Thursday Reads

A woman wearing a turban while drinking a chocolate shake and reading the newspaper

Good Morning!!

The news that bleeds this morning is the shooting at Fort Hood.

So here’s the most recent article on that from the Boston Globe: Fort Hood gunman sought mental health treatment.

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — An Iraq War veteran being treated for mental illness was the gunman who opened fire at Fort Hood, killing three people and wounding 16 others before committing suicide, in an attack on the same Texas military base where more than a dozen people were slain in 2009, authorities said.

Within hours of the Wednesday attack, investigators started looking into whether the man’s combat experience had caused lingering psychological trauma. Fort Hood’s senior officer, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, said the gunman had sought help for depression, anxiety and other problems.

How is that even a question? I’ve written for years that we’ll pay a terrible price for these pointless wars and the way the men and women sent to fight in them. Massive numbers of Vietnam vets suffered from PTSD, Agent Orange exposure, drug addiction, and unemployment; and those guys mostly just went for one two-year deployment. But we didn’t have a draft when Bush decided he just had to act out his daddy issues and go back into Iraq and kill Saddam Hussein like his father failed to do. Talk about psychological problems!

The volunteer army wasn’t big enough for that, and they redeployed men and women to Iraq and Afghanistan again and again even when they were obviously had head injuries or PTSD. Now we’re all going to keep paying the price for Bush and Cheney’s folly, and the way they treated human beings like cannon fodder.

Back to the Globe article on the latest shooting:

The shooter was identified as Ivan Lopez by Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. But the congressman offered no other details, and the military declined to identify the gunman until his family members had been notified.

Lopez apparently walked into a building Wednesday afternoon and began firing a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. He then got into a vehicle and continued firing before entering another building, but he was eventually confronted by military police in a parking lot, according to Milley, senior officer on the base.

As he came within 20 feet of an officer, the gunman put his hands up but then reached under his jacket and pulled out his gun. The officer drew her own weapon, and the suspect put his gun to his head and pulled the trigger a final time, Milley said.

The gunman, who served in Iraq for four months in 2011, had been undergoing an assessment before the attack to determine if he had post-traumatic stress disorder, Milley said.

He arrived at Fort Hood in February from another base in Texas. He was taking medication, and there were reports that he had complained after returning from Iraq about suffering a traumatic brain injury, Milley said. The commander did not elaborate.

One more from the Washington Post: Pentagon grapples to understand how yet another insider threat went undeterred.

Wednesday’s mass shooting by an Army specialist in Fort Hood, Tex., put the Pentagon on a dreaded, if increasingly familiar, footing as officials grappled to understand how yet another insider threat went undeterred.

It unfolded just two weeks after the Defense Department unveiled the findings of threeinvestigations into last year’s fatal shooting at a Navy Yard building in Washington, D.C., by a contractor and four years after a similarly extensive inquiry into a massacre at Fort Hood by an Army psychiatrist led to vows of sweeping reforms.

“We do not yet know how or why this tragedy occurred, but nearly five years after the Nidal Hasan shooting at Fort Hood in 2009, it is clear that we must do far more to ensure that our troops are safe when they are at home on base,” Rep. Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.), a former Army lawyer who was based at Fort Hood, said in a statement. “We must thoroughly investigate what happened today so that we can take whatever action is necessary to prevent something like this from ever occurring again.”

Yeah right. Keep on telling yourself that. To use an old military expression, “Situation Normal, All Fu*cked Up” (SNAFU).

Now let’s move on to the latest outrage from our right-wing, “religious” Supreme Court.

scotus blank check

From Adam Liptak at the NYT: Supreme Court Strikes Down Overall Political Donation Cap

The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued its abolition of limits on election spending, striking down a decades-old cap on the total amount any individual can contribute to federal candidates in a two-year election cycle….

The 5-to-4 decision, with the court’s more conservative members in the majority, echoed Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions.

