The Watering Hole, Thursday, November 29th, 2012: By the Numbers

For today’s post, here’s a mix of articles with one very minor common theme: they’re all numbered lists.

First, from Foreign Policy magazine, a list of “The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers”, which includes Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma (recently visited by President Obama), Bill and Hilary Clinton, Bill and Melinda Gates, Malala Yousafzai, and (coming in at Number 7) President Barack Obama. As David Rothkopf says in a companion article on FP (titled “The Opposite of Thinking”):

“Once again, Foreign Policy has with characteristic humility compiled its list of leading Global Thinkers. How we could possibly identify the top 100 thinkers on a planet of 7 billion people when we’ve never met a fairly considerable number of those people is not something we dwell on when discussing our methodology. Suffice it to say, the list is impressionistic. (OK, it’s more than a little ridiculous. But this is a tradition, so let’s just keep that between us, shall we?)”

On a more aesthetic theme, from The Weather Channel, here’s “The World’s 20 Most Amazing Bridges”, several of which are located in the United States.

And, just for fun, visit cracked.com for “14 Photographs That Shatter Your Image of Famous People.” Try not to get lost at cracked.com, it’s an addictive site.

Enjoy!

This is our Open Thread. What’s up?

The Watering Hole, Saturday September 15, 2012 – Greater Love Hath No Man Than This

It was a week of tragedy. On Tuesday, an al Qaeda-trained unit breached security, overtook the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, his aide (and former Airman) Sean Smith, and two former Navy SEALs, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. They were honored yesterday in a Transfer of Remains Ceremony at Andrews, AFB, in Maryland. [Full Disclosure: My first assignment out of Tech School was to Andrews, AFB, in 1983. I got to play golf on one of their championship golf courses because Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger decided to cancel his tee time, an hour and a half late.] Recent reports indicate the attack may have been in retaliation for a drone strike that killed the then-Number Two In Al Qaeda, widely agreed to be the most dangerous job in the world. It did not have anything to do with the protests going on in Egypt and Yemen over that stupid anti-Muslim movie trailer for a film that, in all likelihood, given the criminal past of one of the men involved, does not exist. Both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton made wonderful, poignant remarks in remembrance of the fallen Americans.

President Obama began by quoting Scripture, as Christian men are wont to do, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It is, even to this Atheist, a beautiful sentiment, and one with which I wholeheartedly agree. As for me, I can think of no more honorable way to die than in an effort to save the life of others. The brave men who died in the service of their country did so knowing their jobs were dangerous ones, and that this could happen, yet they chose to do it anyway. Though much well-deserved credit is given to the armed forces who keep us safe, an insufficient amount of credit is given to the diplomatic corps who work behind the scenes to keep us safe, too. Bad things happen, more often than we would like, and some heads of countries cannot be seen to appear weak in the eyes of their people, and diplomats find a way to satisfy everyone’s interests in the name of Peace. We may not agree with some of their results from time to time, but by and large, if it weren’t for the Department of State, every able-bodied person would have to be prepared to fight in some war over some stupid shit, because we’d have no one to talk sense into those who wish us harm. And their efforts work. And they should be appreciated more. Because sometimes, even they die in the line of duty. And we owe them every measure of respect and devotion we’d give to a fallen soldier in combat. They died for the same noble cause.

UPDATE: Thanks to badmoodman, we now have a video we can post of the entire ceremony at Andrews AFB.

This is, of course, our Open Thread, so feel free to discuss the tragedy leading to four dead Americans which had nothing whatsoever to do with the ignorant, bigoted, fraudulent anti-Islam movie trailer, released on the Internets, or maybe something a little more lighthearted for a Saturday morning, such as cute little kittens:

Dawn broke, Captain Whiskers and his mysterious sidekick—known only as “the Kitten”—had triumphed, the city was safe.

[Cross-posted at Pick Wayne's Brain]

The Watering Hole, Thursday, July 19th, 2012: Hayden’s Planet-Scarium

Who knew that Newsmax has its own foreign intelligence branch? Well, they do, and it’s called called ‘Langley Intelligence Group Network’, or NAMBLA LIGNET. A quick glance at their website’s header is, well, illuminating? disturbing?

Wayne was the lucky recipient of a Newsmax/LIGNET email entitled “Iran Crisis Gets ‘Scarier,’ Fmr. CIA Director Warns – Join Exclusive Briefing Here’s an excerpt from the email:

Fmr. CIA Director Hayden: Iran Nuclear Crisis Gets ‘Scarier’

Former CIA Director General Michael Hayden delivered a disturbing message during a LIGNET intelligence panel discussion on the serious threat a nuclear Iran poses to the United States.

