Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Republican Party And Other Corpses

Liberal radio talk show host Stephanie Miller this morning was reading from a stack of articles about the demise of the Republican Party. They were similar to the slew of articles that came out after the November election, when, despite having unlimited money and a Republican court system that gives it everything it ever wanted, Republicans failed to meet expectations that they'd defeat President Obama and retake the US Senate. 

These new articles seem to be prompted by the realization that the so-called "immigration reform" passed by the senate will likely fail to get through the Republican controlled House of Representatives.

Among the reasons for Republicans' problems:

   - The "tea party" continues to solidify its hold on the party, and tea baggers favor ideological purity over winning elections.

   - It's becoming known as the party that's against immigrants, women, science, and workers.

   - Conservative talk radio. There's beginning to be a belief that the Rush Limbaughs of the world lost the election for them and are continuing to do damage to the party's name.

A few politicos were named who have switched to the Democratic Party or are leaning that way. One long time politico was quoted as saying he'll switch if immigration reform fails.

Several articles highlighted the continuing rightward shift of the party by naming Republicans who wouldn't be electable in today's party, such as Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, Richard Nixon and Bob Dole.

The self destruction of the conservative movement is some consolation, after 30 years of rising Republicanism in which the New Deal and labor unions were decimated, the political center marched relentlessly rightward, the rich got filthy rich and nearly half of America got poor and it seemed another politician switched from Democrat to Republican every month.

Talk of Republican oblivion would even be a reason to get ones hopes up if the Democratic Party hadn't lost it's soul during those 30 years, if it had anything to offer working people, and if there was even one Democrat left who was an actual Liberal and could preach real Liberal hellfire and brimstone like Ted Kennedy could or Jesse Jackson used to do.

No one expects anything from the president. He's been running around the country trying to do something about his reputation by suddenly citing statistics about the massive wealth and income disparities 30 years of conservatism have produced, precisely the statistics I've been citing for years. But no one has forgot what he did his first four years, so no one bothers to listen to him any more, otherwise they might notice that that's all he's doing, citing statistics, and that in interviews he says he plans to keep cutting the budget and refuses to spend any government money to stimulate the economy. Tax cuts for the wealthy, is what he's proposing.

Despite all this, there is cause for not just consolation, but for optimism and hope, even if no one is talking about it yet. The White majority in America is going away, and will ultimately lose its hold on power. The Democratic Party of the future is being envisioned by people who don't necessarily buy into the American mythology of Plymouth Rock and manifest destiny, and aren't limited to an America where the only thing anybody has the right to consider is an economic system that's at its natural dead end, where the only choice, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, is the rotting, stinking mess that is Capitalism. 



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Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Cuban Revolution At 60

National leaders have been arriving in Havana to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, the beginning of which is seen as the unsuccessful July 26, 1953 attack on the Moncada army barracks in the town of Santiago de Cuba by guerrillas led by Fidel Castro. Captured in the hours after the attack along with many of the other rebels, Castro was tried separately. A lawyer by training, Castro represented himself and as his defense gave his famous "History Will Absolve Me" speech.

Castro and the other rebels were imprisoned for terms of up to 15 years but were later granted amnesty. Castro then went to Mexico, from where he planned the next phase of the revolution. He and 82 comrades returned to Cuba in December, 1956 aboard the now famous cabin cruiser Granma.

Fidel adopted the date July 26 as the name of the movement that ultimately overthrew US backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

Fidel and Nicolas Maduro - Prensa Latina


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who is among the leaders attending the celebration, met with Fidel and presented him with a painting by former President Hugo Chavez that Chavez made while he was in Cuba for treatment of the cancer that ultimately led to his death.


 
Moncada Barracks - Wikipedia


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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Red State, Blue State, Surveillance State; Politicians United Against The People
Irony, Irony Everywhere

In describing how leading Democrats and Republicans lined up to oppose defunding the NSA's phone-tapping of US citizens this week, Glenn Greenwald writing in The Guardian makes the case that Democrats and Republicans agree on far more than they disagree on.

Joining President Obama and the NSA to oppose defunding NSA phone tapping were Michelle Bachmann (R), Nancy Pelosi (D), John Boehner (R), Steny Hoyer (D), Eric Cantor (R), Jan Shakowsky (D) and Peter King (R), which amounts to the House leadership of both parties and the leading fearmongering crusaders against Muslims in the US who all supposedly love terrorism.

Greenwald also points out other instances in which the president has relied on Republican support to push through his policies, and in which he has relied on the Republican "Roberts/Scalia/Thomas" faction in the US Supreme Court to save them.

