Saturday, June 30, 2012

In Right-Wing Nutopia the Jokes Just Write Themselves

There is a website now tracking the conservative geniuses so angry about the Supreme Court approving of "socialized medicine" that they are saying they will move to Canada.


Shhh, Nobody tell them.
  Rising Hegemon

And This Is Why We Call Them Banksters

USA v. Carollo involved classic cartel activity: not just one corrupt bank, but many, all acting in careful concert against the public interest.


Given the complexities of bond investments, it's impossible to know exactly how much the total take was. But consider this: Four banks that took part in the scam (UBS, Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo) paid $673 million in restitution after agreeing to cooperate in the government's case. (Bank of America even entered the Justice Department's leniency program, which is tantamount to admitting that it committed felonies.) Since that settlement involves only four of the firms implicated in the scam (a list that includes Goldman, Transamerica and AIG, as well as banks in Scotland, France, Germany and the Netherlands), and since settlements in Wall Street cases tend to represent only a tiny fraction of the actual damages (Chase paid just $75 million for its role in the bribe-and-payola scandal that saddled Jefferson County, Alabama, with more than $3 billion in sewer debt), it's safe to assume that Wall Street skimmed untold billions in the bid-rigging scam.


[This] just-completed trial in downtown New York against three faceless financial executives really was historic. Over 10 years in the making, the case allowed federal prosecutors to make public for the first time the astonishing inner workings of the reigning American crime syndicate, which now operates not out of Little Italy and Las Vegas, but out of Wall Street.

The defendants in the case – Dominick Carollo, Steven Goldberg and Peter Grimm – worked for GE Capital, the finance arm of General Electric. Along with virtually every major bank and finance company on Wall Street – not just GE, but J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, UBS, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Wachovia and more – these three Wall Street wiseguys spent the past decade taking part in a breathtakingly broad scheme to skim billions of dollars from the coffers of cities and small towns across America. The banks achieved this gigantic rip-off by secretly colluding to rig the public bids on municipal bonds, a business worth $3.7 trillion. By conspiring to lower the interest rates that towns earn on these investments, the banks systematically stole from schools, hospitals, libraries and nursing homes – from "virtually every state, district and territory in the United States," according to one settlement. And they did it so cleverly that the victims never even knew they were being ¬cheated. No thumbs were broken, and nobody ended up in a landfill in New Jersey, but money disappeared, lots and lots of it, and its manner of disappearance had a familiar name: organized crime.


The new-age gangsters even invented an elaborate code to hide their crimes. Like Elizabethan highway robbers who spoke in thieves' cant, or Italian mobsters who talked about "getting a button man to clip the capo," on tape after tape these Wall Street crooks coughed up phrases like "pull a nickel out" or "get to the right level" or "you're hanging out there" – all code words used to manipulate the interest rates on municipal bonds. The only thing that made this trial different from a typical mob trial was the scale of the crime.


More recently, a major international investigation has been launched into the manipulation of Libor, the interbank lending index that is used to calculate global interest rates for products worth more than $3 trillion a year. If and when that case is presented to the public at trial – there are several major civil suits in the works here in the States – we may yet find out that the world's most powerful banks have, for years, been fixing the prices of almost every adjustable-rate vehicle on earth, from mortgages and credit cards to interest-rate swaps and even currencies.


But USA v. Carollo marks the first time we actually got incontrovertible evidence that Wall Street has moved into this cartel-type brand of criminality. It also offered a disgusting glimpse into the enabling and grossly cynical role played by politicians, who took Super Bowl tickets and bribe-stuffed envelopes to look the other way while gangsters raided the public kitty. And though the punishments that were ultimately handed down in the trial – minor convictions of three bit players – felt deeply unsatisfying, it was still a watershed moment in the ongoing story of America's gradual awakening to the realities of financial corruption. In a post-crash era where Wall Street trials almost never make it into court, and even the harshest settlements end with the evidence buried by the government and the offending banks permitted to escape with no admission of wrongdoing, this case finally dragged the whole ugly truth of American finance out into the open – and it was a hell of a show.

Read more:
  Rolling Stone
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

In a Nutshell

[W]e think of ourselves as a nation, and blithely accept fiscal measures that routinely transfer large sums to the poorer states without even thinking of it as a regional issue — in fact, the states that are effectively on the dole tend to vote Republican and imagine themselves deeply self-reliant.
  Paul Krugman

Monday, June 25, 2012

But Before I Go...

Read this Helen & Margaret post.  I mean it.  Really.

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

Movers From Hell: One Network/Sprint Movers

Some day when the nightmare moving experience in whose midst I find myself has passed, I will submit more posts. In the meantime, if you are in the Houston area, I advise you in the strongest possible terms not to use Sprint Movers to move you.

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It Will Be OK When the Scientists Say It Is

An increasing amount of evidence is coming to light suggesting that human moods, emotions and perceptions can be influenced by the type and number of microscopic life forms inhabiting our gut, according to an article in Scientific American magazine. Scientists say a time may even come when we treat mental illness and depression with probiotic supplements.

  Raw Story
And you thought your wacky hippie neighbor was just woo-woo.

Why Don't the Republicans Like Dr. Ron?

Although his son Rand has endorsed Mitt Romney, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said Tuesday that he has no plans of doing so himself.


“I take it you’re not yet ready yourself to endorse Romney, are you?” Blitzer asked.

“No, not really,” Paul responded. “No way.”

  Raw Story

Monday, June 18, 2012

Say Again? Christian?

A group of Christian missionaries hijacked an Arab-American festival in Dearborn, Michigan on Saturday, bearing signs criticizing Islam and carrying a pig’s head mounted on a pole.

  Raw Story
May I suggest you missionaries make your next target somewhere actually in an Arab country?
The annual festival, the largest such celebration of the Muslim faith in the U.S., has been targeted by Chrsitian groups for several years now.
"Several" years? As in since the government of George Bush, et al., calling for a Crusade, gave permission and pattern to publicly express hatred of and visit vengeance upon them?

Or perhaps since the government of Barack Obama increased the actual vengeance while dropping the Crusade rhetoric?

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

He's Right

No matter how he sounds when he says it.

Except for one thing: he says "we don't mess with nobody who has the nuke" - and we are messing with Pakistan.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Yeah, and Why Is That?

When neoconservatives, politicians, and high ranking military officers speak of a 30-year war against terrorism, there is no discussion about its affordability or whether the one significant attack (September 11, 2001) that is attributed, perhaps incorrectly, to Muslim terrorists justifies an open-ended war against a dozen countries. There is no discussion of the burden on future generations of the massive increase in the public debt in order to finance today’s wars.

Affordability and intergenerational burdens are topics reserved for the discussion of Social Security.


