Thursday, February 28, 2013

If Only

Whatever happens tomorrow, the utter failure of sequestration to do what it is designed to do is of a piece with the previous failures of the Gang Of Six, the Gang Of 12, and the king of all revered utter failures, Simpson-Bowles, which still has most of official Washington feeding Vaal at every turn in service to a commission that couldn't even muster a majority of its own membership, Whatever happens tomorrow, the utter failure of sequestration to do what it was supposed to do — namely, to be so utterly horrifying that it would force a deal — should bring an end to government by gimmick

  Charlie Pierce

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tony Hayward to Testify in BP Trial

Perhaps we'll learn if he got his life back.

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

Of Course They Did

The Obama justice department succeeded in convincing the five right-wing Supreme Court justices to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 2008 law, the FISA Amendments Act, which vastly expanded the government's authority to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants. In the case of Clapper v. Amnesty International, Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion, released today, which adopted the argument of the Obama DOJ, while the Court's four less conservative justices (Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan) all dissented. This means that the lawsuit is dismissed without any ruling on whether the US government's new eavesdropping powers violate core constitutional rights.

  UK Guardian

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

That and the Nobel Peace Prize

Now meaningless.

President Barack Obama accepted an award for making the government more open and transparent – presented to him behind closed doors with no media coverage or public access allowed.

The discrepancy between the honor and the circumstances under which it was delivered bothered open-government advocates in attendance, they said Thursday. They were even more perturbed when they discovered later that the meeting hadn't even been listed on Obama's public schedule, so there was no way for anyone to know about it.

"To have such a meeting not be transparent is the height of irony. How absurd can that be?" said one participant.

  Huffington Post

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


And this is what I have to say about that: I heard on the radio that the US media is not reporting what has come out in a big way in South Africa, and that the South African media is covering: the rampant violence against women in South Africa. It was reported that 40% of men there polled admitted to hitting or beating their female partners, and fully one in four men has raped a woman in his lifetime.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Looking for the Proper Descriptor

Over the next week, we're going to be hearing a lot about how the sequester is going to gut our national defense so that some country with 90 percent fewer aircraft carriers than we have, and 99.9 percent fewer nuclear weapons, is going to march on up through Texas and impose sharia law on Augusta just before the Masters


[Y]ou may not have heard that the F-35, the Flying Swiss Army Knife, aka The Lemon Of The Skies, got the entire fleet of itself grounded over the weekend by the Defense Department.[...]This thing already has cost $400 billion and it


This is the second time in two months that the entire fleet has had to be grounded. Not only that, but you and I and your Uncle Fud are all paying for most of the best pilots in the military to hang around Eglin Air Force Base, taxi these turkeys out onto the runways, and then taxi them back again because nobody dares to send them aloft.


Its projected cost has jumped from $233 billion to an estimated $385 billion, including development.

Forty-three F-35s have been built and another 2,443 have been ordered by the Pentagon.

They have built 43 of these. None of them can fly. So, naturally, we need almost 2500 more. The obscenity for this has not yet been coined

  Charlie Pierce

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

No Cuts Petition

I realize there are abuses in these programs. I may not be averse to adjustments. But one thing I do know is that if we don't stake a radical claim to the moneys for them, those funds will be reappropriated to military expenditures and bailing out banksters.

Giving Al Franken Some Competition

We cannot leave America defenseless. We cannot let the terrorists win. Remember, they hate us because we are free. But the cost of that freedom is precisely whatever the current military budget happens to be, before any terrorist-coddling sequester cuts. 

Virtually all of the media coverage of the impact of the sequester on the US military-industrial complex has focused on the loss of jobs, as if hiring people to kill other people is some kind of national full-employment program. But having read all the way down to here, at least you, Dear Reader, you understand that there is a lot more at stake. 

  Rep. Alan Grayson

Seriously, check this out. We should all be so lucky as to get letters like this from our representatives, instead of the boring, boiler-plate crap we actually do receive.

Just Following Orders

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday he was instructed to deny the administration’s use of targeted drone strikes against suspected terrorists.

“When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was you’re not even to acknowledge the drone program,” he explained on MSNBC. “You’re not even to discuss that it exists.”


Gibbs suggested that denying the program existed was counterproductive because it caused the public to lose trust in the President’s decisions.

Obama has so far refused to release legal memos that justify the use of drone strikes against suspected terrorists in countries like Yemen and Pakistan.

  Raw Story

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

And There's Not a Damned Thing You Can Do About It

In another development on Monday, the Vatican said a report into papal documents leaked by the pope's butler in the so-called "Vatileaks scandal" last year will remain confidential and only be shown to his successor.

"The Holy Father has decided that the facts of this investigation, the contents of which are known only to Himself, will be made available exclusively to the new Pontiff," the Vatican said in a statement. Some Italian media had called for the report to be made public ahead of the conclave that will choose the next pope.


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

One Down

Britain's senior Catholic cleric, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, has resigned after denying claims of "inappropriate acts".


He also said he would not attend the papal conclave, the meeting to elect the next pope, which will be held after the pope resigns on February 28.


In a statement released on Monday, O'Brien said Pope Benedict XVI, who himself announced his retirement earlier this month, had accepted his resignation.


Probably not a good time to be covering up this one.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

It's Sunday

The seeping inefected wound continues its never-ending flow.

The selection of the new Roman Catholic pope has drawn criticism as cardinals prepare to meet in conclave next month.

One particular priest in the US has drawn especially loud criticism because of his role in a child-abuse scandal.

Survivors of church-related sexual abuse in California say Cardinal Roger Mahony, who was archbishop of Los Angeles for 25 years, has no moral authority due to his shielding abusive priests from criminal investigation and civil suits.


Three priests and one former cleric have accused Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the senior leader of the Catholic church in Britain, of committing inappropriate behaviour against them.

The UK's Observer newspaper reported on Sunday that the cardinal, the head of the Scottish Catholic church, made the physical advances as far back as three decades ago. 


O'Brien and Mahony are among the 116 cardinals eligible to vote for the next leader of the 1.1 billion Catholics around the world, once Benedict resigns on February 28. 


Of course they are. The church's response to the opening of the wound is to staunch the flow, holding the toxin in.

Caveat: It appears that O'Brien's accusers were adults at the time of the “inappropriate behavior,” so shame on them for bringing it up (thirty years later), and it's unfortunate that O'Brien is caught in the stream of filth that is the church's criminal and immoral enterprise. Too bad for him, as hypocrisy regarding homosexuality, even for one with so much influence over others, is not on the level of child abuse.  And of course, being a high official of the whole toxic mess that is the Catholic church, he could well have been part of the enormous cover-up and protection of child-abusers in the clergy.

On the other hand, the issue of who's allowed to vote for the next capo de capi of the Catholic mafiosa is complicated by several issues, and sexual hypocrisy is indeed enough reason to protest. 