“Every time you turn the page, it gets scarier,” the former CIA director said during the exclusive briefing provided by LIGNET, Newsmax’s new global intelligence and forecasting online service.

Amid intelligence reports suggesting that Israel may be striking Iran soon — and that U.S. forces are increasing in the region — the LIGNET Iran Crisis Briefing uncovered what lies ahead for Israel, the U.S. and the implications for the world economy.

This briefing has just been completed and you can access the latest, best available information on this subject.

Joining Gen. Hayden for the online briefing were Arnaud de Borchgrave, famed journalist and a global threat expert with the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), and former CIA senior analyst and LIGNET managing editor Fred Fleitz… [Note: Click on the CSIS link and check out the 'Trustees' section to find few interesting names on their list.]

De Borchgrave offered a dire prediction when asked how oil prices will be affected by an attack on Iran, which has already threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil shipping channel.

And Fleitz says diplomacy is no longer an option. He says negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are “in trouble” with “no prospect for breakthrough” and Iran “wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.”

Other topics addressed during the online event included:
-What is the full extent of Iran’s nuclear program
-The reason the U.S. must make it clear “we hold escalation dominance”
-How soon could Iran have a nuclear weapon
-Iran’s policy to facilitate the killing of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan
-Will President Obama accept a nuclear Iran
-Iran’s close link to Hezbollah
-When will Israel launch an airstrike on Iran
-Iran’s support of the Syrian regime and its brutal crackdown on rebels
-A nuclear Iran leaves the world hostage to terror
-How would Iran retaliate to an Israeli strike
-Would such a response include biological, chemical or even “dirty” nuclear bombs
-What are the chances Iran will make a pre-emptive strike against the U.S.
-What are the implications for the dollar, the euro, and gold
And more
If you missed this URGENT online briefing on a nuclear Iran, you can still see re-broadcasts of this cutting-edge information

Yeah, but you have to pay $1 and get a ‘trial membership’ in LIGNET before you can get this URGENT information! However, “Once you join LIGNET for ONLY $1.00, you immediately become part of an exclusive network of global readers who are seeking the best available, actionable intelligence from some of the best informed people on the planet.” [emphasis mine]

Let’s take a brief look at some of the folks involved in LIGNET: a few of their “Advisory Board Members” are:

General Michael V. Hayden, USAF (ret.): Former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and former CIA Director, under whose watch we became familiar with the terms “warrantless wiretapping” and “Extraordinary Rendition.”

Lord William Rees-Mogg: “Former editor of the Times of London and …former chairman of Newsmax Media’s Board of Directors.”

Ambassador John Bolton: (Well, we ALL know his past.) “Currently Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute and Fox News contributor.”

Jeremy Bradshaw: “Attorney, banker, and Newsmax contributor. Chairman of the London think tank, the Britain Club. He currently is Director of the London-based Argo Capital Management hedge fund.”

Arnaud DeBorchgrave: DeBorchgrave’s career as a journalist ranged from interviews with world leaders as correspondent for Newsweek, to CEO of UPI until he helped sell UPI to AP. According to Wikipedia, he “…played a key role in the sale of the further downsized UPI to News World Communications, the international news media company founded in 1976 by Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon, who was also the founder of The Washington Times for which de Borchgrave had worked earlier. After his CEO turn at UPI, de Borchgrave retained associations with both Unification Church media outlets, as “Editor-at-Large” of The Washington Times and UPI, writing regular columns published by either or both.” Wiki also mentions that DeBorchgrave had had questions of plagiarism raised regarding his columns.

Congressman Peter Hoekstra: “Former member of Congress and Chairman, House Intelligence Committee.” Not enough space for a complete summary of Pete Hoekstra’s record.

Some of LIGNET’s “Analysis Team”:

Frederick Fleitz, Managing Editor: Under President George W. Bush, “…Mr. Fleitz served as chief of staff to John Bolton, then Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. In 2006, Mr. Fleitz became a professional staff member with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, acting as a senior advisor to Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the committee chairman.”

Mark A. Groombridge, Deputy Editor: “Dr. Groombridge was a research scholar at both the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute.”

David Wurmser, Senior Analyst: “From 2003 to 2007, Dr. Wurmser served as the senior advisor to Vice President Cheney on the Middle East. From 2002 to 2003, Dr. Wurmser was a senior advisor to Under Secretary of State John Bolton. Before entering government, Dr. Wurmser founded the Middle East studies program at the American Enterprise Institute.”

