themselves and coughed up excuse after excuse for the evisceration of civil liberties, authoritarian law enforcement tactics and flagrant violations of the constitution and the Bill of Rights that upturned centuries of foundational US law. But going Big Brother on all of us? Well that was a step too far.
It would surprise exactly no one that Bushco went right ahead and did it anyway until Congress shut it down, and then reconstituted it immediately. Nor should it come as a shock to anyone that under Obama the program was renamed and recalibrated with an essentially unlimited mission, to include all “national security threats…to the United States and its interests.” (And we all know what that encompasses.) This time around, the agency would be different:
neither solely a part of the intelligence community (IC) nor solely a law enforcement agency (and yet both), it skirts limitations that exist in each community, allowing it to collect and examine information on people who are not otherwise accused of or suspected of any crime.
Ladies and Gentlemen and People of Other Genders and/or No Gender Whatsoever: I present to you the National Security Analysis Center (NSAC), “an obscure element of the Justice Department that has grown…into a sprawling 400-person, $150 million-a-year multi-agency organization employing almost 300 analysts, the majority of whom are corporate contractors.” NSAC is just another one of dozens of government agencies conducting mass surveillance on US citizens suspected of no crime—and is therefore not subject to any purported limitations placed on the US Department of Defense’s NSA.
[T]he Center can not only gain access to the full gamut of intelligence databases of the U.S. government [including NSA’s], but also query and retain information contained in law enforcement and commercial data.
Using big data analysis to discover non-obvious and even clandestine links, the Center looks not just for suspects, but for what the counter-terrorism world calls “clean skins”—people with no known affiliation to terrorism or crime, needles in a giant haystack that don’t necessarily look like needles. Or people who aren’t needles at all, but who might become needles in the future and thus warrant observation today.
If you have a telephone number that has ever been called by an inmate in a federal prison, registered a change of address with the Postal Service, rented a car from Avis, used a corporate or Sears credit card, applied for nonprofit status with the IRS, or obtained non-driver’s legal identification from a private company, they have you on file.
I for one am glad at least someone is monitoring me because I forwarded my mail when I moved PLUS I used my Macy’s card to buy Christmas presents. Who knows what evil terrorist shenanigans I could be contemplating right this very minute? Or next week or next month or next year and what about that huh?
The linked article concludes:
An internal document provided to Phase Zero describes the Task Force as organizing “data from many divergent public, government and international sources for the purpose of monitoring the electronic footprints of terrorists and their supporters, identifying their behaviors, and providing actionable intelligence to appropriate law enforcement, government agencies, and the intelligence community.” And their supporters. And their supporters. And their supporters. How many mouseclicks away is your name?
AP did some good investigative reporting and published this story yesterday:
By JACK GILLUM, EILEEN SULLIVAN and ERIC TUCKER
WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology – all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.
The planes’ surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge’s approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.
“The FBI’s aviation program is not secret,” spokesman Christopher Allen said in a statement.
And technically this is true: as the AP piece notes, “A 1990 report by the then-General Accounting Office noted that, in July 1988, the FBI had moved its “headquarters-operated” aircraft into a company that wasn’t publicly linked to the bureau.” But then the spokesweasel says this:
“Specific aircraft and their capabilities are protected for operational security purposes.”
The surveillance flights comply with agency rules, an FBI spokesman said. Those rules, which are heavily redacted in publicly available documents, limit the types of equipment the agency can use, as well as the justifications and duration of the surveillance.
Got that? The existence of the FBI’s aviation surveillance program is not secret. However, everything about the FBI’s aviation surveillance program is secret. But not to worry: they are complying with their own secret rules that they made in secret.
Then the spokesweasel says:
Allen added that the FBI’s planes “are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance.”
The FBI does not generally obtain warrants to record video from its planes of people moving outside in the open, but it also said that under a new policy it has recently begun obtaining court orders to use cell-site simulators.
A cell-site simulator, in case you were wondering, mimics a commercial cell tower, thereby tricking cell phones in the region into providing identifying information, even if the phone is not in public or actively using a cellular network (i.e. on a call or texting). This technology can effortlessly sweep up thousands of identities. So while the official FBI spokesweasel says its planes “are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance,” it turns out that other official spokesweasels interviewed by the AP say that use of cell-site simulators is “rare.” So which is it, nonexistent or rare? And rare compared to what? Capturing HD video of the public without warrants? Get your shit together, official spokesweasels!
President Barack Obama has said he welcomes a debate on government surveillance, and has called for more transparency about spying in the wake of disclosures about classified programs.
The Obama administration had until recently been directing local authorities through secret agreements not to reveal their own use of the devices, even encouraging prosecutors to drop cases rather than disclose the technology’s use in open court.
