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Total number of comments: 34 (since 2013-11-28 15:54:35)

John Mclaren

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  • Another White non-Terrorist Kills 9, Makes Bomb Threats
    • Very ironic that due to the special legislation and physical design of the confederate flag flying at the S.C. capitol, it CAN'T be lowered out of respect as their other flags currently are. It flies high and flies in the face of decency, it's advocates never considering it should ever show respect for life.

  • I lived to See the Day when the Pope and the President of Iran are more doctrinally Flexible than the GOP
    • The petty laundry list of conditions the house GOP extorted into a federal budget bill included building the Keystone XL pipeline. Is the GOP just a blatant political arm of right wing capital?

  • Putin, Pussy Riot, Hooliganism and the Syrian Bloodbath
    • Vapid, really?

      SPIEGEL: From what tradition did the Voina protests emerge?
      "Verzilov: Moscow conceptualism and Russian actionism of the 1980s and 1990s were important influences for us. But there were also philosophical inspirations. For me, they were mainly the classic philosophers of postmodernism, like Jacques Derrida, whereas for Nadezhda it was more the radical feminism of Judith Butler. We were very well prepared when it came to theory.

      "Pussy Riot was a direct response to a decision by (former President and current Prime Minister) Dmitry Medvedev not to run for reelection (as president). It was on Sept. 24, 2011, the day it became clear that the regime has no interest in change and only knows one direction: more authoritarian control. For 15 women, including Nadezhda, it was a wakeup call to do something and plan direct campaigns. The first videos appeared on the Internet only a few weeks later.

      "SPIEGEL: Who came up with the name?
      "Verzilov: These are collective decisions. The name is a reference to the Riot grrrl movement that arose in the United States in the early 1990s, based on a concept of feminine strength, not weakness. It sounded odd in Russia, and even the Western mainstream media has problems with it."

    • These women have been in jail for months without, in one case, even visits from her husband! The "offense" was also only a few minutes long.

      "The security officials told the girls to leave the church, and the girls left. The police only arrived half an hour later, but they saw no reason to take any action against Pussy Riot. Only a week later, after the video had caused such a stir on the Internet, did the government decide to severely punish Pussy Riot." (using outside security camera video to even identify them)

    • They could have passed this off or welcomed the opportunity for dialogue with a young generation alienated by the church. Ironically they turned these women into widely known heroes inspiring similar spontaneous actions by women across the former soviet empire and beyond, which may not stop until Pussy Riot are vindicated.

      The group FEMEN in the Ukraine is more extreme. They protest topless with slogans scrawled across their bodies, and chainsawed down a crucifix monument. They were charged with "Part 2 of Article 296 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine."

      It appears at the moment the impossible may be happening and in the face of widespread Pussy Riots the church is changing course?

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      interview with husband of a jailed Pussy Riot member:
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  • White Terrorism at Oak Creek: The Paranoid Style in American Violence
    • Interesting twist whether it was intentional or not. Here is another map she released using crosshairs that are even closer in style; accompanied by Giffords prophetic warning about it before being shot.

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  • If a Jammed Assault Rifle saved Lives, wouldn't no Assault Rifle?
    • As always, it's interesting how when 12 Americans die senselessly, flags are at half mast and even the mud slinging presidential campaigns stop out of respect, but when 50 people die in a bombing in Iraq or Afghanistan due to conflicts we promoted it barely makes the news.

  • 58 Murders a year by Firearms in Britain, 8,775 in US
    • Gun killings in the US are out of control. It seems only nations facing serious civil unrest have higher rates of gun violence.

      Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2000[8]
      Rank Country Firearm homicide rate per 100,000 pop.
      1 Colombia 51
      2 Guatemala 18
      3 Paraguay 7
      4 Zimbabwe 5
      5 Mexico 4
      6 Costa Rica 3
      7 Belarus 3
      8 Barbados 3
      9 United States 3

      Rank Country % homicides with firearms
      1 Colombia 83
      2 Slovakia 82
      3 Guatemala 73
      4 Zimbabwe 66
      5 United States 65

      And what is the limit of the right to firepower? As I like to say, you would not put a public button in Times Square to launch a nuke, and then say, as the world was ending in a nuclear holocaust, well, it wasn't the nukes that killed the earth, it was some nutter in Times Square.

  • Dear Rick Perry: Would Teddy Roosevelt have extended Medicaid to all? (Poster)
    • I've actually changed my mind on Teddy over the years. Teddy was a bit of a warhawk, but I think his rational was more liberation than imperialism in the Spanish-American war (whatever the phony casus belli), where Cuba was probably suffering worse under the Spanish (though I think later presidents dropped the ball on Cuba). Was Teddy's worst offense the Philippines? He did reprimand officers for blatant abuses in the Philippines, but that could not justify the fact the US was even there.

