Category Archives: Military

QADDAFI KILLED – Another turnover in the Middle East

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was killed today in a gunfight in his hometown of Sirte after a prolonged struggle, the interim Libyan government said, thus ending once and for all the rule Qaddafi had held since 1969.

Four decades of Qaddafi’s control of the oil-rich country led to advanced weapon development which was later abandoned, grizzly murders of opponents, responsibility for airplane bombings and the creation of a cartoon-styled identity used to present himself to the rest of the world.

He became the longest serving Arab or African dictator, outlasting his early contemporaries such as Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein and Gamel Nasser, yet he never believed that the Libyans, in the last couple of years, had turned against him.

Apparently he was wounded in the fire fight and died later in the ambulance. One of his sons died as well.

The best news to me is that we didn’t do it!

The world now watches to see what will happen in Libya as it reconstructs itself.

Congress is back in session… don’t expect anything new.

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

Mark Twain

So now there is a reason to find the day’s comedy on C-Span and C-Span2 once more. Unfortunately, this is no longer comedy, but the essence of our national tragedy.

Tragedies have tragic figures, of course, who fall into the inescapable fissure of their own inabilities. The tragic figures here are not Democrats, not Republicans, not the President,

Mitch McConnell LEADS the Ranks of the Inverted

not Mitch McConnell, not John Boehner, and for heaven’s same not the Tea Party.

We are the Tragic Figures: Americans. Americans who no longer vote because they have  been alienated by one party or the other with the marketing assistance of Corporations and that 1% of the population that controls 80% of the money. Americans who hear politicians say “Put America First” and “Put Americans Back To Work” – yet cancel each other out on their own votes in Congress. Americans who are bought off without even knowing it… have been since Reagan… and who attack their own state of well being while they think they are standing strong.

The major point of tragedies is that they prove their point, but don’t end well. The Tragic Figure dies, or has eyes pulled out, or loses everything necessary to maintain life.

In a recent  Truthout article called “Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult”, Mike Lofgren shows the strategy that Republicans use to carry us further into unending misery:

Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.

John P. Judis sums up the modern GOP this way:

“Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today’s Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery.”

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters’ confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that “they are all crooks,” and that “government is no good,” further leading them to think, “a plague on both your houses” and “the parties are like two kids in a school yard.”

…and, of course, the resulting action is that65% of Americans at a minimum no longer vote.

And that’s the real tragedy.

The end seems near in Libya:

The leader de facto of Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Gadhafi

This from McClatchy News Service:

Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi’s regime appeared near collapse Sunday with the reported capture of his son and the surrender of his personal guard to rebel forces, Libyan officials and NATO said.

With NATO bombings paving the way, rebel forces swiftly closed in on Tripoli and by late Sunday were in control of large swaths of the capital. Live television footage showed crowds of opposition fighters in Tripoli unfurling the rebel tricolor flag and smashing Gadhafi portraits. Young men stomped on a large tapestry of the leader as they flashed victory signs.

Gadhafi made a brief audio statement on Libyan TV, sounding desperate as he called on individual tribes and cities to rise up and defend Tripoli. He pleaded with Libyans to “take weapons” and prevent the destruction of “beautiful Tripoli.”

Congress pledges to work all weekend to solve Deficit Problem. I pledge to stop laughing as soon as I get off the floor.

We know for, what is now, a fact that the children in control of the House are going to pound their hands and feet on the floor to avoid compromise and the Democrats in the Senate, without seeing what the House may pass, has already vowed to vote against it.

John Boehner seems more concerned with shifting control of the Tea-Party loaded House back to his office… this, of course, he does by promoting Tea-Party principles… and Harry Reid and friends are working hrd to make sure Republicans are responsible for the Economic cesspool we are in.

President Obama seems to be staying on top of the fray… but that doesn’t mean anything is being accomplished. Then, there’s the possibility of the 14th Amendment brou-ha-ha to come into play… although Obama is indicating it won’t.

Rich and Greedy folks like the Koch Brothers are sitting on their money piles and holding off any attempts to get them to pay their fair share. Control freaks like Grover Norquist are waving signed copies of the no-tax pledges that have gotten Republicans to sign over their heads and yelling “small government” (as we continue to pursue our role as World Policeman at a cost of Billions of Bucks a day.)