So, bring out your dirty linen.  It's wash day.

Update:  O'Brien has resigned.

Update on the Washington Nuke Leak

Six underground storage tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation along the Columbia River in the US state of Washington have been found to be leaking radioactive waste, but there is no immediate risk to human health, state and federal officials said.


The seeping waste adds to decades of soil contamination caused by leaking storage tanks at Hanford in the past and threatens to further taint groundwater below the site but poses no near-term danger of polluting the Columbia River, officials said.

"This certainly raises serious questions about the integrity of all 149 single-shell tanks with radioactive liquid and sludge at Hanford," [Governor Jay] Inslee said.


According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 475 billion gallons of contaminated water have been discharged into the soil.

Under the multibillion-dollar cleanup plan, the waste from the storage tanks will eventually be processed in a special treatment plant that, in a process called "vitrification", will immobilise the waste in a glass-like material that can be safely disposed of underground in stainless steal canisters.

But Dahl said construction of the waste treatment plant was still years away.


If ever, considering the state of our economy....but hey, do what you will anyway.

It's Sunday

“Don’t claim religion as a reason the law should discriminate,” state Sen. Pat Steadman (D) said earlier this month. “We have laws against discrimination. Discrimination is banned in employment, and housing, and public accommodations, and so bakeries that serve the public aren’t supposed to look down their noses at one particular class of persons and say ‘we don’t sell cakes to you.’ It’s troubling, this discrimination. And it’s already illegal.” “So, what to say to those who claim that religion requires them to discriminate?” the Colorado lawmaker continued. “I’ll tell you what I’d say: ‘Get thee to a nunnery!’ And live there then. Go live a monastic life away from modern society, away from people you can’t see as equals to yourself. Away from the stream of commerce where you may have to serve them or employ them or rent banquet halls to them.” “Go some place and be as judgmental as you like. Go inside your church, establish separate water fountains in there if you want, but don’t claim that free exercise of religion requires the state of Colorado to establish separate water fountains for her citizens. That’s not what we’re doing here.”

  Raw Story

Somebody's serving his last term. But, good on him.

It's Sunday

The Panorama weekly and The Repubblica daily newspapers reported that Benedict's decision to resign was triggered by [a] secret report compiled by three retired cardinals […] last year over a series of damaging leaks of confidential papal documents.

The report allegedly contained details of corruption and of blackmail attempts against gay Vatican clergymen, as well as favouritism based on gay relationships.

Both publications quoted a source with knowledge of the investigation as saying that the cardinals' conclusions "revolve around the sixth and seventh commandments," namely "Thou shall not commit adultery" and "Thou shall not steal."


Yeah, there's something somewhere. Ratso didn't resign out of beneficence.

Last year, Benedict appointed the three retired cardinals to investigate, in parallel with a police inquiry, a scandal known as "Vatileaks", which led to the conviction and later pardoning of the pope's former butler Paolo Gabriele.

The secret report was to be for the pope's eyes only, but Italian media reported they will also share their conclusions with the cardinals who will elect the next pope, ahead of the pontiff's resignation next week.

And the Vatican goes into high damage control mode. Paolo Gabriele – did he have a conscience or did he have a grudge? Or just a desire for better pay? Anyway, here's to Paolo and a rare crack in the death star fortress.

There was a twist on Friday when Benedict replaced Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, a powerful behind-the-scenes figure in the Secretariat of State with a highly influential role in Vatican diplomacy and the Vatican bank's foreign relations.

The 47-year-old is being sent as Vatican envoy to Colombia - which could be seen as a demotion.

Lombardi said the suggestion that the pope had made the appointment to get Balestrero out of the Vatican was "absurd, totally without foundation".

Sure, sure.

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

It's Sunday

I was wondering how old a person has to be (on average) before the Pope of the day predeceases him. And then I wondered how many popes have already come and gone in my lifetime. Not being Catholic, it stands to reason I might not remember them all, but I was going to guess three. In fact, it's been six! I found that out by looking up the list of popes, which provided me this fun information: the third pope was named Pope Cletus. How fun is that? And the 46th pope was Pope Hilarius. Hilarity reigned, no doubt.   There were no succeeding popes of those names, so, no Pope Cletus VI or Hilarity XXIII.  And, of course, there was no mention of Pope Joan.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Even We Texans Can Evolve

Illegals have been granted a status one step above Alaska's wolves.

Officials in Texas announced on Thursday that State Troopers would no longer be allowed to open fire on suspects from helicopters after the recent killing of two immigrants.

While announcing the new policy, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw insisted that the ban on aerial shootings had nothing to do with the October 2012 death of two Guatemalan immigrants, who were gunned down by troopers in helicopter while they were hiding in the back of a speeding pickup truck near La Joya.

“I’m convinced that now, from a helicopter platform, that we shouldn’t shoot unless being shot at, or unless someone is being shot at,” McCraw told the state House Committee on Appropriations.

  Raw Story

He might want to clarify that "someone". Or not.

Even Arizona didn't allow firing on road vehicles from helicopters. Texas was alone in that sport. Apparently, there is no federal proscription. Interesting country, ours.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Business As Usual

Ernest Moniz, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and familiar presence in Washington, has emerged as the front-runner to replace Steven Chu as Obama’s energy chief.

That’s not sitting well with green advocates, who say Moniz’s support for natural gas is at odds with the risks of “fracking,” the controversial drilling process, and the need for tough steps to address climate change.

“Moniz is a status quo pick at a time when we can’t afford the status quo,” said Tyson Slocum, who heads the energy program at Public Citizen.

  The Hill

So we just go further in debt.

Face it, people, the status quo is here to stay. Obama is the best example yet of talking one story and doing another. The Manchurian Candidate has been re-elected.

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

It Only Gets Worse

Rather than agreeing to some Democratic senators' demands for full access to the classified legal memos on the targeted killing program, Obama administration officials are negotiating with Republicans to provide more information on the lethal attack last year on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, according to three Congressional staff members.

This is what happens when you elect someone -- anyone -- to the presidency as that office is presently constituted. Of all the various Washington mystery cults, the one at that end of Pennsylvania Avenue is the most impenetrable. This is why the argument many liberals are making -- that the drone program is acceptable both morally and as a matter of practical politics because of the faith you have in the guy who happens to be presiding over it at the moment -- is criminally naive, intellectually empty, and as false as blue money to the future. The powers we have allowed to leach away from their constitutional points of origin into that office have created in the presidency a foul strain of outlawry that (worse) is now seen as the proper order of things. If that is the case, and I believe it is, then the very nature of the presidency of the United States at its core has become the vehicle for permanently unlawful behavior. Every four years, we elect a new criminal because that's become the precise job description.