But an emerging coalition of Liberal Democrats and Libertarian Republicans almost prevailed in Wednesday's vote on phone-tapping, and promises to keep trying to reign in the out of control Obama Administration and its spy agencies. For example, Rush Holt, a House Democrat from New Jersey, has introduced the Surveillance State Repeal Act, which, tellingly not to mention ironically, for its title borrows a phrase -- surveillance state -- heretofore used only by people whose views have been so marginalized that the phrase was only ever read in the kinds of things I read.

And borrowing a cliche I used the other day to describe the shift in congress against lockstep obedience to the Washington political/security-state establishment -- 205 House members voted to cut NSA phone tapping funding -- Greenwald says it represents a "sea change."

The Surveillance State Repeal act would repeal the legal framework used to justify domestic spying, which includes the USA Patriot Act. James Sensenbrenner, the Pennsylvania Republican house member who authored the original USA Patriot Act, during this week's debate said the NSA's phone tapping goes way beyond what the Patriot Act intended. Irony abounds. The president, and senate majority leader Harry Reid, who should be against a surveillance state, lobbied hard against any revisions to the Patriot Act last time it was renewed.

Ron Wyden, a good Democratic senator from Oregon, pointed out that there are two Patriot Acts, the one the public can read and the one the Obama Administration uses, which is based on secret interpretations issued by the secret FISA court.

Recall the recent New York Times article describing the FISA court as a "parallel Supreme Court." Today the Times ran an article on the secret court's history and emerging attempts to reform it. Almost all members of the current FISA court were appointed by Bush-appointed right wing Supreme Court chief justice and Obama ally John Roberts.

Remember that when Obamacare went before the Supreme Court Roberts cast the deciding vote that saved it, and that the program, which at its core is a mandate that forces millions of Americans to buy private health insurance, is in fact a huge gift to private insurance companies who by some accounts have bigger piles of our money than anybody else. Remember how during the drive to get it passed the president put the first of many knives to come in the backs of his progressive base when he wouldn't allow any consideration whatsoever of publicly funded health care, and even took the mainstream appeasing "public option" off the table. Irony, irony everywhere.




(Note: House Democrats Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Lujan, although they have not advertised the fact and have yet to take any kind of public position on government spying on US citizens, were at least on the right side of Wednesday's vote to defund NSA phone tapping. Likewise our Democratic senators, Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, are taking their customary "hide under your desk 'til its all over" approach to domestic spying, although in response to my email urging that he oppose domestic spying I did get an email from Udall that details his history of opposition to the Patriot Act and his co-sponsorship of a senate bill introduced by Wyden and Mark Udall of Colorado that like the House amendment that would have limited NSA phone tapping would require that, unlike now, any data collection be preceded by a "demonstrated link to terrorism or espionage." Tom Udall's email also included statements like -- "I find it deeply disturbing that the government has been engaged in the widespread collection of U.S. citizens' cell phone records and other data. The American people have a constitutional right to privacy and deserve more transparency from their government" -- which by virtue of the fact that he committs them to writing shows that his heart is in the right place on this issue. But it seems these poor folks feel like they need more political cover before they can come out from under their desks and lead on the domestic spying issue, so why not let's go ahead and give it to them.)



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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Lockdown USA

The Alex Jones segment of the media has been reporting for a few years now that the Department of Homeland Security has been building a series of large detention centers in and near US urban areas. One, as I recall, is supposed to be on the grounds of LA International Airport. They are basically just big, open air fenced in areas.

It's easy to dismiss such reports as Libertarian-Right-Gun Nut paranoia, but I've read several reports in regular news media in the past year about US military training exercises in urban areas, where fleets of Blackhawk helicopters fly over rooftops and armored personnel carriers roll through the streets.

An article at the World Socialist Web Site this week summarizes some of these reports. It also talks about a US military urban warfare training center in Indiana, which has a web site that says the fake buildings on it can be made to simulate either foreign or domestic settings.

The WSWS also quotes from a Wall Street Journal story that details the militarization of American police forces. I've mentioned this, and the fact that Homeland Security has been handing out large amounts of military hardware -- helicopters, armored personnel carriers, even tanks -- to local law enforcement agencies, including millions of rounds of hollow point bullets. The Journal article says almost every American burg now has a SWAT team.

I've mentioned recently that Homeland Security's "fushion centers", which were set up after 9-11to enhance communication and cooperation between all the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, have been shown to be spending much of their time not pursuing foreign based terrorist plots but spying on and infiltrating groups of peaceful US citizens -- Occupy, Leftist activist groups and environmental groups.

