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Member since: Tue Jul 10, 2012, 05:40 AM
Number of posts: 642

About Me

I write a blog of dark humor - Goblinbooks.com

Journal Archives

What Conservative Sites Will You Hate-Read On DOMA?

If you're like me, this DOMA victory will not be complete until you've surfed over to some rightwing blog or website and witnessed a conservative absolutely losing his mind.

My personal fav is RedState. The head guy there has been writing stuff that warns of some kind of dystopian crackdown on Christian America as a result of the gay rights movement. He sounds apocalyptic in the truest sense of the word - by which I mean he actually uses the same rhetoric as John of Patmos in predicting a tribulation and excoriating progressive Christians for allowing the world to seduce them into being reasonable. I plan to write about it for my blog, Goblinbooks.

So... own that schadenfreude! Where will you go today, and why will it be so dang entertaining?

"We Need To Be The Country We Were Right After 9/11" By James Clapper

We need to remember how we were, people. We need to bring this nation back to that place of unity and resolve we shared in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. During those dark days Americans came together to fight a common enemy. And in that spirit, you decided to let everyone in the government do whatever we wanted and also totally let it slide that we'd fucked up royally.

Those were sweet times.

I mean, a major reason we created these massive intelligence agencies was to prevent a second Pearl Harbor. And here we were, spending billions, vacuuming up phone traffic all over the world with the Echelon Program. But the second Pearl Harbor happened anyway. We all sat at our little monitoring stations watching the towers go down, while Dick Cheney hid in a bunker. Only one of the attacks al-Qaeda launched that day failed to hit its target - and that was because of some ordinary civilians, not anything we did.

The entire military and intelligence community failed miserably at what was supposed to be our only job. And your response was swift:

"Here's a huge bag of money," you said. "Go nuts."

Man, that was nice. No one got fired or demoted. Everyone just received a computer upgrade and some time for all our pet projects. It's like you found one of your employees cooking up crystal meth at his work station, and instead of calling the police you gave him the company credit card for "research" he suddenly decided to tackle.


Will The US Be Able To Extradite James Clapper From Northern Virginia?

As this NSA surveillance scandal unfolds, people are following Edward Snowden's apparent attempts to evade extradition. However, I think we're losing sight of the other fugitive from justice - James Clapper. After committing the criminal offense of lying to Congress back in March, Clapper vanished into the federally administered tribal areas around Washington, DC. He is thought to be somewhere near McLean, Virginia, and continuing his role as Director of National Intelligence. Will he be caught and brought to justice?

Now legally, it seems like it should be a more straightforward matter for American authorities to seize Clapper. Unlike Ecuador, where Snowden is seeking asylum, Northern Virginia is technically a part of the United States. The same is true of other areas in and around the "Beltway zone" where Clapper could be hiding. These areas have US administrators at the federal and state level - they even use our currency. In fact, since 9/11 American funding has absolutely flooded the local economy there in an effort to buy us influence.

But as with many other US allies, we're not always sure of their loyalties. These are intensely secretive people. Simply put, we don't trust each other. They don't share our values: They don't believe in transparency or accountable governments. It's never been part of their culture, and they resent our attempts to impose our system on them. And the fact that we give them so much money creates a strange cognitive dissonance that makes these people really hard to communicate with. Here you'll find someone whose entire lifestyle is based on getting money from the US Treasury, and he will nonetheless refers to himself, seriously, as "a small-government conservative."

What complicates matters is that, because of the idiosyncratic way they use language, they don't think James Clapper actually lied. One of their local media sites, ABC News, recently posted this article, and I think the title alone tells us what we're dealing with: "Did Intel Dir. James Clapper Lie To Congress? It's Complicated." The basic point of the article is that Clapper found himself faced with a simple question that required him to lie, but he really, really wanted to answer another, more complicated question that would have allowed him to evade the truth without actually lying.
"How is that not lying?" you're asking. "How does that complicate things?" Believe me, when you've lived in this place long enough, you'll get it.


I Don't Ever Want To Stop Making GIFs Of Glenn Beck

I was put on this earth to do a few things: To love my wife and children; To laugh hard at the ridiculously evil; And to make delicious GIFs of Glenn Beck.