[D]uring the 1980s Alan Greenspan and David Stockman accelerated the phase-in of payroll tax increases that the Carter administration had enacted. By causing the payroll tax to rise before it was needed to finance benefits, more than $2 trillion has been collected than was paid out in benefits. The government spent the earmarked payroll tax revenues (leaving non-marketable IOUs in their place) on other things, such as the wars of the 21st century. As none of this $2 trillion reached retirees, the real “theft” from those of working age was committed by Greenspan and Stockman for the benefit of other spending programs.

  Paul Craig Roberts
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

It's Sunday

The Clan of the Red Beanie, American Division, is in the second day of its annual shindig down in Atlanta, and it seems to have dawned on the bishops that they have something of a public-relations problem. And, stepping up to meet it head on is our own Sean Cardinal O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, who ascended to his current position when Bernard Cardinal Law was transferred to a post at the Basilica Of Our Lady Of The Clean Getaway in Rome....
The recent Vatican crackdown on the largest organization of U.S. nuns turned into a public relations "debacle" for the bishops, said Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston. He complained that the Vatican's decision to put bishops in charge of rooting out "radical feminist" elements within the nuns' group was linked in the secular media to unrelated events, such as the bishops' investigation of the Girl Scouts, with negative consequences for the church's image. The bishops are looking into concerns that the Girl Scouts sometimes work with groups that promote access to contraception.  The U.S. church's image also has been hurt sex abuse scandals.
What was your first clue on that last part, Sherlock?


You don't need better flacks, Sean. You need better Christians. Ask the nuns. They'll show you how it's done.


The problem is not that the institutional Church has an image problem. The problem is that the institutional Church is openly insane right now, and everybody can see it. The institutional Church, desperately attempting to reassert the authority it squandered during its days as an international conspiracy to obstruct justice, is barging around the landscape, reeling like a crazy person drunk on absinthe, doubling down on policies concerning human sexuality that people stopped following in 1965, and making life difficult for the fking Girl Scouts. This is behavior unsuitable for an authoritarian middle-school principal in Donkey's Balls, Texas, let alone the Church of the Gospels.

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

Saturday, June 16, 2012

DoD Drone Surveillance in the US

So what's that empty strip up the center all about?

source's source

How Do You Wear Your Teabags?

As we all know, Willard Romney has a real problem with the one real accomplishment he achieved during the one term he served in the one political office to which he actually was elected. As governor of Massachusetts, he passed a health-care reform bill that included an individual mandate. Now, of course, because his political party has gone batshit insane on the topic over the two years since the president passed a plan based on Romney's for the entire nation, he has had to toss that triumph down the ol' memory hole and produce another health-care "reform" that he proposes will replace what he now calls "Obamacare" so the people with the teabags on their hats won't yell at him anymore.

  Charlie Pierce
I thought they wore them in their ears.

BP - Still There

It Must Be Campaign Season

[Friday] The political day has just been eclipsed by a major announcement by the Obama administration: by executive order, the president will end the deportation of certain young undocumented immigrants – making an estimated 800,000 young people now safe. The order will stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants under 30 years old who came to the US before their 16th birthdays.

To benefit from the protection, they must have lived in the US continuously for five years, have no criminal record or have graduated from high school or served in the military.


The plan tracks closely to a proposal offered by Republican senator Marco Rubio of Florida as an alternative to the Dream Act.

  UK Guardian
Boy, he really is feeling desperate about his chances. First the gay thing, now this.

While I'm all for the result, I am not at all a fan of "executive orders."  That just doesn't seem like a hallmark of democracy.  And why do we even have such a thing?

And one more thing...he could have done both of those things when he first entered office.  Neither one impact big business, big finance, big pharma - anything that would put  his relationship with the rulers of this country in danger. 

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

Hitchhiker Update

A writer from West Virginia who claimed last week that he’d bee shot in a random act of violence has admitted that he shot himself to promote his book, police told The Associated Press on Friday.

The writer, 39-year-old Ray Dolan, originally claimed he was working on a book called “The Kindness of America,” and had suffered his injury at the hands of a motorist while he was hitchhiking in Montana.

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

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

While you’re digging around in your pocket for a ten dollar bill to send to support your candidate of choice in the upcoming election, please to not be discouraged that someone just wrote a check for 5 times the total amount you will ever earn in your entire working life. Mere pocket change! Hey, money is speech, the Court said. And you are still entitled to walk into the woods and whisper into a knothole in a tree your opinions all you want!

  Tom Toles

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Well Worth the Apology

On a spike. 
Guardian article
h/t Jean

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

I believe this sums up everything we've suspected all along:
Jamie Dimon weathered protesters and questioning at a Senate Banking Committee hearing today about JPMorgan's $2 billion in trading losses — armed with cufflinks that appear to be inscribed with the presidential seal.
  Dependable Renegade

Well Why Not?

We're already screaming toward Hell without any brakes. Pile it on.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a forthcoming U.S. trade agreement that looks to solidify a seamless regional economy in the Pacific-rim, would give multinational corporations the power to challenge and even avoid compliance with laws in member countries — including the U.S. — provided a super-national corporate tribunal agrees with their claim.


Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen said Wednesday that it “has verified that the text is authentic,” and described the proposals as being fraught with “dangers.”

“It reveals that negotiators already have agreed to many radical terms granting expansive new rights and privileges for foreign investors and their private corporate enforcement through extra-judicial ‘investor-state’ tribunals,” they explained.


The tribunals, which already exist under the framework established by prior trade deals during the Clinton and Bush administrations — like NAFTA and CAFTA — are also problematic, according to Public Citizen. Because their proceedings are conducted in private, no media may access their deliberations, and various international trade attorneys take turns filling the role of judges, who are selected by stakeholders.

  Raw Story
Some “trade” agreement that is.

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

Still an Asshole

And still a liar.
“I, of course, regret the U.N. speech that I gave,” he said, “which became the prominent presentation of our case. But we thought it was correct at the time. The President thought it was correct. Congress thought it was correct.”

In a February 2003 speech to the U.N. Security Council, Powell alleged that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction from inspectors and refusing to disarm. However, after the U.S. had invaded Iraq and overthrown Saddam Hussein, no weapons of mass destruction were found.

“Of course I regret that a lot of it turned out be wrong,” he said.

  Raw Story
"Turned out to be" wrong.

The President may have thought it was correct because the President was an idiot. Congress may have thought it was correct, because nobody tells Congress anything, which is apparently how they like it, and they were all too eager to abdicate their responsibility. But the record shows that Colin Powell knew it was bullshit when he said it.