Recall also that just recently, new rules of engagement were adopted that authorize the use of US military forces on US soil, reversing a policy that had been in place since the US was founded more than 200 years ago that said that the military could never be deployed against the US populace.

All but a small handful of the terrorist plots that have been uncovered and prosecuted in US courts have been what's commonly known as entrapment, where intelligence agents conceive of plots, bomb plots usually, then talk susceptible young people into participating in them, and supply all the money and equipment necessary including fake bombs.  I say this to point out that there is no real terrorist threat, but in the absence of such a threat millions continue to be pumped into intelligence agencies and local police, and the massive spying on US citizens by the NSA and other agencies continues unabated.

Some see all this as a sign of creeping authoritarianism or nascent fascism. I won't rule that out, but a rationale that's easier to swallow is that the powers that be know that our economic situation -- "ours" meaning us, the working class, not theirs -- will continue to deteriorate, and they know what the consequences will be.

Quoting the WSWS article; "Both America’s ruling oligarchy and the Pentagon command recognize that profound social polarization and deepening economic crisis must give rise to social upheavals. They are preparing accordingly."



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A Vote For Freedom

Holbrook AZ -  Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Lujan, New Mexico's Democratic US congress members, both voted in favor of an amendment to the NDAA that would have curtailed the NSA's domestic spying programs, defying their party's leadership and the president, I just found out. The  amendment was defeated, but the drive back to Albuquerque through the rain will be a little less dismal tonight.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Low Boys, Low Men, And Feminists

The car picture is one of those pictures that came up on an image search for something entirely unrelated. It's what used to be called a Low Boy. They would race these on dry lake beds, like the Bonneville Salt Flats. Maybe they had places like that in New Mexico. I don't know. I pass some salt flats on US 60 east of Willard and assume there are others in the state.

Usually they'd mark out a big oval course several miles long with cones and race individually, against a timer. People used to customize cars in this manner as street rods, too. If you do a image search for Low Boy the first many pages are low boy trailers, but eventually, beautiful old hot rods start showing up. The Lowriders being built today may be descendants of the Low Boy. The particular car pictured here has a long history, from the time it was pieced together from spare parts in the 1950s through a couple owners and other painting and customization treatments, all recorded on the web site Kustomrama: Traditional Rod and Custom Encyclopedia. (Full disclosure: When I was in high school I subscribed to a magazine called Rod and Custom.)
Huma Adedin and husband

I came across the picture in a search for pictures of Anthony Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin. On the Stephanie Miller radio program this morning, Stephanie and recurring guest Jacki Schechner were giving it to her pretty good for "standing by her man" the way she's doing and I wanted to put a face to who they were criticizing. Miller and Schechner were saying that everyone, including women and the Democratic Party, needs to stop letting men off the hook who are disrespectful to women.

I think they were representing an example of how our political beliefs are in part an expression of our own particular psychology, our yearnings, our drive for self actualization, basically, that is, our strivings to make up for what we lack, and our attempts to redress the grievances done to our psyches. I think about this in myself once in awhile. It's reflected in the fact that the world I envision and want to see come about is one where I'd end up better off.

If you listen to any proposal anyone makes, it's alway one that ends up with them retaining their perks and privileges. When I recognize this in my thinking I adjust for it, and try to leave myself out of the equation and envision a world that's simply better for the majority or for people who are losing out in this one. This includes the recognition that I, as a resident of the United States, even after 30 years of Neoliberalism enjoy a standard of living far superior to what most people in the world have, and that in a more equal world I'd end up with less, materially.

But then I go to sleep and wake up back in a more self centered world, in which my unconscious offers up to me solutions that benefit me and causes me to pass over possibilities that are not. That's what the unconscious does, and if you listen carefully to your thinking, you can catch it happening once in awhile. Try doing it when you're considering several options. You bring some of them up from your memory into your conscious. You hold them up, turn them around, weigh their various pluses and minuses so you can make your decision. Other possibilities you pass over quickly without doing that to, without lifting them up into your conscious mind and envisioning them. That's your unconscious saying, ' Stay away form that one. Too much discomfort associated with that one.'

But, and this is not going to be a popular thing to say, I see a process like this at work in feminists. The easiest way to put it is this. If you look at what feminists concern themselves with, what the media face of feminism is, it concerns itself with two things, primarily. Equality and empowerment. Those are two different things. Empowerment can result in equality, but it's not equality. Empowerment means acquiring more power. Women have less than men, they want more. It's quite natural to want more, but the desire for power comes from a different place in the psyche that does the desire for equality. One comes from not having enough of something, the other comes from suppressing the desire to have more of something.

