Month: November 2015


As his term comes to an end, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has restored voting rights non-violent felons:

Gov. Steve Beshear signed an executive order on Tuesday that will automatically restore the right to vote and hold public office for felons who have completed their sentences, excluding those who were convicted of violent or sex crimes, bribery or treason.

“The right to vote is one of the most intrinsically American privileges, and thousands of Kentuckians are living, working and paying taxes in the state but are denied this basic right,” said Beshear in a release, just before announcing his move at a press conference in Frankfort. “Once an individual has served his or her time and paid all restitution, society expects them to reintegrate into their communities and become law-abiding and productive citizens. A key part of that transition is the right to vote.”

Kentucky was one of only four states  that did not automatically restore the voting rights of felons after the final discharge of their sentence — whose numbers in the state are estimated to be 181,000, with most of those convicted of nonviolent crimes. Though legislation amending Kentucky’s constitution to restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons (HB 70) has easily passed the state House in recent years, it was continually blocked in the state Senate — with Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, vowing to continue blocking it because he was once jeered by a handful of voting rights activists in a committee meeting.

Beshear’s press release noted that while he consistently supported this legislative effort and wanted to see that process played out, he is signing this executive order with only two weeks left in his term, adding that he wanted to wait until the November election “so as to not politicize the issue during the campaign.”

According to the release, under the executive order “the Department of Corrections (DOC) will verify prior to issuing a restoration of civil rights that there are no pending criminal cases, charges or arrests, or outstanding court-ordered restitution. Individuals meeting those criteria will be granted automatic restoration and a certificate of Restoration of Civil Rights will be issued…. Individuals who have already left the correctional system may pick up a restoration of rights form at any Probation and Parole office, or by contacting the Department of Corrections at 502-782-2248 or online at [3], and return it to the address listed. DOC will verify whether they meet the criteria set out in the executive order. Offenders who do will have their voting rights restored ‘without undue delay’ and receive a certificate of Restoration of Civil Rights in the mail.”


Cuck Fomcast

It looks like the sh%$heels that is the most detested country in the world have found a new way to f%$# with net neutrality.

Basically, they are implementing data caps, and then exempting their own services from their caps:

By now, Comcast’s strategy for fighting internet video competition is very clear. For one, the company is slowly but surely expanding usage caps into dozens of new markets. In these ever-expanding areas, Comcast imposes a 300 GB usage cap, then charges users $10 for every 50 GB of extra data they consume. Comcast’s also now testing a new wrinkle wherein users have the option of paying another $30 to $35 if they want unlimited data. In short, the option to have the same unlimited connection they had yesterday will cost these users significantly more.

But recently, Comcast’s other spoke in this strategy started to reveal itself. The company is slowly but surely expanding a creatively named streaming video service named Stream. Stream provides Comcast broadband-only users a $15 service that includes live TV, video on demand, and HBO, and it’s Comcast’s way of trying to keep would-be cord cutters in house. Here’s the kicker though: Comcast’s new streaming service doesn’t count against Comcast user usage caps:

“We asked Comcast today if Stream TV usage will count against the 300GB data plans imposed in certain parts of Comcast’s territory. “No, Stream is an IP cable service delivered over our managed network to the home,” a Comcast spokesperson replied.

Comcast also pointed Ars to an (sic) FAQ that says, “Stream TV is a cable streaming service delivered over Comcast’s cable system, not over the Internet. Therefore, Stream TV data usage will not be counted towards your Xfinity Internet monthly data usage.”

In short, Comcast’s trying to argue that this isn’t a net neutrality violation because the service spends significantly more time traveling over Comcast’s managed IP infrastructure instead of the public Internet. It’s the same excuse Comcast gave back in 2012, when it was criticized for exempting its streaming service via the Xbox 360 from usage caps. The move resulted in some pointed criticism by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who declared that Comcast was “no longer following net neutrality principles” and the company “should apply caps equally, or not at all.” The FCC, however, did nothing.