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

Talk About Your Wasted Effort

[Senator Bernie] Sanders has introduced the Federal Reserve Independence Act to prohibit banking industry executives from serving as Fed directors.

  Raw Story
Nice thought, though, Bernie.

What Does the Man Have to Do?

President #Compromise has bent over backward (and I do mean backward) to accommodate the far right conservatives. So much so that we think he is one. He wants your Uncle Billy Bob's vote. But why oh why is Uncle Billy Bob still accusing him of being a Muslim? Muslims hate him.
In a number of strategically important Muslim nations, America’s image has not improved during the Obama presidency. In fact, America’s already low 2008 ratings have slipped even further in Jordan and Pakistan.


There is little support for Obama, however, in the predominantly Muslim nations surveyed. Fewer than three-in-ten express confidence in him in Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey and Jordan. And roughly a year after he ordered the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden, just 7% of Pakistanis have a positive view of Obama, the same percentage that voiced confidence in President George W. Bush during the final year of his administration.


In nearly every country where trends are available, support for Obama’s international policies has declined over the last three years. . . . . The U.S. receives many of its lowest ratings in predominantly Muslim nations. Among Muslim nations, the median has slipped from 34% to 15%. . . . Fewer than one-in-five have a positive opinion about America in Egypt (19%), Turkey (15%), Pakistan (12%) and Jordan (12%)

  Pew Research via Glenn Greenwald
And you know what? Screw you, members of the Congressional Conscience.
Twenty-six members of Congress have called on President Barack Obama to provide a legal justification for so-called “signature” drone strikes against suspected terrorists.

  Raw Story
Where were you before the president's kill list became public?

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Charlie Pierce Asking the Right(er) Question

The Republicans have grown giddy over this Fast And Furious business, a truly terrible initiative by which firearms were loosed upon the streets in the hope that they would find their way to drug dealers we would very much like to arrest, and a tactic pioneered, you will not be surprised to learn, by various brainiacs in the employ of the Bush Administration.


Republicans led by Rep. Darrell (Everyone's As Dirty As Me) Issa uncrated his outrage and has been hauling Attorney General Eric Holder up before his investigating committee fairly regularly over the past two years, hoping to find something (anything!) that would tie Holder to the killing of a border agent, and seeking to hang the entire responsibility for this truly idiotic strategy around Holder's neck.


Now, Issa's threatening to hold Holder in contempt of Congress on June 20, and Holder's warning darkly of a "constitutional crisis," as though we haven't been living in the midst of one of those since the resolution of the 2000 election.


The "gun-walking" strategies that began under the last administration have been buried in the Crawford underbrush, which must be quite thick these days now that nobody's around to clear it any more. (And, coincidentally, it comes just as Holder's Justice Department is moving on voter-suppression in places like Florida, about which more later today.) The way you know that is that nobody — except, as always, Charlie Savage in the New York Times — is asking the real question anymore. Which is, basically, who dealt this mess? Somebody should have recognized this as being a bad idea right from jump. And, riddle me this: How does this differ in its basic law-enforcement philosophy from all the scams the spooks are running wherein they find some guy in a bar who wants to bring down the Great Satan personally, and our gumshoes feed him a line about RPG's and Semtex, and the guy shouts "Huzzah!" and starts making plans, and then winds up in Pelican Bay doing life plus 20 years? How long will it be before one of those clever plots goes badly wrong and the guy the spooks find isn't as stupid and hopeless as the guys they've found so far have been? How long before we have a "gun-walking" plot that winds up with a bomb? And what will happen if it does?

  Charlie Pierce

Meanwhile in Liberated Iraq

At least 57 people have been killed in a series of bombings and shootings across Iraq, with many of the attacks targeting Shia pilgrims during a major religious festival, police and hospital sources say.


What's Wrong with America?

To have good leaders you have to have good followers — able to recognize just authority, admire it, be grateful for it and emulate it. – David Brooks
Let's run down the list, shall we? Vietnam. Watergate. Iran-Contra. Iraq's WMD's. The recent crushing of the financial system by faceless gamblers and shameless mountebanks. Why in the name of god would anyone be suspicious of "the elites"? I'm not sure, but I think we're coming around to those people who are ruining America by eating Cheez Whiz in their trailers, watching Cops, and fucking without regard for David Brooks's advice.


We don't follow well enough any more, because we're in our trailers, watching the tube and screwing without the permission of our betters. We should trust our institutions like we did in 1925, when black people were being lynched with impunity, and the entire financial system was being cored out without anyone noticing. That certainly worked out well.

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

Go Ask Commerce Secretary John Bryson

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

The Fighting Irish

A litle aside....

When I visited the battlefields at Gettysburg some years ago, I noticed that more than a few of the many monuments covering them were inscribed with dedications to one or another Irish regiment. I speculated that perhaps there were so many because the Irish were unable to find gainful employment when they reached New York, for various reasons, not the least of which was the prejudice against poor Catholic immigrants. I thought perhaps joining the army was not only a way to get fed, but maybe thought of as a possible way to gain acceptance.

While Paul Craig Roberts is not writing about the Irish in this week's post, he offers a possibility I hadn't thought of for why there were so many Irish units in the Northern Army of the American Civil War.
I have always been intrigued by the Battle of Bull Run, the opening battle of the US Civil War, known to southerners as the War of Northern Aggression.


Republican politicians and their ladies in their finery rode out to Manassas, the Virginia town through which the stream, Bull Run, flowed, in carriages to watch the Union Army end the “Southern Rebellion” in one fell swoop. What they witnessed instead was the Union Army fleeing back to Washington with its tail between its legs. The flight of the northern troops promoted some southern wags to name the battle, the Battle of Yankee Run.


Historians report that the flight back to Washington left the Union Army and the US capital in a state of disorganization for three weeks, during which time even a small army could have taken the capital. Historians inclined not to see the battle as a victory for the South claim that the southerners were exhausted by the effort it took to put the Yankees to flight and simply hadn’t the energy to pursue them, take Washington, hang the traitor Lincoln and all the Republicans, and end the war.

Exhausted troops or not, if Napoleon had been the southern general, the still organized southern army would have been in Washington as fast as the disorganized Union. Possibly the southerners would have engaged in ethnic cleansing by enslaving the Yankees and selling them to Africans, thus ejecting from the country the greed-driven northern imperialists who, in the southern view, did not know how to behave either in private or in public.

It was not southern exhaustion that saved the day for the North. It was southern hubris. The Battle of Bull Run convinced the South that the citified northerners simply could not fight and were not a military threat.

Perhaps the South was right about the North. However, the Irish immigrants, who were met at the docks and sent straight to the front, could fight.

  Paul Craig Roberts
It had not occurred to me that maybe the Irish immigrants never had an option.

