Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tension in Ferguson


Ferguson, as you know, is in St. Louis County, Missouri.  As you also know, there has been a lot of "tension" in Ferguson since a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager on August 9.

Missouri has an extremely stupid open carry law, an expansion of which goes into effect tomorrow,   Things should get even more interesting in Ferguson.
The new law will allow specially trained school employees to carry concealed guns on campuses. It also allows anyone with a concealed weapons permit to carry guns openly, even in cities or towns with bans against the open carrying of firearms. The age to obtain a concealed weapons permit also will drop from 21 to 19.

  Guardian
My sister and I had breakfast in Columbia, Missouri, this morning.  A couple of hours drive from St. Louis.  I noticed when we went in to the restaurant, there was a hand-written sign to the left of the door that said "This is a Second Amendment Restaurant."  When we came out, I noticed this sign on the right side of the door:


Yee-haw!


Take Your Sandals, Boys

1,600 US ground troops are already in Iraq, despite the Obama Administration’s claims that there won’t be any ground war in the nation. More or coming to the region very soon.

The Marine Corps has announced a plan to send 2,100 troops to Kuwait as part of the “Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force” for Central Command, to perform assorted “theater sustainment missions.” The exact timing of the deployment is unclear, but will come at some point in FY2015, according to officials.

[...]

Marine officials insisted that the planned deployment actually predates the new US air war in Iraq and Syria.

  Antiwar
Perhaps it was. It might well have been part of the Grand Plan, which has always included Syria.
Less than two weeks after the 9/11 attacks General Wesley Clark was called into the office of a high-level official on duty at the Pentagon. There he was given the agenda spelled out in the reports PNAC, many members of which were now also members of the Bush cabinet (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc.), had been asking of the US government and the military industrial complex.

“The general,” Clark stated during a 2007 book tour, while in the meeting “told me we’ve already made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” A couple months later while meeting with the same general, Clark said he was told the situation was even worse than originally thought and the plan was to actually take down the governments of at least “seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing off with Iran.”

  Examiner.com
Five years.  We're a little behind schedule.

So, since we aren’t putting any “boots on the ground” in Iraq, are they staying in Kuwait, where they are being sent, or when they cross the border into Iraq, will they change into sandals?


How I Wish I Could Wake Up

I thought we had crossed into a dream world (nightmare) when Bush invaded Iraq and decimated Falluja. I actually cried when I read that we had given the families living in Falluja a few hours notice to get out (into the surrounding desert!) or risk being blown to bits.  I now feel like the nightmare has descended to at least the sixth level of Dante’s Hell, and I am too stunned and depressed to cry.  This can't be real, can it?
The White House has acknowledged for the first time that strict standards President Obama imposed last year to prevent civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes will not apply to U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq.

A White House statement to Yahoo News confirming the looser policy came in response to questions about reports that as many as a dozen civilians, including women and young children, were killed when a Tomahawk missile struck the village of Kafr Daryan in Syria's Idlib province on the morning of Sept. 23.

Syrian rebel commanders described women and children being hauled from the rubble after an errant cruise missile destroyed a home for displaced civilians. Images of badly injured children also appeared on YouTube, helping to fuel anti-U.S. protests in a number of Syrian villages last week.

[...]

"I saw seven or eight ambulances coming out of there,” said Abu Abdo Salabman, a political member of one of the Free Syria Army factions, who attended the briefing for Foreign Affairs Committee members and staff. “We believe this was a big mistake.”

  Yahoo
I think you believe wrong.  It's "how we roll."
[Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council] said that a much-publicized White House policy that President Obama announced last year barring U.S. drone strikes unless there is a “near certainty” there will be no civilian casualties — "the highest standard we can meet," he said at the time — does not cover the current U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
Has everyone gone completely mad? (Tangent: surely Detroit has…ye gods!)

Our government is now saying that Syria and Iraq do not meet the legal requirements for us to try not to kill their civilians!

Oh well, why not be honest?  We don't seem to have been trying anyway!
[Septmber 9] Over just the past week, the share of Americans who oppose U.S. airstrikes in Syria has surged 15 points, from 48% to 63%, as many who were undecided about the issue have turned against military action. By contrast, the share of Americans who support airstrikes remains virtually unchanged: Just 28% favor U.S. military airstrikes against Syria in response to reports that its government used chemical weapons.

  Pew Research
Well, that’s encouraging, but nobody in the Obama administration seems to care any more (not since he was elected) what the public thinks. Is there no one in Congress to stand up in outrage?
Most members of Congress expected the airstrikes to occur after they returned home to their districts, and privately, many of them conceded that they were relieved not to have to vote on a controversial topic just weeks before voters were to go to the polls in November.

[...]

House and Senate leaders said they were open to voting on a new measure giving new parameters for military action against ISIS, but not until after the election.

[...]

Democrats and Republicans who lead key committees approved of the President's move.

[...]

Before the strikes, Vice President Joe Biden reached out to one of the administration's most vocal critics, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who told CNN's Dana Bash that Biden told him the airstrikes would be "intense" and a "sustained effort."

Graham said he told Biden he was "very supportive" of the administration's move and would do what was needed of him to corral Congress if further congressional authorization is needed.

  CNN
[O]ne of the House members present, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who supports stronger U.S. action in Syria, said he was not overly concerned. “I did hear them say there were civilian casualties, but I didn’t get details,” Kinzinger said in an interview with Yahoo News. “But nothing is perfect,” and whatever civilian deaths resulted from the U.S. strikes are “much less than the brutality of the Assad regime.”

  Yahoo
A host of Democratic Senate hopefuls who rode anti-war sentiment into office in the past decade are running for reelection now as hawks, staking out hard-line positions on the latest upheaval in the Middle East.

[...]

Locked in a tough reelection battle, [first-term senator Democrat Kay Hagan] boasts that she’s more strongly supportive of airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants than her Republican challenger, Thom Tillis, and says she’s been pressing the Obama administration to arm Syrian rebels since early last year.

[...]

[Bruce Braley, the Democratic Senate candidate in Iowa] is running against military veteran Joni Ernst in one of the most contested Senate races in the country.

“ISIS is a threat that must be stopped,” Braley said during a debate Sunday. “Anytime American citizens are attacked by a terrorist group, they need to be brought to justice or to the grave.”

[...]

Only one vulnerable Senate Democrat voted against that resolution to arm the rebels: Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, who warned that the weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

Every other Democrat facing a viable challenger, including Jeff Merkley in deep-blue Oregon and Al Franken in Minnesota, voted with the 78-member majority.

  Politico
Al Franken, too?!?
Republican candidate Scott Brown has been hammering Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen for failing to understand “the nature of the threat,” as he put it in one commercial that began airing last week. This has prompted the freshman Democrat to begin quietly running a response ad (her campaign has not released it to the news media), in which she says: “I support those airstrikes. I think it’s important for us to take the fight to ISIL.”