  Charlie Pierce

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

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What a Douche

I wish I could remember which governor it was reported on the radio recently who is against allowing illegal Mexican immigrants to become citizens, because, if they do, they will be able to get decent jobs and not have to work the back-breaking, low-paying ones they're forced to take now, and then where would the agribusiness and other employers taking advantage of them now get cheap labor? 

I'll see if I can run that down. But it's probably a sentiment shared by many Republican governors, so maybe you are just as well off by picking one.

Battling Citizens United

Resolutions condemning the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling have been introduced to the state legislatures of North Carolina, West Virginia, and New Hampshire.

  Raw Story

Seriously? North Carolina and West Virginia? Wow.

More than 350 cities and 11 states have called on Congress to overturn the ruling, according to the advocacy group Public Citizen.


Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and other House Democrats have introduced a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Citizens United ruling. But the proposed amendment, which must be passed by a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate, has little chance of being ratified any time soon due to Republican opposition.

Well, of course. How else are Republicans expected to win?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

But Fox News Doesn't Do Reports from Indian Reservations

On one section of the reservation, people must boil drinking water because chemicals, possibly the result of the oil and natural gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, have contaminated the water supply. And fearing that the chemicals might explode in a home, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered residents to run fans and otherwise ensure ventilation while bathing or washing clothes.
It's from places like Wind River that our political arguments look shallow and stupid. For example, there's currently a lot of silliness being thrown around purporting to show how safe fracking is for the rest of us. In Wind River, the EPA makes poor people run fans in their homes so the laundry doesn't explode.

  Charlie Pierce

Armed and Dangerous

Drones don’t kill people; disposition matrices kill people. And so if you want to know how the current debate on drones is going to end up, take a look at how all the debates on guns have ended up, over the last 30 years or so. Consider drones not as a novel technology but as a sophisticated version of a technology that has defined our past and our present -- a technology with a precedent.

Consider them not as an expensive way of killing people but as a potentially cheap one; not as a recondite technology but as a technology soon readily available; not as a technology that favors the powerful but rather as a technology that will one day serve to empower everyone from rogue states to non-state actors.

Consider drones as the Glock 9mm of the national security-state.

And what the world will be like when everybody has them.

  Charlie Pierce

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

Funny How That Happens

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


Oh Boy, There Will Be Death Threats for SNL and NBC

("A less violent Passion of the Christ."  Heh.)

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

Seen at Dependable Renegade.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Secret Kill Lists

If sympathizing with our enemies and propagandizing on their behalf is the equivalent of making war on the country, then the Johnson and Nixon administrations should have bombed every elite college campus in the country during the 1960s. And as satisfying as putting Jane Fonda on a kill list might have been, I do not think that our understanding of the law of war would encourage such a thing, even though she did give priceless aid to the Communist aggressors in Vietnam. Students in Ann Arbor, Mich., were actively and openly raising funds for the Viet Cong throughout the war. Would it have been proper to put them on kill lists? I do not think that it would. There is a difference between sympathizing with our enemies and taking up arms against the country; there is even a difference between actively aiding our enemies and taking up arms against the country, which is why we have treason trials rather than summary execution.

  National Review

May I comment?

1) “Johnson and Nixon administrations should have bombed every elite college campus in the country during the 1960s.” And wouldn't they have loved to? In fact, Nixon did call out the troops on campuses, and did actually fire on and kill student protestors. Remember Kent State?

2) “There is even a difference between actively aiding our enemies and taking up arms against the country.” Yes, may I remind us all that W's grandpappy Prescott Bush financed Hitler?

Andrew C. McCarthy writes to assure me that under current federal law, Jane Fonda would indeed be considered an “enemy combatant” and therefore eligible for a place on the secret federal kill list. I suspect that whether you regard that as a sign of progress or a sign of regress communicates a great deal about your conception of citizenship.

Or your attitude toward women and Hollywood. ...but hey, do what you will anyway.


Latino News columnist Umberto “El Mayimbe” Gonzalez told interview[er] Victor Garcia: “Harrison Ford will reprise his role as Han Solo in the upcoming Star Wars movies. The deal is done. It’s huge.”


Another insider-scoop blogger, Roger Friedman of, agreed with Gonzalez, asserting that he was “told some time ago that Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill would be reprising their roles” in Episode VII. He also claimed to have some plot details: “It’s some time in the future. Han, Princess Leia (presumably with a better hairstyle) and Luke Skywalker will be a lot older. Their children will be the new main characters. R2D2 and C-3PO will be unchanged.”

  Raw Story

Well, it can't be worse than that second round of Star Wars movies. Or can it?

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

He's Baaaaack.

The man has more lives than a cat.

January 9, 2013: Officials on Tuesday confirmed that medical treatment in Cuba will keep Chavez from being sworn in for his new term this week.


A statement from Venezuela's vice president read before lawmakers Tuesday said that the constitution authorizes "at a later date, the swearing-in before the Supreme Court."


Tuesday's debate became so heated that one member of the opposition accused Chavez's supporters of hurling a copy of the constitution at him.

Supporters of Chavez pumped their fists in the air and gave a standing ovation after passing a resolution affirming that Chavez could remain president and be away from the country for as long as necessary to deal with his illness.


Opposition lawmakers said in Tuesday's debate that Chavez should be declared temporarily absent from his presidential post to avoid a power vacuum.


January 9, 2013: Venezuela's Supreme Court ruled that Chavez will begin a new term on Thursday, even though health problems will prevent him from attending an inauguration before the National Assembly.


February 18, 2013: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a surprise return from Cuba on Monday more than two months after surgery for cancer that has jeopardized his 14-year rule of the South American OPEC member.

The 58-year-old socialist leader's homecoming in the middle of the night implies some medical improvement - at least enough to handle a flight of several hours - and will inspire supporters' hopes he could return to active rule.


"We have arrived back in the Venezuelan fatherland. Thanks, my God! Thanks, my beloved people! Here we will continue the treatment," Chavez said via Twitter after flying in.


Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel Prize winning Colombian author, flew with Chavez before "El Comandante" first won the presidency. "I was struck by the impression that I had traveled and talked delightfully with two opposite men," Marquez wrote. "One who good luck had given the opportunity to save his nation -- and the other, an illusionist, who could go down in history as just another despot." 


In 2004, I traveled to Venezuela with a humanities group on a tour designed to look at the role of the media in politics. The tendency within the mostly leftist group was to view Chavez as a superhero. While that was understandable, considering the programs he had recently installed to help end poverty in the country (not to mention his charisma at that period of his life - if you watch "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", you can't help but fall in love), Garcia-Marquez' description is the impression that I came away with, and I think Chavez is now running dangerously close to the latter. If not, he might have been the only person in history to gain such power and avoid ignobility.

