Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fired From Another Show

Current TV fired ridiculous, megalomaniacal harpy Keith Olbermann (who was previously fired from MSNBC), and good on them.  Looks like Eliott Spitzer will replace him. 

The 99% Spring

[Community organizer George] Goehl, the executive director of National Peoples Action, was interviewed Friday on the PBS program Moyers & Company. When Bill Moyers asked Goehl if he was satisfied with the president’s recent attempts to employ populist rhetoric, he responded firmly, “We’re not.”

“I would say that it’s been hard for the president to tap into that populist bone in his body,” Goehl explained. “I think some of us question whether it’s there.”


Goehl noted that when he himself began attempting to take on the banks in 1990, there were 37 major banks in the United States. By 2009 there were only four, and as a result, the CEO’s almost never have to face public opinion. Goehl said he would “like to challenge these CEOs to come out and see the neighborhoods and the communities that they’ve devastated.”

Goehl is involved in an effort called The 99% Spring, which owes its inspiration to Occupy Wall Street but draws its support from more established groups, such as and the major labor unions. He said they plan to send representatives to attend bank shareholder meetings this spring and summer and confront the CEOs, possibly risking arrest for civil disobedience. They also hope to organize 100,000 Americans to spread the word about income inequality and lead an effort to “reimagine” the economy in ways that will make it work for everyone.

  Raw Story
Well and good, but don't be fooled into thinking that bank CEOs would change their ways if they actually saw the devastation they've rendered in the country. Remember the ones who went to a Congressional hearing about sucking dry the economy and ripping off borrowers in private jets? They know what they've done. They know what they're doing. It's intentional and unapologetic, unless an apology will get them another taxpayer-funded handout.

If you'd like to get involved in the attempt to curtail corporate greed, power, and devastation, Bill Moyers has a web page you should visit:

Additional information on corporations:

What is a Benefit(B) Corporation?
Documentary: The Corporation Streaming free on Hulu (Also available streaming on Netflix)

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

Military (In)Justice

[Robert Bales' defense] team has made little progress on the ground in Afghanistan. “When we tried to interview the injured civilians being treated at Kandahar Hospital, we were denied access and told to coordinate with the prosecution team,” it said.

The next day, prosecutors interviewed the injured civilians, but Browne’s office found out shortly afterward that “the civilians were all released from the hospital and there was no contact information for them.

“In addition, we are being denied access to the injured civilians medical records that are in the possession of the government which makes it even more impossible for us to try to locate and interview these crucial witnesses,” it said.

“The prosecution is withholding the entire investigative file from the defense team while the potential witnesses scatter into unknown and potentially inaccessible areas in Afghanistan.”

Which makes it all the more suspicious that Robert Bales did not act alone, and the US military/government does not want any witness testimony to that effect revealed. Perhaps the defense team will have to spring for some investigators to go to the actual villages where the slaughter occurred. It will not be an easy discovery, nor a cheap one, but if they are going to defend their client, they're going to have to come up with the resources. Otherwise, he's going to take the fall for a very likely common policy. Another bigot patsy like Lynndie England.  Or maybe he can have a never-ending trial which never gets resolved because eventually those witnesses will die and nobody here really cares anyway.  Other than the fact that he'll have to spend some confinement time: win-win, as they say.  Lynndie who?  And by the way, what was the name of her bigot, prisoner-abusing boyfriend?  Anybody remember? 

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

What We Need Is a Mirror

[W]hen influential American “terrorism experts” start talking about [...] “Shock and Awe“, the assault on Fallujah and the bombing of Gaza as terrorism, and about Ronald Reagan as a “state sponsor of terrorism” for his funding of El Salvadoran death squads and Nicaraguan contras, and about the parties responsible for the assassination of Iranian civilian scientists as international terrorists, then I’ll start to take the honorific more seriously


[T]he mentality [in American citizens – and media personalities – that profiles Arabs as terrorists] finds nourishment in the constant discussion of Terrorism, the Supreme Evil, as: acts of violence by Muslims directed at us (but not violence by our own government or those of its allies directed at Muslims).

  Glenn Greenwald

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

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Loser

On the one hand, the GOP is telling us Obama is leading us down the road to "socialism," that he’s "appeasing" our enemies and stiffing our friends, and that he’s basically destroying the country. On the other hand, they haven’t put forth a candidate who has a chance in heck of beating him. The leading candidate for the party’s nomination is a caricature of everything voters are sick and tired of: he’s a phony, a spoiled rich guy, an automaton whose words and actions convey, above all, an almost comical impression of inauthenticity.


[T]here isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between [Romney and Obama] when it comes to the vitally important issue of America’s role in the world.


Romney isn’t so much a serious candidate for the presidency as he is a national joke: his record as a "flip-flopper," his inability to project anything remotely resembling sincerity, and his Richie Rich persona have all combined to turn him into a human piñata for both liberals and conservatives to pick apart. Which leads us [to the question]: is the GOP deliberately throwing this election?


The economy is in a mess, and – in spite of the Obama administration’s pathetic attempts to conjure a "recovery" out of thin air — looks like it is tanking. The European banks are on the verge of a meltdown, and the jobless rate in this country is much higher than anyone in officialdom is willing to acknowledge (although ordinary people know the truth). What’s more, America’s position abroad is none too good: after being driven out of Iraq, which is falling into the Iranian orbit, we’re well on our way to losing the war in Afghanistan, and the whole region is in turmoil. Israel is threatening to start World War III with an attack on Tehran, an act that would drive the world economy over a cliff. Would you want to be President when the price of oil is over $200 a barrel?

  Justin Raimondo
The answer to the question of  whether the GOP is deliberately throwing the election is clearly, “No.” Democrats were facing a similarly wretched situation in the Middle East and a tanking world economy in 2008 (and don't pretend they didn't know it until September).  Both parties always desperately want the White House, and particularly now that both parties have managed to wrestle unprecedented (and probably unconstitutional) power into that office. The GOP is just batshit crazy, and Mitt Romney is their idea of someone who can appeal to the voters who abandon Obama this time around. They don't fear losing their “base” of batshit crazy, liberal-hating supporters. Whether they put up a reasonable candidate or a blue baboon, those people are going to vote Republican. And there are an awful lot of those people. And if those votes are combined with enough loss of votes for Obama from people who voted for him in 2008 but are now rightfully disgusted with or disappointed in him, it's not really that far-fetched to imagine that Romney could win the election. Not at all. There are also a lot of people whose eyes have been opened by Obama's term in the White House to the fact that both parties are one in foreign policy and in domestic policy as well where it pertains to corporate power over the individual. And those people, along with the disgusted and disappointed, may decide to stay home in November and save the cost of gas to the polls.