Seriously, what the actual f%$#?

Without monopoly rents, Comcast executives would be flipping burgers.

This is a Version of Cops and Robbers I was Previously Unaware Of

It turns out that it is more likely that cops will take your stuff than robbers:

Last year, all of America’s burglars extracted a total of just $3.9 billion worth of property from their cumulative marks. Pansies, the nation’s cops spit in the general direction of that paltry figure. That’s all you got?

That’s because over the same period, U.S. law enforcement officials netted $4.5 billion in goods from Americans through a process known as civil asset forfeiture, an astounding figure that economist Martin Armstrong noted on his blog last week in response to an Institute for Justice report.

Consider that for a moment: in 2014, cops took more property from Americans than burglars did.

The short rap on asset forfeiture goes like this: if you are suspected of a crime, especially a drug-related crime, police can confiscate your money or property if they believe it is related to your supposed criminal activity—often without convicting or even formally charging you. In most states, police departments are entitled to keep some or all of the seized property, giving them an obvious incentive to continue the practice. Civil forfeiture laws allow cops to take your house because your kid has a heroin problem, or take your truck just because it’s a cool-ass truck.

Am I the only one here who finds this completely whack?

Not This Sh%$ AGain!

Once again, after seeing the continued popularity of Donald Trump amongst the Republican party base, the punditry reach into their bag, and pull out Willard Mitt Rmoney. Give me a f%$#ing break:

Huge congratulations to Suffolk University and the Boston Globe for crafting a poll in New Hampshire that actually offers an interesting bit of news. The story of the Republican primary in the state has largely been the same for months, with Donald Trump holding a steady and robust lead. In the Real Clear Politics polling average, he’s up 15 points. In Suffolk’s new poll, he’s up 10 — but with a healthy-sized number of undecideds.

But then Suffolk and the Globe added something to the mix. If we added Mitt Romney to the list, they asked, would you switch to him? For 30 percent of respondents, the answer was “yes.” Romney leads all other Republicans by a two-to-one margin. Trump loses a third of his support.

Seriously, can we give this a rest?

Rmoney is popular because He is Not Running., and as soon as he joined the race, he would be forced to fall into lockstep with the batsh%$ insane wing of the party base, and we would be back to where we started.

The depressing thing about this is that on the other side of the aisle, the favored candidate of the pundit class, Hillary Clinton is the weakest candidate against “The Donald.”  (Yes, the polling shows that O’Malley even though a cipher to most voters polls slightly better against Trump.)

So, it’s “insane” to  nominate Donald trump, but the only sane thing for the Democrats to do is nominate the candidate that he is most likely to beat.

Could the pundit class please go Cheney themselves?

Speaking Truth to Bigoted Cowards

They mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings makes an obvious point, that there is more to worry about from white men with guns than there is from Syrian refugees:

The mayor of Dallas is pushing back against politicians who say Americans should be skeptical of Syrian refugees, saying he is “more fearful” of armed white men than people fleeing civil war in the Middle East.

Speaking to MSNBC on Saturday morning, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings was asked to discuss the growing anxiety over Syrian refugees entering the United States, purportedly over concerns they could be potential agents for militant groups such as ISIS. Rawlings staunchly rejected the assertion that Syrians are somehow uniquely prone to violence, saying he is more concerned with the rise of white supremacy and the recent flurry of mass shootings committed by white men.

“I am more fearful of large gatherings of white men that come into schools, theaters and shoot people up, but we don’t isolate young white men on this issue,” Rawlings said.

He also said that vilifying refugees only helps ISIS, as doing so falls into their “trap.” He then pushed back on the notion that ISIS is somehow representative of Islam.

This is so true.

