Evening Round-Up: BS and WTF?

Good falloutEvening…

My father is going off the deep end. I don’t know, he has become obsessed with the end of the world, the CDC’s stash of plastic coffins and Agenda 21. So tonight’s links will be a quick dose of reality…meaning, shit we should be concerned with.

Privacy…The Volokh Conspiracy » District Court Grants Motion to Suppress After Government Uses “The Shadow” to Locate Laptop Using Unsecured Wireless Network  (Fourth Amendment? Drawing the line or crossing it?)

Austerity…What Austerity Brings  (It sure doesn’t bring about anything good.)

Indefinite detention, and “unlawful pretrial punishment”…The Prosecution’s Argument for Why It Didn’t ‘Unlawfully Punish’ Bradley Manning  (And why is it that FDL’s coverage of the Manning trial uses images from Beavis and Butthead?)

Minorities…Black, Hispanic Teens Most Disconnected, New Report Says  (Nothing new here, carry on…)

Boehners…Obama Rejects Boehner Fiscal Cliff Plan  (Boehner = The tangerine ass clown.)

Boneheads…Rush Limbaugh: Planned Parenthood “Is All About The Elimination Of Black Families”  (My girlfriend who lives among the corn was going on about this a couple weeks ago.)

Protection of our precious bodily fluids…Tracy Bloom: GOP’s Doomsday Fiscal Cliff Plan, Cory Booker’s Food Stamp Challenge, and More  (Okay, that last one is an attempt to joke about Dr. Strangelove…we certainly don’t want a mineshaft gap!)

This is an open thread…


Broken Windows And The Stealing Of Hearts

Yesterday I read an interesting essay by William Black over at New Economic Perspectives.  In the essay, Black, who headed the forensic audit team during the S&L crisis, pulls forward the Broken Window Theory, a criminological model based on a simple and some have said simplistic idea.  The theory was introduced by James Q. Wilson and received a fair amount of popularity during the 1990s, particularly in conservative circles.

Readers might remember Rudy Giuliani’s ‘war against graffiti,’ his zero-tolerance campaign in NYC.  That effort, the elimination of the squeegee men and the crack down on street prostitution among other things were based on the broken window philosophy, which uses an abandoned building metaphor.

Imagine a building in any neighborhood [although Wilson focused exclusively on what he termed ‘blue-collar crime.’]  The first broken window of our abandoned building if left unrepaired sends a clear message to antisocial types:  no one cares about this building.  So, it’s open season on all the other windows, on anything of value that’s been left behind.  If the owner doesn’t care about the integrity of the building then the street tough is encouraged to vandalize and take whatever’s not nailed down.

The attitude feeds on itself or so the theory goes. Honest citizens are less likely to confront the petty thief, which only encourages others to act out in destructive, antisocial ways.  Honest citizens begin to feel overwhelmed and outnumbered and stop safeguarding their own neighborhoods.   What’s the point? they say.    No one cares.  Communities begin to self-destruct.

Now whether you buy into this crime theory or not, I think the metaphor holds when you consider what we’ve been witnessing in the degradation of our financial markets, our legal system, even the refusal to admit that ‘there’s trouble in River City.’

As Professor Black points out, if we were to take Wilson’s theory and apply it to the explosion of ‘white collar crime’ within our financial system, it would be a major step in restoring the integrity of our system and bolstering peer pressure against misconduct.   As it stands now, Wall Street movers and shakers and their DC handmaidens have implemented business-as-usual policies that reward the thief and punish the whistleblower.  As Black points out in the essay:

We have adopted executive and professional compensation systems that are exceptionally criminogenic. We have excused and ignored the endemic “earnings management” that is the inherent result of these compensation policies and the inherent degradation of professionalism that results from allowing CEOs to create a Gresham’s dynamic among appraisers, auditors, credit rating agencies, and stock analysts. The intellectual father of modern executive compensation, Michael Jensen, now warns about his Frankenstein creation. He argues that one of our problems is dishonesty about the results. Surveys indicate that the great bulk of CFOs claim that it is essential to manipulate earnings. Jensen explains that the manipulation inherently reduces shareholder value and insists that it be called “lying.” I have seen Mary Jo White, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who now defends senior managers, lecture that there is “good” “earnings management.”

My husband had some unsettling experience in this area.  Early in his career, he worked as a CPA [the two companies will remain nameless].  But in each case, he was ‘asked’ to clean up the numbers, make them look better than they were.  He refused and found himself on the street, looking for employment elsewhere.  I remember him saying at the time, ‘Look, I’m a numbers guy.  I’ve never been good at fiction writing.’  This was back in the late 70s early 80s, so this attitude has been a long time in the making.  Now, we’re seeing accounting fraud that is literally off the charts.  Is it any wonder the country’s financial system is on life support?

We can see the destructive results of this careless, corrupt posturing all around us.  Professor Black continued:

Fiduciary duties are critical means of preventing broken windows from occurring and making it likely that any broken windows in corporate governance will soon be remedied, yet we have steadily weakened fiduciary duties. For example, Delaware now allows the elimination of the fiduciary duty of care as long as the shareholders approve. Court decisions have increasingly weakened the fiduciary duties of loyalty and care. The Chamber of Commerce’s most recent priorities have been to weaken Sarbanes-Oxley and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. We have made it exceptionally difficult for shareholders who are victims of securities fraud to bring civil suits against the officers and entities that led or aided and abetted the securities fraud. The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PSLRA) has achieved its true intended purpose – making it exceptionally difficult for shareholders who are the victims of securities fraud to bring even the most meritorious securities fraud action.

Reading this, I immediately sensed we could apply the metaphor just as easily to our legal predicament.  Dak wrote to this yesterday—about the disheartening disrepair of our justice system, which was badly wounded during the Bush/Cheney years with the help of eager lawyers like John Yoo, stretching, reinterpreting, rewriting the parameters on the subjects of torture, indefinite detention, rendition, etc.

Not to be outdone, Eric Holder stood before Northwestern University’s Law School the other day and with the same twisted logic, explained away due process, otherwise known as ‘how to justify assassination.’  In this case, American citizens, those the President deems are a threat to the Nation, can be killed on native ground or foreign soil. Jonathon Turley, law professor at George Washington University and frequent legal commentator in the media, headed a recent blog post as follows:  Holder Promises to Kill Citizens with Care.

Sorry, this does not make me feel better.  What it does make me think is lawlessness simply breeds more lawlessness.  The Broken Window theory writ large.  As Turley explained:

The choice of a law school was a curious place for discussion of authoritarian powers. Obama has replaced the constitutional protections afforded to citizens with a “trust me” pledge that Holder repeated yesterday at Northwestern. The good news is that Holder promised not to hunt citizens for sport.

