Thursday Reads: Mitt Romney’s Very Very Bad Day

Good Morning!!

Poor Mitt Romney. Yesterday was not a good day for his campaign. The big story of the day on both sides of the Atlantic was the one about unnamed Romney foreign policy advisers who talked to the The Telegraph and made “racially-tinged” remarks.

The quotes were so extensive and detailed that it’s hard to believe they weren’t legit. Even after Romney disavowed the remarks, the Telegraph stood by their story and noted that they had not received any requests for retractions or corrections from the Romney campaign.

The quotes that I found most disturbing were the ones about the supposed shared “Anglo-Saxon heritage” of England and the U.S.

In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.

“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”.

And later in the article:

Members of the former Massachusetts governor’s foreign policy advisory team claimed that as president, he would reverse Mr Obama’s priority of repairing strained overseas relationships while not spending so much time maintaining traditional alliances such as Britain and Israel.

“In contrast to President Obama, whose first instinct is to reach out to America’s adversaries, the Governor’s first impulse is to consult and co-ordinate and to move closer to our friends and allies overseas so they can rely on American constancy and strength,” one told the Telegraph.

“Obama is a Left-winger,” said another. “He doesn’t value the Nato alliance as much, he’s very comfortable with American decline and the traditional alliances don’t mean as much to him. He wouldn’t like singing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.”

When I first read this, I was flummoxed. “Anglo-Saxon heritage”? What on earth does that mean? It sounded so incongruous, yet it rang a bell with some things I’ve read about Mormon philosophy. So I googled a bit. It seems that Mormons believe they are descended from one of the “12 lost tribes of Israel,” and Brigham Young specifically claimed that the Mormons were descended from the tribe of Ephraim:

We are now gathering the children of Abraham who have come through the loins of Joseph and his sons, more especially through Ephraim, whose children are mixed among all the nations of the earth. The sons of Ephraim are wild and uncultivated, unruly, ungovernable. The spirit in them is turbulent and resolute; they are the Anglo-Saxon race, and they are upon the face of the whole earth bearing the spirit of rule and dictation, to go forth from conquering to conquer. They search wide creation and scan every nook and corner of this earth to find out what is upon and within it. I see a congregation of them before me today. No hardship will discourage these men; they will penetrate the deepest wilds and overcome almost insurmountable difficulties to develop the treasures of the earth, to further their indomitable spirit for adventure. 10:188.

Obviously, I can’t know whether these Mormon beliefs were behind the quotes given to the Telegraph, but it seems possible.

The “foreign newspapers” that the Romney campaign so disdains had a bit of fun yesterday ridiculing the Anglo-Saxon flub.

From the Guardian: Some good Anglo-Saxon values for Mitt Romney. You should read the whole thing, but here’s the concluding paragraph:

In 1066, Britain’s mongrel nation status became complete, having been officially invaded by the Romans, the Angles and Saxons, the Jutes from Denmark, the Vikings and finally by the Normans who, critically, stopped Anglo-Saxon culture in its tracks. Twenty years after the invasion, the Anglo-Saxon nobility were in exile, or consigned to the peasantry, with only 8% of England under their control. The myth of Anglo-Saxon roots that Romney wants to perpetrate denies the enormous contribution to British culture by, essentially, the French. Without the Norman invasion of Anglo-Saxon England, our language and culture would obviously be very different – Mitt Romney would be wise not to cast us all back into the Dark Ages.

Also from the Guardian: Dear Mitt Romney: welcome to Britain! We have a few tips for a pleasant stay. Here’s just one paragraph, but please do read the whole thing.

Britain is, legendarily, a nation of animal-lovers, so you can expect people to be significantly more perturbed by the Dog On The Roof Incident than by any other aspect of your record. On the other hand, people will expect you to be unfamiliar with British cuisine, so your bizarre inability to identify common baked goods will actually be less of a handicap than at home. Just try, if at all possible, not to hurl insults at whoever is providing the baked goods. It’s probably fine to eat the baked goods in a strange fashion.

Juan Cole’s reaction to the Anglo-Saxon mess was more serious.

I really dislike Nazi references. They are for the most part a sign of sloppy thinking, and a form of banal hyperbole. But there just is no other way to characterize invoking the Anglo-Saxon race as a basis for a foreign policy relationship, and openly saying that those of a different race cannot understand the need for such ties. It is a Nazi sentiment.

If you would like some evidence for what I say, consider Adolf Hitler’s own point of view:

For a long time yet to come there will be only two Powers in Europe with which it may be possible for Germany to conclude an alliance. These Powers are Great Britain and Italy.”

Of the two possible allies, Hitler much preferred Britain because he considered it higher on his absurd and pernicious racial hierarchy. Indeed, Hitler held Mussolini a bit at arms length while hoping for a British change of heart, a hope only decisively dashed in September, 1939, when Britain declared war.

