Wednesday, August 31, 2011

SNAFU: Fast and Furious

This post is about our longest contiguous declared war: the war on drugs. I find it always amusingly amazing that we talk about a war on terror and a war on drugs as if they could possibly be real things. Wars, by definition, I think, are between armed parties. So really, drugs and terror being ubiquitous and eternal, are perfect for funneling money into the hands of an elite group of criminals.

But I digress.

Try to work your way to the end of this post, because that's where the real outrage IMO lies.

The acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Kenneth Melson took the fall for the ill-conceived Fast and Furious gun tracing program on Tuesday. But his departure is far from a clean break between the Obama administration and an operation that allowed over 2,000 guns to "walk" from US gunshops into the hands of Mexican cartels.

[...]

"There’s a lot of blame to go around," said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) of Iowa. "As our investigation moves forward, and we get to the bottom of this policy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more fall out beyond the resignations and new assignments announced today."

The two officials reassigned by the Justice Department were Dennis Burke, the US attorney in Arizona who had been involved with the operation, and another Arizona investigator who was demoted from criminal case work to civil litigation.

Christian Science Monitor

This goes way beyond mere “blowback” – the CIA’s terminology for actions that produce unintended and unpleasant consequences. Because it’s hard to fathom exactly what was intended – unless it was the desire to sow chaos in Mexico and create a new threat to US citizens in the border states.

[...]

I’ve heard the official explanation – this was supposedly a plan to somehow entrap drug cartel chieftains – but it rings false when one realizes that this “mandate” involved the smuggling of thousands of guns, including assault rifles. Enough to equip a small army.

[...]

The US government has a horrific record in Latin America, and this history is well-known: during the cold war era, Washington armed and trained “death squads” throughout South and Central America, whose well-documented massacres must turn the stomach of any civilized human being. The “contras,” the Salvadoran rightist gangs, as well as our favored caudillos – all received shipments of arms, as well as other assistance, from their US patrons. How is “Operation Fast and Furious” any different?

[...]

It turns out that the arms benefited the Sinaloa cartel [...] another indication that the “entrapment” explanation is a cover story, and a not very believable one at that. If the idea was to entrap Mexican drug lords in a “sting” operation, then why focus on the Sinaloa gang to the exclusion of all others?

[...]

The embattled Mexican government has barely been able to keep order, as the cartels rampage through the country, slaughtering thousands and dominating entire provinces: dead bodies keep turning up in droves, and it seems like a day hardly passes without some spectacular display of violence in a major Mexican city. Whole police forces are deserting, not out of disloyalty but out of fear – fear that the government is losing its grip and the drug cartels are about to take over.

In this context, to put thousands of weapons in the hands of highly-organized criminals is inconceivable – unless the plan is to bring the Mexican government down and create chaos.

Justin Raimondo

I have to admit, he has a point.

The best place to investigate this that I know of is Narco News…

Fast and Furious has come under fire because, as part of a strategy aimed at targeting higher-ups in the weapons- and narco-trafficking business, it allegedly allowed some 2,000 or more firearms illegally purchased in the U.S. to “walk” (or be smuggled under ATF’s watch) across the border, where they helped to fuel the murder rate in Mexico, ATF whistleblowers contend.

[...]

At a minimum, it seems clear that the Fast and Furious tactic of allowing guns to be purchased and smuggled into Mexico was designed, even if seriously flawed, to snare higher-ups in the Mexican narco-trafficking organizations, which is in line with the larger DOJ Southwest Border Strategy advanced by [former U.S. Attorney General David] Ogden — and which he presented to Congress in his March 2009 testimony. It would seem Congressional leaders, as part of their oversight responsibilities, had a duty at that time to question Ogden about the tactics that would be used to implement the border strategy.

[...]

Ogden became Deputy Attorney General (and the top gun of OCDETF program] on March 12, 2009. He stepped down from the post to re-enter private law practice at WilmerHale in Washington, D.C., effective Feb. 4, 2010.

[...]

At a minimum, it seems Ogden, the second-highest-ranking official at DOJ when ATF’s Fast and Furious kicked off, should be a person of interest within the sweep of any investigation into the operation, yet his name has not surfaced in that light, to date, in the mainstream media coverage of the scandal.

Narco News / Bill Conroy

Narco News as far back as June of 2010 reported that a special forces US task force had “boots on the ground” in Mexico assisting the Mexican military in tracking down the top capos of Mexico’s major drug “cartels” – such as the Juarez, Beltran Leyva, Zetas and La Familia organizations. (The Sinaloa organization’s top leadership, however, has been left largely untouched, and by design if you believe the recent US court pleadings of Vicente Zambada Niebla, a Sinaloa leader now imprisoned in Chicago who claims a quid pro quo deal has been struck between the Sinaloa drug syndicate and the US government.)

[...]

So it should be no surprise that information is now surfacing from reliable sources indicating that the US government is once again employing a long-running counter-insurgency strategy that has been pulled off the shelf and deployed in conflicts dating back to Vietnam in the 1960s, in Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s, and beyond, and in more recent conflicts, such as in Iraq.

NarcoNews

An obscure figure in Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization is key to the US government’s alleged deal with its leadership — a pact that supposedly provided the "cartel's" chief narcos with immunity in exchange for them providing US authorities with information that could be used to target other narco-trafficking organizations.

That key player central to the informant pact is a Mexican lawyer named Humberto Loya Castro, who is described in US legal documents as “a close confidante of Joaquin Guzman Loera (Chapo),” the supposed leader of the Sinaloa organization.

Loya Castro’s name surfaces in legal pleadings filed recently in US federal court in Chicago by Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, the son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, another of the purported top leaders of the Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization.

[...]

The stunning allegations, published first by Narco News and days after that reported in the US mainstream media, should prompt serious questions about the veracity of the drug war, raising the specter that it is little more than an ugly pretense designed to protect the interests of a powerful elite at the expense of democracy and the mass of people in both the US and Mexico.

Narco News

Now, the deal with the Sinaloa gang made ostensibly to entrap other gangs (Jesus, how many times?) is not the only thing that could be problematic for President #Compromise. It is also being alleged that the Sinaloa gang was granted rights to smuggle tons of drugs into Chicago. Yes, I do believe it.

The son of a heavy hitter in a powerful Mexican drug trafficking organization has filed explosive legal pleadings in federal court in Chicago accusing the US government of cutting a deal with the the “Sinaloa Cartel” that gave its leadership “carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago and the rest of the United States.”

