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Fools, Fraud, & Fatalism

Friday, Jul. 14, 2006 2:35 AM

As one might expect in defending America, someone's keeping a list of important assets. That would be the Department of Homeland Security's National Asset Database. But what exactly qualifies as an asset seems to be up for discussion, as the list of potential targets has been found to include Old MacDonald's Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, a flea market, and the ominous, 'beach at end of a street.'

Consequently, the list ��used to divide federal funding across the fifty states, pegs Indiana as the most target-rich place in America. With 8,591 entries in the National Asset Database, it's of more value to terrorists than New York or California � in fact, you'd have to combine both states to amass more targets.

The Inspector General also found that many major business and finance operations, as well as national telecommunication hubs, were left off the list.

And the listing of some sites is a puzzlement to even their owners.

"We are nothing but a bunch of Amish buggies and tractors," said Brian Lehman, the owner of the aforementioned popcorn factory. "I am out in the middle of nowhere."

I think we need a new national initiative, the Security vs. Terrorists Using Public-Intended Domestic Beaches Adjacent to Streets and Threatening America's Recreational Destinations Statewide, or STUPID BASTARDS for short.

Speaking of which, Congress is going for the okie-doke, as they say in carnival talk, and submitting a bill that could potentially absolve President Bush of any wrongdoing for his repeated authorization of surveillance outside the charter of FISA and the USA-PATRIOT Act.

The bill also, according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, "... recognizes the president's constitutional authority."


This isn't flexibility in the face of new technology and unconventional enemies; it's an end run around checks and balances and Congressional oversight. (The bill, in fact, does not require future office-holders to submit their programs for judicial review.)

So we have a bill that does not require the president to cooperate, gives him a free pass on his illegal activities, and sets a precedent that will kick Congress in the teeth faster than an ornery mule getting a booster shot in its rump.

To say nothing of the hoofprints on their backs after Bush Co. finishes trampling on the Constitution.

A group called Voter Action has filed suits in four states, seeking to prohibit electronic voting, citing security concerns.

Leave it to Diebold's David Bear to chip in with another astounding bit of wisdom. Studies showing computerized systems are vulnerable to hackers are "what-if scenarios."

Unfortunately, it's been proven by security experts that the what-if is entirely possible. It's Diebold that refuses to accept that their system is gravely flawed.

The House has renewed the Voting Rights Act, with only 33 members voting against, most of whom were Southern Republicans. The bill now moves to the Senate.

A brief word about the Israel-Lebanon conflict.

I personally think we've lost the credibility that could help us achieve a diplomatic solution. Condoleezza Rice's slam-the-door methods and platitudes aren't going to work. The President delivered one of his usual soundbites that pretty much tells you he doesn't know what to think until Dick Cheney spoon-feeds it to him.

We've bad-mouthed Syria constantly. We insisted on free and fair elections for Palestine, but when they chose leaders from Hamas instead of our favorites, we denounced them as terrorists and levied economic sanctions.

They have no reason to listen to us.

And Israel has no reason to show forbearance with our current policy of pre-emption. Everyone wants to fight; no one wants to talk, or more importantly, listen.

What rough beast slouches towards Jerusalem to be born, indeed.

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