Monday, October 31, 2011

In case you were wondering

The gay/lesbian mafia have absolutely taken over America.

Get a load of this story from the Daily News:

Happy is the head that wears the crown.

San Diego area high school senior and self-identified lesbian Rebeca Arellano has been voted homecoming king by her fellow Patrick Henry High school peers

Fortunately, ever at the ready, the readers of the Daily News will not take this lying down, and they are responding with characteristic articulateness and perspicacity:

Homecoming q·u·e·e·r???!

Enough is enough already.

Can't wait til some of the Butches decide to want to try out for the NFL or NHL. Then we'll see how tough they really are. I pretty much believe when a woman wants to be just like a man...its a SICKNESS!!!!

Read more:

This girl has to be one of the biggest idiots ever to not realize that she's the biggest joke of her school and now possibly the country.

Read more:

Oh, my goodness! If this can happen in a high school in San Diego, that pretty much makes a mockery of the true meaning of kings, monarchy, and the divine right of kings, doesn't it?

I can see why people would be so upset about this.

Of course, to be technical, since none of the previous contestants were of royal blood they probably weren't real kings either, were they?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda by Al

The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-QaedaThe Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda by Ali H. Soufan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who planned and carried out the bombing of the USS Cole? How about the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks? What about numerous other attacks, either successful or foiled?

That we know in detail not only who did these things, how they were planned and financed, and how they were carried out is due in large part to the efforts of Ali Soufan and people working with him. You may have seen him on 60 Minutes, heard him on Morning Edition, or heard him on Terry Gross, but The Black Banners is still worth reading.

For those of us who grew up in the 1960's, and came to view the FBI as the ultimate enemy of civil liberties, this book may be surprising, because it reveals that in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks it was Soufan and other FBI agents who opposed the Bush Administration's torture plots as both illegal and ineffective. Unfortunately, forces at the very top of the administration were determined to use torture even when it was shown not to lead to the discovery of actionable information. As a result, Soufan demonstrates that they delayed the discovery and apprehension of Osama bin Laden for many years and failed to discover and prevent at least one terrorist attack, on an oil tanker in the Arabian Sea.

Lies, coverups, internal deception, and disregard for constitutional and humane values: Soufan demonstrates how these were the hallmarks of the Bush Administration's conduct in the years following 2001. The stated justification for these practices was that they were the only effective way to obtain information we needed to defeat the terrorists, particularly in the so-called ticking time bomb scenario.

Of course, we know, both from Soufan and elsewhere, the opposite is true. For instance we are told that Khalid Sheikh Muhammad was waterboarded 183 times, whereupon he gave up vital operational information. Soufan demonstrates that this claim is false, and that waterboarding and other forms of torture have, in fact, defeated attempts to obtain actionable information, rather than the reverse.

I strongly recommend The Black Banners. There are areas where it's tough going, frequently because of the merciless onslaught of unfamiliar names, when you don't know which names are important. There is a guide to names and persons at the end, and it would have been good to know that it was there when I started reading it. Since I was reading the Kindle version I would have appreciated links in the text to the appendix.

One other thing: if you're coming to find a debunking of the official version of the 9/11 story, look elsewhere. Fringe characters aside, the debate is over. There is no question of what happened on September 11, 2001. We know who did it, we know how they planned it, and we know it wasn't the CIA, Mossad, the Bilderberg Group, Bush, or anyone else the conspiracy nuts have claimed.

But if you're interested in reality, you should read this.

View all my reviews

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Great news!

Our national jobs problem is nearly solved.

True to his promise, the House of Representatives, led by John Boehner, is poised to pass legislation that is guaranteed to solve the jobs deficit plaguing the American economy.

From The Hill:House Republicans on Tuesday will try to pass a resolution reaffirming that "In God We Trust" is the national motto of the United States.

The concurrent resolution, sponsored by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), would not have the force of law, but instead is aimed at "supporting and encouraging the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools and other government institutions."

Expectations are high that in addition to creating millions of jobs, this new measure will resolve the real estate and foreclosure crisis, which will, in turn, generate trillions of dollars to balance the federal budget and eliminate the national debt.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rick Perry, racist

TPM is reporting today that Rick Perry has added a birther theme to his campaign.