      I give Teddy a *lot* of credit for refining his later views under his "Progressive Party", and his famous "bull moose" speech in Milwaukee, given immediately after surviving being shot by an assassin. In my opinion it's one of the greatest American speeches.

  • "Democracy becomes a government of bullies . . ." (Ralph Waldo Emerson Poster)
    • The idea of democracy is obviously a good thing but unfairly gives the impression that a system alone can encourage people to love and respect one another.

      That can only come from wisdom (knowledge) and the development of spirit.

      No system can fully compensate for ignorance or neglect of spirit, just as almost any system might work assuming people truly love and respect one another. I think fair government results from a fair, just, engaged society more often than the reverse.

  • The Dilemma over Syria
    • I'm starting to wonder if the worst punishment that the CIA has delivered in the past were wars that seemed to be deliberately never won. We can list so many of them.

    • OK- The questions regarding the independent nature of the revolutions of Libya and now Syria are deepening.

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      Juan I have respected your good analysis for years and I supported the Libya action in part because of that. The viewpoints above jive with the worst that CIA has done historically, and the allegations seem at least within the realm of possibility. I would like to see some of these questions resolved here if possible. Regarding Syria time is of the essence. Citizens have to rapidly start making demands about the situation and the demands have to be for the right thing.

  • GOPers Promise you War on Iran & Torture & Poverty
  • Could Electronic Communication Cooperatives Protect Us?
    • I once used a local ISP that was bought out repeatedly until my ISP was basically General Electric. At that time ISP's had started installing Carnivore monitoring systems (which were operated by the FBI or NSA).

      I'm all for internet co-ops, but the privacy/wiretapping issue is a separate huge issue that most folks are unaware of and ill-equipped to deal with. Safety from snooping requires both your own machine and whatever server farm you connect with to be secure (and free of internal monitoring systems), and the connection to be strongly and reliably encrypted.

      Our government has developed and implemented sophisticated network surveillance mechanisms. Before you grab your tinfoil hats, consider this is just what is commonly known:

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      I have no doubt that the ultimate objective of all this is to combine and store all global cell phone locations, conversations, texts, email and internet use in a searchable database forever. Monitoring might be assisted by artificial intelligence. People might one day be profiled based on the the detailed actions of their grandparents. On the military side, the objective is a fully automated, unmanned fighting force (ex: Predator drones) which asks no questions and leaves no trace. The two combined could one day equal a nearly automatic global strike force.

  • Berube on Libya and the Left
    • Also wanted to mention that Human Rights Watch has some serious concerns about the situation and certain events in Libya. Not saying Qaddafi was better, but it seems to me this is a critical time for Libya when the real work is just beginning.

      I think the outright killing of Qaddafi (like Saddam and Bin Laden before him), was an ominous sign, a mistake and a possible setback for Libyan democracy. These events are easy fodder for critics who will rightly point out that all these figures would have said many incriminating things to say about the US at their own trials.

    • Libya was the first military action I have supported in my nearly 50 years and it was a bizarre feeling. I cracked jokes about being a gun toting patriot. I greatly respected Mr. Cole's reasoning on Libya, though I notably parted with Juan previously on supporting the original invasion of Afghanistan, deeming it a wildly disproportionate and misguided response to 9/11.

      One name in the list of Qaddafi apologists caught my attention though- Robert Fisk. Someone I respected and used to follow closely but seemed to disappear for a while, but I see he has recently had much to say, and though I find it had to swallow his criticism of stopping Qaddafi's tanks, I'm mulling over his points. I don't think anyone can afford to just discard what Fisk has to say, agreeing or not.

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  • Ganann: Police raids and violence against activists are Un-American
    • WTO riots in Seattle, 1999. Same story. The press painted them as black clad anarchists and Zerzan-ista's, but the police attacked the crowd. The fact the Longshoreman's union was part of the protest was never mentioned.

  • Kabul Bombing of US Bus Leaves 13 Dead
    • "the total number of foreign soldiers killed in Afghanistan this month to 514"

      I assume someone meant "total killed this year", as in the total for 2011 is 512.

  • Justin Bieber on Sen. Klobuchar's Criminalization of the Internet: She should be put away in Cuffs
    • I'm sorry she wound up on this side of the debate and I wonder if she really knew what she was getting behind. She seems like a good soul and a long dedicated liberal. Early supporter of Al Franken, etc.

