Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for August 3rd, 2010

For your listening enjoyment

Posted by Charles II on August 3, 2010

Amparo Ochoa sings us back to school:

(Lápiz y cuaderno/Lapici ka cuaderno/Pencil and notebook)

Or, if you prefer to see dance, The Dance of the Codgers:

If it doesn’t look like Mexico, it’s not. It’s Oregon.

And more music, by Carlos Mota:

Posted in Just for fun | 1 Comment »

Just Say Now

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 3, 2010

Because the War on Some Drugs has inflicted far too much damage on us all:

Go and see and spread the word.

Posted in War On Some Drugs | Tagged: | Comments Off on Just Say Now

Going Stasi: the Vigilante Project

Posted by Charles II on August 3, 2010

Glenn Greenwald writes about a post by Forbes writer Andy Greenberg as follows

[Chet] Uber is the Executive Director of a highly secretive group called Project Vigilant, which, as Greenberg writes, “monitors the traffic of 12 regional Internet service providers” and “hands much of that information to federal agencies.” More on that in a minute. Uber revealed yesterday that Lamo, the hacker who turned in Manning to the federal government for allegedly confessing to being the WikiLeaks leaker, was a “volunteer analyst” for Project Vigilant; that it was Uber who directed Lamo to federal authorities to inform on Manning by using his contacts to put Lamo in touch with the “highest level people in the government” at “three letter agencies”; and, according to a Wired report this morning, it was Uber who strongly pressured Lamo to inform by telling him (falsely) that he’d likely be arrested if he failed to turn over to federal agents everything he received from Manning.


He [Chet Uber] says the 600-person “volunteer” organization functions as a government contractor bridging public and private sector security efforts. Its mission: to use a variety of intelligence-gathering efforts to help the government attribute hacking incidents….According to Uber, one of Project Vigilant’s manifold methods for gathering intelligence includes collecting information from a dozen regional U.S. Internet service providers (ISPs). Uber declined to name those ISPs, but said that because the companies included a provision allowing them to share users’ Internet activities with third parties in their end user license agreements (EULAs), Vigilant was able to legally gather data from those Internet carriers and use it to craft reports for federal agencies. A Vigilant press release says that the organization tracks more than 250 million IP addresses a day and can “develop portfolios on any name, screen name or IP address.”… its volunteer staff includes former NSA official Ira Winkler and Suzanne Gorman, former security chief for the New York Stock Exchange.

250 million IP addresses is, basically, everyone in the US.

Combine this organization with the wiretapping done by US government agencies, and you have a far more effective police state than ever existed in East Germany.

Added: Here is Project Vigilant(e)’s man. He looks to me as if he is on narcotics.
Added: Scott Horton had exactly the same reaction as I did, calling his post: Tales from StasiLand: The Internet Vigilantes,; and calls “astute” the following analysis from Glenn Greenwald:

There are serious obstacles that impede the Government’s ability to create these electronic dossiers themselves. It requires both huge resources and expertise. Various statutes enacted in the mid-1970s — such as the Privacy Act of 1974 — impose transparency requirements and other forms of accountability on programs whereby the Government collects data on citizens. And the fact that much of the data about you ends up in the hands of private corporations can create further obstacles, because the tools which the Government has to compel private companies to turn over this information is limited (the fact that the FBI is sometimes unable to obtain your “transactional” Internet data without a court order — i.e., whom you email, who emails you, what Google searches you enter, and what websites you visit –is what has caused the Obama administration to demand that Congress amend the Patriot Act to vest them with the power to obtain all of that with no judicial supervision).

But the emergence of a private market that sells this data to the Government (or, in the case of Project Vigilance, is funded in order to hand it over voluntarily) has eliminated those obstacles. As a result, the Government is able to circumvent the legal and logistical restrictions on maintaining vast dossiers on citizens, and is doing exactly that.

I’d call that astute, too.

Posted in abuse of power, freedom, NSA eavesdropping, wiretapping | 11 Comments »

Failing Nationalism Syndrome

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 3, 2010

What happens when the cognitive dissonance needed for smart, informed and moral people to sustain a deeply immoral situation causes their brains to start making their mouths spit out glorified word salads?

Professor Juan Cole’s diagnosis: Failing Nationalism Syndrome. To wit:

One time some Orthodox students approached me at a conference to say that in their reckoning, Israeli settlers on the West Bank had almost never done any harm to anyone and maybe in total had killed 14 persons, for which they were sorry. I was frankly outraged. I mean, what world did these university students live in? Had they never read even one academic book on the effects of the Israeli Occupation on the Palestinians of the Palestinian West Bank? Why invent fairy tale statistics, and what is with the passive aggressive ‘apology?’ There is something wrong with this way of thinking, and it is a kind of group think that reinforces itself in small, tight, communities of discourse.

Last month, I was at a conference where a prominent academic at a prominent university gave a whole series of set speeches on various occasions: Hamas is a terrorist organization that says it will never negotiate with Israel. Iran is near to being able and willing to nuke Israel. It was like a series of mantras to ward off any real, critical thought. When I told the person he was being essentialist, he was taken aback, then in a passive aggressive way, said he ‘hoped’ that what I was saying was true. It is so weird dealing with people who are supposed to be critical thinkers by trade who, when it comes to Israel, suddenly exhibit all the originality of a mynah bird. And they don’t let you get a word in edgewise once they start. And they constantly imply, with body language and innuendo, that you are misinformed or actively lying.

Other strange features of this discourse are the disregard for any evidence that contradicts the set talking points, unwillingness to seriously reconsider positions in the light of such evidence, the repetition of key phrases in an impenetrable way, the allegation that critics said things they never said, and insistence on demonizing the source of the alternative evidence.

I got exactly the same treatment in the 1970s from Maronite Christians in Lebanon and in the 1990s from pro-Milosevic Serbs, and recognize the condition. It is Failing Nationalism Syndrome (FNS). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in israel, WTF? | Comments Off on Failing Nationalism Syndrome

These People Really Need To Get Lives

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 3, 2010

From Rachel Sklar of Mediaite:

Something strange is going on here: Conservatives don’t like money.

That’s the message I’m getting from the extreme distaste some conservative critics have shown for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. Forget about Rush Limbaugh’s $54 million Gulfstream jet, Mitt Romney’s $42 million donation to his own presidential campaign, John McCain’s seven or eight houses, the RNC’s vacations in Hawaii — the real source of outrage is Chelsea’s big fat Liberal wedding, and its estimated price tag of $2-3 million.  For shame! Never mind President George W. Bush once joking at a dinner about “the haves and the have-mores….Some people call you the elite. I call you my base” — apparently, it’s now completely uncool to have money and spend it.

Over at Newsbusters, Kyle Drennan was outraged that guests of the Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding would be perching on porcelain port-a-potties, and was shocked — shocked! — that a segment on the CBS Early Show “did not raise any questions about the over-the-top extravagance of the affair, which is estimated to cost a few million dollars.” At Wizbang, the Clinton-wedding price tag was tut-tutted disapprovingly, and Chelsea was compared unflatteringly to Jenna Bush, whose private wedding on her parents’ ranch in Crawford was apparently a model of fiscal restraint.

It’s a strange double standard.

Conservatives are all about the double standard. And the outright lie.

Posted in Clenis, Clinton Rules, conservativism, hissy kabuki, WTF? | 5 Comments »

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