Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Birthday



Wish you were here.


Still Refusing to Live in Reality

W wasn't the only one.

According to the official narrative, poverty, ignorance, and isolation from modernity are the reasons for the stubborn refusal of the Afghan people to support their American and NATO liberators. The solution, by this administration’s lights, is to construct what has never really existed in Afghanistan: a unified, modern nation-state. Building "infrastructure," it seems, is the liberal-progressive answer to humanity’s problems worldwide, and in Afghanistan, too, where roads, hospitals, schools, networks of mass communication, and the very fabric of modernity itself must be built from the ground up.

The sheer arrogance of American policymakers and military theoreticians blocks them from recognizing the simple reality of the insurgents’ motivation, which is nothing more nor less than aversion to the conditions of military occupation. Short of withdrawing all U.S. forces from Afghanistan, there is no way to satisfy the central demand of the Afghan insurgents – who resist the American-NATO occupation not because they are ignorant savages who hate us for our freedoms, but because they seek their own version of freedom – which, understandably, does not involve kowtowing to an American viceroy.

[...]

The nation-building program advanced by advocates of COIN [counterinsurgency doctrine] – one leading enthusiast exulted that COIN has the potential to "change entire societies" – is derived from [the option of] building a "political machine" to rival the insurgency for the affections of the people. In the case of Afghanistan, however, this "machine" is oiled by drug money and lorded over by the Karzai brothers, whose names are veritable bywords for corruption in the region.

[...]

Indeed, the great problem in building up a government in Afghanistan is that the Taliban and their sympathizers are likely to take it over from within.

[...]

[Sending] in troops in sufficient numbers to annihilate or drive out the main body of insurgents, and reinforce these with enough to keep the enemy from returning – are what’s behind Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s call for 40,000 more troops. The stage is then set for [...] sending these soldiers into the villages and hamlets of Afghanistan to live side-by-side with the people, thus presumably gaining their confidence.

  Justin Raimondo

If you haven’t already, you really must see “Obama’s War” to understand how this is simply pie in the sky. In that documentary, you can see American garrisons where no Afghanis will interact, due to fear of reprisals and lack of cultural understanding. Wherever the American troops have set up camp to ‘protect’ markets, the markets become deserted and shopkeepers go elsewhere.

[T]he same narrative informs a certain view of the Vietnam War, where – or so the legend goes – once again defeatist politicians got in the way of a military leadership that was on the verge of defeating the enemy. Obama is deathly afraid of being characterized in this way by Republicans – and pro-war Democrats – and this underlies much of the rhetoric about Afghanistan being a "war of necessity," i.e., a political necessity.

Obama better grow some cojones before, by continued military spending, he destroys our country, in addition to two in the Middle East. At this point, even laying waste to them entirely, which is what an army is really designed for, would not work, because the whole of the world has now been involved.

We could have paid for the oil we are trying to control many times over with the money we have spent trying to control it.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Could Have Told Them That Would Be the Case

But I thought we'd done with Mr. Bush.

From Politico:



Sorry.


Friday, November 27, 2009

There Goes Germany?

The future of Germany's mission in Afghanistan was thrown into doubt today after a government minister resigned under growing pressure to admit his involvement in a campaign of misinformation over an air raid in which civilians were killed.

Franz Josef Jung, defence minister at the time, quit as labour minister a day after the army's chief of staff, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, resigned over the incident with the deputy defence minister, Peter Wichert.

  UK Guardian


Deeper Than the Party Crashers

I know you’ll be seeing way more of the latest “Reality TV mongers” - the Salahis - than you want. But, what is this?

Salahi is on the board of the American Task Force on Palestine, a DC lobby group closely tied to the Palestinian Authority government of Mahmoud Abbas.

  TPM

And, the Secret Service is “deeply embarrassed.” Pardon me for suggesting, but it doesn’t seem to me like the Secret Service is all that intent on protecting Obama. I think he should hire some personal body guards. Seriously.

This post analyzes an apparently deliberate security breach at the Obama rally held in Reunion Arena in Dallas on Wednesday, 2/20/08.

[...]

Failing to inspect purses and packages that might contain weapons is, obviously, a security breach. According to the Star Telegram, the breach occurred when Secret Service personnel were ordered to stop searching, showing that the breach was deliberate at some level. The fact that the Secret Service is denying the incident, rather than investigating it, indicates high-level culpability.

  Democrats.com

A company that monitors peer-to-peer file-sharing networks has discovered a potentially serious security breach involving President Barack Obama's helicopter, NBC affiliate WPXI in Pittsburgh reported Saturday.

Employees of Tiversa, a Cranberry Township, Pa.-based security company that specializes in peer-to-peer technology, reportedly found engineering and communications information about Marine One at an IP address in Tehran, Iran.

  MSNBC

A major security breach has occurred involving Barack Obama's confidential passport details. Two State Department employees have been fired and another suspended following an investigation, which began after it was learned that his computer file had been accessed.

  UK Independent


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

For the Love of Pete

The health care plan would take away your guns!

Gun Owners of America have been raging against the Senate health care bill for all sorts of imagined threats to the Second Amendment.

[...]

"Special 'wellness and prevention' programs (inserted by Section 1001 of the bill as part of a new Section 2717 in the Public Health Services Act) would allow the government to offer lower premiums to employers who bribe their employees to live healthier lifestyles -- and nothing within the bill would prohibit rabidly anti-gun HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius from decreeing that 'no guns' is somehow healthier."

The White House says: "Section 2717 [...] creates guidelines for insurers to report on initiatives that improve quality of care and health outcomes, and it specifically lists what types of programs would be involved - such as smoking cessation, physical fitness, nutrition, heart disease prevention. There is no mention of guns, and there is no language that could result in higher premiums for gun owners or lower premiums for people who do not own guns."

  TPM


....but hey, believe what you want....you will anyway.


Civil Liberties Take Another Hit

Phillip Carter is a lawyer, a former Army Captain, a veteran of the Iraq War and a very harsh critic of the Bush administration's detention and interrogation policies. He was a vigorous supporter of Barack Obama's campaign, and in 2008, became the Obama campaign's National Veterans Director. In April of this year, he was appointed the top Pentagon official for detainee affairs, but yesterday, he suddenly "quit without explanation just days after Obama confirmed in an interview with Fox News in Beijing that his administration would miss its Jan. 22 Guantánamo closure deadline."

Carter said he was resigning due to "personal issues," and -- like Greg Craig before him -- remained loyal to Obama by refraining, at least thus far, from publicly criticizing any administration policies. I have no idea what actually motivated Carter's abrupt resignation, but here's what I do know: so many of the detention and other "War on Terror" policies Obama has explicitly adopted were the very same ones which Carter (as well as Obama) repeatedly railed against during the Bush years, in Carter's case primarily in blogs he maintained both at The Washington Post and at Slate.

[...]

Carter harshly condemned the Bush administration's decision to use a military commission to try Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, accused of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania. Carter suggested that trying detainees for "war crimes" for pre-2001 acts violates the Constitution's ban on ex post facto punishments (since the U.S. was not at war at that time).

[...]