Wednesday’s decision seemed to alter campaign finance law in subtle but important ways, notably by limiting how the government can justify laws said to restrict the exercise of First Amendment rights in the form of campaign contributions.

Follow me below the fold . . .

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for four justices in the controlling opinion, said the overall limits could not survive First Amendment scrutiny. “There is no right in our democracy more basic,” he wrote, “than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”

In other words, there is no greater right than that of the wealthy few to influence elections. Because this decision will reduce the rights of ordinary citizens to have such an effect. When did money come to equal speech?

Here’s Gail Collins: Surprise! The Rich Won One.

On Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., who once played Peppermint Patty in a school production ofYou’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, told the nation it was unconstitutional to say that a rich person could only give a total of $123,200 to congressional campaigns each election cycle. This would have been called the majority decision, except that Clarence Thomas, who never talks in court and had that pubic hair controversy back in the day, wrote a little memo of his own.

Roberts was joined by Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy is the famous swing vote, and also a person who once, as a young student, traveled around Europe for a summer with a bottle of whiskey his father had given him, which he used only to gargle.

Their bottom line was that the founding fathers intended America to be a country in which every citizen had the inalienable right to donate, say, $3.6 million every two years.

How do you feel about that, people? On the one hand, this cannot possibly be a helpful step forward. On the other hand, we already live in a country where billionaires can spend endless amounts of cash trying to influence elections with their own private groups. The Koch brothers’ group has spent more than $7 million on ads in North Carolina against Senator Kay Hagan, and there isn’t even a Republican candidate yet. How much farther could we sink?

Good questions. The possibilities are endless–and terrifying.

Adelson-638x383

A little more commentary from Slate’s Emily Bazelton: The Devastating, Sneaky Genius of John Roberts’ Opinions.

 I am ever in awe of Chief Justice John Roberts. He has an unparalleled talent for making the sweeping seem small and the sharp seem mild. His rhetoric is all about sounding reasonable and earnest, even if (especiallyif) the outcomes of his rulings are anything but. He’s a champion of the long game. He’s Scalia’s stylistic opposite, the no-bombast justice. Isn’t it lucky for conservatives to have them both?

Roberts is at his minimizing best in his opinion today striking down a key portion of the post-Watergate campaign-finance laws. Congress may still “regulate campaign contributions to protect against corruption or the appearance of corruption,” he declares, and then whittles the definition of corruption down to a little nub that has nothing to do with how donors actually buy influence. And then Roberts tells Congress it can still achieve the ends of fairer and cleaner elections, it just has to alter the means it chose for getting there. Never mind that this Congress will do no such thing, just as it has failed to take up Roberts’ invitation last June to pass a new version of the Voting Rights Act. And also never mind that Congress had lots of evidence to support the means it already chose. Within the four corners of his opinion, it’s Roberts who gets to sound patient and wise.

Please read the whole thing, and then read this from Richard Hasan, also at Slate, Die Another Day: Supreme Court takes a big step closer to gutting the last bits of campaign finance reform.

charles-koch

Now the final outrage for today at the WSJ: Charles Koch explains that he’s only trying to “restore a free society” while the “collectivists” are just being mean to him.

I have devoted most of my life to understanding the principles that enable people to improve their lives. It is those principles—the principles of a free society—that have shaped my life, my family, our company and America itself.

Unfortunately, the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom are under attack by the nation’s own government. That’s why, if we want to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we have no choice but to fight for those principles. I have been doing so for more than 50 years, primarily through educational efforts. It was only in the past decade that I realized the need to also engage in the political process.

A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so. The same should be true of any government that disrespects its citizens. The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you. This is the essence of big government and collectivism.

More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson warned that this could happen. “The natural progress of things,” Jefferson wrote, “is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” He knew that no government could possibly run citizens’ lives for the better. The more government tries to control, the greater the disaster, as shown by the current health-care debacle. Collectivists (those who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives) promise heaven but deliver hell. For them, the promised end justifies the means.