I'm too lazy to research the answer as to the large numbers of Irish soldiers. But I also saw while in Caracas, Venezuela, a very prominent monument in Plaza O'Leary dedicated to an Irishman who fought with Simon Bolivar for independence from Spain, which if I recall, was during that same period, so I'm still left wondering if the Irish, forced to leave their homeland due to famine and English oppression, were great lovers of freedom or great lovers of fighting. Perhaps both. (Here's a site devoted to the Irish in other country's wars:

Nothing Hypocritical Here

For people living in countries where the the government monitors and censors the Internet, help is on the way.

It may be in a smartphone app or it could be a clandestine wireless network that looks innocuous but allows people to communicate out of the view of government censors.

A project funded by the US government and developed by a Washington think tank called “Commotion Wireless” is being readied for delivery early next year.

The effort seeks to promote free expression online and takes advantage of the fact that more people are using mobile devices.

  Raw Story
And don't even try to convince me that the US government doesn't have it programmed to let them monitor it.

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Fueling Terrorism

Anwar Awlaki was once such a moderate that he vehemently denounced the 9/11 attacks, got invited to the Pentagon to speak, and hosted a column in The Washington Post on Islam — but then became radicalized by the constant post-9/11 killing of Muslims by his country (the U.S.).


Najibullah Zazi, one of the first Afghans ever to be accused of Terrorism on U.S. soil when he plotted to detonate bombs in the New York subway system, was radicalized by the U.S. occupation of his country (“This is the payback for the atrocities that you do,” he said).


The Times Square bomber, the Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, said this:
As soon as he was taken into custody May 3 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, onboard a flight to Dubai, the Pakistani-born Shahzad told agents that he was motivated by opposition to U.S. policy in the Muslim world, officials said. “One of the first things he said was, ‘How would you feel if people attacked the United States? You are attacking a sovereign Pakistan’,”

David Rodhe, the former New York Times reporter who was held hostage by the Taliban for nine months, said after he was released that Taliban “commanders fixated on the deaths of Afghan, Iraqi and Palestinian civilians in military airstrikes, as well as the American detention of Muslim prisoners who had been held for years without being charged.”


Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) expressly said that the Christmas Day bomb attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was in retaliation for the Obama cluster-bomb airstrike in Yemen that killed dozens of women and children along with U.S. support for the Yemeni dictator.


Even The Washington Post just two weeks ago pointed out that the primary source of strength for AQAP — the Terror group which the U.S. Government insists is the greatest threat to the U.S. — are repeated U.S. drone strikes in Yemen; said The Post: “An escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes is stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants and driving tribesmen to join a network linked to terrorist plots against the United States.”


Prior to 9/11, of course, the U.S. spent decades propping up dictators in that part of that world, overthrowing their democratically elected leaders, imposing devastating sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Muslim children — literally — and then blithely justifying it like it was the most insignificant problem in the world, arming, funding and diplomatically protecting continuous Israeli aggression, and otherwise interfering in and dominating their countries. There’s a reason they decided to attack the U.S. as opposed to, say, Peru, or South Africa, or Finland, or Brazil, or Japan, or Portugal, or China.


I can’t even conceive of the uncontrolled rage, righteous fury and insatiable desire for violence in which [Americans] would be drowning if those attacks lasted not a single day but a full decade, if it involved constant video imagery on American television of dead American children and charred American wedding parties and thousands of Americans imprisoned for years in cages in a distant ocean prison without charges and surveillance and weaponized drones flying constantly over American soil and unignited cluster bombs left on American soil that explode when American children find them.


It isn’t those of us who oppose American aggression in the Muslim world who need manipulative, exploitative reminders about 9/11; it’s those who cheer for these policies who are making a follow-up attack ever more likely.

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Going Down

There is a chilling report out from the Federal Reserve that the median net worth of families plunged by 39 percent in just three years, from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010.


The biggest hit were the middle class families. The wealthiest families actually saw a slight rise. [...] Much of this decline is due to the decline in home values which remains the biggest investment for most families. Forty-seven percent of citizens do not pay taxes income taxes and 87 percent of those earn less than $20,000 a year.

  Jonathan Turley

Of Course Not

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday announced that it would not review a lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other government officials for their alleged roles in the detention and torture of a U.S. citizen.


Padilla, a convicted terrorist, had sued Rumsfeld and other U.S. officials over his alleged torture at the naval base, but a district court judge granted Rumsfeld immunity and dismissed the case, Padilla v. Rumsfeld. In April, Padilla’s mother and the ACLU asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the lawsuit.

“Tell me where in the Constitution it says that torturing Americans is acceptable,” Estela Lebron, Padilla’s mother, said. “You don’t even treat an animal the way my son was treated. If they can do this to Jose, they can do it to anyone. I’m going to continue fighting until justice has been done for my son.”

  Raw Story
Until the 12th of Never.

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Economic Evolution

America in a Nutshell

A man hitchhiking across the country while working on a book called “The Kindness of America” was seriously wounded over the weekend in a “random” drive-by shooting, according to police.

Ray Dolin, 39, was shot in the arm near Glasgow, Montana after a man offered him a ride on Saturday night, according to police who spoke to The Associated Press.

  Raw Story
A writer from West Virginia who claimed last week that he’d bee shot in a random act of violence has admitted that he shot himself to promote his book, police told The Associated Press on Friday.

The writer, 39-year-old Ray Dolan, originally claimed he was working on a book called “The Kindness of America,” and had suffered his injury at the hands of a motorist while he was hitchhiking in Montana.

  Raw Story

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Going Up

The United States is withdrawing its team of negotiators from Pakistan without securing a long-sought deal with Islamabad to allow trucks to again supply NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan, the Pentagon has said.

"The decision was reached to bring the team home for a short period of time," George Little, Pentagon spokesman, told reporters on Monday.

While we blanket the place with drone attacks.  Soften 'em up.

Documentation of Obama's Relationship with Big Pharma

Republicans in the House of Representatives have uncovered a trove of emails and other memos showing how the Obama administration coordinated its $150 million advertising campaign with major pharmaceutical companies.


Memos released Friday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee revealed the close links between the Obama administration and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, also known as PhRMA.


The panel said the emails confirmed that a decision by PhRMA to fund advertisements was “linked to policy agreements backed by the administration.”

The White House, meanwhile, underscored that Obama was clear from the start that he would talk to all stakeholders, including the pharmaceutical industry, in order to pass the reform.

  Raw Story
In other words, he never hid his true colors – you just needed to be paying attention.

Oh, This Will Not Play Well

David Cameron left his eight-year-old daughter at the pub for around a quarter of an hour following a family lunch, Downing Street confirmed Monday.

