Saturday, September 22, 2007

Brown Shirt High

The Academy of Military-Industrial-Complex Studies

Dedicated to everything from architecture to sports medicine, "career academies" claim to offer high school kids focus, relevancy, and solid job prospects. Now add a new kind of program to the list: homeland security high. In late August, Maryland's Joppatowne High School became the first school in the country dedicated to churning out would-be Jack Bauers. The 75 students in the Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness magnet program will study cybersecurity and geospatial intelligence, respond to mock terror attacks, and receive limited security clearances at the nearby Army chemical warfare lab.


Students will choose one of three specialized tracks: information and communication technology, criminal justice and law enforcement, or "homeland security science." David Volrath, executive director of secondary education for Harford County Public Schools, says the school also hopes to offer "Arabic or some other nontraditional, Third World-type language."

Friday, September 21, 2007

friday reads

The Supreme Court in Chile today voted to extradite the former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori back to Peru where he will face two charges of human rights crimes and five charges of corruption.

The security firm Blackwater USA today resumed limited escorts of American personnel in the Iraqi capital after an incident in which eight civilians died, the US embassy in Iraq said.

Keith Olbermann's Countdown Special Comment: The President Of Hypocrisy

John Dean's first and second columns of a three-part series discussing his book Conservatives Without Conscience - Understanding the Contemporary Republican Party: Authoritarians Have Taken Control & Why Authoritarians Now Control the Republican Party: The Rise of Authoritarian Conservatism How George Bush became the new Saddam

Thursday, September 20, 2007

March for the 'Jena 6'

Jena 6 Protest Photos (ABC News)

Times-Picayune: Thousands march on Jena

JENA - Thousands marched through the streets Thursday swelling the population of this small town in support of the Jena Six. Some protestors held hands, and walked eight abreast, shouting "No Justice No Peace," and singing "I'm Black and I'm Proud."

Hailing from as far as Philadelphia and England, they rode buses overnight that caravanned into the town around sunrise to rally behind a group of black teenagers who had faced attempted murder charges for beating a white classmate in December.

Louisiana NAACP marshals kept order, made sure rows were spaced out, and wouldn't let the crowd move until they complied. Members of the NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Council and Nation of Islam locked hands on both sides of the marchers, at points, guiding the procession through the throngs of people lining the roadway.

"Just as Selma was about the right to vote, and Little Rock was about the right to first class schools, this is about fairness in the criminal justice, which is increasingly unfair," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson. "Criminal justice has become an industry ... as in Angola."

Southern Poverty Law Center Seeks Justice for 'Jena 6'

Where Military Rules Don't Apply


Blackwater USA, the private security company involved in a Baghdad shootout last weekend, operated under State Department authority that exempted the company from U.S. military regulations governing other security firms, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials and industry representatives.

In recent months, the State Department's oversight of Blackwater became a central issue as Iraqi authorities repeatedly clashed with the company over its aggressive street tactics. Many U.S. and Iraqi officials and industry representatives said they came to see Blackwater as untouchable, protected by State Department officials who defended the company at every turn. Blackwater employees protect the U.S. ambassador and other diplomats in Iraq.


The State Department allowed Blackwater's heavily armed teams to operate without an Interior Ministry license, even after the requirement became standard language in Defense Department security contracts. The company was not subject to the military's restrictions on the use of offensive weapons, its procedures for reporting shooting incidents or a central tracking system that allows commanders to monitor the movements of security companies on the battlefield.

More at TPM

loyalty test


Senate Republicans blocked a plan on Wednesday to give U.S. troops in Iraq more home leave, defeating a proposal widely seen as the Democrats' best near-term chance to change President George W. Bush's Iraq strategy.

The measure to give troops as much rest time at home as they spent on their most recent tour overseas needed 60 votes to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate; it received just 56 votes, with 44 against.


The plan was strongly opposed by the Bush administration -- Pentagon Secretary Robert Gates called it a backdoor attempt to pull troops off the battlefield in the unpopular Iraq war, and said he would recommend Bush veto it if it passed. A similar bill has passed the House.


Fellow Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a co-sponsor of Webb's plan, said Republican senators were heavily lobbied by the administration against the measure.

"The White House has been very effective of making this a loyalty test for the party," Hagel said after the vote.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

CREW's Corrupt Congress Critters

Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its third annual report on the most corrupt members of Congress entitled Beyond DeLay: The 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and two to watch).

tuesday reads

The DC Voting Rights Bill goes before the Senate today.

The insurgents who were shooting at U.S. troops six months ago are now on the payroll.

Glenn Greenwald: Limitless wrongness

Free Paul Krugman!

A multimedia explosion of GOP Family Values.