      I have a feeling she was hooked into "stopping online piracy" ie illegal downloading of music ("downloading is killing music, etc), as some way to protect small musicians.

      This by itself is a complex issue relating the nature and evolution of media, especially media as modern art.

      But apparently she got behind something that went way beyond that having to do with general copyrights, not all of which should exist, and the laws regulating them which are widely misused.

  • News that Makes you Go 'Hunh'?
    • Seems to me part of being competitive in the this country is to ban cheaper imported products made under working conditions or equivalent pay that would illegal in the USA. That is truly unfair competition. Big capital has been busting international trade unions for over a century precisely so they could do this.

      The height of hypocrisy is when they turn around and complain about immigrant workers, which are in part a direct result of busting up unions.

      By making fair trade and and sustainable workplaces abroad into law (or even a strong voluntary standard), you make workers at home more competitive.

  • Wagging the Dog with Iran's Maxwell Smart
    • (sorry if this is a recap) So I guess what happened is that an unnamed felon turned FBI paid criminal informant hit up some nutty push over, Manssor Arbabsiar for $1.5 million dollars in exchange for the informant assassinating the Saudi ambassador with a bomb that would kill lots of bystanders. The details and the killing of bystanders were completely cooked up either by the FBI or the informant (just as with the Portland bomber in 2007). This is blatant entrapment, and quite a distortion to claim anything "originated" in Iran.

      What's interesting is that the FBI informant was a former drug trafficker posing as a member of the "Mexican drug cartel", and there has already been a story floated about Hezbollah (claimed to be an agent of Iran) working with the "Mexican drug cartel" to attack the US, which was probably a total fabrication put out by Israeli hawks.....

      The connection to Quds (Iranian CIA) is a just phone conversation or two Arbabsiar allegedly had with Gholam Shakuri, his cousin, who is also (possibly just coincidentally) a Quds official who both monitored the situation and wired some money. Nothing more, and only Shakuri, though he claimed to represent "others".

      Looks like the hawks on both sides are getting desperate and have found a way to actually help each other, as they will clearly both be winners if many people swallow this schlock. And to imagine- we are paying a US government agency millions to plan and carry out such nonsense.

      To see Obama going on about Iran today reminded me of Colin Powell testifying about Iraq's WMD's. Maybe the most disappointing point of Obama's presidency to date for me. I hope he is just trumping up evidence to force a peace dialog with Iran, otherwise I feel betrayed.

      here is the official "indictment":
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  • Al-`Awlaqi Should have been Tried in Absentia
    • Critics accuse the US of killing prominent adversaries to avoid trials which might incriminate or embarrass the US. Bin Laden- killed without testimony, former indirect ally of the US. Saddam, former direct ally of the US under Reagan, kept inaccessible to neutral parties (possibly drugged?) and killed after a quick trial with little relevant testimony, by a court with suspect neutrality, for crimes mostly committed while involved with the US. Now al-`Awlaqi. All these people may have been guilty and possibly deserved death, but that has little to do avoiding a trial which may illuminate the logic of our enemies and possibly even expose our own mistakes. I would have been very interested to hear what a lucid and alert Saddam would say about our involvement in the Iran-Iraq war, which I was very critical of at the time.

      So the United States, supposed great bastion, hope and symbol of democracy in the world, avoids trials and accountability in dealing with enemies. Instead of demonstrating our confidence and our belief in justice and rule of law by pointedly giving ideological enemies a fair trial at the Hague, we dispose of them by stealth just like any despot, even throwing the body to the sharks. These policies, remarkably free of checks and balances, are the loose cannons of "wars" which were themselves illegal from the start, while behind the scenes, the US "defense" industry, the largest and deadliest industry in the world, continues unfettered by our "peace" president, if not actively extorting him.

      And now we find ourselves actually debating the ethics of a globally deployable force of extra-judicial assassination drones which barely require human operation, and will soon be fully automatic and fully integrated with a ultra-wide spectrum, global surveillance network. And people naively imagine that this technology will never leave the battlefield? Never go beyond this stage?


    • Most people don't know they have deployed unarmed drones along the Mexican border to fight illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Consider it a test run for using drones in the US. We already hear small police planes and helicopters circling to observe suspects in urban areas pretty often. I'm sure drones would be more efficient. Especially since they can be armed 1984 style later with very few changes in operation and maintenance. You see- we get lethal police state infrastructure for just the price a surveillance system.

  • Westbrook: Half-Measures in Libya will Fail
    • Sorry- we played our cards in Iraq and Afghanistan. We can blame Bush/Cheney for keeping this option completely off the table in Libya. I'm not agreeing it would be the right thing, just pointing out why it's politically not an option.