[...]

[Jesus Vicente] Zambada Niebla also claims to be an asset of the US government.

[...]

The latest allegations being advanced by Zambada Niebla, who is now being held in solitary confinement in a jail cell in Chicago, are laid out in motions filed late this week in federal court. Those pleadings spell out the supposed cooperative relationship between the US Department of Justice and its various agencies, including DEA and the FBI, and the leaders of the “Sinaloa Cartel” — including Zambada Niebla.

Narco News

Mr. Zambada will not live long if I’m any judge of these kinds of things. And we will never get the real story about why “Fast and Furious” was implemented. Just its name leads me to believe it was perpetrated by people no smarter than the ones who thought taking over Iraq would be “a cakewalk.”

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

Here Comes 9/11 - Hold on to Your Hats

Former New York governor George Pataki is upset over the Obama Administration’s guidelines to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks .

[...]

“At a fundamental level, this Administration has never understood the meaning of September 11,” he said. “The fact is, September 11 was not an attack on the global community, it was an attack on America because of our country’s outspoken belief in freedom.”

  Raw Story

They never tire of that old saw, do they?

In a book I recently read, “Incognito: Secret Lives of the Brain,” neuroscientist David Eagleman noted that studies show people tend to believe something is good if they see it repeatedly. I don’t know if that goes for thinking something to be true if they hear it repeatedly, but I bet it does.

Tribal behavior is capitalized upon (whether consciously or not) to rally armies of aggressors by painting the enemy as someone so evil as to be opposed to something the tribe takes great pride in believing is good about itself. We champion freedom, and they hate us for it. Period. Never mind that they’ve been saying for decades that they just want us out of their countries and we refuse to go. Of course they have plenty more reasons to hate us now. And not one of them has anything to do with “our freedoms.”

Christians oftentimes have that same persecution complex which allows unscrupulous politicians and demagogues to herd them into armies. "We love a great - and good - god, and we're hated for it." The Christians even have their reward for believing they are persecuted: heaven. I guess if you can’t behave in a Christ-like manner, you need the free pass that being persecuted bestows upon you. And these same people will mock Islam for its reward of 70 virgins. I don’t know. Seventy virgins or halos and harps? I’m thinking it’s the Christians who hate the Muslims for their heaven.

“Sure, we deplore terrorism anywhere, but it is about us,” he said. “We were the country attacked on September 11. We were the country that was attacked eight years earlier. We have got to be vigilant and understand that you can’t treat terrorists as civilians with constitutional rights.”

Does anybody know what he’s talking about? What terrorists are being treated in such a manner?

But, as the man said, “it’s about us.” It’s always about us.

Wikileaks Attacked

The WikiLeaks website has fallen victim to an apparent cyber attack after the accelerated publication of tens of thousands of state department cables by the anti-secrecy organisation raised fresh concerns about the exposure of confidential US embassy sources.

"WikiLeaks.org is presently under attack," the group said on Twitter late on Tuesday. One hour later, the site and the cables posted there were inaccessible.

WikiLeaks updated its Twitter account to say it was "still under a cyberattack" and directed followers to search for cables on a mirror site or a separate search system, cablegatesearch.net.

  UK Guardian

They must have excellent security, or this wouldn’t have taken so long.

Speaking of Rick Perry

Perry's bank account no longer reflects [his] humble beginnings as his bottom line has soared in recent years, records show, thanks largely to a handful of real estate deals that critics allege were achieved through the presidential candidates's political connections.

  Star-Telegram

To quote Jack Sparrow: “Pirate.” Which means, if you look at what the man is you won’t expect anything else. And Rick Perry is a politician. (Or pirate. Pretty much the same thing.)

If you care to know, the article runs down the list of real estate speculations Perry made and how they often seem to be made a little on the shady side.

Conor Friedersdorf and David Frum think this all looks a bit crooked but the National Review's Jim Geraghty says Perry is just constantly lucky, over and over again.

  Salon War Room

Fear and Loathing

I guess it’s too much to expect our children to be willing to continue warring Middle Eastern children when they don’t have the same kind of impetus.

A 9/11 coloring book has emerged on the brink of the tenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center. It is entitled “We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom,” and was published by Missouri-based Really Big Coloring Books.

The color book begins with Osama bin Laden plotting to attack the United States and ends with bin Laden being shot by a Navy SEAL. A spokesperson for the publisher said that seeing bin Laden get shot “provides closure” for children.

  Raw Story

Ages 25 and over.

One page of the coloring book states: “Children, the truth is, these terrorist acts were done by freedom-hating Islamic Muslim extremists. These crazy people hate the American way of life because we are FREE and our society is FREE.”

Crazy people.

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

What Are They Up To?

Abdelhakim Belhaj, the military leader of Libya's National Transitional Council in Tripoli, says Saadi Gaddafi, the third son of the deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, has telephoned him and asked if he can surrender.

  UK Guardian

Actually, if you listen to the accompanying video, the man says Qadafi’s son asked if he could join the rebels. That’s a little bit different. Either may be untrue. We shall see.

And Rick Perry Is Jealous

Mexico plans to administer the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer, to all girls beginning next year, the country's health ministry said Tuesday.

Beginning in 2012, the HPV vaccine will be part of the normal course of shots given to all girls at the age of nine, Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said.

  Raw Story

Just like toxic pesticides. If you can’t sell it in the U.S., you can always dump it on the Mexicans.

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You Deserve a Break


Imagine the reaction of the TSA checker at the x-ray machine.

Larry Wilkerson Doesn't Know Dick

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson told Democracy Now‘s Amy [...] “I, unfortunately — and I’ve admitted to this a number of times, publicly and privately — was the person who put together Colin Powell’s presentation at the United Nations Security Council on 5 February, 2003,” Wilkerson said. “It was probably the biggest mistake of my life. I regret it to this day. I regret not having resigned over it.”

[...]

“Colonel Wilkerson, do you think the Bush administration officials should be held accountable in the way that Glenn Greenwald [ed: see this post] is talking about?” Goodman asked.

“I certainly do,” Wilkerson replied. “And I’d be willing to testify, and I’d be willing to take any punishment I’m due. And I have to say, I agree with almost everything [Greenwald] said. And I think that explains the aggressiveness, to a large extent, of the Cheney attack and of the words like ‘exploding heads all over Washington.’ This is a book written out of fear, fear that one day someone will ‘Pinochet’ Dick Cheney.”