Holder proclaimed that “The president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war — even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen.” The use of the word “abroad” is interesting since senior Administration officials have asserted that the President may kill an American anywhere and anytime, including the United States. Holder’s speech does not materially limit that claimed authority. He merely assures citizens that Obama will only kill those of us he finds abroad and a significant threat. Notably, Holder added “Our legal authority is not limited to the battlefields in Afghanistan.”

Turley went on to comment that Holder was vague, to say the least, when it came to the use of these ‘new’ governmental/executive powers, claiming that the powers-that-be will only kill citizens when:

“the consent of the nation involved or after a determination that the nation is unable or unwilling to deal effectively with a threat to the United States.”

And as far as ‘due process?”  Holder declared that:

“a careful and thorough executive branch review of the facts in a case amounts to ‘due process.’”

Chilling!  As Turley grimly noted in an earlier post, this is no longer the land of the free.

Seemingly unrelated was this report from the New York Times: the heart of Dublin’s 12th-century patron saint was stolen earlier this week from Christ’s Church Cathedral.  The heart of Laurence O’Toole had been housed in a heart-shaped box, safely secured [or so church authorities believed] within an iron cage.  The relic’s disappearance was preceded by a rash of reliquary robberies from churches, monasteries and convents around Ireland.  According to the article:

The small cage hosting the heart-shaped box containing the relic was tucked away in an innocuous alcove at the side of a small altar. Visitors to the cathedral on Monday stared at the twisted bars and the empty space behind. The bars themselves were sundered evenly.

According to Dermot Dunne, dean of Christ Church, the box had lain undisturbed for centuries.  He had no idea why someone would take it.

Whether it’s the heart of a saint or the heart of a Nation, the theft is a grievous insult. The crime betrays the public trust and our basic sense of decency.  But the thieves of O’Tooles’s heart performed a curious act before exiting.

The Irish culprits lit candles at two of the Cathedral’s altars.  Which means the perpetrators possessed, at the very least, an ironic sense of tradition.

The same cannot be said of our homegrown hooligans. Crass greed and the lust for unlimited power have their own dark tradition.  As Americans, we do not expect vice to be confused with virtue.  In the past, we could not imagine a blatant disrespect for the Rule of Law–crimes ignored, excused, then openly declared necessary for whatever raison du moment.

Not here, we told ourselves repeatedly.  Not in the United States.

Perhaps, we should light candles of our own.  A small devotion for the lost and dying.


Late Later Latest…Evening News Reads

No Birth Control for You... My, what would Jesus say?

Oh, I know it is late…so if you are up and about go ahead and treat this as an open thread.

Since it is so late, I just will post a few news items that did not make a lot of news today.

Bradley Manning to face formal trial on February 23 | World news | guardian.co.uk

The formal trial stage in the case of the WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning will begin on February 23, the US military has announced, when the soldier will be arraigned on all 22 counts relating to the largest leak of state secrets in American history.

Manning will be transferred on that day from his current imprisonment at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas to Fort Meade in Maryland, where he will be read all the charges against him and asked to give his plea. It will be the first occasion that he has come in front of a military judge representing the full power of the court martial system.

In most cases, the arraignment is a short and routine hearing that marks the accused’s official bringing to trial. In Manning’s case, however, it presents his trial lawyer David Coombs with the opportunity to raise objections to the conduct of the prosecution against his client.

Specifically…the fact that Manning has been in custody for such a long time…

In particular, Coombs has the option to complain about the exceptional length of time that Manning has been languishing in military jail. Under the US constitution, court martial cases must be brought within 120 days of charges being preferred against a suspect.

The military rule book, under rule 707 for speedy trial, makes clear that military justice must be dispensed quickly. It says that in some circumstances, delays may be prejudicial to the accused and may result in dismissal of the case.

A military spokesperson said that Manning’s 120 days, known as his “speedy trial clock”, began on 29 May 2010, yet he has continued to be held at the brig at Quantico marine base in Virginia and latterly at Fort Leavenworth for months beyond the deadline. The extra time taken to come to trial was due, the spokesperson said, to requests by Manning’s own defence team and the period in which classified documents were being handled.

“Offenses ordinarily should be disposed of promptly to serve the interests of good order and discipline. Priority shall be given to persons in arrest or confinement.”

If you did not know, CPAC is once again spewing the hate…oops, I mean basking in the glow of good Conservative Christian brotherhood. White Nationalists Agree: Multiculturalism is Bad

Right-wing members of Congress have never shied from associating with some of fringe agitators, but appearing with a white nationalist is beyond the pale. On Thursday afternoon, Iowa Rep. Steve King jovially appeared on a panel with Peter Brimelow, an anti-immigrant author that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has termed a white nationalist. Brimelow wrote Alien Nation and founded the online community VDARE, which SPLC describes as “a nonprofit that warns against the polluting of America by non-whites, Catholics, and Spanish-speaking immigrants.”

King had no qualms about associating himself with Brimelow when I caught up with the congressman after the panel. “Consider the source, I’m not in a position to judge people in the fashion that they seem to be so free to do,” King said of the SPLC.

King was not on the public schedule for the panel held at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and showed up as a surprise guest an hour after the panel started. Hosted by a group called ProEnglish—which supports English as the official language—the panel was titled “The Failure of Multiculturalism.” According to King’s assistant, the congressman had always planned to attend in order to push the bill he has sponsored to make English the country’s only official language. After standing at the podium and pitching his bill to make English the legal language—”there’s no reason to back off, there’s no reason to think all the names we’re called are accurate, they are not”—King sat down with the panelists to take questions. When Brimelow introduced himself to the congressman, King exclaimed, “Oh yes, Peter! I’ve read your books, I just hadn’t met you.”

And what did Brimelow say at the CPAC conference?

Brimelow’s prepared remarks during the panel railed against laws in Canada that dictate a dual national language, French and English. “I think it’s a hogwash,” he said of bilingualism, proudly touting his knowledge of only one language. “I’ve never felt the absence.”

And those other scheduled guest? Well some were not able to make it, they must be tending to property issues that usually arise when you burn a cross in someone’s yard.

Serge Trifkovic, a foreign affairs editor for Chronicle magazine, had to cancel his appearance at the last minute, but the panel’s moderator graciously read his anti-multiculturalism screed. Wrapped in the language of academia, the speech essentially explained why whites of European descent must reject notions of multiculturalism as a “neurotic” affront to their community. “Members of the Western elite class overwhelming subscribe to a neoliberal outlook in general, and to the tenets of multiculturalism in particular,” the speech read. “In other words, they tend to accept the principle that recognition, positive accommodation, and even celebration of demands and special political and moral claims of various ethno-racial, religious, or sexual minorities are obligatory through group-differentiated rights. The result is a obsessive favoritism of allegedly disadvantaged groups often hostile to the European descendent majority of Americans.”