And, it seems likely to me that if we in this country continue on our destructively contentious party politics, the end result will be a move to change our constitution to allow for unlimited presidential terms.  Just another step in our continuing path to becoming a third world country.

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

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Trust Us

Radioactive waste has been leaking from a tank at a US nuclear site in Washington state.

The government says it poses no immediate danger to the public.


No immediate danger. So they're not exactly lying.

It's Sunday

The Pope's resignation [...] is bizarre.[...]The putative reason that the Vatican has put out is the advanced infirmity of the Pope himself. This does not make any sense. One assumes, given the history of Popes being old and not resigning for the past 600 years, that the Vatican has figured out a system of ensuring the survival of the church while being led by people who are close to death.[...]A Pope abandoning his position has serious spiritual consequences. In Dante, the last Pope who gave up his job, basically because he was too good to stomach the politics, ended up spending all eternity upside down in a hole of fire. Given those stakes, it's safe to say that the Pope would need a serious reason for quitting other than the one he's given.


What is so tantalizing about this story is that we'll probably never know the actual reason, not for decades, anyway.


The Vatican is so opaque that only recently did they release secret files about Pius XII, otherwise known as Hitler's Pope, that showed him saving the lives of Jewish refugees. Even that bit of magnificently good news for the Church was hidden in the vaults.


Today the speculations will swirl, but it'll eventually peter out when the race for the next Pope takes over the news.


I'm hoping for a leaker.

It is not unreasonable [...] to speculate that the renewed call for the Church to open its books on the worldwide extent of the child-abuse scandal among its clergy, something that was Ratzinger's brief under John Paul II and, as Alex Gibney's new HBO documentary argues, something that may be behind the fast-tracking of the move to get the late pope onto the calendar of saints as swiftly as possible, may be a bit of dark matter operating under today's news.


There is nothing in the institutional church now but this scandal. That has been the case since it first broke worldwide almost 20 years ago. It has demolished the moral credibility of the hierarchy, most of whom, it should be pointed out, were appointed by either John Paul II or Benedict. It was that hierarchy that sustained [the] cover-up. It was that hierarchy that attacked the victims, and the journalists, and the many brave priests who stood up against an institution that had moved so far from the message of the gospels that it might as well have been worshipping Ba'al. And it was that hierarchy that did all those things because it was a perfect instrument of John Paul II's reactionary, top-down theology, a return to the authoritatian model of the Church, which was exactly what Benedict XVI was elected to maintain. The conclave that elected him was the conclave of the cover-up.


The resignation is another chance for the institutional Church to act with unambiguous justice toward the victims, and unambiguous penitence toward the rest of the world, which is pretty much the way it should have been acting for the past 20 years. Thus would the resignation of Benedict XVI be the only real lasting triumph of his papacy. The odds against it, alas, are extraordinarily long.

  Charlie Pierce (a Catholic)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Where Charlie Pierce Agrees with Rand Paul

Just read this post.  It's about secret targeted killings and John Brennan.  It's not long, and I can't exerpt without leaving behind good parts.

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

No Problem

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that up to 216 children have died in three countries the U.S. is not formally at war with — Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — as a result of suspected U.S. drone strikes starting in 2002 and dramatically escalating during Obama’s first term. Out of an estimated 451 total drone strikes during that period, over 300 were ordered by Obama against Pakistanis alone. The Bureau estimates that up to 4,643 people in all have been killed by drone strikes in those three countries.


Similarly, a United Nations committee said this month that “hundreds” of children have been killed by U.S. drone strikes since 2008, many which are personally approved by Obama, according to The New York Times.


Despite the largely unchecked, secret military campaigns abroad, Obama said in a recent public discussion on Google Plus that no drone strike has ever killed an American on U.S. soil, and said he’s pushing Congress for enhanced oversight of the program.

  Raw Story

Then it must be okay. Gun control for us, drones for them.

...hey, do what you will anyway.

Obama in Chicago

[W]hat kept me going was the belief that with enough determination and effort and persistence and perseverance, change is always possible; that we may not be able to help everybody, but if we help a few then that propels progress forward. We may not be able to save every child from gun violence, but if we save a few, that starts changing the atmosphere in our communities. (Applause.) We may not be able to get everybody a job right away, but if we get a few folks a job, then everybody starts feeling a little more hopeful and a little more encouraged.


And by 'everybody', he means those few folks who got the jobs and independent voters.

Friday, February 15, 2013

So That You Can Plan Your Weekend...

A plunging meteor exploded with a blinding flash above central Russia on Friday, setting off a shockwave that shattered windows and hurt over 950 people.


It appeared the meteor's entry into the atmosphere was not linked to the asteroid 2012 DA 14 which is expected to pass about 17,200 miles (27,000 kilometres) above the Earth later Friday in an unusually close approach.

  AFP via Google News

”It appeared?” What does that mean? Does that mean that it could also be the opening shot?

"I am scratching my head to think of anything in recorded history when that number of people have been indirectly injured by an object like this... it's very, very rare to have human casualties," Robert Massey, deputy executive secretary of Britain's Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), told AFP.

But he stressed that he saw "absolutely no connection" between the Chelyabinsk event and asteroid 2012 DA 14, which was to skim the Earth later on Friday at a distance of around 17,200 miles (27,700 kilometres).


The office of the local governor said in a statement that a meteorite had fallen into a lake outside the town of Chebakul in the Chelyabinsk region and television images pointed to a six-metre (20-foot) hole in the frozen lake's ice.

I would have liked to have seen that! You CAN see some citizen video (here at alJazeera) of what must have seemed like the opening salvo in an attack from the U.S.

The Chelyabinsk region is Russia's industrial heartland, filled with smoke-chugging factories and other huge facilities that include a nuclear power plant and the massive Mayak atomic waste storage and treatment centre.

A spokesman for Rosatom, the Russian nuclear energy state corporation, said that its operations remained unaffected.

They would say that, wouldn't they?

The emergencies ministry said radiation levels in the region also did not change and that 20,000 rescue workers had been dispatched to help the injured and locate those requiring help.

Reports say there were less than 1,000 people, the overwhelming majority with minor injuries from breaking glass, who reported to medical care facilities under their own power.   And they needed to dispatch twenty thousand rescue workers? Sounds like there might be more damage and/or extant danger than the assurances of business as usual would indicate.

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

No Love from Pakistan on Valentine's Day

I doubt if we needed a poll to know that, considering all the drone strikes we've been showering on them.

I wonder who the 4% is that approve.  (Assuming paid government shills weren't included in the polling.)

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

Go, Liz

Not that it will actually make any difference.

At a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asked the nation’s top financial regulators why Wall Street firms who broke the law were not taken to trial.


Thomas Curry, the Comptroller of the Currency, said his primary duty was to correct deficiencies in the financial system and that it wasn’t necessary to bring anyone to trial. Elisse B. Walter, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, was also unable to recall when a Wall Street firm had been taken to trial.