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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Surely We Can All Agree Now

US presence in Afghanistan is FUBAR.
U.S. troops in Afghanistan are being guarded more closely and are taking other steps to protect themselves from attacks by Afghan troops, the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, said Wednesday.


[Gen.John] Allen ordered the measures in recent weeks after a spate of 16 attacks in which U.S. and other coalition forces were killed by Afghan soldiers.


New measures include the use of so-called "guardian angels" — troops who guard others as they sleep.

Attacks by Afghan soldiers. We've done a fine job.
American are also now allowed to carry weapons when working in ministries and with Afghan officials. They are also told to position their desks facing the door to see if visitors have come to kill them.

The measures follow the death of two U.S. military officers working in the Afghan Interior Ministry — gunned down at their desks.”Of the approximately 80 NATO service members killed since 2007 by Afghan security forces, more than 75 percent were in the past two years.”

  Jonathan Turley
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The MEK - What Defines a Terrorist?

And why are prominent US officials and politicos trying to get the MEK off the US terrorist list? (And why haven't they been sent to Guantanamo for providing material support to a terrorist organization?)
Jeremiah Goulka :

The U.S. Treasury Department has begun an investigation into nearly two dozen prominent former government officials who have been paid tens of thousands of dollars to promote the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian dissident cult group that has been designated by the State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) since 1997.


Given the cacophony of saber-rattling over Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program – which the U.S. intelligence community generally believes was shut down in 2003 – and the risk, however low, of actually getting prosecuted for “material support of terrorism,” it is important to examine why anyone would promote a designated terrorist organization.


 There are two main reasons [US officials are promoting the MEK], neither of them good.

The first is ignorance.  The MEK presents itself well and is good at running “Astroturf” campaigns.  Its NCRI is a self-proclaimed “parliament in exile,” dedicated to the principles of western liberal democracy.  Over the years, lots of American civilian and military officials have failed to do their homework and fallen for the MEK’s sales spiel.


The second reason is money.  The officials were paid to speak on the MEK’s behalf, up to $30,000 per speech.

But this is just the beginning.  What the media has generally failed to mention is that these former officials are now in the national/homeland security business. 


For people in the national/homeland security business, war with Iran would be a cash cow. 


An invasion followed by an Iraq-style lingering occupation and reconstruction would open up hundreds of billions and possibly even trillions of taxpayer dollars for the grabbing.


The MEK claims to be the best organized and the most prominent opposition group in Iran.  No credible sources that I have seen suggest that it has any relevance in Iran at all, other than to get the mullahs riled up.  It is, however, very well organized, because, cut off from new volunteers, the MEK’s co-leaders Masoud Rajavi (whereabouts unknown) and his wife Maryam Rajavi turned the MEK into a cult of personality.


I studied the MEK for the U.S. military and visited Camp Ashraf, the MEK facility 40 miles north of Baghdad. I also interviewed former MEK members. As Human Rights Watch also concluded, I saw that the MEK is a cult. It uses brainwashing, sleep deprivation, and forced labor to indoctrinate members. It segregates men from women, mandates celibacy, forces married members to divorce (except for its leaders), and separates families and friends who must seek permission just to converse.


The cult has but one purpose: to put itself in charge in Iran.


[Its] alliance with Saddam in a brutally violent war cost the MEK credibility and its font of recruits. Isolated in Iraq’s desert, Rajavi instituted authoritarian control over his decimated army and confiscated his troops’ assets. He encouraged Saddam to send Iranian POWs to MEK’s Camp Ashraf rather than repatriate them. With promises of asylum for POWs and family reunions with the new MEK members, Rajavi duped Iranian visitors to come to the camp and stole their passports so they couldn’t leave.

Human Rights Watch reports that those who tried to escape endured confinement or torture. After the U.S. invaded Iraq, the MEK ejected its most “difficult” members and used guards and concertina wire to entrap the rest.


While its propaganda arm espouses Western values to Western audiences, the MEK continues to force-feed its doctrine to members who may not criticize the Rajavis and are not free to leave the Ashraf compound.

While many people would like to see a change of regime in Tehran, no one should believe that the MEK would provide Iran with a government based on liberty and justice for all. 


Hopefully these Treasury Department investigations are a sign that the Obama Administration has finally decided to rein in the warmongers.

  Jeremiah Goulka via Glenn Greenwald
Yeah, well, I'm not holding my breath.

Within this narrative by Jeremiah Goulka is a brief history of the MEK if you care to enlighten yourself.
[R]emember that paid MEK shill Howard Dean actually called on its leader to be recognized as President of Iran while paid MEK shill Rudy Giuliani has continuously hailed the group’s benevolence .


[Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that] the U.S. Government is currently attempting to force MEK to move from its current base in Camp Ashraf to another location in Iraq (something MEK does not want to do), and whether MEK cooperates with the U.S. Government’s directives will play a large role in determining whether the group is removed from the Terrorist list.

[W]hat conceivable difference should it make whether MEK is cooperative in moving from Camp Ashraf as the U.S. Government wants? What does their cooperation or lack thereof have to do with whether they are a Terrorist organization? The answer, of course, is that the U.S. list of Terrorist organizations (like its list of state sponsors of Terrorism) has little or nothing to do with who are and are not actually Terrorists; it is, instead, simply an instrument used to reward those who comply with U.S. dictates (you’re no longer a Terrorist) and to punish those who refuse (you are hereby deemed Terrorists).

  Glenn Greenwald
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

All I'm Going to Say About It...

Although we don't know the true whole story, it goes without saying that a person should not be allowed to stalk someone and then claim self-defense for killing that person if he doesn't take kindly to being stalked. But this is truly unconscionable:
A Florida couple said they had to leave their home after director Spike Lee and others retweeted a message that erroneously listed their address as belonging to George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who claimed he killed teenager Trayvon Martin in self-defense last month.


Now the couple is living in a hotel room.


Lee, who has 250,000 Twitter followers, retweeted the address over the weekend, and it went viral.


The McClains have hired Orlando attorney John Morgan, who said they might have a civil claim against Lee. "Fortunately, this couple is not about that right now."

"What they want to do is get a retraction, get an apology so everybody knows that that's not the house," Morgan told Velez-Mitchell.

Spike Lee should be paying their hotel room and buying them a new house in a different neighborhood, but as of this report, there hasn't even been an apology.
The messages were still visible on Lee’s Twitter account Wednesday afternoon, five days after they first appeared. Lee — who has more than 240,000 followers — has since written and re-posted dozens of messages about Martin, but none that appear to retract or apologize for the address tweets.

  The Blaze

UPDATE 3/29:

It's a start.

Is Spike Lee raising his voice on Twitter? He capitalizes every word, not every letter, which I understand is shouting.