Monday, September 29, 2014

SNAFU

U.S.-led air strikes hit grain silos and other targets in Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-controlled territory in northern and eastern Syria overnight, killing civilians and wounding insurgents, a group monitoring the war said on Monday.

  al Jazeera
Too bad it wasn’t the other way around, eh?
The aircraft may have mistaken the mills and grain storage areas in the northern Syrian town of Manbij for an ISIL base, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. There was no immediate comment from Washington.
So that "wounding insurgents" part may be purely fictitious.

Jesus wept.

Let us remember that we are pre-emptively bombing another country again.  Or, if that doesn't fit your technical definition of who we are striking, we are still pre-emptively striking a group that has not attacked us.

I guess if you have already committed as many war crimes as we have in the past dozen years, what's a few more?  It's a brave new world.

"We've Been Wrong About Pretty Much Everything"

"But trust us. We know what we're doing."
Publicly announcing that US intelligence agencies “underestimated” the presence and activity of Islamic State militants in Syria, US President Barack Obama in an interview with CBS called the country a “ground zero” for international jihadists.

[...]

Clapper made similar comments to a Washington Post columnist earlier this month. “I didn't see the collapse of the Iraqi security force in the north coming,” Clapper was quoted as saying. “I didn't see that. It boils down to predicting the will to fight, which is an imponderable.”

[...]

At the same time, Obama admitted that the Iraqi army’s capabilities in dealing with militant groups were also overestimated.

  RT

Der Rumsfiend had the unknown, Clapper has "imponderable".

America - the greatest (and baddest) country on earth.


You misunderstand.  Here's his plan...
“We just have to push them back, and shrink their space, and go after their command and control, and their capacity, and their weapons, and their fueling, and cut off their financing, and work to eliminate the flow of foreign fighters,” he said.
Brilliant.  Nothing to it.

Help Me, Obi Wan, You're Our Only Hope

Even better than Ed Snowden's remote robot interview.


Julian Assange [...] appeared as a hologram at The Nantucket Project.

[...]

The conference, a TED-type gathering of the intellectual elite of the Northeastern set, let Assange rub virtual elbows with the likes of Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, poet Billy Collins and journalist Eugene Jarecki, who interviewed Assange’s hologram.

  Vanity Fair
What was John Kerry doing there? Trying to figure out a way to arrest or assassinate a hologram?


(Image from gifsoup.com)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Barack Obama Bringing Folks Together



Well, he has at least united some groups.
Jabhat al-Nusra, which has been at odds with Isis for much of the past year, vowed retaliation for the US-led strikes, the first wave of which a week ago killed scores of its members. Many al-Nusra units in northern Syria appeared to have reconciled with the group, with which it had fought bitterly early this year.

A senior source confirmed that al-Nusra and Isis leaders were now holding war planning meetings. While no deal has yet been formalised, the addition of at least some al-Nusra numbers to Isis would strengthen the group’s ranks and extend its reach at a time when air strikes are crippling its funding sources and slowing its advances in both Syria and Iraq.

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

UPDATE: 9/29
Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front has issued a new threatening audio message featuring its leader warning the West “will pay the heaviest price” for its actions. The Syrian group is reportedly now joining up with the estranged Islamic State militants.

The leader of Syria’s most prominent terrorist group, Abu Mohamad al-Golani, in denouncing the US-led air strike campaign, has urged Westerners everywhere to do the same “by standing against the decisions of your rulers,” otherwise bloodshed would be brought to their soil.

"Muslims will not watch while their sons are bombed. Your leaders will not be the only ones who would pay the price of the war. You will pay the heaviest price," Reuters cited him as saying. He threatened viewers that the fight would be brought “to the hearts of your homes.”

  RT

Ferguson: There It Goes

A police officer has been wounded with a gun shot in the US city of Ferguson, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb still gripped by public outrage over the killing of an unarmed teenager by a cop last month. The police have cordoned off the crime scene.

The police have reported that the two suspects fled on foot. K9 officers and police helicopters are searching the area. Local police have earlier described one suspect as a black male with dreadlocks.

  RT
And, later they said there was actually only one suspect.

All black men with dreadlocks in Ferguson would be well advised to cut their hair.
Also, a shooting early Sunday morning of an off-duty police officer, prompted the closure of westbound Interstate 70. The St. Louis city police officer's car was hit during a drive-by.

The officer was driving his personal vehicle on westbound I-70 when another vehicle with three black males pulled up next to him and started firing.

The officer's vehicle was struck multiple times, but it does not appear that the officer was struck by a bullet.

  USA Today

The Ugly American

I can no longer say, "At least he isn't _________ like Bush."

He's become just as disgustingly arrogant and phony-macho, dick-head sounding as George W. Bush.

   




A total and complete embarrassment for which the entire civilian population of this country now owes the world its most abject apology.

But where will we find a real change?

Have Bombs, Seek Justification

I know! A new and more dangerous cell of terrorists with actual plans to attack us.

Voila!  Khorasan!

Be afraid!  But, no problem - we'll bomb 'em.

The Obama administration needed propagandistic and legal rationale for bombing yet another predominantly Muslim country. While emotions over the ISIS beheading videos were high, they were not enough to sustain a lengthy new war.

So after spending weeks promoting ISIS as Worse Than Al Qaeda™, they unveiled a new, never-before-heard-of group that was Worse Than ISIS™. Overnight, as the first bombs on Syria fell, the endlessly helpful U.S. media mindlessly circulated the script they were given: this new group was composed of “hardened terrorists,” posed an “imminent” threat to the U.S. homeland, was in the “final stages” of plots to take down U.S. civilian aircraft, and could “launch more-coordinated and larger attacks on the West in the style of the 9/11 attacks from 2001.”

[...]

Worse, they did it by pretending that the U.S. Government was trying not to talk about all of this – too secret!

[...]

But according to the top U.S. counterterrorism official, as well as Obama himself, there is “no credible information” that the militants of the Islamic State were planning to attack inside the United States. Although the group could pose a domestic terrorism threat if left unchecked, any plot it tried launching today would be “limited in scope” and “nothing like a 9/11-scale attack,” Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said in remarks at the Brookings Institution earlier this month. That would suggest that Khorasan doesn’t have the capability either, even if it’s working to develop it.

“Khorasan has the desire to attack, though we’re not sure their capabilities match their desire,” a senior U.S. counterterrorism official told Foreign Policy.

  Glenn Greenwald with Murtaza Hussain
I suspect "we" are indeed sure - that they do not.

No matter. Khorasan already served its purpose: cover for bombing in Syria.
[A] Pentagon official claimed a U.S. airkstrike killed “the Khorasan leader,” and just a few days after that, U.S. media outlets celebrated what they said was the admission by jihadi social media accounts that “the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Khorasan group was killed in a U.S. air strike in Syria.”

But once it served its purpose of justifying the start of the bombing campaign in Syria, the Khorasan narrative simply evaporated as quickly as it materialized.

[...]