I couldn't do it of course, without the tireless work of Right Wing Watch. And I couldn't do it without Glenn himself, a true artist who works almost exclusively in a medium of his own devising - some strange blend of Hallmark Special schmaltz and apocalyptic paranoia that is so utterly American it makes me feel like I'm being waterboarded in a megachurch.

Look at the latest sample of the man's oeuvre. The majestic sweep of the arms like the wings of some delicate bird from the Tropic of Crazy. And that last moment at the end - the teensiest little hip thrust that announces "I hear voices, and I dress like TJ Maxx threw up, but in my world of scared older white people, I radiate the sexual power of a rock god ." You might spend time on the internet watching the crack-smoking mayor or the bigoted guy in an Elmo suit.

But Glenn Beck will not be ignored.

READ MY BLOG, for links and other crazy things: www.goblinbooks.com

Can We Just Pretend We Already Invaded Syria?

Right now Syria is a human rights disaster. The country is filled with the most appalling violence, which is spilling over its borders and destabilizing the region. The Syrian government is brutal, corrupt, embattled, and it's filled with people who hate Americans. A patchwork of jihadist groups have taken advantage of the chaos to do terrible things to their fellow citizens... and obtain the kind of training which would make them a threat to the entire world.

So basically, it already looks exactly like it would after a US attempt at nation-building.

Our work's been done for us, guys! Can we just skip to the part where we go home?

No one's saying the president can't lie to Congress about it, or we can't have politicians acting feckless and ignorant. Look, POTUS can give a few speeches about freedom, and maybe get a resolution passed on cruddy intelligence. We'll do all of that, if you people want. We could even have some subcommittee meetings, and get everyone to yell at each other. Really - I mean it. Go nuts.

You want a parade for the thing? You want a couple movies, maybe give a general some job as a CNN analyst? I am totally down with all of that.

Let's do everything - I mean, everything - to pretend we absolutely shipped thousands of our finest, bravest 20 year-olds into some country we know nothing about and got them killed for reasons no honest person will be able to explain in a year. But the only part I want to leave out is the part where we end all their lives. Can we just please, for once in this stupid nation's history, leave that part out?


"The NSA Has Stopped Or Covered Up Countless Terrorist Attacks" By James Clapper

In a free country, debate about our policies is crucial. We understand that in the US intelligence community. The American public have the right to question their government and demand answers. But as we discuss NSA surveillance programs, I want to make one thing perfectly clear to you: These efforts are necessary to our security, and they are working. They're the main reason the NSA has managed to stop or cover up countless terrorist attacks in the years since 9/11.

Other law enforcement techniques have played a role, sure. I'm not saying there's no way we would have stopped the second New York subway attack without gathering phone data. Or even have been able to suppress the existence of the first one without Prism. We're pretty determined. But I am telling you it would be difficult. The odds would be greater.

Do you want that? Do you really want to make it more likely that an al-Qaeda operative could successfully kill thousands of people without us stopping him or at least relocating all the witnesses to a facility in Utah? It seems right to stand up for freedom, but you need to think about the real-world choices here. Lives, and also professional reputations, are at stake.
These groups are not going to just go away. They're right here, planning to strike. Especially since last year's invasion of Syria (You'll hear more about it soon, but the short version is that things got out of hand, and now some other groups in that part of the world are feeling grumpy about the US. They particularly dislike port cities -- go figure.)

We have a job to prevent Americans from being injured, killed, or panicked with information by our enemies around the world. We can't do this without every citizen pitching in.

In some cases doing your part is as simple as closing your eyes.


Help Is Not Coming

The icy rain spots the sill, where a single upper window sits open in the station. A sparrow flies in out of the night. Startled by the warmth and light, he flies to the other side, lined with other windows, all of them closed.

Travelers below come from their trains. They don’t hear the desperate wet thing, sick with cold, scratching at the glass. By morning it’s dead, and B.D. the janitor climbs his ladder and collects it in a pan.
He idly spots the single vertical crack in the window. Facing the center of the pane, he can see how it lines up almost exactly with the tree across the street, the gas station two blocks further, and a brick tower far away.

