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 . . . Read the rest of this entry »

Late Night Drifts

Snowdrifts in a shopping center parking lot South of Boston

I thought I put up a little news for your late night reading pleasure.

I hope all you East Coast folks have finished shoveling your driveways and sidewalks. The drifts in my driveway are almost as high as my car roof, and my sidewalk is just a narrow strip cutting through waist-high snow. When will it end?

You’ve probably heard by now that President Obama has announced his choice for Press Secretary. Jay Carney, formerly of Time Magazine and for the past two years Joe Biden’s communications director, got the nod to replace Robert Gibbs. Frankly, I always thought Carney was a Republican. Oh wait–that makes him perfect for Obama. Also, Carney is married to ABC news correspondent Claire Shipman–isn’t that a bit of a conflict?

Jay Carney and Claire Shipman

Anyway, a few bloggers have been dishing about Carney’s past history.

At FDL, David Dayen reminisced about a Yearly Kos panel that Carney was on in 2007, and also linked to this anecdote by Jay Rosen

Jay Carney is Time magazine’s Washington bureau chief. Andrew Golis interviewed him too, on the sidewalk outside the party that Time threw on Friday night to promote its political blog, Swampland. (I read Swampland and I was there: good party.) “The blogosphere’s critique of the mainstream media has been overwhelmingly healthy and it’s made the mainstream media pay a lot of attention to details it should have been paying attention to,” he said, echoing Scherer and Fournier.

He then added something unintentionally revealing of how political journalists got themselves into the very trouble that’s forcing at least some of them to look inward. “Karen Tumulty and I— we’re not advocates, we’re not columnists.” (Tumulty, a contributor to Swampland, is Time’s national political correspondent.) “It’s our responsibility not to be labeled left or right.”

Is it now?

“That is just so wrong,” said a commenter (Lee) at Swampland, who had watched the interview. “Your job is to tell the truth.” (Regardless of how it gets you categorized.)

He sounds perfect for our post-partisan POTUS.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nostalgic for Nixon?

I thought we’d made some progress since J Edgar Hoover headed the FBI, but maybe not.  This is a really disturbing story I heard as I listened to today’s show  from Democracy Now.  You may recall that the FBI raided homes of peace activists in Minnesota and Chicago back in September.  Here’s one of those villainous peace activists from back then.

Most of these folks are aligned with Palestinian solidarity groups.  In the fall, subpoenas to appear before a grand jury were served on 13 of the activists.  The subpoenas were later withdrawn when the activists asserted their fifth amendment rights.  Many of us thought the situation had ended there.  We were wrong.  Three of those people who were the subject of raids were reissued subpoenas earlier this month.  (Happy Holidays!!  Peace On Earth!!!)  Democracy Now picks up the story with an additional subpoena that was issued to a “Chicago-based activist and journalist involved in Palestinian solidarity work—at least the 23rd person subpoenaed since September”.

I found some information on a peace rally in front of the Dirksen Federal Building this month in Chicago from the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. (Yeah, that HAS to be a terrorist group!)  It’s dated December 9, 2010. This piece not only mentions the Palestinian solidarity connections but also Colombian connections.

A  group of about 100 activists braved frigid temperatures to protest the latest round of FBI subpoenas in front of the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago Monday night.

The FBI issues summons to appear before a federal grand jury to three college students Friday. They are scheduled to appear on Jan. 25, said their attorney Jim Fennerty of the National Lawyers Guild. The women are being targeted because they traveled to the Palestinian occupied territory of the West Bank, he added.

The new subpoenas bring to 17 the number of activists throughout the Midwest that have been targeted by the FBI for their Palestinian and Colombian solidarity work.

Amy Goodman’s piece at Democracy Now has more details. (Shameless Plug:  Please PLEASE keep Democracy Now on your charitable giving list). Notice there’s also a recent Supreme Court decision that has put peace activities in the FBI’s cross hairs.

All those subpoenaed have been involved with antiwar activism that’s critical of U.S. foreign policy. Details on the grand jury case remain scarce, but the subpoenas cited federal law prohibiting, quote, “providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations.” In June, the Supreme Court rejected a free speech challenge to the material support law from humanitarian aid groups that said some of its provisions put them at risk of being prosecuted for talking to terrorist groups about nonviolent activities.

I have to admit that I have a particular interest in this because I have an FBI file from the 1970s.  They actually read my mail coming to my dorm room.  It was because I was a member of the University of Nebraska’s University Women’s Action Group and was actively working to change the state’s “rape” law at the time and to get sexual assault and battery  crimes moved out of property crimes divisions in police departments and into major crime units.  Some one broke into the car of the NOW State Coordinator, took her mailing list, and suddenly, all of us noticed that our mail never made it to us without ever having a broken envelope seal.  It was bizarre.  It didn’t last long because I think at some point either Ford or Carter must’ve put an end to it.  Nixon was even out of office by that time.  Believe me, I was hardly a radical or a threat at the time.  I thought the ‘thought police’ thing had kind’ve gone by the wayside after the Nixon/Ford years but, boy does that seem to be a wrong assessment.

So, Amy Goodman interviewed several of the people involved in the recent FBI and grand jury activity.  Here’s an account of the recent ordeal by Peace Activist Tracy Holm.

Right now, our individual lawyers are being called into meetings with the District Attorney, Fox, in Chicago. They’re essentially trying to scare us into talking, to naming names and giving them a case against the movement and against the people that we have worked with historically to fight for justice for the people of Palestine and the people of Colombia.

I’m really curious about the Colombia thing.  Do you know of any suicide bombers, etc. from Colombia?  So, the interview continues by bringing in  “Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent who was named by Time Magazine Woman of the Year for her exposure of the problems in intelligence by the FBI pre-9/11″.  She is interviewed by Juan Gonzalez.

Well, you know, after 9/11, we almost—there was a green light put on, and there was a very big blurring between protest, civil disobedience and terrorism. And you saw this in many ways. The door was open to basically targeting, without any level of factual justification, advocacy groups. And again, this began pretty quickly after 9/11.

It’s gotten to the point now, nine years later—and I wanted to mention the Washington Post is doing a pretty good job of exposing this, this top-secret America, this monitoring. Their most recent article in the Washington Post says there’s a hundred—the FBI has 164,000 suspicious activity reports. Again, these are things that just have no level of factual justification, that people call in, and the FBI is now keeping records on people. So, I think that, you know, this case will just be the start of targeting various groups like this.

Are we now back in the place that we were in the 1970s where just being an activist for Social Justice gets you onto some one’s radar?  Because, if we are, I’m thinking my email and mail are going to be read again.  Does this trouble you the way it troubles me?