And now they have indicated they will work the weekend in Congress to solve the problem… something they have not been able to do in their string of regular 3-day weeks (gee… they have to travel on Mondays and Fridays.).

I no longer wish to pay congressional salaries unless they actually come to a positive compromise. Nor do I think we should support their staffs. And if they don’t come up with this compromise.. and protect the lower and middle classes… in time for the August 2 collapse, they should be ejected from their offices as well. Let them sit out in the rain predicted for Saturday and figure out how they are going to justify their jobs.

Why I love (and support) Bernie Sanders…

As the debate over deficits ramped up in Washington today, Sen. Bernie Sanders laid out the compelling case not to slash programs for working families. Any deficit reduction package must rely on new revenue for at least half the reduction in red ink, he added in a major address in the Senate. Sanders spoke at length about what caused deficits (wars, Wall Street bailouts, tax breaks for the rich) and how to shrink them (more revenue from the wealthiest Americans to match spending cuts). He urged fellow senators not to yield to Republican congressional leaders who “acted like schoolyard bullies” when they walked out of budget negotiations. And he urged President Obama not to accommodate them again on the backs of working Americans, the poor and the Elderly. He summed up the situation in a letter to the president that had been signed by more than 18,700 people by the time he completed his speech.

Sign the letter »

Want Single-Payer health Care? Move to Libby, Montana… but hold your breath

Max Baucus, U.S. Senator from Montana.

Max Baucus helped keep the rest of us from a Single-Payer system - my idea of a Democrat with Republican motives.

This article, reproduced here in full, is from Firedoglake. Read it and see why I don’t like Max Baucus:

How Libby, Montana, Got Medicare for All

By Kay Tillow

http://my.firedoglake.com

In 2009 when the Washington beltway was tied up with the health care reform tussle, Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the all powerful Senate Finance Committee, said everything was on the table–except for single payer. When doctors, nurses and others rose in his hearing to insist that single payer be included in the debate, Baucus had them arrested. As more stood up, Baucus could be heard on his open microphone saying, “We need more police.”

Yet when Senator Baucus needed a solution to a catastrophic health disaster in Libby, Montana, and surrounding Lincoln County, he turned to the nation’s single payer healthcare system, Medicare, to solve the problem.

Baucus’ problem was caused by a vermiculite mine that had spread deadly airborne asbestos killing hundreds and sickening thousands in Libby and northwest Montana. The W. R. Grace Company that owned the mine denied its connection to the massive levels of mesothelioma and asbestosis and dodged responsibility for this environmental and health disaster. When all law
suits and legal avenues failed, Baucus turned to our country’s single payer plan, Medicare.

The single payer plan that Baucus kept off the table is now very much on the table in Libby. Unknown to most of the public, Baucus inserted a section into the health reform bill that covers the suffering people of Libby, Montana, not just the former miners but the whole community—all covered by Medicare.

They don’t have to be 65 years old or more.
They don’t have to wait until 2014 for the state exchanges.
No ten year roll out—it’s immediate.
They don’t have to purchase a plan—this is not a buy-in to Medicare—it’s
free.
They don’t have to be disabled for two years before they apply.
They don’t have to go without care for three years until Medicaid expands.
They don’t have to meet income tests.
They don’t have to apply for a subsidy.
They don’t have to pay a fine for failure to buy insurance.
They don’t have to hope that the market will make a plan affordable.
They don’t have to hide their pre-existing conditions.
They don’t have to find a job that provides coverage.

Baucus inserted a clause in the Affordable Care Act to make special arrangements for them in Medicare, and he didn’t wait for any
Congressional Budget Office scoring to do it.

Less than two months after the passage of the health reform bill on March 23, 2010, Nancy Berryhill of the Social Security Administration in Denver joined personally in
setting up an office in Libby to sign up these newly eligible people.  “This is a new thing,” Berryhill told the Missoulian. “No other group like this has ever been selected to receive Medicare.” Berryhill issued a nationwide alert to inform anyone who had lived or stayed in Lincoln County of their eligibility. She opened a storefront in Libby at the old downtown city hall where she signed up 60 people on the first day. She plastered the towns of Whitefish and Eureka with pamphlets explaining the program and added three new staffers to the office in Kalispell.