While the Obama administration commendably sent Ghailani to New York to be tried in a civilian court, it just announced two weeks ago that Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, whose case originated as a criminal investigation with the FBI, would now be turned over to a military commission for prosecution in connection with the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole -- raising all of the serious objections Carter voiced to the Ghailani case.

[...]

Carter had also voiced serious concerns over the Bush DOJ's use of the "state secrets" privilege as a means of evading vital constitutional and other legal questions -- only to watch the Obama DOJ do the same thing.

[...]

Carter advocated real consequences for DOJ torture-approving lawyers such as John Yoo (specifically, his firing from Berkeley), only to watch the Obama administration take multiple steps to protects such officials from any legal consequences. He applauded the Bush Pentagon's cancellation of a key appointment of Gen. Jay Hood to Pakistan on the ground that Hood had presided over Guantanamo and was thus "tained by torture," only to watch Obama appoint the highly tainted Gen. McChyrstal as his commander in Afghanistan.

[...]

[F] ollowing Greg Craig, this is now the second high-profile resignation of a relatively devoted civil libertarian in a short period of time. Combine that with the still-missing-and-unconfirmed Dawn Johnsen, and all of this leaves those who are indifferent or hostile to civil liberties values -- people like John Brennan and Rahm Emanuel -- with even fewer counter-weights than before.

  Glenn Greenwald



....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And Lest We Get Too Hopeful

Iraq’s effort to hold parliamentary elections has collapsed, raising the prospect of a political crisis ahead of the planned U.S. troop withdrawal.

  NYT


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Meanwhile in the Philippines

The Philippine president placed two southern provinces under emergency rule Tuesday as security forces unearthed more bodies, pushing the death toll to 46 in some of the deadliest election violence in the nation's history.

Police and soldiers found 22 bodies in a hillside mass grave Tuesday, adding to the 24 bullet-riddled bodies recovered near the scene of Monday's massacre in Maguindanao province, said Chief Superintendent Josefino Cataluna of the Central Mindanao region.

This southern region of the Philippines is wracked by violent political rivalries, in addition to a long-running Islamic insurgency.

  Yahoo


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


What a Surprise

The Justice Department has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for allegedly misleading Congress about the Bush administration’s warrantless eavesdropping program.

  Raw Story

.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


How Not to Use a Pie Chart

Screen capture from Fox:


Oh, wait. That's a Cow Pie Chart.


....and hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Got Tea?

House Democrats want a graduated surtax on individuals and corporations to pay for another big drain on the treasury: the Afghanistan war.

[...]

The speaker has been silent thus far, and many dismiss the idea as more rhetoric than real legislation. But with President Barack Obama due to make a final decision soon on adding more U.S. troops, the initiative testifies to the growing restlessness among Democrats over the costs of the American commitment in Afghanistan.

[...]

Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), who oversees the Pentagon’s budget and supports the surtax, went so far as to send Obama last month a copy of Yale historian Paul Kennedy’s “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.”

[...]

“We’re not trying to insult anybody. We’re just trying to keep in the forefront what the financial costs are,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.) told POLITICO. “We felt conscience bound to speak up”

  Politico

That’s rich. Politicians claiming conscience. Anyway, this is one area that distinguishes Dems from Republicans: they don’t form a concrete block behind their party’s president.

Dubbed the “Share the Sacrifice Act,” the six-page bill exempts anyone who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan since the 2001 terrorist attacks as well as families who have lost an immediate relative in the fighting. But middle-class households earning between $30,000 and $150,000 would be asked to pay 1% on top of their tax liability today — a more sweeping approach than many Democrats have been willing to embrace.

If I’m not mistaken, we’ve already been paying taxes to support these wars. Nevertheless, that would be a good way to put an end to them. The “Tea Parties” would bring the country to a standstill. So I say, “Full speed ahead, gentlemen.”

There’s a breakdown of the expected costs and taxes in the article, should you choose to read it.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Al Gore Rhythm

This will put you into an alternative reality. Al Gore reading comedy. We're mellllllllting!


Separated at Birth




The Piper Is Playing Our Tune

Treasury officials now face a trifecta of headaches: a mountain of new debt, a balloon of short-term borrowings that come due in the months ahead, and interest rates that are sure to climb back to normal as soon as the Federal Reserve decides that the emergency has passed.

  NYT

But the Fed can decide whatever it wants whenever it wants, so is that really an issue?

With the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates that the government’s tab for servicing the debt will exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion this year, even if annual budget deficits shrink drastically. Other forecasters say the figure could be much higher.

That’s some pretty heavy interest.

Americans now have to climb out of two deep holes: as debt-loaded consumers, whose personal wealth sank along with housing and stock prices; and as taxpayers, whose government debt has almost doubled in the last two years alone, just as costs tied to benefits for retiring baby boomers are set to explode.

  

Funny how we get stuck with the debt when we never approved the borrowing.

“What a good country or a good squirrel should be doing is stashing away nuts for the winter,” said William H. Gross, managing director of the Pimco Group, the giant bond-management firm. “The United States is not only not saving nuts, it’s eating the ones left over from the last winter.”

I know a few nuts that should have been stashed away for the remainder of time. Or eaten.

The White House estimates that the government will have to borrow about $3.5 trillion more over the next three years.

Hey, I have an idea that will save us trillions. Get out of the Middle East.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Army Suicides: Fort Hood

Several years of repeated war-zone deployments are taking their toll, as Army personnel are experiencing record rates of PTSD, depression, other mental health problems, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicides.

[...]

According to the Army Suicide Event Report, a total of 99 soldiers killed themselves in 2006, the highest rate of military suicides in the 26 years the military has been keeping statistics on suicides. More than a quarter of them were by troops in combat postings in Iraq and Afghanistan. The figure does not include post-discharge suicides by military personnel.

In 2007, at least 115 suicides were reported by the Army, another record. Last year set another record, with at least 133 reported suicides, in addition to there being a record number of suicides in the Marine Corps that year.

[...]

Thus far, 2009 is on pace to set another record for the number of suicides in the Army.

[...]

According to official military statistics, Fort Hood already suffers the highest number of suicides among Army installations since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. While Luther believes the number is far higher, Army officials at Fort Hood admit to at least 10 suicides on the base from January to July of this year, and at least 75 “confirmed” suicides since 2003.

  Dahr Jamail


And Don't Forget Pakistan

Two bombs rocked the northern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Thursday.

  Juan Cole


Meanwhile, In Afghanistan

UNICEF draws attention to the wretched living conditions of Afghans, calling it the world's worst place for a child to be born. The Guardian writes, "Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world - 257 deaths per 1,000 live births, while 70 percent of the population lacks access to clean water." [...]The life expectancy in Afghanistan at birth is 44. The adult literacy rate is 28%, which I suspect means that the female adult literacy rate is on the order of 6%.


Where is NATO going to get 400,000 well trained police and troops in a country with a 28% literacy rate?

  Juan Cole

This makes me curious. I wonder what the literacy rate of the US Army is. If honestly assessed, I bet it would not be encouraging.