Well Good for Him

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Tuesday blocked legislation that would impose a new sanctions on Iran.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had hoped to quickly pass the bill by unanimous consent. But Paul objected and introduced an amendment stating that any use of military force against Iran must be authorized by Congress.

“Before sending our young men and women into combat, we should have a mature and thoughtful debate over the ramifications of and over the authorization of war and over the motives of the war,” he added.

  Raw Story

Fixing the Economy: Small Business Boost

Do you qualify?
With the so-called JOBS Act — which stands for the ‘Jump-start Our Business Start-ups’ and is a trickle-down approach to getting Americans to work — set to pass the House today and make its way to the president’s desk as early as tomorrow, one wonders what kind of small businesses would be helped by the legislation.


Here are 10 of the most shocking examples of how large companies can be before they stop being small businesses, as drawn from the [Small Business Administration's] Table of Small Business Size Standards.

1. Internet publishing company: 500 employees
2. A freelance writer, artist or performer: $7 million in average yearly receipts
3. A janitorial or cleaning service: $12.5 million in annual receipts
4. A petroleum refinery: 1,500 employees
5. A doctor: $10 million in annual receipts
6. A child day care center: $7 million in annual receipts
7. A breakfast cereal manufacturer: 1,000 employees
8. A supermarket or other grocery store: $35.5 million in annual receipts
9. A cafeteria, grill buffet or buffet: $25.5 million in annual receipts
10. A cemetery or crematorium: $19 million in annual receipts

  Raw Story
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

He Wasn't Just Buying

He was selling.
Disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was charged Monday with involvement in an organised vice ring that procured prostitutes for top-class clients, lawyers said.


“He firmly declares that he is not guilty of these acts and never had the least inkling that the women he met could have been prostitutes,” said Richard Malka, one of Strauss-Kahn’s counsel.

  Raw Story
Oh, yes, an innocent.
Strauss-Kahn told police he did not suspect the women were prostitutes because he was introduced to them by senior police officers.
Yeah, like senior police officers are never involved in vice. Sorry, Pignut. Nobody believes that.
Strauss-Kahn’s name came up as police were investigating a pimping operation that saw sex workers from brothels over the Belgian border being brought to France for orgies in high-class hotels in Lille and Paris.

Strauss-Kahn admits that he took part in some of these parties, one of which was said to involve women being flown to Washington to entertain him while he was still managing director of the International Monetary Fund.


Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers will also be in court on Wednesday in New York for the first hearing in a civil case brought against him by Nafissatou Diallo, a hotel maid who alleges he sexually assaulted her.

Judge Douglas McKeon will be asked to rule on a motion by Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers urging him to dismiss the case on the grounds that, at the time of the alleged attack in May last year, their client had diplomatic immunity.
Not on grounds that he is innocent of the charges, but on the grounds that he had diplomatic immunity. Why on earth would he ever think he could be charged with any crime when he has diplomatic immunity?
Strauss-Kahn, who had resigned from his post at the IMF in Washington, returned to France, only to face an accusation from 32-year-old author Tristane Banon that he had tried to rape her in 2002.

French investigating magistrates questioned Strauss-Kahn and his accuser and concluded that, while there was prima facie evidence of a sexual assault, the alleged attack had occurred too long ago to be prosecuted.
Some guys have all the luck.

And, by the way, I think there are many more connections in the prostitution industry (and in particular the faction of it that deals in children) in political circles. I'm still waiting for them to nail Poppy Bush and Darkheart Cheney.

Syria Peace Agreement - What Can We Learn from This?

The Syrian government has agreed to accept the six-point plan by joint United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan on ending the violence in Syria, the former UN chief's spokesman has said.

So either Assad has killed off enough protesters that he thinks he's safe from overthrow now, or talking actually works. (Or, I guess, someone could have paid him a huge sum of money.)

Monday, March 26, 2012

And What's With the Boxing Bit?

Jonathan Turley calls it embarrassing, a back-handed compliment, and labels the president "punch drunk."
It is insulting on so many levels but Obama appears entirely clueless.


This may silence those who want the President to forego the use of teleprompters. If this is his ad lib, we need to move back to the scripted material.


It may come as a bit of a surprise that countries like Denmark (that has been engaging in diplomacy since the pre-Roman Iron Age of 500 BC – 1 AD) are really not looking for an “Attaboy!” from the United States. In the late Middle Ages (before a single pilgrim saw a single rock at Plymouth), little Denmark controlled it own slice of Estonia as well as much of Germany and the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein.

  Jonathan Turley
I'm telling you, they need to replace the filters on the White House air handlers.

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

Not ONLY Arrogant

 Proof exists that the terrorists are winning. They have managed in the last several decades to pump stupid gas into the White House on a regular basis.
The president earlier got an up-close look into the isolated Stalinist state [of North Korea] when he climbed a clifftop observation post 25 metres from the demarcation line that has divided the Koreas for six decades.

After squinting through high-powered binoculars from behind a bulletproof screen over a border guarded by mines, barbed wire and tank traps, Mr Obama said he had stared into a "time warp".

He then turned towards a huge North Korean flag flapping in the stiff breeze at half-mast to mark the 100th day since Kim Jong-Il's death, and to a horizon dotted with rudimentary buildings peeking through the haze.

Today's "Daily Twain" (right sidebar) seems nicely appropriate: 
The older we grow the greater becomes our wonder at how much ignorance one can contain without bursting one's clothes. --Mark Twain
I don't intend to defend the government of North Korea, but let me make just a couple of points.

There aren't likely to be any large population centers or centers of industry on the heavily guarded, often battled border between South and North Korea, now are there? Just how powerful are those binoculars?

“If a country can’t feed its people effectively, if it can’t make anything of any use to anybody, if it has no exports other than weapons and even those aren’t ones that in any way would be considered state of the art.

“If it can’t deliver on any indicators of well-being… for its people… then you’d think you’d want to try something different,” Obama said in a highly undiplomatic and unusually frank public appearance. “There are certain things that just don’t work and what they are doing doesn’t work.”

  Raw Story`

And, not to put too fine a point on the weapons issue, but North Korea does have nuclear weapons – just how “state of the art” do nukes have to be to be effective? And they have a space program.

Maybe he should turn those binoculars onto the US.

 I can see Alaska from my porch.

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

First, the "Apology", Then the "Payoff"

The United States has paid $50,000 in compensation for each Afghan person killed by Staff Sergeant Robert Bales in southern Afghanistan two weeks ago, according to The Associated Press.

Kandahar provincial council member Agha Lalai and community Jan Agha confirmed that the victim’s families received payments Saturday, with those who were wounded also receiving compensation in the form of $11,000. A U.S. official would not confirm or deny the amount paid out but did indicated that payments have been made to families.


The families previously received compensation, $2,000 for each death and $1,000 for each person wounded, from Afghan officials.