Berryhill said she did not know how much the care would cost. That kind of analysis was beyond her directive to sign the people up. There have been no reports of competition from the private for-profit Medicare Advantage plans. The sick are not profitable.

No one should begrudge the people of Lincoln County. The mine wastes were used as soil additives, home insulation, and even spread on the running tracks at local schools. Miners brought the carcinogens home on their clothes. The W. R. Grace Company dumped much of the clean up costs onto the federal government. A June 17, 2009, order by the Environmental
Protection Agency, the first of its kind, declared Lincoln County a public health disaster. The Libby Medicare provision in the health reform law is based on the area covered by that EPA order.

Baucus gave his reasons to the New York Times for its only story on this unique benefit: “The People of Libby have been poisoned and have been dying for a decade. New residents continue to get sick all the time.  Public health tragedies like this could happen in any town in America. We need this type of mechanism to help people when they need it most.”

Health tragedies are happening in every town. Over 51 million have no insurance. Over 45,000 uninsured people die needlessly each year.  Employers are cutting coverage and dropping plans. States in economic crisis are slashing both Medicaid and their employees’ plans. Nothing in last year’s reform law will mitigate the skyrocketing costs. Most insurance is threadbare and doesn’t cover. More than 50% of us now go without necessary care. As Baucus said of Medicare, “We need this mechanism to help people when they need it most.” We all need it now.

Bill Clinton recently stated that the U. S. could give coverage to all for one trillion dollars a year less than we now pay if we adopted the system of any other advanced nation. (Unfortunately, he did not say this when it would have mattered most during the 1993 and 2009 health care reform debates.)

Other industrialized countries have found that to cover everyone for less they must remove the profit-making insurance companies. Congressman John Conyers has reintroduced HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, which does exactly that. There are 60 cosponsors. It would cover all medically necessary care for everyone including dental and drugs by cutting out the 30% waste and profits caused by the private insurers.

So as the Ryan Republicans try to destroy Medicare and far too many Democrats use the deficit excuse to suggest cuts in its benefits, let us counter with the Libby prescription to clean up the whole mess. Only a single payer, improved Medicare for All, can save and protect Medicare, rein in the costs, and give us universal coverage.

Medicare will celebrate its 46th birthday on July 30, 2011, and all are invited to join in the festivities. Medicare was passed in 1965 and implemented within less than a year. When we pass HR 676, this single payer bill, we can all be enrolled in the twinkling of an eye.

So write and call your Reps and Senators and the President and tell them to get insurance companies out of healthcare and get us all on Medicare. We’ll save money (government AND the people), we’ll have a healthier nation, and we’ll join the rest of the civilized world in the 21st Century.

Some thoughts while listening to the Republican “debate” in New Hampshire.

CNN

I thought I’d watch this tonight for the potential humor in the situation, but I began to realize as I watched it and started yelling at the television, that all seven of these people would be disastrous in ANY elected office.

First point: How did CNN manage to put together so many puffballs to ask these people? On top of that, why are there no followup questions when these folks tell obvious lies (or at the very least show that they are extremely misinformed)? When Romney shot down the success Obama had in saving GM and Chrysler he said that they had to go through bankruptcy anyway… did you know that? I didn’t. You would think it would have been in the news. Yet John King and the other reporters didn’t challenge the view that was brought up.

Second point: What was the point of wasting time with questions like “flat pizza or deepdish?” or “Spicy or mild wings?” Very entertaining, I guess. Not news. Not important to those seeking a President. Worse than the other softball questions.

Third point: Which one of these idiots is going to create a government where all sides work together? These folks… even Romney who changes positions from week to week… are putting themselves in as far a right wing extreme as possible. Whether it is religion, abortion, Social Security, Medicare or any other major thing which we have learned over decades that we have a right to, these “debaters” are totally blind to opposing views,

Fourth point: Are there nothing but white people in New Hampshire? As I view the, I guess, all-Republican audience, I see rows and rows of one group of Americans.

Fifth point: I don’t see anyone here that can stand up to Obama. Maybe it’s just me, but the problems these people create by cutting programs and imposing their religious and social beliefs on others are frightening.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – We should all be worried about stupidity when discussing debt.