I'll qualify what I've just said by saying that there are different motivations among feminists, but when I hear someone, for example, hearken back to days when there were matriarchies or talk about female goddesses, and when I don't hear them qualify their promotion of empowerment by saying 'we only want so much power,' or, 'we only want to get power to the point of having an equal amount as men,' I have wonder whether, on the level of unconscious imagining, they would just replace partiarchy with matriarchy. No one is different than anyone else when it comes to power. When people get it, they want to hold on to it. They want more of it. Examples of this in human history and around the world today are boundless.

But I'd rather see feminists focus on equality. On envisioning a world where no one needs power and where no one has power over anyone else.

Besides, my unconscious tells me women have plenty of power already.






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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Crime And Punishment

I started listening to the classic Fyodor Dostoevsky novel last night. I was sure glad I'd remembered to put it in the iPod. The BBC was nonstop royal baby last night. They are absolutely full of good feeling about this at the BBC.

They spent a lot of time going around the world asking their various correspondents what the reaction to the blessed event is in the different parts of the world. Most of them said the people there really don't, and the disappointment in the hosts' voices was palpable. They couldn't understand. There was a lot of "Hmmmm" and a few "Hmmm, that's a strange reaction."

They so want the world to know the same profound joy they feel, but it doesn't.

Dosteovsky again tonight.


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Monday, July 22, 2013

Live Update!

My oatmeal is beginning to cook down!

Seriously, the number one story on my Yahoo home page is about some broad in England going into labor. It's the same thing on my Google news page, which I don't use much any more except for purposes such as this so as to deny the Google Corporation the ability to compile me and analyze me and sell me for a profit, and let the NSA in on it while they're at it. I wear boxer shorts, OK President Obama? Sometimes I forget to put them on when I come out of the bedroom. I consort with Communists and Socialists and Anarchists, who are a much better class of people than the murderers, thugs and cowards you surround yourself with.

Duchess of Cambridge my ass. And there's a dragon tied to a hitching post in my parking space.


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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Privacy

The right to privacy isn't in the Constitution so we can keep to ourselves. It's so we can get together, plan, plot, organize.  

You can't trade stories about how the boss is treating you or say what the boss is paying you if the boss is standing there. As Garret Keizer writes in the Boston Globe, "Of course, no one gets this better than the person holding the whip. In a situation lacking privacy, there’s no place to escape, surely one reason why totalitarian regimes and abusive households both hold privacy suspect. And when privacy is suspect, it’s only a matter of time before the inmates hold one another suspect."

Keizer quotes Constitutional scholar Kenneth L. Karst who speaks of privacy as protecting our “freedom of intimate association,” our ability to consort with people of our own choosing.

And if we can't get together, share our thoughts, reveal something of ourselves, the veil of mistrust through which we view the people we encounter, the people we don't know, will never be lifted.

In this light, it doesn't matter what the government's motives are for invading our privacy. It doesn't matter whether they sincerely think they're protecting us from terrorism, or want to prevent us from organizing, or whether they have fascist tendencies. All that matters is that they are there, recording where we go, who we talk to, who that person talks to, where they go.

If you think you have nothing to hide, well, you have nothing to hide. You'll never be a problem for anyone.

You can read Keizer's brief essay here.


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 It is not the Constitution that is being subverted by Big Brother so much as the will to resist, without which there never could have been a Constitution in the first place.  Garret Keizer



Government Spying In New Mexico

I've mentioned the government's real-time tracking of commercial truck traffic and how it makes it harder to cheat on your log book. I knew of a couple ways tracking is done, based mainly on truck drivers' stories of tickets they'd received. If you go through a weigh station, you're time stamped. You're also time stamped if you subscribe to the new "Pre-Pass" system, which uses transponders that let you bypass weigh stations if you have a good safety record.

A study released by the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union, reveals another, more intrusive way not just trucks but all vehicles are being tracked all over America, including here in New Mexico, by way of a little known technology that uses small, high-speed cameras mounted on poles, bridges or wherever, and on patrol cars, that can actually read the license plate numbers of thousands of passing vehicles.

There's been a little information come out on these systems, in the news I read anyway. It was first used in larger cities but has quickly spread to cover the whole country. Initially, each law enforcement agency kept its own data base, but under information sharing encouraged by the federal government, those systems have been increasingly connected to the secret "fusion centers" set up after 9-11 to enhance law enforcement information sharing. (At these centers they are supposedly looking for terrorists, but as happened in the Boston area fusion center, they spend so much of their time spying on Occupy members, Leftist activists and environmentalists that they missed the Boston Marathon bombers.)