One article on LIGNET’s website titled “Iran Ballistic Missile Program Continues” states:

“An annual report [unclassified excerpt] issued this week on Iranian military power by the U.S. Department of Defense concludes that Iran has been making considerable strides in improving the accuracy of its long-range missiles . . . according to the report, there has been no change to Iran’s strategies over the last year and Tehran is still focused on challenging U.S. influence while developing domestic capabilities to become the dominant player in the Middle East . . . the report concludes that Iran could flight-test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) before 2016 and can now fire multiple missiles within second, creating a challenge for US and Israeli missile defense . . . Iran’s Shahab-3 missile can hit targets throughout the Middle East and the report says this missile’s range is being extended . . . this report shows the growing regional threat by Iran and is certain to further drive tensions . . . it also points to new threats to Israeli security from Iranian missiles.”

(sigh) And the Iran Warmongering beat goes on…

This is our daily open thread — what’s on YOUR mind today?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

The Watering Hole, Thursday, March 1st, 2012: And Your Advice is Worth???

I like to check out Foreign Policy Magazine online now and again for different stories and viewpoints. You can imagine my surprise today when I saw an article titled “How to Beat Obama”, written by…wait for it…Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. Yes, Karl Rove, despite being wrong nearly as often as William Kristol, still thinks that his advice would be helpful to the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee. Check out some of the pearls of wisdom Karl and Ed are offering:

“In an American election focused on a lousy economy and high unemployment, conventional wisdom holds that foreign policy is one of Barack Obama’s few strong suits. But the president is strikingly vulnerable in this area. The Republican who leads the GOP ticket can attack him on what Obama mistakenly thinks is his major strength by translating the center-right critique of his foreign policy into campaign themes and action. Here’s how to beat him.

First, the Republican nominee should adopt a confident, nationalist tone emphasizing American exceptionalism, expressing pride in the United States as a force for good in the world, and advocating for an America that is once again respected (and, in some quarters, feared) as the preeminent global power. Obama acts as if he sees the United States as a flawed giant, a mistake that voters already perceive. After all, this is the president who said, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Voters also sense he is content to manage America’s decline to a status where the United States is just one country among many.”

Ah, yes, the “American Exceptionalism” cliche – Americans are somehow inherently better than the rest of the world, and we damn well don’t need to pay attention to any of those lesser people in all of those other crappy countries. America is a flawless giant, dammit, and just look at how perceptive American voters are, too!

“The Republican nominee should use the president’s own words and actions to portray him as naive and weak on foreign affairs. Obama’s failed promises, missed opportunities, and erratic shifts suggest he is out of touch and in over his head.”

Karl, do you remember anything of the presidency of George W. Bush, or have you simply blocked it all out?

“The Republican candidate must address at least four vital areas. The most important is the struggle that will define this century’s arc: radical Islamic terrorism. He should make the case that victory must be America’s national goal, not merely seeking to “delegitimize the use of terrorism and to isolate those who carry it out,” as Obama’s May 2010 National Security Strategy put it. As in the Cold War, victory will require sustained U.S. involvement and a willingness to deploy all tools of influence — from diplomacy to economic ties, from intelligence efforts to military action.”

I thought that this 2012 election was all about JOBS, JOBS, JOBS – oh, wait, that was the 2010 mid-terms, or…well some election was/is supposed to be about JOBS…I think.

“Second, the Republican candidate must condemn the president’s precipitous drawdown in Afghanistan and his deep, dangerous defense-budget cuts. Both are viewed skeptically by the military: The former emboldens America’s adversaries and discourages its allies; the latter is of deep concern to veterans and other Americans who doubt Obama’s commitment to the military.”

Jeebus knows that we don’t want to “precipitously” leave Afghanistan after, what, only eleven years or so? And didn’t I hear that President Obama has actually increased the defense budget?

“During the 2008 campaign, he also argued that Iran was a “tiny” country that didn’t “pose a serious threat.” How foolish that now seems.”

“In part because of how he has mishandled the Iranian threat, Obama has lost much political and financial support in the American Jewish community. His approach to Israel must be presented as similarly weak and untrustworthy. The Republican candidate must make clear the existential threat to Israel from a nuclear-armed Iran…”

We certainly wouldn’t want Israel to defend itself all alone, with only a few hundred nuclear weapons, against a possible/future/maybe-nuclear-armed Iran, now would we?

Obama recognizes that he’s seen as “cold and aloof,” and the Republican nominee should hammer this point home. The president has few real friends abroad (excepting, of course, Islamist Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he told Time magazine’s Fareed Zakaria). The Republican nominee should criticize Obama for not understanding that the U.S. president’s personal engagement is essential for effective global leadership. Obama’s lack of regular close contact with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, which has destroyed relationships with America’s erstwhile allies, is simply the most jarring, inexplicable example of this president’s hands-off approach.