A Justice Department memo last month also expressly barred its component law enforcement agencies from using unmanned drones “solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment” and said they are to be used only in connection with authorized investigations and activities. A department spokeswoman said the policy applied only to unmanned aircraft systems rather than piloted airplanes.
According to my Ladylogic™, that means piloted aircraft can indeed be used solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment.
“Aircraft surveillance has become an indispensable intelligence collection and investigative technique which serves as a force multiplier to the ground teams,” the FBI said in 2009 when it asked Congress for $5.1 million for the program.
“Force multiplier” is a military term. Hell, I’m actually surprised they used the words “ground teams” instead of “boots on the ground.” Of course all of this technology comes out of our disastrous War on Terror generally, and drone use specifically. In other words, America’s Owners (Military-Industrial Weasel Division) have seen to it that domestic law enforcement is a lucrative and booming market for their war toys, which necessarily means that the US public is the intended target. Need I remind anyone that virtually all of this is paid for by taxpayers? Or that we are all terrorists now in the eyes of the state?
Among many other salient facts apparently lost in the NSA reform “debate”—like the fact that none of these domestic surveillance programs work for their alleged purposes—is that NSA is only one of many local, state and federal agencies, including the FBI, funneling surveillance intel to fusion centers. Loyal Readers™ should not be surprised to learn that a two year Senate investigation into fusion centers “could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot.” But that doesn’t mean they haven’t been very busy treating enormous swaths of the citizenry as threats to national security: anti-war and peace activists, Muslim lobbyists, abortion rights activists, environmental groups, third-party voters and motorcycle clubs. The Maryland State Police put anti-death penalty and anti-war activists in a federal terrorism database; a foreigner with an expired visa who had been caught shoplifting shoes at a Neiman Marcus was added to the list of “known or appropriately suspected” terrorists. The right isn’t spared*, either: fusion centers have tracked Tea Party groups, a Second Amendment rally, Ron Paul supporters and pro-lifers.
Tl:dr: The idea that even the most radical, ACLU-endorsed reform of NSA’s activities will in any way hinder the surveillance state is laughably absurd.
As is often the case, David Bowie, Brian Eno and Trent Reznor perfectly sum up my view:
*This should go without saying, but in case it does not: as much as I hate conservatives—and I do, I really, really hate conservatives—I do not want them subject to blanket surveillance either. There are constitutional law enforcement methods of investigation that cannot possibly be less effective (or any more expensive) for preventing terrorism than mass surveillance, with none of the downsides. Unless, just maybe, that is not actually what these programs are designed to do…? Oh, I forgot to mention: another source of the intel sent to fusion centers is “the private sector.” I’ll let you ruminate on what exactly that might entail, but I’m pretty sure they rhyme with Oldman Hacks, A.B. Organ Face, Crank Love Numerica and ShittyStank.
Washington (CNN) As a new day comes to Washington, the U.S. government now officially finds itself with fewer tools to investigate terrorism.
The Senate entered a debate period late Sunday on the Patriot Act that pushed beyond the midnight deadline. With the debate ongoing, that effectively ends the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection program.
President Barack Obama and government officials spent last week warning of serious national security consequences…
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said last week the United States would face a “serious lapse” in national security.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement on Friday the United States “would lose entirely an important capability that helps us identify potential U.S. based associates of foreign terrorists.”
“Serious national security consequences,” people. And it’s not like James Clapper would ever lie! I’m very concerned, though, that government officials muttering “national security” no longer casts a magic spell that causes everyone to shit themselves and unconditionally agree to lawless violations of the constitution and all manner of un-American fuckery to Keep Us Safe™.
I kid, I kid. As Loyal Readers™ know, none of this shit keeps us safe, and I’m not convinced it was designed to do so. It hasn’t even kept the White House lawn safe from a d00d with a lawn chair strapped to his ass. In fact, if you bother to slog through that CNN article I quoted above, near the bottom you will find this gem:
As it stands, several official review boards — including a presidential review group and a government privacy oversight board — found that the bulk metadata collection program was not essential to thwarting a single terror plot.
I will never, ever miss an opportunity to demonstrate unequivocally to shrieking liars like the president and the citizens who get their “news” from mainstream media and think they’re informed: the surveillance programs do not work for their alleged purposes, and they are being used on targets that have nothing to do with terrorism whatsoever. The following two points should appear in every single piece of serious reporting about U.S. surveillance programs:
Terrorist attacks have indeed been thwarted—not by NSA surveillance, but by ordinary citizens.
- Despite NSA’s massive surveillance operations, Richard Reid, the would-be “Shoe Bomber” managed to get a bomb on board an American Airlines flight to Miami. When he tried to set it off, passengers smelled smoke, subdued him and bound him up. Hello? NSA? Hello?