Literally within a matter of days, we went from “perhaps in its final stages of planning its attack” (CNN) to “plotting as ‘aspirational’” and “there did not yet seem to be a concrete plan in the works” (NYT).

[...]

Even more remarkable, it turns out the very existence of an actual “Khorasan Group” was to some degree an invention of the American government.


[...]

There are serious questions about whether the Khorasan Group even exists in any meaningful or identifiable manner. Aki Peritz, a CIA counterterrorism official until 2009, told Time: “I’d certainly never heard of this group while working at the agency,” while Obama’s former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said: ”We used the term [Khorasan] inside the government, we don’t know where it came from….All I know is that they don’t call themselves that.” As the Intercept was finalizing this article, former terrorism federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy wrote in National Review that the group was a scam: “You haven’t heard of the Khorosan Group because there isn’t one. It is a name the administration came up with, calculating that Khorosan … had sufficient connection to jihadist lore that no one would call the president on it.”

  Glenn Greenwald with Murtaza Hussain
 And they didn't.

Seriously, if you have not seen the movie 'Wag the Dog', do it now.

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

It's Sunday

A new kind of organic molecule has been discovered in a giant gas cloud in interstellar space, indicating that more complex molecules – the very core building blocks of life – can potentially form outside of the Earth and even be widespread in space.

The analysis of a star-forming gas cloud some 27,000 light years away from Earth, published in the journal Science, detected an iso-propyl cyanide molecule with a unique structure that is common in life-forming molecules, such as amino acids.

While finding a simple organic chemical in space is nothing new, a carbon-bearing molecule with a branched structure has been discovered for the first time, indicating that biologically crucial molecules can form not only on Earth, but in deep space too.

  RT
Maybe God is working on an improvement.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

So, It Turns Out the Banksters Weren't Really Being Regulated

How surprising, eh?

I shall be watching for renewed calls to do away with the Fed.

Our financial regulatory system is obviously dysfunctional. But because the subject is so tedious, and the details so complicated, the public doesn't pay it much attention.

That may very well change today, for today -- Friday, Sept. 26 --- the radio program "This American Life" will air a jaw-dropping story about Wall Street regulation, and the public will have no trouble at all understanding it.

The reporter, Jake Bernstein, has obtained 46 hours of tape recordings, made secretly by a Federal Reserve employee, of conversations within the Fed, and between the Fed and Goldman Sachs. The Ray Rice video for the financial sector has arrived.

[...]

After the 2008 financial crisis, the New York Fed, now the chief U.S. bank regulator, commissioned a study of itself. This study, which the Fed also intended to keep to itself, set out to understand why the Fed hadn't spotted the insane and destructive behavior inside the big banks, and stopped it before it got out of control.

[...]

[It turns out t]he Fed encourages its employees to keep their heads down, to obey their managers and to appease the banks. That is, bank regulators failed to do their jobs properly not because they lacked the tools but because they were discouraged from using them.

[...]

I don't want to spoil the revelations of "This American Life"  (transcript): It's far better to hear the actual sounds on the radio, as so much of the meaning of the piece is in the tones of the voices -- and, especially, in the breathtaking wussiness of the people at the Fed charged with regulating Goldman Sachs. But once you have listened to it -- as when you were faced with the newly unignorable truth of what actually happened to that NFL running back's fiancee in that elevator -- consider the following:

1. You sort of knew that the regulators were more or less controlled by the banks. Now you know.

2. The only reason you know is that one woman, Carmen Segarra, has been brave enough to fight the system. She has paid a great price to inform us all of the obvious. She has lost her job, undermined her career, and will no doubt also endure a lifetime of lawsuits and slander.

  Bloomberg View
Just like every other situation where we have regulators. It’s just window dressing.

Go on over to the article and read it. And check out the NPR "This American Life" program (transcript).

“A quick Internet search reveals at least seven former Fed bank examiners who now work at Goldman. They include the colleague who, according to Carmen, asked her to change her meeti ng notes.”

This will no doubt make Ira Glass' career - the Glenn Greenwald of the banking affair.

And if you ask me, which you didn't, Barack Obama shares a good portion of responsibility for the bankster/financial meltdown/scandal (that has not to date been corrected) considering the number of Goldman Sachs people he included in his administration, not to mention the Bush appointment of Goldman Sachs' Hank Paulson to Secretary of the Treasury, and then Obama's replacement Tim Geithner, who had been president of the NY Federal Reserve while Paulson was at Treasury.

I Want to Start a Petition to Have September Officially Designated Ann Richards Month

Do you think it stands a chance?

Remembering the Thorny Rose of Texas

 

Former Texas governor Ann Richards (September 1, 1933 - September 13, 2006)
A great loss to Texas and to the Democratic party, which is back to running Republicans for office.


But It's Their Own Fault They're Poor







Only Seventy Percent?

INSCOM’s “global intelligence support” contract will place the contractors at the center of this fight. It was unveiled on Sept. 12 by the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), one of the largest military units that collects signals intelligence for the NSA.

Under its terms, 21 companies, led by Booz Allen Hamilton, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, will compete over the next five years to provide “fully integrated intelligence, security and information operations” in Afghanistan and “future contingency operations” around the world.

[...]

INSCOM, which was created in 1978, has been at the cusp of U.S. policy in the wars on terror from the initial campaign against the Taliban in the fall of 2001 to the latest war against ISIS.

[...]

The top contractors on the INSCOM contract are already involved in the war. Lockheed Martin, for example, makes the Hellfire missiles that are used extensively in U.S. drone strikes (in 2013, it also won a three-year contract to train INSCOM’S “Army intelligence soldiers” in “analytical and operational disciplines”). Northrop Grumman makes the Global Hawk surveillance drone, one of the most formidable weapons in the U.S. arsenal. Both companies have large intelligence units.

[...]

As I first reported in Salon in 2007 and later chronicled in my book “Spies for Hire,” 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget is spent on private contractors. Much of this spending – estimated at around $70 billion a year – winds up at the NSA, where SIGINT operations, particularly for collection and analysis, were heavily outsourced at the turn of the century.

  Salon
How your tax dollars go to private corporations instead of public works.  Redistribution of the wealth.

Is It Retroactive?

“Federal use of drones has gone way up, but it’s hard to document how much,” said Jennifer Lynch, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based group that has sued the Federal Aviation Administration for records on government drone operations. “It’s been in¬cred¬ibly difficult.”

Even Congress has struggled to uncover the extent to which the federal government uses drones as a surveillance tool in U.S. airspace.

[...]

The White House is preparing a directive that would require federal agencies to publicly disclose for the first time where they fly drones in the United States and what they do with the torrents of data collected from aerial surveillance.

[...]

Most affected by the executive order would be the Pentagon, which conducts drone training missions in most states, and Homeland Security, which flies surveillance drones along the nation’s borders round-the-clock. It would also cover other agencies with little-known drone programs, including NASA, the Interior Department and the Commerce Department.