The ACLU asked its state chapters to submit freedom of information (FOI) requests to their governments about the existence of license plate reader systems and whether or not rules had been adopted for their use. In the absence of such rules, the ACLU says, tracking information can be used for whatever reason anyone who has access to the data wants to use it for, and if a private company is running the system, it can use the data for its own purposes, and can sell it.

In New Mexico the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department and the New Mexico Department of Public Satefy, the state police, released documents. The sheriff's department gave the ACLU documents pertaining to the purchase of three of the cameras with a $23,000 grant from the state of New Mexico. (Whether the grant came from, or through, the state I can't tell. The federal government especially after 9-11 has been doling out massive amounts of money to local police for surveillance systems, armament, armor piercing bullets, tanks, armored personnel carriers, you name it, and that kind of money is often funneled through state governments.)

The sheriff's department paperwork mentions three "infrared cameras," meaning they can take pictures 24 hours a day. The grant paperwork says the sheriff's department wanted the cameras so they could find stolen vehicles, but the sheriff's department supplied no records about rules for the use of the data being collected. If that means no rules are in place, it can be used for anything.

No mention is made in the sheriff's department paperwork about a private contractor, so I don't know if one is involved or not.

In its response letter to the ACLU, the state police said there is no policy in place for use of the data it's collecting with the cameras. The state police, which in New Mexico also run the weigh stations, released much more information in response to the ACLU's request, including instruction manuals from "Intelligent Imaging Systems Inc." for using their system that reveal a lot about the system's capabilities. For example, when a camera reads a license plate number, a search for information on the vehicle can be initiated automatically.

I saw nothing in the paperwork that points to its use as general surveillance tool, but I saw nothing either that says what the information is used for. The instruction manual did included this screen shot showing the results of an automatic search for records, and it looks very similar to the computer screen display I see the state police officer looking at when I pass the booth at the Gallup weigh station every night.


According to the 247 pages of documents released by the state police, the cameras are installed at each NM weigh station, or Port of Entry as they are called here.

I pass two of the cameras every night. The one that generates the computer screen I already mentioned is on the off-ramp leading to the weigh station on I-40 just west of Gallup, i.e., as you're coming into New Mexico. The other is across the expressway from there. It reads the license plate numbers of vehicles leaving New Mexico. I always pass both at night, when you an see the glow of the infrared light that's beamed across the highway.

As the ACLU says, "License plate readers can serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose when they alert police to the location of a car associated with a criminal investigation. But such instances account for a tiny fraction of license plate scans, and too many police departments are storing millions of records about innocent drivers. Moreover, private companies are also using license plate readers and sharing the information they collect with police with little or no oversight or privacy protections. A lack of regulation means that policies governing how long our location data is kept vary widely."

As has come to light, the NSA or any agency doesn't have to read your emails or listen to your phone conversations. If they know things like who you are in contact with and when, where you go and when, where you buy things and when, they already know who you are and can use statistical analysis to compile a very comprehensive profile on you. As one of our spy chiefs let slip in a congressional hearing the other day, they check out not just you, they check out who you are in contact with, and then they check out who those people are in contact with. When you do the math on how many people that adds up to, they are checking out every one of us. That's us, not foreigners. Us.

And recall that Edward Snowden worked for a private contractor, not the NSA, and that private corporations are doing most of the spying on US citizens on behalf of the government.

I didn't know the extent to which the pictures being taken of my every night were used for. I just always made sure I had my seat belt on when I passed them, and had everything cleared off the dash board, and wasn't yawning or scratching myself. Now I'll know to not act be acting like a Communist or an Arab or a Muslim or an environmentalists or an Occupy member.

I should add that as the strong, intelligent, handsome commercial vehicle enforcement officers of this state and every state well know, I always have my seat belt on and always follow all the rules, even when I think no one else knows. God bless America.





Note: There are 11 state police camera sites across the state; two at Lordsburg's weigh stations, two others on I-10 at Lordsburg, two at Gallup, two at San Juan, two at Anthony, and one on NM 392 at mile marker 2, which is where you'd put one if you wanted to catch truckers who are trying to dodge the scales at San Juan.

