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Total number of comments: 333 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:40)

sherm

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  • Why Obama underestimated ISIL in Syria and Iraq
    • To give credit where credit may not be due, I don't think Obama speaks his mind, or relies on his own knowledge of circumstances when he makes decisions, especially concerning international relations, and actions.

      Basically he just garnishes the standard exceptionalism cliches that have run our foreign, aka military violence and intimidation, policy. The notions of bombing for economic, educational, and social improvement can't make real sense to anyone who thinks beyond the cliches, even Harvard Law School graduates.

      In this piece Prof Cole lays out the reality of what we are warring against, and the near inevitability of our failure. Obama, the good captain, has chosen to go down with the ship, as he tries to kick the crap out of the icebergs.

  • Syrian Media Hail America as Damascus Ally, Support UN Ban on Foreign Fighters
    • If and when ISIS vanishes from the face of the earth, it will be the boot owners who will decide how to fill the void. I don't recall Obama making any mention of what comes after.

      To our way of thinking, craters, rubble, and a fair dose of human collateral damage make for a good start to build an egalitarian democratic nation.

  • Shiite Militias of Iraq Reject US Return, Threaten to Attack US Forces
    • We broke it, so we own it. That's why we broke it in the first place.

      Simple, we'll just have to add al Sadr and his corps to the rejectionist list for you know what.

  • Should US policy toward ISIL be Containment?
    • Seems as if IS landed in our earthbound "Sea of Tranquility". Imagine a strange violent quasi state appearing within two peaceful, altruistic, law abiding states, Iraq and Syria. The contrast is shocking. Were that true, a war to destroy IS may be justified.

      In the long term is there any expectation that Iraq and Syria will be of better quality, by Western standards, than they are today, and much preferable to a Saudi-like IS?

      Speaking of Saudi, how would our well connected emotional public react if videos of a bunch of Saudi beheadings went viral on YouTube.

  • Middle East "Allies" decline to Commit Forces, Resources against ISIL
    • Are there many young souls in the Middle East that are willing to leave safety to subject themselves to being maimed and killed in a war with ISIS?

      Poor Obama. It must be painful to realize that the US has the only significant ground fighting force in the world that can be put on planes, flown anywhere, and fight with professional fury whomever is pointed out to be the enemy. If he wants additional fight and die help, he'd be better off telling Kerry to visit state capitals to drum up support for activating the National Guard. .

  • Obama's ISIL Actions are Defensive, Despite Rhetoric of going on Offense
    • Aren't we confronting an administered territory, rather than a roving gang of thugs? Without praising ISIS in any way for the way it does this administration, when we bomb them and the unfortunate collateral's, we will be eliminating or degrading local governance without the slightest hint of what will fill the vacuum.

      Vengeful Shiite boots on the ground may well result in rape and pillage replacing ISIS's nasty stuff. Somalia and Yemen are so deep in the periphery of of our awareness, that who rapes and pillages who is not a public concern in the US. ISIS is as big a spot on our radar as you can get.

      Metaphorically, last night Obama announced a clumsy stroll through the Pottery Barn.

  • 3 Years War? Obama to Bomb Syria in fight against ISIL
    • In a nutshell.

    • Those three years of giving IS the "Gaza" treatment will give us time to assemble an army of egalitarian legislators and professionals that will move in as soon as all is quiet on the Western Front. (Of course they will be showered with Sunni thrown flowers as soon as they arrive.). Yawn, it's all so predictable.

      "Light at the end of the tunnel" will make a comeback in administration rhetoric and political cartoons. And shopping, at its most patriotic level, will prove that we are all in the fight.

  • New Iraqi Government: Less than Meets the Eye?
    • Seems to me that the visceral elements of this situation will smother any formal political and legislative plans. Sectarian hatred and distrust may make if difficult for Baghdad Sunnis to wage long term warfare against the IS Sunnis, especially in alliance with the US and its planned, mammoth, long term air campaign.

      Then there's the $64 question. Should IS be destroyed, who and what will take its place? A cozy (new, improved) Shiite - Kurd run regional government would be the darling of the US, but how hard will Baghdad Sunnis fight and die for this outcome?

  • Obama & Cameron find little Enthusiasm at NATO for new Iraq War
    • I feel sorry for Obama. He's cornered into a fight with an adversary that knows exactly what what our forces can and cannot do, On the other hand we have admitted that ISIS surprised us, and we know little about them. Supercomputers vs the abacus, Unlimited air power against roadside bombs, the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA against a bunch guys sitting around a fire. Obama, being pretty smart, taking this all in, and looking at recent history where there were similar conditions, must know that he is entering the swamp of no return.

  • Would a US/ NATO war in Syria be Legal in International Law?
    • Loic, I've been curious about what is intended to fill all those bomb craters that we are anxious to dig in Iraq and Syria, and I think your scenario is the the most likely. Never (leave) again.

  • What the Hackers did to Celebs? The NSA has been Doing that to All of US instead of Predicting ISIL
    • Maybe we are so used to looking for terrorists, whose acts are generally brutish and random, that we are missing the "territorialists" and their "mongol hoard algorithm".

      And knowing how devoted we are to connecting dots, ISIS may have been flooding NSA detectors with juicy irrelevant dots.

      Let's not be too harsh on the MSM for not digging into the contrast between the Snowden revelations and the ghee wiz ISIS intelligence. At this time the MSM is concerned with promoting a lunatic right senate, come next November.

  • Top 5 Reasons "Labor Day" isn't for Laborers Anymore
    • A couple of (hidden) prevailing mantras:
      Labor is a commodity, don't humanize it.
      We need a "buyer beware" constitutional amendment to defang the nanny state and its lawyers..

  • US Public Worried about ISIL, Putin-- But Climate Change is Real Challenge
    • I should have mentioned the doctrine that supports our responses to those pains, the doctrine of limited sovereignty. Basically: The US reserves the right to violate the sovereignty of other nations when US interests are in any way threatened, where interests can range from a direct attack on the US, to such things as trade, energy policy, political gain etc. Other countries have no right to adapt a similar doctrine, and the US looks unfavorably on any attempt to employ it, the exception being when such action is an supports US objectives.

      Exceptionalism at work.

    • How easy it would be for the MSM and the politicians to convert the global warming threat in to an "us against them" threat, "them" being any foreign political entity that can be tagged as a party that contributes to "global warming damage to the USA".

      As Prof Cole points out, the public is quite malleable when it comes it imagining that distant localized events could be a direct security threat to Americans, i.e. kill us right on US soil.

      The US is now an octopus like creature with a world wide network of.pain receptors. Events in almost any part of the world can trigger our pain and cause a response, Russia, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Venezuela, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, lots of African countries, China, to name some well known locations.

      To put it in harsh terms, we are bulking up to take on global warming as an external threat to the US, which will be dealt with the only way we know how, military violence.

  • Iraq: Bombs & Bullets vs. Political Process
    • The mother of all demolition derbies. One of Tip Oneal's well known wisdoms was "All politics are local". In my view, playing musical chairs in Baghdad is pretty local.

  • What do Iraq's Sunni Arabs have in common with Ferguson, Mo. African-Americans?
    • I don't think a civil war based on religious differences, and control of oil lands, has clear cut "San Juan Hill" military situations. A decisive win by either side would probably result in extreme punishment of the losers. Winning isn't everything, or the only thing.

  • ISIS to US: We'll drown you in Blood; beheads US Journalist, Holds Tikrit
    • I believe that in his remarks today, Obama has clearly declared the position that IS must be eliminated. That can only mean one thing, one more Middle East windmill to tilt at until public and political fatigue set in.link to nytimes.com

      Seems that our presumption that Iraqi regulars will willingly and enthusiastically kill Iraqi irregulars, to support central government that barely represents any interests of the Iraqi people, should be vetted by the psychology community. What would motivate a Sunni conscript to make war on Sunni IS at the behest of Shiite leaders and the US President? It is quite possible that the beheading of an American reporter is not the most atrocious event they know of.

  • Iraq: Al-Abadi garners Iranian, US, Saudi Support: But can He Unite Iraq?
    • In my simplistic view when the royal courts (official and unofficial) herald al-Abadi as the potential uniter, he is given the green light to hold his head high and request the US to demolish ISIS, since ISIS can logically be considered a serious impediment to his uniting efforts, and the Iraqi military is supposedly not up to the job.

      Violence, military and otherwise is the coin of the realm (which includes us), so it's only natural for al-Baradi to request some to fill his purse. Having advocated him for an impossible job (certainly no US politician could handle something like that), it's only fair to help him, actually in the only way we know how.

      It's going to be the same old story. Instead of the Pentagon giving the new war a cute name, I think deja vue is adequate.