Hitler complained that colonialism was in danger of diluting Aryan European strength, weighing down the metropole powers. He contrasted this situation with that of the white United States, blessedly possessing its “own continent.” Indeed, it is, he argued (genocidal crackpot that he was), Britain’s special relationship with the Anglo-Saxon-dominated United states that kept it from being overwhelmed by its subhuman colonials:

“we we too easily forget the Anglo-Saxon world as such. The position of England, if only because of her linguistic and cultural bond with the American Union, can be compared to no other state in Europe.”

Yikes! Remember, I didn’t write that. I’m just quoting Professor Juan Cole.

Yesterday Romney also gave an interview to NBC’s Brian Williams. He avoided questions on several topics, including his unreleased tax returns. Romney assured Williams that he was not going to release any more tax returns. Period. End of story. I think he’s hoping that we’ll all be distracted by his trip abroad, but somehow I don’t think the Obama campaign or the media will stop asking him what he’s hiding.

In addition, as JJ reported last night, Romney told Williams that James Holmes shouldn’t have had all that weaponry that he used to murder 12 people, wound more than 50 others, and turn his apartment into a firebomb, because the weapons were all illegal. Oopsie! Another flub.

As Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates explained: “All the weapons that he possessed, he possessed legally. And all the clips that he possessed, he possessed legally. And all the ammunition that he possessed, he possessed legally.”

Holmes used a handgun, a shotgun and an AR-15 assault rifle in his massacre — all legal, thanks to the expiration of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, which had previously prohibited some versions of the AR-15. Holmes also had body armor, tear gas grenades, a gas mask and tactical gear. All are legal and widely available online at minimal cost (one website sells tear gas grenades for just $16 a pop).

The only way it would have been illegal for Holmes to have his guns would be if he had been diagnosed as mentally ill or was a convicted felon, but neither was the case. His only record was a speeding ticket.

The drip drip drip continued in the media’s efforts to discover the truth behind Romney’s exit from Bain Capital. Yesterday the AP released a new “Fact check” article that pokes holes in Romney’s claims that he had no involvement with Bain after he left to head up the 2002 Winter Olympics. Quoting Greg Sargent:

The Associated Press reports this morning that Mitt Romney “stayed in regular contact” with his partners at Bain in the months after the 1999 date that he has given as the time he left the company. The story also claims he “continued to oversee his partnership stakes even as he disengaged from the firm, personally signing or approving a series of corporate and legal documents through the spring of 2001.”

The story doesn’t move the ball too much, but it adds to the information that complicates his case that he bears no responsibility for any of the controversial Bain deals that took place during that period — and that he played “no role whatsoever” with the firm.

Finally, Buzzfeed reports that Democrats Plan To Go Nuclear On Romney “You Didn’t Build This” Attack. In a memo sent to the media, the Obama campaign announces they plan to hit Romney hard on multiple fronts. You can read the whole memo at the link.

That was Romney’s very very bad Wednesday. I wonder what he’ll do today? Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Evening News Reads: Islamic Law, Polygamy and “Fukushima-ed” Washington…

Photo: Bert Hardy 1957

Evening everyone!

The news today out of Washington DC has me so pissed (Take a look at the comments on both of today’s earlier posts and you will see what I am talking about.)   I just want to ignore that swamp for now. So if my commentary seems a bit bitter…you know why.

Today on Juan Cole’s blog, he writes a statement that bothers me. I always read his blog, and respect him so much…but now that Libya is doing away with the law that prohibits polygamy, it should be of great concern, because it goes against women’s rights.  And even if it is a part of the Islamic Law that Cole is discussing…there is something wrong with any person, country, or government, or religion that advocates for polygamy…and that is what bothers me.

I understand the point of Cole’s article. If a US Republican Presidency does not have a problem with Islamic Law in Iraq, what reasons can a US  Democratic Presidency have for their negative reaction to Islamic Law in Libya…But I am disturbed by this paragraph in his latest article.  Islamic Law not a problem in Bush’s Afghanistan & Iraq, but a Problem in Libya? | Informed Comment

Polygamy is legal in Iraq with a judge’s permission, and Iraqi legislators have been considering making it easier for men to take more than one wife in order to have the country’s vast number of war widows supported.

Okay, in other words…the extra wives are taken out of pure concern for women’s welfare.  Oh, what considerate souls these men have…taking in poor widows as sex slaves wives, trapped in a life of servitude, out of the goodness of their hearts.  Maybe I am a bit touchy today, but Cole seems to pass this “excuse” for polygamy as a legitimate reason. He ends the post with this…

So far, Jalil has said nothing that was not said repeatedly by his predecessor, Qaddafi. He has said nothing that is not in the constitutions and/or legal practice of Bush’s Afghanistan and Iraq. But there is no hand-wringing about those two “liberated” countries and Islamic law or sharia. I guess if secular, communist Afghanistan was made fundamentalist by Reagan and Bush, or if the relatively secular Baath Party of Iraq was overthrown by W. in favor of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Islamic Call Party and the Bloc of Ayatollah Sadr II, that is unobjectionable and not even reported on. But if there’s a Democratic president in the White House, all of a sudden it is a scandal if Muslims practice Muslim law.