Read the rest at the link, if you can handle it.

In other news,

aliens

Bill Clinton discussed the possibilities of aliens visiting earth with Jimmy Kimmel. CNN reports:

If you ask former President Bill Clinton, he would tell you that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if we were visited by extraterrestrials someday. At least that’s what he said on Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night talk show Wednesday.

“In the last two years, more than 20 planets have been identified outside our solar system that seem to be far enough away from their suns and dense enough that they might be able to support some form of life,” he said.

The 42nd President would rather see E.T. make a visit than the aliens from the sci-fi movie “Independence Day,” but he says there may be an upside from the latter.

“It may be the only way to unite us in this incredibly divided world of ours. If they’re out there, we better think of how all the differences among people on Earth would seem small if we felt threatened by a space invader,” Clinton said.

FBI vehicles surround home of 91-yr-old Don Miller

FBI vehicles surround home of 91-yr-old Don Miller

USA Today reported this morning that the home of a 91-year-old Indiana man was raided by the FBI yesterday, FBI seizes thousands of artifacts from rural Indiana home.

WALDRON, Ind. — FBI agents Wednesday seized“thousands” of cultural artifacts, including American Indian items, from the private collection of a 91-year-old man who had acquired them over the past eight decades.

An FBI command vehicle and several tents were spotted at the property in rural Waldron, about 35 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

The Rush County man, Don Miller, has not been arrested or charged.

Robert A. Jones, special agent in charge of the Indianapolis FBI office, would not say at a news conference specifically why the investigation was initiated, but he did say the FBI had information about Miller’s collection and acted on it by deploying its art crime team.

It turns out that Waldron himself contacted the FBI about the collection he had amassed over his lifetime. From the Greensburg Daily News: FBI inventories local collection:

RUSH COUNTY – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrived Tuesday at the residence of Don Miller, 91, at CR 8339 South and CR 850 West in Rush County in order to examine nearly 1,000 artifacts Miller has collected from around the world.

Miller has a storied life and for a number of years has collected, displayed and preserved artifacts in his residence in a climate controlled environment. He is an avid collector of Native American artifacts.

FBI spokesperson agent Drew Northern said Wednesday that although there is a large FBI presence in the area, there is no public threat.

“Mr. Miller does have a large collection of artifacts. We are working with him to help repatriate some of those items,” Northern said Wednesday afternoon.

He continued by saying that at the time of the interview many of the items were being logged and inventoried.

“Basically what that means is that treaties, federal laws and statutes dictate who can have these types of items. Mr. Miller has been collecting for a long time as everyone knows and he wants to make sure they go back to where they belong,” Northern said.

One of Miller’s interesting experiences was his involvement in testing the atomic bomb.

Miller, a 1941 graduate of Milroy High School, has chronicled his life from Rush County to leading the division that detonated the testing of the uranium atomic bomb in the western part of the United States in 1945, in previous issues of the Rushville Republican. As part of the ASTP (Army Specialist Training Program) Dr. Miller found himself working on a top secret mission out west in a laboratory. Of course, it was later learned that it was the site of the building of the atomic bomb. Dr. Miller volunteered for the head position of the group used to detonate the testing, which ultimately resulted in the two atomic bombs being dropped over Japan. Dr. Miller’s group first tested in May 1945 by using 500 pounds of dynamite, and then in June 1945 they tested using an uranium bomb. In July 1945 the final testing took place at Trinity. Dr. Miller explained that his experience as a radio HAM operator, which he still enjoys today from Orange Township, Rush County, played a key roll [sic] in his selection to head the division.

Fascinating.

So . . . those are my recommendations for today. What stories are you following? Please share your links in the comment thread.

 


35 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Bloomberg: Political Donors Hit Up for Cash Hours After U.S. Court Ruling

    Within hours of a U.S. Supreme Court (1000L:US) decision paving the way for a new gusher of political cash, Ben Barnes’s telephone starting ringing.