Speaking of anti-culturalism…or should I say anti-Mexican: Mississippi Bill Changes Name of ‘Gulf of Mexico’ to ‘Gulf of America’ | Fox News Latino

Now before you get all pissed at a GOP legislator drafting a bill to rename the Gulf of Mexico, get this…it is a Democratic State Representative.

Mississippi State Rep. Steve Holland, a Democrat, has introduced a bill calling for the part of the Gulf of Mexico that is bordered by Mississippi to be renamed the “Gulf of America.”

The measure, known as HB 150 and introduced to the state House Marine Resources Committee, says the body of water will have its new name beginning July 1.

You just can’t make this shit up…

I am sure Dakinikat can think of a few new non-foreign names for BP aka British Petroleum.

And lastly, oh this is good…and dammit we need a laugh today!

Face Of The Day – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast

A photo that screams “Screw you guys, I’m going home”:

51Fy0

by Chris Bodenner

The story

…at the link!

Well, that is all I have for you tonight…and in my best Cartman voice…Screw you guys, I’m going home. (But since I am already home…There is a chocolate chicken pot pie with my name on it.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Sunday Reads: Occupy Superbowl, Alveda King throws women under bus, and the big homeless

Vintage ad for a Sunday Drive...

It is Sunday Morning…

All day yesterday, I kept thinking it was a Friday. It is strange how days have a certain “feel” about them… If you missed any of yesterday’s posts, Wonk the Vote, PeggySue, Dakinikat and BostonBoomer had some excellent ones, take a look.

I have a lot of links for you this morning, so we’ll just dive in.

First off, the Occupy movement got hit hard yesterday evening. More than 100 Occupy activists arrested in Oakland after clashing with police

Occupy activists tossed pipes, bottles, burning flares and other objects Saturday at Oakland police, who responded by using tear gas and smoke grenades and arresting more than 100 demonstrators, city and police officials said.

Oakland has been a flash point of the Occupy movement since October when police used tear gas to break up demonstrators who refused to leave downtown. One demonstrator, a Marine veteran of the war in Iraq, suffered a skull fracture after being hit with a police projectile, according to a veteran’s group. Police said they acted after the crowd threw paint and other objects at officers.

On Saturday, police made mass arrests following an afternoon clash with protesters near the Kaiser Convention Center and then later outside a downtown YMCA, according to a police statement.

Let’s look at another link covering the same event: Dozens arrested at Occupy Oakland; protesters break into City Hall

Dozens of people were arrested in downtown Oakland skirmishes on Saturday, as an estimated 2,000 Occupy protesters tried to take over the grounds a vacant convention center, then broke into City Hall.

Police used tear gas and “flash” grenades in the afternoon against protesters who tried to tear down fences around the vacant Henry Kaiser Convention Center, where they hoped to establish a new camp. Police said some demonstrators started throwing objects at officers. There were at least 19 arrests in the afternoon.

After 6 p.m. (9 p.m. ET), police in riot gear declared a group of protesters gathered near the YMCA under mass arrest for failing to disperse, according to local media reports and livestreams. Police said about 100 demonstrators were arrested.

Several protesters at  the YMCA appeared to be put hard to the ground as police moved in and at least one protester had blood on his face.

Hmmmm…Here are some of the tweets during the arrests:

Matthew K
Report: Oakland police turn away KPIX, KGO television news vans attempting to reach City Hall where protesters are inside.
Andrew Katz
My screenshot from ‘s feed shows just how many protestors are still awaiting arrest.
RT
protesters took over City Hall, set US flags on fire

Watchdog Progressive

Arrests at like nearly all the others prior to, have largely under the cover of night when the brutality is the worst.

Jen Angel

RT : Tag press suppression & journalist arrests with (please RT and send tips)

Andy Carvin

Woman being gurneyed into an ambulance is yelling “Officer 119!” in reference to the officer who allegedly hit beat her.

Cathastrophe

So…when do we get concerned that every Press Pass at an Occupy Protest becomes ‘suspect’ at the officers discretion.. which is always.
What Cathastrophe and JCStearns are talking about is the appearance of organized arrests with police targeting journalists.  As this series of tweets from a reporter at  810AM in San Francisco below illustrates:

KristinHanesKristin Hanes

Whenever journalists are arrested/detained for reporting the news, everyone’s freedom is at risk. That is what frightens me the most. #oo
Kristin Hanes
When we walked past mobile processing center, officer said, “I’ve never put a reporter in there and didn’t want to.”

Kristin Hanes

I was arrested. Then let go. My officer flagged his boss down and said, “do we really want to do this?”

Kristin Hanes

When I was taken to be ziptied sergeant looked at press pass, “Thats not an Oakland pass, you’re getting arrested.”

I think there will be more news on the arrests later today, as of 12:25 am:

OWS Livestream

And updating with this tweet @2:34am est

daudigDave Gilson

#freegavin RT @markfollman: NBC news reporting “at least 300” arrested tonight in Oakland. MoJo’s @garonsen is among them.
49 seconds ago Favorite Retweet Reply

Sticking with the Occupy subject a little more: Protesters march through Super Bowl Village

A mix of union members and Occupy protesters from across Indiana marched through Super Bowl Village on Saturday in opposition to the state’s proposed right-to-work legislation.

About 75 marchers weaved through packed crowds at the pre-game street fair in downtown Indianapolis in the first of what could be several such protests before the big game Feb. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The protesters chanted “Occupy the Super Bowl” and carried signs that read “Fight the Lie” and “Workers United Will Prevail.”

Saturday was the second straight day of right-to-work protests in the Super Bowl Village. About 40 people picketed the opening of a zip line in the Village. The 800-foot zip line allows participants to clip onto a wire about 100 feet off the ground and glide almost two blocks.

Most onlookers stared in silence as the protesters walked past them, but some like Jason Leibowitz of Jamestown were upset about their outing being interrupted. “There’s a place and a time for this,” Leibowitz said. “This isn’t it.”

Of course, the one guy these protesters are focused on is Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Most emphasized that while the right-to-work legislation appears likely to pass following Wednesday’s House vote approving the bill, that doesn’t mean an end to protests.

“If the governor signs, I want to shame him out of this state,” said Heath Hensley of Occupy Anderson. “He doesn’t want us screwing up this Super Bowl.”

State Senator Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, called the bill evidence that Republican legislators are not in touch with the needs of working-class voters. “If you voted Republican in the past, stop,” Breaux said.

Talking about protests and labor unions, last night the movie Made in Dagenham was on Showtime. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

I have a few other US items to share with you, after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Reads: Two Mormons…and Ron Paul

Good Morning!

I tell you, last night’s top three New Hampshire primary results sound more like the beginning of a joke…two Mormons and a neo-confederate walk into a bar…you see what I mean. (Actually, this post was originally entitled, Two Mormons and A Guy Wearing A Hood…but I thought that was a bit over the top.)