Okay, let me just say that I have come to the conclusion that both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party (including any of the other minor parties involving the color Green, Liberty or Tea) should change their party slogans to, “Fuck off and die.”

But, back to Cole…the reason GOP presidents have not had issue with Islamic Law, that includes polygamy, is simple…the GOP have been on an anti-women crusade for years. And polygamy is one thing, that I feel goes against the rights of women. Most of the time polygamy is forced on the women, who more than likely are just girls, trapped in a life that is degrading and perpetuates a society that feels women are nothing more than objects…to be collected as the older ones get less desirable and have more difficulty doing their chores.

I guess my over-sensitivity stems from dealing with crap like this:

Push for ‘Personhood’ Amendments Is New Tack in Abortion Fight – NYTimes.com

A constitutional amendment facing voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8, and similar initiatives brewing in half a dozen other states including Florida and Ohio, would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder.

With this far-reaching anti-abortion strategy, the proponents of what they call personhood amendments hope to reshape the national debate.

“I view it as transformative,” said Brad Prewitt, a lawyer and executive director of the Yes on 26 campaign, which is named for the Mississippi proposition. “Personhood is bigger than just shutting abortion clinics; it’s an opportunity for people to say that we’re made in the image of God.”

Or reports of immigrant women being taken advantage of:

Immigration Detainees Fear Rape and Death » Blog of Rights: Official Blog of the American Civil Liberties Union

The Department of Homeland Security assumes that mass detention is the key to immigration enforcement. But in fact, our detention system locks up thousands of immigrants unnecessarily every year, exposing detainees to brutal and inhumane conditions of confinement at massive costs to American taxpayers. Throughout the next two weeks, check back daily for posts about the costs of immigration detention, both human and fiscal, and what needs to be done to ensure fair and humane policy.

Every year for at least the last four years, an officer, guard or other employee at an immigration detention center in Texas has been criminally prosecuted for sexually assaulting an immigration detainee. Every time, the government issues a press release about the prosecution and trumpets its efforts to protect detainees and punish bad actors — the implication being that sexual assault in detention is limited in scope and due merely to the actions of a few bad actors.

But it isn’t.

Government documents obtained by the ACLU through the Freedom of Information Act and made public last week contain nearly 200 allegations of sexual abuse of immigration detainees jailed at detention facilities across the nation since 2007 alone. While more complaints came from facilities in Texas than any other state, allegations have come from nearly every state that houses a detention center. And because sexual abuse is something that is widely underreported, there can be little question that the information we have thus far received is only the tip of the iceberg. What is clear is that the sexual abuse of immigration detainees is a widespread problem and that immigration detainees are particularly vulnerable to abuse.

Or, politicians that don’t give a flying fuck about half of the country’s population:

Mississippi Dem Unsure What Personhood Does, Still Supports It | Mother Jones

…the push to pass state-level constitutional “personhood” amendments to ban abortion (among other things) by defining life as beginning at conception. Previous initiatives have fallen short, but Mississippi’s personhood movement, which was initiated by a one-time Christian secessionist who backed a plan to create an independent theocracy in upstate South Carolina, has a decent chance of passing this November—at least if its high-profile endorsers are any indication:

Mississippi will also elect a new governor on Nov. 8. The Republican candidate, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, is co-chairman of Yes on 26 and his campaign distributes bumper stickers for the initiative. The Democratic candidate, Johnny DuPree, the mayor of Hattiesburg and the state’s first black major-party candidate for governor in modern times, says he will vote for it though he is worried about its impact on medical care and contraception.

Yes, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee supports the measure, which would ban abortion even in cases of rape. DuPree fleshed out his views a bit at a debate at the Mississippi College School of Law.

Video of Johnny Dupree at that MoJo link…but if you don’t feel like watching it…

… DuPree says he also has concerns about exceptions for things like rape and incest, but thought of the ballot question as one of principle: Where do you believe life begins? But he really should have concerns about rape and incest, because the group Personhood Mississippi, which collected the signatures to put the question on the ballot, campaigned for the measure by holding something literally called the “Conceived in Rape Tour.” Brad Prewitt, spokesman for Yes on 26, told me, “you don’t execute the product of the crime, and that’s what abortion does.” Prewitt also referred to the morning-after pill as a “human pesticide” and explained that while he supports in-vitro fertilization, the amendment would require changes in the way IVF is currently handled. (For one thing, if you froze an embryo, that could be redefined as child abuse.)

Or, maybe my over-sensitivity is due to the PLUB personhood policies making birth control a crime!