The Judge is Right, I Expect Obama’s DoJ to Appeal

A magistrate has placed significant restrictions on the use of the “Stingray” cell phone tower spoofer:

A federal judge in Illinois has recently taken the unusual step of issuing three new stringent requirements for the government when it wants to deploy cell-site simulators. The move aims to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of innocent bystanders against unreasonable search and seizure.

Of course, for now, this order only applies to this one judge in the Northern District of Illinois.

These new stingray requirements come just about a month after the Department of Homeland Security imposed its own warrant requirement, following a similar move by the Department of Justice.

Not only can stingrays be used to determine location by spoofing a cell tower, but they can also be used to intercept calls and text messages. Once deployed, the devices intercept data from a target phone as well as information from other phones within the vicinity.

As part of an ongoing drug case, US Magistrate Judge Iain Johnston told prosecutors recently that they will now have to fulfill three distinct requirements before he will sign off on the use of the invasive surveillance devices, as a way to protect the privacy of those who happened to be near a surveillance target. The memorandum opinion came down earlier this month as part of a largely sealed ongoing drug investigation, the details of which the judge described as “unsurprising.”

What is surprising is Judge Johnston’s order to compel government investigators to not only obtain a warrant (which he acknowledges they do in this case), but also to not use them when “an inordinate number of innocent third parties’ information will be collected,” such as at a public sporting event.

This first requirement runs counter to the FBI’s previous claim that it can warrantlessly use stingrays in public places, where no reasonable expectation of privacy is granted.

Second, the judge requires that the government “immediately destroy” collateral data collection within 48 hours (and prove it to the court).

Finally, Judge Johnston also notes:

Third, law enforcement officers are prohibited from using any data acquired beyond that necessary to determine the cell phone information of the target. A cell-site simulator is simply too powerful of a device to be used and the information captured by it too vast to allow its use without specific authorization from a fully informed court. Minimizing procedures such as the destruction of private information the United States has no right to keep are necessary to protect the goals of the Fourth Amendment.

I’m thinking that if someone could come up with an app that could detect when it is likely that one of these devices is in use, they sell it for a significant chunk of change.

I think that you could do that with an algorithm involving ping times to a cell tower.

The Military Faked Intelligence Data? Say it Isn’t So!

They always say that truth is the first casualty of war.

What they don’t say is that senior officers in the Pentagon have a long history of lying to their superiors in civilian leadership. Maybe they should:

When Islamic State fighters overran a string of Iraqi cities last year, analysts at United States Central Command wrote classified assessments for military intelligence officials and policy makers that documented the humiliating retreat of the Iraqi Army. But before the assessments were final, former intelligence officials said, the analysts’ superiors made significant changes.

In the revised documents, the Iraqi Army had not retreated at all. The soldiers had simply “redeployed.”

Such changes are at the heart of an expanding internal Pentagon investigation of Centcom, as Central Command is known, where analysts say that supervisors revised conclusions to mask some of the American military’s failures in training Iraqi troops and beating back the Islamic State. The analysts say supervisors were particularly eager to paint a more optimistic picture of America’s role in the conflict than was warranted.

In recent weeks, the Pentagon inspector general seized a large trove of emails and documents from military servers as it examines the claims, and has added more investigators to the inquiry.


Staff members at the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence are also poring over years of Centcom intelligence reports and comparing them to assessments from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and others. The committee is not just examining reports about Iraq, Syria and the Islamic State, but also about Afghanistan and other areas under Centcom’s purview. The insurrection inside Centcom is an important chapter in the story of how the United States responded to the growing threat from the Islamic State. This past summer, a group of Centcom analysts took concerns about their superiors to the inspector general, saying they had evidence that senior officials had changed intelligence assessments to overstate the progress of American airstrikes against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.


Senior lawmakers have begun their own inquiries into the military’s intelligence apparatus. Representative Mac Thornberry, the Republican from Texas who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in an interview that his committee was examining intelligence assessments from Centcom and other military commands to see if there was a systemic problem of dissenting voices being muffled by senior military commanders.