- Then, with their amazing and vast surveillance powers and a heads up from CIA, US intelligence officials actually let suspected al-Qaeda collaborator Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab board a flight to the US. They were planning to let him into the states, too: they knew he was coming, and refused to let his visa be revoked. Unfortunately, he had a bomb in his underwear on the flight. Passengers subdued him, too. Thanks again, NSA.
- Then there was Faisal Shahzad, the would-be “Times Square Bomber.” A t-shirt vendor noticed smoke coming out of an awkwardly parked SUV and alerted a mounted police officer, who called for assistance. The area was safely cleared and the bomb was defused. Law enforcement investigated over the next few days and narrowed in on Shahzad as the prime suspect. They put his name on the No Fly List (which even a known al-Qaeda collaborator wasn’t put on). Still, Shahzad was nonetheless able to buy a ticket to Dubai with cash at JFK airport, and board the plane. The flight was a few minutes from takeoff before the authorities caught up with him. The plane returned to the gate and he was arrested without incident.
T-shirt vendor: 1. NSA surveillance: 0.
- Even lawn chair copter d00d announced his exact plans a year ago on his blog, then in his hometown newspaper, and in a video posted online by The Tampa Bay Times. And the Secret Service only investigated him because they were tipped off… by a concerned citizen.
The Boston bombing case should have unplugged the entire surveillance state apparatus immediately and permanently. The U.S. government was tipped off twice about Tamerlan Tsarnaev by the Russian Federal Security Bureau. He had been on a terrorist watch list watch for eighteen months before he and his brother set off bombs that killed three people and injured 264 others at the scene. WHERE THE FUCK WAS THE NSA. I’ll tell you where they were—which brings me to point 2.
While NSA is very busy not stopping terrorists, their programs are used for other purposes.
First, it’s important to note than none of this surveillance is limited to the NSA, either. For years NSA, FBI and CIA agents would sit around all day playing World of Warcraft, Second Life and a bunch of mobile app games, based on some cockamamie rationale about their ability to flush out terrorists by playing online video games. This wasn’t just a handful of rogue dudebros, either: there were so many agents playing that they had to set up “deconfliction” groups just to make sure they weren’t accidentally spying on each other. It would be hilarious if only this were all they ever did. But it isn’t.
- The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has access to NSA’s data, intercepts and wiretaps that it uses to tip off local cops to suspected drug activity. The cops, knowing they can never reveal the source of their information, engineer a ruse—like a routine traffic stop—to make the investigation seem otherwise legitimate. Then “they routinely go back and dummy up the paper trail so the court and the suspect never knows where the original ‘tip’ came from.” Worse: “Current and former federal agents said [these] tips aren’t always helpful – one estimated their accuracy at 60 percent.” Gee, what could possibly go wrong?
- American citizens Laura Poitras, David House, Lisa M. Wayne, Pascal Abidor, and Jacob Applebaum have all been detained without warrants at U.S. borders, questioned, and had their possessions searched or confiscated. (Poitras alone has been stopped more than forty times.) None of them have been accused of a crime, much less anything terrorism-related.
- Department of Homeland Security Theatre™ (DHS) analysts had its agents scrutinizing online comments that “reflect adversely” on the U.S. government.
- For a two month period, the Justice Department captured the records of more than 20 phone lines of reporters and editors at The Associated Press, including their personal phones. I guess there must be terrorists at the AP.
- But non-violent Occupy protesters are indeed terrorists, according to the NYPD. (The FBI learned of a plot to kill Occupy activists and remained silent about it: Keeping Us Safe™ FTW.) Counterterrorism tactics have also been used to infiltrate and monitor liberal political groups including anti-war organizations, environmental activists, groups opposed to U.S. immigration policy, labor laws and racial profiling, supporters of Palestinians and the Israeli divestment campaign, and anti-NAFTA activists. Other law enforcement agencies around the country have spied on anti-death penalty groups, Ron Paul supporters and pro-Muslim lobbyists. Ten peaceful protesters at Halliburton are also serious threats to national security.
To the extent all of this domestic surveillance has ever had anything to do with terrorism, it has been an epic fucking failure. To the extent it doesn’t have anything to do with terrorism, shouldn’t we be talking about that? I’ve written before:
And what possible coherent justification can there be anyway, for laws and powers supposedly targeting only suspected terrorists not to be used against ordinary citizens suspected of minor crimes? That is the very reason to object to unconstitutional surveillance in the first place: because we already know how this movie ends from, you know, all of history—including the recent history of the United States. That is what governments invariably do whenever they can get away with it: entrench their own power and suppress dissent.
Anyway, despite the alarmist headlines today—only moments ago I got a notification from The Washington Post with the chilling title “The NSA’s call logs go dark”—there isn’t even a fucking story here: the Senate is expected to restore the expired Patriot Act authorities in a couple days. Unless we all die from terrorist attacks in the meantime, obviously.
Have a nice day.