Make of that what you will.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

From There to Here

"Little" Steven Van Zandt, from the E Street Band to Lilyhammer.

Quite a transition from the song he wrote in that first video.  He actually writes for the Netflix show, and in the first (or second?) episode, he actually calls an Arab man "towelhead." 

..but hey, do what you will anyway.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Position Available: President, World Bank

A US-nominated Korean-born president of an Ivy League university, Nigeria's finance minister and a Colombian economist have been confirmed as the three candidates contesting to become the next leader of the World Bank.

US President Barack Obama, whose country traditionally selects the president of the global lender, said on Friday that it was nominating Jim Yong Kim for the role.

Because the other choices are black and Latino? (A finance minister, or an economist for the World Bank position?  Gasp!)  And if the US “traditionally” selects the president, why does anyone else bother to “contest”? Jim, or Kim, may have been born in Korea, but he's been in the US since he was five years old and is the president of Dartmouth College. He is also big in health organizations, so how that qualifies him for heading up the World Bank, I do not know, but I suppose it's as good a background as Paul Wolfowitz had.
US economist Jeffrey Sachs, who had also been put forward for the job by a group of smaller countries, withdrew and threw his support behind Kim.

He had cast his uphill candidacy as an effort to break Washington's penchant for political appointments.

A Canadian government source said Canada would back Kim and South Korea, his childhood home, also indicated support.

Russia has refrained from publicly backing a non-US candidate and has instead called for a greater role for emerging market countries in other top positions at global financial institutions.

India said it wanted to consult the other so-called BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa - before deciding, and Mexico also said it was keeping an open mind.

The World Bank board of member countries has promised to make a decision by the time of the IMF and World Bank semi-annual meetings on April 21.
What do think? Jim Yong Kim?

Take a look at the list of past presidents.

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

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Rogue Soldier"

The plot further sickens.
Residents [near the villages where Staff Sergeant Robert Bales allegedly killed 17 Afghan civilians in their homes in the middle of the night] have given similar accounts to both The Associated Press and to Afghan government officials about an alleged bombing in the vicinity, which they said occurred March 7 or 8, and left U.S. troops injured. The residents also said they are convinced that the slayings of the [...] villagers just days later was in retaliation for that bomb.


[They] say U.S. troops lined them up against a wall after a roadside bombing and told them that they, and even their children, would pay a price for the attack.


"It looked like they were going to shoot us, and I was very afraid," Khan said. "Then a NATO soldier said through his translator that even our children will pay for this. Now they have done it and taken their revenge, " [reported Mokhoyan resident, Ahmad Shah Khan.]

Neighbors of Khan gave similar accounts to the AP, and several Afghan officials, including Kandahar lawmaker Abdul Rahim Ayubi, said people in the two villages that were attacked told them the same story.


Naek Mohammad, who lives in Mokhoyan, told the AP that he heard an explosion March 8 and went outside. As he and a neighbor talked about what happened, he said, two Afghan soldiers ordered them to join other men from the village who had been told to stand against a wall.

"One of the villagers asked what was happening," he said. "The Afghan army soldier told him, 'Shut up and stand there.'"

Mohammad said a U.S. soldier, speaking through a translator, then said: "I know you are all involved and you support the insurgents. So now, you will pay for it — you and your children will pay for this.'"

  Christian Science Monitor
P.S. What a guy.
In 2002 he was ordered to complete an anger management course after drunkenly assaulting a casino security guard.

A second incident involving alcohol and violence emerged on Thursday. AP reported that Bales was accused in 2008 of shaking hands with a woman, pulling her hand into his crotch and then punching and kicking her boyfriend. No charges were filed but a Washington state sheriff department's report describes Bales as "extremely intoxicated" at the time.

  UK Guardian
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Last April, President Obama publicly decreed Bradley Manning guilty even though he has yet to be tried, flatly telling a questioner: “He broke the law.” Following his Commander-in-Chief’s example, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, yesterday did the same: “We’re a nation of laws. He did violate the law.” If having your Commander-in-Chief and the nation’s top ranking military officer both decree your guilt before your trial begins doesn’t constitute “undue command influence,” what would? [...] For Obama and Dempsey to proclaim Manning’s guilt makes it impossible to imagine how he could receive a fair trial.

  Glenn Greenwald
It's hard for me to imagine Obama and Dempsey are interested in having him receive a fair trial.

But since his lawyer is defending him as though there is no question that he's guilty - he was a "troubled" young man who should never have been given access to military files - I guess the "trial" is really only going to be a sentencing hearing anyway.

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

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We're Now There for the Afghan Women

“Let there be no doubt — even as the US role in Afghanistan changes in the next few years of transition, we will continue to stand with and work closely with Afghan women."


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed Wednesday never to accept a peace agreement in Afghanistan that rolls back women’s rights, despite reaching out to the Taliban for talks.

The Taliban? How about the guy we installed in the presidency?
This week, Karzai endorsed an edict from the Afghan Ulema Council — Afghanistan’s highest Islamic authority — that women are worth less than men and supporting “Sharia-compliant” beatings of women.


The edict states that “Men are fundamental and women are secondary.” It further demands segregation of men and women and prohibits women “mingling with strange men in various social activities such as education, in bazaars, in offices and other aspects of life.” It also suggests that women should not work or go to university and should wear a “full Islamic hijab.”


Of course, those low-value, secondary women in our military forces have been fighting to keep Karzai alive so he can sit in his palace and proclaim them to be inferior human beings.

  Jonathan Turley
Afghan women and public interest groups are opposing an effort of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to take over all of the shelters for abused and battered women. You may recall Karzai’s earlier feminist agenda when he initially support the legalization of rape. The new move is viewed as a way for the government to satisfy hardliners in blocking access to some women to shelters. The government is also expected to close some shelters entirely.

Not only are many shelters expected to be closed under Karzai’s plan but women will have to be subject to a medical review to be admitted to shelters and will be prevented from leaving the shelters.


Karzai (who has repeatedly said that he wishes he had supported the Taliban and not the United States) is cracking down on shelters to appease the Taliban and eventually entice them to join his government.

  Jonathan Turley
Oh, and by the way...
In the meantime, human rights groups have issued a report that the situation for women in Iraq is worse since the United States took over the country.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Rogue" Soldier Update

The lawyer defending a US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghans has said there is little hard evidence against his client.

Attorney John Henry Browne said Staff Sergeant Robert Bales cannot remember much about the night of the shooting, and that there is little evidence that could stand up in court against him.

I smell big trouble in the air.

..but hey, do what you will anyway.