Military and law enforcement agencies would not have to reveal sensitive operations. But they would have to post basic information about their privacy safeguards for the vast amount of full-motion video and other imagery collected by drones.

Until now, the armed forces and federal law enforcement agencies have been reflexively secretive about drone flights and even less forthcoming about how often they use the aircraft to conduct domestic surveillance.

  WaPo
There are always tactics to follow the letter of the law without following the spirit of it.
In March 2013, lawmakers directed the Defense Department to produce a report, within 90 days, describing its policies for sharing drone surveillance imagery with law enforcement agencies.

Eighteen months later, the Pentagon still has not completed the report. Air Force Lt. Col. Thomas Crosson, a Defense Department spokesman, said officials hoped to provide an interim response next week and a full version “in the coming months.”
Right.

More Trouble in Ferguson



To quote a woman at the 10:30  mark:  "That was a bad idea.  It really was."

Seven arrested.

Degrade and Destroy

In his weekly address, the president said he had secured significant progress on a number of diplomatic fronts, such as building support for the coalition battling the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and cutting off the flow of financing and foreign fighters to extremist terror groups.

"America is leading the world in the fight to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group," Obama said.

On Friday, the British Parliament voted to join the U.S. in conducting airstrikes against the militants. At least five Arab countries and a number of other European allies have offered to contribute to the bombing campaign.

  The Hill
The Coalition of the Killing.

And the UN Security Council unanimously passed a new resolution that will no doubt provide more cover for further civil liberties abuses.
In that context, the Council, through the resolution, decided that all States shall ensure that their legal systems provide for the prosecution, as serious criminal offences, of travel for terrorism or related training, as well as the financing or facilitation of such activities.

Member States, it also decided, shall prevent entry or transit through their territories of any individual about whom that State had credible information of their terrorist-related intentions, without prejudice to transit necessary for the furtherance of judicial processes. It called on States to require airlines to provide passenger lists for that purpose.

Outlining further measures for international cooperation to counter international terrorism and prevent the growth of violent extremism, it expressed readiness to designate additional individuals for sanctions listings, and directed the United Nations counter-terrorism subsidiary bodies to devote special focus to foreign terrorist fighters, assessing the threat they posed and reporting on principal gaps in Member States’ abilities to suppress their travel.

  UN.org Re: resolution 2178 (2014)
Joe McCarthy’s ghost is licking its lips.

What is being degraded and destroyed is not terrorist organizations.

Come On, You Know You Want To

September 11, 2014
Philip Hammond risked opening a rift with Barack Obama after saying Britain would not join US-led strikes against Islamic State fanatics.

Asked about plans for an open-ended bombing campaign, Mr Hammond said: ‘Let me be clear – Britain will not be taking part in any air strikes in Syria. We have already had that discussion in our parliament last year and we won’t be revisiting that position.’

  Daily Mail
September 27, 2014
In a special parliamentary session Friday, 524 lawmakers voted in favor of participating in airstrikes in Iraq against the militant group known as Islamic State, and 43 voted against.

A question that remains, however, is whether the U.K. will also expand the mission to Syria. Mr. Cameron has said he believes there are legal grounds to do so but said he limited Friday's discussion to Iraq because there wasn't sufficient support for military action in Syria as well.

  WSJ
I expect to be posting very soon that the UK has found its case for joining in attacks on Syria.

In Bruges

An underground pipeline carrying 5,700 liters of beer an hour will be built in Belgium’s historic city of Bruges. A family-owned brewery will pump beer direct to a bottling plant in the suburbs to cut the number of trucks on ancient cobbled streets.

"The beer will take 10 to 15 minutes to reach the bottling plant. By using the pipeline we will keep hundreds of trucks out of the city center,” Xavier Vanneste, CEO of De Halve Maan brewery, which initiated the project, told Belgium's Het Nieuwsbladsaid.

[...]

“This is unique in the brewing industry, with the exception of one German brewery that has installed a similar system,” said Vanneste.

He says that the idea of a beer pipeline was born out of “environmental and quality of life concerns, not economic ones."

  RT
Obviously not American.


If the President Says It, It Must Be True

“Because we hold our leaders accountable."

Apparently, Obama actually made this statement in his recent address to the UN. Was a bolder-faced lie ever spoken?

At any rate, because I can no longer bear to listen to or read anything the Manchurian Candidate says, take a peek at WIIIAI's parsing of the speech. At least you'll get a laugh.

Bye Bye, Karzai

Outgoing Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai denounced the United States in his farewell speech and insisted that, despite tens of thousands of wounded and dead American service personnel (and over a trillion dollars in aid), the United States has been a curse upon his country. Instead Karzai showered praise on Iran and China as great allies for Afghanistan. This is the man who the CIA openly gave regular suitcases of cash to and led a government where billions simply disappeared.

The Obama Administration insisted on the money continuing to flow into Karzai’s pockets even as he attacked the U.S. and Americans as “demons”, and moves to shift alliances to Iran and China.

[...]

We have looked like utter fools for over a decade in pouring money into the country while our schools and domestic programs have been curtailed due to budget shortfalls.

[...]

In the meantime, the U.S. is pouring more money into the country in an effort to keep U.S. advisers and trainers in the country. Ghani Ahmadzai has said he will sign the agreement (which Karzai refused to do) so that we can spend more billions.

  Jonathan Turley
"We don't have peace because the Americans didn't want peace," said Karzai, who will officially give way to President-elect Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai when the latter is sworn in Monday.

[...]

Karzai's words were met with a furious response by the American ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham, who called the comments "ungracious and ungrateful."

"It makes me kind of sad. I think his remarks, which were uncalled for, do a disservice to the American people and dishonor the huge sacrifices Americans have made here and continue to make here," Cunningham told a gathering of journalists.

  Fox News
”True though they are,” he did not say.
Karzai's spokesman Aimal Faizi told The Washington Post that while the president appreciates the efforts of U.S. troops and taxpayers to rebuilt the war-torn country, he also believes that the U.S. did not do enough to confront Pakistan-backed militants in the country and that Washington and Islamabad "sabotaged" efforts to reach a peace deal with the Taliban.

[...]

In his final year in office, Karzai refused to sign a security agreement with the U.S. that would set the legal framework to allow about 10,000 American military advisers and trainers to stay in the country next year. Ghani Ahmadzai has said he will sign it.
And that was Karzai’s final straw. He had to go.

Eric Holder's Legacy

For civil libertarians, Holder’s tenure as Attorney General under President Obama has been one of the most damaging periods in our history with a comprehensive attack on various constitutional rights and principles from free speech to the free press to international law.

[...]

Holder personally announced Obama’s “kill list” policy, in which the president claimed the right to kill any U.S. citizen on his sole authority without a charge, let alone a conviction. Holder’s department used the controversial Espionage Act of 1917 to bring twice the number of such prosecutions of all prior presidents under the Act. Journalists were placed under surveillance in a record that rivaled that of President Nixon. Holder led an appalling crackdown on whistle-blowers. Holder fought to justify massive warrantless surveillance and unchecked presidential authority to attack other countries without congressional approval.