  Raw Story

Let me guess. Never?

“I just want to note on this, there are District Attorneys and U.S. Attorneys who are out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it,” Warren said. “I’m really concerned that too big to fail has become too big for trial. That just seems wrong to me.”

Not that anybody other than we the people cares what Warren thinks.

But, YOU GO, Liz.  And maybe next you can bring up the subject in front of the DOJ.  Too bad they probably won't let you anywhere near.  How about on the floor of the Senate?  Oh, yeah.  THEY don't want to hear it (even though she's on the Senate Banking Committee).

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The GOPs Next Presidential Hopeful

I assume they'll have him practice public speaking before they open his presidential campaign.

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

Obama's Bad Replacement Choice for His Current Bad Treasury Sec

[Jack] Lew was only at Citi for about a year and a half—but it was the year and half leading up to the 2008 financial crash, which also totaled CAI. When Lew walked away from the wreckage, he managed to take his $1.1 million salary and a $900,000 bonus with him—even as Citigroup was becoming a poster child for the Treasury’s new AFDC (Aid to Financially Dependent Corporations) program.

The gory details of how Lew earned his money at Citi (by shorting the housing market, in cahoots with a hedge fund manager who helped Goldman Sachs do the same at the expense of its long clients) have already been well reported, so I won’t reexamine the entrails here.


President Obama won reelection in part by beating up on his opponent for receiving big corporate payouts in exchange for dubious work and for socking away money in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands.

So it’s a bit, well, rich that Obama chose as his new Treasury secretary a man who received a big corporate payout for dubious work and who socked away money in the Cayman Islands.


Lew, who was White House chief of staff while Obama’s campaign was pummeling Romney over his pay and taxes, received a $945,000 bonus in January 2009 after a brief tenure at Citigroup — just as the bank announced huge losses and took a taxpayer bailout. Lew also invested $56,000 in a Citigroup venture-capital fund registered in the Cayman Islands — registered in the very building[Ugland House], in fact, that Obama labeled “the largest tax scam in the world.”


“It’s no wonder that maybe you and the president haven’t proposed legislative solutions to what you consider, or what the president considers, a tax scam,” Grassley observed.


Lew’s confirmation isn’t in doubt, a fact supported by the way he sauntered down the hall to his hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, hands in pockets.

  Dana Milbank - WaPo

They like to take shots at each other, but as long as the end result is the status quo, their arguments are just for show.

Have a quick look at the information available at the time Obama made Lew his Chief of Staff. 

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Justice - Elsewhere

Italy’s former military intelligence chief was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Tuesday for complicity in the C.I.A.’s abduction [and subsequent torture] of an Egyptian Muslim cleric under [the extraordinary rendition] program begun after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


Twenty-three Americans, including Robert Seldon Lady, a former C.I.A. base chief in Milan, were tried in absentia in the Abu Omar case in 2009 and convicted. All but one of them were C.I.A. agents. Three other Americans indicted in the case, including Jeffrey Castelli, the former C.I.A. station chief in Rome, were given diplomatic immunity and acquitted in 2009, but earlier this month, the Milan court vacated the acquittals and convicted them in absentia. Mr. Castelli was sentenced to seven years in prison and the other two to six years.


In reality, of course, they'll just not be able to go to Italy.

Afghanistan: (Bad) Business as Usual

A Nato air strike in eastern Afghanistan has killed 10 civilians, five of them children, and wounded five other children, Afghan officials said.


A single home in the remote Sultan valley, in Kunar province, was hit by bombs around 3am on Wednesday, said Wasifullah Wasifi, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Four Taliban commanders were also killed in the attack, said Farid, chief of staff for the Kunar governor.


"Four women and five children were killed, and five children wounded. One man, who was the leader of the family, was also killed, according to reports from the site," Farid told the Guardian by phone from Kunar.

"Four Taliban commanders were also killed in this incident, but it is not clear in what part of the site they were, whether they were inside the house. We have sent a delegation to the site."

  UK Guardian

NATO apprently is allowed to target homes. And by our new rules, anyone in them is considered enemy combatants as long as there is at least one enemy combatant presumed to be amongst them. I can't begin to imagine why they hate us. Unless they're just jealous of our freedoms.

The younger troops fighting in Afghanistan right now were seven years old when American boots hit the ground in 2001. They've known nothing but their country at war. Now they represent a generation, a moment in America as America moves on.

The drone strikes will continue, as will secretive raids and small, hot flashes of combat, but will there ever be another war that requires so many bodies for the same effect?

And that's another legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe mine will be America's last generation of war veterans.


Several years ago, I spent time with an Army infantry platoon at an outpost on a mountainside along the Pakistan border. A year later, American forces destroyed the outpost and withdrew from the area, essentially ceding the territory back to the insurgents. I asked one of the soldiers I'd been with what he thought of that. What was that for? he wondered. That was a year of our lives.

I thought my part of the Long War — as an infantryman in Iraq — unnecessary, and the preceding sales job to the American people dishonest. But I hoped to someday look back and see it was all worthwhile, because otherwise it would be too painful, too disheartening, to think about sacrifices made, about the friends wounded and killed. I'm still waiting for that verdict.

  Brian Mockenhaupt

In this, as in many things in life, this man will just have to be satisfied with making up his mind that it was worthwhile, if that's what he wants it to be.

Enough of Dick Cheney Already

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

DOMA Must Go

The Pentagon has officially extended some military benefits to same-sex partners, but said provisions such as medical coverage would not be offered to gay troops' spouses due to legal barriers.


The move, which defence officials had signaled last week, will provide same-sex partners with military identity cards, hospital visitation rights, access to youth and education programmes and financial compensation in the event their military spouse dies, a Pentagon memo said.


Panetta acknowledged that federal law, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, remained an obstacle to extending the full array of military benefits.

"One of the legal limitations to providing all benefits at this time is the Defence of Marriage Act, which is still the law of the land," Panetta said.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Only Israelis Are Allowed to Settle Palestinian Territory

Israel has given final approval for 90 new homes in Beit El settlement near Ramallah in a move likely to spark tension ahead of a top-level visit by US President Barack Obama, officials and an NGO said Monday. Hagit Ofran of the Peace Now settlement watchdog said the plans had been published for validation in an Israeli newspaper in what was the “final stage of approval”, meaning construction of the new homes could begin “within a few days.”


The Beit El construction plans were hurriedly put together as a compensatory measure for settlers who were evicted last year from Ulpana, an unauthorised settlement outpost on the outskirts of Beit El which was evacuated following a High Court ruling.

  Raw Story

Israel's army forced Palestinian activists to evacuate a West Bank encampment they had set up in protest against illegal Israeli settlement construction and declared the site a "closed military zone".