If the Republican candidate turns out to be Mitt Romney, our allies (and enemies, too!) will be SO overwhelmed by the “warm and fuzzies.” So, President Obama hasn’t been calling al-Maliki and Karzai as much as Rove and Gillespie think he should? What are they, Obama’s mother?

“Because the fall campaign must be devoted to promoting the Republican message on jobs and the economy, the GOP nominee must share his big foreign-policy vision no later than early summer.”

“The fourth line of attack must be about America’s fragile economy and how to restore it. Many voters think Obama’s stewardship of the economy has been inconsistent and even counterproductive.”

Of course, talking about jobs and the economy can wait until the fall – it gives the Republican nominee that much more time to think of something other than “cut taxes and regulations for corporations” and “make the Bush tax cuts permanent.”

“Undoubtedly, Obama will attempt to preempt criticism of his foreign policy by repeating endlessly that Osama bin Laden was killed on his watch. By campaign’s end, some voters will wonder whether the president personally delivered the kill shot.”

Yes, undoubtedly, ’cause that’s what Rove and Gillespie would do – it would definitely convince “some voters”, i.e., FuxNews-watchers.

“Absent a major international crisis, this election will be largely about jobs, spending, health care, and energy. Voters do, however, want a president who leads on the world stage and a commander in chief who projects strength, not weakness.”

What the…”absent a major international crisis”? Such as, Karl?

“A November 2011 survey conducted by Resurgent Republic showed that 50 percent of voters (as well as 54 percent of self-identified independents) think America’s standing in the world is worse under Obama, while only 21 percent believe it is better. This represents a sharp drop from April 2010, when 50 percent of voters (and 49 percent of independents) believed Obama had improved America’s standing.

That’s because Obama has failed to become a strong international leader, and the Republican nominee must reinforce this message — one most Americans already believe. Foreign policy is a weakness for this president, not a strength.”

Hey, guess who’s a Board Member at Resurgent Republic? Why, good old Ed Gillespie!

Hmmm, I don’t think that your advice is so hot, Karl (and Ed.) Maybe they should read another article at Foreign Policy magazine that refutes their arguments.

Regardless of whether or not Rove and Gillespie’s advice is useful, I don’t think that either of the current ‘leaders’ for the Republican nomination would be capable of following it.

This is our daily open thread – feel free to opine on this or any other topic.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, December 15th: Newt Gingrich + Citizens United = $$$$

While researching bizarre quotes/items about Newt Gingrich for the last few days, I ran across a reference to “Newt Gingrich to Star in Citizens United Movie about ‘American Exceptionalism’…”, which caused me to do a double-take. Newt Gingrich and that ‘Citizens United”?

Am I the last person in the world to know that Newt and Callista Gingrich have been ‘starring‘ in some of Citizens United productions, which claim to be “documentaries”, such as “We Have the Power“, and were working on a new “documentary” earlier this year? The “Cast” list for “We Have the Power” certainly has some familiar conservative names on it, and the “Credits” list shows the Executive Producers as: Newt Gingrich, Callista Gingrich, Lawrence Kadish and David N. Bossie. Lawrence Kadish provided (see this Alternet article from 2002**) some of the financial backing for Frank Gaffney’s CSP. David N. Bossie is the President and Chairman of the Board of Citizens United.
(**Check out the names/agencies interconnected in the article–keep in mind that this is from 2002.)

I did not know any of this – where have I been?

Small wonder, though, as Newt has been quoted in the past, when discussing campaign finance reform, as stating “The problem isn’t too little money in political campaigns, but not enough.” Then there’s this one: “The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument.” The combined implication of ‘a congressman is above such temptations’ and ‘anyone who thinks otherwise is a socialist’ is so very Newt-y. Gingrich has always been about selling ideas, and, unfortunately, there have always been buyers.

Right now, some lawmakers are working to overturn the SCOTUS “Citizens United” decision; for instance, Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT, is proposing a constitutional amendment. However, we need faster action if the flood of money sweeping away our democracy is to be dammed.

This is our open thread — so talk about this or anything else that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: August 23rd – A short tale of two wars

War I fought to rid the world of a dictator (or so they said):

Deaths of military coalition forces: 4’792
Deaths of civilians due to coalition action: 100’000 est.

Cost: USD 792’313’100’000 and counting

War II fought to rid the world of a dictator

Deaths of military coalition forces: 1 (British Airman killed in a traffic accident in Italy)
Deaths of civilians due to coalition action: 64 – 90 casualties, but it is still an estimate.

Cost USD 896’000’000 est.

Don’t get me wrong here. I do not approve of war. But I do not approve of dictators either and my home country has been rid of the worst in 1945. It wouldn’t have been possible without using military force. But you can get rid of them in a smart way by supporting a people in the uprising, or you can go about it the dumb way by just going in with out a first, let alone a second thought.

