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Run it now.

The moment is ripe. Like you should've done with the debt ceiling and default fiasco, a moment when you could've destroyed all Republican public credibility in one fell swoop. This time it's the nuclear arms deal with Iran about which the Republicans have lustily overreached. The stakes are even more dire, and the political advantage is there for the taking.

There's also the small matter that, beyond its domestic benefit as a political move, running today's version of that ad could seal the peace deal with Iran and avert more violent conflict and suffering in the Middle East and beyond, and it might just persuade the American public to assert its better, loving, maybe-we-will-all-live-happily-ever-after-someday side. It could, by fortuitous chance, even be the thing that tips this teetering global civilization back into having a fighting (ahem) chance at long-term viability. Just a thought.

And yes, it's true that it wouldn't have been nearly as convincing for Johnson to run that ad in 1968 as it was when he did it against Goldwater in 1964. But, somewhat bizarrely, today the Democratic Party and President Obama could once more lay claim to that grand ideal, the hope that we can make love and life prevail over hate and death. And today, half a century later, the portrayal of the Republican Party's ghastly, retrograde vision for our world is more accurate than ever.

Just think about what it would mean for the Democratic Party to run that ad again against the Republicans today.

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In the context of:

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation's all-consuming lust for instant backdoor decrypted access to every 1 and every 0, everywhere, and
  • Computer, telecommunications, and Internet companies' resistance toward granting that access, now that they've taken a financial hit in the wake of Mark Klein's, Edward Snowden's, and others' revelations of those companies' earlier complicity in undermining customers' privacy

FBI Director James Comey asked this:
Have we become so mistrustful of government and law enforcement in particular that we are willing to let bad guys walk away, willing to leave victims in search of justice?

That's right, Director Comey. It is indeed better to have no government at all than one that regularly abuses its position to violate the rights of the people.

Given that the government has taken positions such as:

  • Any email that's on a third-party server for more than six months is considered "abandoned" and therefore fair game for the government to copy, database, and read without a warrant
  • Communications "metadata"—the time and day, sender, and recipient(s) of a call or message, among other information extraneous to the content of the communication in question (and perhaps even some of the content itself as well)—are always fair game for the government to copy, database, and read without a warrant
  • Any communication that the government considers to have a 50.000001% chance of being from and/or to a foreign person is fair game for the government to copy, database, and read without a warrant
  • Any communication within a number of personal-association "hops" (two? three??) of someone they're investigating is fair game for the government to copy, database, and read without a warrant

it is clear they are not abiding by the letter nor by the spirit of this:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment 4, U.S Constitution

The Constitution is the social contract, the agreement we make with each other to have a government at all. A government that violates that agreement is illegitimate.

I understand Director Comey's fear that data vital to a case, possibly even a terrorist's plans, might be locked away encrypted somewhere such that his agency can't reach it without the investigation subject's cooperation. Too bad. That's tough. That's one of the prices we pay for living in a free society.

The society that claims a 100% guarantee of safety and security is one in which the government itself is a 100%-guaranteed danger to everyone. Even President Obama understands this better than Director Comey apparently does, though that's clearly in word, and not in deed. Besides, Director Comey's stated good intentions are not the basis for our liberty. The Constitution, laws, principles, and people—such as journalists and advocates—who actualize accountability are.

Free people must have ways to escape government intrusion. There have to exist avenues for revolution even, always. Otherwise, with official impunity, enter tyranny.

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Whereas ISIL is responsible for the deaths of innocent United States citizens, including James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller;

Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [as proposed to Congress by the Obama administration]

Yes, ISIL is responsible for taking Ms. Mueller hostage and for endangering her life in a war zone. Her death is an awful tragedy, particularly given her humanitarian motivations and self-sacrificing efforts. But it is no small matter that there is no evidence to date that ISIL militants actually killed her. No one—not even the United States government—has said that's the case. The only known direct claim about a cause of death was this:
Supporters of Islamic State had claimed on Friday that she was killed in a Jordanian air strike intended to avenge the burning to death of a captured Jordanian pilot.