Nancy Cameron wandered off to the toilets while the prime ministerand his wife Samantha were arranging lifts and the couple only realised she was missing once they got home.

  Raw Story
He and his wife were in separate vehicles and each assumed the child was with the other. You have a child which you know is not with you, and you don't verify that it's with the other parent?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

It's Sunday

Please. Make it stop!
[One] of Spain’s best known underground artists is facing a year in jail for a 54-second film that he did in 1978 that a Catholic group charges is insulting to them and their faith.

  Jonathan Turley
You can sue for being insulted in Spain? And I thought we were bad here.  And why now if the insult was in 1978?
Krahe has spent his life exposing the crimes and hypocrisy of the establishment.


Javier Krahe’s “how to cook Jesus Christ” was a brief satire based on a cooking show.

The Catholic legal association, the Centro Juridico Tomas Moro, has demanded that the artist be sent to prison for the crime of “offending religious feelings” with the brief movie.


President Obama and Hillary Clinton have been facilitating this trend by working with Muslim nations to develop an international standard allowing for the prosecution of those who insult religion. The Administration has drawn a dangerous line with Muslim countries in first supporting the concept of an international blasphemy standard. As I have mentioned before, the efforts of the Obama Administration to work with countries like Egypt on an international blasphemy standard is a threat to free speech around the world.
So, I guess we're not far behind.

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

Not Since McCarthy

There's a good video here (25 minutes) about the Obama administration's pursuit of whistleblowers if you have the time and inclination.

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

I Don't Think He Takes Our Power and Might (Almighty Power) Seriously

A Somali Islamist militant group is offering rewards of chickens and camels for information on the whereabouts of the US president, Barack Obama, and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, mocking the millions of dollars the United States has offered for leaders of the al-Qaida affiliate.


"Whoever reveals the hideout of the idiot Obama will be rewarded with 10 camels, and whoever reveals the hideout of the old woman Hillary Clinton will be rewarded with 10 chickens and 10 roosters," he said.

  UK Guardian
Oh yeah? Well, Obama has just two words for you, pal. Predator drones.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

For Your Consideration...

A smart emailer points out an insurmountable contradiction:
Isn’t the presumption that everyone in the so-called strike zone is a “militant” particularly egregious given past accusations that our enemies intentionally embed themselves in civilian populations? Haven’t we condemned our enemies in the past precisely because they’ve surrounded themselves with civilians? And now we’re justifying our crowd-killing strikes on the grounds that anyone close to a militant must himself be a militant?
Does anyone have an answer to that?

  Glenn Greenwald

Your Elected Representatives Keeping You in the Dark

From the Department of No Good Deed Goes Unpunished comes news of yet another attempt to block that new FCC transparency rule requiring television stations to post online the identity of political ad buyers — and the vast amounts of money they’re spending.

Republicans on the House Appropriations Financial Services subcommittee passed a rider Wednesday that would block the rule by stripping its funding.

  Bill Moyers

If You Can Laugh at It....

...this is a gold mine:

There's more.

I Knew It Was Bad, But...

The number of suicides among active duty U.S. troops has risen dramatically over the first five months of 2012 compared to the same period in years past, averaging just under one each day, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.

In the first 155 days of the year, there were 154 military suicides, the highest total in 10 years. That total represents an 18 percent increase over last year, when the military saw 130 suicides over the same period, and it’s a 25 percent increase from 2010.

Those totals include only troops who were currently serving, and not veterans who had returned to their private lives.

The number of self-inflicted fatalities  in 2012 also tops the total number of servicemen and women who’ve been killed in combat in Afghanistan this year by about 50 percent, according to data also obtained by the Associated Press.

  Raw Story

It Was a Gamble Not Without Risks

Under pressure from the blowback after the propaganda leaks about Obama's “kill list” the AG says “The unauthorized disclosure of classified information can compromise the security of this country and all Americans, and it will not be tolerated.” And President Avenger is positively offended.
“The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive,” Obama said. “It’s wrong. And, you know, people I think need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me here approach this office.”


Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chair Dianne Feinstein has called on Congress to swiftly enact legislation tightening rules to prevent unauthorized breaches, and welcomed an investigation launched by the FBI.

But she has held back on calling for a special prosecutor to look into the leaks, a move the White House has said Obama will not agree to.


US Attorney General Eric Holder appointed two prosecutors to lead a criminal investigation of high-profile leaks of classified national security secrets.

The “highly-respected and experienced prosecutors will be directing separate investigations currently being conducted by the FBI,” Holder said in a statement.

“I have notified members of Congress and plan to provide more information, as appropriate, to members of the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees,” Holder said.

  Raw Story
I think you can safely place bets that nothing will come of it aside from a long, drawn-out (beyond November) tax-payer-funded pretense to investigate that exonerates all players.

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

We Are Not Alone

The respect for freedom to peacefully assemble and protest is as dead in Canada as it is here. A march of college students in Quebec (most half naked in an organized attempt for more media play) to protest fee hikes was met by brute force.
[Police] arrested 39 people and used tear gas, pepper spray, and batons in an attempt to break up the crowd. A police spokesperson said most of the arrests were made “because police had reason to believe they were preparing to commit crimes and damage property.”

  Raw Story


So now we have the pre-crime squad arresting people.  Preemptive policing.

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

Friday, June 8, 2012

Propaganda vs. National Security

Propaganda wins.

Threatening whistleblowers with decades in prison for “espionage” — while shuffling classified information to Hollywood producers to enable production of an Election Year propaganda film (about a covert action you insist to courts cannot be the subject of disclosure) — is corruption quite extreme.


When those senior administration officials who glorified the President with their leaks are occupying prison cells next to Bradley Manning and Jeffrey Sterling and the other whistleblowers who exposed government wrongdoing, then you’ll know that the Obama administration genuinely views secrecy as an important security value rather than as a gross instrument of propaganda, intimidation, and unaccountability.

  Glenn Greenwald
That Greenwald post is somewhat lengthy, but good.  You might want to read the whole thing.

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

Now This Is Just Creepy

When Mitt Romney was a college freshman, he told fellow residents of his Stanford University dormitory that he sometimes disguised himself as a police officer – a crime in many states, including Michigan and California, where he then lived. And he had the uniform on display as proof.


Said [ex-college dorm mate Robin] Madden in a recent interview, “He told us that he had gotten the uniform from his father,” George Romney, then the Governor of Michigan, whose security detail was staffed by uniformed troopers. “He told us that he was using it to pull over drivers on the road. He also had a red flashing light that he would attach to the top of his white Rambler.”

In Madden’s recollection, confirmed by his wife Susan, who also attended Stanford during those years, “we thought it was all pretty weird. We all thought, ‘Wow, that’s pretty creepy.’ And after that, we didn’t have much interaction with him,” although both Madden and Romney were prep school boys living in the same dorm.