USA Today undermines the entire master narrative of US/NATO military operations in Afghanistan, writing: "The U.S. military says the vast majority of the 700 detainees at its biggest prison in Afghanistan could eventually be released because they're fighting more for money than ideology."

So, without us being there to fight…



....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


What Fresh Hell Is This?

Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwaji instructed his troops to raise the level of alert along the border with Israel in preparation for an attack planned by "the Israeli enemy", London-based Alquds Alarabi reported on Saturday.

In a statement published ahead of Lebanon's independence day, which will take place on Sunday, the Lebanese military chief called for "greater vigilance" on the border "to counter the planned attacks by the Israeli enemy against the homeland."

  Jerusalem Post


What Year Is This?

Police arrested 52 students protesting a tuition hike Thursday at the University of California-Davis and held them in jail overnight without food. One was reportedly beaten by police, a source close to the incident tells Raw Story.

[...]

The protesters held a sit-in in Mrak Hall, an administration building on the UC-Davis campus near Sacramento that the authorities told protesters to vacate by 5 p.m. Thursday evening. Officers from the Yolo County sheriff's office moved in and arrested those who didn't comply with the order.

  Raw Story


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Speaking of Skeptics

Why is the Obama administration moving at this particular moment to make a controversial move, one that could quite possibly backfire? They’re taking a risk in which the downside is clear – but what’s the upside? What’s in it for them?

[...]

With President Obama getting ready to announce his new course on the "Af-Pak" front, which will involve sending as many as 40,000 more US troops to that graveyard of empires, what better time to underscore the alleged dangers emanating from that part of the world than a public trial of these particular al-Qaeda prisoners?

[...]

As Obama announces his decision about how many troops to send to Afghanistan – and tries to rally war-weary Americans around a supposedly "new"-and –improved strategy to win the war — the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow Gitmo defendants will be opening in New York. What a coincidence!

[...]

The trial of the Gitmo defendants isn’t going to be about the rule of law, it isn’t motivated by the Obama administration’s liberal idealism, and it most certainly won’t signify anything as rational as putting an end to the "war on terrorism" and treating Al Qaeda the same way we treated the Mafia and Cosa Nostra, i.e. as a floating international criminal conspiracy rather than a stationary military threat. What it will be about is generating war propaganda, positioning the Obama-ites as "tough" on terrorism and serious about national security.

  Glenn Greenwald

This also speaks to the issue of Obama’s remarks about KSM being found guilty and executed, and the two-faced aspect of trying some detainees because it’s the proper thing to do according to our rule of law, and on the other hand, keeping some detainees locked up without due process because it’s too dangerous (or impossible) to try them.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Reining in the Fed?

Something quite amazing happened yesterday in Congress: the House Finance Committee -- in a truly bipartisan and even trans-ideological vote -- defied the banking industry, the Federal Reserve, the Democratic leadership, and mainstream Beltway opinion in order to pass an amendment, sponsored by GOP Rep. Ron Paul and Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, mandating a genuine and probing audit of the Fed.

[...]

The bill still faces substantial hurdles in becoming law, of course, but yesterday's vote has made that outcome quite possible.

[...]

[M]any of the most consequential political conflicts are shaped far more by an "insider v. outsider" dichotomy than by a "GOP v. Democrat" or "Left v. Right" split. The pillaging of America's economic security by financial elites, with the eager assistance of the government officials who they own and who serve them, is the prime example of such a conflict.

[...]

[An]effort to defeat the Paul/Grayson amendment came from all of the typical Washington power centers using all of the establishment's typical manipulative tools .

[...]

effort to defeat the Paul/Grayson amendment came from all of the typical Washington power centers using all of the establishment's typical manipulative tools.

[...]

Beyond the specifics, a genuine audit of the Fed would be a major blow to the way Washington typically works. The Fed is one of those permanent power centers in this country that exert great power with very little accountability and almost no transparency (like much of the intelligence and defense community). The power they exert has exploded within the last year as a result of the financial crisis, yet they continue to operate in a completely opaque manner and with virtually no limits.

[...]

[The] In other words, the Fed is a typical Washington institution that operates un-democratically and in virtually total secrecy, and a Congressionally-mandated audit that they (and much of the DC establishment) desperately oppose would be a serious step towards changing the dynamic of how things function. At the very least, it would provide an important template for defeating the interests which, in Washington, almost never lose. At least yesterday, those interests did lose -- resoundingly -- and the importance of that should not be overlooked.

   Glenn Greenwald

Well, I hope so, but I’m a die-hard skeptic.

Some day I will finish reading this book on the Fed, which began in secrecy, with the sole purpose of destroying small bankers and returning (and keeping) all the power of the country’s money in the hands of a few already wealthy and powerful men.

If you want to learn more about the Fed, pick up a copy.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ha!

THE HAGUE — A United States ambassador said Thursday that Washington was concerned about how aggression will be defined as an international crime.

"I would be remiss not to share with you my country's concerns about an issue ... to which we attach particular importance: the definition of the crime of aggression," US war crimes ambassador Stephen Rapp told a gathering in The Hague of the International Criminal Court's Assembly of State Parties (ASP).

  Raw Story

Do tell. Do tell.

Former president George W. Bush had fiercely opposed the ICC, fearing it could target Americans out of political bias considering US dominance around the world.

It wasn’t Americans he was worried about. It was his own war criminal ass.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


American Justice Is Alive and Well

Glenn Greenwald takes exception to the administration’s “tiered” justice system for detainees (as do I).

If you're taking the position that military commissions and even indefinite detention are perfectly legitimate tools to imprison people -- as Holder has done -- then what is the answer to the Right's objections that Mohammed himself belongs in a military commission? If the administration believes Omar Khadr belongs in a military commission, and if they believe others can be held indefinitely without any charges, why isn't that true of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? By denying jury trials to a large number of detainees, Obama officials have completely gutted their own case for why they did the right thing in giving Mohammed a trial in New York.

Even worse, Holder was reduced to admitting -- even boasting -- that this concocted multi-tiered justice system (trials for some, commissions for others, indefinite detention for the rest) enables the Government to pick and choose what level of due process someone gets based on the Government's assessment as to where and how they're most likely to get a conviction:

Courts and commissions are both essential tools in our fight against terrorism . . . On the same day I sent these five defendants to federal court, I referred five others to be tried in military commissions. I am a prosecutor, and as a prosecutor, my top priority was simply to select the venue where the government will have the greatest opportunity to present the strongest case with the best law. . . . At the end of the day, it was clear to me that the venue in which we are most likely to obtain justice for the American people is a federal court.

Does that remotely sound like a "justice system"?

Not to me.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Good Lord

Fox News just apologized for showing the wrong book cover during a segment about Sarah Palin's new memoir, Going Rogue.

Instead, they twice showed the cover of Going Rouge, a collection of essays mocking the former governor that came out the same day as Palin's memoir.

  TPM

So maybe those were production errors before.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


"Production Error"

For the second time in just over a week, Fox News is coming under fire for misusing old news footage. The latest flap is leading some people to charge that the cable news network is intentionally misleading its audience, while Fox claims a "production error."