  • The Long Knives Come out in Baghdad
  • Why is Obama bombing Iraq, Really?
  • Obama & Airstrikes to Protect Iraqi Kurds: 1991 Deja Vu all Over Again
    • "Apparently not only has the Iraqi federal army almost completely collapsed...."
      I've always been curious about the huge armies we developed in Iraq and Afghanistan (and maybe Vietnam). Their purpose is to fight an die in civil wars against forces the US considers enemies.

      A soldier in the Iraqi Army is expected take the lives of other Iraqis, and risk his own life, for a central government birthed out of the US invasion and occupation. Seems it might be perfectly natural for there to be Army members who would rather fight on the ISIS side than against ISIS. ISIS seems a force of Iraqis unlikely to collapse or be intimidated.

      And poor Obama has only one button on his action console - BOMB

  • Israel Still Holding Gaza Civilians Hostage, Doesn't Get Geneva Conventions
    • Hamas does have one of out cherished rights: the right to remain silent. I think that's about the limit of Israel's graciousness.

  • Top 5 Ways the US is Israel's Accomplice in War Crimes in Gaza
    • The State Department, aka Obama in this context, is telling Israel that, dwellings, infrastructure, government and private sector locations are OK targets - just leave anything with UN involvement alone.

      We don't want the IDF to sully the the pristine rectitude of precision bombing. Our wars without end are depicted as killing "bad guys (9/11 wannabees) only". Sure, once in a while we take out a wedding, funeral, kids playing in the dirt, etc. but we always follow up with a full investigation to prove the honesty of the mistakes. If only our enemies used the tactic of skirmish lines on open fields, these mistakes wouldn't happen.

  • Unlike Iraq, Iran, Libya, N. Korea, Israel has Impunity from Defying UNSC (Gaza Ceasefire)
    • Let's see, Israel has one of the best air forces in the world, warships, well armed and well trained ground forces, and the usual superb collection modern communications and warfare electronics. And the threat from the other side is tunnels.

      So Gaza gives up it's formidable tunnels, which have obviously been around long before the latest fighting, yet have not facilitated an MSM level attack on Israel. Then what does Israel give up? Not even the right to do it all over again. Hamas dare not grab a shovel, but Israel will repair its damaged equipment, replace it's lost equipment, and probably shop the US for newer and better stuff.. .

  • Israel's Gaza Campaign Endangers US Security: Why Obama & Kerry are Furious
    • With our military might, our long suit is to create absences (with a little help from our friends):Hussein, Gaddafi, The Taliban (temporarily), bin Ladin. But we don't have the tools or power to fill the absences with the the indigenous Thomas Jefferson's whom we assume are waiting in the wings. In the case of bin Ladin we assumed that al Qaeda couldn't possibly function without his brain. For a while we had our sights on Assad, but someone in the Administration took a good look at out wake, and counseled against it.

      Israel, on the other hand, functions like the dictators we deposed, with regard to the occupied territories. And we are politically incapable of accepting that view of Israel.

  • Is Rula Jebreal right about US Media Bias against Palestinians?
    • Fortunately for Israel the MSM is busy right now helping to rewarm the Cold War. Surfing the headlines one would conclude that Putin ordered the east Ukraine ethnic Russian rebels to shoot down a civilian airliner. Won't be happy until Putin does a perp walk at the Hague.

      But Israel is being helped by the alarms raised about the Gaza tunnels. Sure, Israel has nukes, but Gaza has TUNNELS!!!!!

  • Israel, Gaza and the Fatal Spirit of Versailles
    • "Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel, with an Israeli man being killed by one (the only Israeli killed in the current conflict). Over 200 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by Israeli bombs since the current round of hostilities began a week ago."

      I think the MSM was coming breathlessly close to invalidation of the Gaza-Israel symmetry notion. Evidence of asymmetry was showing its ugly head. Now, with the death of an Israeli, the notion is safe, e.g. hypothetical headline: "Death on Both Sides"

  • ABC News' Diane Sawyer Mistakes Stricken Palestinians for Israelis
    • Don't underestimate the cleverness and mendacity required to preserve the notion of ubiquitous symmetry between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In a boot on the throat situation it's not easy to develop public sympathy for the boot, but the media does its best.

  • Obama Prepares for Drone War in Iraq
    • I'm probably just naive, but is it possible that the Iraqi army soldiers are less than enthusiastic about killing fellow Iraqis for the sake of a corrupt sectarian government, and the corroded fantasies of US hegemony?

      The MIC is lulabying Obama with "Baby It's Cold Outside" - link to youtube.com - and he's having a problem putting his coat on. (Just a romantic interlude.).

  • Faced w/ Global Warming Threat, Obama fudges EPA Carbon Reduction
    • Seems to me that the operative mantra is "tickle the markets and hope for the best". The notion of directly attacking the global warming menace like we attacked the Cold War Red Menace, with trillions invested nuclear warfare hardware, is just not an option. What about something financially comparable to the building of the Interstate Highway System or space exploration? No, that would be a betrayal of market faith.

      Of course if India and China ignore reliance on the markets and initiate deliberate state funded programs to reduce carbon emissions (as they are doing), we would applaud them, as long as they didn't hinder imports of US made materials.

      As far as Republicans torpedoing the EPA goals, I think that once the natural gas/fracking/cabon industries tell the political money men to back off because those goals will turn gas into gold - the kind that shows up in GOP coffers..

  • Mr. Kerry: Why Snowden can't "Make his Case" in "Our System of Justice"
    • Of course if Snowden did "man up", came home, and somehow got to tell his side (with a duct taped mouth), that would only add to the charges against him since anything he would say will be labeled classified.

  • GOP holds hearings but in the Real Benghazi a Retired Col. is bombarding Extremists
    • It's hard to imagine the US ignoring Col Haftar's operations. He meets the gold standard for allies against terrorism (aka Muslim extremists). The Col talks the talk, and walks the walk.

      Our ubiquitous military/intelligence force has any number of ways to help out in secret, like everything else they do. This is a lot surer than drones bombing maybes in Yemen and Pakistan.

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  • No Sense of Urgency: Obama's New Solar Energy Commitments are still Just Baby Steps
    • I think "national suicide" is in the eyes of the beholder. It is accurate for those of us with ordinary means, but for those of us with extraordinary means, some adjustments to wealth accumulation strategies and dwelling locations are the key considerations. (The national internal security apparatus is already bulking up to handle the civil unrest that might impinge on those with extraordinary means.)

      Anyway, I think the nation's most imminent concern right now is "Prowlergate". Top left WP. link to washingtonpost.com

  • Alabama’s chief justice: Muhammad didn’t create us so 1st Amendment only protects Christians
    • I think judge Moore missed an opportunity. Given the sovereignty of Christianity in our country, he should have bundled the 2nd Amendment with the 1st. While perhaps implicit, the right to bear arms certainly, in the same manner, belongs exclusively to Christians, especially since it is far more tangible, and consequential than free speech.

      I think that to someone like judge Grove, Jefferson, the slave owner, carries more prestige and ascendancy, than Jefferson, the scholar with a Koran in his library.

      I wonder if he recuses himself any time a non-Christian plaintiff or defendant is involved in case before him. Seems like an easy call.

  • John Kerry admits Israeli Apartheid; and 5 Ways he is Understating It
    • sherman gallay 04/28/2014 at 3:35 pm

      The main stream media and punditry always imply (but don't get into details of) some sort of symmetry between sides the "Middle East Peace" negotiations. "Intransigent Palestinians" is a common phase, and something about the Palestinians compromising.

      But the 5 Ways Kerry is understating apartheid makes me wonder what is it that the Palestinians possess that can be offered in a give and take compromise. They have no control over the Israelis, and only constricted control over themselves. Super armed Israel's "right/no right to exist" is not a choice the Palestinians have except as a rhetorical flourish, but the Palestinian "right to exist" as a viable political entity is certainly a flexible option for Israel.

      I think what Israel really wants is "Apartheid Light". Knock off one or two of the "5 ways" so that Israel's supporters can make a stronger case for denying apartheid, but barely affecting the status quo.

  • Obama and David Brooks's Manhood Problem
    • Then there is the alligator in the playpen problem. The current US military has been tested and found wanting against foes that did not have any airpower, heavy artillery, tanks and armored personnel carriers, sophisticated communications and intelligence systems, medevac, near infinite logistic support, and in many cases, a good pair of shoes. In spite of poor overall results, the US has been able to destroy any enemy target with impunity (often without sending troops danger), and without expectation of retaliation in kind, i.e. fish jumping out of the barrel and biting us..