  • How the No Fly Zone Can Succeed
    • If intervention in Libya turns out to be a mistake, these are going to be exactly the reasons why. Perhaps I am being insanely naive in hoping, this time, it won't be true; the Libyans will step up, establish a representative government, kick the foreign military out and far away, and live freely and normally.

      I don't want to fall back on the moral relativism of the right and neoliberalism, but besides hoping for the best, shouldn't we consider life under a brutally redoubled Qaddafi state. :-/

    • I have gone out on a limb to support the military action against Gaddafi (the first US military action on foreign soil I have ever supported). I did not support the intervention in the Balkans, at least not the botched way (too late and too much) it was done. The only things the two have on common is the world not wanting to stand by while a horrible civil war escalated into a genocide.

      My reservations are the precedent and my possible naivety about continued involvement and corrupt interests which will attempt to exploit that.

  • UN Allies Bombard Libya to protect Protesters
    • I know I'm out on a limb, but this is the first US military operation (at least what has been done as of this moment) on foreign soil I have supported in my entire life, and I wish it had happened sooner than it did. I can't speak for my possible naivety regarding the "slippery slope" of continued involvement and all the corrupt interests driving the latter. That, and precedent, are my biggest reservations.

      I'm going to have to suffer watching Rambo to commemorate my folly. :(

  • Egypt's Unfinished Revolution: PM Shafiq Ousted
  • Wael Ghonim vs. Barack Obama: Change we Can Believe in, Yes we Can
    • Does dropping blanket charge of confrontationalism on 'liberals' seem a touch ironic to you?

      Liberals elected Obama and I think it's fair to let them speak for their opinion about him, and whoever their next candidate might be.

      In truth, some reasons the left is unhappy with Obama is for breaking promises he made to them. He got in bed with big money to solve Wall Street, he did not fully dismantle Bush's secret torture network, and he and hawkish Hillary have escalated the war in Afghanistan, failed to confront Israel on their nukes, etc.

    • I've been watching this old pattern since Reagan. 5 or 6 war mongering presidential terms in my adult life. I suspect presidents are shoved around a lot by big lobbyists and the world bank, and they just don't have much freedom. Obama is not the worst of them IMO. There is a small but significant difference. But here is something ironic. I knew Hillary was a hawk, but wow..

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  • Glaspie Memo Vindicates Her, Shows Saddam's Thinking
    • Just as interesting, and a vindication of Glaspie, is what Glaspie's deputy, Joe Wilson had to say-
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      Author Elaine Sciolino:
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      SCIOLINO:Well, Ambassador Glaspie is a first-class diplomat. She's a first-class Arabist. She was the first woman in the foreign service to be named ambassador to an Arab country, and she's extraordinary. She's had an extraordinary career. She's been in the foreign service for more than 25 years, and I hope she will go down in history as a fine diplomat and not someone who, in a two-hour meeting with the Iraqi president, perhaps was not as tough as she could have been.

      What we have to remember about her performance in the two hour meeting she had with Saddam just eight days before his invasion of Kuwait is that she was carrying out a policy. She was given strict orders about what American policy was. Now, it's a policy she believed in, but it was a very weak policy. She went in to see Saddam Hussein with no fresh instructions from Washington. She didn't know she was going to see him. She had no notetaker with her. She listened to his message to the president, and she told him what American policy was. Now, could she have been tougher? She absolutely could have been tougher. I wish she had been as tough as she had told Congress that she had been. I agonized over whether to run the Iraqi version of her meeting with Saddam Hussein because there was a discrepancy between what the Iraqi version said and what she said she said to him when she testified before Congress. But, in the end, I decided to run with Iraqi transcript and now if you look at her minutes of the meeting that she reported back to the State Department, they pretty much dovetail with the Iraqi version of that meeting.

      LAMB: What did you think when you saw that she said [the Diane Sawyer interview] was cheap and unjust?

      SCIOLINO: Well, all journalists -- and you know this -- don't like it when our work is criticized, and we especially don't like it when an ambassador tells this to a head state. We have a free press here, and I think we have a pretty good press. It bothered me tremendously because when I wrote a story for the New York Times Sunday magazine five, six years ago on Saddam Hussein that went against the grain, I was criticized as well, and I was criticized by people in the State Department for being unfair to Saddam.

      LAMB: Let me read on. "It is a true picture of what happens in the American media even to American politicians, themselves. These are the methods that the Western media employs. I am pleased that you add your voice to the diplomats who stand up to the media." Again, what do you think of April Glaspie saying those things?