Wednesday's incident occurred when Fox News host Gregg Jarrett mentioned that a Sarah Palin appearance and book signing in Grand Rapids, Michigan had a massive turnout. As footage rolled of a smiling and waving Palin amidst a throng of fans, Jarrett noted that the former Republican vice-presidential candidate is "continuing to draw huge crowds [...]

However, the video used in the segment was from a 2008 McCain/Palin campaign rally.

[...]

The current mishap comes on the heels of a controversy sparked last week when footage from a conservative rally held over the summer was played on "Hannity" during a segment on a more recent rally. During the clip, host Sean Hannity marveled over the large turnout for a Washington, DC protest. The Daily Show later pointed out that there seemed to be some inconsistencies with the video shown on Hannity's show, namely that the atmospheric conditions seemed to vary from shot to shot. Hannity later apologized on the air for what he called "an inadvertent mistake."  Yahoo

Because, as any attorney knows, you can’t take the image out of heads once you’ve put it there.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Tell 'em to Stuff Stupak

A new study by the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services adds some expert imprimatur to what many progressives have been saying all along: The Stupak amendment to the House health care bill--which will prevent millions of women from buying health insurance policies that cover abortion--is likely to have consequences that reach far beyond its supposedly intended scope.

The report concludes that "the treatment exclusions required under the Stupak/Pitts Amendment will have an industry-wide effect, eliminating coverage of medically indicated abortions over time for all women, not only those whose coverage is derived through a health insurance exchange."

In other words, though the immediate impact of the Stupak amendment will be limited to the millions of women initially insured through a new insurance exchange, over time, as the exchanges grow, the insurance industry will scale down their abortion coverage options until they offer none at all.

  TPM

Doesn’t mean you can’t have one. Just means you’ll have to come up with some big bucks to get it.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So Which Is It?

Be afraid of them or don't be afraid of them?

Attorney General Eric Holder is defending his decision to put the professed Sept. 11 mastermind on trial in New York — and urging critics of the plan not to cower in the face of terrorists.

[...]

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, said Wednesday that those offended by the legal privileges being given to Mohammed by trying him in a civilian court ultimately won't find it "offensive at all when he's convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him."

Obama added that he did not mean to suggest he was prejudging the outcome of Mohammed's trial. "I'm not going to be in that courtroom," he said. "That's the job of the prosecutors, the judge and the jury." He made the comment in one of a series of TV interviews during his trip to Asia.

  Yahoo

It looks to me like prejudging is precisely what he did.

The man is certainly eloquent, and infinitely better spoken and more intelligent than the Boy King he replaced, but sometimes when he isn’t delivering prepared remarks, he speaks without thinking about what he’s saying.

And sometimes, perhaps too often, he doesn’t bother to be consistent.

Another, larger group of detainees is expected to be released to other countries. Some, the president has said, are too dangerous to be released and cannot be put on trial, and those detainees will continue to be imprisoned.



....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Explain This CNN Screen Capture

Stephen Webster asks.


I Would Not Be a Bit Surprised

The Pakistani arm of the Taliban has denied responsibility for a recent series of terrorist attacks in Pakistan, instead pointing the finger at Xe Services, the security contractor formerly known as Blackwater, as well as the country's own security services.

"The Tehreek-e-Taliban are not responsible for the bombings, but Blackwater and Pakistan's spy agency are behind them," said Pakistani Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq, according to a translation from Al-Jazeera English.

''The dirty Pakistani intelligence agencies, for the sake of creating mistrust and hatred among people against the Taliban, are carrying out blasts at places like the Islamic university, Islamabad, and the Khyber bazaar, Peshawar,'' the Associated Press quoted Tariq as saying.

  Raw Story


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Support Our Troops

Suicides in the US Army are headed to a new record this year .

  Raw Story


At Least They've Noticed

Mounting evidence that independent voters have soured on the Democrats is prompting a debate among party officials about what rhetorical and substantive changes are needed to halt the damage.

  Politico

If you’re considering rhetorical changes, you’ve already lost the cause.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Mass Pwning

This would be hysterically funny if it weren’t scary.

A crowd of some 40 people showed up to the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol on Saturday to protest proposed reform of US immigration law.

[...]

One of those protesters, going by the alias "Robert Erickson," got a speaking spot at the rally and

[...]

got the crowd to support more than just the deportation of all illegal immigrants -- he got them cheering for the eviction of all European-descended immigrants to America who "stole this land through genocide and ethnic cleansing."

[...]

-- in other words, that contingent of white Americans who these days see themselves as "real" Americans

  Raw Story

Freakin’ idiots.

That guy better watch his back when they finally figure out what happened.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Even in Texas

Even in Texas they are having their doubts. The state that executes more people than any other by far – it will account for half the prisoners sent to the death chamber in the US this year – is seeing its once rock-solid faith in capital punishment shaken by overturned convictions, judicial scandals and growing evidence that at least one innocent man has been executed.

[...]

A former governor, Mark White – previously a strong supporter of the death penalty – has joined those calling for a reconsideration of capital punishment because of the risk of executing an innocent person.

[...]

The number of death sentences passed by juries in Texas has fallen sharply in recent years, reflecting a retreat from capital punishment in many parts of America after DNA evidence led to the release of scores of condemned prisoners.

  UK Guardian

Or the absence of George Bush from the governor’s mansion.

That one innocent man? Collateral damage in the war on crime, people.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Flashback

Sadly, the map and the page linked no longer exist...but this is from a post of mine September 22, 2004:

That map is on the USInfo page of the State Department's website. It's titled "Countries Where al Qaeda Has Operated" and is dated November 10, 2001. Notice any pointedly missing country? Here's the accompanying list:

Albania

Algeria

Afghanistan

Azerbaijan

Australia

Austria

Bahrain

Bangladesh

Belgium

Bosnia

Egypt

Eritrea

France

Germany

India

Iran

Ireland

Italy

Jordan

Kenya

Kosovo

Lebanon

Libya

Malaysia

Mauritania

Netherlands

Pakistan

Philippines

Qatar

Russia

Saudi Arabia

Somalia

South Africa

Sudan

Switzerland

Tajikistan

Tanzania

Tunisia

Turkey

Uganda

United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom

United States

Uzbekistan

Yemen

I'm looking for one that begins with "I" and ends with "Q".


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

No Change Here

Recently I posted on the change in White House council. I didn't spend enough time on it. It seems that the new council, Bob Bauer, can be expected to continue the Bush tradition of politicizing everything and treating legal issues as roadblocks to be circumvented.

The White House dismissed all concerns about Bauer, pointing out that he is well-regarded by Republicans in the tight-knit election law community and that he has worked on issues outside of election law.

“He has represented large institutional clients on major issues like employment and contract, IP [intellectual property], tax and privacy issues,” said an administration official who did not want to be identified talking about Bauer’s qualifications for the post, which the White House said would he would assume by the end of the year

  Politico

WTF? Obama wants a White House lawyer who is well-regarded by Republicans? No, no. That doesn’t surprise me. He seems to be very keen on making Republicans happy for some reason. Nor does this surprise me: Bob Bauer argued that Scooter Libby should be pardoned – for political purposes, never mind he broke the law.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Perspective

GOP House Leader John Boehner, condemning Obama's decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to New York for trial, yesterday:
The Obama Administration’s irresponsible decision to prosecute the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in New York City puts the interests of liberal special interest groups before the safety and security of the American people.