      But Russia has all those military capabilities we have, though maybe not as robust. So a military conflict with Russia would either a throwback to WW1, WW2, or a lurch into nuclear Armageddon. With a couple of nukes North Korea has kept us at bay. Russia, with a few thousand should do at least as well.

      Tough, virile guys like Brooks and Krauthammer know the truth, but can't admit it in public. Russia is not like Grenada, Panama, Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Waziristan, Somalia, . . . . . .. Think Godzilla and King Kong.

  • Poof! John Kerry Blames Israeli Squatting in E. Jerusalem for breakdown in Peace Talks; Bennett: It's Just Zionism
    • "The State Department rushed to affirm that Kerry blamed both sides for the collapse of his talks, but he was pretty plain about what he thought actually happened."

      The protection of the rhetorical Arab - Israeli symmetry is essential to our foreign policy. Kerry should know that. To keep the American public convinced that "Mideast Peace" is is the absence of "Mideast War", and "Mideast War", though confined to an area about the size of Massachusetts, is really a titanic battle of equals.

      Maybe Abbas should propose a 700 unit Palestinian enclave in West Jerusalem, with suitable checkpoints to prevent Israeli trespassing. Take the "Middle East Peace Process" out of the hands of warriors and three piece suits, and put it in the hands of real estate developers and zoning officers..

  • Less Food, More War: CO2 Driving Certain Global Warming, Rising Insecurity
    • As we transition from the "fight carbon" phase to the "shit happens" phase:

      Fixing this problem is hardly liable.
      The world's not WE, it's grandly tribal.
      The rich will find a comfortable mesh,
      and why worry about Bangladesh.

  • Creationists to Neil deGrasse Tyson: Evolution isn’t scientific, but the Book of Genesis is
    • More like the apples, bananas, and fresh vegetables people versus the cotton candy people.

    • Well said Grumpy!!

    • Taking the creation point of view, one might deduce some aspects of God's nature. For instance Gods species bias. Approximately 90% of all known species are insects (900,000 currently identified), and beetles are a good proportion of the insect species. (900,000 is much lower than estimates of the actual number of species that currently exist, which range as high as 30 million.)

      So bereft of the evolution option, creation entailed the instant establishment of a huge number of viable insect species, dominated by beetles. It might be inferred from this that God, to the extent that it has likes and preferences, may be more partial to the little amoral creatures than homo sapiens.

      Just a thought.

  • 5 Signs Solar Power is Taking over the World
    • NYT article indicates how intensively coal will stand its ground.
      link to nytimes.com . Not to mention that the wealthy and ferocious Republican party has coal's back.

      Meanwhile the White House is quietly shifting to the "s__t happens" philosophy. This fact sheet link to whitehouse.gov has the purpose of alerting the public that the Federal Government has lots of data that could help the public and private sectors cope with climate change damage. Sort of makes coping a cottage industry aided by a Federal download site.

      If Right wing political power and intensity could be harnessed to advocate a rapid conversion to a solar/wind energy infrastructure, instead of opposing it, the USA could be the guiding light for the rest of the world. Maybe when we see that pig heading down the runway.

  • When it is Feinstein being Spied on, Suddenly she Squawks
    • OK, now we know about the pissing contest, but nothing concerning this sentence of Sen Feinstein's statment:"The interrogations and the conditions of confinement at the CIA detention sites were far different and far more harsh than the way the CIA had described them to us."

      I think most of the American public would be satisfied with a straightforward synopsis (about as long as the Senator's full statement here) that laid out the "more harsh" extent of the interrogations.

      Seems like a good opportunity for a Constitutional scholar to step in and tell the CIA it is not a forth branch of Government, and promise Sen Feinstein a 48 hour White House turn around on her draft synopsis. Not many "Profiles in Courage" chances left in the next three years. And such actions would be better than waiting for the information to be snowdened (verb).

  • Can Int'l Community help stop Libya's Slide into Chaos?
    • NATO flew 10,000 sorties over Libya in which weapons were used. Would 20,000 have resulted in a better outcome?

      During the brief 1991 Iraq war 100,000 sorties were flown and 85,000 tons of bombs were dropped. Would 200,000 sorties have resulted in a better outcome?

      Afghanistan...........

      A while ago there seemed to be an interest in giving Syria a try, and Iran is a permanent member of our "give bombs a chance" list.

      We seem convinced that the large enough applications of airborne military violence will unleash bands of strong, fearless, incorruptible, democratic, egalitarian, natural born leaders waiting in the wings to emulate Scandinavia in their native land. But the Libya situation described in this article is the standard model.

  • Kerry Blasts Climate Denialists, equates Climate Change with Terrorism, WMDs
    • If Kerry gave the same speech in the US,, it would be a non event. The climate change deniers have enormous political and financial power,more than enough to smother the substance of the speech. And those wishing significant action to moderate climate change might find little connection between what Kerry wants other countries to do, and what the USA actually does.

      Obama has already transitioned from prevention to triage, i.e. prioritize damage control needs. Starting with the 1% and working down, seems like an intuitive approach, given that's the "mom and apple pie" way that most other national efforts are prioritized.

      As for the rest of the world, having Kerry's speech on line and freely available in all languages should be sufficient.

  • "The Iranians are Coming!" Derangement Syndrome over 1 Destroyer in Atlantic
    • Those little boats look pretty ferocious, and they might draw some blood against an attaching naval force. But we don't do attacks, we bomb from distances and altitudes that are out of harms way. A few tens of thousands of cruise missiles, and smart bombs will do the job, especially with a bit of collateral, "what, me worry?", damage thrown in.

      Of course, since Iran has no nukes to begin with, "getting the job done" will be measured Israel's degree of satisfaction, and our collective acceptance of the vital need to really hurt Iran and the Iranians bad (with no shopping interruptions in the homeland) .

  • Camel Bones and Jerusalem: Archeology Shows Bible written Late, Full of Errors
    • A possible result is that the timing of the Creationist Big Bang will be revised - changed from ten thousand years ago to eight thousand years ago.

  • Broken Democracy: Republicans poised to take Senate, Americans Reject their Platform
    • Jack, you said it! Whereas GW Bush's philosophy was "my base, right or wrong", Obama's philosophy is "My base? Oh that's just for winning elections."

      Obama, the 2008 campaigner, was an abstraction. He came into office with what could have been a huge, intelligent, and industrious base, ready to support the progressive agenda. But the real Obama didn't want any part of that. He is most comfortable with the wealthy and powerful elite. That left the progressive agenda dead in the water.

      In Obama's defense, no President has had to come into office with a significant portion of the public regarding him with visceral hatred. It had nothing to do with is politics and everything to do with his skin color. The Republicans have long experience in exploiting that hatred. (Muslim, Kenyan, socialist, dictator).

  • Dear President Obama: Tar Sands & Keystone XL are more Dangerous than an Iranian Atomic Bomb
    • Obama should also consider that he and his family will be present when "all of the above" hits the fan. 20-30 years from now, with all hell breaking loose, he and his family will be witness to, and will answer for, his most profound legacy.

      On the other hand, s__t canning Keystone might be memorialized as "one tiny step for a lame duck, and one giant step for mankind".

  • NSA Surveillance is about Control & Leverage, not Security
    • I remember the Agee episode. Interestingly the book was prohibited from sale in the US, but freely available elsewhere. Sort of a "no US eyes" security classification.

      I don't question that Agee named names, but the thrust of the book was how the CIA, in concert with other elements of the US Government worked to coerce, undermine, and overthrow various Latin American and South American governments to keep them supple and congruent with "US interests". At the time , US interests had little to do with democracy and freedom. Our main interests were to insure that the ubiquitous landless poor were governed by brutal right wing dictatorships, rather than anything with the slightest tinge of communism or socialism, and of course the proper treatment of US business enterprises..

      A minor point: the CIA operatives were not behind enemy lines, so the physical danger to them may not have been that serious.

    • I would love to see a description of the NSA's future surveillance plans, as they were just just prior to Snowden's revelations. My guess is that "breathtaking" would be suitable adjective. A short synopsis of the purpose and mission (not the PR version) of that new building in Utah would be a good start.

      Of course, the NSA is like the kid in a candy store. It's up to papa control the consumption. Evidently papa is unconcerned about obesity.

      As far as keeping us safe goes, tell that to the victims of the 100 million or so felony crimes that have occurred since 9/11.

  • The GOP's War on Science Endangering America: Climate Change, Evolution, Regulation
    • Bill,I do think that if our resources were properly mobilized and intelligently used , we could survive. However, your lifeboat scenario is probably more likely. Maybe the upcoming Keystone decision will give us a clue

    • I think it's plausible to consider that the turmoil and destruction caused by climate change presents unprecedented opportunities for further concentration of wealth and power by the strong nations, as weak nations collapse due to their inability to cope with the affects of the warming.