In an interview in Parade magazine, here's what he said:

Governor, do you believe that President Barack Obama was born in the United States?
I have no reason to think otherwise.

That’s not a definitive, “Yes, I believe he”—
Well, I don’t have a definitive answer, because he’s never seen my birth certificate.

But you’ve seen his.
I don’t know. Have I?

You don’t believe what’s been released?
I don’t know. I had dinner with Donald Trump the other night.

That came up.

And he said?
He doesn’t think it’s real.

And you said?
I don’t have any idea. It doesn’t matter. He’s the President of the United States. He’s elected. It’s a distractive issue.

Now it's very tempting to look at this interview and have it confirm your underlying opinion that Rick Perry is just a stupid guy, and this is another illustration of that opinion, but it goes way beyond that.

What we need to keep in mind is that the birthers are racists. Every single one of them.

So when Rick Perry joins up with the birthers, and garners the endorsement of Orly Taitz, he is joining up with the racists.

Do we know if he really believes anything he's saying here, or if he really has the racist position against President Obama that he is expressing?

No, but it doesn't really matter.

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Inside the mind of the censor

Almost four hundred years ago, John Milton published Areopagitica, a treatise in opposition to censorship of the press. Although he was not entirely in favor of unfettered expression, he argues that a regime of censorship gives power to the narrow-minded type of men who will fear and try to suppress any expression that threatens their world view.

As Vince Blasi, one of my Con Law professors puts it: The lowly wisdom of Areopagitica is considerable. Milton insists, for example, that the policy of licensing cannot be assessed without taking into account the capacities, incentives, working conditions, loyalties, and temperaments of the persons who will serve as licensers. "There cannot be," he says, "a more tedious and unpleasing journey-work, a greater loss of time levied upon [a man's] head, than to be made the perpetual reader of unchosen books and pamphlets, ofttimes huge volumes .. . and in a hand scarce legible, whereof three pages would not down at any time in the fairest print." With such a job description, "we may easily foresee what kind of licensers we are to expect hereafter, either ignorant, imperious, and remiss, or basely pecuniary."

Our Founding Fathers rejected the rule of this type of person by permanently enshrining the freedom of the press as the paramount value of the Bill of Rights. Among other things, and subsequent case law embodies this, freedom of speech and of the press are vital to the polity because of their consequences: they enable a democratic populace to govern themselves.

What the mind of the censor, as described by Milton, fails to understand is that censorship doesn't work.

Take the book I'm reading now, The Black Banners by Ali Soufan. You've probably heard of it because of Soufan's argument and demonstration that torture doesn't work in general, and in particular was counterproductive in investigating the truth behind the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Another topic, though, is the ridiculous examples of censorship to which Soufan has been subjected. Here are a couple of examples:

Again [1 word redacted] was going with my instinct. [1 word redacted] didn’t know that they were friends, but [1 word redacted] guessed that, given Abu Zubaydah’s knowledge of KSM’s role in 9/11, they must be—and again [1 word redacted] wanted to make Abu Zubaydah think that [1 word redacted] knew all about their relationship.

And: As [1 word redacted] was drawing up an interrogation plan, at around 3:00 AM, the CIA medic tending to Abu Zubaydah came to my room. “Hey, Ali, how important is this guy?” he casually asked. He knew nothing about Abu Zubaydah and was only at the location because of his medical skills. “He’s pretty important,” [1 word redacted] replied.

There are other examples. I'm reading the book on Kindle, so the censorship is turning up as a notation of the number of words redacted. In the print version it is different: black marks covering up the words, as had previously been done with Victor Marchetti's The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, so commentators have observed that the redactions are ineffective because the reader can tell, for example, that the word redacted consists of a single letter.

In the quoted portions above, it is obvious that the redacted word is "I". For instance, what other word would make sense in "[1 word redacted] was going with my instinct"?

There are longer redacted passages, where the content isn't obvious, but it seems likely to me that in context, to someone who has read other sources, like the various investigation and government reports on the attacks, there wouldn't be much that you couldn't figure out.

Coming out of the Bush Administration's criminal activities, including torture and unprovoked war of aggression, free debate is essential. The redactions in The Black Banners demonstrate that the mind of the censor is directly and always opposed to such free debate.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Why doesn't he just make it official?