Steve Sack in the Star Tribune:

We are speaking here of forced suicide

– and –

John Sherffius in the Daily Boulder Camera:

… and the rest of the world is watching our plight…

– and –

Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Leader:

… everyone can see what is NOT being mentioned…

Note: I almost made this week’s collection a Sarah Palin review… but I’m tired of doing anything that promotes her for fear of being like this Morin cartoon in the Miami Herald:

… and this about sums it up without getting into her views on American History or anything else. This is probably the last time she’ll turn up in this column.

-Bill

 

Repeat after me: LESS TAX CUTS!

I’m getting really tired of these right-wing corporation kissers who are demanding MORE TAX CUTS when we are already taxing less as a percentage of GDP than we have since 1950 (and if you remember at that point, the upper 1% of rich Americans was being taxed close to 90%).

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BCA) puts it this way in it’s report:

Federal, state and local taxes — including income, property, sales and other taxes — consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010.

“‘The idea that taxes are high right now is pretty much nuts,’ says Michael Ettlinger, head of economic policy at the liberal Center for American Progress.”

Let’s get down to the real changes that are necessary:

A. If we are going to cut expenses let’s bring home the troops and cut the military…

B. Let’s get the same deal on pharmaceuticals that the VA has for all Americans (and save $50 Billion)…

C. Bring the tax levels on the upper 1% back to what they were the day before Bush lowered them…

Of course, we are going to see the Republicans hang on to the Paul Ryan plan because they have all but married it. Don’t expect changes from the House then. And hope that Obama and the Senate don’t knuckle under. Just get us to the 2012 elections and eject the idiots who have made the House the non-voice of the people.

Have a nice day off…

Support The Troops…

Bring Them Home.

I am curious about the Conservative concept of “Socialism”

“Those in power are blind devotees to private enterprise. They accept that degree of socialism implicit in the vast subsidies to the military-industrial-complex, but not that type of socialism which maintains public projects for the disemployed and the unemployed alike.”

William O. Douglas, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice,  1969

Whenever one of the Conservative (read Republican) members of our Congress, or those campaigning for the Presidential nomination, discuss Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid. or unemployment funding, you are certain to hear the word “socialism” pop up with an extremely negative cloaking. It has happened so frequently that the word has lost any of it’s original meaning (“a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole” – Webster’s) and, indeed, has been connected to everything from community farming to Communism.

Socialism appeared as a concept in the early 19th Century in France (“socialisme’) which came from the concept of “social” (needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities : we are social beings as well as individuals) or “society” (the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community)…a term which itself goes back to the 16th Century.

The fact that our 21st century civilization shows that the need for the companionship of individuals, states and countries in order to face potentially devastating changes in climate, creating non-polluting energy methods to protect our air and water and educating our children to eventually take over the mess that has been made on our watch, is so obvious that many don’t see the forest for the trees.

Our job should be to make the trees visible to all, and especially to the people we elect to office… the people who make the rules and allot the funds to give us those necessary services.

And it’s not like the anti-socialist campaign of the current Conservative is something new, urged on by Corporations that are concerned… apparently by Federal regulation… only of making profits for a limited number of shareholders and executives. Justice Douglas’s quote from over four decades ago points out that it has been present for awhile. In fact, if we go back further to when Eisenhower warned us about the “military industrial complex”, something his whole career had given him great insight into, we see our post-WWII economy as a challenge we never met.

Have you wondered why, in all the discussions of the budget and raising of the debt ceiling, we have not heard people yelling for cuts in the military expenditures that keep our remaining industrial giants flowing in dough.  As a whole “community”, the military/industry mix is about as socialist as you can get. Add to that the VA medical system which provides the closest thing to “socialized medicine” (another concept that Conservatives would like to deny the average guy) that exists in the world today. This system, by the way, is praised by just about every politician, probably out of guilt from sending so many of our young soldiers into a life of crippling disabilities.

It is time to make a strong change of focus in our social environment, something which is not going to happen if we leave the decisions and actions to politicians. Republican or Democrat, they keep their jobs because of election funds for advertising and lobby persuasion with highly focused corporate contributions. As we saw, for instance, in the 1940s and 1950s, many cities lost the public transportation systems of mini-railroads that gave people inexpensive commuting transport … without parking, fuel and other expenses… due to the money spent by the automobile industry on lobbyists and state and federal (and local) political campaigns. General Motors even bragged about it in public.