Family of Isis hostage Kayla Mueller confirms aid worker has been killed
Raya Jalabi in New York, The Guardian, 10 February 2015

Obviously ISIL isn't exactly a credible source on its own, and they have incentive to lie about this incident themselves. All the same, their statement is the only evidence to date that is publicly available. ISIL provided a photograph of the apparent bombardment damage, though they made public no direct evidence of Ms. Mueller's passing.
US officials could not determine her cause of death.

The National Security Council spokeswoman, Bernadette Meehan, said that over the weekend, the family received a private message from Mueller’s captors containing “additional information”.

“Once this information was authenticated by the intelligence community, they concluded that Kayla was deceased,” Meehan said.

As Marcy Wheeler pointed out,
But neither statement includes any agent with her death. The White House has “learned of the death of Kayla Jean Mueller.” Her family confirms she “has lost her life.”

Amid ISIL’s allegations that she was killed in a Jordanian bomb strike, the utter lack of an agency here seems to suggest those claims are correct. When ISIL kills a hostage, agency is at the forefront. When a bomb kills a hostage, no one is to blame.

Sometimes, Death Just Happens
By emptywheel, February 10, 2015

The USA can jump up and down about ISIL being responsible for Ms. Mueller's death all week long, but so far as what we know to date, a claim that ISIL forces killed Ms. Mueller may in fact be a lie.

And yet the new "Authorization for the Use of Military Force"—under which this country asserts the power to make war—by implication makes that claim.

There are many other glaring problems with the state of war powers in the USA and the way this specific AUMF goes about enacting them. But let us, as a bare minimum, insist that any basis for war be the product of facts.

Lies our political leaders promulgated to justify wars are what carried us into our and our target countries' present worsening circumstances in the first place.

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Do you want to influence the agenda that the California Democratic Party sets for our state? Then put democracy into the Democratic Party, and make your voice heard! This weekend, January 10th and 11th, there will be elections for delegates to the state party convention, which is the body that makes endorsements, writes the state party platform, and so forth. In each of the eighty Assembly districts across the state, only a thousand or so people vote, choosing among about fifty candidates for fourteen spots. If you’re a registered Democratic voter in California as of the last election, here’s how to participate:

  1. Go to the state legislature's district finder and punch in your address to get your state Assembly district. (While you're at it, bookmark your state Assembly member and Senator's websites.* C'mon, I know you've been meaning to.)
  2. Find your election place, time, and list of candidates with statements: 2015 ASSEMBLY DISTRICT ELECTION MEETINGS (ADEMS). Now's the time to check. Don't wait 'til mid-day Saturday and possibly get surprised that your district's election has already passed.
  3. Choose up to seven women and seven men to vote for.
  4. Show up—be sure to be on time—and vote!
Heck, bring a few friends to vote too, and become an instant power bloc.

Here's what you're voting for the delegates to do, as members of the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC):

  • Attend the 2015 and 2016 conventions
  • Elect Party officers
  • Decide to endorse candidates for statewide, legislative, and congressional office
  • Decide to endorse resolutions and ballot measures
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Thu Dec 04, 2014 at 09:30 PM PST

Justice in the USA, circa 2014

by Simplify

Long Prison Term/Exile Scot-Free On-the-Spot Execution
Leak classified documents exposing lawbreaking, corruption, waste* Leak classified information supporting the administration
Expose acts of torture Torture some folks
Steal from rich people Steal many millions of dollars from many thousands of people Sell/steal cigarillos†
* Except IOKIYAR
† Except if white
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The scariest gang of super-sub-human villains of all time?
Y'know... the Khorasan Group?


Anything at all?


Maybe there was one little blip, still only from official government sources. I don't know, I might've blinked.


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What: Bay Area Speaks: A People's Hearing on the Future of the Internet
When: Thurs., Nov. 20: Rally outside at 5:30 PM; hearing starts at 7:00 PM
Where: San Francisco City Hall, Room 305
Who: We're partnering with our allies at, Common Cause, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) and the Media Alliance to host this event.
The long version:
Bay Area Speaks: A People's Hearing on the Future of the Internet
City Hall Room 305, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA
Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014
5:30 PM Rally outside (or meet inside if rainy)
6:00 PM Doors open
7:00 PM Hearing begins

This event is free and open to the public.