The locations of New Mexico's state police cameras systems makes it look to me like they are meant to focus on trucking, with the possible exception of all the cameras at Lordsburg in southern New Mexico. In southern New Mexico there are also a series of immigration department inspections sites, where they are looking for illegal immigrants. Near Truth or Consequences on I-25 there's a camera system that's been there awhile, that uses a bright strobe light to take pictures of you inside your car or truck cab.

Cost Vs Benefit: I didn't read all 247 pages released by the state police but scanning them noticed multiple contracts with Intelligent Systems Inc., of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, for equipment, instillation and training, several for more than $1 million each. One was for almost $3 million. There was a purchase order for installing the system at the San Jon Port of Entry for $489,032. At Anthony (the weigh station coming into New Mexico on I-10 from Texas) the purchase order was for $532,825.

If I was reporting on this for a newspaper I'd get someone familiar with these kinds of contracts, and with New Mexican government paperwork, to look it all over before I said what the total cost was, and I'd get the people who approved it to justify the cost.

But I can say that the trucking industry looks at all this as pretty much wasted money. Money spent to solve a problem that doesn't really exist, because per mile driven, truck drivers have far fewer accidents than the motoring public generally.

Motor Carrier Enforcement, as it's called, the part of law enforcement that deals with trucking, in an era of government downsizing has become a growth area in government. Across the country you see lots of new, high tech, very big weigh stations, complexes many of them, with multi-bay inspection garages that have lots of fancy new equipment in them and high rise observation towers that look like airport control towers, all built in the past 10 years.

At the federal level they been busy dreaming up a series of new log book regulations that make no sense, which are annoying and time consuming to comply with, some of which have actually made trucking less safe in my view.

Part of this growth in trucking law enforcement has been driven by a couple of public safety organizations that agitate for stricter control of trucking, which include people who have lost loved ones in accidents involving semi trucks. These groups are a lot like the Mothers Against Drunk Driving outfit, which, and not to minimize peoples' personal losses, but which are a bunch of vindictive people with nothing better to do than to publicly glory in their suffering and who like to nourish their suffering by constantly talking about their never ending suffering, and who have found somebody to pay for their suffering who doesn't have any power. Alcoholics, people who suffer from the disease of alcoholism, bear the brunt of Mothers Against Drunk Driving's never ending vindictiveness.

And part of it is driven by the fact that there's nothing but a little token resistance to any of it from the trucking industry. The Teamsters Union, which now represents only a small fraction of truck drivers, says nothing. Individual truckers sometimes talk about organizing to seek better pay or to fight the increasing regulations, but the pool of drivers has always been dominated by drivers from the South, and now there's the nationwide dominance of conservative talk radio, and any organizing talk is always stopped short by someone who bad mouths unions.

Trucking company owners are organized but are concerned only as it affects productivity, that is, how much money they can make off each truck driver.







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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Trucking Industry Press


Want proof that trucks don't pollute? Here it is.





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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Labor Dispute



Leaving the warehouse this morning I noticed this on Gibson between Yale and I-25 so stopped to see what the dispute was about and lend my support. One of the people dug down into his backpack and pulled out a flyer from "Carpenters Local 1505" that explained that the contractor Buffalo Wings hired to build their new store, Peyton Enterprises Inc., isn't paying union scale wages or benefits, and to call the union for more details.

On further questioning it turned out the people holding up the sign were temps hired by the union to hold up the sign.

The number to call is 505-256-3396.


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Monday, July 15, 2013

Plain As Day





There it is in black and white. As the percentage of workers in unions has gone down so has our share of the pie. That's all of our share, because unions kept wages up for everyone. If there were good union jobs available, non union employers had to come pretty close to matching them in wages and benefits just to get people to work for them.

Unless you want to pass on a country to the next generation where workers are powerless and make third world wages, if you're not agitating to do something about things like this you're wasting your time.



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Saturday, July 13, 2013

"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."

Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution




The Fourth Amendment

I, personally, hope Edward Snowden gets away, because I've been following from beginning to end what our government has done to Bradley Manning, during his military show trial that's about to conclude and all the while it was trying to break him and make him give evidence against Wikileaks' Julian Assange, how it held him incommunicado for months, how it made him sit on his bunk and stare straight ahead all those months, how for all those months it made him come out of his cell in the nude and stand at attention whenever it wanted him to. I've seen what our government has done to Thomas Drake, Stephen Kim, and the rest of the record number of whistleblowers whose lives have been ruined as they were pursued like wild game by the Obama Administration while it tries to satisfy its neurotic need for secrecy.

The important thing, however, is what Snowden exposed, and the US government and its media lapdogs have for the most part succeeded in diverting attention away that, from our government's massive and illegal spying programs, and onto the person who happened to blow the whistle on it.