Then They Came for Your Birth Control | Mother Jones

Mississippi anti-abortion activists wants to define personhood as starting when a sperm fertilizes an egg. In that case, it would likely make intrauterine devices (IUDs), which can prevent pregnancy by blocking the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, illegal. (IUDs can also prevent sperm from fertilizing the egg in the first place, and IUDs with hormones also operate much like regular old birth control pills, but that doesn’t seem to matter to anti-abortion activists.)

The measure would also almost certainly make Plan B, also known as emergency contraception or the “morning after” pill, illegal. This high dose of hormones is used to prevent a woman from ovulating, but anti-abortion groups also insist that it can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting (despite the fact that the scientists say that’s not the case). Needless to say, anti-abortion groups don’t like Plan B very much, either.

But the law could also introduce the possibility of banning any form of hormonal birth control. Generally, “the pill” (as well as the shot, the patch, and the ring) work by stopping ovulation. But some anti-abortion groups argue that there can be failures on that front, and the doses of hormone could possibly also work by stopping implantation should an egg and sperm still manage to meet up.

(This Kate Sheppard article has a link to a good legal explanation of the personhood law by Irin Carmon published in Salon. Give that article a read.)

Okay…I seem to have gotten a bit carried away there…my point being that if this bone I have to pick with Cole over his statement on polygamy is seen as a ridiculous rant, those reasons for my oversensitive reaction should be more than enough to explain my state of mind lately.

Yesterday, I posted a link to a new sushi radioactive meter plate that is being sold in Japan. I have a couple more links on Fukushima…

Fukushima Nuclear Plant Released Far More Radiation than Government Said: Scientific American

Global radioactivity data challenge Japanese estimates for emissions and point to the role of spent fuel pools

The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March released far more radiation than the Japanese government has claimed. So concludes a study1 that combines radioactivity data from across the globe to estimate the scale and fate of emissions from the shattered plant.

The study also suggests that, contrary to government claims, pools used to store spent nuclear fuel played a significant part in the release of the long-lived environmental contaminant caesium-137, which could have been prevented by prompt action. The analysis has been posted online for open peer review by the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

The Scientific American article is very good…please take a look at the entire post because it discusses the results of the study in a detailed way.

Also, there have been recent news article about the debris from the Japan Tsunami that appears to be making its way to Hawaii a little faster than expected. But there looks like some feathered creatures may be hitching a ride… Secret Tsunami Stowaways | Mother Jones

As an interesting aside, monstrously huge rafts of tsunami debris may well be one of the mechanisms by which life originally dispersed to the Hawaiian Islands. 

Pallus' rosefinch, Carpodacus roseus, native to China, Japan, the Korean Peninsula, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Russia.: Credit: M. Nishimura via Wikimedia Commons.Pallus’ rosefinch, Carpodacus roseus, native to China, Japan, the Korean Peninsula, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Russia. Credit: M. Nishimura via Wikimedia Commons.

A new analysis of the genome of Hawaiian honeycreepers reveals they’re not descended, as thought, from the honeycreepers of the Americas, but are instead a sister taxon to the Eurasian rosefinches of the genus Carpodacus.

Based on a genetic analysis, the precursors of Hawaiian honeycreepers probably arrived on Kauai and Niihau about 5.7 million years ago and continued to diverge into different species after Oahu emerged from the sea.

ʻIʻiwi, or scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper, Vestiaria coccinea.: Credit: Paul Banko, NPS.ʻIʻiwi, or scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper, Vestiaria coccinea. Credit: Paul Banko, NPS.It’s possible that huge floating mats of tsunami debris—perhaps from Japan—brought the ancestors of Hawaii’s present-day honeycreepers to the islands.

Those of you who’ve spent time at sea know how land birds get blown off course and will rest on any platform at sea—ship, boat, raft, the backs of sleeping whales—as they fight to stay alive.

Maybe the current tsunami debris will transport some newcomers to the Hawaiian Islands.

Townsend's warbler rests on boat.: Credit: Andrew Revkin via Flickr.Townsend’s warbler rests on boat. Credit: Andrew Revkin via Flickr.

Would we recognize them as naturally-delivered refugees?Or would we try to exterminate them as human-introduced aliens?

Hmmmm….perhaps we should put up a Cain influenced electric water shield around Hawaii as a precaution?

BTW, that MoJo article has links to some very cool animation on the currents that are taking the stowaways to Hawaii…check it out!

So that is it for me today, what are you all reading and blogging about?


Tuesday Reads

Good morning, political junkies!! Let’s get right to the news.

President Obama gave a speech last night in which he made a pretty good case (IMO) for U.S. limited intervention in Libya. He stated that there were not going to be American boots on the ground and that the U.S. is essentially finished with its part of the operation–it will be up to the UK, France, and Italy to police the no-fly zone and to the Libyan people to depose Gaddafi and decide what comes next.