An Apt Description

[T]he House of Representatives, under its current majority management, has degenerated into a complete madhouse, an asylum for nihilists and vandals who literally do not believe that the government of the United States has any legitimate function beyond organizing and training the military. There is no reason to mince words about these people any more. In 2010, the voters, in their infinite wisdom, visited upon the country the biggest bunch of fantasts, paranoids, and general whackaloons since the last time Glenn Beck dined alone.

  Charles Pierce

"Rogue" Soldier: The Plot Sickens

The US soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians in this month's unprovoked shooting spree was $1.5 million (£950,000), in debt and in danger of losing his home, according to reports yesterday.

Robert Bales, a 38-year-old Staff Sergeant, was found guilty of securities fraud before joining the army, and still owed his victims hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation and punitive damages.


A former victim called Gary Liebschner described Bales as a smooth-talking conman who had caused him to lose $1.2million (£756,000) in savings. Working as a stockbroker, he had sold AT&T shares on Liebschner's behalf, but disappeared with the proceeds. "He robbed me of my life savings," Mr Liebschner told ABC News. "We didn't know where he was. We heard the Bahamas, and all kinds of places."

  UK Independent
And well he should have gone to the Bahamas instead of the Army.
He turns out to have been living between deployments in Washington State, with a wife and children, where he owned several properties that were underwater on their mortgage.
Much more background on this guy is going to make it difficult for his defense to paint him as a great guy who snapped under (admitted) pressure of a fourth deployment.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Material Support to Terrorists

Compare & Contrast

[At Ft. Leavenworth Army prison, likely] there will be some substantial interaction between Bales and Manning [during meal and recreation times]. Think about that: if you expose to the world previously unknown evidence of widespread wanton killing of civilians (as Manning allegedly did), then you will end up in the same place as someone who actually engages in the mass wanton killing of civilians (as Bales allegedly did), except that the one who committed atrocities will receive better treatment than the one who exposed them. That’s a nice reflection of our government’s value system (similar to the way that high government officials who commit egregious crimes are immunized, while those who expose them are aggressively prosecuted).

  Glenn Greenwald
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

I Shall Try to Remember When Posting

Seen in comments at Esquire:
”one thing, I've seen it before; afghanis are the money, afghans are the people. (took a bullet in my leg to find that out.) “

Monday, March 19, 2012

Speaking of Pornography...

...Charlie Pierce thinks Rick Santorum is a colossal dick. I tend to agree.
Former Pennsylvania senator and Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Sunday stood firm on his position that the Justice Department under President Obama “seems to favor pornographers over children and families.”

Asked to defend the statement, which appears on his campaign Web site, Santorum said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the proof “is in the prosecution.”

“Under the Bush administration, pornographers were prosecuted much more rigorously than they are under existing law, than [...] under the Obama administration,” Santorum said. “So you draw your conclusion.”

Unfortunately for Santorum, the precedent he cites is not a helpful one. In the early days of the Avignon Presidency, Attorney General John Ashcroft, a bigger religious cashew than even Santorum is, did indeed commit his office to a crackdown on pornography. (He also, you may recall, went balls-to-the-wall after head shops, running international criminal Tommy Chong to earth.) Of course, when one engages in an all-out assault on such a formidable enemy, priorities must be maintained. While chasing down the porn merchants, Ashcroft de-emphasized the FBI's counterterrorism efforts. In fact, he vetoed an FBI request for an additional $58 million to fund its counterterrorism operations. He vetoed this on September 10, 2001. However, events soon thereafter conspired Ashcroft to re-think his position.

  Charles Pierce
Ah, yes, John Ashcroft. Those were the good old days. I had almost forgotten the literal veiling of justice. What fun we had in those days. Lots of laughs, lots of laughs.

Puerto Rico for Romney!

Buoyed by a blowout win in the Republican primary in Puerto Rico, Mitt Romney extrapolated from what he called an “extraordinary victory” on Sunday to the general election, suggesting that he could also win enough Latino votes in November to oust President Obama.

“Those people who don’t think that Latinos will vote for Republicans need to take a look at Puerto Rico and see there that conservative principles and Latino voters go together,” he said, listing interests Latinos shared with other voters, like jobs.


Romney has antagonized many Latino voters with his suggestion that illegal immigrants would self-deport under tougher federal enforcement.


Romney’s prediction drew cheers from his mostly white audience in a suburb north of Chicago, although the comparison between the Puerto Rican GOP electorate and the broader Latino electorate is a stretch.

  LA Times
Yes, and just how does winning the REPUBLICAN PRIMARY in Puerto Rico translate to winning the Latino vote for president? There were no Democrats running in the Puerto Rico Republican primary that I'm aware of. And Puerto Ricans don't vote in presidential elections, even though they are US citizens. Plus, the reason Mitt won the primary there is not actually extraordinary at all.  That dipshit Rick Santorum apparently went there telling people they'd have to speak English if they want to become a state. He obviously wasn't too concerned about winning Puerto Rico's primary.

Some of them don't even want to be a state. And I'm guessing Satan will be ice skating to work on the day that the Republican Party of the United States of America votes to include an entire state of Latinos in our precious land.

Oh, and by the way...
Mr. Santorum also reiterated the importance of the English language in any territory or commonwealth that sought to become a state.

In a visit last week to Puerto Rico, Mr. Santorum told a local newspaper, regarding the island’s upcoming referendum on statehood: “They would have to speak English. That would be a requirement. It’s a requirement that we put on other states. It is a condition for entering the Union.”

There are no such requirements.

And as any Latino in America can tell you, if you're Latino and speak English, the Republican Party still won't like you.

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

Compare and Contrast

Here’s a summary of the Western media discussion of what motivated U.S. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to allegedly kill 16 Afghans, including 9 children: he was drunk, he was experiencing financial stress, he was passed over for a promotion, he had a traumatic brain injury, he had marital problems, he suffered from the stresses of four tours of duty, he “saw his buddy’s leg blown off the day before the massacre,” etc.

Here’s a summary of the Western media discussion of what motivates Muslims to kill Americans: they are primitive, fanatically religious, hateful Terrorists.


Note, too, that in the case of Sgt. Bales (or any other cases of American violence against Muslims), people have little difficulty understanding the distinction between (a) discussing and trying to understand the underlying motives of the act (causation) and (b) defending the act (justification). But that same distinction completely evaporates when it comes to Muslim violence against Americans. Those who attempt to understand or explain the act — they’re responding to American violence in their country; they are traumatized and angry at the continuous deaths of Muslim children and innocent adults; they’ve calculated that striking at Americans is the only way to deter further American aggression in their part of the world — are immediately accused of mitigating, justifying or even defending Terrorism.

  Glenn Greenwald
[The] US almost immediately whisked the accused out of Afghanistan and brought him to an American army base in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The rapid exclusion of Afghans from the process of trying the accused shooter has, predictably and understandably, exacerbated the growing anti-American anger in that country.