      A wealthy country like ours has the means and resources to cope with climate change. I think the population can be motivated to support expensive coping programs if presented as a "we versus they" paradigm, they being any nation that is perceived to be a competitive threat to our survival. In other words "this is war".

      I don't think the American people would be motivated by a call to altruism, if altruistic deeds required the transfer or expenditure of wealth to help some external entity,

      We probably will not end up resembling our dreamy notions of rectitude and exceptionalism, but those dreaming of empire will be happy.

      And the MIC and the NSA will continue to bulk up to meet the challenges.

  • War Crime: Syrian Regime Killed Hundreds of Civilians, including Children, with Airstrikes on Aleppo
    • I think the Iraq invasion and occupation stands on its own two feet as a monster war crime. We proceeded in spited of the fact that the UN weapons inspectors were far into the process of proving that the prime rationale for our actions, WMD, to be baseless (which we, no doubt, already new). The totality of the death and destruction wreaked on that poor country is blood on our hands.

      The inconsistency of your friends is a personal issue, related to friend selection, rather than a basis for debating world events.

    • You could be right Joe. An alternative could be a brutal endless war between Assad, whom we hate, the Sunni Islamists, whom we hate.

      With all the hardware we can bring to bear in a no-fly mission, the transition to shooting fish in a barrel would easy, if we could differentiate between the good fish and the bad fish.

    • What do you think a level fighting field would be like in terms of longevity and carnage? Just a question.

  • Obama will Veto new Iran Sanctions, Israel War Mandate pushed by AIPAC Senators
    • " Iran is willing to move in ways that are uncomfortable for them and contrary to their ideology and rhetoric and their instincts and their suspicions of us."

      Their ideology as spoken by the religious leaders: no nukes
      Their rhetoric - no nukes
      Suspicions of us - makes sense

      The term negotiations is a little inaccurate. The outcome we demand is is that Iran relinquish any sovereignty over its nuclear future, bombs or other endeavors. In return we will stop punishing the country for something it has never done.

  • Top 10 errors in Netanyahu's Speech Demanding Iran give up 'Genocidal' Policies
    • Maybe Netanyahu is more worried about losing control of US foreign policy in the Middle East than he is about the fantasy Iran he loves to portray. He may perceive that our "Israel, Right or Wrong" doctrine is in jeopardy.

  • NAS: From Ice Sheet Collapse to Mass Extinctions, You're not Ready for Climate Change
    • To paraphrase Tip O'Neil, all climate change politics is local. A modern industrial nation, devoid of significant altruistic concerns about the well being of external populations and lower strata internal populations, can easily overcome climate change problems by devoting sufficient resources to protecting the what the wielders of wealth and power decide to protect.

      Since many of the climate change effects, such as sea level rise, will occur simultaneously all over the globe, it would be political suicide to advocate helping save 50 million third world coast dwellers while US coast dwellers are at risk. The public will will have no problem shrugging off the 50 million.

      The focus of US wealth and power is "US interests" - we take care of me first, and if need be, me only. This NYT article lays out the various points of view

  • Take that, France: Iran has Halted Expansion of Nuclear Facilities: IAEA
    • Correct. Curtailing the sovereignty of a nation with 70-80 million citizens is a process, not an event.

      And the new nation of Aipacia (a merging of the prior nations of USA and Israel) is quite adept at the process.

      The US has honed the art with decades of practice on CUBA.
      Example: If you buy a Cuban cigar in Toronto, thinking you can legally go back to your hotel room (or anywhere else on earth) to smoke it,no, the purchase puts you in violation of "Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 515". (And we have an extradition treaty with Canada.)

  • Is the White House Right that More Iran Sanctions put US on "Path to War?"
    • I think that for our fearless leaders, including the brass, "unforeseen things" have been so common since Vietnam (or maybe Korea) that there is little expectation of positive results by way of our military violence.

      On the other hand, the use of military violence seems to provide a rush, initially at least. Put a USA boot on the ground somewhere and it's instant us-against-them, kill-or-be-killed, cost-no-object. When all the dust settles and we find few positives to justify the carnage, we shrug and start looking for a new enemy ws

  • Dear Press: Stop Enthusing About Habitable Planets until People like Va.'s Cuccinelli Stop Destroying this One
    • To paraphrase Tip O'Neal, I think the applicable paradigm is "all survival is local". If the UN determined that a cohort of a billion people would perish due to the affects of global warming, the gut (and voting booth) reaction would not be "let's save those people", rather it would be "I'll do anything to stay out of that cohort".

  • Elites Stick together against Us: Feinstein Slams NSA Merkel Tap
    • These characteristics are exactly what will make it almost impossible to to deal with global warming as a world problem, to be solved for the benefit of all people.

      The rich will flock to the temperate archipelago wherever is happens to be at the time. Poor countries will be scolded for not helping themselves, while we frack and burn carbon at deliciously low cost.

      Of course NSA will do its part to track, monitor, and digitize any party that appears to want more benefits or help than we intend to allocate to that party.

  • Top 10 Ways Ted Cruz & the Tea Party Weakened America with Shutdown
    • In my view the last minute solution to the crisis is almost as bad as the crisis itself. The patient has been given an injection that will keep it alive for 90 to 120 more days in the hopes that a long lasting cure will be found by then.

      The new cure must somehow markedly change the behavior and beliefs of a metastasized Tea Party, and firm up the backbone of a President who finds it easier to accommodate the Right, than stick up for the Left (his only constituency, and a halfhearted one at that).

      "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door." has been in deep trouble for a long time, and may be in a lot more trouble by next Feb.

  • Ghoul's Glossary: Shutdown
  • Why Israel's Plan to Bomb Iran is more Dangerous to Israel than Obama-Rouhani Diplomacy
    • My guess is that when the US/Iran negotiations begin, the US will demand that Iran relinquish its sovereignty in regards to all aspects nuclear. In other words, Iran would not be able to make unilateral decisions. It should not be surprising if many Iranians consider this a humiliation, especially severe because the US acts as Israel's agent.

      By presenting Iran with unacceptable conditions, the sanctions are protected. And that's fine with Israel and the neocons, because the sanctions will hurt Iran much more than some air strikes.

      Israel knows that the US has excellent staying power when it comes to sanctions. Eleven years for Iraq followed by an invasion. fifty-three yeas for Cuba and no end in sight.

  • Why Ted Cruz Should sit down and Shut Up: Countries with Social Safety Net Happiest
    • Ted Cruz is working the MSN profile for getting attention - make lots of right wing noise, and throw in some outrageous (by norms of the sane)positions that synchronize with the feral Obama hatred. Once celebrity status is obtained, Cruz will get immediate praise for any movement towards moderation, e.g. "statesman like".

      Speaking of cruelty towards the poor, I think the 1% - 99% divide is a good example.About 25% of families have a household income exceeding 100k. About 25% of families have an income less than 30k. Yet the 99% mantra includes both groups. But I think many families in the lower 25% live in desperate ways, while the those in the upper 25% should be having a reasonable to royal existence. The 99% are not in the same boat - some are in yachts, and a lot are in very leaky rowboats.

  • The World after the Kerry-Lavrov accord on Syria
    • In my nutshell it all boils down to this: The sanctity of conventional weaponry, irrespective of the nature of the targets, has been preserved. An ironic tribute to Alfred Nobel.

      And the beekeepers' will continue to be judged by the crease in their pants and the shine on their shoes, rather than the health of their bees. God bless the the beekeeper punditry.

  • President Obama's Doubtful Grounds for Military Action against Syria
    • I think American exceptualism is personified in our unwritten, uncodified "doctrine of limited sovereignty":

      - The sovereignty of the US is absolute in every aspect of its existence.

      - The sovereignty of any other nation is mitigated to the extent that a nation acts in any way that could contradict or compromise any US interests. (Mr. Snowden provided us ample evidence of this.)

      Our enforcement tool is to ever retain and continually enhance our status as the "world's most heavily armed nation". Politically reinforced xenophobia helps too.

  • On Obama's attack on Syria: Donohue/ Bacevich
    • Maybe it is time to take a look at the endless stream of weapons that have been developed since 1913 to see if they might cause as much or more misery to human victims than chemical weapons.

      The entire cold war was based on using nuclear weapons if it ever turned hot. Has there been some authoritative study that determined the the suffering caused by a nuclear, or atomic, weapon is more benign that the suffering from a chemical weapon?

      How about one of our favorite Vietnam weapons, napalm bombs. Has it been determined the suffering from napalm is more benign than the suffering from chemical weapons.