[...]

People in capitals all over the world have hosted trials of high-level terrorist suspects using their normal justice system. They didn't allow fear to drive them to build island-prisons or create special commissions to depart from their rules of justice. Spain held an open trial in Madrid for the individuals accused of that country's 2004 train bombings. The British put those accused of perpetrating the London subway bombings on trial right in their normal courthouse in London. Indonesia gave public trials using standard court procedures to the individuals who bombed a nightclub in Bali. India used a Mumbai courtroom to try the sole surviving terrorist who participated in the 2008 massacre of hundreds of residents.

[...]

[The American] Right's reaction to yesterday's announcement -- we're too afraid to allow trials and due process in our country -- is the textbook definition of "surrendering to terrorists."

[...]

As usual, it's the weakest and most frightened among us who rely on the most flamboyant, theatrical displays of "strength" and "courage" to hide what they really are. Then again, this is the same political movement whose "leaders" -- people like John Cornyn and Pat Roberts -- cowardly insisted that we must ignore the Constitution in order to stay alive: the exact antithesis of the core value on which the nation was founded. Given that, it's hardly surprising that they exude a level of fear of Terrorists that is unmatched virtually anywhere in the world. It is, however, noteworthy that the position they advocate -- it's too scary to have normal trials in our country of Terrorists -- is as pure a surrender to the Terrorists as it gets.

  Glenn Greenwald

Surrender monkeys.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Fallujah's Further Punishment

Doctors in Iraq's war-ravaged enclave of Falluja are dealing with up to 15 times as many chronic deformities in infants and a spike in early life cancers that may be linked to toxic materials left over from the fighting.

[...]

Neurologists and obstetricians in the city interviewed by the Guardian say the rise in birth defects – which include a baby born with two heads, babies with multiple tumours, and others with nervous system problems - are unprecedented and at present unexplainable.

[...]

The rise in frequency is stark – from two admissions a fortnight a year ago to two a day now. "Most are in the head and spinal cord, but there are also many deficiencies in lower limbs," he said. "There is also a very marked increase in the number of cases of less than two years [old] with brain tumours. This is now a focus area of multiple tumours."

[...]

[H]ealth officials are also starting to focus on possible reasons, chief among them potential chemical or radiation poisonings. Abnormal clusters of infant tumours have also been repeatedly cited in Basra and Najaf – areas that have in the past also been intense battle zones where modern munitions have been heavily used.

  UK Guardian



All Falluja posts

It's Sunday

[The] contemporary Republican Party is a party of medieval romanticism. Its disquisitions on when the human person begins are theological in character and rooted in assumptions even a lot of medievals would have questioned. Its faith that bankers would never steal from us and so do not need to be regulated is a form of mysticism that medievals would have applied to saints. And its fascination with arbitrary arrest and imprisonment and with torture more recalls the star chambers of yore than the deliberations at Philadelphia over 200 years ago.

[...]

The Republican way of dealing with terrorists gave enormous propaganda tools to al-Qaeda.

[In announcing that some top al-Qaeda 9/11 conspirators will be tried by jury in New York,] Obama just took those propaganda tools away from the enemy and began the process of repairing America's reputation and its fidelity to its own ideals.

  Juan Cole


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ah, Yes. The Old "A Pelican Distracted Me" Story

Police on Friday identified a Lufkin man who accidentally drove a $2 million Bugatti Veyron, a rare automobile that is perhaps the world’s fastest, into a saltwater lagoon [off Galveston Island].

Andy Lee House, 34, owner of Performance Auto Sales, told The Daily News on Wednesday that a low-flying pelican distracted him, causing him to jerk the steering wheel a bit — and he then dropped his cell phone.

[...]

The crash, however, was captured by someone filming the car as it traveled on the northbound frontage road of Interstate 45 about 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The man filming was traveling north on I-45. No pelican was visible in the video, which shows the car veering from the road and splashing in the lagoon.

  Galveston County Daily News

Actually, he only mentioned the pelican to the police, not the cell phone.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


No Change Here

And so much for transparency.

Pursuant to new powers delegated to him by Congress, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has executed an order blocking the release of photos depicting the torture of detainees.

  Raw Story

I bet you’re as surprised as I am.

In a new supplemental brief filed with the high court, the administration's attorneys argue that the new law Congress passed to allow Gates this authority effectively exempts the photos from the Freedom of Information Act, therefore invalidating an earlier lawsuit.

Somebody should leak them.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Change Has Come

Indeed, just asking for a plan is a big change.

AP is reporting that President Barack Obama is declining to be rushed into committing to the Afghanistan War as an open-ended project, and wants a timetable for turning security duties over to the Afghanistan National Army.

AP says that the key intervention here came from US ambassador in Kabul, Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, who warned that the government of Hamid Karzai is not a reliable partner.

  Juan Cole

So I guess that timetable will be when Hell freezes over?

The BBC says that Eikenberry is against sending thousands of more troops, and he warned of corruption in the Karzai government. Gen. Stanley McChrystal is said to be fuming over the intervention.


Ooops

What a surprise it must have been when Major Nidal Malik Hasan woke up from his coma to find himself not in paradise but in Brooke Army Medical Center, deep in the heart of Texas, under security so tight that there were armed guards patrolling both the intensive-care unit and checkpoints at the nearest freeway off-ramp. This was not the finalÉ he had scripted when he gave away all his earthly goods - his desk lamp and air mattress, his frozen broccoli and spinach, his copies of the Koran. He had told his imam he was planning to visit his parents before deploying to Afghanistan. He did not mention that his parents had been dead for nearly 10 years.

[...]

Even as the President weighs how to fight the wars he inherited, he and the entire U.S. security apparatus will have to figure out how you fight a war against an enemy you can't recognize, much less understand. In that sense, the war on terrorism has left the battlefield and moved to the realm of the mind.

  Yahoo

No. That’s where it always resided. The “WOT” has simply been a pretense for an attempt to control the Middle East.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Another Step in the Right Direction

Self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees will be sent to New York to face trial in a civilian federal court, an Obama administration official said Friday.

  Yahoo

Apparently I've forgotten all I knew about legal proceedings. Why is this in civilian court and not criminal,She? Is there no difference at the federal level?


Friday, November 13, 2009

Revised Estimate

The H1N1 (Hinie) flu has apparently been fatal in a lot more cases than the CDC estimated. (Either that, or they’re playing it up too high now.)

While the official estimates have not yet been released, it appears that the tally of deaths from the novel form of influenza will rise to around 4,000, up from 1,200, as first reported Wednesday by The New York Times.

  ABC

So go out and get your Hinie shot. You can have mine.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Speaking of Alone...

Army officials have said they believe Hasan acted alone when he jumped on a table with two handguns, shouted "Allahu akbar" and opened fire inside a building at Fort Hood.

  Yahoo

Sounds to me like he was in cahoots with God.