The question is “how do we do it?” There are no easy answers, but I’m pretty sure it will take a lot of time and will begin on a very local level. Here in Shepherdstown, WV, our recent completion of a 10,000 square foot Community Garden allotting 10′ by 10′ growing plots to locals who have no planting areas in their town houses or  downtown apartments is a good example of modern socialism.  At a very low fee (starting at $20 and going up to $30 if you take three plots), which has paid for deer fence construction and publicity to get members, and with volunteers for construction of the fence (and the donation of land and so much more from a local entrepreneur who has created a neighboring public market to serve local farmers and craftspeople), community interdependence has resulted in community celebration.

This only one concept of local change which can be achieved. Tie that together with activities that follow such as expansion of public libraries (which is part of both education promotion and public interaction), involvement in schools beyond their operations budgets, group purchase alignments for reduction of basic living costs, etc., and you have a good start at what can then expand to the state level… and eventually to the national top. This can also, I would hope, be the start of a new political structure, beginning in local government and expanding upward over time.

Now… if we can only protect ourselves from corporate corruption and maintain the basic concept of “socialism”… that our community organization is controlled by ALL of it’s members and not the artificial “Citizens United” persons funded by the corporate bankbook.

Frontline is covering WikiLeaks on Tuesday… and is promising new info.

Bradley Manning

We haven’t heard a lot about Bradley Manning in the news lately, although the untried, unconvicted supposed leaker has been held in the military brig, often without clothes, for a year now. Oh, there was a brief statement last month about his transfer from the maximum security brig at Quantico to a medium-custody military prison at Leavenworth, Kansas, while he awaits trial. But that’s it.

PBS’s Frontline is planning an in-depth program on Manning, Julian Assange (who the info was leaked to and who published it on-line) and WikiLeaks. They  promise to air new information. My guess is that it may make the military look even worse than they do now.

Tune in to this one if you are interested in knowing what’s going on in our name that we are not told about.

Where did the American united national character go?

A long time ago, in my youth in Connecticut, I remember a really different country than we have now. I didn’t learn about the Federal Government through C-Span, which, of course, didn’t exist back then, but through the Bristol Press and the Hartford Courant (and, occasionally, the Waterbury Republican.) These were the newspapers that came to our house, either by paper boy or by my father bringing them home at night from the Bristol Pharmacy after the 10 PM close.

My parents were moderate Republicans (a concept which doesn’t seem to exist any more), but some of my family were Democrats (My Uncle Pete, my Grandfather, my Aunt Helen… etc.) They all got along together. And they were part of a middle class that spent my first thirty years on this globe (I’m 65 next Tuesday) increasing their social and financial strength in a growing economy that was available to most of the population…not just the top 1%.

I tripped over a quote from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a two term Republican and hero of WWII… Republicans and Democrats respected the man… that relates to our latest political conflict.

Ike said this on November 8, 1954:

“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

Now it seems that those of negligible number or obvious stupidity are no longer a tiny splinter group, but a small control force with names like Koch Brothers, or Rupert Murdoch, or Grover Norquist, who are adamantly against the country solving it’s economic problems by fair taxation of all economic levels. Nor do they want the remaining middle class, or the even poorer classes that much of that middle class is joining, to have access to adequate Social Security (if they have access to it at all) or Medicare or Medicaid or Food Stamps… you pick out any of the civil advancements we’ve made over the decades and it seems that this small control force is guiding the Republican Congress members into national devastation.

Part of their secret weapon in defying Ike’s prediction is in the creation of the Tea Party… getting a group of middle class or lower people to commit crippling torments on themselves… and then blaming progressives, and, indeed, our President for them. How did the rich get the not rich to carry out their self mutilation?

One way was to spend lots of money on Republican politicians, on political lies during elections and on encouraging racial and social segregation feelings among folks with a history of the same and a minimum of intellectual dexterity. You can tie this to a previous administration (Read Bush II) that decimated the money kept aside for Social Security, leaving filing cabinets loaded with IOUs that were never intended to be paid while they cut the settled tax rates for the very rich… tax rates that never stopped them either being rich or getting richer … leaving no more expected income for the needs of government.