[...]

Holder is resigning the same week that a federal judge ordered the release of “Fast and Furious” documents after the Justice Department was accused of a pattern of delay and obstruction. Holder was previously held in contempt by Congress for his withholding documents and conflicting accounts to an oversight committee looking into the scandal.

[...]

Ironically, Holder came into office trying to distinguish himself from such disastrous predecessors as Alberto Gonzales but proved no less political or blindly loyal to his own president. Indeed, both men fought aggressively to expand the powers of the presidency and national security laws over countervailing individual rights and separation of powers principles. It will be civil liberties and not civil rights that will be the lasting, and troubling, legacy of Eric Holder.

[...]

When the president was confronted with demands to investigate and prosecute individuals for torture under the Bush administration, Holder faced an early test of principle. He failed. The Justice Department blocked any prosecution despite our obligation under international treaties and the president’s (and Holder’s) acknowledgment that waterboarding is clearly a form of torture.

[...]

He lost a series of criminal cases seeking massive reductions in privacy and due process protections for citizens.

[...]

In one of the great lost opportunities in history, Holder will finish his tenure as he began it: a man with great but still unrealized potential.

  Jonathan Turley

Thursday, September 25, 2014

War Economy Is Good

In its first night of airstrikes into Syria, the U.S. dropped about 200 munitions and launched 47 Raytheon-made Tomahawk cruise missiles, according to U.S. Central Command. The military also deployed Boeing’s GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Hellfire missiles from Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed, creating an opening for restocking U.S. arsenals.

  Bloomberg
Stock prices for Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman set all-time record highs last week as it became increasingly clear that President Obama was committed to a massive, sustained air war in Iraq and Syria.

It’s nothing short of a windfall for these and other huge defense contractors, who’ve been getting itchy about federal budget pressures that threatened to slow the rate of increase in military spending.

[...]

Defense contractor stocks have far exceeded the performance of the broader market. A Bloomberg index of four of the largest Pentagon contractors rose 19 percent this year, compared to 2.2 percent for the S&P 500.

  Dan Froomkin

Eric Holder Needs to Spend More Time with His Family

Or maybe he just needs more money than he’s getting as AG.
(UPDATE:  10/28/14  This article reminded me that Holder once said, "As long as I am attorney general, no reporter who is doing his job will go to jail," in answer to a question about the case of New York Times reporter James Risen.  Maybe that gives us another clue as to why he's leaving.)
“I chose him to serve as attorney general because he believes as I do that justice is not just an abstract theory. It’s a living and breathing principle,” Mr. Obama said. He said Mr. Holder used the law to make people’s lives better. “That’s why I made him America’s lawyer, the people’s lawyer.”

  NYT
Whose lives did he make better?  Bankers, yes.  Thousands of poor mortgage holders who got shafted by the bankers?  Sorry.  Apparently, Mr. Obama doesn’t know what the word “justice” means. And neither did Holder.
Eric Holder, the United States’ first black attorney general, will announce later on Thursday that he plans to resign from his post as soon as a successor can be confirmed.

  The Guardian
That shouldn’t take long. Just look under another rock.
The telling sentence in NPR’s report that US attorney general Eric Holder plans to step down once a successor is confirmed came near the end of the story.

“Friends and former colleagues say Holder has made no decisions about his next professional perch,” NPR writes, “but they say it would be no surprise if he returned to the law firm Covington & Burling, where he spent years representing corporate clients.”

A large chunk of Covington & Burling’s corporate clients are mega-banks like JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America. Lanny Breuer, who ran the criminal division for Holder’s Justice Department, already returned to work there.

[...]

In March, Covington highlighted in marketing materials their award from the trade publication American Lawyer as “Litigation Department of the Year,” touting the law firm’s work in getting clients accused of financial fraud off with slap-on-the-wrist fines.

Covington, American Lawyer says, helps clients “get the best deal they can.”

[...]

[If] you want to understand what [Eric Holder] did for the perpetrators of a cascade of financial fraud that blew up the nation’s economy in 2008, you only have to read that line from his former employer: he helped them “get the best deal they can.”

[...]

By the time the bubble collapsed, the recession hit and Holder took over the Justice Department, Wall Street was a target-rich environment for any federal prosecutor. Physical evidence to an untold number of crimes was available in court filings and county recording offices.

Financial audits revealed large lapses in underwriting standards as early as 2005.

[...]

In 2009, Congress passed the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, giving $165m to the Justice Department to staff the investigations necessary to bring those accountable for the financial crisis to justice.

[...]

Any prosecutor worth his salt could have gone up the chain of command and implicated top banking executives.

[...]

Incidentally, the Wall Street Journal found last week that the Justice Department only collects around 25% of the fines they impose. So the banks may have gotten off even easier.

[...]

And Holder’s Justice Department has been guilty of cooking the books: they admitted last August to overstating the number of criminal financial fraud charges by over 80%.

[...]

More important, the settlements didn’t end the misconduct. Homeowners today continue to lose their homes based on false documents. Because the Justice Department just put a band-aid over the fraud, and didn’t convict any of the ringleaders, the problems went unaddressed, and the root causes never got fixed.

  Guardian
And you don’t believe in conspiracies.
The decision to protect banks instead of homeowners should be laid at the feet of the president and his administration, not one man in the Justice Department. But Holder certainly carried out the policy, even if he didn’t devise it.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

Eighteen years after it was published, “Dark Alliance,” the San Jose Mercury News’s bombshell investigation into links between the cocaine trade, Nicaragua’s Contra rebels, and African American neighborhoods in California, remains one of the most explosive and controversial exposés in American journalism.

The 20,000-word series enraged black communities, prompted Congressional hearings, and became one of the first major national security stories in history to blow up online. It also sparked an aggressive backlash from the nation’s most powerful media outlets, which devoted considerable resources to discredit author Gary Webb’s reporting. Their efforts succeeded, costing Webb his career. On December 10, 2004, the journalist was found dead in his apartment, having ended his eight-year downfall with two .38-caliber bullets to the head.

  Ryan Devereaux: The Intercept
I would still like to know how often a suicide is committed by TWO bullets to the head. And to the back of the head, at that.
On September 18, the agency released a trove of documents spanning three decades of secret government operations. Culled from the agency’s in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence, the materials include a previously unreleased six-page article titled “Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story.”

[...]

“Dark Alliance” focused on the lives of three men involved in shipping cocaine to the U.S.: Ricky “Freeway” Ross, a legendary L.A. drug dealer; Oscar Danilo Blandón Reyes, considered by the U.S. government to be Nicaragua’s biggest cocaine dealer living in the United States; and Meneses Cantarero, a powerful Nicaraguan player who had allegedly recruited Blandón to sell drugs in support of the counter-revolution. The series examined the relationship between the men, their impact on the drug market in California and elsewhere, and the disproportionate sentencing of African Americans under crack cocaine laws.