This is our daily Open Thread. Just add your thoughts.

The Watering Hole: November 26 – North Korea

What the heck do we do about this rogue nation?

Up to now we and the South have tried to placate the North by paying bribes in order to continue to protect South Korea, particularly the city of Seoul, a prosperous city of over 10 million people. China, the Norths only ally, has also tried to placate the North Korean dynists, but has yet to capture their ear.

Bombing the shit out of the North would be a simple task except for the fact that over 50 years of inaction has allowed them to put in place artillery and missile sites in place that could easily level Seoul and areas immediately south before the job was even 5% done. Nuclear weapons are not even an option because of the proximity of all of South Korea to any nuclear fallout.

Each time the North is assisted by food stuffs and the basic needs of life, they invest the funds and services freed-up to the production of even more weapons (Including nuclear production facilities.)

All I ask for is a rational and safe resolution of this self-perpetuating problem that does not imperil the survival of South Korea and its people.

Simple task? I am open to suggestions.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, November 24, 2010: Hump Day: Checked Baggage

On this day before Thanksgiving, tens of thousands of Americans take to the air to fly across the country to be with their families. Tens of thousands of Americans will have their “baggage” checked as a result of a new security screening directive under President Obama. They will be given a choice, to be sure; a choice between being irradiated and allowing a total stranger in a separate room to view them as if they were naked, or allow a total stranger to essentially feel them up in public.

So, how does this square with the 4th Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures? Is it not unreasonable to subject every single passenger, without so much as a hint that anything might be amiss, to such a degrading search of their genatilia? Or does the fact that one person in all of avaition history hid explosives in his underwear suddenly make it reasonable to inspect everyone’s underwear?

But, would not explosive-sniffing dogs be less invasive? Of course they would. But that’s not the point. The point is to get everyone to submit to more and more degrading searches, to get everyone to submit to the government’s power and authority over the most private parts of our bodies. It makes no difference that this edict came down from the Obama Administration, than if it had been ordered under Bush, except that if Bush had ordered this, there would have been a far greater outcry from the Left.

But these searches are constitutional because we don’t have a constitutional right to travel. Flying is a privilege, and to enjoy that privilege, the government can subject us to any kind of search it wants. For those of us who wondered at how German Jews could continually acquiesce to more and more degradations under Nazi Germany, we now share the same experience.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, November 17, 2010: Hump Day

What does it mean when the President of the United States of America, the most powerful country in the world, admits to the world that he authorized waterboarding?

His lawyers said (remember the “Loyal Bushies” that staffed the Department of Justice curing Bush’s tenure) that waterboarding does not violate 18 U.S.C. 2340; that waterboarding is not “torture.”

The statute says,

As used in this chapter—
(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death…

I leave it to you, our readers, to decide for yourselves: Did President Bush authorize torture?

What Waterboarding IsWaterboarding induces panic and suffering by forcing a person to inhale water into the sinuses, pharynx, larynx, and trachea.

The head is tilted back and water is poured into the upturned mouth or nose. Eventually the subject cannot exhale more air or cough out more water, the lungs are collapsed, and the sinuses and trachea are filled with water. The subject is drowned from the inside, filling with water from the head down. The chest and lungs are kept higher than the head so that coughing draws water up and into the lungs while avoiding total suffocation. “His sufferings must be that of a man who is drowning, but cannot drown.”

The prohibition against torture is so global that no country, great or small, can authorize torture.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

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Last U.S. Combat Brigade Leaves Iraq

Not much hoopala, no fanfares, probably not even a parade, but our Combat troops have left Iraq. Granted, we will still have about 50,000 troops still in Iraq for an unknown period of time. But heck, we still have about 70,000 troops stationed in Gemany, and it’s only been some 65 years since we won WWII. So give it some time, folks.

But my main point is this: We owe our soldiers a big thank you for what they had to go through.

And, we owe them a big apology for putting them through it in the first place.

President Obama accepts General Stanley McChrystal’s Resignation

This is President Obama’s statement this morning in the Rose Garden where he addressed reporters, the nation, and the soldiers in the field following a twenty minute meeting with General Stanley McChrystal (now ex-commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan) on the statements made that came out yesterday in the article in the Rolling Stone Magazine article “The Runaway General” by Michael Hastings.

In this video, the President announces that he has accepted the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal, that he will nominate General David Petraeus to take over command of troops in Afghanistan, and that the Administration remains unified in its commitment to victory in Afghanistan.

Transcript of President Obama’s remarks this morning.

The Watering Hole: April 26 – To the Shores of Tripoli

The second item in the US Marine Corps Hymn actually represents the first major off-shore engagement by a fledging nation. The Battle of Derne was a decisive operation in defanging the Barbary pirates which had been harassing United States merchant ships in the Mediterranean from the nations founding.  Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon was the marine commander of that day and has been honored by the Corps ever since.