American Fundamentalisms

Tomdispatch Interview: James Carroll

The point here is that the initial city-on-a-hill impulse has never stopped being part of our self-understanding -- the idea of America as having a mission to the world or, in biblical terms, a mission to the gentiles. "Go forth and teach all nations," Jesus commands. This commission is implicit in George Bush's war to establish democracy -- or "freedom" -- everywhere. When Americans talk about freedom, it's our secular code word for salvation. There's no salvation outside the church; there's no freedom outside the American way of life. Notice how, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disappearance of the Soviet system, there is still something called the "Free World." As opposed to what?


Think of that phrase -- "manifest destiny." A key doctrine in what I am calling American fundamentalism. It remains an inch below the surface of the American belief system. What's interesting is that this sense of special mission cuts across the spectrum -- right wing/left wing, liberals/conservatives -- because generally the liberal argument against government policies since World War II is that our wars -- Vietnam then, Iraq now -- represent an egregious failure to live up to America's true calling. We're better than this. Even antiwar critics, who begin to bang the drum, do it by appealing to an exceptional American missionizing impulse. You don't get the sense, even from most liberals, that -- no, America is a nation like other nations and we're going to screw things up the way other nations do.


...But this issue involves more than the temperament of George Bush. It involves the structure of the fundamentalist mind. One pillar is bipolarity -- the understanding of reality as divided between good and evil; you're on the side of good and they're on the side of evil. However, they can begin by being Osama bin Laden's band, which then becomes the Taliban, which becomes Afghanistan, which becomes all the Muslims who ever talked about the Great Satan, which becomes Iraq, and now maybe Iran, and even critics in the U.S. "They," "they," "they." We see that progression in Bush. A second pillar is an absolute allergy to doubt. The fundamentalist mindset doesn't survive once you admit doubt or self-criticism. When asked for an example of a mistake he had made, Bush surprised people two years ago by claiming he couldn't think of one. The tragedy of Bush is, if you ask that question of him today, I'm sure he would answer the same way.


You know, the genius of the American system -- why the Constitution is worth defending -- is that our Constitution comes from Roger Williams, not John Winthrop and John Cotton. It assumes a world not divided between good and evil, but one where everybody participates in the whole mess.

What are checks and balances? The Constitution's authors understood that even people motivated by good intentions are going to screw up. So everybody, every institution, needs to be checked. This system assumes not bipolarity but unipolarity, in the sense that we're all capable of mistakes, that we all have to be constantly criticized. The Constitution is an ingenious structure for living in the real world.


The question today is whether the Constitution continues to exist as anything beyond a kind of totem, a vestige? Recent history certainly suggests that the Pentagon is now "unchecked." And if we can end our present war by blaming the Iraqis, then the Pentagon will be immune from criticism and prepared for the next foray of American power. That's why we must challenge this laying the blame on the Iraqi people, as if their "sectarianism" weighs more than our hubris. As of now, I fear, we'll be getting out of this war with what brought us into it intact.


Let me just say that we've been talking only America here, in part because I think people are attuned to the threat from what's called "Islamic fundamentalism." My own conviction is that a crucial twenty-first century problem is going to be Christian fundamentalism. Its global growth is an unnoticed story in the United States. Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia are now absolutely on fire with zealous belief in the saving power of Jesus, in the most intolerant of ways. A religious ideology that affirms the salvific power of violence is taking hold. It denigrates people who are not part of the saved community, permitting discrimination, and ultimately violence. Hundreds of millions of people are embracing this kind of Christianity.

Please read the whole interview

Monday, September 17, 2007

monday reads

A U.S. State Department motorcade came under attack in Baghdad on Sunday, prompting security contractors guarding the convoy to open fire in the streets. At least nine civilians were killed, according to Iraqi officials.

The Iraqi government said Monday that it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad.

Paul Krugman: Sad Alan's Lament

A true family values candidate enters the race.

A Chinese man dropped dead after a three-day internet gaming session, state media reported today.

With GOP-Harmony, you don’t have to worry about messy exposés or embarrassing mug shots. We rigorously check out all of our members, weeding out officers, agents, reporters, bloggers….

The New York School of Burlesque has an interview with photographer and publisher Dale Rio.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

sunday reads

McClatchy - VA studies: PTSD care inconsistent

A real and unprecedented opportunity for peace in Darfur is emerging after breakthrough talks between Britain and Khartoum last week, according to the UK's key envoy to the region, Mark Malloch Brown.

The U.S. military is increasingly relying on deadly air strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan as the ground occupations fall apart, killing untold numbers of civilians.

Army Times: Army records first UAV kills

The Arctic's sea covering has shrunk so much that the Northwest Passage, the fabled sea route that connects Europe and Asia, has opened up for the first time since records began.

Will Bunch: The neocon link to the ABC News scandal

Chris Dodd's "Letters from Nuremberg"