Yes, we all expected Romney to win, I was just amazed at how fast it took the news media to declare Romney the winner.  Just an hour after the polls close. Granted, it looks like the turnout was a bit lower than predicted, which has some on the Right (Fox News) a bit concerned.

Ron Paul came in second, which makes his quote at the NH speech even more ironic: “We are dangerous…”

 “There’s no way to stop the momentum we have,” Rep. Paul told the crowd, admitting that “I sort of have to chuckle when they describe you and me as being dangerous.” “They are telling the truth,” he concluded. “We are dangerous to the status quo.”

I would also add dangerous to women and minorities…but you can read more about that over at Cannonfire.

At this writing, Paul will probably win second place in the New Hampshire primary. I don’t expect much from the Republicans — but is it really too much to ask the party of Lincoln to favor the concept of maintaining the union under any and all circumstances? Apparently so. (As we shall see, some alleged “liberals” also have no problem rationalizing Paul’s treasonous instincts.)

What have we come to? What would Honest Abe think about Paul’s popularity?

Modern conservatives are a contradictory bunch: They continually threaten to upend the very ideals they claim to cherish.

Give this post a bit of your time. We have been talking about Paul for weeks now…as we head to South Carolina, I can’t help but think Paul will do well in the state that started the Secession movement.

Here are a couple more links for you, if you haven’t gotten you fill yet.

Lessons from an Early Night in New Hampshire – Molly Ball – Politics – The Atlantic

Jon Huntsman’s Billionaire Dad Won’t Commit to More Campaign Cash | Mother Jones

Lets move on to world news for a moment. Syria is still a hotbed of violence. The latest word from the UN is very disturbing, Syria conditions dire says U.S. United Nations Abassador Susan Rice.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice made a statement today strongly condemning the ongoing stream of violence in Syria.

The statement was made following a Tuesday January 10, 2012 UN Security Council briefing on the serious situation in the region lead by Lynn Pascoe, Head of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs.

“The briefing we received was alarming…” says Ambassador Rice during a UN Press communique released on Tuesday covering the UN Security Council briefing.

“The [UN] Under-Secretary-General noted that in the days since the Arab League monitoring mission has been on the ground, in fact an estimated 400 additional people have been killed, an average of 40 a day, a rate much higher than was the case even before their deployment,” Rice continued to tell press following her appearance at the briefing.

Rice points out that activist bloggers are one of the targets in the Assad regime.

Internet freedom has also been curtailed as blogger Ms. Razan Ghazzawi was arrested and released after bail was paid following her days in detention. Other bloggers have also been arrested in a string of crackdowns since April that have been directed at bloggers to prevent them from speaking under restrictions limiting freedom of the press in the region. Ms. Tal Al-Mallohi, who’s twenty-first birthday fell on January 4 this year, has been serving a five year sentence since her arrest in 2009 on charges that were made against her because of her blog posts.

“This [Tal Al-Mallohi] is a deeply disturbing case,” said Kate Allen UK Director for Amnesty International in a September 2010 news release report on Al-Mallohi. “No-one should be detained just for discussing freedom of expression and if this is why Tal al-Mallohi is behind bars then it’s an absolute disgrace.”

More on Syria from Robert Fisk: Assad faces his people’s hatred – but as their anger grows, his excuses are still just the same –

It was the Assad Speech of the Year. There was an international conspiracy against Syria. True. Arab states opposed to Syria were under “outside pressure”. True, up to a point. Nobody could deny the seriousness of these plots. True. After all, the Syrian government itself registers 2,000 dead soldiers, while the UN estimates civilian dead at 5,000. And when Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan warned that the violence in Syria was “heading towards a sectarian, religious war”, there were few supporters of President Assad who would disagree with him.

Fisk goes on to connect Assads control over journalist and media, with the leaks of Youtube videos that find their way out to the world via the internet and Al Jazeera.

Assad’s government, however, has still found itself unable to deal with the news side of the crisis. By allowing few international journalists to enter the country, officials have allowed the stunning YouTube images of the opposition to lead public opinion. When Al Jazeera can broadcast a Muslim imam in a crowded mosque shouting “Assad’s soldiers – God curse them – say Assad is their God; if that doesn’t make you angry, what will?” and then give specific details of protesters’ demonstration tactics in a suburb of Damascus, the Syrian Ministry of Information has a real problem.

The President can say – as he did yesterday – that “according to the law, nobody should open fire – only in self-defence or in a battle with an armed person”, but dozens of YouTube phone videos on Al Jazeera suggest that such laws are widely ignored by the regime.

Of course, Al Jazeera is funded by the Emir of Qatar, and the Qatari royal family’s influence has now reached its zenith in the Arab League – which has threatened to allow the whole bloody business to go to the UN Security Council. It’s not difficult to see how – from a sparse Baathist drawing room – this looks more like conspiracy than coincidence. The League has been boasting of its sense of resolution, while Assad believes it was his idea to bring the League’s monitors to Syria. And that’s exactly what he told us all yesterday. The Kuwaitis, meanwhile, said that two of their League military monitors in Syria had been slightly wounded by “unidentified protesters”. It would be interesting to know whom the protesters were protesting against.

Boston Boomer had a post a couple of days ago that focused on Guantanamo. Well, a new report has been released from Amnesty International: Guantánamo: A decade of damage to human rights | Amnesty International

The failure of the US government to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay is leaving a toxic legacy for human rights, Amnesty International said on the 10th anniversary of the first detainees being transferred to this notorious US prison.

In a report published ahead of the anniversary, Guantánamo: A Decade of Damage to Human Rights, Amnesty International highlights the unlawful treatment of Guantánamo detainees and outlines the reasons why the detention centre continues to represent an attack on human rights.

“Guantánamo has come to symbolize 10 years of a systematic failure by the USA to respect human rights in its response to the 9/11 attacks. The US government disregarded human rights from day one of the Guantánamo detentions. As we move into year 11 in the life of the detention facility, this failure continues,” said Rob Freer, Amnesty International’s researcher on the USA.

Despite President Obama’s pledge to close the Guantánamo detention facility by 22 January 2010, 171 men were being held there in mid-December 2011. At least 12 of those transferred to Guantánamo on 11 January 2002 were still held there. One of them is serving a life sentence after being convicted by a military commission in 2008. None of the other 11 has been charged.

I want to post some updates on a few things we have discussed here on the blog.  This past Sunday, I had posted a link about the ultra-light plane being grounded while it was escorting migratory Whooping Cranes to Florida.