Phillip Maxwell, a prep school buddy, told the New Republic in 2008 that Romney had pulled over students from a girls school next door to Cranbrook while wearing a police uniform as a prank.


In The Real Romney, a biography published by Boston Globe reporters Michael Kranish and Scott Helman this year, another former friend recalled how Romney had “put a siren on top of his car and chased two of his friends who were driving around with their dates.” The two friends were in on the scheme, but the girls were not. There was beer in the car trunk, according to a prearranged plan. Mitt told his two counterparts to get out of their vehicle and into his car. Then they drove off, leaving the girls behind.


While he may have believed that his cop antics were harmless, Romney may well have been breaking the law merely by donning a police uniform, committing a crime if he pretended to be a cop and a felony if he did so more than once. In both California and Michigan, any person convicted of fraudulently impersonating a police officer may be sentenced to up to one year in prison.


Following his sophomore year at Stanford, young Mitt left and never went back. For more than two years he served as a Mormon missionary in France — thus avoiding the obligation to wear a very different  uniform in Vietnam.

  National Memo
I suppose there's a statute of limitations on impersonating a police officer?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Are You Still Filming?

I guess the photo-op was meant to be a symbolic tapping of the Arctic. There was a ridiculous three-foot-high scale model of their Arctic drilling rig, the Kulluk, and the mini-rig had a tap to pump liquor for the guests.

But, as so many things go with Big Oil, somebody got hosed.

Romney Campaign Spelling Errors

They've been having a tough time this past week.

That's okay. They know how to spell the one thing that counts:

Calling Out the President

[Jon McCain] said the leaks were expressly aimed at boosting Obama’s image as being tough on Iran and extremist networks, but could end up putting American lives in danger.

McCain had pointed in particular to leaks about three operations: Obama’s push for cyber attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s nuclear facilities; an apparent “kill list” of counterterrorism targets against whom Obama has authorized lethal action; and a secret drone campaign against terrorists in Yemen and the Horn of Africa.

The three programs were reported on in recent weeks by The New York Times, which said many of the articles’ sources were former or current administration officials.

“Such disclosures can only undermine similar ongoing or future operations and, in this sense, compromise national security. For this reason, regardless of how politically useful these leaks may be to the president, they have to stop,” McCain said in the Senate on Tuesday.

White House spokesman Jay Carney took issue with McCain’s characterization of the breaches as administration leaks, saying the White House “takes all appropriate and necessary steps to prevent leaks” of classified or sensitive information that could risk ongoing operations.

“Any suggestion that this administration has authorized intentional leaks of classified information for political gain is grossly irresponsible,” Carney told reporters.

McCain immediately countered. “No, what is grossly irresponsible is US officials divulging some of the most highly classified programs involving the most important national security priorities facing our nation today.”

“Laws have apparently been broken,” McCain said, adding that he has called for appointment of a special counsel to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the leaks.


Several lawmakers have joined a chorus of condemnation over the leaks, including Democrat Dianne Feinstein who chairs the Select Committee on Intelligence.

“The accelerating pace of such disclosures, the sensitivity of the matters in question, and the harm caused to our national security interests is alarming and unacceptable,” she said in a statement.

  Raw Story
I have to go with Old Nutsy and Miss Opportunism on this one. In a way. With a different rationale: If you're going to go after whistleblowers who report waste and corruption in the government, and those who report criminal war acts, as this administration is doing with a vengeance, then you can't also condone the leaks of classified information that you think make you look good before an election.

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Even the GOP Wouldn't Have Gone There Pre-9/11 (When EVERYthing Changed)

On Tuesday, Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts joined every other REPUBLICAN in blocking a bill calling for equal pay for equal work for women.


There is an alibi, of course, just as there was when he voted with the REPUBLICANS against making student loans a little less usurious for the people going to college:
"Sen. Brown believes strongly in fair pay, and that employers who discriminate against women should be prosecuted aggressively," said Marcie Kinzel, his Senate spokesperson. "However, on the bill before the Senate, Sen. Brown believes it will put more burdens on small businesses and could lead to job losses at a time when our economy can least afford it."

[Brown] himself called it "the right cause but the wrong bill." We eagerly await his introduction of the right bill for that particular cause.

  Charlie Pierce
And on that day, Charlie, Satan will be skating to work.

What He Said

As the NYT says:
"...Justice John Paul Stevens predicted that such spending would overwhelm state court races, which would be especially harmful since judges must not only be independent but be seen to be independent as well. North Carolina is proving him right."


The rot in the system is poisonous, general, and spreading.  (And have I mentioned really how utterly stupid it is to have an elected judiciary, especially in the current cash-soaked political atmosphere? It is the second-worst idea ever behind the Balanced Budget Amendment, aka The Stupidest Fking Idea Of All Time.)

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

Superman? How About The Avenger?

Okay, I don't know the Avenger. But the name sounds like something President #Compromise would like to be called. He'd really like to shake off that #Compromise image and have it replaced by God of Vengeance. He must not be feeling very confident about the election.
From the very first days of his presidency, Mr Obama's training as a lawyer was put to use not in abolishing the worst practices of the Bush era, but in giving himself the wriggle room to preserve and in some cases expand them. Thus the three major policies of the Bush war on terror – rendition, military commissions and indefinite detention – continue to this day. But Mr Obama has also presided over a massive expansion of secret surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency. There is a ferocious crackdown on whistleblowers. He has made more government documents classified than any previous president. And he has become a true believer in drones.


Drone strikes, which were in abeyance before the failure of Nato's Chicago summit to break the deadlock with Pakistan over reopening military supply lines to Afghanistan, have returned with a vengeance – three attacks in as many days, and 29 people dead.


There are at least two concerns about the gathering pace of drone strikes, Mr Obama's weapon of choice against militants sheltering in remote parts of the world – Waziristan, Yemen, or Somalia. The first is that at a crucial juncture of an election campaign – when a clear Republican opponent has emerged from the swamp of the party's selection process – this administration is highlighting the fact that its president is a killer. In this new age of secrecy, three dozen current and former advisers are allowed to talk to the New York Times about the president's role of personally overseeing the shadow war with al-Qaida. Mr Obama has not been shy about the role he personally played in Osama bin Laden's death. His counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan makes speeches defending drone strikes as legal, ethical and wise. This administration is not on the defensive about its summary executions. It positively seeks to advertise them.

  UK Guardian

Does That Answer Your Question?

[Jake] TAPPER: It’s not difficult to foresee a world in which the United States is not the only country with this kind of technology. Is the administration at all concerned about the precedent being set in terms of secrecy, in terms of operating military craft in other sovereign nations and what we might see as a result when China or Russia get their hands on drones?