When it comes to the Internet, Californians are pioneers. The Bay Area has been very vocal in the national fight for Net Neutrality, and there's a reason: The open Internet is why so many trailblazing new artists, technologies and businesses were born in this state. On Nov. 20, concerned Internet users and a coalition of advocacy organizations are gathering at San Francisco City Hall to hold a people's hearing on the future of the Internet.

The Net Neutrality debate is moving fast on the heels of a record-breaking summer where millions of people spoke out against an FCC proposal that would permit large Internet providers to charge fees for access to parts of the Web.

Organizations including, Common Cause, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Free Press, the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net), and the Media Alliance are inviting the diverse communities of the Bay Area to speak out and join local leaders, policy experts, technologists, and elected officials to testify at City Hall about why the future of the Internet matters to us.

Facebook event page

:: ::

UPDATE Nov. 24: Post-event report:

Bay Area Speaks: 'Net Neutrality Is Free Speech'
By Julia Graber, Free Press, November 21, 2014
Video of the event, with brief speeches by former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, activists, and members of the community who need Net neutrality to thrive:

US dismisses Russian MH17 pictures that blame Ukraine for disaster
Russian state media shows purported satellite images of fighter jet intercept but White House says claim is ‘preposterous’
Associated Press, 15 November 2014

The US state department has dismissed as “preposterous” Russian TV reports that a Ukrainian fighter jet shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, while the images used to back up the claim have been described as crude fakes.

[...] The photo released on Friday by Russia’s Channel One and Rossiya TV stations purportedly shows a Ukrainian fighter plane firing an air-to-air missile in the direction of flight MH17. The channels said they got the photo from a Moscow-based organisation, which had received it via email from a man who identified himself as an aviation expert.

The article indicates that some people found the purported satellite photo to be a forgery because of the size of the planes relative to the landscape (it would have to be a photograph taken from another plane closer in rather than from a satellite for it to make sense), because the clouds apparently match up with a 2012 satellite photo, and because the commercial plane looks like a Boeing 767 rather than a 777.

I would also point out that the pictured close proximity of the supposed Ukrainian Su-27 fighter jet to the airliner, the wide angle between their flight trajectories, and the fact that the Su-27 is shown firing the missile directly at the airliner rather than leading the shot make for a poor chance of a realistically achievable missile attack. These aspects add to the evidence that not only is the image a fake, it's a very poorly-done fake.

And then there are the absurdly low odds of a photographic satellite happening to capture any such encounter.

Unfortunately, at least one poll found that most Russian citizens believe that the July 17th disaster was Ukraine's fault. All available legitimate evidence points to pro-Russian separatist fighters operating a Buk M-1 anti-aircraft missile battery as the actual culprits.


Fri Nov 07, 2014 at 11:21 AM PST

2 °C doesn't sound so bad

by Simplify

World maps indicating observed and predicted temperature anomalies due to climate change, from the IPCC's 2014 Summary for Policymakers on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
Americans don't get the metric system. When you're trying to point out to an American audience how dire the consequences of human-caused global warming are, please use terms that Americans understand viscerally.

3.6 °F is, roughly speaking, the international consensus for the likely amount of warming that is physically feasible for humanity to stay under and keep global civilization substantially intact. Much hotter than that, and we'll be beyond mere worldwide environmental disaster and into existential threat range.

3.6 °F is still a lot of warming. Think of a hot summer day, and then add 3.6 °F to it. Pretty damn hot! Picture of a cold winter night, and then make it 3.6 °F warmer. Changes things quite a bit, doesn't it? Maybe not in Minnesota, but you get the idea. 2 °C? Whoop dee doo. 3.6 °F? Damn!

It's funny, I've been using the metric system throughout my education and career, and yet, in many instances, hearing about the scale of things still only packs an emotional wallop when it's in English customary units. So, please use Fahrenheit when talking about climate change in a political context.