Soldiers on Saturday destroyed tents that were being erected in two different areas near the southern West Bank town of Yatta and forced activists to leave, the Palestinian witness said.


"Two Palestinian journalists were arrested during the evacuation - one works for AP and the other for PalMedia," Hebron human rights activist Issa Amro told Al Jazeera.

"The Israeli army does not distinguish the journalists from activists, or from the people living there - they just attacked everyone. They were very aggressive today."

Two protesters were injured and taken to the hospital in nearby Hebron.


"The Palestinian camp was very close to an Israeli outpost [an unofficial settlement considered illegal even under Israeli law], so they evacuated the Palestinian tents but did not evacuate the settler outposts," Amro told Al Jazeera.

All Israeli settlement activity inside the occupied Palestinian territories is considered illegal under international law.


Four tent camps - dubbed nascent Palestinian towns by the activists - have been erected and swiftly dismantled by the Israeli military since last month.


Palestinians and activists were on February 2 forcefully removed from a new camp near a West Bank village, after a third attempt at the novel form of protest against Israeli settlement.


Ratzo to Retire

Pope Benedict XVI [Joe Ratzinger] of the Roman Catholic Church has decided to resign from his post due to ill health, the Vatican has announced.

"The pope announced that he will leave his ministry at 8:00 pm (19:00 GMT) on February 28," said a Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, on Monday.

  al Jazeera

Really? I thought popes just reign until they die. Surely they weren't all fit as a fiddle right up to their deathbed.

The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism among competing papal claimants.

Yeah, that's a long time ago. And it had nothing to do with health.

Color me skeptical. But it smells like the typical politician's retiring to spend more time with his family. And when that happens, you can almost bet there's a scandal or uncomfortable situation to be avoided. And we all know that Ratzinger has a suspect past, Hitler youth and child abuse cover-up included. Something smells fishy. And it isn't Friday.

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

Sunday, February 10, 2013

OK, I'll Start....IOKIYAD

When are we going to start seeing the ubiquitous IOKIYAR from the Bush years changed to reflect its now appropriate reference to Democrats?

[In] broad terms, the conversation generated by the confirmation hearing of John O. Brennan, his nominee for C.I.A. director, underscored the degree to which Mr. Obama has embraced some of Mr. Bush’s approach to counterterrorism, right down to a secret legal memo authorizing presidential action unfettered by outside forces.


By emphasizing drone strikes, Mr. Obama need not bother with the tricky issues of detention and interrogation because terrorists tracked down on his watch are generally incinerated from the sky, not captured and questioned. By dispensing with concerns about due process, he avoids a more traditional war that he fears could lead to American boots on the ground.


Particularly stark has been the secret memo authorizing the targeted killing of American citizens deemed terrorists under certain circumstances without judicial review.


“That memo coming out, I think, was a wake-up call,” said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union. “These last few days, it was like being back in the Bush days.”

“It’s causing a lot of cognitive dissonance for a lot of people,” he added. “It’s not the President Obama they thought they knew.”


And where have these people been the last six years?

Some liberals acknowledged in recent days that they were willing to accept policies they once would have deplored as long as they were in Mr. Obama’s hands, not Mr. Bush’s.

“We trust the president,” former Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan said on Current TV. “And if this was Bush, I think that we would all be more up in arms because we wouldn’t trust that he would strike in a very targeted way and try to minimize damage rather than contain collateral damage.”

Provide your own comment. It will probably be something like this:

“That’s not how we make policy,” said Douglas Ollivant, a former national security aide under Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama and now a fellow at the New America Foundation. “We make policy assuming that people in power might abuse it. To do otherwise is foolish.”

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

It's Sunday

A report published later is expected to detail Irish government knowledge of what went on in Magdalene laundries.

The laundries were Catholic-run workhouses that operated in Ireland from the 1920s to the mid-1990s. Girls considered "troubled" or what were then called "fallen women" were sent there and did unpaid manual work.


The last Magdalene asylum in Ireland, in Waterford, closed in 1996 .


In the late 1990s former inmates began to speak out about their treatment.

They told horrifying stories of sexual, psychological and physical abuse .


The women toiled behind locked doors unable to leave after being admitted and while the laundries were paid, they received no wages


One survivor, Maureen Sullivan, 60, was sent to a Magdalene laundry in New Ross, County Wexford, at the age of 12.

Maureen's father died leaving a widow and three children.

Her mother re-married and Maureen claims she was abused by her stepfather.

The nuns noticed, called in a priest and convinced her mother that Maureen would be going to a "lovely school".

Maureen Sullivan: "We had no rights. My name was taken off me"

She said she never saw her school books again, was forced to work night and day, seven days a week, and was given a new name, Frances.


Ms Sullivan said her day began at six in the morning, and finished at nine at night.

She would have to scrub and polish floors, work in the laundry and then make rosary beads and knit Aran sweaters.

"Everything was taken from me; my name, my rights as a child to go out and play with other children, my rights to communicate with other people," she adds.


It has been estimated that up to 30,000 women passed through such laundries in Ireland.

The congregations which ran them were the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, the Religious Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.


...but hey, call yourself what you will anyway.

It's Sunday

One of the most prominent members of the Westboro Baptist church has left it after spending her life as part of the fervently anti-gay movement.

Megan Phelps-Roper, who looked after social media for the church best known for its slogan “God hates fags”, announced her departure in a post on the blogging platform Medium in which she also revealed her younger sister Grace, 19, was also leaving.


Phelps-Roper writes: “We know that we’ve done and said things that hurt people. Inflicting pain on others wasn’t the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren’t so, and regret that hurt.


“We know that we can’t undo our whole lives. We can’t even say we’d want to if we could; we are who we are because of all the experiences that brought us to this point. What we can do is try to find a better way to live from here on. That’s our focus.”


The church has a small congregation, largely made up of the extended family of the Reverend Fred Phelps, the grandfather of Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper. Their mother, Shirley Lynn Phelps-Roper, is one of its most outspoken representatives.


As well as picketing military funerals, the church also pickets sporting events, concerts and other occasions in the apparent hope of publicity. As well as being anti-gay, it is also anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic and anti-Chinese.


In an accompanying Medium piece, Damsel, Arise: A Westboro Scion Leaves Her Church, Jeff Chu describes what led Megan, who was named by the Kansas City Star as “the future leader” of the church, to leave in November.

Chu writes that her ephiphany over Westborough’s hateful dogma began with a Twitter discussion with Jewish blog Jewlicious’s David Abitbol.

  Raw Story

It's Sunday

The sexual abuse of parishioners—particularly children—by members of the clergy has become a defining scandal for the Catholic Church, changing the dynamics between priests and their flocks as lay Catholics demand accountability from Rome. But before crises in Boston and other American cities, a group of brave, deaf men in Milwaukee began speaking out in the 1970s about a priest, Father Lawrence Murphy, who abused as many as 200 of them. Mea Maxima Culpa, a new documentary about their experiences and their courage, premiere[d] on HBO [February 4].