The reprehensible Harold Ford once again comes down on the side of Republicans today. He has an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal about jobs, or allegedly about jobs, and he takes the opportunity to parrot the Republican myth that regulations are the obstacle to job creation.

Former U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln has argued forcefully in favor of an independent review process for proposed regulations. If the costs outweigh the benefits, they shoul be eliminated. In the meantime, a moratorium on new regulations that don't immediately protect public safety is a reasonable step that could be taken until our economy gets back on its feet.

I don't know why Ford doesn't just make it official and stop pretending to be a Democrat.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Where are the jobs, Boehner?

When he became Speaker of the House, John Boehner promised that his focus would be on creating jobs, no matter what.

Yesterday we saw another illustration of his commitment to that jobs focus.

Under the Protect Life Act, which passed the House 251 to 172 Thursday night, no health insurance policy that offers abortion coverage could be purchased with federal money made available through the new health care law. Current federal law prohibits plans in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program from covering abortion. The new bill would apply the same rule to plans in the newly created health exchanges, which are subsidized with federal government tax credits.

The legislation has almost no chance of being brought to the Senate floor, and President Obama is certain to veto it should it ever pass both chambers. The House has brought a few bills aimed at limiting abortion access to the floor since Republicans took control in January.

That's right, when faced with the choice between taking some action that would actually help people, or once again grabbing the opportunity to show how much the Republicans want to make women suffer for the crime of having sex, he again came down on the anti-woman side of the fence.

Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Where are the jobs, Boehner?

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Government benefits

At a discussion board I go to,, a conservative posted the following query:

Liberals, have you ever been helped by Gov't?
This question is for all those who consider themselves liberals who support Big Government: Have you ever received government assistance? Which programs?

My spouse and I have been poor most of our lives, but not ONCE have either of us ever qualified for a single government assistance program. We didn't have kids, we ALWAYS took whatever job was available (even the military, when we graduated in the middle of yet another major Recession), and even today we live like paupers--except for the house, which we wrongly thought was better than losing savings to no-interest and currency devaluation.

We also cannot save nearly enough for our retirement because our tax burden is insanely high. Two professional jobs, in the peak income years--aka Cash Cow for Government. After taxes and cost of living, we just about break even. When our health prevents continuing these 80-hour workweeks, we're up the creek without a paddle. And guaranteed, the governments that have been bleeding us dry will then say we're on our own.

Knowing the finances of Social Security and Medicare, and as part of the generation that is denied Social Security until age 67, I have no doubts that neither I nor my spouse will ever get a penny back from that program either.

I probably would be more supportive of the idea of Government stepping in and providing a "safety net," if I didn't know that there is NO safety net for responsible people like me.

There are a lot of responses to it. Here's mine:

I won't go all the way back to the day of my birth, but just a few highlights of government benefits that have helped me include:

I went to Catholic grammar school and high school, but my grammar school was located on a road paid for and maintained by the government. When I went to high school I traveled into New York City every day over government-built roads, crossed the Hudson River by means of the George Washington Bridge or the Lincoln Tunnel, both of which were built by the government, and then took public transit to get to my school. I regularly spent time in the government-operated Central Park while at school, and during the indoor track season I would have practice and meets at the 103rd Engineers Battalion Armory, now known as the Armory Track Center. Sometimes during the outdoor track season I would run in meets at Randalls Island, a stadium built with public funds; to get there I would travel across the Triborough Bridge.

I went to a public college and a public law school. Both universities were funded in large part by tax dollars, and my law school student loan was subsidized by the federal government. On occasion, while I was away at school, I traveled by airplane back and forth to my parents' house. Those airplanes would land at publicly built and financed airports, and they were enabled to land safely by the publicly operated air traffic control system. While in law school I lived in married student housing, which was also built and operated in part by the use of public funds. I also worked at Little Caesar's Pizza both as an undergraduate and a law student; the stores depended on public roads to get supplies and ingredients and to make deliveries, and the owners were able to deduct my pay from their taxes.

I have worked in employment that is in part funded by public funds. I have raised two sons, both of whom went to public schools and public universities, although one son graduated from a private college. When I want to communicate with them I might send them an e-mail or visit them on Facebook, made possible by the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, or I might telephone them over wires put in place by operation of eminent domain.