The article I linked to was from MSNBC: ‘Whooping cranes plane’ runs afoul of FAA – US news – Environment – msnbc.com By reading this article, you would assume that the group flying the birds down to Florida have been doing this for 10 years, and all of a sudden there is a problem with the FAA. No where in this article does it mention that this particular trip, the pilot is being paid. See this here: Legal Problem Grounds a Bird Migration – NYTimes.com

For 11 years, conservationists have used ultralights to guide the birds from Michigan to Florida. The birds are essentially orphans, raised in captivity without parents, but if they can be shown the 1,200-mile route once, they will find their way back to Michigan the following fall on their own, and fly unescorted for the rest of their lives.

The idea is a bit weird; the pilots dress up to look like birds so the fledglings will be “imprinted” with them. But everybody seems to like it; this year’s trip is underwritten in part by the Southern Company, a big utility.

But now it turns out that some of these do-gooder flights face a legal challenge.

The Federal Aviation Administration classifies the ultralights as “light sport aircraft,” a category with simplified licensing rules. Such aircraft can carry only one or two people, cannot fly in congested areas and cannot fly for hire, among other restrictions.

The question is, are the pilots flying for hire?

The updated news is that the FAA did grant the exemption. Whooping cranes are cleared for takeoff after getting FAA exemption –

Noting that the flock was stuck in an incorrect location for the past month, the FAA Tuesday green-lighted Operation Migration to continue the journey to the St. Marks and Chassahowitzka national wildlife refuges in Florida.

According to an FAA statement, “Because the operation is in ‘mid-migration,’ the FAA is granting a one-time exemption so the migration can be completed. The FAA will work with Operation Migration to develop a more comprehensive, long-term solution.”

Duff said the FAA has two criteria for issuing a waiver of this regulation: first, that it does not impede safety; and second, that it is a benefit to the American people. Duff believes Operation Migration’s flights meet both criteria, noting their three pilots practice all safety measures and the organization is assisting with the eco-tourism business and reintroducing an endangered species, which he believes does benefit the American people.

The FAA and Operation Migration will work to resolve the situation in the near future, but for now, this year’s new flock continues the journey south for the winter.

You may also remember that police where investigating the Natalie Wood case, Natalie Wood probe yields no new evidence

Nearly two months after they began a controversial new investigation into Natalie Wood‘s death while sailing off Santa Catalina Island in 1981, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detectives have found no evidence to suggest that the cause was anything but accidental.

Although the case has not been closed, a top Sheriff’s Department official said it’s highly unlikely any new ground will be broken on how the actress died.

“At this point, it is an accidental death,” said William McSweeney, the sheriff’s chief of detectives. “Nothing has been discovered to suggest changing that at this time.”

We learned yesterday, that a Texas Appeals Court is forcing women to adhere to the Abortion law while the case is waiting to be heard. I wanted to give you this link to the RH Reality Check Action Page. Letter to TX Media: Women can make their own reproductive choices | RH Reality Check

This next link caught my eye when I was looking for new info on the Texas Abortion crapola, The Barbie Syndrome: Interchangeable Fundamentalist Wives Easily Replaced by the New Model

It was written prior to the Michelle Duggar miscarriage, just keep that in mind as you give it a read:

…most of the online discussion of how dangerous her playing maternal Russian roulette actually is no one seemed to hit upon my first thought, how quickly would Jim Bob replace her with a newer, younger, prettier model.

I mean, really, it’s like shooting dice, eventually snake eyes is going to come up. Bad things happen if you keep repeating the same risky behavior. Look at the last of her pregnancies. Something did go wrong. It’s just simple statistics that sometimes things go haywire and we can’t do much about them. But why put yourself in those types of risky situations in the first place?

Back when I was with my old church I got to see this numerous times. Lady either gets pregnant that probably shouldn’t be or would contract a very serious illness. They’d start praying, asking for prayer but refusing medical monitoring or intervention by the medical world at all. They say the same things Michelle Duggar does about this is God’s will and God would either deliver her safely or He would heal her.

One of the saddest cases of this was a lady named Christina who contracted breast cancer and refused all medical treatments, saying only God alone would heal her. She wasn’t going to have any surgery, no chemo, no radiation, she would simply rely on God.

Calulu, the author of this post says that everyone at the church supported Christina, except her…being a breast cancer survivor, Calulu writes that…

Not getting health care while you have children in the home to finish raising is just irresponsible.

But the men of the church always had medical intervention, and it never seemed to strike anyone there that was some sort of warped double standard. I never understood why that was so I’m guessing the lack of serious health care was because in the world of Fundy-Gelicals women were without intrinsic value and considered interchangeable.

Christina died after an agonizing torturous 18 months. What did did Mr. Christina do? He did what I’ve witnessed a number of Patriarchal men have done. He collected that big insurance check, bought a sports car and within six months married a much younger, better looking, newer model. And the cycle continued. Even our Pastor did it, boom, wife dies of cancer, 9 months later Pastor has another wife and life goes on as before.

Then and now it struck me as a basic lack of respect for any woman to hold them all so interchangeable. The Barbie Syndrome. The sad part is that we all put up with this behavior at the time and thought we were holding up the image of the Good Christian Woman, never realizing that culture considers us as unique as an assembly line of Barbies.

For my last link today I’m going to bring it from Christian Barbies to this article over at Wall Street Journal. Is Your Personality Making You Put on Pounds?

Losing weight is simple: Eat less and exercise more. Why that’s so difficult for so many people is embedded deep in the human psyche.

A variety of personality traits, such as being a night owl or a multi-tasker, all contribute to weight gain in different ways, Melinda Beck reports on Lunch Break. Photo: Getty Images.

A growing body of research is finding intriguing connections between personality traits and habits that can lead to obesity. The same parts of the brain that control emotions and stress response also govern appetite, several studies have shown. Early life experiences also set the stage for overeating years later, researchers have found.
“If we can understand how personality is contributing to weight gain, we can develop interventions to help people deal with it,” says Angelina R. Sutin, a researcher at the National Institute on Aging who led a study published last year comparing the body mass index, or BMI, and personality traits of nearly 2,000 Baltimore residents over 50 years.
In the study, those who scored high on neuroticism—the tendency to easily experience negative emotions—and low on conscientiousness, or being organized and disciplined, were the most likely to be overweight and obese. Impulsivity was strongly linked to BMI, too: The subjects in the top 10% of impulsivity weighed, on average, 24 pounds more than those in the lowest 10%. People who rated themselves low on “agreeableness” were the most likely to gain weight over the years. The study was published in July in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

It breaks down several personality traits…I am posting them below, click the link to find ways to fix them.

The Night Owl
Unless they have the luxury of sleeping late, night owls are often sleep deprived. That drives down levels of leptin, the hormone that signals fullness, and drives up ghrelin, the hormone that fuels appetite, particularly for high carbohydrate, high calorie food, numerous studies show. Even short-term sleep deprivation can make healthy people process sugar as if they were diabetic, according to research from the University of Chicago.