That investigation was prompted by complaints this past summer from Centcom’s longtime Iraq experts, led by Gregory Hooker, the senior Iraq analyst. In some ways, the team’s criticisms mirror those of a decade ago, when Mr. Hooker wrote a research paper saying the Bush administration, over many analysts’ objections, advocated a small force in Iraq and spent little time planning for what would follow the invasion.

Lawmakers originally said that the Centcom investigation would be completed in weeks. But Pentagon investigators have found the work painstaking and it could span months. In addition to determining whether changes were made to intelligence reports — and if so, who ordered them — the investigators, like the staff members of the House intelligence committee, are studying reports from other intelligence agencies produced at the time to determine what was actually occurring in Iraq and Syria when the reports were written.

This sort of sh%$ needs to stop.

This is simply unacceptable. It is antithetical to the idea of civilian control of the military.

Anyone in the chain of command for these actions need to be sent stateside now.

Once the investigation is done, any responsible for this should be court martialed. Anyone who should have known and did not make a report to the inspector general should be fired.

This was a deliberate attempt to deceive the SecDef and the President. It cannot, and should not, be tolerated.

How About Throwing this District Attorney in Jail?

It appears that the single most prolific issuer of wiretap warrants in the United States, Riverside County, California, illegally wiretapped 52,000 people:

Prosecutors in the Los Angeles suburb responsible for a huge share of the nation’s wiretaps almost certainly violated federal law when they authorized widespread eavesdropping that police used to make more than 300 arrests and seize millions of dollars in cash and drugs throughout the USA.

The violations could undermine the legality of as many as 738 wiretaps approved in Riverside County, Calif., since the middle of 2013, an investigation by USA TODAY and The Desert Sun, based on interviews and court records, has found. Prosecutors reported that those taps, often conducted by federal drug investigators, intercepted phone calls and text messages by more than 52,000 people.

Federal law bars the government from seeking court approval for a wiretap unless a top prosecutor has personally authorized the request. Congress added that restriction in the 1960s, when the FBI had secretly monitored civil rights leaders, to ensure that such intrusive surveillance would not be conducted lightly.

In Riverside County — a Los Angeles suburb whose court and prosecutors approved almost one of every five U.S. wiretaps last year — the district attorney turned the job of reviewing the applications over to lower-level lawyers, interviews and court records show. That practice almost certainly violated the federal wiretapping law and could jeopardize prosecutors’ ability to use the surveillance in court.

“A district attorney is playing with gunpowder if he ignores the potential implications of letting somebody else handle the entire process. That’s potentially catastrophic,” said Clifford Fishman, a Catholic University of America law professor who studies wiretapping.

That also creates a legal problem for Riverside’s massive wiretapping operation, which had come under scrutiny from Justice Department lawyers. Last week, USA TODAY and The Desert Sun reported that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had secretly helped turn the county into the nation’s wiretap capital, even though federal prosecutors repeatedly warned that the surveillance orders violated a separate part of the wiretapping law and would not withstand a legal challenge.

Federal drug agents used information from Riverside wiretaps to make arrests as far away as Kentucky and Virginia, sometimes concealing the surveillance from judges and defense lawyers.

(emphasis mine)

Here’s an idea: How about going after that DA criminally, so maybe next time, we won’t having a sworn law enforcement official thumbing his nose at the law?

This is beyond negligent.

From the Department of, “It’s About F%$#ing Time”

The AMA has reversed itself, and called for a ban on prescription drug advertisements:

Drug companies should stop advertising directly to consumers, a major U.S. doctors group said Tuesday, declaring that the ads often push patients to more expensive treatments and inflate demand for therapies.

In a vote Tuesday at the group’s annual meeting in Atlanta, the American Medical Association called for an end to television commercials and magazine spreads that are used to pitch prescription drugs. It’s a change from the AMA’s previous position, which said the ads were fine as long as they were educational and accurate. The U.S. is one of the few countries that allows direct-to-consumer drug ads.