And the Tea Party folks BELIEVED all this crap. What must the laughs have been like at the Koch Brothers family cocktail gatherings? What was John Boehner‘s thoughts of getting progressive legislation stopped as he played at his golf outings? Those of us entering the world of Social Security/Medicare supported retirement have much different thoughts. Those who will retire ten years from now have even less positive expectations to think about.

I am frustrated with much of what is happening… and aside from making statements in my blog, or on my podcast or on the Friday Morning radio show where I am a co-host… don’t see what I can really do about it. I continue to vote and never miss an election, but my level of winning, the level of any progressives winning, is well below 50%… I live in the midst of conservatives and small thinkers, and of Democrats who might as well be Republicans.

We have Corporations that are treated by our Supreme Court’s conservative majority as individual citizens, with no control of the money spent by such private power. We have oil companies that make billions in profits, but receive billions from our government as subsidies.

There is another President, even earlier than Eisenhower, who also had a vision of what could happen in our society:

“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. ”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Be afraid, my friends. Be very afraid.

Two Quotes for the Morning… and the stupidity of Rick Santorum

The other day, in a long and meaningful speech based on his own experience, Senator John McCain lashed out at the support of waterboarding by his fellow Republicans.

Rick Santorum has now responded to John McCain’s claim that torture didn’t lead to Bin Laden’s death by insisting that on the subject of torture, McCain has no idea what he’s talking about:

Everything I’ve read shows that we would not have gotten this information as to who this man was if it had not been gotten information from people who were subject to enhanced interrogation. And so this idea that we didn’t ask that question while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was being waterboarded, he doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works. I mean, you break somebody, and after they’re broken, they become cooperative. And that’s when we got this information. And one thing led to another, and led to another, and that’s how we ended up with bin Laden.

Perhaps Santorum forgets that McCain was held and tortured by the North Vietnamese and bases his opinion on real experience. McCain has even written that he did not become cooperative under “enhanced interrogation” at all, and in fact gave his tormentors false information to get them to stop.

So in response to the question of what does McCain think of Rick Santorum’s  comment, McCain spokesperson Brooke Buchanan made a one word reply:

Who?

(Source: Justin Elliott in Salon)

A Quote for the Afternoon – doing the RIGHT thing…

“New Rule, the Pentagon must apologize to Native Americans for giving such a universally reviled character as Osama bin Laden the code name “Geronimo”… and admit they should have gone with their second choice, The Donald.”

– Bill Maher

If you’re going to make a joke, take someone who IS a joke.

And the truth shall set you free… unless it is banned by religion.

NY Hassidic paper ‘deletes’ Clinton from iconic photo 

NEW YORK – The photograph showing President Barack Obama and staffers in the White House Situation Room carefully watching the raid in progress by US forces in Pakistan on the bin Laden compound last Sunday has been published far and wide.

One Hassidic paper in Brooklyn, however, has chosen to alter the photo – excising Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and another female staffer from the picture.

First reported in the blog failedmessiah.typepad.com, the photoshopped picture was published in the Yiddish newspaper Der Zeitung (The Time) on Friday, with empty spaces where Clinton had been sitting and where the female staffer had stood.

– from The Jerusalem Post

If you used this picture, as we did here at Under The LobsterScope, you would have had to follow these rules…after all this is copyrighted material that the White House is allowing distribution of:

“This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, e-mails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.”

Der Zeitung’s Photoshopped reproduction removes Hillary Clinton and one other female staffer from the mix. Reason? Der Zeitung had no comment as to why it altered the picture, but the likelihood of women and men in the same working environment… a concern that it exemplified immodesty or showed strong feelings that women should not be in positions of power… violated an extreme religious position.

Whatever the reason, it is a violation of truth on the part of the Hassidim… odd because conservative Muslims have similar restrictions on women. And for that matter, as my wife pointed out, conservative Christians have restrictions on women, mostly body related, as well.

Some day it would be nice to get past all this stuff.

Saturday night thoughts as I watch Doc Martin reruns…

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

I’m getting so tired of listening to the conservative candidates, congressmen and capitalists complain about paying taxes at the level they should be… say, at the rate they were taxed at before George W. Bush lowered them.