And while its content was not all new, the series marked the beginning of something that was: an in-depth investigation published outside the traditional mainstream media outlets and successfully promoted on the internet.

[...]

But newspapers like the Times and the Post seemed to spend far more time trying to poke holes in the series than in following up on the underreported scandal at its heart, the involvement of U.S.-backed proxy forces in international drug trafficking. The Los Angeles Times was especially aggressive. Scooped in its own backyard, the California paper assigned no fewer than 17 reporters to pick apart Webb’s reporting. While employees denied an outright effort to attack the Mercury News, one of the 17 referred to it as the “get Gary Webb team.” Another said at the time, “We’re going to take away that guy’s Pulitzer.”

[...]

The CIA watched these developments closely, collaborating where it could with outlets who wanted to challenge Webb’s reporting. Media inquiries had started almost immediately following the publication of “Dark Alliance,” and [Nicholas Dujmovic, a CIA Directorate of Intelligence staffer at the time] in “Managing a Nightmare” cites the CIA’s success in discouraging “one major news affiliate” from covering the story. He also boasts that the agency effectively departed from its own longstanding policies in order to discredit the series.
And this, I want to see:



American Incomes

The next time your right wing friend complains that liberals want to "redistribute the wealth," show him this:

 

The wealth has been being redistributed for some decades now.

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

And They Do It in a Nice Way



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

On the Road to Damascus

Also today the Syrian airforce wanted to bomb Jabhat al-Nusra positions in the Golan heights where Nusra is, as first reported here, opening a corridor from Jordan towards Lebanon and for attacks on Damascus right along the demarcation line between Israel and Syria. Israel, in quite open support effort for the Nusra plan, shot down the Syrian SU-24 using U.S. provided Patriot missiles. While Israel claims that the plane violated its border the reported crash site was far from the border near Kanaker, Syria which is halfway between the demarcation line and Damascus.

Under the protection of the U.S. attack on IS and other targets Israel now practically established a no-fly-zone next to the Golan which will allow Jabhat al-Nusra to safely use the corridor and to attack Hizbullah in Qalamoun and in south Lebanon. It also opens space for new attacks on Damascus.

The U.S. attack on the IS in Syria will, as the NYT headlines express, have as little effect as such attacks have in Iraq. Without coordinating air attacks with a capable, available ground force like the Syrian army such strikes on IS will make no conceivable difference. I have yet to see any report that the U.S. planes have hit some of the major weapons or ammunition depots the IS captured from the Iraqi army.

  Moon of Alabama
As in the case of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the Caucasian mujahideen in Dagestan base their struggle on a hadith saying that the end-of-the-world Imam Mehdi will fight at the head of an army of Islam coming from Khorasan - a historical region containing Afghanistan, Central Asia and Pakistan - referred to by Muslim radicals as Black Flags from Khorasan. The Taliban in Pakistan have formed a Lashkar-e-Khorasan to hunt down "American spies" who facilitate drone attacks. In Dagestan, Al Qaeda-inspired terrorists call themselves Black Flags of Khorasan.
SOURCE:
Sunday Times (Islamabad)
April 28, 2013 Sunday
Boston bombing and Pakistan
LENGTH: 914 words
DATELINE: Karachi
  Radamisto
It’s no wonder most Americans’ eyes glaze over at talk of complex Middle East policy. Just kill us some bad guys so we can watch The Voice in safety.  And as far as we're concerned, all Middle Easterners (except Israelis, of course) are bad guys.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Above All, We Cannot Allow Them to Control Any Oil

According to Agency France-Presse, [a third wave of airstrikes on Wednesday] involved targeting an oil field in Syria administered by the Islamic State, reportedly close to positions held by the group near the towns of Al-Omar and Deir ez-Zor, journalist Zaid Benjamin reported.

The US and its partners used "a mix of fighter and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 13 of airstrikes against 12 ISIL-controlled modular oil refineries located in remote areas of eastern Syria.

  RT

Unrest in Ferguson Last Night



https://twitter.com/AntonioFrench

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

You Can't Make This Shit Up

A Syrian rebel group that has reportedly received weapons from the United States criticised air strikes Tuesday by a US-led coalition against jihadists in the war-torn country.

The Hazm Movement, in a statement posted on their Twitter account, said the strikes would undermine the armed opposition and benefit President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

They described the strikes as "an attack on national sovereignty that undermines the Syrian revolution".

"The sole beneficiary of this foreign interference in Syria is the Assad regime, especially in the absence of any real strategy to topple him," the group said.

  Yahoo
"Foreign interference."

Creation of the Monster: It's STILL About the Oil

According to a little-known November report for the US Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) and Strategic Studies Department, Dividing Our Enemies, post-invasion Iraq was “an interesting case study of fanning discontent among enemies, leading to ‘red-against-red’ [enemy-against-enemy] firefights.”

The US military operation in Fallujah, largely justified on the claim that Zarqawi’s militant forces had occupied the city, used white phosphorous, cluster bombs, and indiscriminate air strikes to pulverise 36,000 of Fallujah’s 50,000 homes, killing nearly a thousand civilians, terrorising 300,000 inhabitants to flee, and culminating in a disproportionate increase in birth defects, cancer and infant mortality due to the devastating environmental consequences of the war.

[...]
”[T]his underside of the counterinsurgency coin is calculated to exploit or create divisions among adversaries for the purpose of fomenting enemy-on-enemy deadly encounters.”
The JSOU report referred to events in late 2004 in Fallujah where “US psychological warfare (PSYOP) specialists” undertook to “set insurgents battling insurgents.” This involved actually promoting Zarqawi’s ideology, ironically, to defeat it: “The PSYOP warriors crafted programs to exploit Zarqawi’s murderous activities – and to disseminate them through meetings, radio and television broadcasts, handouts, newspaper stories, political cartoons, and posters – thereby diminishing his folk-hero image,” and encouraging the different factions to pick each other off. “By tapping into the Fallujans’ revulsion and antagonism to the Zarqawi jihadis the Joint PSYOP Task Force did its ‘best to foster a rift between Sunni groups.’”

[...]

To this day, Fallujah has suffered from being largely cut-off from wider Iraq, its infrastructure largely unworkable with water and sewage systems still in disrepair, and its citizens subject to sectarian discrimination and persecution by Iraqi government backed Shi’a militia and police. “Thousands of bereaved and homeless Falluja families have a new reason to hate the US and its allies,” observed The Guardian in 2005. Thus, did the US occupation plant the seeds from which Zarqawi’s legacy would coalesce into the Frankenstein monster that calls itself “the Islamic State.”

[...]

Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials, confirmed that as of 2011, US and UK special forces training of Syrian opposition forces was well underway. The goal was to elicit the “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.”

[...]

The empowerment of the Islamist factions within the ‘Free Syrian Army’ (FSA) was a foregone conclusion of the strategy.