The vote “reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices,” AMA Board Chair-elect Patrice A. Harris said in a statement announcing the vote result. “Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate.”

I am not sure why the AMA has reversed itself, but it is long overdue.

However, given the expansive view of business free speech held by the Supreme Court, I am not sure precisely how one would enforce such a ban.

Diaperman Finally Loses

Years after being implicated in the DC Madame scandal, it appears that it has finally cost David Vitter an election:

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) announced Saturday night that he will not run for reelection after losing Louisiana’s gubernatorial runoff election.
Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards defeated Vitter, bringing an end to a rough campaign that saw Vitter fall short after entering as the heavy favorite.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune called the race for Edwards just after 10 p.m. Eastern time Saturday night, a little more than hour after polls closed.


Edwards and Vitter advanced to the runoff after finishing as the top two in the Oct. 24 open primary. In Louisiana’s “jungle primary” system, candidates of all parties run together, with the top two finishers having a runoff if neither one secures 50 percent of the vote.

The well-known Vitter, first elected to the Senate in 2004 after serving in the House of Representatives, was the prohibitive favorite during the early stages of the race. But after sustained attacks targeting his involvement in a 2007 prostitution scandal, he barely defeated two of his Republican challengers and finished in second behind the lesser-known Edwards by 14 points in the jungle primary.

Jay Dardenne, Louisiana’s Republican lieutenant governor, finished fourth in the jungle primary. He crossed party lines to endorse Edwards over Vitter in the runoff.


In a particularly ruthless ad, Edwards claimed Vitter had chosen “prostitutes over patriots” by skipping a vote to honor fallen soldiers in order to take a call from a prostitute.

I’m not sure why this scandal, which was reputed to involve diaper play on Vitter’s part, has taken so long to for him to pay the price.

My guess is that this is the first time that one of his opponents actually decided to bring it up.


Over at the New York Times, Kamel Daoud observes that Saudi Arabia is actually what ISIS intends to become.

This is particularly noteworthy because it appears in the New York Times:

Black Daesh, white Daesh. The former slits throats, kills, stones, cuts off hands, destroys humanity’s common heritage and despises archaeology, women and non-Muslims. The latter is better dressed and neater but does the same things. The Islamic State; Saudi Arabia. In its struggle against terrorism, the West wages war on one, but shakes hands with the other. This is a mechanism of denial, and denial has a price: preserving the famous strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia at the risk of forgetting that the kingdom also relies on an alliance with a religious clergy that produces, legitimizes, spreads, preaches and defends Wahhabism, the ultra-puritanical form of Islam that Daesh feeds on.

Wahhabism, a messianic radicalism that arose in the 18th century, hopes to restore a fantasized caliphate centered on a desert, a sacred book, and two holy sites, Mecca and Medina. Born in massacre and blood, it manifests itself in a surreal relationship with women, a prohibition against non-Muslims treading on sacred territory, and ferocious religious laws. That translates into an obsessive hatred of imagery and representation and therefore art, but also of the body, nakedness and freedom. Saudi Arabia is a Daesh that has made it.

The West’s denial regarding Saudi Arabia is striking: It salutes the theocracy as its ally but pretends not to notice that it is the world’s chief ideological sponsor of Islamist culture. The younger generations of radicals in the so-called Arab world were not born jihadists. They were suckled in the bosom of Fatwa Valley, a kind of Islamist Vatican with a vast industry that produces theologians, religious laws, books, and aggressive editorial policies and media campaigns.

One might counter: Isn’t Saudi Arabia itself a possible target of Daesh? Yes, but to focus on that would be to overlook the strength of the ties between the reigning family and the clergy that accounts for its stability — and also, increasingly, for its precariousness. The Saudi royals are caught in a perfect trap: Weakened by succession laws that encourage turnover, they cling to ancestral ties between king and preacher. The Saudi clergy produces Islamism, which both threatens the country and gives legitimacy to the regime.


