Friday, February 08, 2013

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) 17,000 miles. Even on the scale of our solar system, that's too damn close.
2) Bush the Elder's computer has been hacked and sensitive documents swiped off it. Probably nothing to be too concerned about in terms of national security, but maybe it's a warning shot to Barack Obama and others currently serving?
3) Here's the problem with trying to bulk up mental health care first, as a way to combat gun violence: psychiatry and psychology are light-years away from fully understanding what conditions make someone crack. Let's put the fire out first, then we can fix the plumbing in the house.
4) I posted earlier this week about my mixed feelings with respect to drone attacks on American citizens abroad. This is one measure that would certainly ease my mind.
5) Apple is indicative of one of the big problems our economy is suffering: you can lower taxes all you want, but the simple fact is, corporations are not spending it or even investing it, but sticking it in the bank and leaving it there. Which would be fine if banks were actually lending. As someone with A credit for a consumer, I have to leap through hoops to secure even modest loans against assets far more valuable than I'm asking for, so if it's tough for me, I can't begin to imagine how hard it is for a family to buy a house or start a business.
6) The US is a net exporter of oil and is poised to become the world's largest crude exporter in the next few decades. Here's what that means for you.
7) Today's Gee...What a Shock! news: deep fried foods can kill you.
8) This is pretty serious stuff that's going on in LA, but leave it to the right wing to politicize it. You could, you know, wait until it's over, at least? After all, John Rambo, the rightwing wet dream, started out as a Vietnam vet looking for....tada!....liberal treatment now that he was back home.
9) Did someone say "postracial America"? Tell it to the white folks.
Stay dry, stay warm, stay funny!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Pass The Popcorn, Please?

Oh boy, this is going to be great!
"There is now an out in the open civil war within the Republican Party," conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace wrote in a Politico op-ed this week.
He's right.
Karl Rove has launched a new group, the Conservative Victory Project, which will aim to select GOP Senate candidates, weeding out future Todd Akins and squashing the prospects of anyone deemed unelectable.
It's not sitting well with conservatives. Its first purported opponent is Steve King, a very conservative congressman with a history of colorful comments, who may be considering a run for Senate in Iowa.
After pantheon of Tea Party campaign groups (The Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Tea Party Express) bashed the new effort, on Wednesday a cluster of conservative leaders demanded the new organization fire its spokesman, Jonathan Collegio, for calling Brent Bozell, a pundit who runs the conservative Media Research Center, a "hater" in a recent radio interview. Collegio had alleged that Bozell, a critic, has an ax to grind against Rove.
As the song from Evita¹ goes, "Dice are rolling, the knives are out/Would-be presidents are all around/I don't say they mean harm/But they'd each give an arm/To see us six feet underground."

The tension between the far right nutbag headcases and the "moderate" corporatist Republicans is about to come to a head. Someone's going to be very angry at the end of it all.

Indeed, Joe "YOU LIE!" Walsh has created his own super PAC to go up against the Conservative Victory Project, in an attempt to save his own ass, since he's embarrassed the party time and time again.

Rove's idea is to fund incumbents and slightly more sane Republicans to run against bugeyed trollbait candidates who would ruin the chances for the GOP to gather more members from outside the old white male demographic.

Let's face facts: every time a Teabagger screams about rape, that's probably four votes out of a hundred the GOP loses. The only way they are even relevant any longer is through gerrymandering.

It sort of comes to a head here, doesn't it? Or at least, it should barring a major intervention by a figure of unimpeachable authority in both camps.

After all, thirty -- no, forty -- years of the corporatist wing dangling the social conservatives like puppets on a string while picking their pockets of both votes and tax money has probably created a monster that will eat the party from the inside like in one them Alien movies.

Rove is trying to prevent this. His track record is not particularly good when it comes to this kind of thing. He can ram through a bad President on an unsuspecting nation, but he seems to lose focus when he has little prizes littering the landscape. Remember his boast of a "permanent Republican majority"?
He never even came close to any of that. Well, maybe "majority" for a couple of years, but even then, intermural fighting made it impossible for President Bush to effectively pass any meaningful legislation. Even his precious tax cuts had to be rammed through...three times!...on reconciliations, which limited their destructive force.
Rove spent a lot of Bush's "political capital" in building the majority he so desired and then saw it all melt away by 2008. In doing so, he dipped into a well of derp that seemed bottomless, but that was more because no one ever imagined anyone would be crazy enough to go that far off the rails to find candidates.
It seemed bottomless the way a root canal seems endless.
The GOP's problem is pretty simple to sort out: their base is bugshit crazy. Rather than change the base, encoura    ge engagement by people with at least one foot on planet Earth, they prefer to force this asylumist wing into a cage. They are quite literally riding a tiger, which means they'd better not get off.