    He and his daughters had already given the maximum amount for this year’s congressional elections to candidates and committees under federal law. After that donation cap was overturned in a 5-4 court ruling issued by the justices yesterday, Barnes found himself on the telephone with two Texas Democratic members of Congress seeking more money.

    “This will make the phone ring all that much more,” said the longtime Texas donor who expects to be kept busy managing new solicitations in the days ahead. “Tomorrow’s going to be like Saturday at the grocery store,” said Barnes.

  2. Fannie says:

    Waking up to another sad morning to the conversations of killing, guns, and greed in America. I heard one person describe the first Fort Hood being a terrorist event, and the second a mental health event. How is it that people cannot see they are both one and same! You don’t have one without the other factors in play when it comes to mass murdering.

    You are spot on about Bush acting out his Daddy’s issues, for sure. Then the last two weeks we have seen the neo cons come out once again, for mushroom clouds, and war with Russia.
    None of them travel outside of US, they are afraid of the Hague, and talk of war criminals being grabbed up, and held to answer for their crimes.

    The good old boys done good for the republican party, and the rights of Big money from corporations and churches…………they opened the door wide, so they can drive a mack truck full of money to headquarters.

    I really fine the story about Don Miller to be exciting. I just hope the people who are working it don’t lift the goods (that’s probably how Miller obtained some of his pieces). I hope that native Americans are there with camera’s and their knowledge to what likely belongs to them, and demand it be returned. I also hope he has files explaining what he know about the pieces, like he shows in the photo from 1944. I’d love to be a part of that team, to witness it all.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hi Fannie,

      I’m really fascinated by the Don Miller story. I hope it will stay in the news for awhile so I can follow it. It sounds like he was trying to be responsible by finding homes for his collection before he dies. I’d love to know the details of what he has.

  3. joanelle says:

    This is not a planet fit for humans any longer. Our leaders seem to revel in their ability to do anything they darn well please, with our resources, our money and our physical well being. There is no moral fiber in the government, there appears to be no one (other than Bernie) who speaks honestly nor are they defenders of the citizenry. Every aspect of our lives seem to be tainted.

    I went to the chiropractor yesterday and learned that in order to have Medicare pay for the standard percentage, I now have to give an assessment of the pain I feel each month. I go to the chiropractor as a preventive measure, and it has proven its worth over the years, but now I’m afraid that if I don’t state that I’m experiencing pain, I’ll be seen as ‘bilking the system’ and it will negatively impact my Medicare coverage.

    I’m retired, live on a fixed income and can’t afford to lose that benefit that I paid into for many years.

    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s awful about Medicare. I didn’t know they covered chiropractic care. My mom goes to a chiropractor, but she has been paying cash.

    • Fannie says:

      Joanelle – what in the hell are they thinking? it makes no sense at all. I am thinking they are a pain in the arse.

    • NW Luna says:

      I really don’t think plain Medicare covers chiropractic. However, some of the enhanced plans offered by third-party payers might.

      As a provider, I agree with assessment of pain — that way I and the patient both have some marker to compare with, to see if the treatment helps. It’s just like checking blood pressure, or blood sugar. If it doesn’t help, there is no point in repeating it, after giving whatever the intervention is a fair trial. Whether it’s a medication or a non-med intervention, in some cases it’s a good idea to try to taper and stop to see if you really need to continue the med or whatever.

      You say that “it has proven its worth over the years” so it must reduce your pain, even if temporarily. Medicare does indeed covers therapies which either improve conditions, or which slow progression, or which prevent a condition from getting worse.

      I do tend to favor therapies such as physical therapy where one learns techniques which you do for yourself to maintain/improve health & reduce pain, rather than therapies which someone else does to you, whether chiropractic or acupuncture, especially if continued long-term. Of course, it does depend on the individual case. And in no way do I mean my comments as a criticism of you (evening after a long day here and it’s hard to get intonation just right with typed words!)

