To me, clowns aren’t funny. In fact, they’re kind of scary

Greatest Show on Earth poster

The National Surveillance World 

Two NGOs, Privacy International, a UK privacy group, and the U.S.-based Electronic Privacy Information Center have compiled a system for measuring surveillance societies, rating various nations for their civil liberties records. In general they find, unsurprisingly, that nations recently liberated from Communism (excluding Russia) are those which most zealously guard civil liberties and attempt to contain surveillance of their populace. The U.S. had a strong tradition for protecting its citizenry from surveillance, which collapsed under George W. Bush.

The argument is supposedly that doing away with even the mildest checks on government surveillance such as FISA and  FISA court reviews will make the U.S. an ultimately a better place to live. Yet even a cursory survey of those nations that have done away with such checks on intrusive government surveillance were not and are not such great places to live.

Pakistan’s flawed and feudal princessIt’s wrong for the West simply to mourn Benazir Bhutto as a martyred democrat, says this acclaimed south Asia expert. Her legacy is far murkier and more complex

We’re all supposed to buy the shrill and oft repeated narrative that 2007 was the year Bush, and his supporters penning diatribes from Mom’s basement being won something somewhere and are thus vindicated for lying us into a war that seems to have no end in sight. For those interested in reality more then twisted fairy tales, Bloody year in Iraq ends with hopes of growing calm

 WASHINGTON — Two statistics sum up the last year in Iraq: 2007 will end as the deadliest for American troops since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, with more than 900 dead. At the same time, December — with just 16 hostile-fire deaths as of Friday — very likely will be the month with the second fewest American deaths of the war so far.

Those numbers bookend a year in which violence against U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians began a dramatic, breathtaking decline after years of steady increases.

The decline in violence was across the board. The number of Iraqi civilians killed in Baghdad from bombings and explosions in December was half the number that were killed last January; the number of bodies found in the capital’s streets was down by nearly 75 percent compared with the beginning of 2007.

The year still had its spectacular violence. In August, the worst bombings of the war struck two villages in northern Iraq, claiming more than 300 lives. Three car bombs in Amarah, in southern Iraq, killed 42 people earlier this month. The American death toll after nearly five years of war stands at 3,900.

Half a nightmare is still a nightmare.

Birds in cages across America give thanks everyday for the sanitary refinements offered by the New York Post since they fail to serve their purpose as actual reporters of the news, Criminal Probe Opened Over CIA Tapes 

Mukasey named Durham the acting U.S. attorney on the case, a designation the Justice Department frequently makes when top prosecutors take themselves off a case. He will not serve as a special prosecutor like Patrick Fitzgerald, who operated autonomously while investigating the 2003 leak of a CIA operative’s identity.

“The Justice Department went out and got somebody with complete independence and integrity,” said former Connecticut U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy, who worked with Durham. “No politics whatsoever. It’s going to be completely by the book and he’s going to let the chips fall where they may.” (emphasis mine)

But wait, Mukasey Statement on CIA Tape Probe

What this means, as Marty Lederman puts it, is that Durham is neither an “outside,” nor “special,” nor “independent” prosecutor. “Durham will still report to the Deputy Attorney General, who in turn reports to Judge Mukasey.”

Durham is career government prosecutor, but since his action are not automous in the way Fitzgerald’s were in the Libby case MuKasey can pull in the leash anytime he wants.

In future editions of Pictionary there will be photos of Republicans beside the word hypocrite. I think we all get that by now, but the stream of hypocrisy is never ending, A Vast Right-Wing Hypocrisy

Richard Mellon Scaife, billionaire bankroller of conservative crusades, spent heavily to expose Bill Clinton’s “Troopergate” misbehavior. Now Scaife’s divorce from his second wife, Ritchie, is providing another unsavory saga—adultery! addiction! assault! dognapping!?!—as both parties let loose to V.F.

“To me, clowns aren’t funny. In fact, they’re kind of scary. I’ve wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus, and a clown killed my dad.” ~ Jack Handy