Night owls also tend to skip, or sleep through, breakfast, missing an important chance to get their metabolism going early, and they often snack far into the night. That sets the stage for “night-eating syndrome,” when people consume a significant portion of their daily intake after dinner, which is associated with obesity and diabetes.

[…]

The Stress Junkie

People who thrive on competition and deadline pressure may seem high-powered, but what powers them internally are adrenaline and cortisol. Those stress hormones supply quick bursts of energy in fight-or-flight situations, but when the alarm is unrelenting, they can they can cause health problems, including obesity.

Cortisol stimulates a brain chemical called neuropeptide Y, which boosts carbohydrate cravings. It also makes the body churn out excess insulin and accumulate fat, particularly in the belly where it raises the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other diseases. People who feel chronically stressed often use food for energy and comfort and rationalize that they’ve earned it.

[…]

The Mindless Multitasker

People who habitually work, read, drive, watch TV or do anything while dining often eat more than they realize. “Anything that takes our focus off the food makes us more likely to overeat without knowing it,” Brian Wansink, an expert on food, marketing and consumer behavior, wrote in his 2006 book, “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.”

He now directs the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University. His research shows that few people overeat because they’re hungry, but because of myriad other subconscious cues, from family and friends to plates and packages.

[…]

The Giver

People who constantly put other people’s needs ahead of their own often become emotionally depleted and seek solace in eating. Eating coach Karen Koenig, author of “Nice Girls Finish Fat,” writes that many of the clients in her Sarasota, Fla., practice are “ultranurturing, self-effacing, unselfish, generous and caring to a fault.” Food works because it’s close, it doesn’t require burdening others, and it signals comfort and love. But because it doesn’t really fill the emotional void that givers have, they keep eating more and more.

Some “givers” also live in fear of disappointing other people or engaging in conflict, so they try to stifle their own feelings with food.

[…]

The Perfectionist

Like givers, people who drive themselves to be perfect often use food to relieve the pressure. And many set themselves up for failure with impossible weight and fitness goals. Bariatric surgeons say they see a high correlation between perfectionism and obesity; experts in eating disorders say perfectionism is often at the root of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. Many perfectionists also engage in all-or-nothing thinking that leads them to get discouraged easily with dieting and seek solace again in food.

That is it for this night owl…catch y’all later in the comments after I sleep in. What are you all reading and blogging about today?


SDB Evening News Reads 010212: Obama? Same old thing…

Good Evening…

It is freezing here in Banjoville, the wind is howling and we are expecting single digits tonight.  I hope everyone is warm and cozy…these storms are bringing cold temps all across the U.S.

I just have a few links for you tonight, but they are juicy ones.

There was a report on RT.com, a Russian news website, that included an interview with Noam Chomsky that I think you will find very interesting. Obama’s change: From kidnapping and torture to assassination

The promise to scrap his predecessor’s hardliner war-on-terror policies, which helped Barack Obama win presidential election, is apparently off the table. The political reality is that the current administration is doing quite the opposite thing.

Long before he became US president or the winner of a Noble Peace Prize, Barack Obama was a constitutional law professor. During his election campaign he vowed to reverse the abuses and policies of his predecessor George W. Bush.

Three years later, many civil rights advocates, who once cheered “yes, we can,” are finding themselves disillusioned.

“Not only has the Obama administration blocked torture accountability and refused to investigate and prosecute. He has basically maintained indefinite detention. He has revived military commissions. As well he has expanded targeted killings – they’ve increased under the Obama administration manifold, and he’s even authorized the killing of a US citizen,” explains Maria LaHood from the Center for Constitutional Rights.

World-renowned author and scholar Noam Chomsky believes the Obama administration has changed gears and accelerated illegal practices into overdrive.

“There is a shift between Bush’s policies and the Obama’s on this. Bush’s policy was to kidnap people, take them to Guantanamo or Bagram or some other torture chamber and try to extract some information from them. Obama’s policy is just to kill them. They’re killing them all over the world. And the Bin Laden assassination was a case point,” he told RT.

Video at the link, take a look at it.

There is also another interview at this link with Sarah Flounders about indefinite detention…

Sara Flounders, from the International Action Center, told RT that the new bill violates basic the democratic rights the US claims to fight for around the world.

“There is the threat of mass detention without trial, without charges, being held by the US military, who previously could not legally operate within the US, only around the world.”

Video for this interview at the bottom of the same RT link. Please take ten minutes of your time to watch both of the clips.

Did you see the recent news regarding the Obama Administration selling  F15s and arms to Saudi Arabia?  You may have missed it because it happened during Christmas. Obama Makes Arms Sales A Key Tool Of U.S. Foreign Policy

In a striking departure from the ideological preferences of the post-Vietnam Democratic Party, President Barack Obama has made overseas arms sales a pillar of U.S. foreign policy.  The President and his advisors apparently have decided that well-armed allies are the next best thing to U.S. “boots on the ground” when it comes to advancing America’s global security interests.

A case in point was the Christmas Eve disclosure that the administration would sell $30 billion in fighter jets, munitions, spare parts and support services to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  In the past, some Democrats in Congress might have questioned the propriety of selling high-tech weapons to a government noted for its conservative social policies.  But administration officials described the deal as a pragmatic solution to regional security needs, one that would provide the world’s preeminent oil producer with the means to deter Iranian aggression without compromising Israel’s defense.  Having already approved a $60 billion package of arms sales with the kingdom — of which the fighter deal is only one part — Congress is sure to accept White House reasoning.

It doesn’t hurt that such sales create tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S.  Boeing assembles the F-15 fighters at the center of the deal in Missouri, and General Electric will build the engines in Ohio.  Both are swing states whose electoral-college votes could determine the outcome of the 2012 presidential race.  Many additional jobs will be created at the sprawling Raytheon missile complex in Arizona, a state already poised to benefit from an earlier Saudi buy of 36 Boeing Apache tank-killer helicopters.  Raytheon’s radar facility in Massachusetts should also be a big beneficiary.

What the president and his advisors have figured out is that, unlike sending troops to fight overseas, there is almost no downside to sending weapons.  They allow partners such as Saudi Arabia to meet more of their own security needs indigenously rather than relying on an overstretched U.S. military, and they stimulate economic activity in America’s industrial heartland at a time when well-paying, unionized manufacturing jobs are hard to come by.  So the Obama Administration has abandoned any pretense of limiting overseas arms sales, and embraced the reality that America is likely to remain the world’s biggest weapons merchant for many years to come.

Yes, make the US a one stop shop for weapons and big dollar arms deals…

So lets just take all this news in for a moment…as Dakinikat wrote this morning, we have the Obama Administration turning back the “do not call” list, which is a minor thing compared to his unconstitutional moves against US Citizens. Remember, his high numbers of deportations, record numbers in fact. Obama’s non-prosecution of Wall Street crooks and fraudulent CEO’s “business” practices…coupled with the lack of any real help for people facing foreclosure and long-term unemployment. No matter what he may say…his mortgage assistance programs don’t help anyone…and there are no stipulations for the mortgage companies to approve modifications to get their payouts and payoffs. And, lets not forget all the women he has thrown under the bus, with his ridiculous women’s health and reproductive care policies. Add to all this the sale of arms and weapons to the highest bidder, and what does it remind you of?