  MintPress News
Beyond the chaos that could have been (and no doubt was) foreseen in this strategy, according to this article…
The State Department even hired an al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan militia group to provide security for the US embassy in Benghazi – although they had links with the very people that attacked the embassy.

Last year, CNN confirmed that CIA officials operating secretly out of the Benghazi embassy were being forced to take extra polygraph tests to keep under wraps what US Congressman suspect was a covert operation “to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.”

[...]

CIA operatives along with Israeli and Jordanian commandos were also training FSA rebels on the Jordanian-Syrian border with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. In addition, other reports show that British and French military were also involved in these secret training programmes. It appears that the same FSA rebels receiving this elite training went straight into ISIS.

[...]

Classified assessments of the military assistance supplied by US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar obtained by the New York Times showed that “most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups… are going to hardline Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster.”

[...]

In August, Debkafile [an Israeli military intelligence website] reported that “The US, Jordan and Israel are quietly backing the mixed bag of some 30 Syrian rebel factions”, some of which had just “seized control of the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, the only transit point between Israeli and Syrian Golan.” However, Debkafile noted, “al-Qaeda elements have permeated all those factions.” Israel has provided limited support to these rebels in the form of “medical care,” as well as “arms, intelligence and food.

[...]

This support also went to ISIS.

[...]

In mid-2013, the Obama administration intensified its support to the rebels with a new classified executive order reversing its previous policy limiting US direct support to only nonlethal equipment. As before, the order would aim to supply weapons strictly to “moderate” forces in the FSA [Free Syrian Army].
As if anyone actually believes that to be possible.
The US government keeps track of rebels receiving assistance purely through “handwritten receipts provided by rebel commanders in the field,” and the judgement of its allies.

[...]

[P]rivately, Pentagon officials estimate that “more than 50%” of the FSA is comprised of Islamist extremists, and according to rebel sources neither FSA chief Gen Salim Idris nor his senior aides engage in much vetting, decisions about which are made typically by local commanders.
And, IS now has control over some oil fields in Iraq and is selling it through Turkey, and reportedly, Kurdistan. And, before you make a joke about how we will soon be buying oil from IS, it’s no joke.
Early last month, a tanker carrying over a million barrels in crude oil from northern Iraq’s Kurdish region arrived at the Texas Gulf of Mexico. The oil had been refined in the Iraqi Kurdish region before being pumped through a new pipeline from the KRG area ending up at Ceyhan, Turkey, where it was then loaded onto the tanker for shipping to the US. Baghdad’s efforts to stop the oil sale on the basis of its having national jurisdiction were rebuffed by American courts.

In early September, the European Union’s ambassador to Iraq, Jana Hybášková, told the EU Foreign Affairs Committee that “several EU member states have bought oil from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist organisation that has been brutally conquering large portions of Iraq and Syria,” according to Israel National News. She however “refused to divulge the names of the countries despite being asked numerous times.”

[...]

In May, Reuters revealed that Israeli and US oil refineries had been regularly purchasing and importing KRG’s disputed oil.
Yes, ExxonMobil and Chevron have been drilling under KRG contracts.
No wonder Steve Coll writes in the New Yorker that Obama’s air strikes and arms supplies to the Kurds – notably not to Baghdad – effectively amount to “the defense of an undeclared Kurdish oil state whose sources of geopolitical appeal – as a long-term, non-Russian supplier of oil and gas to Europe, for example – are best not spoken of in polite or naïve company.”

[...]

White House officials now estimate that the fight against the region’s ‘Islamic State’ will last years, and may outlive the Obama administration.
How very lucky for the US “defense” industry.

Of course, that assumes no nuclear holocaust, which may not be a well-founded assumption.
But this ‘long war’ vision goes back to nebulous ideas formally presented [in 1996] by late RAND Corp analyst Laurent Muraweic before the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board at the invitation of then chairman Richard Perle. That presentation described Iraq as a “tactical pivot” by which to transform the wider Middle East.

[...]

The 2002 Perle-RAND plan was active in the Bush administration’s strategic thinking on Iraq shortly before the 2003 war.
Yes, the Project for a New American Century. We haven’t forgotten.
The policy paper advocated a strategy that bears startling resemblance to the chaos unfolding in the wake of the expansion of the ‘Islamic State’ – Israel would “shape its strategic environment” by first securing the removal of Saddam Hussein. “Jordan and Turkey would form an axis along with Israel to weaken and ‘roll back’ Syria.” This axis would attempt to weaken the influence of Lebanon, Syria and Iran by “weaning” off their Shi’ite populations.

[...]

In 2008, the strategy re-surfaced – once again via RAND Corp – through a report funded by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command on how to prosecute the ‘long war.’

[...]

One way or another, some semblance of this plan is in motion.
Right on target.

More and more it looks like the "election" of Barack Obama was just part of the plan...who could they put in place to pacify the growing liberal resistance to Bush but who would in actuality speed the Project on its way?

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

There's Hope for Colorado

Tensions have run high in Jefferson County [Colorado] schools since three conservative candidates were elected to the school board. These new board members have suggested an extensive rewrite of the way history is taught to the area’s students to a model they believe is more patriotic.

The right-leaning board-members said they believe history teachers should teach nationalism, respect for authority and reverence for free markets. They should avoid teaching any historical events or acts that promote “civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

[...]

Conservatives around the country oppose the current federal AP history curriculum and exam because they believe that it is biased in favor of a liberal interpretation of history.

They complain that AP students are being taught a version of history that turns much of what is accepted as U.S. history on its ear and looks at the country’s history of oppression of ethnic minorities and the poor.

  Raw Story
And kudos to teachers and high school students…
Teachers objected to the proposed politicization of history in the classroom and staged a system-side sick-out last week. Now, students are following their instructors’ lead.

[...]


On Tuesday, hundreds of high school students in Jefferson County [...] walked out of classes

[...]

Tuesday’s protests were an extension of a Monday walkout, in which 250 students at Evergreen High School in Golden walked out of morning classes to protest at Jefferson County School District headquarters..

[...]

The liberal bias in the AP curriculum, [Retired New Jersey history teacher Larry S. Krieger] said, will turn students against large companies, corporations and wealthy Americans.
[...]

While the narrative may be “historically true,” he argues, “progressives are going to be the heroes in this narrative.”
We’re not interested in the truth here.

Category: We Never Learn



The Farce

Jeremy Scahill has aptly named our new Syria operation:

We’ve already entered the period when strategy, such as it is, falls away, and our leaders feel strangely helpless before the drip, drip, drip of failure and the unbearable urge for further escalation. At this point, in fact, the hysteria in Washington over the Islamic State seems a pitch or two higher than anything experienced in the Vietnam years. A fiercely sectarian force in the Middle East has captured the moment and riveted attention, even though its limits in a region full of potential enemies seem obvious and its “existential threat” to the U.S. consists of the possibility that some stray American jihadi might indeed try to harm a few of us. Call it emotional escalation in a Washington that seems remarkably unhinged.