[White House spokesman Jay] CARNEY: Well, this is in relation, obviously, to the particular incident that we’ve been discussing, and I can’t get into details about al-Libi’s death, the circumstances or the location. You know, I would simply say that this president is firmly committed to carrying out his policy objectives in Afghanistan and in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, which is to disrupt, dismantle and ultimately defeat al Qaeda. He is committed to disrupting, dismantling and ultimately defeating al Qaeda beyond that region too. That’s why we cooperate with countries around the world in efforts to counter al Qaeda and other extremists.


TAPPER: And countries claim terrorism as a justification for their actions all the time. Even positing that the United States, under any president, only acts righteously every time, is there not any concern that a precedent is being set either for some future president and/or any other country?

CARNEY: Jake, without getting into — without getting into very sensitive issues that go to the core of our national security interests, I can simply say that this president, this commander in chief, puts a great deal of thought and care into the prosecution of and implementation of the policy decisions he makes. And that includes in the effort to combat al Qaeda in the Af-Pak region and around — and around the world.

There is no question, as the President has stated on many occasions, that the decisions that a commander in chief has to make when it comes to war and peace, when it comes to defending the United States and protecting the United States and our allies, are weighty, serious decisions. And he treats them that way every time he makes one.


TAPPER: I was just wondering what the — where the moral foundation comes from, the United States objects in the future to an action being taken by China or Russia along these same lines?

CARNEY: Well, I reject the comparison. But I would simply say that — as I said just now, that this president, this administration, takes very seriously the decisions that are involved in the effort to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda.

But this president is absolutely committed to that objective. As commander in chief, as president, protection of the United States, protection of American citizens, protection of our allies and our interests, are a high priority, the highest. And that will be the case as long as he’s in office.

  ABC News
Nice try, Jake.

Condolences to Wisconsin

Or, to the whole of the United States.  That's the direction we're going, and we're not turning around for a very, very long time.  Get used to it.  Or plan your exit.

Read about it from Charlie Pierce.

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

Meanwhile, In Egypt...

...we almost got away with it.  Except for a man named Robert Becker.
Two months before Egyptian police stormed the offices of U.S.-backed democracy organizations last year, seven Egyptian employees resigned from one of the American groups to protest what they called undemocratic practices. They complained that the U.S. group, described as nonpartisan, had excluded the country's most popular Islamist political organization from its programs, collected sensitive religious information about Egyptians when conducting polls to send to Washington, and ordered employees to erase all computer files and turn over all records for shipment abroad months before the raids.


Interviews and documents obtained by The Associated Press show that the workers' protest and the broader government crackdown with the raids helped expose what U.S. officials do not want to admit publicly: The U.S. government spent tens of millions of dollars financing and training liberal groups in Egypt, the backbone of the Egyptian uprising. This was done to build opposition to Islamic and pro-military parties in power, all in the name of developing democracy and all while U.S. diplomats were assuring Egyptian leaders that Washington was not taking sides.


The use of U.S. money to support some groups over others appears to conflict with U.S. Agency for International Development policy that requires "a good faith effort to assist all democratic parties, with equitable assistance."


Despite a U.S. commitment to make public the details of its democracy aid program in Egypt, USAID has refused to identify all the groups that received money and the grant amounts. The official said the agency disclosed the list to Egyptian leaders, but will not release information publicly about grant recipients that don't want to be identified.


The Egyptian government shut down U.S.-funded democracy programs. […] A hearing is scheduled Tuesday in the trial of 43 democracy workers, including 16 Americans, charged with illegally operating political, campaign and election training programs financed with U.S. and other foreign money. Most of the Americans are no longer in Egypt and not expected to appear at the trial.


[Frank] Wisner, the former ambassador, traveled to Egypt last year at President Barack Obama's request to meet with Mubarak as protesters demanded the leader's resignation.

The U.S. could have avoided many of its problems in Egypt after the uprising had officials paid more attention to just how poorly its push to expand democracy development in Egypt was received, he said.

"Our intrusions into the political scene were just going to catch hell," Wisner said. "It was the wrong time to be barging into the kitchen. It was full of Egyptian cooks and they didn't want anyone from the outside."

  Fox8Live-New Orleans
How dare they?
The trial of the NGO officials in Cairo has been postponed, perhaps in order to give the Obama administration a final opportunity to make a deal with the Egyptians. Meanwhile, Washington is whining that the trial is “politically motivated” – because nothing they do is ever motivated by political gain.

If a public trial ever takes place – which I doubt – it promises to be fascinating: testimony from the group of disillusioned ex-employees will give us valuable insights into the inner workings of America’s worldwide regime change project. While defenders of the NGO workers claim the trial is all part of a “crackdown” by the Egyptian military authorities, and the remnants of the Mubarak regime, I have my suspicions that it was the ex-employees who went to the authorities and reported “suspicious” (and illegal) activities on the part of their bosses.

  Justin Raimondo
Apparently, the Americans managed to be flown out of Egypt, so how serious is Egypt about this trial? But one stayed behind voluntarily to stand trial. Robert Becker. He professes innocence and a determination to be cleared at trial. A trial without Americans could easily be ignored, so I'll bet  Mr. Becker is personna non grata back in DC.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Can't Think of a Reason

Pres. Obama is a charismatic figure and many still believe in him. It would have been courageous for him to stand on Wisconsin soil next to Tom Barrett, and speak out in support of labor and the grass roots folks who are the heart and soul of the Democratic party. I think that it would have given Barrett a good lift. The democratic turnout in 2008 was great, and many independents still swing toward Obama.

But that's the problem: Obama doesn't want to lose those swing voters, including the ones who back Scott Walker or who don't like the recall. So Obama was a no-show.

This is just another confirmation of what you and I know in our hearts: that when the chips are down, you can't count on Obama to back up his words with actions.

But if Obama won't come to Wisconsin, why should we go to the polls for him?

Posted by: Chris Stroebe

  comment at First Draft
But you may be glad he didn't show, if you really want Barrett to win.

A Real Fairy Tale

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

Go For It, Wisconsin

"I know that Governor Walker wants to make this a national race," Barrett said at his final rally here on Monday night. "This is, and should be, about the values of Wisconsin, not about his national ambitions, not about his wanting to be the poster boy for the Tea Party. I don't want this state to be the experimental dish for the right wing. That's why people look at this and say, 'This is wrong. Why is this governor raising 60 or 70 percent of his money from out-of-state? Why does he have his own criminal defense fund?' It just doesn't add up."