President Obama's most swooning supporters love to credit him with "ending the war in Iraq," but that is simply not what happened. It was President Bush who entered into an agreement with the Iraqi government mandating the removal of all US forces by the end of 2011. Rather than comply with that agreement, the Obama administration tried desperately to persuade and pressure the Iraqis to allow American troops to remain beyond that deadline. But those efforts failed because of one cause: the refusal (or, more accurately, the inability) of the Malaki government to agree that US troops would be immunized and shielded from Iraqi law for any future crimes they commit on Iraqi soil.


That was the imperial principle that finally compelled America's withdrawal from Iraq, and it is apparently what caused the US to quickly remove the accused shooter from Afghanistan.

  Glenn Greenwald

Mission Accomplished, George

Today is the anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
According to the Vatican, more than half of Iraq's Christians have left the country since the US-led invasion in 2003.

And to think God told him to do it.

The Price of Gas: So Much for Supply & Demand

The last time the price of Brent crude closed below $100 a barrel was Oct. 6, 2011. It’s since gone up nearly 30 percent, to a high of $126.20 on March 1. Tensions over Iran’s nuclear program have people spooked that a potential attack would disrupt the country’s 2.2 million barrels of daily oil exports. And so money has been pouring into oil futures contracts, driving up the price without any significant change in the underlying supply-and-demand fundamentals. Only the threat of one.


In the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consumer, demand is close to a 15-year low.


So who’s buying?

Talk to oil analysts these days and chances are they’ll tell you that more than half the spike in the oil price is due to speculators—specifically noncommercial users. That’s jargon for investors who are buying up futures contracts not because they intend to use the oil, but because they think it’s a good investment. These aren’t airlines or refining companies; these are money managers betting that the price will go up. And so far they’ve been right, thanks to themselves.


According to Tim Evans, an oil analyst with Citigroup [...], money managers now hold[...] “about 290 days’ worth of Iranian oil exports, [which] implies that we’ve already priced in a nine-month outage from Iran.”


And that’s without a single shot fired.

  Business Week
Speculators, wrote [Murray N. Rothbard in the summer of 1990], “perform an important function.” If people reacted mechanistically to fluctuations in supply, rather than anticipating future fluctuations, “a cutoff of Middle Eastern oil would disrupt the economy by causing a sudden drop in supply and a huge jump in prices. Speculative anticipation eases this volatility by raising prices more gradually.” In short, it could be worse – and will be worse, once the shooting starts in the Strait of Hormuz.


Newt Gingrich is right, albeit for the wrong reasons: the President’s policies – his foreign policy, specifically – are indeed the driving force behind rapidly rising gas prices. The problem for Gingrich and his fellow Republican war-hawks, however, is that they would march us off to war – and off an economic cliff – much sooner than the current occupant of the White House.

  Justin Raimondo
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

And, Hey...

...for all you bumper-sticker parents whose kids are on the honor roll (we're all proud), can your kids do this?


h/t Marty O'

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Police have arrested dozens of Occupy Wall Street protesters during a protest marking the movement's six-month anniversary at its birthplace in Zuccotti Park, New York. The sweep of the park by police just before midnight capped a day of demonstrations and marching in lower Manhattan.

"This is our spring offensive," said Michael Premo, 30, of New York, who identified himself as a spokesman for the movement. "People think the Occupy movement has gone away. It's important for people to see we're back."

  UK Guardian
I guess I'd be more inclined to think the movement would ever have any power if they didn't take the winter off. I know. That's not quite fair. I'm sure they didn't really take the winter off, but saying “we're back” makes it seem that way.
The demonstrators set up camp in Zuccotti Park on 17 September and sparked a wave of protests across the United States.
Yeah, boy. We were all fired up. Unlike the Arab Spring, however, we petered out after some heads were knocked and the weather turned cold.

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

"Rogue" Soldier Update

[Staff Sergeant Robert] Bales is a highly decorated soldier and trained sniper who had served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.


What precisely happened to the "good, fun guy" – as Bales's neighbours described him – will be the focus of his defence amid suggestions both from officials and his own lawyer, John Henry Browne, that they would suggest that post traumatic stress disorder may have been a contributory factor.


The picture of Bales that is emerging is a long way from the man who spoke to the Northwest Guardian three years ago after the battle of Zarqa in Iraq, when he insisted that what differentiated soldiers like him from those they were fighting was the ability to distinguish between combatants and civilians. "I've never been more proud to be a part of this unit than that day," Bales said in that article. "We discriminated between the bad guys and the non-combatants, and then afterwards we ended up helping the people who three or four hours before were trying to kill us.

"I think that's the real difference between being an American as opposed to being a bad guy, someone who puts his family in harm's way like that." If there was any hint that Bales was suffering problems, it was not picked up. He had been charged with assault in 2002 and asked to attend an anger management course, while in 2008 he is reported to have fled the scene of a car crash.

And in the end, and by his own criteria, it appears that Bales became one of the bad guys.

  UK Guardian
Wait a minute. “Became” one of the bad guys? Not suffering problems. Assault, anger management class, fled the scene of an accident (or, at least I'm supposing it was an accident). Do those things paint a picture of a “good guy”?  (Not to mention someone who sees himself and his fellow Americans as the good guys "as opposed to being a bad guy.")

I'd think the “hint” of problems would be any of that list of things immediately following the statement that there wasn't any hint of problems. I don't know if it's me or the reporter who's having a disconnect here, but I think it's the reporter.
The killings in Afghanistan have come amid escalating concern over an epidemic of suicides and PTSD among US military veterans of the decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last Wednesday another Iraq veteran, Abel Gutierrez, killed himself after murdering his 11-year old sister and his mother after police said "he just snapped" having suffered nightmares and periods of aggression since his return to the US.


[A]ccording to a recent study by the US Armed Forces Health Surveillance Centre in Silver Spring, Maryland, PTSD during a third deployment is double the rate, among male members of the armed forces, than that found after a single combat deployment. While its incidence appears to decline in fourth deployments, that is only because of the significant dropout after three tours of those already diagnosed with problems.
And the drop dead of those whose luck ran out on that fourth deployment.

Ex-US Soldier Released from Shia Custody

Followers of Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have freed a US former soldier after holding him captive in Baghdad for nine months.

The American, identified as Randy Michaels, was shown on television in a US military uniform with no insignia, flanked by two members of parliament from Sadr's movement, including the first deputy speaker.

The politicians described him as an American soldier, but Michaels said he was a former service member working in a civilian capacity at the time he was captured, last June.


"I was taken inside Baghdad and have been kept in and around different locations within the city by al-Maoud. It was explained to me that my release has been for humanitarian purposes and there was no exchange involved," he said in remarks shown on Iraq's Bagdadiya television.