It took Osama bin Laden $400,000 to $500,000, 19 hijackers, and much planning to produce the fallen towers of 9/11 and the ensuing hysteria in this country that launched the disastrous, never-ending Global War on Terror. It took the leaders of the Islamic State maybe a few hundred bucks and two grim videos, featuring three men on a featureless plain in Syria, to create utter, blind hysteria here. Think of this as confirmation of Karl Marx’s famous comment that the first time is tragedy, but the second is farce.

[...]

Only with Congress did a certain clarity prevail. Nothing it did really mattered. Whatever Congress decided or refused to decide when it came to going to war would be fine and dandy, because the White House was going to do “it” anyway. “It,” of course, was the Clintonesque “is” of present-day Middle Eastern policy. Who knew what it was, but here was what it wasn’t and would never be: “boots on the ground.” Admittedly, the president has already dispatched 1,600 booted troops to Iraq’s ground (with more to come), but they evidently didn’t qualify as boots on the ground because, whatever they were doing, they would not be going into “combat” (which is evidently the only place where military boots officially hit the ground). The president has been utterly clear on this. There would be no American “combat mission” in Iraq. Unfortunately, “combat” turns out to be another of those dicey terms, since those non-boots had barely landed in Iraq when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey started to raise the possibility that some of them, armed, might one day be forward deployed with Iraqi troops as advisers and spotters for U.S. air power in future battles for Iraq’s northern cities. This, the White House now seems intent on defining as not being a “combat mission.”

  Tom Dispatch
As author Robert Bolt gave Sir Thomas Moore to say in his brilliant play, "A Man for All Seasons", "Let us hope that when your head has stopped spinning, your face is to the front again.”

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

Iraq's Too Hard; Let's Try Syria

The strikes in Syria begin after six weeks of U.S. airstrikes have failed to significantly alter the landscape in Iraq, where the Islamic State has claimed vast swaths of territory. On Monday, reports emerged that dozens and potentially hundreds of Iraqi soldiers had been killed after militants overran a base north of Fallujah. An Iraqi lawmaker told The New York Times more than 300 soldiers died after the loss of Camp Saqlawiya.

  Democracy Now!
Reminds me of the old joke about looking for something lost in a place remote from the area where it was lost because it’s dark there and there’s light where the search is being conducted. Although, joke aside, are we counting on Assad’s army being the difference between success and similar Iraqi-style failure in Syria?

Wait - I forgot for a second...we want things to go the way they are going.  War is good for business.

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

P.S.  Falluja still exists.


Meanwhile...

I'm afraid to say whether Iran is our continuing arch enemy or our soon-to-be coalition ally.
David Cameron is to hold the first bilateral talks between a British prime minister and an Iranian president since the 1979 revolution when he has a face to face meeting with President Hassan Rouhani in the next two days in New York.

The meeting, a significant thaw in diplomatic relations between the countries, is designed to explore the support the Iranians can give to the fight against Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria.

The Iranians were not allowed to attend the recent Paris talks on building an international coalition against Isis, and have also been excluded from all talks about dislodging President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, including the two conferences in Geneva.

[...]

No 10 sources said: “We are under no illusion about the dangers of Iran’s nuclear programme and our approach on that is not changing. However, if Iran is willing to join the international community to defeat Isis then we will work with them on that."

[...]

No 10 said Cameron will also hold talks with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el Sisi on Tuesday. He will say the UK wants to work with Egypt in the region, but can only do so when there are inclusive governments, strong institutions, safeguards for minorities and respect for human rights.

  Guardian
Does anybody anywhere buy this shit any more?

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

Smoke 'em If You've Got 'em



I used to think a scorecard was what I needed. Now I know that won't even help me.
The Syrian foreign ministry said on Tuesday that the United States informed Damascus’ envoy to the United Nations before launching airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria.

The ministry issued a brief statement, carried by Syrian state media, saying that “the American side informed Syria’s permanent envoy to the U.N. that strikes will be launched against the Daesh terrorist organization in Raqqa.”

  Global News
How very thoughtful.
The airstrikes hit targets in and around the Syrian city of Raqqa and the province with the same name, activists said, adding that there were casualties among Islamic State militants on the ground. U.S. officials said the airstrikes began around 8:30 p.m. EDT (0030 GMT), and were conducted by the U.S., Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
THIS is our coalition of the willing these days. Our partners.  (Human Rights Watch and CIA summaries below.)

I work with a woman who says she thinks Obama is secretly part of a terrorist organization. With confederates like this coalition, one can begin to see why the yahoos might think that.
Without their consent, Syrian officials have said such airstrikes would be an act of aggression against Syria and a breach of the country’s sovereignty.

However, U.S. officials have ruled out direct co-ordination with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.
I’m confused. So all we had to do was “inform” Damascus that we were about to launch air strikes to avoid being seen as an aggressor “in breach of the country’s sovereignty”?

The whole thing smells.  I marvel there is a back room big enough to accommodate all the dealing.
[Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group,] said about 20 air strikes hit Raqqa province, adding there were casualties among jihadi fighters, mostly on checkpoints. He said that in addition to the city of Raqqa, there were strikes on the towns of Tabqa, Ein Issa and the border town of Tel Abyad on the border with Turkey.
Assad has been attacking that area himself, which is said to be an ISIS stronghold.
Government critics, and increasingly some supporters, complain that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces allowed the foreign-led ISIS to gain strength and establish its proto-state over the past year, focusing the army’s attacks more on Syrian-led militant groups whose main aim is to oust the president. ISIS has a broader goal, to remake the Middle East and establish an Islamic caliphate.

  NYT
In all fairness, I’d think that if he didn’t focus on the groups whose aim is to oust him, he would not be in a position to deal with ISIS. At any rate, he probably can’t come out and say he’s enlisted the help of the US, who has undoubtedly been instrumental in helping ISIS weaken Assad.

We create ‘em so’s we can fight ‘em.

Mark Twain would no doubt by this time have made up his mind whether the world is ruled by smart people putting us on or imbeciles who really mean it. We are all ruled by madmen.
Last week, U.S. officials told CNN that the military had everything in place it needed to strike ISIS inside Syria and was awaiting Obama's go-ahead to do so.

  CNN
It’s good to be king. No Congressional authority necessary. Oh, wait. He  claims to already have it from back when Bush invaded Iraq. There was a deal HERE, wasn’t there? Congress doesn’t want to be responsible, so they sit back and let Obama go out on his own.  And there is plenty of fear and militarism in this country to back him up (until it goes south big-time).
"This is the punch in the nose to the bully that we talked about on the playground," former Delta Force officer James Reese said. "ISIS is the bully, and we just punched him in the nose."
I don’t suppose there are any grownups around to handle this mess.

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



The Coalition  (which looks like a good fit for us):

Bahrain (who would like to continue being able to buy arms from us)


Qatar (with whom apparently the Saudis are in proxy wars in Libya, but never mind)




Saudi Arabia 





Jordan



UAE