PresleyOBannon

This was actually our nation’s  fist step in the suppression of terrorism  and W had yet to be born. In fact, the next terrorist attack on our nation’s interests occurred about 196 ½ years after this victory.

This is our open thread. Please feel free to offer your own comments on this or any other topic.

Spreading the Word of Christ through Terror

Nine alleged members of a Christian militia group that was girding for battle with the Antichrist were charged Monday with plotting to kill a police officer and slaughter scores more by bombing the funeral — all in hopes of touching off an uprising against the U.S. government.

It’s time for “Trial by Media.”

They were plotting a terrorist attack, in the Name of Christ. By taking up arms against the United States, they are unlawful enemy combatants. They should be sent to Guantanamo, waterboarded and subjected to other harsh interrogation techniques until they reveal the rest of their terrorist network. It’s time to go all Jack Bauer over their white Christian asses! They don’t deserve a trial. Reading them their rights is just coddling to terrorists!

***

Somehow, I don’t think you’ll hear the Right-Wing talking heads spewing the above venom. More likely, they’ll be saying what they were plotting is a justifiable reaction to Obamacare.

Your thoughts are welcome.

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Scott Brown uses Republican Talking Points to Justify Acts of Violence Against the Government

HT:TP

In an interview on Fox News, Republican’s 41st vote in the Senate had this reaction to yesterday’s attack on the IRS:

BROWN: Well It’ s certainly tragic and I feel for the families obviously that are being effected by it. And I don’t know if its related but I can just sense not only in my election but since being here in Washington people are frustrated. They want transparency. They want their elected officials to be accountable and open and talk about the things effecting their daily lives. So I am not sure if there is a connection, I certainly hope not, but we need to do things better.

CAVUTO: Invariably people are going to look at this type of incident Senator and say ‘well that’s were some of this populist rage gets you’ – Isn’t that a bit extreme?

BROWN: Yeah of course its extreme, you don’t know anything the individual he could have had other issues. No one likes paying taxes obviously. But the way we are trying to deal with things in the past, at least until I got here, is there is such a log jam in Washington and people want us to do better…

After just one sentance tossed out to demonstrate “sympathy” to the victims, Brown immediately went to the talking points: people are frustrated with Washington; they want trasparency; they want their elected officials to be accountable; no one likes paying taxes.

By running through this litany of talking points in reaction to a murderous attack on a governmental agency, Scott Brown lends credence to those who are inclined to use violence against the government. Any one of Brown’s points can be used to justify murder now.

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The Making of a “Terrorist”

There’s a lot behind this headline, for those who care to listen and learn:

Bomb suspect came from elite family, best schools

This is the story of a young man who grew up in a priviliged lifestyle, who somehow opened his eyes to the plight of the less fortunate,

“[the] youngster [chose] to give 50 pounds to an orphanage rather than spend it on souvenirs in London.”

And found direction through religion:

“Abdulmutallab was a “very religious” and a “very obedient” as a boy in the well-to-do banking family.”

When the ruling class lives beyond the reach of the rule of law, balance will be achieved from beyond the rule of law.

The United States has committed international war crimes, and refuses to prosecute those responsible. They are, by virtue of their station, beyond the reach of the rule of law. But we live in a representative democracy, and are thus collectively accountable. We, the people, are paying, and will continue to pay, for allowing a ruling elite to exist beyond the reach of justice.

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A “terror-industrial complex”..?

That there is a “terror industrial complex” shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, though the story of Colin Powell referring to it in an interview seems to have slipped by all the MSM.

From The Raw Story:

When MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann welcomed three former members of Monty Python to Countdown on Wednesday, his biggest surprise was a question from Terry Gilliam, “How come that Colin Powell interview about the terror-industrial complex didn’t become a bigger story?”Olbermann was taken aback by the question, but by the next day he had uncovered Powell’s September 12, 2007 interview with GQ Magazine. Powell’s apology in that interview for his use of faulty intelligence prior to the Iraq War grabbed the headlines at the time, but he also delivered a far less-noticed warning against what Olbermann now calls “an entire aspect of the nexus of politics and terror.”

Naomi Klein talks about this at the end of her book “The Shock Doctrine“. She refers to it as “disaster capitalism complex”, and she talks specifically about the move towards “homeland security”, private armies, etc.. towards the end as the wave of the future, and the opportunity presented for these corporations with this endless “War on Terror”. She talked about “losing the peace incentive”.