Raw Story

I have no sympathy for either Colin Powell or Colonel Wilkerson. They did what they did so they could retain their power. Nobody was holding a gun to their heads. They could have chosen to be honest and exercise a little integrity. Had they done so, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and American soldiers might be alive today. The whole world might be different in very real and improved ways. They chose not to.

Dick Cheney may be attempting to write history in his favor, but he isn’t afraid of being Pinchoeted. Pinochet wasn’t. I'll wager he never gave the possibility of being tried as a war criminal a second thought. No despot ever does. Dick Cheney is no different. Except his health is worse, and he’ll die long before anyone with any power seriously considers that maybe he should have been tried.

You Go, Bill Nye

No, that's not a cartoon, although it looks like it. It's a man with the IQ of a cartoon trying not to let Bill Nye make reasonable points to Fox viewers.

Click the pic to get there.

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

You Gotta Keep 'Em in Line

The United States said Monday it has asked Libya's new rebel leadership to re-examine the case of the Libyan convicted of the 1988 plane bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people.

  Raw Story

Jesus, could we let them finish their takeover first?

The United States has long criticized the decision by Scottish authorities in August, 2009 to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi early on grounds that they believed he had only months to live because of prostate cancer.

He remains alive more than two years later in Tripoli, although his brother said he is drifting in and out of a coma.

Yeah, well, we want him dead. Dead. Do you understand? Dead. We want more bloooooooooodddddd!

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland sounded hopeful that the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) would take another look at the case now that the rebels have overrun Moamer Kadhafi's regime in the capital Tripoli.

[...]

"Presumably, a new, free, democratic Libya would have a different attitude towards a convicted terrorist.

"So it is in that spirit that the TNC will look at this case. I cannot speak to what decisions will be made," she added.

Oh, bullshit, Victoria. You know damned well what decision will be made. It’s part of their initiation rites into the American empire.

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

Yay! Trade!

The U.S. solar market is thriving among fierce global competition -- even besting China last year when it came to trade between the two countries, according to a new report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The industry hit a record $1.9 billion in net total exports in 2010, according to the new report from GTM Research and SEIA. That's up from $723 million in 2009.

  TPM

Yeah, yeah, that’s all well and good. But why don’t we see it put to use more here? Oh, wait. Because Halliburton, et al., haven’t finished squeezing every last possible dime out of the oil industry.

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

Is It Wasted If Halliburton Prospers?

The US government has wasted more than $30bn (£18.3bn) on private contractors and grants in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade – more than 15% of the total spend – according to a bipartisan group charged with examining the issue.

[...]

"Tens of billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted through poor planning, vague and shifting requirements, inadequate competition, substandard contract management and oversight, lax accountability, weak inter-agency co-ordination, and subpar performance or outright misconduct by some contractors and federal employees. Both government and contractors need to do better," they said.

  UK Guardian

Or we could just cut Medicare and Social Security.

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

Ethics? What Ethics?

While the Nazis were using Jews, we were using Guatamalans (and American black men) to conduct our medical experiments.

The US research project in which government researchers deliberately infected Guatemalan prison inmates and mental patients with syphilis in the 1940s has been described as an "institutional failure" by a US presidential commission.

Nearly 5,500 people were subjected to diagnostic testing and more than 1,300 were exposed to venereal diseases by human contact or inoculations in research meant to test the drug penicillin, the commission said on Monday.

Within that group, "we believe that there were 83 deaths," said Stephen Hauser, a member of the commission which has poured over 125,000 documents linked to the episode since being set up by President Barack Obama last November.

However, Hauser said not enough evidence existed to confirm that the procedures the people endured during the study was what had killed them.

alJazeera

However? I hope you don’t mean to imply it would have been okay had they lived? More likely, and just as inappropriately, you probably mean to imply that their relatives should be barred from compensation.

Like the “doctors” who ran the fake program to help Pakistani children in order to sniff out Obama’s family, the knowledge about these monsters has just set medical aid to foreign countries back. We’ll have to go back to using our own citizens when other countries refuse us admittance.

BTW, unsurprisingly, the same man in charge of this hideous “research program” was involved with the Tuskegee program to infect black men in Alabama between 1932 and 1972.

That’s a long time to be running a program like that unhindered by law or morality.Particularly while you are ostensibly fighting a war against an inhumane regime that, among other things, performs medical experiments on human beings against their will.

Obama personally apologized to Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom in October before ordering a thorough review of what happened. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the experiments as "clearly unethical."

Raw Story

Clearly Hillary is familiar with the lack of ethics, and President #Compromise is going to be pilloried for that apology.

The Guatemalan president has called the 1946-1948 experiments conducted by the US National Institutes of Health "crimes against humanity" and ordered his own investigation.

[Clinton's] sentiment was clearly expressed by the commission, which said US government researchers must have known they were contravening ethical standards by deliberately infecting mental patients with syphilis.

Well, I think that’s a given. Unless they didn’t know what they were injecting. Somebody knew, though.

Commission president Amy Gutmann called it an "historic injustice," and said the inquiry aimed to "honor the victims and make sure it never happens again."

But not compensate anyone.

I have an idea to make sure it never happens again: when a person is elected to Congress, he or she must sign an agreement to be used in whatever medical research is being conducted.

And another idea: when any Congress person votes to authorize a war, he or she must serve a minimum of three years on the front.

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

Whew

I was going to complain about the heat until my son started talking about 115 degrees in Austin. It's relatively cool here. 95 yesterday.

Happy Birthday Molly Ivins


August 30, 1944 – January 31, 2007

"I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying - it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off.

"I believe that ignorance is the root of all evil. And that no one knows the truth.

"I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point -- race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.

"Texas is a low-tax, low-service state. The only depressing part is that, unlike Mississippi, we can afford to do better. We just don't.

"If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts.

"If ignorance ever goes to $40 a barrel, I want drillin' rights on [Dick Armey’s] head.

"Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.

"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag.

"There is no inverse relationship between freedom and security. Less of one does not lead to more of the other. People with no rights are not safe from terrorist attack."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Not a Picture I Want in My Head


I just wish they'd change their bloody headline and lede.

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

Are They Crazy?

A group of some of the wealthiest Germans are asking Angela Merkel to put a stop to the growing disparity between rich and poor in Germany. They believe they should be taxed more heavily. They’re already taxed at 42%, but they say they have more money than they need. Can you imagine that happening here? Me neither.

Immensely wealthy people in the United States paid taxes at up to 90% from 1945 – 1960. And they still had more money than they needed. But now, people in that same bracket are taxed at around 35%. Not that they probably pay that much after loopholes and offshore holdings.