[Hasan’s attorney John] Galligan said he wasn't pleased that Hasan was charged in the hospital without his lawyers present.

No, and I don’t suppose he’s going to get a lot of consideration in that regard at any point.


A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

Rep. Dennis Kucinich is the exception that proves the rules. He is opposing the healthcare "reform" because he rightly sees it as a giant subsidy for the insurance companies -- and the Patriot Act reauthorization will convince him and other committed progressives that the President is not one of their own. Yet Kucinich is an isolated figure: the Ron Paul of the left. So, unfortunately, the Dennis Kuciniches and Ron Pauls will be relegated to "gadfly" status, as the bipartisan pro-war "center" rolls over them with ease.

  Justin Raimondo at The Hill

Kuciniches and Pauls? Are they not alone?

Aside: Did you know that we use the phrase "voice crying in the wilderness" to mean something other than what its origin does?


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


In a Nutshell

America’s leaders never knew what hit them on 9/11, and they still don’t. The U.S. response was to launch a conventional war against nation-states – Afghanistan, then Iraq – when neither of these constituted the real enemy.

[...]

Now we are inching into Pakistan, which is rapidly being destabilized by our efforts.

[...]

Bin Laden has said more than once that he intends to draw us deeper and deeper into hostile territory, where, bankrupt and besieged, we’ll be caught flat-footed as al-Qaeda strikes once again deep within our own territory. Mocking us, the destroyer of the twin towers has observed that he has only to hang a scarecrow in some distant field and label it "al-Qaeda," and the Americans come running with their armies of occupation. In the meantime, however, as he put it in another message,

"As for the delay in carrying out similar operations in America, this was not due to failure to breach your security measures. Operations are under preparation, and you will see them on your own ground once they are finished, God willing."

[...]

Before we jump into an abyss from which there is no extrication, we need to stop, look, and listen: stop the war, look at the damage we have already done to the societies we’ve invaded, and listen to what our enemies are saying before we undertake to engage them in battle.

[...]

Our government’s actions aren’t protecting us; instead, we are endangered as never before. Rather than defeating the enemy, our foreign policy has only empowered him. That is the record since 9/11, and if we don’t stop, look, and listen, we are headed for catastrophe sooner rather than later.

  Justin Raimondo


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


White House Counsel Switch

White House counsel Greg Craig will resign on Friday, according to a White House official.

The announcement by Craig, who fell into disfavor with other top officials over his handling of President Barack Obama’s plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, will come just hours after the president arrives in Japan for a weeklong trip to Asia.

Craig will be replaced by Bob Bauer, a longtime Democratic election lawyer who also has served as Obama's personal lawyer, according to the White House official.

While the departure was widely rumored for months Craig steadfastly denied that he was on his way out in an interview last month.

“I have no plans to leave whatsoever," Craig told the National Law Journal on Oct. 12.

"The rumors that I'm about to leave are false."

  Raw Story

Why do they do that? It just makes them look worse.

Read the article if you need to be reminded of the troubles Craig has had.

It remains to be seen if Bauer will make things any easier.

Though Bauer is an unquestioned Obama insider, his legal track record and issue stances haven’t always jibed with Obama’s stances.

Obama has long cast himself as an advocate for reducing the role of special interest cash in politics. But Bauer until a few years ago had been a vocal critic of certain efforts to restrict political spending. In fact, a case he brought in 2005 on behalf of EMILY’s List recently resulted in a sweeping federal court ruling that experts predict could pave the way for a flood of new 527 spending that could target Obama in his 2012 reelection campaign.

In addition, while Obama has pledged to fix the public financing system as president, Bauer in a 2005 blog post suggested such effort could be futile because public “support is needed and not forthcoming."


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Uh-Huh

The Republican National Committee will no longer offer employees an insurance plan that covers abortion after POLITICO reported Thursday that the anti-abortion RNC's policy has covered the procedure since 1991.

"Money from our loyal donors should not be used for this purpose," Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement. "I don't know why this policy existed in the past, but it will not exist under my administration. Consider this issue settled."

  Politico

Yeah, well it did until he got busted.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

FUBAR

[A] report, by veteran investigative correspondent Aram Roston, asserts that US military contractors charged with assisting US forces in Afghanistan are actually funding the groups killing American soldiers. Roston describes a protection racket similar to that of the mafia, in which contractors pay the Taliban "protection money" not to attack them.

"In this grotesque carnival, the US military's contractors are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes," Roston writes. "It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting. And it is a deadly irony, because these funds add up to a huge amount of money for the Taliban.

  Raw Story

But what better way to ensure perpetual war?

Mike Hanna, a manager for Afghan American Army Services, a trucking firm, told Roston that paying off the Taliban was a necessary evil.

"We're basically being extorted," Hanna is quoted as saying. "Where you don't pay, you're going to get attacked. We just have our field guys go down there, and they pay off who they need to.

So why are we wasting lives and bombs? (A British General recently asked the same question, and the Italians have already answered.)

BTW: gasoline is expensive for us over there.

A recent estimate from the Pentagon found that the government spends some $400 a gallon for gasoline in Afghanistan when all transport costs are included.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Hasan Update

Military prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for alleged Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who was formally charged Thursday with 13 counts of premeditated murder, according to a senior Army officer familiar with the matter.

[...]

After interviewing hundreds of witnesses and examining material, including a computer taken from his apartment, investigators believe that he acted without the knowledge or guidance of any terror groups, Army officials and others familiar with the probe said.

  WSJ

I would expect them to say that. Otherwise they have to admit to being more than stupid about Hasan. I’m sure Beck, et al., would like to see the terrorist angle win out, so they can remind us that George Bush kept us safe from terror attacks. (After 9/11, of course.)

The Senate Homeland Security Committee will be conducting its own investigation into the government's handling of Maj. Hasan in the run-up to the attacks. The first Senate hearings will take place Wednesday.

[...]

President Barack Obama ordered a governmentwide investigation into whether federal agencies, including the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community, properly shared the information about Maj. Hasan collected before last week's shooting.

I don’t think we need to go much further than the Army’s handling of Maj. Hassan to find where things went wrong, but that’s probably a wise move.

John P. Galligan, the retired colonel hired to defend Maj. Hasan, said he believed an officer delivered a charge sheet to the major Thursday at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, where he is being held under guard. But Mr Galligan couldn't provide details, saying he wasn't there, hadn't been notified in advance and still hadn't seen the charges as of late Thursday afternoon. He learned about the charges from a news conference the Army held Thursday that was broadcast on TV.

"I feel blindsided," Mr. Galligan said. "Had I known, I certainly would have been down there."

Call me paranoid, but I suspect Mr. Galligan hasn’t seen the last of attempts to blindside him. He better stay on his toes.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


What We Need Is A Little More Hypocrisy

Leading up to passage of the House health care reform bill last week, 176 House Republicans joined 64 Democrats in voting for the so-called Stupak amendment, a measure that prohibits federal funds from being used to buy health insurance that covers elective abortions.

[...]

Federal Election Commission Records show the RNC purchases its insurance from Cigna. Two sales agents for the company said that the RNC’s policy covers elective abortion.