      I'm not saying that chemical weapons should not be banned. But we might have a few weapons in our arsenal that, by the standards of 1913, deserve the same treatment.

  • How America's 'Espionage Empire' is Paid for: The 'Black Budget' (Queally)
    • It seems to me that the huge investment in surveillance is predicated on our enemies being incessant, ignorant, yakkers. They simply can't keep quiet about their destructive plans.

      But if our enemies are quiet and intelligent, they can set the intelligence community's hair on fire by dumping loads of bogus terror hints into the communications infrastructure. The intelligence that resulted in closing all those US embassies and consulates in August, might be an instance of this - our hair caught fire and nothing happened.

      I think a good mantra for the surveillance machine is: "Build the haystacks and the needles will come."

  • Obama goes to Congress on Syria as his International Support Collapses
    • It's a good thing that we only have to preoccupy ourselves with with the political issues in this matter. So far the public opponents of the attack have not been asking how many Syrians will be killed and maimed by whatever military action we take, or even whether the action will prevent another chemical attack.

      No American blood will be shed while we shed Syrian blood. We will launch cruise missiles at a distance guaranteed not to place the US military in harms way (even one US fatality could start a national calamity). The US officials with the most serious responsibility are those tasked with debunking every report of Syrian civilian casualties, mainly by posthumous promotion of non-combatants to Assad privates and corporals.

      The decision to use chemical weapons is probably attributable to a few high ranking officials, including Assad. But like our military force, they will make sure they are out of harms way when the missiles start to land. But for our purposes, the unprotected are suitable subs.

  • Invoking International Law Against Obama: Old Europe, New Europe and NeoCon Fail
    • Good wolf story Joe, but more than likely the poor boy would be eaten by the ubiquitous lions and tigers that have been chowing down on the Syrian population for the past two years.

    • Obama is nicely establishing the precedent that any nation can take military action against any other if the target nation violated some "solemn" treaty.

      Since the US has never been anointed by the world's nations to be the official retribution agent for "solemn" treaty violations, it stands to reason that actions taken by "The Worlds Most Heavily Armed Nation" can indeed be precedents for unilateral actions taken by any other nation.

      Also reinforced the notion that it's not how many are killed and maimed, it's the weapons used. In the Syrian war something like 50 people were killed by conventional weapons to one by chemical weapons. The former group arouses serious hand wringing by our altruistic leaders, while the latter group arouses the need for violent retribution.

      Yes we will deliberately add the the Syrian death toll, but with the pride of knowing that it was done with conventional weapons.

  • Obama's Reassurances about Domestic Surveillance are not Reassuring
    • Obama is who he is, just as we all just who we are. No reason to expect markedly different persona to emerge during the remainder of his term.

      A huge energetic and competent base elected him in 08, not knowing that the base he was comfortable with lived elsewhere - on a very narrow NYC street and in large five sided building in Virginia. He signaled his base preference early on putting a bunch of harmless 125 hitters in his cabinet (being married to Bill does not make one a better batter).

      With his inherent coziness with the power elite he could have made incremental libertarian oriented changes to surveillance operations. Instead he became a total supporter.

  • Fox to Reza Aslan: Why would a Muslim write a book about Jesus?
    • Could have been an interesting interview if there was a shred of intellectual curiosity about the subject matter, instead of a superficial, but expected, Fox attack on the authors standing to write the book in the first place.

      Given the author's premise that Jesus was, in the main, a champion of the poor and unprivileged, the book should enhance image of Jesus in the eyes of liberal non-believers.

  • Pentagon: Americans must give up Liberties to fight "enemies" but we won't say who they are (Currier)
    • The secrecy can also permit the use of our military violence to affect local politics in the secret target countries.

      The propagandized notion is that all of these known and unknown enemies have as their main objective to visit the US and blow something up, or down an airliner. This notion makes the enemies patently evil and fully deserving of being eliminated (along with anyone who happens to be within the killing circle of our bombs).

      But within our archipelago of security interests, aka any Muslim entity not lead by a compliant absolute monarch, there are many conflicts and power competitions that have nothing to do with inflicting damage on our Homeland. The secrecy makes it easy to interfere in these local activities using our massive bombing and bribing (B&B) capabilities. Of course, all in the name of our God blessed "National Interest".

  • Congress betrays vow to Uphold Constitution, abrogates 4th Amendment; Snowden is Better
    • I'd like congress to pass legislation that prohibits the Administration from expending any funds whatsoever to restrain or interfere with Snowden's travel outside the US.

      Of course Obama can just drop the charges and let Snowden return a free man, but I think that is one more "Profile in Courage" episode the President will pass up.

  • Dear Royal Baby: We Americans apologize for our Revolution; please be our Absolute Monarch
    • Could the strength and durability of modern political hypocrisy possibly be traced to our freedom loving, slave owning Founding Fathers? Maybe their practice and tolerance of slavery is a more enduring aspect of their charm than their adversity to "taxation without representation".

      As for the royal tot, I wish he could just be known as "King" rather than some trivial given name. Even if he never becomes a king, the instant super-celebrity status will take our mind off the bad stuff.

  • Bye, Bye Florida: Scientists find the last time it was this hot, Seas rose 65 feet
  • "Whoever Speaks of 1967 borders speaks of Auschwitz": Israel Cabinet not Serious about talks on a Palestinian State
    • OK.
      The talks proceed.
      Israel's going in position: The current geographical distribution of West Bank Israeli parcels, their boundaries, and their supporting infrastructure and controls, are not subject to negotiation. Nor will we concede the right to change, or add to, these elements at our discretion.

      Our biblical scholars have determined from a study of the huge multitude of greed, arrogance, and hate driven violent events of that period, an argument could be made, that, with regard to the West Bank and Gaza, our Hebrew forbears came out on top. We bring this up so that you will understand the passion that bulwarks our negotiating positions.

      But, we will entertain negotiations on the degrees of severity we use to control your indigents. For example: A pledge of absolute non violence in expressing your dissatisfaction with us (a spontaneous Gandhiism if you like), certainly could have an impact on the severity. After a successful demonstration period of several years, of course.

      Palestinian response: (sorry, we have just learned that the Palestinian representatives are waiting in line at various checkpoints so as to proceed home.)

    • Why even include the Palestinians in the Occupation, aka Peace, Talks? They can't even be asked to accept the status quo, because there is no status quo in the Israeli plans (other than when owning every square foot).

      What does the prisoner have to offer in negotiations with the warden, anything other than docile subservience?

  • Detroit's Bankruptcy and America's Future: Robots, Race, Globalization and the 1%
    • "The rich will inherit the temperate zone."

      When you solve capitalism's quadratic, polynomial, seven dimensional equations for "climate change", that's the answer that pops up.

    • Wow! Great piece.
      Of course, the first thing us free-enterprisers will do is a three hop metadata check on you.

      The Detroit story is a great example of capitalism's flexibility. As the pie gets smaller just increase the capitalists' slice size. So, in Detroit's case, they get a 359 degree slice, and the rest get a one degree slice.

      You are proposing a homogenous "steady state" world as opposed to our current "growth for the rich and steady (or declining) state for everyone else". The "forever poor" is a serious element in any wealth concentration strategy.

  • Top Ten Ways Egypt Actually Does deeply Matter to the United States
    • Sounds to me like a rationale for favoring a return to the pliable, bribeable, West/Israel friendly, military dictatorship that was temporarily interrupted by democratic yearnings.

      I wonder whether the young Egyptians see the primary role of their country to be a smoothly operating, predictable, logistics facilitator for Western markets, aka "don't rock the boat".

      I think the Administration has already decided on guns for military and porta-potties for the demonstrators.

  • Egyptian PM Biblawi: Egypt had Left the "Arab Group" to Join the "Islamic Group"
    • What Biblawi is trying to say is that a return to the Mubarak ShangriLa cannot be considered a coup - difficult to argue unless you doubt that those were Egypt's glory days.

      Is stating that security comes first the same as saying the Egyptian military establishment comes first, and "security" means internal political control? Just sounds like that to me.

      My overall take is don't start removing the porta-potties from Tahir Sq.

  • The Rebellion Movement Denounces Mansour's Constitutional Principles as Dictatorial
    • Old Chinese proverb:

      One sculptor can turn a block of marble into a Venus De Milo. One hundred sculptors will turn it into chips.

  • Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Calls for 'Uprising' as Plan for Elections is Announced
    • In the abstract what is the proper behavior for an elected political party, and those that support it, when thrown out of office by a military coup?