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[T]he Kuznetsov company in the Russian city of Samara suggested the blame lay not with its NK-33 engines, which formed the basis for the AJ-26 engines, but rather with their later modification in the United States, the Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported.

[... "I]t’s important to note that during yesterday’s launch, the AJ-26 first-stage engines, which are a modification of the NK-33, were functioning normally.”

Russian rocket manufacturer insists it is not to blame for failed Antares launch
Kuznetsov company says engines used in Antares rocket were ‘functioning normally’ and suggests problem may lie with US modification of them
Alec Luhn in Moscow and Dan Roberts in Washington, The Guardian, 29 October 2014

The Kuznetsov company's claim of innocence hit the news the day after the mishap. They almost certainly did not know one way or the other at that point. If one doesn't consider that statement to be an outright lie, it's at least bullshit.
David Thompson, Orbital chairman and CEO, told analysts Wednesday the surplus Russian-built engines have a "fundamental reliability issue" and probably were responsible for the Oct. 28 mishap, which destroyed an Orbital Cygnus cargo vehicle loaded with 4,883 lb. of consumables, hardware and science equipment for the ISS.

[...] Thompson said preliminary evidence from telemetry and debris recovered at the state-owned Antares launch complex on Wallops Island, Virginia, "strongly suggests" that one of the two AJ-26s on the vehicle failed 15 sec. after ignition.

[... Similarly to what happened with a prior test article, i]nitial evidence also points to the turbomachinery as the site of the more recent AJ-26 failure, Thompson said.

Orbital Drops AJ-26 After Failure, Looking for Alternate Launcher to ISS
Frank Morring Jr, Aviation Week, Nov 5, 2014

We may yet, in due time, find out whether the investigation results show that the fault is either with the original engine or with the modifications.

Perhaps this is a minor point, but it demonstrates the level of credulity appropriate for companies' public pronouncements, especially in situations where the facts aren't known now but will eventually out.

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President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and their administration ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to torture people.
The CIA tortured people.

Not "used enhanced interrogation techniques on detainees." T-O-R-T-U-R-E-D people.

The CIA destroyed evidence of torture.
President Obama decided not to ever prosecute any torturers. He called some of them "real patriots," even.
The Obama administration did prosecute those who revealed torturers.
The CIA lied to Congress about torture.
The CIA conducted a clandestine operation upon Senate investigators' computers to destroy more evidence.
The CIA tried to get the Senate investigators criminally indicted for espionage for having the evidence the CIA gave them.
The CIA redacted the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence torture report into uselessness.
The CIA stalled long enough—for a decade since the original crimes—for the Democrats to lose the chairmanship of the committee and for the Republicans, who will quash the investigation entirely, to gain it.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's 6,000-page torture report has already been complete for some time.
The Senate can decide to release the report unilaterally, any time it likes.
Senators pretend not to have this power. They claim they have no choice but to let the CIA redact it.
The Democrats have control of the Senate through the end of session, in the "lame-duck" period.
Will they do the country a great service and release the report, in full, while they still have the power—and responsibility to the public—to do so? Sen. Feinstein, as Committee Chair? Sen. Udall (on his way out of office after losing the election) or Sen. Wyden, on his own?

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The unbearable clarity of "common carrier" status

:: ::

The title of this post is neither hyperbole nor metaphor. It is literal.
F.C.C. Considering Hybrid Regulatory Approach to Net Neutrality
By EDWARD WYATT, The New York Times, Oct. 31, 2014

[T]he hybrid approach would apply Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 to the connection between Internet service providers, or I.S.P.s, and content providers. [...]

The retail portion, the transaction that sends data through the Internet service provider to the consumer and which allows the consumer to access any legal content on the Internet, would receive a lighter regulatory touch.

No deal, Chairman Wheeler. Title II is common carrier. That's the classification used for traditional telephone service, in which every call is treated equally. That's actual neutrality. As the courts have correctly ruled, Title I classification does not allow the FCC the authority to issue neutrality regulations.

The courts and us citizens already told you: common carrier or bust.

This proposal means bust. As in, break the Internet.

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