Lost also on most people is the significance of this week's revelations about the secret FISA court, which the New York Times shows to be acting -- in the New Yorks Times' words -- like a "parallel Supreme Court," but one that works in the dark, that's been establishing legal precedent for any and all spying the governments wants to do, and will keep on giving legal gloss to whatever violation of our rights and privacy the government feels like engaging in according to whatever whim strikes it or whatever technological advance comes along that allows it.

Most members of congress have lined up to assert that they are overseeing the ones doing the spying. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has said that's not true, that when the programs were initiated during the Bush Administration, congress explicitly told the administration they didn't want to be informed because that would guarantee word about the spying leaked out.

But if what congress says is true, that they are overseeing all this, that means they have no problem with a government spying on its citizens, or on its allies, or on its allies' citizens. (This includes New Mexico's federal legislators, who with their silence have voiced their assent to everything.)

More likely is that the almost daily revelations of what the intelligence agencies are doing is as much a surprise to congress as to anyone else, and that congress will be just as surprised when more revelations come forth, as promised, that promise to be even more breathtaking.

I've been copying the text of the Fourth Amendment above my blog posts, in hopes that someone will read it and understand what it means. That it was a reaction against a government that had no respect whatsoever for the right to privacy of its subjects. That it was an attempt to make make sure that, as a US citizen, you'd be guaranteed that government agents could never break into your house in the middle of the night, go through everything you owned, take what they wanted, and leave.

That like other parts of the US Constitution that guarantee personal rights, it was an acceptance of the principal that yea, OK, if we give people these rights that means a few bad guys will get away, but the risk is worth what you gain when you restrict a government's power over you.

Ask a Palestinian what it's like live without any rights. Better yet, ask one of the US officers in Iraq, whose phone calls to their wives and fiancées were eavesdropped on by NSA agents, who, when they heard "juicy" conversations, alerted everyone else so they could listen, too.

Then ask a Palestinian what it's like to have soldiers beat down your door in the middle of the night, order the whole family outside in their night clothes and make them stand in the winter cold for a few hours while young Israeli soldiers, recruits acting like what they basically are, a gang of young punks barely out of high school, rummage through your personal belongings, empty all you drawers on the floor, topple all all your cabinets, break all your glasses and dishes, tear the family pictures off the walls, then mark on the walls with their excrement and leave.

Think about the abuses of power you read about every day in the paper -- someone taking some off the top, someone getting some on the side, cops beating the crap out of someone who comitted the crime of pissing one of them off.

Whoever told us what our government is doing, whatever happens to him, whether he violates somebody's notion of honor, none of it matters. It's a side show. What matters is what we know governments have done, what we know governments are still doing, what we should damn well know the frail, sometimes malevolent, often fallible, utterly corruptible human beings who make up ours will surely do if they're given license to get away with it.



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"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."

Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution












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Friday, July 12, 2013

"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."

Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution





There are leaders...



And people who know how to get elected.




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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"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."

Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution





One Nation Under Cod

The headline over the posting said "20 more" misspelled signs spotted at tea bagger rallies.

















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Monday, July 8, 2013

Waiting For Godot

If you troll the official web sites and Facebook pages of New Mexico's Democratic delegation to Washington you'll see nothing about massive government wiretapping of US citizens, nothing about gutting the Voting Rights Act or the immediate thereafter moves by six or seven Republican state legislatures to limit voting. All you see is pablum calculated not to offend any potential campaign donors or anyone who might ever possibly vote for them.

I've been waiting for months for one of them to stand up and oppose the president's plans to cut Social Security and Medicare, or come out against him using drones to assassinate people who haven't been charged with anything or seen a lawyer or had a trial, or point out that a lot of those drone strikes are murdering civilians, hundreds of them so far.

I don't know why no one from the media in New Mexico has gotten any of them on the phone and made them go on the recored about anything.


While we're waiting, here's some things I saw on Facebook.




























































Saturday, July 6, 2013

Anonymous Internet

With a simple download you can surf the web without leaving a trace, according to developers of the TOR Project. 

I first heard about TOR on Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now program when Amy Goodman interviewed one of its developers, Jacob Applebaum, a computer guy involved in internet freedom activism who had been repeatedly stopped at airports and searched and had his computers confiscated and searched. I've seen TOR mentioned several more times now on sites that concern themselves with internet freedom.

TOR works by relaying your internet traffic through a number of different servers. It's already being used by corporations and the military, the TOR web site says.