  • Has NSA Spying Killed US "Cloud" services, Email in Europe, Brazil?
    • Might seem like a petty diversion, but I think we should consider that it is the FBI, not NSA, that instigated the collection of all this domestic surveillance data. My guess is that when the FISA court plays fast and loose with the fourth amendment, it is because the FBI, Homeland Security, and CIA asked it to. NSA is just the FBI's "peek and parse geek".

      Quote from FISA Verizon order:
      "This Court having found that the Application of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for an Order requiring the production of tangible things from Verizon Business Network Services, Inc. on behalf of MCI Communication Services
      Inc., d/b/a Verizon Business Services (individually and collectively "Verizon")satisfies the requirements of 50 U.S.C. ? 1861,IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, the Custodian of Records shall produce to the National Security Agency (NSA) upon service of this Order, and continue production."

    • Anyone who believes that the French and German governments are engaged in similar activities should provide some evidence that it's true.

      I don't doubt that many countries use similar technologies and techniques to conduct surveillance, but I doubt that any, except maybe the UK, come anywhere close to the scope and reach of the US.

      Presidential Policy Directive 20 lays out a pretty breathtaking set of cyber defensive and offensive objectives. I doubt that Germany, France, and Brazil have similar world encompassing plans.
      link to guardian.co.uk

  • Evo Morales of Bolivia joins in Offering Leaker Snowden Asylum
    • Speaking of south America, Glen Greenwald co-authored an article yesterday in a major Brazilian daily, O Lobo, spilling more Snowden beans. Yes, NSA was trolling for terrorists in that country too. You never know what you'll find among records of tens of millions of Brazilian communications.

      A major bonus in Glenn's Guardian article is a link to a Charlie Rose interview with two Guardian editors key to the Snowden story. Charlie threw every significant establishment cliche at them, and they hit 'em all out of the park. Definitely worth watching.

      link to guardian.co.uk

  • Snowden: US now using deprivation of Citizenship as a Weapon
    • Making over $120,000 at age 29, seems analogous to a college athlete skipping a degree to join the pros.

      Might start a fun (commentariat) "dialogue" on the value of a high school education.

      And being condemned to live in the transit lounge of a Russian airport does look like the loss of US citizenship. Spending long years within the US penal system instead of the transit lounge doesn't make citizenship all that appealing.

  • Top Ten Ways the Beltway Press will treat Gen. Cartwright differently from Snowden
  • So When will Dick Cheney be charged with Espionage? His Crime was the Same as Snowden's
    • I wonder whether the terrorists learned anything new, that would affect their operations. For years we have been using every surveillance technology known to find and destroy would be terrorists and other enemies. The Taliban, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and our adversaries in Iraq have been exposed to our surveillance systems on a daily basis for over ten years (over twenty if you include the Iraq sanction period).

      Maybe I am naive to suppose that the terrorists, enemies, and their supporting communities, knew, prior to Snowden, that we are trying to capture every single one of their communications regardless of the transmission method used, and are very good at it.

      If that is so, Snowden is guilty informing the populations of the US and the rest of the world that the good guys are getting surveillance treatment similar to the bad guys, and telling the our enemies nothing that would change their methods.

      Maybe our adversaries are pleased that the data collection is so enormous that the "dot population" is too extreme for the "dot connectors".

  • Who you Call is Far more Revealing than what you Say: Landau on Gov't Spying (Democracy Now!)
    • Chris, I think we are building haystacks to hide our latest global weapon system, for lack of abetter name: "Presidential Policy Directive 20", link to guardian.co.uk

      PPD-20 directs all the applicable agencies to go all out in developing defensive and offensive cyber capability. The offensive part is termed "cyber effect".
      Definition:"Cyber Effect: The manipulation, disruption, denial,degradation, or destruction of computers, information or communications systems, networks, physical or virtual infrastructure controlled by computers or information systems,or information resident thereon."

      You don't need that big Utah thing to find the next Underwear Bomber, but for PPD-20, it's essential.

    • The No Fly List has over 89,000 names (link to no-fly-list.com). Check to see if you are on it. And take a look at these videos:
      link to cbsnews.com
      link to abcnews.go.com

      The terrorist watch list, Official name:Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) (www.nctc.gov/docs/Tide_Fact_Sheet.pdf), has 845,000 names on it. The combined population of North and South Waziristan is less than that. The combined active duty strength of the Army and Marine Corp is less than that.

      Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev (older brother) was at one time on TIDE but taken off. There was a public outcry about this - we had him in our sites and let him go. At the time I believe there were 700,000 names on the list, Look at this as "700,000 red flags", or "700,000 dots" waiting for connection. Don't you think all the kings data, and all the kings geeks would have hard time predicting what one red flag/dot would do several years down the road?

  • Top Ten Ways the US Government will Smear, Slight Whistleblower Edward Snowden
    • David Brooks really got the ball rolling in today's Times.link to nytimes.com

      What really gets me is what a snob Brooks is, making a big deal of Snowden quitting high school. If, as he claims, he was recently making $200,000 a year in Hawaii, maybe quitting high school was a good career move.

      The question Brooks and a lot of other critics of Snowden can't answer is: If Snowden didn't reveal what is going on, who would?

  • We Misunderstood Barack: He only wanted the Domestic Surveillance to be Made Legal, not to End It
    • Late breaking epiphany. This is not about keeping us safe. That's just cover for implementing grandiose strategies for sustaining our position of power and wealth in the world.

      As evidenced since 9/11, terrorist forces arrayed against us are tiny in every dimension. Even 9/11 required miniscule resources (and some faulty structural engineering) to accomplish what it did. As careless and open the Boston Marathon brothers were, they did not attract enough attention from the national security infrastructure to get noticed. (One did temporarily get on the terrorist database, link to nctc.gov, a list of over 800,000 names). It's not conceivable to me that a million square feet facility is being built in Utah to keep us "safe" from this sort of threat.

      What does make sense is that all this surveillance power is being developed to implement Obama's classified memo on the use of cyberspace for national security purposes - link to guardian.co.uk.

      Excerpts:
      "The United States has an abiding interest in developing and
      maintaining use of cyberspace as an integral part of U.S.
      national capabilities to collect intelligence and to deter,
      deny, or defeat any adversary that seeks to harm U.S. national interests in peace, crisis, or war."

      "U.S. National Interests: Matters of vital interest to the
      United States to include national security, public safety,
      national economic security, the safe and reliable functioning of "critical infrastructure," and the availability of "key resources." "

      All this NSA stuff is just an additional weapon system for our quest to sustain world domination. We'll never give up all the other weapon systems we already have.

    • In my view the basic question is what does Obama mean by keeping Americans "safe"? I presume he means the absence of injury and death due to (Muslim)terrorist incidents. Aurora, Virginia Tech, Newtown etc don't count. Nor do the roughly 3000 reported violent crimes that occur on the average day - 200 rapes, 35 murders, 830 robberies, 1800 aggravated assaults. And don't forget to leave out the roughly 25,000 property crimes a day.

      So this huge expensive surveillance that touches every phone and net user helps make us safe from what? It was not a factor in the Boston incident, the Shoe and Underwear Bombers' attempts, the Ft Hood shooting, and the feeble Times Square SUV bombing. Seems like most of the prevented incidents were FBI sting operations - no FBI, no incident.

      We tend to make heroes out of terror victims thus exaggerating the impact of the incident as a whole. This in turn provides a rationale for more security and more funding. Nothing similar occurred in the wake of the April Texas fertilizer plant fire that kill more people and caused far more property damage. And more vigorous government inspections and safety enforcement might have prevented the Texas disaster.

      Depends on what you mean by the word "safe".

  • NSA-Verizon Surveillance: Welcome to the United States of Total Information Awareness
    • There is away to make lemonade out of this (humor me). Every morning when I check my e-mail I know for sure that some are originated with criminal intent, even the ones from young Russian beauties that find me irresistible. Sometimes I get the same message several times a day. I imagine that almost everyone with an e-mail account experiences this.

      On to the lemonade. Imagine if a small piece of NSA's digitpower was dedicated to finding these crooks and scammers, then maybe block their traffic, or add an obvious tag indicating criminal intent. I think this would make us "safer" than trying to find a hard core terrorist that is too naive to realize that his phone and net gadgets are tapped.

    • For this data collection strategy to work at all, records of every single communication must be collected. Duplicates of the Verizon order must have been issued to every telecommunications company, whether mobile, fixed, or net based.

      I think the first question the reporters should ask is who else gets the the same directives as Verizon? Since the cat is out of the bag, everyone in this country has a right to know if their carrier is doing the same thing.

      Another interesting line of inquiry would be the level of integration this database has to other national data bases such as name-to-phone number and name-to-location. Could an FBI agent log in, type two or more names, and get a listing of all phone call between the parties, and the associated metadata? Probably had at least that capability from the start.