  4. bostonboomer says:

    USA Today: Fort Hood shooter Ivan Lopez had mental problems, saw no combat in Iraq

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/02/fort-hood-shooter-had-mental-health-problems/7237489/

  5. ANonOMouse says:

    I’m just sick over the SCOTUS decision. The no-so-hidden, yet notoriously unspoken, quid pro quo that goes hand in hand with big money, is now the law of the land. He who has the most coin, controls the agenda. And we all know who has the most coin.

    “It is, by now, well known that income inequality has increased in the United States. The top 10 percent of earners took more than half of the country’s overall income in 2012, the highest proportion recorded in a century of government record keeping.”

    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/02/the-wealth-gap-is-growing-too/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

    There is no way that candidates “of the people, by the people and for the people” can mount a challenge adequate enough to maintain funds while simultaneously fighting off the propaganda advertising of folks like the Koch’s and Sheldon Adelman.

    What we heard yesterday was a Declaration of Oligarchy Rule.

    Money, money, money, money, MONEY!!!!!!

    • Fannie says:

      For sure – it is hard to believe that a unbiased supreme court would not see the corruption their decision would cause, no limits on money for polticians is the reason for laws that were put in place to deal with corruption…….that is why Nixon had to leave office. We have so many freedoms than other countries, and the greedy people are ruining it for everybody else.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      This decision makes me sick to my stomach.
      Why bother to have elections if they are nothing but charades?
      Let the Kochs and Adelman and Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch pick our presidents from now on in.

    • ted says:

      they made that decision in order to collect more of those dollars into their own pockets. It was a totally personal decision. They gave no thought to the people of the US of A

  6. Fannie says:

    Our country in and of itself has become a “basketcase”. I can’t help but think about Ivan Lopez, moving around the Army bases, and then I got to thinking about your comments about Vietnam vets, etc. Many of them came home addicted to dope, many of them developed their own programs to help each other. I remember the veterans on campus, and yes they had some of the best parties, but they truly gave what little they had to help their brothers. I did witness much of that. A lot of men and women have no place to go, no jobs, and they end up in the military. I have a cousin who was wounded in Vietnam, and his son went off to Iraqi Freedom War to die there. It’s hard to see that, and feel that. I also have a friend whose husband went to Iraq, came home to a wife and new baby, and not a job in site. He deployed once more in order to support his family. Now that family is without a husband, or a father. Les I forget how the republicans are blaming Obama for veterans having to have food stamps for their families to make it. They’ve done a hell of job pitting veteran against veterans. Then I just recently tried to find out why the state of Idaho has a law that says a veteran’s spouse cannot be buried with them if he or she is gay. Talk about basket cases all over this county.

    Les we forget, George W. Bush had a DUI, and it was white washed. He served in Air National Guard, and there is no record of him reporting to the post, or transferring from one military base to another. No body has any recollection about his services, and it all has been white washed.
    But if your husband, or son had DUI, it’s on his record for life, if he was in national guard, they know every step he took on the bases…….just something that makes you go hmmmmm.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Ukraine Fingers Russian Advisors and Ex-President Yanukovych in February Massacre

    Ukraine’s new authorities have arrested a dozen members of the country’s disbanded “Berkut” riot police. The men are suspected of participation in the February slayings of dozens of protesters in Kiev, gunned down while agitating for the ouster of then-President Viktor Yanukovych. The authorities say more arrests are to follow and they are turning their attention to other security units, including a crack Ukrainian anti-terrorist team first identified by the Daily Beast last weekend.

    In a dramatic press conference by the prosecutor general and heads of the interior ministry and SBU state security, Ukraine’s new security chiefs say Yanukovych ordered the mass slayings and the snipers were under his “direct leadership”. They allege also they have uncovered evidence that Russia’s intelligence service the FSB assisted and advised Ukrainian counterparts in the bloody bid to suppress anti-government protests, leaving more than a hundred dead.