When you send or receive information over the internet, the data is two things, the data itself (an email, a sound file, etc.) which is easily encrypted (some computers and browsers come with this capability) and the "header," or routing information, which is not encrypted. The header is what tells the web servers where you want to go on the internet (the web address) and where the computer you reach should send information back to, and includes a time stamp and the size of what's being sent.

It's this unencrypted data that the people who are watching you focus on, and allows them to track and profile you. The routing info contains your unique web address, of course, and by compiling information on where you send from, who you send to, when, the size of the message, etc., they can easily pinpoint your interests, your behavior patterns, who you are, even what you're sending, by using sophisticated mathematical analysis that analyzes not just you but every person or site you interact with. This routing info is also what corporations use to target you with ads. Google, Facebook, and many others collect this information and sell it, and as we have learned lately, willingly hand it over to spy agencies.

This kind of tracking is what TOR protects you from. By sending your internet traffic through relay points it makes it almost impossible to track you. They say "almost" because there are few TOR users at this point, but as its use increases the chances of being tracked will be virtually nil, they say.

You can use TOR with Windows or Mac, and with any browser, although the TOR download comes with its own browser, which is actually a Firefox browser with some added features, such as one that alerts you if you are at a web site that doesn't facilitate encryption.

I recall Appelbaum, in his Democracy Now interview, urging internet users to always use https:// when typing in a web address instead of www or http. In looking over the Tor web site I found out why. Https:// signals the web site you're visiting to use encryption if it has the capability. The TOR browser automatically takes this step for you and will warn you if the web site doesn't comply.

I can tell you from trying TOR that my internet speed is perhaps 20 percent slower, no doubt because of all the relaying. Otherwise everything is the same, and the TOR browser is fine with me since I already used Firefox. I've logged into Facebook and Yahoo and both made me go through the added steps of proving my identity before I signed in. Then they both sent me those automatically generated emails making sure it was OK that my account had been logged into from "an unidentified device" and "an unrecognized device," from Sweden and from Stockholm.

The browser also comes with its own search engine, so your searches won't be recorded and kept on file by Google or whoever.


And guess what? When I uploaded the screen shot I used here, which I took from the TOR homepage, before my computer actually uploaded the image to Blogger (Google) I got a warning from TOR saying that the web site the image was being uploaded to was trying to collect information from my computer along with the photo, via a "canvas," which I never heard of. It gave me the option of having them send them a blank canvas. I said sure! Be my guest.

I really like TOR.


Update II: I was just trying to reply to a comment on this web log and had trouble keeping signed in to the blog long enough. It keeps bringing up blogger.bubbmuntzer.ce and blogger.bubbamuntzer.se, which I assume are Google sites in other countries. It's that routing thing, I suppose.

Once I am past the main page and into where you fiddle around with your settings and see your stats and your list of posts, it's all normal. It's just that main, published page that's different.

As I surf around the web, and come upon different situations for the first time, occasionally it will give me a message telling me what is being done with my info and asking me if I want it to prevent it, and I have been clicking on yes. This happened when I was searching with it's search engine, StartPage.

Startpage also allows you to search for images using Google, but anonymously. It submits the request to Google for you, gets to results from Google and forwards them to you, all automatically. This slows things down some more itself.

I'm not sure now how much it actually slows down normal web surfing. The 20 percent I mentioned above may have been just a slowing down of my cable, because it's pretty quick right now for regular surfing. I live in a big apartment complex, where many peoples' feeds come off junction boxes located around the complex, and it can be a little slow itself sometimes.

Update III: It just gave me http://bubbamuntzer.blogspot.dk/. Strange.





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God And Drugs

A picture posted on a Facebook site called Sexy Atheists and some of the comments people left.



  • Good trade.
     
  • Anyone else notice how that bus is about to tip over?
     
  • Meh, when god comes into our schools, thinking gets kicked out the window...the second floor window.
     
  • Sounds like a good deal.
     
  • How about that torpedo bra?
     
  • it happened to me!!!
     
  • Wait, weren't drugs already in schools? I thought religion was an opiate.
     
  • Sounds like a deal
     
  • And now everyone is smiling and happy about school! Yay drugs!
     
    Jesus sold the best weed!
     
  • These kids obviously didn't get the memo: drugs make you see god.
     
  • Or as I call it, a win-win
     
  • That's all it takes to keep god away? I guess I better start taking drugs then.
     
  • Thank you, drugs. They're much simpler to phase out than religious bullshit.
     
  • god isn't everywhere?
     
  • God actually leaves when there's a problem? What a dick.
     
     
     
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