Thursday, August 28, 2014

Saint Ronnie, Patron of Domestic Spying and Foreign Skullduggery

Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12333 in 1981, reversing the Carter and Ford reforms of government surveillance (sparked by the Church Commission, convened in the wake of Nixon's wiretapping scandal); GWB expanded it twice more, once during each term. This order is the legal cover and excuse deployed internally by spy agencies when they break the law and violate the Constitution. In Ars Technica, Cyrus Farivar tracks down many internal memors, and statements from a wide variety of ex-spies, including the famous NSA whistleblowers Bill Binney and Thomas Drake, to paint a vivid picture of how 12333 is the all-purpose excuse for any kind of funny business. Farivar also notes that Snowden asked several pointed questions about 12333, without getting any kind of satisfactory answers, before he left the NSA, taking many damning documents with him.

The cult of Reagan worship is creepy (see Noonan, Peggy) and for many, rooted in profound ignorance of what Reagan actually did.  The guy was actually a terrible president with awful policies in pretty much every category. 

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Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12333 in 1981, reversing the Carter and Ford reforms of government surveillance (sparked by the Church Commission, convened in the wake of Nixon's wiretapping scandal); GWB expanded it twice more, once during each term. This order is the legal cover and excuse deployed internally by spy agencies when they break the law and violate the Constitution. In Ars Technica, Cyrus Farivar tracks down many internal memors, and statements from a wide variety of ex-spies, including the famous NSA whistleblowers Bill Binney and Thomas Drake, to paint a vivid picture of how 12333 is the all-purpose excuse for any kind of funny business. Farivar also notes that Snowden asked several pointed questions about 12333, without getting any kind of satisfactory answers, before he left the NSA, taking many damning documents with him.

http://boingboing.net/2014/08/28/the-secret-oral-history-of-t.html#more-327684



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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Gawker Nails The Gutlessness of NYT Non-endorsement In Governor's Race

The New York Times Is Just as Corrupt and Cowardly as Andrew Cuomo

The Times is as establishment as it gets. The notion that the Times is somehow a "liberal" paper merely because it is literate and takes an enlightened view of women and LGTBQ issues is deeply misguided. 

"In other words, Zephyr Teachout can't replace Cuomo as governor because she is not already the governor. It is true that Teachout is not an experienced politician. The experienced politicians in New York State are hacks and criminals. That is the situation that the New York Times editorial board would like you to believe it cares about. Yet the Times will not back the nomination of someone who comes from outside of the state's culture of political corruption—not some reckless crank, a goldbug or anti-vaccinationist or animal-rights activist, but a degree-holding product of Yale and Duke, a former law clerk, a person who works full-time at understanding the process of political reform."

http://gawker.com/the-new-york-times-is-just-as-corrupt-and-cowardly-as-a-1627221473?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+gawker%2Ffull+%28Gawker%29

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Neocons and Humanitarian Interventionists

Thought for the day

More alike than they'd like to admit.  No matter the question, the answer is always the same: we have to bomb somebody right now!  

Because if we stopped to think longer than a second, we might not bomb at all. 

"A year ago everyone was agitating for the US to bomb Syria on behalf of the rebels in order to unseat the war criminal Bashar Assad who was committing atrocities on innocent civilians. Today the same people are agitating for the US to bomb Syria on behalf of Bashar Assad in order to push back the rebels who committing atrocities on innocent civilians.* I don't have an answer for the problem of ISIS but I think it's a very good idea to take a breath and ask some questions before running around screaming like the Martians have invaded."

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2014/08/thought-for-day.html

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Rails to Trails - Both Is Better

Why It Makes Sense to Add Biking and Walking Routes Along Active Rail Lines

I'd be surprised if we don't see more biking/hiking trails paired with active rail rights of way in the coming years.  And at some point I imagine we'll see some converted trails turning back into rail - perhaps with complementary trails.  Where geometry permits we could have the best of both worlds. 