Daesh has a mother: the invasion of Iraq. But it also has a father: Saudi Arabia and its religious-industrial complex. Until that point is understood, battles may be won, but the war will be lost. Jihadists will be killed, only to be reborn again in future generations and raised on the same books.

I think that there is a slow change in attitude towards our “allies” in Riyadh, though it does not yet seem to have penetrated the psyche of the western foreign policy establishment.

Hopefully, this means that the Overton window has shifted, and our policy of blindly following the initiatives of the House of Saud will become a bit less automatic.

This is Not the Onion

She Turned Me Into a Newt!

Former Republican nominee for US Senator Deleware, Christine O’Donnel, who in 2010 was forced to kick of her campaign by declaring that she was not a witch, is now calling an FEC lawsuit over her campaign finance management a “Witch Hunt”.

She needs to get this straight. Is she a witch, or isn’t she?

Former U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell said Friday that a Federal Election Commission lawsuit accusing her of improper campaign expenditures is a “witch hunt” and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

O’Donnell, who famously declared during the 2010 Senate race that she was not a witch, made the comment in a teleconference with the federal judge hearing the case.

O’Donnell also said she is having trouble hiring a local attorney, claiming that at least three lawyers she has talked to have received phone calls warning of “political backlash” if they represent her. She declined to identify them or provide further details, noting that an Associated Press reporter was listening to the teleconference.

Yes, I know that my characterization is neither fair nor accurate, but seriously, this is just too good, and too weird, to pass up.

I am Such an Asshole

I am at a “Rubiks” cubing competition with my son, and this time, for the first time, Sharon* is with us.

She made the comment that she felt like she was in a room of people like Charlie.

I replied, “You mean virgins?”

When I informed Charlie of my bon mot, we was unamused.

(on edit) This was the River Hill Fall 2015 cubing competition, and the world record for solving a 3×3 cube was broken ……… twice, with the final record breaking the 5 second barrier.

*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

There is No Evidence that Mass Surveillance Makes Us Safe

This is not an exaggeration/

Pro Publica examined almost a decade of mass surveillance, and could not any meaningful benefit derived from drinking from the data fire hose:

Current and former government officials have been pointing to the terror attacks in Paris as justification for mass surveillance programs. CIA Director John Brennan accused privacy advocates of “hand-wringing” that has made “our ability collectively internationally to find these terrorists much more challenging.” Former National Security Agency and CIA director Michael Hayden said, “In the wake of Paris, a big stack of metadata doesn’t seem to be the scariest thing in the room.”

Ultimately, it’s impossible to know just how successful sweeping surveillance has been, since much of the work is secret. But what has been disclosed so far suggests the programs have been of limited value. Here’s a roundup of what we know.

An internal review of the Bush administration’s warrantless program – called Stellarwind – found it resulted in few useful leads from 2001–2004, and none after that. New York Times reporter Charlie Savage obtained the findings through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and published them in his new book, Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post–9/11 Presidency:

[The FBI general counsel] defined as useful those [leads] that made a substantive contribution to identifying a terrorist, or identifying a potential confidential informant. Just 1.2 percent of them fit that category. In 2006, she conducted a comprehensive study of all the leads generated from the content basket of Stellarwind between March 2004 and January 2006 and discovered that zero of those had been useful.

In an endnote, Savage then added:

The program was generating numerous tips to the FBI about suspicious phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and it was the job of the FBI field offices to pursue those leads and scrutinize the people behind them. (The tips were so frequent and such a waste of time that the field offices reported back, in frustration, “You’re sending us garbage.”)

This isn’t security, it’s security theater, and the victories it achieves are in battles between for budget money from Congress. 