Surprisingly, Obama was a bit more animated than usual–actually emphasizing points with his voice and at times appearing almost passionate. At least the speech didn’t start to put me to sleep until the last several minutes.

Obama indicated that the U.S. will continue to support efforts to set up a functioning government in Libya, but that will be a non-military effort. If he stands strong with that, I think he’s finally done something I agree with and can support.

Obama also argued that just because we can’t intervene in every conflict doesn’t mean that we should never intervene at all. We have to choose our battles, and in the case of Libya we had a dictator who was using his military–and his air power to kill his own citizens indiscriminately. If he had managed to attack Benghazi he might have murdered hundreds of thousands of people.

Furthermore, Libyans had asked for our help, and our action was supported by other Arab countries and by the Arab League. For once the U.S. was doing something that most Arabs wanted us to do. If we had not acted, we would have seen an atrocity take place, and that would have encouraged dictators in other Arab countries to crack down violently on protesters.

Here is the full text of the speech, if you are interested. I do think Obama went on too long after making the case for Libya. The speech would have been much better if he had done that and then wrapped it up.

I must say, I do not understand the criticisms of this Libya policy that I’m seeing in the progosphere, and from some people here at Sky Dancing. Maybe I’m nuts, but I think the U.S. finally had a chance to do something good with its massive military power and at the same time we get some good PR in a part of the world that has long hated us–with justification because we have enabled most of the tyrants in the region. I’m glad Hillary was able to convince her boss to do the right thing.

I want to call attention to some very knowledgeable people who agree with my assessment–and we do appear to be in the minority.

Thomas Ricks was on Monday’s edition of NPR’s Talk of the Nation. He said that he was struck by how many people either aren’t listening to what Obama, Clinton, and Gates are saying or they are discounting it out of hand.

Ricks said that these three are saying that the U.S. goals in Libya have already been achieved. The rebel forces are knocking on the door of Tripoli, thanks to the no-fly zone and some strategic bombing by the coalition countries. As Obama said last night, it is now up to Libyans to decide what to do with Gaddafi. We aren’t going to try to take him out.

Here’s what Ricks wrote on his blog after his appearance on Meet the Press with Gates and Clinton:

I was on Meet the Press yesterday, following Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates. I was struck at how frequently they emphasized the short-term, limited nature of the U.S. action in Libya, and how they used the past tense to discuss it:

Gates: “I think that the no fly zone aspect of the mission has been accomplished.”

Clinton: “I think we’ve prevented a great humanitarian disaster.”

Gates: “we see our commitment of resources actually beginning to — to decline.”

Gates: “in terms of the military commitment, the president has put some very strict limitations in terms of what we are prepared to do.”

Gates: “I don’t think it’s [Libya] a vital interest for the United States. But we clearly have interests there. And it’s a part of the region, which is a vital interest for the United States.”

I also was struck at how much more assertive Clinton seemed than Gates. A friend of mine calls this “State’s War.”

Ricks also blogged about his take on Obama’s speech: Obama on Libya: Watch out, Saudi Arabia

What we saw in the NDU speech was a logical defense of what the president has ordered the military to do and an exposition of what the limits of the action will be. The cost of inaction threatened to be greater than the cost of action, but now we have done our part. Next role for the U.S. military is best supporting actor, providing electronic jammers, combat search and rescue, logistics and intelligence. That was all necessary, and pretty much as expected.

But I was most struck by the last few minutes of the speech, when Obama sought to put the Libyan intervention in the context of the regional Arab uprising. He firmly embraced the forces of change, saying that history is on their side, not on the side of the oppressors. In doing so he deftly evoked two moments in our own history-first, explicitly, the American Revolution, and second, more slyly, abolitionism, with a reference to “the North Star,” which happened to be the name of Frederick Douglass’s newspaper. If you think that was unintentional, read this.

Hmmm…I totally missed that. Follow me below the fold…

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White Terrorist Apologia

Professor Juan Cole has written a powerful piece on White Terrorism that explains why Tuscon shooter Jared Loughner’s shooting spree was a political act.  Loughner was undoubtedly mentally ill.  He was rejected by Army recruiting because of drug use.  Disturbing accounts of his behavior while attending community college are now being reported by the press.  He was clearly a ticking time bomb with access to high powered weapons.   All of these, however, do not change the basic political nature of his closing diatribes on MySpace and on Youtube.   The right wing is trying to use one cite of The Communist Manifesto as a favorite book to frame him as a leftie when evidence is becoming more clear that he was probably an extremist libertarian. The two most outspoken libertarians at the moment are Glenn Beck and Ron Paul. They are not leftist or Democratic. They are happily situated in the Right Wing of the Republican party.

Apologia for white terrorism is every where today and coming from the usual suspects.  High among them is any media outlet with Rupert Murdoch financing and ownership. Remember all the right wing outrage over the Homeland Security report citing the possible increase in young, white male domestic terrorism?