      In the movies the bad guys and girls use those anonymous, throw away cellphones. I wonder if this practice is about to migrate us innocent surveillees. And I wonder how far along the administration is on killing the anonymous cellphone.

  • Should Memorial Day include Commemoration of Thoreau?
    • Sean, I think you wasted some very thoughtful insults. I certainly did not say or suggest anything negative or derogatory about Memorial day or military members. My subject is the almost total lack of concern for the unprovoked damage we do to countries and populations subjected to our illegal/immoral wars.

      I don't think a "vastly superior intellect" is necessary to conclude that the unprovoked destruction of Iraq was a crime of monstrous proportions. Maybe just a little "do unto others..." introspection will suffice.

    • I suppose it would be beyond the pale to have any sympathy, empathy, or remorse for those casualties on the other side of our illegal/immoral wars. Such emotions might poison our enthusiasm for future adventures, e.g. Iran, and eternal "network" demolition drone strikes.

      Maybe a moment of silence for "collateral damage" would make do.

  • Checkpoint: The Every Day Life of Humiliation for Palestinians (Short Documentary)
    • Great depiction of the symmetry between the two parties. Kind of like Jim Crow, separate but equal.

      It's hard to see where the term "Peace Process" comes from. Where is the "war" that needs to be ended? Could it be that it is the Israelis' total unyielding domination against the Palestinians' unruly and argumentative reaction to the domination?

      Of course from our Israeli controlled (dominated?) perspective, there is no rational reason for those 46 years of humiliation to be the root cause of violent reactions by the Palestinians. Israel is no King George III.

  • "If you Eat a 2000 Hamburgers in the Name of Vegetarianism, You aren't an Extremist Vegetarian"; Nabil responds to Woolwich Murder
  • Are Chemical Weapons use in Syria really Obama's Red line? (Feaver)
    • Approximately 70,000 Syrians have been killed since the uprising started I have yet to see what portion were killed by sarin, but it seems to be very few, if any. What a wonderful gift to Assad it would be if the UN and independent nations, e.g. the US, ordered him to STOP USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS. All of a sudden the focus is on the types of weapons the Syrian Army can use to kill fellow Syrians.

      Assad calls Obama on a secure line and assures he is taking extraordinary measures to insure that chemical weapons never leave the warehouse. He calls other heads of state and the UN Secretary General and gives the same message, and he really means it.

      Red lines go back in the closet, international treaties retain their validity, a win for the community of nations, and an imperceptible decrease in Assad's military capacity to wage war. If this cause celebre can keep us out Syria, that's good enough.

    • I think it is safe to say that "WMD" does not mean what it used to. When the living Boston suspect was charged with the use of WMD, I Googled the US code referenced in the indictment to see how a pressure cooker, loaded with mild explosives, qualified. It certainly does. Here are the applicable parts of the Code.

      18 USC § 2332a - Use of weapons of mass destruction

      (2) the term “weapon of mass destruction” means—
      (A) any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title;
      (B) any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors;
      (C) any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector (as those terms are defined in section 178 of this title); or
      (D) any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life; and

      SECTION 921

      (4) The term “destructive device” means—
      (A) any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas—
      (i) bomb,
      (ii) grenade,
      (iii) rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces,
      (iv) missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce,
      (v) mine, or
      (vi) device similar to any of the devices described in the preceding clauses;

      That pretty much covers every explosive ordinance used in the past several hundred years. So Assad and his adversaries pretty much do WMD on a daily basis. Possibly a very small number of the tens of thousands killed were victims of poison gas.

      So our presumed "red line" marker for intervening in Syria is not that Assad has killed tens of thousands of his citizens with WMD other than poison gas, it's for killing a small but unknown number of citizens with poison gas. Should he pledge to limit his ordinance to benign types such as cluster bombs, rockets, heavy artillery, 1000 pound bombs etc., he will have avoided pulling us across the "red line". Add to that the sense that a defeated Assad may not be the best result, and, given our track record, intervention may result in another bloody, costly, no-win humiliation.

      You couldn't make this up if you tried.

  • Is LindJohn's notion of an Enemy Combatant Racist? How about attempted Assassination of the Commander in Chief?
    • It seems that Tamerlan would have been the perfect target for one of those FBI orchestrated sting operations. The other sting candidates needed a lot of prodding, financing, logistic support, and patronizing to get them to pull the triggers on those FBI toy pistols. Tamerlan was ready, willing, and eager. (It's ridiculous to think that the FBI was in fact running a sting on Tamerlan and he got to far out front, isn't it?)

    • I think LinJohn is less complex than racism and religious bigotry. It is basically a stoker in the boiler room of the USS Hegemony. Keep that ship a'movin, and keep a lookout for those give-peace-a-chance pirates.

      The USS Hegemony proved its non-discriminatory bonifides when it turned it's guns on white Christian Serbia in 1999. Google it up.

  • CNN Fail: Imaginary "Dark Males," "Accents," and "Arrests" Haunt Reporters
    • Slight divergence. Last night I saw the movie "The Gatekeepers". The movie is a candid commentary on Israeli anti terrorism strategies by six retired heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security organization that is responsible for anti terrorism operations. No joy or arrogance, the common sentiment:"winning every battle and losing the war."

      A great way for CNN to regain some stature would be to license the movie, show it in prime time a few times, and then invite the President for an interview to get his reaction. A light touch would have Wolf Blitzer sitting tied and gagged in the audience, unable to defuse the stark commentary of these six knowledgeable men, or help the President articulate and justify the rectitude of his assassination program, in the face of that commentary.

      Apologize for the digression, but please see this movie.

  • Why this and not that? America's topsy turvy priorities
    • The Republican Party is "lost" tribal,
      And by lore it will never be liable
      For all the bad things
      That await in the wings,
      So why should it ever be pliable

  • Dear Rightwing Catholic Islamophobes: Pope Francis just washed the feet of a Poor Muslim
    • If Pope Francis' conservatism means conserving the Church's wealth, power, and energy so that it can be devoted to helping those most in need, I'm all for it.

      I think the selfish wealthy don't really despise the poor. After all the poor are a big part of "the help" that makes being rich so nice and comfortable. In my view they despise skimming off bits of wealth to help the needy. Skim off a penny here and a penny there, and before you know, it adds up to the price of a good cigar.

  • Israeli Right: Obama Undermined Netanyahu, Endangers Israel with Call for Palestinian State
    • We love to use the term "brutal dictator" to describe those autocratic leaders that impinge on US interests. Couldn't the term be a viable epithet for the aggregate Israeli treatment of the Palestinians?

      As you say, Obama is going with the Romney plan, which is hardly shocking given his reluctance to ever swim upstream. But if the current situation is accepted by the US as the status quo, we should at least drop the descriptive term "Middle East Peace", and simply replace it with "Israeli Occupation".

  • Falsity of Nuclear Accusation against Iraq Was Known before Bush's Invasion
    • I'll always remember something Hans Blix said at the time of the inspections (not verbatim): How can you have 100% confidence that the WMD exist, and zero knowledge of where they are?

      Anyone who felt the real rationale for invading Iraq was the WMD, would become quite skeptical of the Bush administration claims when the UN inspection results started coming in.

      But I don't recall any such reaction from the major political players (e.g.Clinton,Kerry) or the big media players. No shouts of HUH?

      The mood was that the Iraq invasion was going to be a piece of cake, and if you wanted a forkful, you better not argue.

  • Obama & Brennan Brought GOP Filibuster on themselves by Extreme Secrecy on Drones
    • Joe, every single one of your retorts resemble the standard line we get from the administration and the supporters of the current national security policies and practices.

      Over the past 12 years "trust me" has lost its edge. And, with all due respect, "trust Joe" is not a more convincing alternative.

    • Mohammed Atta and his 9/11 team spent many months in Germany and the US working on the plan, or a host of plans. They traveled freely and lived openly. Their physical arrest would have been a peace of cake for any law enforcement agency. However all the king's horses, and all the king's men did not discover what these men were up to until after 9/11.

      Yet, we are expected to accept that the same agencies now have a perfect knowledge of who is planning an attack on the US, no matter how remotely they are located, and how obscure they are. Put em on the list.

    • "does not foreclose on, the U.S. government killing a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil who is not flying a plane into a building, who is not robbing a bank, who is not pointing a bazooka at the Pentagon, but who is simply sitting quietly at a cafe, peaceably enjoying breakfast?"

      To bad there was no discussion about the vulnerability of the other some 6 billion,600 million earth inhabitants. Might have lead to an enlightening discourse on an interesting element of American exceptionalism.