As you recall, he lowered the taxes while, at the same time, getting us involved in an Iraq war for dishonest reasons without actually putting the expenses in the reported budget. It is as if bookkeeping and government spending had no relationship.

If a candidate cannot say “Yes, I will have to raise taxes, especially on the rich,” then he (or she) is being completely dishonest. As citizens, we should demand tax increases… and demand military cuts (and demand that we get out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and just about everywhere else in the Middle East.

So how do we make it happen?

What does Pakistan use Lobbyists for?

Asif Ali Zardari.

Asif Al Zardari opens his wallet.

According to Reuters, they use them to deny that anyone in the Pakistani government knew that bin Laden was hiding near the Capital for close to six years in the biggest house in the neighborhood:

WASHINGTON (Reuters/Tim Reid) – Pakistan‘s Washington lobbyists have launched an intense campaign on Capitol Hill to counter accusations that Islamabad was complicit in giving refuge to Osama bin Laden.

Alarmed by lawmakers’ demands to cut off billions of dollars of U.S. aid after bin Laden was found living in a Pakistani safe house for six years, President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered a full-court press to quell mounting accusations that it helped the al Qaeda leader avoid capture.

Mark Siegel, a partner in the Washington lobbying firm of Locke Lord Strategies — which is paid $75,000 a month by the Pakistani government — told Reuters on Thursday he had spoken twice to Zardari since U.S. special forces killed bin Laden on Sunday, and “countless” times to the Pakistani ambassador in Washington.

“They are certainly concerned,” Siegel said, adding that suggestions the Pakistani government knew about bin Laden’s whereabouts was nothing more than speculation.

Wow. $75,000 a month to put out press releases.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy isn’t buying it, however. He told Vermont Public Radio:

“It’s impossible for them not to have some idea he was there.

Mark Siegel, referring to claims by the Afghan government that Pakistan must have known bin Laden’s whereabouts, said:

“Must have known doesn’t mean knew.”

Sure.

Afternoon Quotes of Republican Duplicity…

Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, who was responsible for the act? Obama? Hardly likely.

As revealed in Talking Points Memo:

Karl Rove Assistant to the President, Deputy C...

Karl Rove, American Citizen

“I think the tools that President Bush put into place — GITMO, rendition, enhanced interrogation, the vast effort to collect and collate this information — obviously served his successor quite well,” former Bush adviser Karl Rove said on Fox News.

Also on Fox News, Bush’s one-time Chief of Staff Andrew Card claimed his former boss “made sure that everything was in place so that President Obama could have an opportunity to — to get Osama bin Laden, and it finally happened.”

Perhaps we shouldn’t forget who Accomplished the Mission those many years ago… Oh, wait, that was in Iraq looking for weapons of Mass Destruction. Nothing to do with bin Laden. Sorry.


A great piece of artwork by Lisa Casey at All Hat, No Cattle:

Lisa, you hit it right on the head. I’ll be so happy when All Hat, No Cattle is back in full bloom.

Quote of the Day – This sums it up

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

“Osama wasn’t a Muslim leader, he was a mass murderer of Muslims

President Barack Obama

Indeed, Al Qaeda killed many more Muslims than Americans. Although Americans in the Middle East have been warned against immediate reprisals, The general response from local governments has been to congratulate Obama for the action and to breathe a sigh of relief.

“Justice has Been Done” – Obama / Osama Bin laden has been killed.

Osama Bin Laden

I woke up this morning to the news I should have heard last night (I went to bed early) – Osama Bin Laden has been killed in a U.S. strike ordered by Barack Obama and based on US Intelligence. This was actually done on April  29th in an action that was kept in tight secrecy. It is notable that not even the Pakistanis were informed that this was going to happen (in the past, every time they were informed of such an action, Bin Laden curiously escaped just in time to save himself.)

Bin Laden Death Photo

From early reports, Bin Laden was shot in the head by a Navy Seal and, reportedly, he was hiding behind a woman at the time. The attack was made by four helicopters and a small team. No Americans were harmed. The US took custody of Bin Laden’s body after the attack and then followed Islamic law by having him buried at sea so that no tomb could be made on land… since Bin Laden was not a sailor, but the burial at sea was a traditional burial of an enemy.