(U//FOUO) The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.

I’ve included Glenn Beck’s reaction to the report.  Listen to the characteristics he describes as harmless and considers patriotic,  then think, hmmm, does this sound like the Tucson Shooter to you?   Do you honestly believe that some young man starting to go over the edge to insanity can’t listen to this and feel empowered?  Jerrod Loughner looks like the archetype for  lone wolf extremist.  The Feds are currently  investigating his ties to Pro-White racist organizations. Specifically, the “American Renaissance”. Jerrod Loughner’s rants were parcel and part of the current Bircher Bunch’s diatribes against the Federal Government

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Wikileaks and Israel

We may not be able to get the news from our press,but the foreign press and alternative media sources continue to let us know the substantive things released in the Wikileaks State Department Cables.  I can’t read Norwegian, but the Norwegian Aftenposten is the source of the following story outlined by Professor Juan Cole on his website Informed Consent.

The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has summarized an Israeli military briefing by Israeli Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi of a US congressional delegation a little over a year ago and concludes that

‘ The memo on the talks between Ashkenazi and [Congressman Ike] Skelton, as well as numerous other documents from the same period of time, to which Aftenposten has gained access, leave a clear message: The Israeli military is forging ahead at full speed with preparations for a new war in the Middle East.

Note: This war preparation is serious and specific, according to the paper, and clearly is not just a matter of vague contingency planning.

The paper says that US cables quote Ashkenazi telling the US congressmen, “I’m preparing the Israeli army for a major war, since it is easier to scale down to a smaller operation than to do the opposite

I have to also tell you that my print copy of  The Economist showed up in the mail box today with this huge headline:  Please, Not Again:  The Threat of War in the Middle East.  Also, there’s this subtitle in the online version: ‘Without boldness from Barack Obama there is a real risk of war in the Middle East’.  I am assuming that the editorial staff there got the low down on some of these items way before we finally are reading about them here.  Predictably, there’s a lot on Hizbullah rocket stockpiles.  No information on such robust Israeli war planning.  Coverage of war drum beating is always predictably filtered and lop-sided.

Democracy Now also has major coverage of Israeli preparations for war via the Wikileaks information.

The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten is claiming it has come into possession of all of the classified U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks. In a report on one newly released cable, the paper reveals that Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told a U.S. congressional delegation a little over a year ago that the Israeli military is forging ahead at full speed with preparations for a new war in the Middle East. The cables quote Ashkenazi saying, “I’m preparing the Israeli army for a major war, since it is easier to scale down to a smaller operation than to do the opposite.”

Evidently the driving force behind this is Hamas and Hizbullah stockpile of rockets and their capabilities according to Juan Cole as cited above.  Israel–like any other state–has the right to defend itself.  This should go without saying.  However, the more I read, the more I’m convinced this goes way beyond that.  There are stockpiles in the hands of nefarious groups.  So far, that’s been it.

The general’s plans are driven by fear of growing stockpiles of rockets in Hamas-controlled Gaza and in Hizbullah-controlled Southern Lebanon, the likely theaters of the planned major new war. Ashkenazi does not seem capable of considering that, given a number of Israeli invasions and occupations of those regions, the rockets may be primarily defensive.

Ashkenazi told the visiting delegation that Israeli unmanned drones had had great success in identifying rocket emplacements in southern Lebanon, and that it had been aided in this endeavor by the US National Security Agency,which spies on communications.

Israeli unmanned drones? I’d forgotten that development was announced last than a year ago. The Heron TP is evidently the size of a 737 and can fly nonstop for 20 hours giving it more than enough steam to get well into Iran. Now, we’re beginning to see why they were so excited about it.  I figured it might be used to take out Irani nuclear weapon facilities or something possibly noble like that.  Of course, I should know better given how much WMD were used to beat the drum beat against Iraq. We know how well that turned out.

Instead, we read this.  Again, it’s from Juan Cole translating the source.

The new, major war will be a total war on civilians, Ashkenazi boasted: “In the next war Israel cannot accept any restrictions on warfare in urban areas.” (I den neste krigen kan Israel ikke godta noen restriksjoner på krigføring i byområder in Norwegian, or let us just translate it into the original German: “Im nächsten Krieg kann Israel keine Beschränkungen der Kriegsführung in städtischen Gebieten akzeptieren.”.) Mind you, the civilian deaths deriving from this massive and unrestricted bombing campaign on targets in the midst of civilian urban populations will be “unintentional.” Planning to bomb civilian areas with foreknowledge that you will thereby kill large numbers of civilians is a war crime.