¹ "New Argentina"

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited what should be nominally friendly territory: Cairo, Egypt.
Not so much, it turns out:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, endured the humiliation of having a shoe thrown at him today as his visit to Egypt turned sour.

The trip, the first by an Iranian leader since the overthrow of the Shah 34 years ago, had been intended as a triumphant occasion that healed the rift created when Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel.

But as Mr Ahmadinejad left the al-Hussein mosque in Islamic Cairo a bearded man burst through the crowd and twice tried to throw shoes at him.

Also, while the cat's away, the mice will play:

A former Iranian prosecutor and associate of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was freed without explanation after two days of detention, state-run media reported.

Saeed Mortazavi was arrested by judicial officials on Feb. 4 after a dispute between Ahmadinejad and long-term rival Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani exploded in public, with the two trading accusations of wrongdoing and improper conduct in the presence of lawmakers.

During the parliamentary session, Ahmadinejad showed a video apparently featuring Mortazavi and which the president maintained, implicated Fazel Larijani, the speaker’s brother, in fraudulent business dealings.

Mortazavi had been held on unspecified charges and no details were given on why he was released from Evin prison at dawn today, according to Fars and Mehr news agencies reports.

Ahmadinejad's visit to Egypt was seen as a realignment between two cold-shouldered rivals, particularly after the Iranian revolution in 1979 where Anwar Sadat granted asylum to the deposed Shah, as well as a state funeral.

Muhammed Morsi seemed particularly eager to mend relations between the two nations, but apparently, Morsi forgot to consult with his own itinerary. At Al-Azhar mosque, Ahmadinejad was publicly upbraided for his Shi'ite incursions into Sunni matters (Azhar is a Sunni mosque) and of duiscriminating against Sunni citizens in Iran.

And then, of course, came the shoes.

If you want to understand the relationship of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to the United States, you need look no further than his attitudes towards Iran, whom he saw as a grave threat not only to the United States and Israel, but to Egypt itself.

A coalition of Iran and Egypt would be a great threat to the interests of the United States in the region, even exclusive of Israel. We're looking at the Suez and the Gulf of Arabia, the Saudis and oil emirates friendly to our country, access to the Indian and subcontinental markets, even shipping from the east coast of the United States to Australia.
Iran understands this, which is why it's very hot to form a working relationship with Egypt as an insurance policy against Israel and the US getting ideas. Too, other attempts to draw Iran into regional dialogues by Egypt have brought everything up to outright hostility from the Saudis.
Here we have two domestically troubled leaders grasping for a plank floating in the Gulf and finding that if each holds onto the other's hand, they might find some buoyancy.
But there are sharks all around.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Young Man Should Not Be Dead

(photo courtesy)

Droning On

I'm of two minds of this latest dust-up in military strategy and national security:

A Justice Department memo determined the U.S. government can use lethal force against an American citizen overseas if the person is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or one of its affiliates, according to a document posted on the NBC News website.

The paper provides insights into the Obama administration's policy of targeted killings carried out by the use of drone strikes against suspected terrorists. Several of those strikes have killed Americans, notably Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni American who had been connected to plots against the United States but never charged with a crime. Awlaki died in a drone attack in September 2011 in Yemen.

The 16-page white paper - titled "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qaida or an Associated Force" - is a policy paper rather than an official legal document.

The reservations one should have about this are numerous and obvious: American citizens deserve due process and this opinion doesn't even provide for any legal oversight whatsoever. That right there opens a rather large can of worms.

And of course, other nations' sovereignty, the idea of assassinating anyone else on foreign I said, a whole raft of issues.

And yet, I can't completely oppose the measure, at least based on the memo that has been leaked.

It appears that proper diligence has been used to be outline that an "imminent threat" exists from an American citizen who has all but repudiated his American citizenship. "Turned traitor," we used to call it. Also, due care must be exercised and attempts to capture this citizen for judicial process must be exhausted first and war conventions observed. 

Yes, I know, it's lip service without judicial oversight, to be sure.  

The Supreme Court has already acknowledged that due process does not apply to an American citizen who has joined opposition forces actively engaged militarily against us and much of this seems to fall under those and other guideliness the courts have already established.

Yes, there is danger of over-reach, to be sure, and I'm troubled mostly by the lack of oversight in real time (I have no doubt there will be plenty of oversight in arrears from Congress and the courts.)

But a lot of the case I'm reading against this policy seems to me to fall into nearly the same categories that rightwing gun nuts use to justify assault weapons: hypothetical cases of heavy-handed government bearing down on its citizenry, when in point of fact, the number of people this policy has affected so far number in the single digits and most of those have actively repudiated any reasonable measure of citizenry or fealty to the US.

Still, this is worth keeping an eye on.