So many have mentioned police state tactics becoming the standard here in the US…it sounds more like some kind of Wall Street/Banana Republic Oligarchy government rule…if you get my meaning.

Just a side note…about a connection to a police state, I just read Peggy Sue’s post Frank Rizzo and a Militarized Police Force « Sky Dancing…check it out.

I guess what bothers me the most about all this, is that Obama is getting away with it…the US press is not holding him accountable. (They aren’t holding the GOP nuts accountable either.)

This next article discusses the similarities between Ryan’s Medicare plan and Obama’s: 2012 Medicare debate is all about the baby boomers

Baby boomers take note: Medicare as your parents have known it is headed for big changes no matter who wins the White House in 2012. You may not like it, but you might have to accept it.

Dial down the partisan rhetoric and surprising similarities emerge from competing policy prescriptions by President Barack Obama and leading Republicans such as Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

[…]

…what administration officials don’t say is that Obama’s health care law already puts in place one of Ryan’s main goals by limiting future increases in Medicare spending.

Ryan would do it with a fixed payment for health insurance, adjusted to allow some growth. In theory that compels consumers and medical providers to be more cost-conscious. Obama does it with a powerful board that can force Medicare cuts to service providers if costs rise beyond certain levels and Congress fails to act.

[…]

The White House wants to keep the existing structure of Medicare while “twisting the dials” to control spending, said a current Medicare trustee, economist Robert Reischauer of the Urban Institute think tank.

Ryan’s latest approach is arguably an evolution of the current Medicare Advantage private insurance program, not a radical change, Reischauer said. That’s particularly so if traditional Medicare remains an option.

“In the hot and heavy political debate we are in, participants are exaggerating the difference between the proposals,” he said.

During failed budget negotiations with Republicans last summer, Obama indicated a willingness to make more major changes to Medicare, including gradually raising the age of eligibility to 67, increasing premiums for many beneficiaries, revamping co-payments and deductibles in ways that would raise costs for retirees, and cutting payments to drugmakers and other providers.

“I was surprised by how much the president was willing to offer in terms of Medicare changes without a more thorough vetting and discussion,” said  health economist Marilyn Moon. Obama says he will veto any plan to cut Medicare benefits without raising taxes on the wealthy.

It is all enough to make me cringe when I think about the next four years…whoever gets the White House, it feels like both parties are heading in the same direction. Where does that leave us?

Let’s end with something different: Nappy Barbie to promote self-esteem

In Columbus, Georgia, a group of women began a campaign to donate 40 plus black Barbies to young black girls at a local Girls, Inc chapter.  Before donating them, they treated the Barbies’ hair with pipe cleaners and boiling water to create “nappy headed” Barbies, or “natural ‘fros” on the dolls.

They are doing this to aid the self esteem of young black women who are lacking images of themselves in the media.  The organization is called Frolific and appears to be a Meet-up group whose purpose is to “provide encouragement and support to sistas who are natural, transitioning, or considering going natural.”

Their purpose in providing these Barbies is let young women know that they are okay the way that they were born. They do not need whitening and straightening.  The goal is to let a doll better represent natural hair to help the young women develop a sense of pride in themselves.

I think the Frolific program is great…if only the toy manufacturers would make these dolls a bit more realistic all around.  Some of you may remember this image from last year: Life-size Barbie gets real women talking 

Galia Slayen made a Barbie doll that stands about 6 feet tall with a 39″ bust, 18″ waist, and 33″ hips.
That is all I can muster for you tonight, it is very cold, and my fingers are frozen and stiff.
Have a great evening, and be sure to let us know what you are doing and thinking about tonight.

Wednesday Reads: History…War on Christmas, War in Iraq, and the Fog of War

Peace River Citrus...tasty orange juice, freshly squeezed.

Good Morning!

Ooof, that is quite a lot of war in the title for today’s post…lots of things to share with you this morning. It’s been raining pretty steady and the wind is whipping up the cows in the pasture down here in Banjoland.

Today’s post is going to focus on a theme that revolves around History…but first, a quick article about  something meteorological.

This weather link is so damn cool!

I saw this article when it was first published earlier this week, and planned on using it for today…Weird Kelvin-Helmholtz Wave Clouds over Birmingham and let me tell you, it is freaky!

While driving through Birmingham, Alabama, Redditor alison_bee couldn’t help but notice the bizarre, repetitive wave shapes appearing in the clouds near the horizon. While these strange cloud formations look otherworldly, they’re an example of what’s called Kelvin-Helmholtz instability — which is a pretty awesome name for a spectacular phenomenon.

What did I tell you?

Heres what Redditor and meteorologist zensunnioracle had to say:

Meteorologist here. These are indeed Kelvin-Helmholtz waves. What is happening is that the nocturnal near-surface layers (lowest 50-100m) of the atmosphere are much more stable than the layers above it in the mornings. Until the ground heats up due to daytime heating, the surface layers stay more stable than the air over it. Kelvin-Helmholtz waves occur when the wind shear between the layers destabilizes the topmost portion of that stable layer, and entrains the air into the unstable layer. What you see is stable air being lifted, cooled, and condensed so that this process becomes visible, though this commonly happens many places without being visible.

As spectacular as these waves are here on Earth, the same forces create similar patters on the gas giant planets like Saturn and Jupiter. While those are some truly enormous waves, these pictures from alison_bee should show that the Earthbound variety aren’t to be sneezed at either.

Video of these clouds as they roll over the city at the link…

Do you remember that hostage situation in a Russian cinema back in 2002? European Court Orders Russia to Pay Victims of 2002 Theater Siege

The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay more than $1.3 million to victims of the government’s mishandled attempt to end the siege of a Moscow theater in 2002.

The Strasbourg-based court ruled Tuesday that Russia had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by a lack of planning and poor execution of the rescue operation.

Chechen militants refused to surrender after a standoff at the Dubrovka theater lasting several days, leading Russian security forces to launch a raid on the theater, where the militants were holding more than 800 people hostage. The troops fired an unidentified gas into the theater to try to knock out the militants, but nearly 130 hostages died in the attempt.

In addition, the report stated that Russia did not provide adequate medical aid to the hostages after its rescue effort and failed to conduct an effective investigation of the tragedy.

This comes at a time when tensions are running high in Russia, as Peggy Sue described it in a post last week, The Russian Winter.