      SCIOLINO: Well, this is the Iraqi translation of what she said and it may be slightly off, but what I would like to add is that April Glaspie was questioned at length about just this thought and these phrases when she went before Congress. She was questioned both by the Senate and by the House. What she said to both the Senate and the House is that she was misquoted in the Iraqi version, that what she really had said was that it was a fabrication and that she had told Saddam Hussein that what she was complaining about was his editing of the Diane Sawyer program, that when the Diane Sawyer interviewed aired on Iraqi television, that it was unfairly edited and that this was cheap and unjust. But what we've learned since from her transcript, her own minutes of the meeting to the State Department, is that, indeed, in those minutes she does say that the Diane Sawyer program was cheap and unjust -- not Saddam's editing of it.

      interesting timelime:
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      Also, what ever happened to the supposed documents recovered by Saddam in Kuwait showing that Kuwait was working with the CIA to undermine Iraq? Was that just more of Saddam's huge volume of propaganda?

    • Sounds vague to me.

      Ms. Glaspie was appointed ambassador very late in the US/Saddam game, I think first to somehow mop up or validate the disaster the Reagan/Bush Sr. administration had just perpetrated on Iraq, and secondly to serve as a scapegoat. She was basically handed a steaming pile of cr_p, and seems on the surface to be a poor choice to handle such a situation. There is a clear picture that the Reagan/Bush Sr. policy was to simply destroy Iraq (or Muslim controlled oil?) by any means- first by starting and escalating a terrifying regional war, then by crushing Iraq economically during the desperate post war period, and then refusing to warn against, in no uncertain terms, the invasion of Kuwait (planned in order to bolster Iraq's oil market and stop slant drilling), and ultimately by direct attack.

      This is no defense of Saddam, only recognition that he was Reagan and Bush Sr.'s ally, or at least their useful proxy, whom they then used to rationalize destroying an entire country. Bush jr. simply continued his father's policy on a more ambitious scale (although interesting to note that support for Iraq during the war started under Carter/Brzezinsky, a fact later exploited by Haig in escalating the war).

      Upon finally seeing (about ten years ago) the C-SPAN video of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee questioning Ms. Glaspie, it seemed she was providing only the most vague, indeterminate answers. Annoyingly so, as if to just get through the hearing; it reminded me of the Watergate hearings. I can only wonder if she was forced into a huge cover up for her bosses (or someone), and I think she was scapegoated. The Wikileaks cable just demonstrates what she testified at the time- she did not provide a green light, but she also did not provide a red light, and that has always been the criticism against her. In the world of diplomacy, her ambiguous statement to Saddam regarding Kuwait (similar in nature to her communication with Saddam?) seemed just enough of a slap on the wrist to allow Bush Sr. plausible deniability later. What is clear is what she did not state she told Saddam in this cable- "if you cross one boot into Kuwait we will bomb you to pieces", though that is exactly what Bush Sr. knew to be true, and perhaps why he had such a keen interest in updates about Saddam- not to prevent anything, rather to predict when there would be adequate justification for an attack. Glaspie's message to Saddam as described in the Wikileak cable was non-existent, only offering a vague question, which Saddam intended to answer only by invading. Glaspie had the unfortunate circumstance of being unable to substantiate claims about what she told Saddam, she seemed to have differing descriptions at different times, and has backtracked, such as in her opinion of the Diane Sawyer piece, which, all combined, has led some to question her credibility. Also interesting to note her apparent duties in several countries just prior to genocides or wars. Which all begs the question- what is the true story of this mysterious woman?

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      ..."When I interviewed Haig several years ago, I asked him if he was troubled by the pattern of deceit that had become the norm among international players in the 1980s. “Oh, no, no, no, no,” he boomed, shaking his head. “On that kind of thing? No. Come on. Jesus! God! You know, you’d better get out and read Machiavelli or somebody else because I think you’re living in a dream world! People do what their national interest tells them to do and if it means lying to a friendly nation, they’re going to lie through their teeth.”...

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      possible 2008 interview of Glaspie in Lebanese newspaper:
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  • Mystery of Iranian Nuclear Scientist and the Duelling YouTube Videos
    • Hum.. A lot of bad things seem to have befallen Iranian scientists lately. Massoud Ali Mohammadi (who did not work on the nuclear program and who also openly supported Mousavi), was outright assassinated earlier this year, but my- that was an awfully big bomb for a minor academic dissenter. I think two others died suspiciously. I'm guessing a lot of people in the middle east would suspect some type of Israeli involvement. Not to deny it might have been a ruse designed to appear Israeli.

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