  Politico


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


FUBAR

NPR this morning, reporting on Major Hasan, the Army psychiatrist and shooter at Ft. Hood, interviewed his fellow psychiatrists and teachers in D.C. The teachers said his work was below standard, and included so much jihadist-type writing, that they worried about whether he was psychotic.

His fellow psychiatrists said they talked to each other about him. One said he asked the others if they thought he would ever commit fratricide. Another said he asked if they thought he might pass information to the jihadists if he were sent to combat zones.

They said that he was assigned to Ft. Hood because Ft. Hood has the most psychiatrists of any post and the Army figured if he didn't do his job, there would be plenty of others to pick up the slack, and in addition, there would be plenty of other psychiatrists to keep an eye on him!


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


UPDATE:

Raw Story picked it up:

Psychiatrists and medical officials who oversaw Major Nidal Hasan, accused of opening fire on fellow soldiers at the Fort Hood base in Texas last week, held a series of meetings between the spring of 2008 and the spring of this year to discuss serious concerns about his work and his behavior, NPR reported.

"Put it this way. Everybody felt that if you were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, you would not want Nidal Hasan in your fox hole," one official was quoted as saying.

And yet, he was indeed being sent.

The officials who discussed Hasan's status were not aware -- as some top Walter Reed hospital officials were -- that intelligence agencies had been tracking Hasan's e-mails to a radical Islamic cleric since December 2008, NPR said.

[...]

Officials considered kicking Hasan out of the program but chose not to partly because sacking a doctor is a "cumbersome and lengthy" process that involves hearings and potential legal conflict, sources told NPR.

Officials also believed they lacked solid evidence that Hasan was unstable and were concerned they could be accused of discriminating against him because of his Islamic identity or views.

Incredible.

Here's the NPR report.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What George Hath Wrought

Marine reservist Jasen Bruce was getting clothes out of the trunk of his car Monday evening when a bearded man in a robe approached him.

That man, a Greek Orthodox priest named Father Alexios Marakis, speaks little English and was lost, police said. He wanted directions.

What the priest got instead, police say, was a tire iron to the head. Then he was chased for three blocks and pinned to the ground — as the Marine kept a 911 operator on the phone, saying he had captured a terrorist.

  Tampa Bay


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Sarah Palin: Campaigning Against Rim Job

Sarah Palin's public pronouncements have now reached an amazing point -- where even Fox News is fact-checking her.

As Fox News anchor Bret Baier noted this evening, picking up on a Politico report, Palin said this past Friday that there had been a lot of "change" of late, and talked about the dollar coin -- how the phrase "In God We Trust" had been moved to the rim of the coin, rather than on the face. "Who makes a decision like that?" said Palin, seemingly pointing to the Obama administration, adding: "It's a disturbing trend."

However, the coins were in fact commissioned in 2005 by the Republican-led government of the time. And as Baier adds, Congress acted specifically to change this in 2007, and Fox displayed a James K. Polk presidential coin with the phrase on the coin's face.

  TPM

Really, I’ve been pretending this woman isn’t still out there, but this bit was too fun to pass up.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ignore This Post

The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying.

[...]

The allegations raise serious questions about the accuracy of the organisation's latest World Energy Outlook on oil demand and supply to be published tomorrow – which is used by the British and many other governments to help guide their wider energy and climate change policies.

[...]

In particular they question the prediction in the last World Economic Outlook, believed to be repeated again this year, that oil production can be raised from its current level of 83m barrels a day to 105m barrels. External critics have frequently argued that this cannot be substantiated by firm evidence and say the world has already passed its peak in oil production.

Now the "peak oil" theory is gaining support at the heart of the global energy establishment. "The IEA in 2005 was predicting oil supplies could rise as high as 120m barrels a day by 2030 although it was forced to reduce this gradually to 116m and then 105m last year," said the IEA source, who was unwilling to be identified for fear of reprisals inside the industry. "The 120m figure always was nonsense but even today's number is much higher than can be justified and the IEA knows this.

[...]

[A]s far back as 2004 there have been people making similar warnings. Colin Campbell, a former executive with Total of France told a conference: "If the real [oil reserve] figures were to come out there would be panic on the stock markets … in the end that would suit no one."

[...]

A second senior IEA source, who has now left but was also unwilling to give his name, said a key rule at the organisation was that it was "imperative not to anger the Americans" but the fact was that there was not as much oil in the world as had been admitted. "We have [already] entered the 'peak oil' zone. I think that the situation is really bad," he added.

  UK Guardian


Stop the Presses!

"Reports that President Obama has made a decision about Afghanistan are absolutely false," James Jones, US national security adviser, said in a statement.

  Raw Story

That will happen just before Thanksgiving when he returns from China.


Good Luck With That

Last Friday, the House Judiciary Committee, by a vote of 18-12, approved a bill entitled The State Secret Protection Act of 2009, which, if enacted, would be the first law ever to regulate and limit the President's ability to use the "state secrets privilege" to compel the dismissal of lawsuits that allege lawbreaking by executive branch officials. The bill was first introduced in 2007 in response to the Bush administration's radical abuse and expansion of the privilege, and was re-introduced earlier this year in response to the Obama administration's identical abuses.

[...]

NADLER: [The Bush Administration] invented the use of saying, you can't have a lawsuit [...] the very consideration of the lawsuit, the very consideration of the case, will endanger state secrets.

[...]

GREENWALD: the [And you’re saying the] Obama administration has been using this privilege in exactly the same way, meaning in this way that's reinvented, by saying not just these specific documents are subject to the state secrets privilege, but the subject matter itself is.

[...]

NADLER: One of the basic problems is that I have to think that the administration is not going to support the bill, and it's going to be very difficult to pass it.

[...]

If nothing else, it's refreshing to see Democratic members of the House fulfilling their duty to act independently of the executive branch and try to impose limits to curb presidential abuses of power, even when the President is a member of their political party.

  Glenn Greenwald


Monday, November 09, 2009

Oooh, Surprise, Surprise

Tonight, after months of conferences with top advisors, President Obama has settled on a new strategy for Afghanistan. CBS News correspondent David Martin reports that the president will send a lot more troops and plans to keep a large force there, long term.

The president still has more meetings scheduled on Afghanistan, but informed sources tell CBS News he intends to give Gen. Stanley McChrystal most, if not all, the additional troops he is asking for.

  CBS

Didn’t see that coming, didya? No, me either.

Seriously, do you think people actually believed he might not? I mean, people other than rabid right-wing nuts?

"He's got to take concrete steps to eliminate corruption," Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said last week. "That means you have to rid yourself of those who are corrupt. You have to actually arrest and prosecute them."

Like that’s gonna happen. He blessed the corrupt election already.

The president is not expected to announce his decision until after he returns from China the week before Thanksgiving.

Because?


...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.


UPDATE!


Islamo-realism

You knew this was coming:

American Family Association has called for a ban on Muslims in the military. Mother Jones reports that the conservative Christian group has posted an article on its website by the group's Director of Issues Analysis, Bryan Fischer, who argues that the tragedy at Ft. Hood is the sign to start the ban.