The local papers are full of stories about families that have divided up over the recall, about divorces that have been sought because a Walker husband found that having a Barrett wife — or, to be fair, vice versa — amounted to an irreconcilable difference.


For once, anyway, all the talk about how Americans don't care about politics, how disengaged and removed from our obligations to the political commonwealth we've become, have been refuted for the moment by what's gone on in Wisconsin.

  Charlie Pierce

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pakistan Drone Strikes - Update

In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that after the U.S. kills people with drones in Pakistan, it then targets for death those who show up at the scene to rescue the survivors and retrieve the bodies, as well as those who gather to mourn the dead at funerals: “the CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals.” As The New York Times summarized those findings: “at least 50 civilians had been killed in follow-up strikes after they rushed to help those hit by a drone-fired missile” while “the bureau counted more than 20 other civilians killed in strikes on funerals.”


As The Guardian reports, the U.S. has killed between 20 and 30 people in these strikes, the last of which, early this morning, killed between 8 and 15. It was the second strike, on Sunday, that targeted mourners gathered to grieve those killed in the first strike.


Note that there is no suggestion, even from the “officials” on which these media reports (as usual) rely, that the dead man was a Terrorist or even a “militant.” He was simply receiving condolences for his dead brother. But pursuant to the standards embraced by President Obama, the brother — without knowing anything about him — is inherently deemed a “combatant” and therefore a legitimate target for death solely by virtue of being a “military-age male in a strike zone.” .

  Glenn Greenwald
Emphasis added.

Obama : Better than Bush

If by better, you mean moreso. This article is subtitled "How Barack Obama became a hardliner." While it never does tell us how that happened, it does indeed spell out nicely the evidence that he is one.
He was once a liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war. Now, according to revelations last week, the US president personally oversees a 'kill list' for drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan. Then there's the CIA renditions, increased surveillance and a crackdown on whistleblowers. No wonder Washington insiders are likening him to 'George W Bush on steroids'

   UK Guardian

We Have Time

American airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November, prompting Islamabad to block US and NATO supply lines en route to its neighbour to the north running through its territory.

The supply lines through Pakistan are considered vital to the planned withdrawal of most foreign combat troops from Afghanistan before the end of 2014.

Pakistan has demanded an apology over the raid and an end to drone strikes as a precursor to reopening the supply lines.

Yeah? How's this for an apology....
The third US drone strike in as many days in Pakistan has raised the three-day death toll in the aerial attacks to at least 27, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.

Monday's strike in the Hesokhel village of North Waziristan's tribal areas, was said to have targeted a hideout for fighters, officials said.

The latest strike, which officials said had killed 15 people, was the seventh in a span of less than two weeks.

The attack on Monday morning came just after a strike on Sunday that killed 10 suspected fighters. Two Pakistani intelligence officials say in that attack, four missiles were fired at targets in the village of Mana Raghzai in South Waziristan near the border with neighbouring Afghanistan.
And I'm sure that all the dead are evil people who want to attack us. In fact, since Obama is defining anyone in a kill zone who is a male of “fighting age” to be a combatant, there's no doubt. Unless of course, some of the dead are women and toddlers. But how could that happen? Firing on a village. With four missiles.

Has anybody in our government yet said we are at war with Pakistan?
Al Jazeera's Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Islamabad, said the recent spate of attacks have led to a "pretty toxic [relationship] right now between Islamabad and Washington".

That tension, said our correspondent, has also spilled out from the capital and onto the streets. "Many people here in Pakistan are frankly tired of the United States' presence in the region, and are calling for Islamabad to sever ties with the US," he said.
”Tired of our presence.”
Our correspondent said the recent strikes, [...] has been seen as the US "showing with a lot of deadly force, their frustration with Pakistan". This, has pushed "any kind of agreement further than ever", he added.

So, we want to pull out of Afghanistan in 2014? They think they're "tired of" us now.  Two more years of drone attacks, and I think Pakistan will be willing to negotiate.  We have time.


Your Choice

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Or it would be in a world where Barack Obama was not the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
He has killed scores of his own citizens and political opponents. He has devastated a nation, reducing it to unspeakable poverty while he and his family live in unrivaled luxury. He has denied everyone in his country every basic right and liberty. He has turned Zimbabwe into a pariah nation. And now Robert Mugabe is the newest ambassador for tourism for the United Nations.


Ironically, Mugabe, 88, is under a travel ban.


Mugabe will join Drew Barrymore, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, and Ricky Martin as the ambassadors for the United Nations. I cannot understand why those celebrities have not refused the ambassadorships rather than be associated with one of humanity’s greater war criminals.


The only letter to Mugabe should be the announcement of a war crimes tribunal and an invitation to be an honored guest behind the defense table.

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

It's Sunday

Pentecostal pastor Mark Randall “Mack” Wolford was one of the nation’s leading advocates of snake handling as an article of faith. Last Sunday, he sent a message to the faithful to join him at a state park for “homecoming like the old days” with “Holy Ghost-filled speaking-in-tongues sign believers.” Wolford then proceeded to handle snakes as a demonstration of the immunity given by God to those who believe. He was then bitten and died.

  Jonathan Turley
That should be enough to the story right there.
It came 29 years after his father — another religious snake handler — died from a snakebite in 1983.

It's Sunday

Until now the [Vatican's own bank, the Institute of Religious Works] IOR has operated with few of the regulations that govern the activities of banks in the wider world, with sometimes disturbing results.

In the 1980s it became involved in an infamous fraud scandal the Banco Ambrosiano affair which made global headlines when its chief, Roberto Calvi, was found hanging from a bridge in London, a murder that has never been solved.

More recently Italian state prosecutors have been investigating allegations of money laundering at the IOR, freezing some accounts, seizing funds and putting its president under formal scrutiny.

Filmmakers Alessandro Righi and Emanuele Piano have been examining this latest chapter in the history of a notoriously secretive organisation.

A little history on Calvi's Banco and the IOR - oh, and, guess who - the CIA.And for further reading:
A billion-dollar Italian bank fraud has reached into the heart of one of the world's most respected institutions, the Vatican. So far, two people involved in the affair have died, $1.4 billion is unaccounted for, and the financial stability of several European banks is in danger.

At the very center of the scandal is Archbishop Paul C. Marcinkus, the American-born president of the Institute for Religious Works, the so-called Vatican Bank.

You need a subscription to Time to read that, but here it is at:

And, I might as well toss into this post more information about the book that supposedly has the Vatican scrambling: "His Holiness" Here's a look at it from the Daily Beast.  (If you can read Italian, here's the book's author's blog:  Gianluigi Nuzzi)

And, Daily Kos has a highly referenced article that should provide you with hours of enlightened reading, as opposed to going to church, which only keeps you in the dark.