Source: UK Guardian

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

American Freed from Libyan Jail

Wan and thin after six months in solitary confinement, Matthew VanDyck shudders as he recalls the effects of falling through the cracks in a warped and lawless Libya.

[...]

"I would rather they had just taken me out and beat me, even every day, than go through the solitary confinement, because what it does psychologically is astonishing. I had no idea that the brain could work in the ways that it did in my case."

  UK Guardian

Careful now. If you call it torture, you’re going to have to rethink what’s happening to Bradley Manning.

Maybe Mr. VanDyk can put his terrible experience to good use.

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

Ooops. Leaked

A leaked document apparently detailing United Nations preparations for its role in post-Gaddafi Libya reveals plans for the world body to deploy military observers and police officers to the North African country.

[...]

"It's a very detailed plan really spelling out [roles for] military observers, UN, police; it says things like NATO has an ongoing role and there's some things the UN can do without a mandate from the Security Council," Matthew Russell Lee, who runs the Inner City Press website, told Al Jazeera.

[...]

"It doesn't set forward something like here's four different scenarios and let the Libyan people choose; it very much says lines like 'we have developed principles for the transition in Libya.'

  alJazeera

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

Total Pipeline Protesters Arrested to Date: 512

Including one of the nation's top climate scientists.

Dr. James Hansen, who runs NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was arrested along with 139 other protesters taking part in a series of demonstrations against the planned $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport 500,000 barrels of crude per day from America's neighbor to the north all the way to the Gulf coast of Texas.

[...]

[Hansen] was the center of a years-long controversy in the last decade, after he claimed that NASA had tried to censor his findings about earth's climate on behalf of the Bush administration.

[...]

Canadian tar sand is seen as a horribly inefficient form of hydrocarbon energy due to the separation process, which requires more energy than the finished product puts out. Production methods also put off 3-5 times more greenhouse emissions than typical oil production.

  Raw Story

Back up. The process requires more energy than the resultant product provides? For the love of Pete. What is the matter with you people?

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

Sad, Inexcusable, Obscene

Body guards forcefully removed the widow of an Army Ranger from Donald Rumsfeld’s book signing in Fort Lewis, Washington Friday after she confronted the former defense secretary about her husband’s death.

[...]

Joint Base Lewis-McChord spokesman Bud McKay claimed that [Ashley] Joppa-Hagemann, who was accompanied by anti-war veteran Jorge Gonzalez, was removed because she had caused a disruption.

[...]

Joppa-Hagemann blamed Rumsfeld for her husband’s post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eventual suicide. Jared Hagemann [father of two small children] was scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan this month for the ninth time.

“[Rumsfeld] said, ‘Oh I heard about that,’” Joppa-Hagemann recalled to KCPQ-TV. “He didn’t say ‘him’ — he says ‘that.’”

  Raw Story

For the ninth time.

What Drives a Neocon?

The neoconservative persuasion [...] was born in the deepest winter of the cold war, when American school-kids were told to “duck and cover” as the shadow of nuclear war hovered over the American Dream.

[...]

Murray Rothbard relates his personal experiences [...] in his book, The Betrayal of the American Right:

It was National Review editor Frank Meyer who once told me: “I have a vision, a great vision of the future: a totally devastated Soviet Union.” I knew that this was the vision that really animated the new Conservatism.

[...]

“Of course the New Rightists of National Review would never quite dare to admit this crazed goal in public, but the objective would always be slyly implied. At right-wing rallies no one cheered a single iota for the free market, if this minor item were ever so much as mentioned; what really stirred up the animals were demagogic appeals by National Review leaders for total victory, total destruction of the Communist world. It was that which brought the right-wing masses out of their seats. It was National Review editor Brent Bozell who trumpeted, at a right-wing rally: “I would favor destroying not only the whole world, but the entire universe out to the furthermost star, rather than suffer Communism to live.”

Justin Raimondo

If I can’t have her, nobody can.

Perhaps Raimondo is right about being raised in the duck and cover era. I certainly remember that. I never quite accepted it, but I remember the fear of it as a child in elementary school. It wasn’t in our texts, but our teacher periodically reminded us that if we were not vigilant, we might wake up one morning and find out we were controlled by evil Communists, who seemingly were the type who would snatch you from your home and eat your parents’ brains for breakfast.

Condi Rice was inordinately obsessed with the Russian threat.

These folks are mentally unbalanced. Do they actually live in fear, or do they just realize that instilling fear makes people malleable? I wonder they don’t threaten us with China. Is it because they have a monster from Russia in Stalin that works better than the threat of actual Communism? Monsters we understand, economics not so much. Mao didn’t scare enough people. In fact, his PR was pretty good amongst share-minded folk. Or are we just not quite there yet? Is the great China threat just around the corner?

Qadafi's Last Throes

SNAFU

The first cracks in Libya's rebel coalition have opened, with protests erupting in Misrata against the reported decision of the National Transitional Council (NTC) to appoint a former Gaddafi henchman as security boss of Tripoli.

UK Guardian

The old guard is the new guard. Where have we seen that before?

Misrata's ruling council lodged a formal protest with the NTC, saying that if the appointment were confirmed Misratan rebel units deployed on security duties in Tripoli would refuse to follow NTC orders.

[...]

Mr Jabril, whose NTC executive installed itself in Tripoli over the weekend, says he wants to build an "inclusive" administration. He appears to have the tacit support of London, with the defence secretary, Liam Fox, telling al-Jazeera it was important the NTC avoided excluding members of the former regime.

Uh-huh. He's been told by his handlers (benefactors) in the west that's what he's to do.

London is believed to be keen to avoid a rerun of Iraq, where a de-Baathification programme saw the ruling administration removed and chaos follow the US-led invasion in 2003.

We must assume that London and Washington are agreed upon this. I think that's a safe bet, but President #Compromise has other fish to fry right now, and he's remaining relatively quiet about Libya. Probably a good idea from a campaign standpoint.

And keeping a man in the government who was responsible for murdering many civilians is not likely to produce chaos?

"I can't see any justication for [it] whatsoever," said Hassan al-Amin, who returned to the town after 28 years' exile spent in the UK. "We have a big force in Tripoli. They are not going to follow orders from a war criminal."

[...]

Behind the protests is a wider grudge between Misratans and the NTC, which many accuse of representing Benghazi rather than Libyans as a whole. Misrata's military council continues to refuse to follow orders from NTC army commanders.