  UK Guardian
What? They didn't torture or piss on him? Surely you can't believe that.

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

Women, Wages & War

Asked about the “war on women,” [Barack Obama] politely declined the opportunity to declare himself and the Democratic Party to be on the side of the women: “Women are going to make up their own mind in this election about who is advancing the issues that they care most deeply about.”

He went on:
there are millions of strong women around the country who are going to make their own determination about a whole range of issues. It’s not going to be narrowly focused just on contraception. It’s not going to be driven by one statement by one radio announcer. It is going to be driven by their view of what’s most likely to make sure they can help support their families, make their mortgage payments; who’s got a plan to ensure that middle-class families are secure over the long term; what’s most likely to result in their kids being able to get the education they need to compete. ... So I’m not somebody who believes that women are going to be single-issue voters.
Notice how quickly he moved to non-gender-specific issues like mortgages and education. He’s just not comfortable with the notion that women might vote based on their interests as women. He’d rather talk to them about mortgages and “a whole range of issues” than reassure them about their reproductive autonomy.

What I noticed was that in going to the issue of mortgages he blithely slipped through “help support their families” as though it is just as natural as the day is long that women have to work outside the home to bring in enough income to support a family.

All these “single issue” topics may not be so single. With this latest hot topic of women's right to contraceptives and all the muddy waters around it, including the Tea Party mentality that supports presidential candidates who most loudly rail against women in modern society forsaking the commandments of God, I don't see anyone relating the cost of war to the incidence of women in the work force. Surely it's there? I realize this position would be as fraught with confusing statistics and ideals as any, but I wonder if there aren't data to support the theory that family women are forced into the marketplace to support the country's “defense” industry during its costly wars.

It wasn't always this way. In our past, women have had the ability to choose whether to stay at home and raise their children or go to work to earn a wage. Young people may not know that. Politicians would like us to forget it.

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

It's Sunday

via Dependable Renegade...

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

Saturday, March 17, 2012

New Study

There's more than one way to skin a cat. How did that saying originate? Anyway, if you can't make rich Americans believe in global warming and carbon dioxide pollution, tell them CO2 can make them fat.
The question of whether carbon dioxide should be considered a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency has been a political football for the past decade.


But now there is a new charge against carbon dioxide that may strike more deeply at the heart of American public opinion: The claim that it promotes obesity.

  Raw Story
If true, there must be an excess of it down here in Galveston. And now I'm going to go have a large bowl of Blue Bunny ice cream.

Julian Assange in Limbo

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, plans to run for the Australian senate in elections next year, despite being under virtual house arrest in the UK and facing extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations, according to the whistleblowing website.

"We have discovered that it is possible for Julian Assange to run for the Australian Senate while detained. Julian has decided to run," Wikileaks said in a posting on the social networking site Twitter.

Is diplomatic immunity retroactive?

"Rogue Soldier" Update

The American soldier accused of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan last weekend is Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, a US official said on Friday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to provide additional details about the soldier.


Bales has not yet been charged in the incident.

  UK Guardian
I can only guess that after three tours and injuries in Iraq, just having been sent to an even more savage front in Afghanistan and seeing a fellow soldier's leg blown off, Staff Sergeant Bales believed an American prison (or possibly a psych ward) would be preferable to the hellhole he was now in. Or maybe he had truly "snapped" as is being said of him. Or, like the Ft. Lewis club before him that went out killing for kicks, he is just another sick American psycopath. That seems less likely to me than other possibilities, but I suppose time will reveal more as the defense and the prosecution gear up.

It strikes me that in comparing the military's treatment of these soldier murderers and the group at Abu Ghraib prison with its treatment of Brad Manning, that in effect the military is letting its personnel know that it condones, if not encourages, the abuse, torture and killing of Iraqis and Afghanis, including civilians.
Bales was flown from Kuwait to a military base in Kansas where he will be held in solitary confinement awaiting charges, the US army said.

"The Army confirms that Staff Sergeant Robert Bales was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Bales is being held in pre-trial confinement," the army said in a statement on Friday.


A senior US defence official said the suspect was drinking alcohol in the hours before the attack on villagers, violating a US military order banning alcohol in war zones.

Laying the groundwork for the Army's rebuttal to Bales' attorney's attempt to blame the Army for Bales' actions.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai complained earlier on Friday that the US military had not co-operated with the Afghan team dispatched to investigate the massacre.
Yeah, the Army doesn't cooperate that well with outside investigations from anyone.
The leader of the delegation investigation the massacre said he wanted to ask the soldier whether he acted alone, or was part of a team, as has repeatedly been claimed by tribal elders who believe that a single gunman could not have killed so many people and in different places some distance apart.

“They killed so many of our loved ones, and do you have an answer why?” one elder asked Karzai. The president said he did not.

"I don't want any compensation. I don't want money, I don't want a trip to Hajj [pilgrimage], I don't want a house. I want nothing but the punishment of the Americans.” [...] another elder said.
Giving us a nicely laid out summary of the usual response to Afghans when we blow up innocent civilians.
The leaders insisted the soldier met no resistance because villagers were used to frequent night raids, as reported earlier by Al Jazeera.

"They bring our own Afghan soldiers to secure them as they break down our doors like animals. If you resist, they will shoot you. And if you don’t resist, they will put a hood over your head and take you to Bagram,” another elder said.


Karzai once again reiterated that he would hold the US accountable and make sure the soldier was brought to justice.

"This has been going on for too long. This is by all means the end of the rope here,'' Karzai told reporters. “This form of activity, this behaviour, cannot be tolerated. It's past, past, past the time.'


Karzai met the elders a day after he demanded foreign forces pull back from Afghan villages. He also called for the full transfer of security responsibility to Afghan forces be completed one year ahead of the announced schedule in 2013.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Continuing US War on Middle East Journalists

And Barack Obama's personal involvement.

Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen?

The Unknown Serial Killer Soldier

The Unknown Soldier used to be a symbol of all our noble, self-less, American heroes-in-uniform, who put their lives on the line to protect the nation: now that we have entered the age of imperialism, he has become the Unknown Serial Killer, whose identity is kept secret as he’s rushed out of the country to escape the wrath of his victims’ families.


The Unknown Serial Killer isn’t the only one around here having a breakdown: our entire political and economic system is currently experiencing a massive breakdown, one that threatens to upend the country and plunge us into a dark age from which we may not soon emerge. His actions reflect the larger crisis of political and moral coherence gnawing at the very foundations of American civilization and threatening the peace of the world. How else could our politicians be clamoring for more war when the American public wants nothing to do with it? How else could I be hearing a Fox News "legal analyst" named Kimberly make excuses for a child-killing maniac on national television?