  Think Progress

To the surprise of absolutely nobody currently wearing my eyeballs, the Clan Of The Red Beanie has decided that the latest concession by the administration on the matter of contraceptive coverage is not sufficient to answer its demands that the Presbyterian charpeople in its employ be held to a cockeyed doctrine that most Catholics have been ignoring since 1965.


Now, they want the Hobby Lobby loophole, too. This is coming from Dolan, the clown in New York who has a more-than-cameo role in Alex Gibney's new HBO movie about the horrendous abuse scandal that took place at a school for the deaf in Milwaukee.


The Roman Catholic hierarchy in the United States has become a form of putrescence in the body politic. Long before its current meddling, it made a mockery of the civil law in ways that are grotesque and genuinely evil. It betrayed both the faith of its laity -- including me -- and its responsibilities as an institution of civil society. It abandoned its obligations to its fellow citizens, whether they are Catholic or not. It is in no position to demand anything from them. It should be ridiculed, and then ignored.

  Charlie Pierce

Friday, February 8, 2013

Hack Hacked

The email accounts of six Bush family members and close friends were hacked, according to a report published late Thursday by The Smoking Gun.

The hacker uploaded emails and photos to a website, revealing confidential information such as phone numbers and addresses, intimate details about former President George H.W. Bush’s recent hospitalization, and self-portraits painted by former President George W. Bush.

  The Hill

Ha! So now we know how he's spending his retirement. Painting pictures of himself. How perfectly in character. (Come to think of it, that may be how he spent a lot of his time while supposedly on the job, too - and all that vacation time.)

And not just any old pictures...

I wonder who he emailed it to.

Images at Houston chronicle and Smoking Gun.

The Brennan Confirmation Hearing

They never laid a glove on him — not, I suspect, that many of them wanted to do so — and John Brennan looked very comfortable in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee during his extended job interview to become the head of the CIA. [...T]here was about the hearing a feeling of pure show, because both sides were operating under a tacit agreement that there are things that the American people must not, and should not, know about what is being done in their name. Once that agreement is struck, once that private communion is joined, the fundamentals of self-government are left behind.


It was most clear when Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a persistent critic of the administration's drone program, asked Brennan point-blank whether the president could order a drone strike on an American citizen inside the United States and Brennan didn't — or couldn't — give him an answer.


And the hearing, remarkably, went on as though nothing untoward had happened.

He also couldn't answer straight out whether waterboarding is torture. He hid behind legalities as Carl Levin fumed. "I am not a lawyer," Brennan kept saying. People kept congratulating him for the blunt, straight answers he was giving. It was like watching an exotic tribe worship in its native tongue.

  Charlie Pierce

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

The Fourth Estate As State Propaganda

[E]xtreme levels of subservience to US government authority is embedded in the ethos of the establishment American media. They see themselves not as watchdogs over the state but as loyal agents of it.


[Y]et again, the US media has been caught working together to conceal obviously newsworthy government secrets. On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that two years ago, the Obama administration established a base in Saudi Arabia from which it deploys drones to kill numerous people in Yemen. including US citizen Anwar Awlaki and, two weeks, later his 16-year-old American son Abdulrahman. The US base was built after the US launched a December, 2009 cruise missile/cluster-bomb attack that slaughtered dozens of Yemeni women and children. But the Post admitted that it - along with multiple other US media outlets - had long known [“more than a year “] about the Saudi Arabia drone base but had acted in unison to conceal it from the US public.


The "other news organization" which the Post references is the New York Times. The NYT - in a very good article yesterday on the role played by CIA nominee John Brennan in US drones strikes in Yemen - reported that Brennan "work[ed] closely with neighboring Saudi Arabia to gain approval for a secret CIA drone base there that is used for American strikes". As the paper's Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, explained, the NYT was one of the papers which "had withheld the location of that base at the request of the CIA", but had decided now to report it. That was why the Post did so.


As usual, the excuses for concealing this information are frivolous. Indeed, as the Guardian's Roy Greenslade noted, "the location of several drone bases was published as long ago as September last year on at least one news website, as this item on the North America Inter Press Service illustrates." Gawker's Adrian Chen documents numerous other instances where the base had been publicly disclosed.


The same dynamic drives most of these acts of US media self-censorship. It has nothing to do with legitimate claims of national security. Indeed, none of these facts - once they were finally reported - ultimately resulted in any harm. Instead, it has everything to do with obeying government dictates; shielding high-level government officials from embarrassing revelations; protecting even the most extreme government deceit and illegality; and keeping the domestic population of the US (their readers) ignorant of the vital acts in which their own government is engaged.

  Glenn Greenwald

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

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Really, He Always WANTED To

"Today, as part of the president's ongoing commitment to consult with Congress on national security matters, the president directed the Department of Justice to provide the congressional Intelligence committees access to classified Office of Legal Counsel advice related to the subject of the Department of Justice White Paper," the unidentified official said.

  The Hill

Commitment to consult after being outed by leaks.

On the other hand...

Most of the people killed by the Lethal Presidency have not been American citizens.

Most of the people killed by the Lethal Presidency have not been Al Qaeda leaders.

Most of the people killed by the Lethal Presidency have not warranted a white paper.

  Charlie Pierce

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Further on Leaked White Paper Re "Targeted Killing"

The powers it claims are broad and, as Isikoff pointed out on Rachel Maddow's show, actually contradict some of the administration's public statements and enter into Orwell's world of false language rendered to conceal an arguments "too brutal for most people to take."  Consider the notion of "imminence." Last year Eric Holder claimed that a lethal strike against an American citizen can only be made if to protect against "an imminent threat of violent attack." But the white paper states that imminence "does not require that the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons or interests will take place in the significant future." Effectively, the word "imminence" has no meaning beyond "we think you're a bad guy."

The white paper further claims that it can carry out operations "with the consent of the host nation's government," and then moves on to declare that such operations would still be lawful "after a determination that the host nation is unwilling or unable to suppress the threat posed by the individual targeted." In other words, we will ask your consent, but we don't really need it.

This kind of language -- imminence that isn't, consent at gun-point -- runs throughout the white paper. It authorizes, for instance, not just the killing of Al Qaeda leaders, but of any "an associated force." Who determines what constitutes "an associated force?" The same people ordering the killing.

I don't want to be thick-witted here. [...] But practically, much of our foreign policy now depends on the hope of benevolent dictators and philosopher kings. The law can't help. The law is what the kings say it is.