More IP Idiocy

The Swiss charity the Anne Frank Fonds will be atempting to add her father as co-author to the book in an attempt to expand the copyright term, which has the effect of preventing public posting of the work which otherwise would have happened on 1 January:

When Otto Frank first published his daughter’s red-checked diary and notebooks, he wrote a prologue assuring readers that the book mostly contained her words, written while hiding from the Nazis in a secret annex of a factory in Amsterdam.

But now the Swiss foundation that holds the copyright to “The Diary of Anne Frank” is alerting publishers that her father is not only the editor but also legally the co-author of the celebrated book.

The move has a practical effect: It extends the copyright from Jan. 1, when it is set to expire in most of Europe, to the end of 2050. Copyrights in Europe generally end 70 years after an author’s death. Anne Frank died 70 years ago at Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp, and Otto Frank died in 1980. Extending the copyright would block others from being able to publish the book without paying royalties or receiving permission.

This sort of sh%$ is getting out of hand.

IP protections have become more and excessive, and they have nothing to do with the intended purpose of IP protections, which is to encourage innovation and creativity.

The New York Times Calls Out Intelligence Officials for Exploiting the Paris Attacks to Further their Anti-Privacy Agenda

Seeing as how the Times is the very much the voice of the conventional wisdom, so when they have excoriated intelligence officials’ opportunistic statements following the Paris attacks, it implies that there has been a shift in customary thinking:

It’s a wretched yet predictable ritual after each new terrorist attack: Certain politicians and government officials waste no time exploiting the tragedy for their own ends. The remarks on Monday by John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, took that to a new and disgraceful low.

Speaking less than three days after coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris killed 129 and injured hundreds more, Mr. Brennan complained about “a lot of hand-wringing over the government’s role in the effort to try to uncover these terrorists.”

What he calls “hand-wringing” was the sustained national outrage following the 2013 revelations by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, that the agency was using provisions of the Patriot Act to secretly collect information on millions of Americans’ phone records. In June, President Obama signed the USA Freedom Act, which ends bulk collection of domestic phone data by the government (but not the collection of other data, like emails and the content of Americans’ international phone calls) and requires the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to make its most significant rulings available to the public.
These reforms are only a modest improvement on the Patriot Act, but the intelligence community saw them as a grave impediment to antiterror efforts. In his comments Monday, Mr. Brennan called the attacks in Paris a “wake-up call,” and claimed that recent “policy and legal” actions “make our ability collectively, internationally, to find these terrorists much more challenging.”

It is hard to believe anything Mr. Brennan says. Last year, he bluntly denied that the C.I.A. had illegally hacked into the computers of Senate staff members conducting an investigation into the agency’s detention and torture programs when, in fact, it did. In 2011, when he was President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, he claimed that American drone strikes had not killed any civilians, despite clear evidence that they had. And his boss, James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has admitted lying to the Senate on the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of data. Even putting this lack of credibility aside, it’s not clear what extra powers Mr. Brennan is seeking.


These reforms are only a modest improvement on the Patriot Act, but the intelligence community saw them as a grave impediment to antiterror efforts. In his comments Monday, Mr. Brennan called the attacks in Paris a “wake-up call,” and claimed that recent “policy and legal” actions “make our ability collectively, internationally, to find these terrorists much more challenging.”

It is hard to believe anything Mr. Brennan says. Last year, he bluntly denied that the C.I.A. had illegally hacked into the computers of Senate staff members conducting an investigation into the agency’s detention and torture programs when, in fact, it did. In 2011, when he was President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, he claimed that American drone strikes had not killed any civilians, despite clear evidence that they had. And his boss, James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has admitted lying to the Senate on the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of data. Even putting this lack of credibility aside, it’s not clear what extra powers Mr. Brennan is seeking.

In truth, intelligence authorities are still able to do most of what they did before — only now with a little more oversight by the courts and the public. There is no dispute that they and law enforcement agencies should have the necessary powers to detect and stop attacks before they happen. But that does not mean unquestioning acceptance of ineffective and very likely unconstitutional tactics that reduce civil liberties without making the public safer.