[...]

FISCHER: Of course, most U.S. Muslims don't shoot up their fellow soldiers. Fine. As soon as Muslims give us a foolproof way to identify their jihadis from their moderates, we'll go back to allowing them to serve. You tell us who the ones are that we have to worry about, prove you're right, and Muslims can once again serve. Until that day comes, we simply cannot afford the risk. You invent a jihadi-detector that works every time it's used, and we'll welcome you back with open arms.

This is not Islamophobia, it is Islamo-realism.

  TPM

And the perfect response is from a commenter on this article, Don S:

Of course, most conservatives don't shoot up fellow Americans. Fine. As soon as right-wingers give us a foolproof way to identify their wacko element from their moderates, we'll go back to allowing them to be armed. You tell us who the ones are that we have to worry about, prove you're right, & conservatives can once again own weapons. Until that day comes, we simply cannot afford the risk. You invent a nutcase-detector that works every time it's used, and we'll gladly allow you to own weapons.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Fuel to the Fire

The man accused of killing 13 people and wounding 29 at Fort Hood is able to talk, a hospital spokesman said Monday, but it's unknown when investigators might take advantage of his improving health to press forward with their probe into the shooting spree.

[...]

The personal Web site for a radical American imam living in Yemen who had contact with two 9/11 hijackers praised Hasan as a hero.

The posting Monday on the Web site for Anwar al Awlaki, who was a spiritual leader at two mosques where three 9/11 hijackers worshipped, said American Muslims who condemned the Fort Hood attack are hypocrites who have committed treason against their religion.

Awlaki said the only way a Muslim can justify serving in the U.S. military is if he intends to "follow in the footsteps of men like Nidal."

[...]

Hasan's family attended the Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., where Awlaki was preaching in 2001.

[...]

The Falls Church mosque is one of the largest on the East Coast, and thousands of worshippers attend prayers and services there every week.

[...]

Awlaki is a native-born U.S. citizen who left the United States in 2002, eventually traveling to Yemen. He was released from a Yemeni jail last year and has since gone missing.

[...]

Classmates who participated in a 2007-2008 master's program at a military college told The Associated Press that they complained to faculty during the program about what they considered to be Hasan's anti-American views, which included his giving a presentation that justified suicide bombing and telling classmates that Islamic law trumped the U.S. Constitution.

[...]

Sen. Joe Lieberman said Sunday he wants Congress to determine whether the shootings constitute a terrorist attack and whether warning signs that Hasan was embracing an increasingly extremist view of Islamic ideology were missed.

  Yahoo


Ft. Hood Killings

Whether he was or not, Maj. Hassan is going to be connected to the terrorists before we're through. And he could well be. There sure was some strangeness in the whole deal.

Perhaps more likely is that the connection is there, but it will be covered up in an attempt to pretend that the government and the military are not still unable to "keep American safe".

In 2001, before his transfer to Ft. Hood, Hasan attended the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va., where Anwar al-Awlaki – recently banned from Britain due to his open advocacy of attacks on British troops in Afghanistan and his support for organizations deemed terrorist – preached and held sway. Two of Hasan’s fellow congregants were Nawaf al-Hamzi and Hani Hanjour, both among the 9/11 hijackers.

[...]

The nut-job known as "Azzam the American," a Muslim convert from a Southern California Jewish family, issued a statement not long ago calling on Muslim Americans – specifically Muslim members of the armed services, of which there are thousands – to rise up and strike the infidels on the home front.

  Justin Raimondo

Kamran Pasha, the author of Mother of the Believers, a new novel relating the story of Islam from the perspective of Aisha, Prophet Mohammed's wife, was told of the al-Awlaki connection from a Muslim friend who is also an officer at Fort Hood. Using the name Richard, the recent convert to Islam described how he frequently prayed with Hasan at the town mosque after Hasan was deployed to Fort Hood in July. They last worshipped together at predawn prayers on the day of the massacre when Hasan "appeared relaxed and not in any way troubled or nervous".

But Richard had previously argued with Hasan when he said that he felt the "war on terror" was really a war against Islam, expressed anti-Jewish sentiments and defended suicide bombings.

"I asked Richard whether he believed that Hasan was motivated by religious radicalism in his murderous actions," Mr Pasha said.

"Richard, with great sadness, said that he believed this was true.

  UK Telegraph

Sadly, I may have been inadvertently on the money when I said in my first post on this subject that "I thought we were supposed to be fighting them over there so we didn't have to fight them over here."


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Nice Work If You Can Get It

Three of the largest Wall Street firms -- which together received $45,000,000,000 in taxpayer bailouts -- are on track to hand out $29,700,000,000 in bonuses this year.

That's only the three largest firms. JP Morgan Chase took $25 billion in government aid; Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, $10 billion each. All three have paid back the government bailout money they've received, but the liquidity and "cheap money" offered by the Fed have kindled record profits at their investment and trading arms.

[...]

If divided equally among the firms' collective 119,000 employees, the sum total per worker comes to $250,400 each (which Bloomberg notes is almost five times the median US household income of $50,000).

  Raw Story


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Now We're Talkin'

Decrying Barack Obama as "white power in black face," hundreds of African-Americans marched on the White House Saturday to protest policies of the first black US president, and demand that he bring US troops home.

[...]

"We're not satisfied with him, and... this hope and change rap has not been a reality for black people," [Charles] Baron told AFP during the demonstration.

[...]

"We are glad that Barack Obama broke up the white male monopoly on the White House, but we were not looking for a change in the occupant of the White House from white to black, we were looking for change in foreign policies and domestic policies," he added.

[...]

Protesters also called for Obama to order troops out of Iraq and to scrap Africom, the controversial year-old United States Africa Command, and demanded "hands off" Venezuela and ends to the Cuba embargo and the Zimbabwe blockade.

  Raw Story


Can We Haul Up KBR/Halliburton for Treason Yet?

Let's see, aside for overcharging for services, taking money for services not rendered, failing to provide needed water, human trafficking, and bribe-taking, KBR also burned hazardous waste and exposed tens of thousands of people, including troops.

Defense contractor KBR may have exposed as many as 100,000 people, including US troops, to cancer-causing toxins by burning waste in open-air pits in Iraq, says a series of class-action lawsuits filed against the company.

[...]

KBR burned "tires, lithium batteries ... biohazard materials (including human corpses), medical supplies (including those used during smallpox inoculations), paints, solvents, asbestos insulation, items containing pesticides, polyvinyl chloride pipes, animal carcasses, dangerous chemicals, and hundreds of thousands of plastic water bottles."

And they did so within plain sight of US troops operating in Iraq, the lawsuit states. "In some instances, the burn pit smoke was so bad that it interfered with the military mission," the Nashville lawsuit states. "For example, the military located at Camp Bucca, a detention facility, had difficulty guarding the facility as a result of the smoke."

[...]

At a hearing of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee on Friday, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said that KBR continues to use burn pits at the US's largest base in Iraq [Balad Airbase].

  Raw Story

At least a class action lawsuit has been filed for that. But why aren't these things acts of treason?


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.