Pakistan was informed after the action began. Al Qaeda, btw, has now declared war on Pakistan.

This attack plan began in June of 2009 when Obama ordered CIA director Leon Panetta to have as his primary goal locating Bin Laden. The plan was kept in complete secrecy – even from members of Congress – and no information was leaked before its occurence.

My wife’s comment this morning was “This will get Obama reelected.”

More later.

Here’s what the President proposed today…

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Is the guy we elected back?

According to TPM:

  • A debt failsafe that will be triggered if the debt-to-GDP ratio hasn’t stabilized, and begun to decline by mid-decade. This will include automatic spending cuts, and reductions in tax subsidies, but no tax increases. Social Security, Medicare, and low-income programs will be exempted. It will not tie the government’s hands in the event that an economic downturn requires fiscal stimulus.
  • Cuts to discretionary spending, compatible with those in the Bowles-Simpson recommendations.
  • Defense spending cuts, contingent on a thorough review conducted by Secretary Robert Gates, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Obama himself, and savings generated by winding down operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Strengthening the Independent Payment Advisory Board, created by the health care law to recommend and implement cost savings reforms to hold down the cost-per-Medicare-patient.
  • Simplifying the formula for providing federal matching funds to states for Medicaid, which would automatically increase in the event of a recession
  • This is a big one — Obama will propose using Medicare’s purchasing power to reduce prescription drug costs for seniors
  • Reductions in agricultural subsidies
  • Comprehensive tax reform, which reduces loopholes, simplifies the system, allows the Bush tax cuts for high-income earners to expire, and reduces the corporate tax rate.

It may not be everything we want… and it may need the infusion of the Congressional Progressive Caucus that I presented earlier today… but this started to sound like the Obama we elected. My question is will he stand his ground on letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire. He’s going to go head-to-head with Boehner and the Tea-Party-Controlled Republicans who have said they will not support any increase in taxes.

I’m not sure a deal can be made here, so there will have to be another strategy… and it won’t be pretty.

A Quote in the Middle of the Night..

…Couldn’t sleep… got out of bed and toured the blogosphere ending up at Rising Hegemon where Attaturk dropped this quote by Joseph Stieglitz about our economic miasma:

The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.

Maybe it IS too late… maybe those of us in the “other 99%” will actually rise up and DO something that will make the top 1% pay for their share of this country. Perhaps we can get them back to the 91% of income they paid during the Eisenhower years and pay off all our debts (we could get out of the THREE WARS we are in right now, too.)

Afghanistan Koran Protest Leaves At Least 8 Dead, 2 UN Staffers Beheaded

clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com

Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan

MAZAR-I-SHARIF

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan, April 1 (Reuters) – Eight foreign employees of the United Nations were killed on Friday in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif after protesters over-ran their compound, police said, in what looks to be the deadliest ever assault on the UN in Afghanistan.

Two of the dead were beheaded by attackers who also burned parts of the compound and climbed up blast walls to topple a guard tower, said Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, a police spokesman for the northern region.
Over a thousand protesters had flooded into the streets of the normally peaceful city after Friday prayers to denounce the burning of Islam’s holy book, the Koran, by a U.S. pastor, and after two or three hours violence broke out.
The chief of the mission in the city was wounded but survived, and the dead included employees of Norwegian, Romanian and Swedish nationalities, he added.
The Koran burning was denounced by Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Long-standing anger over civilian casualties has been heightened by the Koran burning and the recent publication of gruesome photographs of the body of an unarmed Afghan teenager killed by U.S. soldiers.The Christian preacher Terry Jones, who after international condemnation last year cancelled a plan to burn copies of the Koran, supervised the burning of the book in front of a crowd of about 50 people at an obscure church in Florida on Sunday, according to his website.

blog it
I wonder when we are going to learn, as human beings, to do away with ALL religious beliefs which do nothing but pose us against each other… when we are going to stop ALL violence in general, including riots and wars, and talk things out so that everyone wins… when we are going to END the favoring of the very rich over the working poor and stress the equality of everyone. One thing seems certain, it’s not likely to happen in this century… and if we last the next 100 years as a species on this planet, despite pollution, war and greed, perhaps all humans will settle down and live bright and beautiful lives.
It may happen sooner if we all try hard enough…it may happen. But I doubt it.