I have owned three houses, one of which I still own. I am able to afford it in part because I can deduct the mortgage interest and property taxes that I pay. I can get to and from my house and to work on roads funded by the government. I don't worry about crime or fires because I am able to rely on my publicly funded police and fire departments. I also know that I can accumulate savings because the federally financed Securities and Exchange Commission is able to maintain a reliable, market for private and public securities.

When my parents were sick and dying I never had to worry about whether we could afford their care because they had medical coverage supported in part by the Veterans Administration and Medicare. They were able to receive treatment from professionals whose training was subsidized by the federal government, and who were licensed and regulated by their state government. That's how other members of my family and I get medical care, too.

I could go on, but I think I'll stop at saying that anyone who doubts that the receive benefits from the government is a fool.

I do know one other thing: if I were in the top 1% instead of in the bottom 99%, the list of benefits I get from government would be a lot longer, and the value and price of those benefits would be a lot higher.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

You owe it to yourself

UPDATE: Nothing happened!

Okay, just getting back to this.
Not only did nothing happen, but if you go to the site you will see that nobody on the site--not one person--has come back to the site to discuss or evaluate the dire predictions they made.
I guess they haven't internalized the whole process of testing your hypothesis.

To take a look at this site. It's called Prophecies Psychic Prediction Registry, and the name tells you the whole story.

If you're some kind of crackpot and you think you can predict the future, you can log on to the Psychic Prediction Registry and go on the record with your harebrained prediction.

Because after all,
Everyone may be psychic to some degree and we occasionally have a dream or premonition of future events. Prophecies is here to provide a public repository where anyone can submit predictions of the future to be shared, recorded and validated.

Or, if you're curious, you can look up any date in the future and see what's going to happen.

For instance, let's see what's going to happen tomorrow.

A few nights ago while lying in bed, I began to see a vision as I closed my eyes. I was not asleep it was not a dream. I seen it was a bright sunny day as the sky was blue and there was not a cloud in the sky. I was standing on a hill or elevated area which seemed to be out in a desert area (I guess like Arizona or Nevada?). I live in North Carolina so I know it was not in this area... Anyways, as I was gazing out over this hill into the horizon I began to see these very large mushroom clouds billowing into the sky which were probibly about 3-5 miles away from where I was standing on that hill. There were at least 6 of these huge clouds in the distance as if someone had dropped nuclear missles in a line? Anyways, I stopped myself from seeing anymore of this vision as I opened my eyes. The next morning as I awoke from a dream I had during the night I replayed over and over in my head a specific date. I am not sure if this date matches with what I had seen in the vision the night before. But the only thing I remembered from that dream was this date= 10-11-2011. Does anyone else get anything on that date or have some insight to this vision? Thanks

That's from Jen, and a few other psychic predictors have some possible interpretations:

Maybe a vision in reference to future events in the Middle-East?


my first thought was that you were sensing that an earthquake in the desert southwest or nevada (nuclear testing grounds) would be precursors to an earthquake in North Carolina or the surrounding region.


I had a dream about this date also back in september. In my dream a small nuclear weapon was detonated in NYC, I had a specific location but I don't want to say it for fear that this post might become misconstrued as a threat. Basically in my dream I was in nyc and a nuke went taking out a good chunk of the city and of course damaging the rest. In my dream the devil or a demon talked to me and told me this is only the start, and told me to remember today october 11 2011. Following this I viewed a calendar clearly showing oct 11 2011. Later I made it to my town, and someone said I can't believe this no one will forget oct 11 2011. At the end of the dream I was on a bus filled with first responders going towards the city to help and the man sitting next to me turned to me and said don't forget october 11 2011 and I woke up. It was the most vivid dream I have ever had, and it has been haunting me ever since.


I analyzed the date given in your dream and have found it to be very calm. Hopefully this could mean an intervention or prevention of what you saw may come on that date. I normally forecast natural disasters based on analyzing the dates they may occur on based in Chinese Astrology and numerology. October 11, 2011 ranks as one of the best dates possible, disaster-free.

So there you have it: a nuclear detonation in the Southwest or North Carolina, or possibly something in the Middle East, or possibly a nuclear attack in New York City, or possibly a day that is completely disaster-free.

I can hardly wait to find out. Let's set our calendars to watch this day together, okay?

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