Well, the Arab Spring is still ongoing, I thought this next post was interesting because it discusses British History in the Middle East, and the lessons that should be learned. The ‘Arab spring’ and the west: seven lessons from history

talat harb 1956/2011

October 2011: Egyptians in Talat Harb square, Cairo, protest against military rule; October 1956: Egyptians demonstrate in the same square against British-French invasion. Photograph: Getty/Associated Press

There’s a real sense in which, more than any other part of the former colonial world, the Middle East has never been fully decolonised. Sitting on top of the bulk of the globe’s oil reserves, the Arab world has been the target of continual interference and intervention ever since it became formally independent.

Carved into artificial states after the first world war, it’s been bombed and occupied – by the US, Israel, Britain and France – and locked down with US bases and western-backed tyrannies. As the Palestinian blogger Lina Al-Sharif tweeted on Armistice Day this year, the “reason World War One isn’t over yet is because we in the Middle East are still living the consequences”.

Just a side note, I think the comparison of those two photos is a perfect introduction to this article.

The Arab uprisings that erupted in Tunisia a year ago have focused on corruption, poverty and lack of freedom, rather than western domination or Israeli occupation. But the fact that they kicked off against western-backed dictatorships meant they posed an immediate threat to the strategic order.

Since the day Hosni Mubarak fell in Egypt, there has been a relentless counter-drive by the western powers and their Gulf allies to buy off, crush or hijack the Arab revolutions. And they’ve got a deep well of experience to draw on: every centre of the Arab uprisings, from Egypt to Yemen, has lived through decades of imperial domination. All the main Nato states that bombed Libya, for example – the US, Britain, France and Italy – have had troops occupying the country well within living memory.

If the Arab revolutions are going to take control of their future, then, they’ll need to have to keep an eye on their recent past. So here are seven lessons from the history of western Middle East meddling, courtesy of the archive of Pathé News, colonial-era voice of Perfidious Albion itself.

Please go to the link to read about the seven lessons, the first one is a big lesson that we will probably never learn…there are also embedded videos to support the article, some go back to Libya and Jerusalem in the 1930’s.

And for another History Lesson, there is a lengthy timeline here at this link to MoJo: Lie by Lie: A Timeline of How We Got Into Iraq

George Bush Dr. Strangelove

At A congressional hearing examining the march to war in Iraq, Republican congressman Walter Jones posed “a very simple question” about the administration’s manipulation of intelligence: “How could the professionals see what was happening and nobody speak out?”

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, responded with an equally simple answer: “The vice president.”

Oh… this is extremely detailed, so just go read the entire thing! Perhaps it will make you remember some of the events listed, as it made me recall them, in my mind’s vivid memory.

History has yet to write the story of Bradley Manning, however, Amy Goodman has done a good job of reporting on his case. Amy Goodman: Bradley Manning and the Fog of War

Accused whistle-blower Pvt. Bradley Manning turned 24 Saturday. He spent his birthday in a pretrial military hearing that could ultimately lead to a sentence of life … or death. Manning stands accused of causing the largest leak of government secrets in United States history.

Goodman explains the reasons for his “imprisonment” and gives a summary of what his outlook may be:

Back in the Fort Meade, Md., hearing room, defense attorneys painted a picture of a chaotic forward operating base with little to no supervision, no controls whatsoever on soldiers’ access to classified data, and a young man in uniform struggling with his sexual identity in the era of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Manning repeatedly flew into rages, throwing furniture and once even punching a superior in the face, without punishment. His peers at the base said he should not be in a war zone. Yet he stayed, until his arrest 18 months ago.

Since his arrest, Manning has been in solitary confinement, for much of the time in Quantico, Va., under conditions so harsh that the U.N. special rapporteur on torture is investigating. Many believe the U.S. government is trying to break Manning in order to use him in its expected case of espionage against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It also sends a dramatic message to any potential whistle-blower: “We will destroy you.”

For now, Manning sits attentively, reports say, facing possible death for “aiding the enemy.” The prosecution offered words Manning allegedly wrote to Assange as evidence of his guilt. In the email, Manning described the leak as “one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetrical warfare.” History will no doubt use the same words as irrefutable proof of Manning’s courage.

There are so many things going on these days that indicate a change in the rights and liberties of American citizens. We are in the process of losing these rights in this Bush/Obama Administration.

I love this history theme for today’s post…here is another article from Truthdig: William Pfaff: History Tells Us Not to Dismiss a Democratic Challenge to Obama

A week ago, in the Providence Journal newspaper (in Rhode Island), the publisher of Harper’s Magazine, John R. MacArthur, wrote that President Barack Obama, through expedient political compromises, has lost the moral authority that an American president must command, and therefore has lost his right to a second presidential term. Mr. MacArthur quotes in support of his argument the veteran journalist Bill Moyers, who was a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s staff from 1965 to 1967, and since has become a prominent commentator on public television and in liberal and Democratic Party circles.

Just click the link to read the rest…and there is a note at the end of the post you may find interesting too. (Especially those following the Euro/EU economic news.)

And for the last link, we’re going Medieval…on the Right and Left’s perceptions of the “War on Christmas.”  Illuminating the “The War on Christmas” — Got Medieval

No snark today, just a few pretty medieval pictures interspersed with thoughts on this whole War on Christmas thing that you hear so much about these days.

At heart, I think, the War is a matter of incompatible perception. One camp looks at Christmas and sees this:

British Library MS Additional 52539, f. 2 (click-expandable)

And the other, this:

British Library MS Egerton 2045, f. 95 (click to expand)

Behold, a pair of “Adoration of the Magi”.* Neither version looks very much like the medieval marginalia this series typically features** but they both muck about with the page’s margins, nevertheless, so they’re fair game.

The second adoration is actually the most properly called “marginalia”; look closely, and you’ll see there’s a tiny rectangle of text there in the middle of the page, barely a half line of scripture.  Everything else–Jesus and Mary, the three magi and their retainers, the gifts, the castle, even the camel–is located fully within the page’s sumptuously decorated margin, a margin that has expanded so as to nearly blot out the page’s text.

Likewise with the first; it’s marginal, if only just.  While it’s technically a “historiated initial,” if you squint at the lower left quadrant, you’ll see that the kneeling cup-bearing servant is slipping out into the margin.  Everyone else is crowded in so that there’s no room left for him to stand in the main image.

Which one is the metaphor for the Christmas War-Uponers, and which the Christmas Defense Squad?

There is so much one can learn about the attitudes and thought process of the Medieval mind through the art of page decorations.

As the above blog post analyzes the pictures of Christmas, that include the Savior, an occasional Christmas “Beasty” and all the other familiar characters, i.e. the Three Wise Men, I wonder what the three idiots on the curvy couch would have to say about all this marginalization going on.

So this is your History Lesson for the day, what else are you reading and thinking about? See y’all later in the comments.

Hmmm…that makes me think of the phrase, See You in the Funny Papers.