What incentive is there for peace when there is so much money [profits] to be made, and power to be had… It’s big business, the wave of the future, and it’s booming. In fact, there is no real incentive for people to NOT be ‘terrorized’.. Peace is bad for business.

Secessionists v. the Military Commissions Act of 2006

Under Bush’s Military Commissions Act of 2006, anyone determined to be an “unlawful alien enemy combatant” may be picked up and held without charges until the end of the “war on terror” i.e. for the rest of their life., without getting a phone call, without access to an attorney, or outside contact of any kind.

Under the Military Commissions Act, a person who has supported hostilities against the United States is an enemy combatant. The terms are broad enough to encompass people who speak at secession rallies.

They become an “unlawful enemy combatant” if they don’t wear a recognizable insignia identifying them as belonging to an army or militia. i.e. if they are not wearing a uniform, like those photographed carrying pistols and assault rifles to Obama’s meetings this past August.

The only step left, to become an “unlawful alien enemy combatant” is to declare secession. Once that is done, U.S. citizenship is renounced.

IN SUMMARY: the minute Secessionists declare independence from the United States, they become “unlawful alien enemy combatants” and may be captured, detained indefinitely, and questioned, possibly with the “legal” techniques they support as being highly effective in rooting out valuable intelligence information leading to the arrest of their co-conspirators.

Rumor has it Bush built detention centers across the country designed to hold thousands of such folks.

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Hippocrates weeps..

From Hippocrates’ Oath:

Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves.

The non-profit organization Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has issued a report on the extent that medical professionals were involved in the torture programs at Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo.

The version of the 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report released on August 24, 2009 provides greater detail on the central role that health professionals played in the CIA’s torture program and reveals a level of ethical misconduct that had not previously come to light.
The report confirms that the CIA inflicted torture on detainees interrogated while in US custody as part of the agency’s counterterrorism activities and exposes additional interrogation techniques that had not yet been reported. It also demonstrates that health professionals were involved at every stage in the development, implementation and legitimization of this torture program.
The doctors and psychologists who laid the foundation upon which attorneys rationalized an illegal program of torture also actively participated in abusive and illegal interrogations, thus betraying the ethical standards of their professions by contributing to physical and mental suffering and anguish. The very premise of health professional involvement in abusive interrogations — that they have a role in safeguarding detainees — is an unconscionable affront to the profession of medicine. (read full report)

So how will this fit into the ethics every doctor swears to uphold? PHR likens the involvement of doctors onto the torture program to illegal medical experimentation on humans as forbidden by the Nuremberg Code.

Torture is vile and inexcusable in any instance. The licence to practice medicine must be taken away from everybody who takes part in it.

HT: The Guardian

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That was close..

The New York Times reports:

Top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda, according to former administration officials. (read story)

Cheney was all for it? Surprise, surprise. Some more familiar names crop up John Yoo or Alberto R. Gonzales. Condi was against it.

Your Constitution took a couple of hits during the Bush years, but this is proof how close they were to disband it altogether.

And this is what it was all about.

Former officials said the 2002 debate arose partly from Justice Department concerns that there might not be enough evidence to arrest and successfully prosecute the suspects in Lackawanna. Mr. Cheney, the officials said, had argued that the administration would need a lower threshold of evidence to declare them enemy combatants and keep them in military custody.

To think it would have been only “enemy combatants” who were the ultimate target of the “lower threshold of evidence” would be naive in the extreme. That was meant for you all.

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Demjanjuk and the Bush Administration

What’s the connection?

Demanjuk has been extradited to Germany where he has been formally charged with 27,900 counts of being an accessory to murder for his role as a guard at one of Hitler’s death camps.

Bush, and nearly everyone involved in the Abu Gahrib scandal, continue to roam freely. It is alleged that Bush led the United States into a war of aggression based on lies. If true, that would be an international crime. Estimates range from over 100,000 to around 1,000,000 Iraqi childrne, women, and men killed as a result of Bush’s war against Iraq.

In an unjustified war of agression, Bush, and all those who carried out his orders, could be held accountable. However, it is likely that low-level soldiers, who neither knew nor could have known the illegality of the war, would be held to criminal charges. Those on the top, however, who knew the intelligence was being manufacured, would not be so insulated.

It may well be that those individuals may be hunted down, much in the same manner as former nazis.

“Efraim Zuroff, the top Nazi-hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, welcomed the filing of formal charges.

This is obviously an important step forward,” Zuroff said by telephone from Jerusalem. “We hope that the trial itself will be expedited so that justice will be achieved and he can be given the appropriate punishment.”

Therein lies the connection. There is no statute of limitation on international war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“The effort to bring Demjanjuk to justice sends a very powerful message that the passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the perpetrator,” Zuroff said.

If Obama fails to hold the Bush Administration accountable, perhaps some future president will have the courage to do so.