It’s just so hard to control it all, isn’t it?

Furthermore…

The Arab League readmitted Libya to the regional bloc on Saturday, turning over the country's seat to the NTC and effectively recognising the rebel body as the legitimate authority in Libya.

[...]

According to Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, the [NTC] fighters [at Sirte] are awaiting more men to join them from the capital, but there was little likelihood that the reinforcements would arrive soon.

[...]

"Until Tripoli is secure we are not going to see these fighters...and you are going to need them if you are going to open new battles like in Sirte or in Sabha, further south another stronghold of the Libyan leader."

alJazeera

Wait a minute. Wait a minute. The Libyan leader (by whom I suppose he means Qadafi – even though we here in the west, and now even the Arab League, have already deemed the NTC in charge) still has other strongholds?

Somebody has not been telling us the whole story.

And, yes, it is going to be difficult to get reinforcements soon from the capital city if the capital city is not secured. Methinks we are going to have to send NATO boots in sooner or later. Probably sooner. The air strikes don’t seem to be doing enough damage.

As fighters advanced towards Sirte, there were pockets of dissent within the country accusing the NTC of not being transparent enough in nominating members for a new administration.

Oh-ho. Libyans notice things like that, eh?

Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons, reporting from a protest in Misrata, said: "They [the protesters] say the old guard of the Gaddafi regime are far too prominent in the list of people issued so far.

Imagine that.

Reporting from the city on Sunday, Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland said: "Bin Jawad is now under rebel control, but the rebels warn us that the town itself is still quite unsafe".

The fighting then moved to the town of Nawfaliya, about 35km away from Bin Jawad, Rowland said, reporting from near the frontline.

"There was talk earlier of some last remaining areas of resistance by Gaddafi loyalists. But Libyan fighters have by-and-large taken the town of Nawfaliya."

Rowland said the fighters were waiting for reinforcements to arrive in Nawfaliya, after which their next objective was to fight off Gaddafi loyalists in the Red Valley, about 120km east of Sirte.

More of those “last throes.”

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

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Arab Spring Transition


We're like the cowboy who thinks he'll ride a bull.

And it's the ninth second that might be of some concern.


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

Last Throes

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has offered to enter talks with the Libyan rebels over the formation of a transitional government as loyalist fighters are pushed further to the outskirts of Tripoli and rebel forces prepare for an assault on the ousted dictator's hometown of Sirte.

UK Guardian

Umm, I think they've already started.

So, anyway…

The Fashionista is ready to talk, eh? He might be a little late to the party.

The offer of negotiations were slapped down quickly by a senior NTC official, who said the rebels would not talk to Gaddafi unless he surrendered.

Yeah. And then what would they talk about?

The British foreign secretary, William Hague, said on Sunday there had never been any possibility of the Libyan dictator being part of a transition. He described Gaddafi's apparent offer of talks as "delusional".

After all, he’s the former leader of Libya. The NTC are the government according to NATO. And have everything under control.

Rebel officials in Tripoli are struggling to maintain electricity and water supplies. The NTC announced on Saturday that a new Tripoli local council would be operating from the previous municipal building and launching a website with updates on basic services.

[...]

In the city, neighbourhoods have been without running water for several days and the electricity station is no longer coping with demand.

[...]

Dozens of decomposing bodies still lie in and around the main hospital in the Abu Salim district, abandoned by medical staff during the fighting,

[...]

On Sunday, a ferry chartered by the International Organisation for Migration is due to take aboard 1,200 stranded foreigners and leave Tripoli harbour.

[...]

The shortages underscore the urgency of restoring essential services in a city that enjoyed guaranteed running water and power under Gaddafi.

Don’t you just hate that? When things were better under your old dictator? Ask Iraq.

And politicians speak the same language the world over:

Pressed on whether the city was now under full rebel control, [Usama el-Abed, deputy chairman of the Tripoli NTC] replied: "The Gaddafi regime forces have definitely come to their end, but there will always be remnants, there will always be residues, there will always be people who, for the sake of vendettas and vengeance and stealing the joy of celebration, will come up with some action that may not be expected."

Those regime soldiers and supporters always want to steal the joy of your celebration. They can be so vengeful.

Reminds me of Dick Cheney's claim in late spring of 2005 that al Qaeda in Iraq was in its "last throes." We have everything under control. These are just spoilsports. There will always be a few spoilsports.

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

There Goes Another One

A Puerto Rico senator [...] who was the Vice Chairman of George W.Bush and Dick Cheney's Puerto Rico re-election committee in 2004 [...] has become the latest politician placed into controversy after allegedly posting sexual photos of himself online.

[...]

[Robert] Arango's alleged photos and possible posting on a same sex site may come as a surprise since the senator has been a vocal enemy [of] gay marriage and rights in San Juan.

Raw Story

Why we positively expect to learn these homophobes are homosexuals. It happens with great regularity. They’re giving homosexuals a bad name.

When asked about the pictures, Arango reportedly did not deny or confirm that it was him. The Latin news site Gunabee reports that the senator told the Dando Candela show, "You know I’ve been losing weight. As I shed that weight, I’ve been taking pictures. I don’t remember taking this particular picture but I’m not gonna say I didn’t take it. I’d tell you if I remembered taking the picture but I don’t."
Of course they have to be “sexual photos.” Otherwise, you wouldn’t notice the weight loss. Doesn’t everybody do that?

He doesn’t remember taking that particular picture. Does he remember if someone else was taking pictures of him posing in the nude?

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

Colin Powell Doesn't Know Dick

He says Dick's book hype isn't what he'd expect from a former vice president.

But his head hasn't exploded.

Video at Raw Story - click the pic.

Well, That Was Exciting

[As] the waters rose along the East River Park and along the West Side highway, they quickly reached their peak and then receded. A few streets flooded, the odd car was stranded, but on the whole the feared "storm surge" that could have swamped the city failed to materialise. Lower Manhattan had dodged a meteorological bullet.

  UK Guardian

Yeah, I bet there are some New Yorkers who are pissed at the mayor for their evacuation troubles, though. They’ll be like Galvestonians – next time they’ll stay put, and that’s when God will get them. Because that's just the way he rolls.

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

Why Now?

As the British National Archives continues to release UFO-related documents, the former Ministry of Defense (MoD) UFO Project chief is openly admitting to being part of what he claims was a U.K. policy of ridiculing UFO reports and the people who reported them.

[...]