"Rather than fear the liability associated with permitting a trail along an active rail corridor, railroads should embrace them as a safety measure, as they help control crossings, making them safer and more predictable. "That is the biggest selling point for railroads," said Jerry Walls of SEDA-COG. Many railroads have prohibitions on new at-grade crossings that slow trains down and introduce the possibility of injury. Where trail managers can't find a way to get a safe at-grade crossing approved, they can build grade-separated crossings. While costly, these create valuable connections for pedestrians and prevent headaches for the railroads. They're perfect places to walk and bike. These rights-of-way have gentle grades that are easy and accessible for all trail users, says Kelly Pack of RTC. They also tend to be contiguous and uninterrupted, with fewer street crossings than normal trails or on-road facilities. And though nearly 60 percent of existing trails are within 30 feet of the tracks, at least 70 percent of them have physical barriers separating them from the tracks."

http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/08/18/why-it-makes-sense-to-add-biking-and-walking-routes-along-active-rail-lines/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Streetsblog+%28Streetsblog%29

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Comey and Goldsmith and Mueller, Oh My

The Hospital Confrontation Heroes of Rule of Law Gutted Separation of Powers

I've long suspected something like this but never had the facts to back it up.  They are still more honorable than Cheney, Addington and Gonzalez (who isn't?) … but sadly not by much. 

"The same heroes of the hospital confrontation, lionized for the last decade for their courageous defense of the rule of law, thereby gutted the separation of powers, in secret. All to serve still more secrecy … and the power of the presidency they purportedly reined in two months earlier. They may have won Bush — and themselves, who otherwise would have signed off on an illegal program — legal cover by doing so. But in the process they corroded the balance of powers enshrined by the Constitution, turning the FISC into a place where expansive executive branch programs get rubber-stamped in secret."

http://www.emptywheel.net/2014/08/14/the-hospital-confrontation-heroes-of-rule-of-law-gutted-separation-of-powers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-hospital-confrontation-heroes-of-rule-of-law-gutted-separation-of-powers

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Who Is Campbell Brown?

A shill for some truly despicable people who want to destroy unions and public education. 

"Brown and her shadowy network of supporters got a big win out in California with the Vergaradecision. (Scott Lemieux explained how bizarrethat decision really was.) Now, they've brought their carnival of magic tricks and misdirection to New York. Remarkably, or not so remarkably, she's managed to find some disgracefully triangulating Democratic operatives to shill for the con, searching undoubtedly for their own "Sister Souljah moment." Former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs is on board, as is, as we have seen, super-lawyer David Boies. In fact, working through Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the administration has shown a deplorable level of enthusiasm for the snake-oil that is being sold here. (Duncan, who may be a worse cabinet appointee than Tim Geithner, was fulsome in his praise of the Vergaradecision.) Now that the playing field has moved east, expect to hear more from Campbell Brown about how she and her unnamed benefactors are really only in it for the kids, and about how they can barely leave their homes for fear of mobs of angry math teachers, who have protractors, dammit, and they know how to use them, and enough well-funded cries of imaginary martyrdom to gag a hundred Nixons. This is about political power, and that is all it's about, and Campbell Brown is the spokesperson for grifters and mountebanks, and that's all she is. Not that it matters, because Campbell Brown is Good On TV, and that's what's most important. The only thing her Partners For Educational Justice care less about than education, is justice."

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

NYT Public Editor: NYT Screwed Up Perlstein Coverage

Thanks for Nothing

The Perlstein book smears were obvious even to a layman, and the major media, like the Times, that enabled those smears should be ashamed. 

Kudos to the Public Editor for addressing the issue, but this never should have happened. 

"Yes, the claim was "out there" but so are smears of all kinds as well as claims that the earth is flat and that climate change is unfounded. This one comes from the author of a book on the same subject with an opposing political orientation. By taking it seriously, The Times conferred a legitimacy on the accusation it would not otherwise have had. And while it is true that Mr. Perlstein and his publisher were given plenty of opportunity to respond, that doesn't help much. It's as if The Times is saying: Here's an accusation; here's a denial; and, heck, we don't really know. We're staying out of it. Readers frequently complain to me about this he said, she said false equivalency — and for good reason. So I'm with the critics. The Times article amplified a damaging accusation of plagiarism without establishing its validity and doing so in a way that is transparent to the reader. The standard has to be higher."

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2014/08/12/thanks-for-nothing-2/

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