That was a major case of whup ass that was unloaded on the leaders of the US state security apparatus.


And no, I am not talking about treason against the United States, which is, as I have noted before, very specifically defined in the Constitution, the only crime so defined.

Rather, I am suggesting that the House vote to exclude Syrian refugees is treason against the whole of humanity, which necessary has a less specific definition:

Responding to increased fears of terrorism in the United States following the Paris attacks, the House of Representatives passed a Republican-backed bill Thursday that would temporarily freeze Syrian and Iraqi refugees’ entry into the United States and revamp the vetting process. The bill passed 289 to 137, with near-unanimous support from Republicans and 47 Democrats backing the measure.


The bill “would immediately shut down resettlement of refugees from the Syria and Iraq region,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said Wednesday. “This rash reaction ignores the fact that all of the Paris attackers identified thus far are either French or Belgian, and that many terrorist threats are homegrown.” A Syrian passport was discovered by the body of one of the Paris attackers, but French officials said soon afterward that it was a forgery.

The bill does not explicitly halt admission of Syrian refugees, a response that some Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), called for this week. But it does require additional vetting of refugees by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, without specifying the procedures. Implementing the bill “would cause a pause” in the admission of refugees, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters.

It would also increase the FBI’s role in the screening process and require the secretary of homeland security, the FBI director, and the director of national intelligence to personally certify to Congress that each individual refugee is “not a threat” to the United States.

I’m sure that someone out there is going to talk about the reality of politics, but most of these districts are safe enough that the only way that a caught on camera eating babies.

When I make quick look at the list, a few names stick out;

  • Patrick Murphy, who was a Republican bankster until he wanted to run for Congress, and is now the establishment’s choice to run for Florida Senate.
  • Steve Israel, former Blue Dog who has been single minded in attempting to restore that caucus.
  • Marcy Kaptur, who defeated Dennis Kucinich in the primary after they were redistricted together.
  • Dan Lipinski, who inherited the seat from his father, and is the most reactionary Democrat in Congress.

There are a couple of Reps on this list who are not complete tools, like Louise Slaughter, but it doesn’t matter.

This vote is that bad.

After the break is a list of the Dems who voted for this.

  • Pete Aguilar (CA-31)
  • Brad Ashford (NE-02)
  • Ami Bera (CA-07)
  • Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
  • Julia Brownley (CA-26)
  • Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
  • John Carney (DE-AL)
  • Gerry Connolly (VA-11)
  • Jim Cooper (TN-05)
  • Jim Costa (CA-16)
  • Joe Courtney (CT-02)
  • Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
  • John Delaney (MD-06)
  • Lloyd Doggett (TX-35)
  • Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02)
  • John Garamendi (CA-03)
  • Gwen Graham (FL-02)
  • Gene Green (TX-29)
  • Janice Hahn (CA-44)
  • Jim Himes (CT-04)
  • Steve Israel (NY-03)
  • Marcy Kaptur (OH-09)
  • Bill Keating (MA-09)
  • Ron Kind (WI-03)
  • Annie Kuster (NH-02)
  • Jim Langevin (RI-02)
  • Dan Lipinski (IL-03)
  • Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
  • Stephen Lynch (MA-08)
  • Sean Maloney (NY-18)
  • Patrick Murphy (FL-18)
  • Rick Nolan (MN-08)
  • Donald Norcross (NJ-01)
  • Scott Peters (CA-52)
  • Collin Peterson (MN-07)
  • Jared Polis (CO-02)
  • Kathleen Rice (NY-04)
  • Raul Ruiz (CA-36)
  • Tim Ryan (OH-13)
  • Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
  • David Scott (GA-13)
  • Terri Sewell (AL-07)
  • Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)
  • Louise Slaughter (NY-25)
  • Marc Veasey (TX-33)
  • Filemon Vela (TX-34)
  • Tim Walz (MN-01)