  Ta-Nehisi Coates

What is so extraordinary about this moment in American life is that tens of millions of people are ferociously defending the Second Amendment, and throw the name of the Constitution around like it's sacred, and yet they utter not one peep when its basic principles are shaken to their foundation. And let's be honest about why the right doesn't attack Obama for this outrageous violation of the founding principles of the country: They don't want to look weak, and they think that it only affects people they don't mind seeing die anyway. As for the idea that Al-Qaeda is so much of a threat that it requires extraordinary extensions of the president's powers, I can only say that the United States didn't need a sovereign while facing the Nazis or Communist Russia, both of which were infinitely more resourceful and threatening than a bunch of camel-humpers living in remote caves in the most desolate places on earth. Rome didn't need a sovereign for five hundred years, while facing half a dozen truly existential threats. We all know how that turned out. At least they knew when they had an emperor. They had a ceremony and everything. Obama just has a white paper.

  Charlie Pierce

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

The Latest Leaked Memo

On January 23, 2009 -- or three days after he took office -- President Barack Obama began killing people deemed to be enemies of the United States. A little over a year later, his administration began offering not details of the killings but rather measured justifications of its power to kill. In public speeches, in interviews, and in some cases in articles informed by leaks from the President’s closest advisors, the Obama Administration has spoken to American citizens about the legality of -- among other things -- killing, without trial, American citizens determined to present a threat to other American citizens.


What we have never heard -- what we have not been permitted to hear -- is what the Administration sounds like when it’s speaking to itself.


That’s why the ACLU and the New York Times have sued to make the Administration turn over the classified memorandum in which the Office of Legal Counsel argued for the legality of “targeting” Anwar al-Awlaki, the American citizen turned Al Qaeda leader. That’s why 11 senators wrote a letter to the White House suggesting that they might hold up the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director if the OLC’s memorandum is not at last made available to them. And that’s why the “white paper” leaked [...] to NBC News is so important: though it offers only a summary of the OLC memo, it also offers, for the first time, an inkling of what the king’s ministers are whispering in the king’s ear.

And I do mean “king,” because anyone who takes the time to read the leaked white paper will be struck by how ancient, how almost Shakesepearan are its concerns. For all the Obama Administration’s efforts to characterize “targeted killing” as a modern solution to a modern problem, the white paper suggests that its real quandary with regard to citizens who have taken up with the enemy is as old as power itself: how to eliminate them without being accused of murdering them.


And so when we read it, we recognize it for what it is: the kind of document that has always been proferred to power. The kind of document that always ends with somebody dead.

  Charlie Pierce  -  Correction:  This piece is by Tom Junod

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

Revolving Door Politics

Former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) is joining a top law and lobby firm.

Hutchison will be senior counsel to Bracewell & Giuliani, LLP in its Dallas office. The ex-senator will consult with the firm’s clients, especially those in banking, energy, transportation and telecommunications sectors.

  The Hill

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

Heads Up

The U.S. Postal Service announced on Wednesday that it would discontinue mail delivery on Saturday but still continue to deliver packages six days per week, according to the Associated Press.


The plan is likely to take effect in August.

  The Hill

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Free WiFi?

The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month. The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission has rattled the $178 billion wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea, analysts say. That has been countered by an equally intense campaign from Google, Microsoft and other tech giants who say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor.


Oh, I don't think we can have THAT.

When the U.S. government made a limited amount of unlicensed airwaves available in 1985, an unexpected explosion in innovation followed. Baby monitors, garage door openers and wireless stage microphones were created.


The airwaves that FCC officials want to hand over to the public would be much more powerful than existing WiFi networks that have become common in households. They could penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees.


The new WiFi networks would also have much farther reach, allowing for a driverless car to communicate with another vehicle a mile away or a patient’s heart monitor to connect to a hospital on the other side of town.

If approved by the FCC, the free networks would still take several years to set up. And, with no one actively managing them, con­nections could easily become jammed in major cities.


The major wireless carriers own much more spectrum than what is being proposed for public WiFi, making their networks more robust, experts say.


The FCC’s plan is part of a broader strategy to repurpose entire swaths of the nation’s airwaves to accomplish a number of goals, including bolstering cellular networks and creating a dedicated channel for emergency responders.

There isn't already a dedicated channel for emergency responders? WTF?

The proposal would require local television stations and other broadcasters to sell a chunk of airwaves to the government that would be used for the public WiFi networks.

Wait, wait, wait. SELL airwaves to the government? I thought the airwaves were already owned by the public, and broadcasters leased them. Apparently I thought wrong. Again, WTF?

As you can guess, internet access carriers are against this idea, as well as “some Republican lawmakers.”

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

Sunday, February 3, 2013

See Guys?

No need to fear.  He's just like you.  He loves his guns, too.

The White House has released a photo of US President Barack Obama firing a shotgun, looking to put to rest scepticism over his recent comments to a US magazine that he went skeet shooting “all the time".


The National Rifle Association, which has rejected Obama's gun control proposals, scoffed at the photo.

“One picture does not erase a lifetime of supporting every gun ban and every gun-control scheme imaginable,'' said Andrew Arulanandam, the influential gun rights lobbying group's spokesman.


So, okay, he'll never be just one of you guys. No matter what he does. But he'll never quit trying.

Is that smoke photoshopped?

When skeet shooting, isn't the target high in the sky when you fire? I don't know - I'm not a shooting fan. But that's a pretty straight line of fire. Look out Harry Whittington.

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

Saturday, February 2, 2013

What This Country Needs Is More Guns

A new report by the federal monitor overseeing the Oakland Police Department officers pointed their weapons at a sleeping baby while executing a search warrant.

“Two officers pointed their firearms at a sleeping 19-month-old child who, of course, posed no immediate threat to the officers or others,” said the Jan. 30 report by Robert Warsaw. “The crime being investigated, according to the reports, involved a misdemeanor offense.”

  Raw Story

And, fortunately, not a terrible accident.

An Oregon man who was said to be “familiar with guns” accidentally shot himself with a holstered weapon that he was openly carrying at an Internet cafe in Eugene on Thursday.

Eugene Police said that a 26-year-old man was in the Indras Internet Lounge restroom at around 3 p.m. when his holstered gun discharged and hit him in the thigh.

  Raw Story

Luckily, it was only himself who got hit.

A 27-year-old Fort Hood soldier on Thursday pleaded guilty to accidentally killing his friend while trying to cure a case of the hiccups.


Friends were drinking and watching a football game at an apartment in Killeen in September when Myers tried to cure the hiccups of 22-year-old Pfc. Isaac Lawrence Young by pointing a gun to his head and pulling the trigger to scare him.

Meyers said that he believed the gun had been loaded with dummy rounds.

  Raw Story

I guess we know where the real dummy was. 

Presumably this guy was well trained in the use of firearms.  And, presumably, so were the two policemen in Oakland.

Guns don't kill people.  Idiots with guns do.  Let's arm more and be safer.