He wipes the glass clean, and he doesn’t have reason to go back. Three weeks after, following another storm, he doesn’t see the spot where the lightning burned the tree down to a stump. He doesn’t think of the story in the paper later that year about how the gas station has been razed after the terrible accident. And as the first year passes he barely notices the dim roar one morning. A controlled implosion brings down that abandoned apartment where someone shouldn’t have played in the stairwell.

No one sees the crack, which now marks a clear line to the bay -- the gray water beneath the empty sky.


Edward Snowden Is Crazy, They Say

Or he's a traitor. A narcissist, maybe. He might be unbalanced, a political extremist, a misanthrope. And now he's about to help the Chinese government.

No matter what the truth, it's obvious we shouldn't believe what he says. Maybe we're even at war with guys like him.

Here's my problem with this line of argument: Only a few weeks ago Edward Snowden was a trusted intelligence professional with years of experience. And the people in the government and media who are maligning him now? Back then - back in that ancient, innocent world of mid-May, 2013 - these people wanted me to let Snowden have access to my private data so he could help fight al-Qaeda.

Have I got all this right? Okay, two questions...


Intelligence Chief James Clapper Answers A Craigslist Missed Connection

Dear Jordan, the financial lawyer who met the redhead reading House of Leaves on the C near Washington Square:

You need to let it go. The data behind this judgment is pretty solid. Let me walk you through it.

Look, the number "Julie" gave you last Tuesday at approximately 8:30 am EST was off by one digit. By itself this would not be conclusive. It happens, right? But then, later in the day, you got a hunch and called several permutations of the number. That was smart, Jordan. Very smart. You reached a few disconnected lines, a gas station, a hospital, and the voicemail of a "Steve" (He's a nice guy, actually. The kind who seems like a bro at first, but he's really not. And you have some interests in common! But let's return...) Anyway, that last number you called was in fact Julie's. Your feeling that her machine's message sounded familiar was confirmed by the best voice matching technology in the world. But here's the problem: She was home, man.

I know Julie said she was busy lately. And I know you thought she might have been in the bathroom or sleeping or something. But our photographic analysis of the building's architectural footprint combined with thermal and acoustic imaging indicates conclusively that when you called Julie was next to the phone listening to your message. She was reclining on the couch watching a Discovery Channel show about exotic pets which attack their owners, and she deleted you within three seconds of your hang-up. Also, she'd seen this episode before. Ouch.

Don't take it personally, Jordan. I know you've been on three first dates within the past month with no follow-through - obviously that can really damage a guy's confidence. But you'll find someone. Steve has a great sister, and she's also into rafting. Did you know that?

The fact is Julie was not being completely honest, when she said she'd "just gotten out of a complicated thing."...


What Will Happen When A President Uses The NSA To Get Reelected?

An article in the New York Times about how Barack Obama won the 2012 election through a revolution in collecting data about voters includes this quote:

With so much more time to prepare, Mr. Obama’s polling and “analytics” department collected so much information about the electorate that it knew far more about which sorts of voters were going to turn out — and where — than the Romney campaign and most public pollsters.

A piece on CNN said something similar:
But from the beginning, campaign manager Jim Messina had promised a totally different, metric-driven kind of campaign in which politics was the goal but political instincts might not be the means.

"We are going to measure every single thing in this campaign," he said after taking the job. He hired an analytics department five times as large as that of the 2008 operation...

Let's (sort of) switch subjects. An article in Popular Mechanics described how the data collected by the NSA can be used:

There are two basic ways to approach the data. First is a supervised learning approach, where you start with a target variable you are trying to predict for (in this case, you could isolate for a high-risk versus non-high-risk communication) and then separate the data by that variable. The second method, which is more useful for this type of request, is unsupervised learning, in which there's no target variable. You're simply searching for interesting patterns of behavior that occur in unexpected ways. This type of analysis can be used to create social networks of people of interest.

Now, back to the Times piece:

Culling never-before-used data about viewing habits, and combining it with more personal information about the voters the campaign was trying to reach and persuade than was ever before available, the system allowed Mr. Obama’s team to direct advertising with a previously unheard-of level of efficiency, strategists from both sides agree.

Read The Rest (wi/links)
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