"We couldn't say 'There's something in our air space; pilots see them; they're tracked on radar; sometimes we scramble jets to chase these things, but we can't catch them.' This would be an admission that we'd lost control of our own air space, and such a position would be untenable."

[...]

One file reveals how officials were afraid to be embarrassed if the public learned that UFO research was hindered by a lack of funds and higher priorities.

[...]

"I'm a little bit apologetic about this because obviously, when I was in MoD, I had to play this game myself. To really achieve our policy of downplaying the UFO phenomenon, we would use a combination of 'spin and dirty tricks.'

"We used terms like UFO buffs and UFO spotters -- terms that mean these people are nut jobs. [...] We were trying to do two things: either to kill any media story on the subject, or if a media story ran, insure that it ran in such a way that it would make the subject seem ridiculous and that it would make people who were interested in this seem ridiculous."

Huffington Post

Yes, we are familiar with that tactic.

Why the admission now? I’m going to guess it’s not out of a sense of shame for anything they’ve done, nor a latent influx of integrity and honesty. The US will be forced to make similar admissions soon.

My guess is that the case for fighting an otherworld army is being leveraged for possible future use. Let the “quantitative easing” begin in earnest. It’s going to take a lot of money to wage that one. Halliburton’s profit potential is infinite.

"If it was my words, then I apologize, I'm very sorry for that. I believe in open government and freedom of information. I believe that the UFO phenomenon does raise important defense, national security and air safety issues, and if I helped kill any initiative on that, I'm deeply sorry."

Yeah, right. If.

Does he want us to believe he was forced to lie, or is he trying to say he's a born again believer in open government?

They’ve come to him asking him to change his public story, because now they need something else, is more likely true.

If you like, for the next month, you can download the UK UFO files free of charge at: UK National Arcives. I’ll pass. I feel infinitely less threatened by planetary aliens and terrorists than I do by my own government. They have a phrase contrived to make people who think like me look ridiculous, too. Conspiracy theorists.

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

There Ought to be a Law

The coverage in Washington of the hurricane-that-wasn’t has been absolutely bizarre. It is good to see that this city does not just panic with an inch of snow. We panic with any weather above a flurry or a misting. Folks in parts of North Carolina and other coastal areas have had legitimate concerns (including New York), but the D.C. coverage was comically ridiculous. I watched one story of how Irene had began “its trail of misery and destruction” toward Washington. General Sherman’s March To the Sea had less dire reviews.

[...]

For days, I have been checking the various weather sites only to find predictions of two inches of rain and strong winds on Saturday night (with clearing on Sunday). I would then turn on the television or go on the Internet and find live, round-the-clock, breathless coverage of the “misery” and “destruction” coming to Washington.

[...]

Everything closed despite the fact that only two inches of rain and some strong winds were predicted.

[...]

In addition to ratings, the hysteria did produce record sales at stores as people prepared for the apocalypse with bodies stacked like firewood in the streets.

[...]

The rest of the coverage is largely “things that did not happen” stories. My favorite this morning on Channel 4 (NBC) was how in Alexandria the harbor man thought that people who tied up their boats for high tide might have to come back and tie the boats for lower tide. The reporter then went to show how the water has not risen and how high water could have been a problem in causing flooding — if there was high water.

[...]

The overkill coverage will only make it more difficult for media and the government to get people to believe them next time when there is a serious threat, in my view.

  Jonathan Turley

The media who cry wolf.

They do no one a service.

They are worse than unhelpful in these situations. They panic people. There ought to be a law.

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

Next in Line, Step Forward

In one of my all-time favorite TV shows, "The Prisoner," Patrick McGoohan's ever harrowing search for the top dog in The Village, where he finds himself upon attempting to retire from a British intelligence agency, resulted in dead ends and deflections galore. Everyone was a number. McGoohan was Number 6.

"I am not a number! I'm a man!"

"We want information!"

"You won't get it."

"By hook or by crook, we will."

”Who is Number One?”

“You are Number Six.”

Or is that, “You are, Number Six.”

Al-Qaeda's number two Atiyah abd al-Rahman has been killed in Pakistan, the United States said, claiming another "tremendous" blow to the group following the death of Osama bin Laden.

  Raw Story

Oh, yes. A tremendous blow.

Did you even know the name al-Rahman? That one slipped by me. Each time a number one or a number two is vanquished, a new one takes its place. They’re like shark’s teeth.

Okay, let’s get serious. Until there are fewer than two al Qaeda members on the planet, someone will always be there to be number two. And killing him will always give us cause to claim a termendous blow to al Qaeda.

Isn't that handy?

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

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Same Old Story

There is no cause to doubt that, for whatever reason, the support of the people of Sirte for Gadaffi is genuine. That this means they deserve to be pounded into submission is less obvious to me.

[...]

There is something so shocking in the Orwellian doublespeak of NATO on this point that I am severely dismayed.

[...]

The “rebels” are actively hitting Sirte with heavy artillery and Stalin’s organs; they are transporting tanks openly to attack Sirte. Yet any movement of tanks or artillery by the population of Sirte brings immediate death from NATO air strike.

[...]

What exactly is the reason that Sirte’s defenders are threatening civilians but the artillery of their attackers – and the bombings themselves – are not? Plainly this is a nonsense. People in foreign ministries, NATO, the BBC and other media are well aware that it is the starkest lie and propaganda, to say the assault on Sirte is protecting civilians.

[...]

Plainly the people of Sirte hold a different view to the “rebels” as to who should run the country. NATO have in effect declared being in Gadaffi’s political camp a capital offence.

[...]

“Liberal intervention” does not exist. What we have is the opposite; highly selective neo-imperial wars aimed at ensuring politically client control of key physical resources.

Wars kill people. Women and children are dying now in Libya, whatever the sanitised media tells you. The BBC have reported it will take a decade to repair Libya’s infrastructure from the damage of war. That in an underestimate. Iraq is still decades away from returning its utilities to their condition in 2000.

I strongly support the revolutions of the Arab Spring. But NATO intervention does not bring freedom, it brings destruction, degradation and permanent enslavement to the neo-colonial yoke. From now on, Libyans like us will be toiling to enrich western bankers. That, apparently, is worth to NATO the reduction of Sirte to rubble.