I certainly hope the Secretary of State is answering the 3 a.m. phone calls these days.  If the remaining naysaying  idiots on the planet haven’t figured out the value of the Wikileaks yet, they never will.  We could always send them off to be used as human shields in a possible war zone hidden from our view for over a year.  Frankly, I agree with Mr. Rogers.  I like to be told.  Do you think we’d have invaded Iraq if we’d have been told a lot of the lies behind that invasion by a Wikileaks type whistle blower source?


Saturday Reads

'Cupcakes on a Book' by Rachel Montague

Good Morning!!!

First up, a couple of items from Politico.

Well, we can’t get any action on torture memos and evidence destruction, but Robert Gates is ordering a probe into leaks. Guess it’s only a problem if we know about it.  This time the problem is who inkled the DADT pentagon survey before its time.

“The secretary strongly condemns the unauthorized release of information related to this report and has directed an investigation to establish who communicated with The Washington Post or any other news organization without authorization and in violation of department policy and his specific instruction.”

The Pentagon’s anger over the release of parts of the report aren’t based on national security concerns. Instead, the newspaper story appeared to foil a carefully orchestrated plan to make public the reports findings after they were due Dec. 1. Releasing aspects of the report would affect public perceptions just weeks before the issue is likely to emerge again in Congress. The newspaper article based on only parts of the report could undermine the overall integrity of the report’s findings, Pentagon officials said.

I suppose that means that all had to get their stories straight before we found out about it.   I’m also thinking that some folks probably aren’t quite on board with it yet.

Raise your hand if you think Rick Perry is running for President.  Yup, me too.  He’s angling for some higher profile positions right now.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be tapped as the new chairman of the Republican Governors Association when the organization meets next week in San Diego, GOP sources tell POLITICO.

Perry recently released a book taking aim at the federal government and both the subject of the tome, “Fed Up!,” and his promotion of it have fueled speculation that he is eyeing a presidential bid.

Ah, Matt Yglesias wants to feel better about Obama and just comes out and says it in a post called ‘Results, Not Words’. Good luck with that.

I think that where a lot of progressive political junkies go wrong is that they think “blame Republicans for failing to pass plan to fix the economy” is a close substitute for “fix the economy.” In reality, the evidence that fixing the economy would help Democrats politically is overwhelming, while the evidence that the plan/block/blame strategy would work is non-existent. People like me and Atrios would feel better about President Obama and his team if they made public statements that indicated that he roughly agrees with our take on what ideally should be done, but people like me and Atrios are neither swing voters nor marginally attached voters. Our emotional state has very little political relevance.

Here’s Juan Cole’s take on Obama and Asia and what he calls The Asian Century. Bottom line:  No one takes us seriously any more and they still don’t like us very much.  Cole sees this from the diplomatic viewpoint.  I’ve seen it from the same things in terms of trade and economics.  It’s just a matter of time before we’re the little guys just like the Brits.

Just how weakened the United States has been in Asia is easily demonstrated by the series of rebuffs its overtures have suffered from regional powers.  When, for instance, a tiff broke out this fall between China and Japan over a collision at sea near the disputed Senkaku Islands, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered to mediate.  The offer was rejected out of hand by the Chinese, who appear to have deliberately halted exports of strategic rare-earth metals to Japan and the United States as a hard-nosed bargaining ploy.  In response, the Obama administration quickly turned mealy-mouthed, affirming that while the islands come under American commitments to defend Japan for the time being, it would take no position on the question of who ultimately owned them.

Likewise, Pakistani politicians and pundits were virtually unanimous in demanding that President Obama raise the issue of disputed Kashmir with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his Indian sojourn.  The Indians, however, had already firmly rejected any internationalization of the controversy, which centers on the future of the Muslim-majority state, a majority of whose inhabitants say they want independence.  Although Obama had expressed an interest in helping resolve the Kashmir dispute during his presidential campaign, by last March his administration was already backing away from any mediation role unless both sides asked for Washington’s help.  In other words, Obama and Clinton promptly caved in to India’s insistence that it was the regional power in South Asia and would brook no external interference.

This kind of regional near impotence is only reinforced by America’s perpetual (yet ever faltering) war machine.  Nor, as Obama moves through Asia, can he completely sidestep controversies provoked by the Afghan War, his multiple-personality approach to Pakistan, and his administration’s obsessive attempt to isolate and punish Iran.

Here’s a cool list. It’s the World’s Richest Women. It’s also another sign of the Asian Century.  Have you learned any Mandarin yet?

Topping the list is Zhang Yin, founder of a paper recycling company, who is worth $5.6 billion. She’s followed by two more Chinese women who are each worth more than $4 billion. To put that in perspective, Oprah ranked ninth with $2.3 billion and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is 20th with $1 billion. The numbers were compiled by the Hurun Report.

What explains the surge in China’s wealthy women? One answer appears to be an intense work ethic and strong ambition. According to a study completed earlier this year by the Center for Work-Life Policy, just over one-third of all college-educated American women describe themselves as very ambitious, versus two thirds in China.