Think of it: he went out in the dead of night, at three in the morning, armed to the teeth, and snuck into a village where sleeping children were cradled in their beds. Taking careful aim, he knelt and started firing: one after another these young girls and boys had their heads blown off. One news account described a bullet hole right between the eyes of one young victim. That’s some pretty good shooting there, soldier: all that training, financed by the US taxpayers, paid off! His work there finished, our serial killer went to another house, where he repeated his grisly work.

  Justin Raimondo
I don't think that's the way the media will be playing it.

"Rogue Soldier" Update

He will now be media cast as "Victim Soldier" ....
The US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers was upset by a serious injury sustained by an army comrade the day before the massacre, but held no animosity toward Muslims, his lawyer has said.

The 38-year-old army sergeant, being held in Kuwait, was also unhappy about being sent to Afghanistan, having earlier been told he would not be redeployed after three tours in Iraq, according to his Seattle-based civilian attorney.

  Raw Story
Wow. I'm guessing either this is not a highly paid lawyer, or he's got more up his sleeve. “Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, my client was unhappy and upset, but he harbors no grudge against Muslims.”
The soldier, a married father-of-two is not being named, and his family has moved to a military base south of Seattle because of security fears and concerns about possible retaliation for the attack.
No, they did it because their lawyer figured it would get more publicity and help his cause. Who the hell in this country is going to retaliate? Has any one of the war criminals to date been retaliated against on American soil?
“We have been informed that at this small base that he was at, somebody was gravely injured the day before the alleged incident, which affects all of the soldiers there,” attorney John Henry Browne said in Seattle on Thursday.
Yes, but not all of them went out and slaughtered innocent people in the middle of the night.
The New York Times said the suspect, a career soldier originally from the Midwest, had been drinking at the time of the shootings, was stressed over his fourth deployment and had been experiencing tensions with his wife.
Now, that makes more sense. He couldn't get at the wife.
But the Seattle lawyer, who has taken on high-profile cases before, questioned the report, saying there were no marital problems although stress could be a factor.


Browne is known for representing Colton Harris-Moore, the so-called “Barefoot Bandit,” who was found guilty of a string of audacious crimes across the United States and sentenced in January to six-and-a-half years in prison.
Let it be noted that Harris-Moore's crimes did not include murder or bodily injury to anyone, mostly they were stolen property and breaking and entering. Mostly he pissed people off because he evaded capture for two years. And he got six-and-a-half years for it. How good is this lawyer?

Well, at least he has more than just, “Your honor, my client was unhappy.” A lot more. Why in hell was this guy redeployed to Afghanistan?
The soldier had been injured twice during his three previous deployments to Iraq and was loathe to go to Afghanistan to begin with, Browne said.

In Iraq he had suffered a concussive head injury in a car accident caused by a roadside bomb, and sustained a battle-related injury that resulted in surgery to remove part of his foot.

  UK Guardian
And Browne's also setting the rest of the stage props, by moving the family, and shaping the backstory.
Browne and his co-counsel, Emma Scanlan, said they had met with the soldier's wife and other family members, and Browne said he spoke briefly by phone with the soldier, whom he described as stunned and distant. "[The family] were totally shocked," he said. "He's never said anything antagonistic about Muslims. He's in general very mild-mannered."

Browne said he knew little of the facts of the shooting but disputed reports that a combination of alcohol, stress and domestic issues caused him to snap. He said the family were unaware of any drinking problem and described the couple's marriage as "fabulous".
Fabulous, as any marriage might be expected to be considering the circumstances of the soldier's lot.

So maybe this lawyer isn't just a local yokel from Seattle, eh?
Browne once defended the serial killer Ted Bundy and recently represented Colton Harris-Moore, a youthful thief known as the Barefoot Bandit.
Oh-ho.  Ted Bundy.
Lieutenant Colonel Gary Dangerfield, a spokesman at the Lewis-McChord base, said the Pentagon would not release the name of the soldier until he was formally charged.

  UK Guardian
And he will not be charged until the Pentagon has had the scene, the evidence, and the witnesses (both eye and character) scrubbed as thoroughly as possible.  And that fellow soldier (the most likely source) who said the guy was having wife troubles will either shut up or recant.

A Bargain for Frequent Flyers

Those who wish to avoid body scanners and pat-downs at airports can pay $100 to opt into a Transportation Security Administration expedited security screening program.

“It’s pay to play,” aviation analyst Michael Boyd said on MSNBC. “I don’t know how much it is going to do for security, but is a one time fee as far as I know.”

Currently, only selected frequent flyers and Customs and Border Protection Trusted Travelers are eligible to participate in the TSA’s PreCheck program.

Those who are accepted can keep their shoes, belts and jackets on as they walk through a metal detector. They are also allowed to keep laptops and liquids in carry-on bags.

Nearly 100,000 American Airlines passengers have already signed up.

  RAw Story
How many are Muslims?

Know Your Rights

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

FAQs here

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Catching Up on Charlie Pierce

I always enjoy reading Charles Pierce if for nothing more than the colorful (and so apt) prose (although there is plenty of substance and reference to go with). For instance, in one post today he says, “Let us leave aside the fact that anyone's who's speculating about the 2016 presidential campaign at this point in the 2012 presidential campaign needs to find a decent saloon and stay there for several hours until they're sockless enough to forget what they do for a living. “

And this bit:
Well, there's no question about it now. Rick Santorum — and have I mentioned recently what a colossal dick he is? — loves Jesus, and Jesus loves him, and so do all the people who love Jesus, and whom Jesus loves, down in the deep old South, where once they thought all Catholics had cloven hooves, horns on their heads, and Notre Dame sweaters covering their black and evil Papist hearts.


Daring to be stupid is the highest form of courage to the people to whom Santorum is pitching his campaign.


"The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is," he said.

(I asked a tree in my front yard, Rick. It said it thought you were a colossal dick.)

  Charles Pierce
And there's this lead-in to the op-ed in the NY Times (Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs) by Greg Smith, who paints a picture we probably would have expected to see, if we could see for ourselves, but were not at all expecting to hear from a GS employee.
There's not much point in having a saloon here on the blocks of Blogistan if you're not going to make some mention of how a departing Goldman Sachs executive napalmed his bridges this morning in The New York Times. Here's about where the struts give out and the bridges plunge into the river:

"Today, many of these leaders display a Goldman Sachs culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It's purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client's success or progress was not part of the thought process at all. It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as "muppets," sometimes over internal e-mail.... No humility? I mean, come on. Integrity? It is eroding. I don't know of any illegal behavior, but will people push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client's goals? Absolutely. Every day, in fact."

  Charles Pierce
And Charlie has some colorful advice for Mitt Romney, which he admits will not likely be taken, but frankly, I don't think I'd be all that surprised if it were.