  Craig Murray

No doubt in the months and years to come, the true death toll notched up by the humanitarians will come out ... in dribs and drabs, in obscure corners, or even -- why not? -- in a "major" feature in a respectable publication, whose years-late revelations will be swiftly brushed aside and forgotten. (Like the LA Times' award-winning, multi-part expose in the 1990s of the corrupt and criminal machinations that led up to the first Gulf War.) After all, we live in a militarist-corporatist-police state, but not a totalitarian one; information is out there, facts can be obtained, trenchant criticism can be found -- you can go and see Noam Chomsky speaking in public any time you like. Our masters learned long ago that manipulating and massaging information (and misinformation) is much more effective, and longer-lasting, than attempts at total suppression and control.

[...]

And guess what? It turns out that companies from the Western countries that eagerly rained tons of death-metal on the Libyan people are being given the inside track to the post-Gadafy gusher.

  Chris Floyd

Oil? It’s about oil?

Colonel Qaddafi proved to be a problematic partner for international oil companies, frequently raising fees and taxes and making other demands. A new government with close ties to NATO may be an easier partner for Western nations to deal with. Some experts say that given a free hand, oil companies could find considerably more oil in Libya than they were able to locate under the restrictions placed by the Qaddafi government.

[...]

Even before taking power, the rebels suggested that they would remember their friends and foes and negotiate deals accordingly.

[...]

Only a few other countries can supply equivalent grades of the sweet crude oil that many refineries around the world depend on. The resumption of Libyan production would help drive down oil prices in Europe, and indirectly, gasoline prices on the East Coast of the United States.

Western nations — especially the NATO countries that provided crucial air support to the rebels — want to make sure their companies are in prime position to pump the Libyan crude.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini of Italy said on state television on Monday that the Italian oil company Eni “will have a No. 1 role in the future” in the North African country. Mr. Frattini even reported that Eni technicians were already on their way to eastern Libya to restart production. (Eni quickly denied that it had sent any personnel to the still-unsettled region, which is Italy’s largest source of imported oil.)

  NYT

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

What To Do?

[Mayor Bloomberg was] also asked about why Rikers Island wasn't evacuated. He says that though it's in the evacuation zone A, it's higher than other places in that zone. Will he come to regret that statement?

  UK Guardian

I was wondering earlier today about Rikers. If it floods, surely they’ve got upper stories. ?? Indeed, it would be a political nightmare if a bunch of captives died because the mayor didn’t evacuate them. I know a couple ex-mayors who can sympathize with the decision-making – gambling – necessary at times like these.

The Dick

Chris Hayes & Glenn Greenwald cover The Dick's Dickness and war crimes.

Amen.

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

Not Sure I Follow the Reasoning Here

As with every year, the 2011 Minnesota State Fair will feature plenty of things on sticks — mainly food items — but one object may stand out: Condoms. And they’re being marketed to grandmothers.

[…]

“Every year some of the same grandmothers stop by our booth just to get condoms-on-a-stick.

  Washington Independent

You can never have too many.

” They make for wildly popular and unusual items in care packages.”

[…]

“It’s a smart and fun way to start a conversation about sex with the grandchildren and children in our lives and let them know we care about their relationships and safety,” said Karen Law, the group’s executive director.

Really? What do condoms on a sucker stick suggest to you?


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

Irene in Virginia Beach

UPDATE: They may have yanked it from YouTube, but they didn't pull it from Huffington: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/27/hurricane-irene-2011-streaker-weather-channel_n_939095.html

Must not be that bad.

The dude who drops his shorts will live in infamy.

Seriously, they would like to make everything a matter of life or death. There's just nothing in this country any more that isn't presented as the "est," and shouted at us from the TV as fast as people can get the words out. Life is dull. We have to hype and exaggerate it.

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

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sometimes I Just Don't Get Ron Paul

After a lunch speech today, Ron Paul slammed the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, and said that no national response to Hurricane Irene is necessary.

"We should be like 1900; we should be like 1940, 1950, 1960," Paul said. "I live on the Gulf Coast; we deal with hurricanes all the time. Galveston is in my district.

  MSNBC

Yes, and without the big bucks poured in from FEMA following Ike, Galveston would still be wreckage; several of my coworkers would still be homeless. So, WTF, Ron?

My guess is we're going to be seeing some more "quantitative easing" so we can pay for wreckage up and down the eastern seaboard.

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

And Now He's Lost the Environmentalists

The Obama administration gave an important approval yesterday to a controversial pipeline that will pump oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the Texas coast.

[...]

Over the last three years, the pipeline has become a central focus of environmentalist concerns, and Friday's decision was rendered at the midpoint of a two-week sit-in at the White House against the project which has seen more than 100 arrested.

  UK Guardian

To the surprise of very few who have been paying attention. Of course, I don’t suppose they would have been outside the White House had they not figured it was coming.

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

Why You Should Never Forget 9/11

I raised the gravest of concerns through all the proper channels, reporting massive contract fraud, management malfeasance and illegalities conducted by the NSA, including critical intelligence information and analysis that was never reported or shared by the NSA. Had this vital and actionable intelligence been properly analyzed and disseminated by the NSA, it could have led to the capture of the Sept. 11 hijackers and prevented the attacks.

  WaPo

That’s Thomas Drake. The DOJ tried to ruin him, and amazingly enough, this past July, lost its lawsuit against him.

Rather than address its own corruption, ineptitude and illegal actions, the government made me a target of a multi-year, multimillion-dollar federal criminal “leak” investigation as part of a vicious campaign against whistleblowers that started under President George W. Bush and is coming to full fruition under President Obama.

It’s more than just that. If it’s true that the information Drake says was not shared could have led to the prevention of the 9/11 attacks, “rather than address its own corruption, ineptitude and illegal actions, the government” allowed a devastating terrorist attack on the United States that precipitated the nightmare wars we have been waging ever since.

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

The Truth? You Can't Handle the Truth!

Ali Soufan is a long-time FBI agent and interrogator who was at the center of the U.S. government's counter-terrorism activities from 1997 through 2005, and became an outspoken critic of the government's torture program. He has written a book exposing the abuses of the CIA's interrogation program as well as pervasive ineptitude and corruption in the War on Terror. He is, however, encountering a significant problem: the CIA is barring the publication of vast amounts of information in his book including, as Scott Shane details in The New York Times today, many facts that are not remotely secret and others that have been publicly available for years, including ones featured in the 9/11 Report and even in Soufan's own public Congressional testimony.

[...]

Shane notes that the government's censorship effort "amounts to a fight over who gets to write the history of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath," particularly given the imminent publication of a book by CIA agent Jose Rodriguez -- who destroyed the videotapes of CIA interrogations in violation of multiple court orders and subpoenas only to be protected by the Obama DOJ -- that touts the benefits of the CIA's "tough" actions, propagandistically entitled: "Hard Measures: How Aggressive C.I.A. Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives."