      My gut feeling is that the CIA and DoD have disrupted more than a few peaceful breakfasts in several countries that happen not to be the USA.

  • "Argo" as Orientalism and why it Upsets Iranians
    • "I know some of the former hostages, and deeply sympathize with their trauma. Nothing justifies what was done to them."

      I guess my question would be: What could be considered a legitimate quid pro quo in response to the US key role in removing the democratically elected government in 1953 and imposing the Shah's harsh reign? Given the horrors of the Shah's reign, and its full support by the US, the hostage taking hardly rises to an "eye for an eye" level.

      The US is hyper devoted to the eye for an eye concept, and it's often difficult to detect our loss of an eye.

      We bombed and invaded Grenada because Cuban construction workers were lengthening the island's runway.

      We bombed and invaded Panama because it's dictator (a prior friend) was allegedly involved in the drug trade.

      We bombed and invaded Afghanistan because it hosted al Qaida, but had no role in 9/11.

      We bombed and invaded Iraq, I guess because we could.

      While in Iraq we held about 25,000 Iraqi men in prison without charges.

      If we consider the hostage taking as payback, it is hardly significant compared to our own very strongly supported endeavors of that nature.

  • Despite Offer of Direct Talks, U.S. Intensifies Economic War Against Iran (Democracy Now!)
    • Again, the symmetry of asymmetry. There is no war between the US and Iran. What we have is the US working hard to destroy the Iranian economy and seriously harm the well being of its citizens - sort of the economic equivalent of invasion and occupation.

      In a way a bit worse, because if we invaded and occupied, it would be our responsibility to to assure the well being of the citizenry. With sanction we don't ever have to take any responsibility for the damage done (no hand wringing about the eleven year Iraq sanctions).

      So what is left to bargain about? We tell Iran to capitulate to whatever our demands are or the sanctions will continue, and potentially morph into a military attack on the country. Iran must accept that it is a pariah among nations, so distrusted that it cannot have sovereignty over its use of nuclear energy.

      Same old story about the hobnail boot complaining about the throat it's stepping on.

  • Bad Precedent: Obama's Drone Doctrine is Nixon's Cambodia Doctrine (Dietrich)
    • The drone doctrine casts the imminent al Qaida threat as if it was similar to the threat of German U-boats off the Atlantic coast during WWII.

      In reality, the droning is an extermination program that is far removed from the notion of warfare. We identify al Qaida members, acquaintances, affiliates, believers, etc. as best we can from imperfect intelligence (remember Iraq's WMD), then build a resume that likens these people to U-boat captains off the coast of New York. Once they get on the "hit list", the extermination bureaucracy takes over and kills them in clinical fashion with nary a spec of military confrontation, or public explanation, or need to admit errors.

      And considering who the master list reviewer is, droning adds a breathtaking new capability to the "palace guard".

  • On How Americans are being Gouged and Made more Unequal by the Internet Monopolies (Moyers Video Interview)
    • When now a precocious three year old in Tierra del Fuego can download porn from a server in Siberia at no incremental cost to the parents, I don't think lack of connectivity and bandwidth can be the route cause of any of our problems.

      The term "information age" is rarely heard these days because a large majority of the people have connectivity and bandwidth that would be science fiction thirty years ago, yet where is their evidence that it has brought us broad wealth, political sophistication, or communal understanding. The Internet is a great all-you-can-eat candy store, and I eat my share, but I don't think it has proved to be an improving influence on society, yet.

  • Top Ten Surprises of the Brennan Hearing on CIA Torture and Drones
    • I think that when a large bomber force, consisting of Japanese airplanes and Japanese crews, bombed Pearl Harbor, there was a high degree of certainty who the the enemy was.

      When an Egyptian led a force of 15 Saudis, 2 UAE's, and 1 Lebanese, in the 9/11 attack, I don't think it is quite so obvious that an invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq were the proper military responses. And the fact that most of the planning was done in Germany and the US, seems to make the situation even more ambiguous.

      I suppose that some very naive Americans might even conclude that we were attacked by Saudi Arabia, when told of the nationalities involved.

    • Isn't it strange that we have this super perfect knowledge of exactly who the bad guys are when they are located in remote locations, where our presence (and that of investigative media) is virtually non-existent?

      Yet where our forces are or were ubiquitous, Afghanistan and Iraq, we accidentally bomb weddings, funerals, people going to market, etc., and imprison 26,000 people without charge because they are the right age and religion.

  • Matt Taibbi on Big Banks’ Lack of Accountability (Moyers Video Interview)
    • Mary Jo white must have extreme knowledge of the shenanigans going on in the financial world having been an attorney at their service.

      Question: Can the lawyer-client privilege prevent her from taking actions based on that knowledge? Like a priest picking a perp out of a police lineup after the perp confessed the crime to the priest.

      Just curious.

  • UN to look into US Drone Program, but the Biggest Victim is Democracy
    • Joe, unless you have access to the kill list, you don't know any more than I do who is being targeted and the rational. Our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan make it pretty clear that we are very comfortable waging military violence against countries and elements within countries that not a threat to the security of the US.

      To think that the drone targeting is limited to those who are a threat to the US is truly naive. We attack who we want, when we want whether it's Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and the places they don't tell us about. It's in our blood.

    • Since the drone program is highly classified, we have no validated information on who is being targeted and why. How can you assume that we are killing people that are dedicated to harming the US when you do not know who they are?

      Based on performances in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is little reason to believe that the US intelligence services have the superb ability to identify the specific bad guys in remote locations. But then, with no public disclosure, we are just asked to assume the best intentions and outcomes.

      After we leave at the end of 2014, I presume that there will still be people left in Waziristan that mean harm to the US (perhaps motivated by the drone campaign). So if nothing has changed there, your logic would be to drone indefinitely. When can you stop?

      We've come along way from the day an Egyptian led group, consisting mostly of Saudis, executed a murderous attack that was planned in Germany and the US, and not financed in any way by the Taliban. Connecting the dots that lead from 9/11 to current droning in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, will be a great thesis subject.

  • Top Ten Ways President Obama has Expanded our Rights, in Rev. King's Footsteps
    • Maybe it's all just a grand strategy. Be a careful apprentice the first four years. Accommodate as necessary those constituencies that could destroy any chance of re-election. Then go to the journeyman level on Jan 20, 2013, and kick all the butts you've been patronizing as an apprentice.

      He started the escape from the powerful, intelligent, and energetic 2008 base that elected him, as early as cabinet selection. Alliance with the base would have necessitated a boldness that would jeopardize his apprentice strategy to gain term II.

      Now on Jan 21 the journeyman is attempting to bring the 2008 base in from the cold, because without their vigor, kicking establishment butt is out of the question.

      We'll know in a few months Barrack II is just the same old Barrack I, or a guy that ducked into a telephone booth and emerged in cool, really blue, tights.

  • 13 gigawatts of New Wind power in US in 2012, Renewables Half of all New Energy
    • OK Joe, I'm in the professors camp (the drastic action now camp). What camp are you in?

      Google " methane, fracking" and you'll find lots of article that indicate much higher release of methane from fracking than had previously been suspected. And you'll find articles disagreeing (lots of industry articles in fact). So its easy to choose, depending on your perspective.

      But Burning natural gas instead of coal will not save us from a climate disaster. Natural gas spews about half as much co2 into the atmosphere as the equivalent amount of coal. So after every single coal plant is replaced by natural gas, we will still be loading up the atmosphere with co2 that has nowhere to go - at a lesser rate. That will not prevent climate disaster in any way, but may cause some delays.

  • Everything You Always Wanted to Know about US Drone Strikes *but Were Afraid to Ask (Currier)
    • "The United States targets leaders, and leading operatives, of Al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations where they operate."

      Considering all the drone strikes and other operation we've conducted, al Qaeda must be more overloaded with brass than the Pentagon. I would suppose that when we knock out an al Qaeda colonel or general , a replacement is quickly found. We're not killing Einsteins.

      And let's face it. The political alternative to al Qaeda is often not much better, and could be worse. It's like we're killing bootleggers to make the world safe for bank robbers.

      If Obama wants to keep Americans safe, maybe he ought to concentrate on the 30,000 some odd felony crimes committed every day - that about 120 million non terrorist crimes since 9/11.

    • there, not their. sorry.

    • Is their a doctor in the house? Maybe a lot of the strikes are aimed at possible safe houses for Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri, who has been the actual leader of al Qaeda since long before the killing of bin Ladin.

      I can imagine that one of the top priorities in the war terror funded (WTF for short) is to kill Zawahiri, but not publicize that the leader of al Qaeda is alive and franchising, until his DNA is found in one of the many bomb craters intended for him. Then the hoopla and back patting can begin.

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