Here’s another eye-popper: More than 75 percent of women in China aspire to hold a top corporate job, compared with just over half in the US. One of the more interesting findings from the study was that communism may have given women a boost, because it underscored that women could do whatever men could do. Who could have ever imagined that Maoist philosophy could be a calling card for capitalism?

Chinese women, like their American counterparts, still have a long way to go. Only 11 percent of the richest Chinese citizens are women and Chinese women have about a third less wealth than their male counterparts. Here in the US, the Census Bureau recently said that the number of women with six-figure incomes is rising at a much faster pace than it is for men. But overall, women still earn about twenty cents less on the dollar than men nationwide and only three percent of CEO’s of publicly-traded companies are women.

WAPO reports that the Supreme Court has declined to throw out DADT.

Rejecting a request by a Republican gay rights group, the U.S. Supreme Court refused Friday to stop enforcement of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy while a lower court hears a challenge to the ban.

Friday’s decision by the high court keeps in place the military’s ban on gays and lesbians serving openly as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit prepares to hear legal arguments in a case brought by the Log Cabin Republicans. The group is challenging the constitutionality of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and in September convinced a federal district judge to briefly block enforcement of the ban.

The 9th Circuit reversed the decision, which led LCR to appeal to the high court on Monday. The Justice Department argued the policy should continue as the court case proceeds.

The justices provided no comment with their decision, but Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case, the court said. Kagan previously served as the Obama administration’s solicitor general and helped develop the Justice Department’s strategy on the Log Cabin case.

Here’s an interesting tidbit from Salon.  It seems that one of Sarah Palin’s top aides is funded by George Soros AND it’s something the Beckster overlooked in his all out attack on Soros as worst person in the world.  Oh, wait, Soros as anti-American fascist commie pinko … Well, one of those things you call people who you want to make a living off … and no, this isn’t a gratuitous fire spouting liberal I obsess with Sarah Palin post.  You can breathe easy now.  I’m just intrigued by the irony of it all.

Glenn Beck spent the past week denouncing the liberal billionaire and philanthropist George Soros as a “puppet master” who is orchestrating a coup “to bring America to her knees.”

Given Soros’ alleged role plotting to destroy the United States, Beck and his Fox viewership might be surprised to learn that one of Sarah Palin’s top aides has been on Soros’ payroll for years.

That would be Republican lobbyist Randy Scheunemann, Palin’s foreign policy adviser and a member of her small inner circle. He runs a Washington, D.C., consulting firm called Orion Strategies. Scheunemann and a partner have since 2003 been paid over $150,000 by one of Soros’ organizations for lobbying work, according to federal disclosure forms reviewed by Salon. The lobbying, which has continued to the present, centers on legislation involving sanctions and democracy promotion in Burma.

Scheunemann’s client is the Open Society Policy Center, a DC-based advocacy group founded and funded by Soros. The Open Society Policy Center says on its website that it “encourages Congress and the Administration to press the military dictatorship in Burma to restore political rights and democracy.”

In the course of Beck’s three-day look at Soros’ network of organizations and his links to Democratic politicians, the fact that a top aide to a likely GOP presidential candidate has been retained by a Soros outfit did not come up.

So, my guess is the media is in a ratings war to find the bottom of the gene pool.

[MABlue’s picks]
A worthy Nobel Peace Prize laureate is finally free. You hear that China?
Aung San Suu Kyi walks free

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi finally walked to freedom today amid massive cheers from elated supporters who flooded the streets outside her home in Burma.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years, was greeted by jubilant crowds who had gathered in Rangoon in anticipation of her release.

Facebook wants to invade your privacy some more.
Facebook set to launch ‘Gmail killer’ email system

Facebook is set to launch its latest Google-taunting product on Monday: the long-anticipated Facebook email system.

The launch of an @facebook.com email is not itself a great surprise – the existence of a secret project officially known as Project Titan and unofficially as “Gmail killer” has been circulating since February.

But tech industry analysts believe that a Facebook email system, coupled to its popular photo and events programs, could become a comprehensive competitor to Gmail.

I always knew those vanity plates had some usefulness.
Vanity Plate Leads Police To Robbery Suspect

Hooksett woman was arrested and charged with robbing a pharmacy after a witness jotted down the vanity plate on her car as she left the area, police said
[…]
The license plate reported by the witness was B-USHER, which police said was registered to Bonnie Usher, 43. Usher was arrested at her home a short time later and charged with armed robbery.

How could a woman say “NO!” to this perfectly nice gentleman?
Man accused of trying to run down ex-girlfriend after rejected marriage proposal

Hernandez’s car had the proposal “Stacy Will You Marry Me?” written on the back window of his car, according to reports.

“She said no. He was a little unhappy with that,” Berg said.
Hernandez allegedly drove onto the sidewalk through some bushes and into the restaurant parking lot, narrowly missing the woman

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?