[...]

This is a perfect symbol of the Obama administration: claims of secrecy are used to censor a vital critic of torture and other CIA abuses (Soufan) and to prosecute an NSA whistleblower who exposed substantial corruption and criminality (Drake), while protecting from all consequences the official who illegally destroyed video evidence of the CIA's torture program (Rodriguez) and then help ensure that his torture-hailing propaganda book becomes the defining narrative of those events. As usual, the real high-level criminals prosper while those who expose their criminality are the only ones punished.

  Glenn Greenwald

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

Killing the Gulf

Despite assurances from British oil company BP that no oil was present at the Deepwater Horizon site in the Gulf of Mexico, two Louisiana State University men have returned with video evidence of large blooms of crude oil swelling up to the water’s surface where the doomed oil rig once hovered.

  Raw Story

Yeah, what do we know from past experience about assurances from BP?

How Very Diplomatic

A senior American diplomat reportedly warned on Friday that the United States would cut aid to the Palestinian Authority if it asks the United Nations to recognise a Palestinian state next month.

Daniel Rubinstein, the US consul general in Jerusalem, said the United States would veto any resolution in the Security Council. He threatened "punitive measures" if the PA moves forward with the statehood bid at the General Assembly.

  alJazeera

Yo, Rube. Settle. They’re just asking. Can’t they even ask?

But a US State Department spokesman said in an e-mail that [Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator’s statement about Rubinstein’s remarks] "is not an accurate portrayal of the US position," and denied that Rubinstein made those comments.

Oh, yeah. Of course.

Several members of Congress - Democrats and Republicans alike - have already threatened to slash aid for the PA if it pursues the statehood vote.

[...]

The PA is expected to ask the UN General Assembly next month for "enhanced observer" status, which would give it standing on par with the Vatican.

How dare they!

Children Will Always Demand Equal Treatment

On the first Friday protests since Libyan rebels reached Tripoli with the assistance of Nato forces, Syrian protesters have called for international intervention in their struggle against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

  UK Guardian

And why shouldn't they? What have nukes got to do with it?

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

The Old One-Two Punch


Earthquake followed by hurricane.



Say it with Pat Robertson...."God is angry with Washington."

A co-worker is planning on moving to Charleston in October. Property may be cheap.

Seriously, this looks like big trouble for the east coast. Earlier this year I was wishing I'd had enough money to move to Pawley's Island or the Outer Banks. That would have just been demoralizing to weather Ike here and Irene there. Sometimes it's not good to get your wish, I suppose. But I'm really sorry that those areas are going to be ravaged.

I hope the folks there can pull it back together.

And I hope they don't succumb to the idiot Geraldo Rivera type newscasting like we had for Ike that panics everybody when they most need to stay calm.

Good luck up there. Sorry to be making it about me and Ike, but that's still fairly clear in my mind. Don't want to do that again.

Under False Assumption

No one in the Imperial City, outside of Ron Paul and his staff, believes the Paul campaign is going anywhere, and, more – they don’t believe it can go anywhere but into the dustbin of yesterday’s failed campaigns. It is they – the self-appointed gatekeepers and guardians of the Conventional Wisdom – who define the parameters of the possible, and they have deemed a Paul presidency impossible because it goes against everything they’ve ever known and were taught to believe. Even the “libertarians” among them – and I use the term very loosely – are trapped inside this bubble where nothing much ever changes, and this means the State and its worshippers are always going to be on top, and the libertarian “radicals” (and their progressive brothers-and-sisters-in-spirit on the “far left”) are always going to be marginal. This ultra-conservative mindset – conservative in the temperamental sense – is a function not only of what the Beltway pundits believe, but, rather, of who they are and where they live.

Justin Raimondo

Don’t forget – the Beltway pundits create reality. Don’t they?

Seriously, Ron Paul is not going to be elected because of two things: 1) he wants to end our military involvement around the world; 2) he wants to dismantle the Federal Reserve. Make that three things, because this is the most important one: voters do not elect American presidents. I can’t believe intelligent people are still discussing presidential elections as though they are actually functional levers of American society. Especially after Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and Bush v. Gore.

And even for those people who believe "their man got elected," when was the last time they got what their man promised them? Liberals vote on promises of social justice - who, after Lyndon Johnson, god rest his putrid soul, delivered on that? Conservatives vote on promises of a balanced budget and an end to legalized abortion. What Republican ever delivered either of those?

No, you don't elect the man of your choice, and the man of your choice isn't even that.

To us ordinary Americans, the hoi polloi if you will, the process of social and political change is simple: we get to decide if and when a political change occurs, because, you see, we have these events known as elections. Which means we get to pick and choose our leaders: if we don’t like the current occupant of the Oval Office, we can pitch him out and raise someone else up to take his place. It could be any native-born American in theory at least.

No, Justin. In theory only.

To the Beltway crowd – the elaborate society that has grown up around what can only be characterized as America’s version of a Royal Court – this is an archaic fiction, a theory that will never be put into practice. In reality, they believe, they get to do the choosing, by setting up the standards and nominating candidates to the “top tier.” From these chosen few will come the actual winners. Having jumped through all the traditional hoops, and survived the scrutiny of the various lobbyists, both foreign and domestic, the elite’s favored candidates will be dutifully rubberstamped by the American public, and two will emerge from the two state-privileged parties – one from Team Red, and one from Team Blue – to do battle. This way, no matter who wins, the status quo prevails unto eternity.

And they would be right.

No one foresaw the implosion of the Soviet empire, including especially the Soviets and our own CIA – just as no one can imagine the decline and fall of the American empire, which Ron Paul has been predicting, now, for all the years he’s been in politics.

Yes, but it will fall with or without Ron Paul in the oval office, and I guarantee you that Ron Paul will not get there. He himself is under the delusion that the people still elect presidents, or at least he is willing to stoke that delusion amongst the people.

The only thing that will turn that delusion on its head is outright revolution, and that is not coming in the next two – or four – years. And if it eventually does come, Ron Paul will still not be the beneficiary. We will be in the position of Libya’s rebels – the scrabble at the bottom fighting each other for the reins.

Read Raimondo’s slightly lengthy post. It is full of very nice reasoning and historical “parallels.” It just happens to have a false basic assumption: that the people elect the president of their choice.

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