The Ethics of Indefinite Detention 101

Think Progress has a thread about a Washington Post article stating that President Obama’s considering using an Executive Order to allow indefinite detention.

Before we obsess too much about a Washington Post article, we should read the damn thing. Here’s the problem Obama inherited:

Three months into the Justice Department’s reviews, several officials involved said they have found themselves agreeing with conclusions reached years earlier by the Bush administration: As many as 90 detainees cannot be charged or released.

Continue reading

OPEN THREAD: Who is Ali Soufan?

Ali Soufan, FBI agent, testified today at the congressional hearing on the Bush Administration’s detention and interrogation program led by Senator Whitehouse. He testified that he had interrogated Abu Zubaydah and garnered significant information from him before enhanced interrogation and water boarding of him by the CIA began.

From Wikipedia:

The FBI Interrogation of Abu Zubaydah: Pre-CIA

Following Abu Zubaydah’s capture he was interrogated by FBI agents Ali Soufan and Steve Gaudin. The interrogation followed standard FBI protocol and involved cleaning and dressing Abu Zubaydah’s wounds. Ali Soufan stated in a Newsweek article in April, 2009 “We kept him alive… It wasn’t easy, he couldn’t drink, he had a fever. I was holding ice to his lips.”[86] The agents attempted to convince Abu Zubaydah that they knew of his activities in languages he understood; English and Arabic. Both agents believed they were making good progress in gathering intelligence from Abu Zubayda: He disclosed Khalid Sheihkh Muhamed’s alias, “Mukhtar,” as well as other details of the attacks on New York and Washington D.C. Abu Aubzaydah also revealed the identity of Jose Padilla to the FBI agents.

Why the “Who is Ali Soufan?” Because already the right wing pundits are discrediting him as a disgruntled former FBI agent.

Sunday News Headlines

Scientists to issue stark warning over dramatic new sea level figures

Rising sea levels pose a far bigger eco threat than previously thought. This week’s climate change conference in Copenhagen will sound an alarm over new floodings – enough to swamp Bangladesh, Florida, the Norfolk Broads and the Thames estuary. Link

Ohio school gets 700 applicants for janitorial job

Evidence of the slumping economy is stacking up at an Ohio school which has nearly 700 applications for one open janitorial job.

Officials at Perry Local Schools near Canton in northeast Ohio say they’ve extended the deadline until Monday to accommodate the overwhelming response to the week-old posting.

The full-time position at Edison Junior High School pays $15 to $16 an hour plus benefits. Link

How computers call the shots for L.A. County children in peril

Social workers feed in data on suspected abuse and neglect, and a decision pops out. Officials say the system eliminates the previous scattershot approach. Critics say the human element is slighted.

The process starts with a tip to Los Angeles County’s child abuse hotline. Over the course of a typical week, the Department of Children and Family Services receives 3,000 calls. Link

Vacancies slow U.N. corruption probes

An unusually high number of vacancies in the U.N. inspector general’s office has left that body significantly understaffed, raising concerns about the world body’s ability to detect fraud and other abuses even as the workload has swelled to include a myriad of procurement contracts.

About 80 jobs – 25 percent of the staff in the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) – have not been filled. The vacancies include several senior investigative posts. Link

For 84-year-old, gift of a memory

What do you get an 84-year-old woman for her birthday? She’s had a few strokes, which robbed her of short-term memories. Lung cancer has claimed much of her strength. But one memory has stuck with her – riding on the back of a boy’s motorcycle in the 1930s. Link

Continue reading

Remember the Anthrax?

biohazardApparently Rep Rush Holt does. He is introducing HR 1248, the Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act of 2009. He plans on this being a 9/11 commission style panel to investigate who sent the Anthrax to top Democratic leaders and left leaning media.

Personally, I hate the term 9/11 commission, because they did such a poor job of investigating 9/11.  But, that is another topic.

Glenn Greenwald has a lot of great information on his web site, plus there is a video of Rep Holt speaking about this on the house floor. So, why does Rep Holt care so much about this? Apparently, the anthrax letters were sent from his district.

I hope this commission does its job and gets to the bottom of why a substance as deadly as anthrax was used to get Democrats to vote in favor of invading Iraq. If you will remember, the anthrax was blamed on Saddam Hussein. This is what led to the aluminum tubes and mushroom cloud statements. This anthrax attack on US soil was the beginning of the entire Iraq debacle.

So, anybody who is concerned that we were lied into Iraq has to look at the fact that the people that saw through the lies and were against the invasion were sent anthrax to get them to comply.

Also, anytime one of these right wingers says there hasn’t been a terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11, remind them of these terrorist attacks that happened after 9/11.

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