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Monthly Archives: May 2009

Torture and the greater good

In my last post, I discussed the concept (or, more properly, the anti-concept) of so-called "American Exceptionalism." An anti-concept (according to the coiner of the term, Ayn Rand) is a phrase that is meant to muddy and confuse, rather than enlighten and clarify, an issue.

We need to raise taxes

Yes, I really mean that those of us who have an income above subsistence level need to up the ante.  Most state governments, most notably my state of California, are facing record defecits and as a consequence cutting off assistance to those who need it most.  We do so because despite the myths, there is not nearly the "fat" in government conservatives so often bleat about.  The alternatives are cut aid to the poor and infirm or raise taxes.  The latter is the only moral route.

Just an interesting day

Two things happened today that caused me some political thought. Pardon me while I create an actual blog entry. First, I read an item on the San Francisco Chronicle about the state park closings due to their budget crisis. (Yes, I read many news sources from far right to far left and lots in between.) All of the comments were arguments about the various failings of their government with discussion of whether it was the Republicans' or Democrats' faults. Nobody suggested that there might be a non-governmental solution.

The GOP’s Sotomayor quandry

Republicans are divided over how aggressively to go after federal judge Sonia Sotomayor, a family feud about the tone of the coming debate over confirming the Supreme Court's first Hispanic.

A growing chorus of GOP lawmakers and conservative strategists are voicing concern over the strident rhetoric some prominent Republicans have used to describe Sotomayor, and some are denouncing right-wing groups for swiftly launching negative advertisements against her.

New corruption scandal on Capitol Hill

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed a Democratic congressman in a corruption probe, the first concrete indication that a long-simmering Justice Department investigation of a top lobbying firm also has the potential to seriously damage congressional careers.

On Friday, Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., acknowledged the grand jury has demanded documents from his office, some employees and his campaign committees.

Employees rip off child abuse non-profit

A national nonprofit that helps victims of child sexual abuse across the country was ripped off in a scam orchestrated by three of its own employees, according to federal court documents.

Prosecutors say the Washington-based National Children's Alliance lost more than $50,000 in a payroll scheme run by the organization's former chief financial officer and two of his subordinates.

As described in court documents, each person's take in the scheme appears based on their position in the organization.

Torture photos? What torture photos?

A retired US Army general has denied reports that he has seen the pictures of prisoner abuse in Iraq that President Barack Obama is fighting to keep secret.

Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Thursday that retired Army Major General Antonio Taguba, the lead investigator into Abu Ghraib abuse, had seen images Obama wanted suppressed, and supported the president's decision to fight their release.

The paper quoted Taguba as saying, "These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency."

Psst! Anyone seen that missing hard drive?

The National Archives is offering a $50,000 reward for recovery of a missing computer drive containing sensitive Clinton administration data.

The Western Digital My Book external hard drive was discovered missing about March 24 from an Archives processing room in College Park, Md. The Archives said Friday that its inspector general and the Secret Service have not uncovered any evidence of theft or targeting of the device for its data.

Obama confirms plan for cyberspace czar

President Barack Obama said he will name a White House-level czar to coordinate government efforts to fight an epidemic of cybercrime, which even touched his presidential campaign.

"Cyberspace is real and so are the risks that come with it," said Obama in remarks Friday at the White House in which he discussed threats to the nation's digital infrastructure from organized crime, industrial spies and international espionage.

Obama, Pentagon plan cyberspace war command

The Pentagon plans to create a new military command for cyberspace, stepping up preparations by the armed forces to conduct both offensive and defensive computer warfare, the New York Times said on Friday.

The military command will complement a civilian effort President Barack Obama plans to announce on Friday that will overhaul the way the United States safeguards its computer networks, the newspaper said on its website.