  8. bostonboomer says:
  9. Great post BB, have you seen this? NASA orders its staff to stop talking to Russia, because Crimea

    Who needs an alien threat when we have congress?

    • from the link:

      NASA has now responded with a formal statement. In full, below:

      Given Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, NASA is suspending the majority of its ongoing engagements with the Russian Federation. NASA and Roscosmos will, however, continue to work together to maintain safe and continuous operation of the International Space Station. NASA is laser focused on a plan to return human spaceflight launches to American soil, and end our reliance on Russia to get into space. This has been a top priority of the Obama Administration’s for the past five years, and had our plan been fully funded, we would have returned American human spaceflight launches – and the jobs they support – back to the United States next year. With the reduced level of funding approved by Congress, we’re now looking at launching from U.S. soil in 2017. The choice here is between fully funding the plan to bring space launches back to America or continuing to send millions of dollars to the Russians. It’s that simple. The Obama Administration chooses to invest in America – and we are hopeful that Congress will do the same.

      • NW Luna says:

        They should have edited more of the kindergarten snippiness out of that press release.

  10. dakinikat says:

    http://www.vocativ.com/culture/art-culture/teenage-boyfriend-beat-generation/

    He lost his virginity to Allen Ginsberg and maintained an eight-year relationship with William Burroughs. Meet Marcus Ewert—lover of the literary greats
    To hear him say it, Marcus Ewert was a young man on a mission. In 1988 he was living in suburban Atlanta, just another isolated gay teen who spent much of his free time dreaming of a way out. Unlike other boys in his predicament, though, the then-17-year-old was ambitious and strategic. He was desperate to immerse himself in the literary scene, and being a fan of the beat writers, he zoned in on two of its most prominent figures: Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs.

  11. RalphB says:

    The Senate Intelligence Cmte has declassified their report on CIA torture etc. Should be released this afternoon I hope.

  12. Dyllulah says:

    The gunman never saw combat, which makes the excusing his horrible behavior by way of blaming war experiences moot. I am against war. Having said this, many men and women who have served this country bravely, and HAVE seen combat, do not come home, get angry and make the choice to pull out a gun and kill/injure whoever happens to be in the line of fire. HE did this. Not his family, not his job, not his friends, not his environment. HE did this, and the blame should be placed wholly on his poor choice.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Where did I “excuse” this murderer’s behavior?

      I didn’t “blame” war experiences. In response to the story, I discussed the inhuman way that men and women in the military have been treated. Then when they return, many can’t get jobs or the medical treatment they need. Of course the majority of veterans will not act out violently, but a minority will, just as they did after Vietnam. That is not “excusing” behavior; it is simply stating a fact based on past history. If you can’t understand that, I’m sorry for you.

  13. bostonboomer says:
    • NW Luna says:

      The controversy [over making fun of a brain-cancer survivor] had nothing to do with her exit, according to a Conde Nast employee with knowledge of the situation.

      Riiiiiight.

  14. RalphB says:

    Esquire: Errol Morris, On Donald Rumsfeld’s Inability to Separate Fact from Fantasy

    In his more than thirty-five years as a documentarian, Errol Morris has profiled a lot of delusional people: Holocaust deniers, unpunished murderers, serial killer obsessives. None are as oblivious to their own mistakes as Donald Rumsfeld proves to be in this film. The Unknown Known has been criticized in some quarters for going too easy on its subject, but the truth is that Morris simply takes a more subtle approach. He doesn’t ridicule or undermine Rumsfeld; he doesn’t resort to rhetorical shortcuts or attempt to trick him into the corner of a lie. He doesn’t need to. It’s an axiom of literary criticism that the most damning evidence is always direct quotation. Morris does just that: He hangs Rumsfeld with his own words.

    We had the chance to catch up with Morris in the lead-up to The Unknown Known’s release this week to talk politics, language, and why some critics have misunderstood the film. …

    Marvelous interview.