GCP and Tyler are unbanned. pl
GCP and Tyler are unbanned. pl
I think it is time for me to make another appeal for contributions from those of you who wish to see SST continue. This site takes up at least two hours a day of my time. I could quote my consulting rate to you but that would not be in the style of this blog. Think of this appeal as something like the appeals made by PBS for money. There is a button for contributions on SST. Thanks in advance. pl
"Syrian troops have retaken a key rebel-held town south of Damascus, state media and activists say. State TV said the army had full control of Sbeineh and that "terrorists" had been driven out. UK-based activist group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sbeineh was one of the most important rebel positions near Damascus. Meanwhile, inspectors say they have verified one of Syria's two remaining chemical weapons production sites. Inspectors had already verified 21 out of 23 sites declared by Syria but two sites were too dangerous to reach. They said the latest site - near Aleppo - was verified using footage from sealed cameras and that it was dismantled and abandoned." BBC
As TTG wrote, the Syrian government is making steady progress in its campaign of pacification. The Saudis face deep humiliation in this latest example of their drive for Sunni triumphalism in the Levant. This project is decades long now and has had remarkably little success.
At the same time, the UN has gone competently forward in the work of eliminating CW production and weapons stockpiles. There is a certain amount of "logrolling" going on in Washington for the notion that Syria is somehow not living up to its undertakings in this matter. No evidence has been produced for public view so this is just more rumor. pl
The last time Kerry spent so much time over so many days with Netanyahu and Abbas was in July, when the two leaders agreed to enter direct peace talks for the first time in three years. More than three months later, after a dozen meetings between their teams, there are visible cracks in the negotiations. Both Netanyahu and Abbas warned early this week of growing tensions in the private discussions, and public potshots between the two sides have escalated. Speaking before a three-hour session with Kerry on Wednesday morning, Netanyahu accused the Palestinians of “continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to . . . run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace.” Washpost
Kerry is trying to make something out of nothing. The various parties to the Palestine dispute remain unwilling to create an actual and viable settlement of the matter. For some reason he does not understand that. pl
- It did not take long for someone in the US government to start logrolling for the idea that Syria is cheating on its agreement to give up chemical weapons.
- The Virginia political results satisfy me. McCauliffe will be inaugurated as a lame duck, completely at the mercy of the strongly Republican House of Delegates. I wonder what he thinks he won. He may be able to pass budgets but only if he "plays nice." pl
"Through the House of Burgesses, the Virginia House of Delegates is considered the oldest continuous legislative body in the New World. Originally having 22 members, the House of Burgesses met from 1619 through 1632 in the choir of the church at Jamestown. From 1632 to 1699 the legislative body met at four different state houses in Jamestown. The first state house convened at the home of Colonial Governor, Sir John Harvey from 1632 to 1656. The burgesses convened at the second state house from 1656 until it was destroyed in 1660. Historians have yet to precisely identify its location." wiki
The punditry in the corporate media is luxuriating in contemplation of the two gubernatorial elections today.
In New Jersey, Christie, a politically moderate and very Northeastern Republican will easily win re-election to a second term. He is busily preening his over sized self in contemplation of an attempt to win the Republican nomination for president in 2016. IMO "that dog won't hunt" outside his home neighborhood along the Jersey Shore and New York. There is too much about him that smells of the culture represented by "The Sopranos." There is also the embarassing detail that for a while he was a lobbyist for Bernie Madoff. Iowa? The Mid-West? "fugeddiboutit." I would like to see him at a Shad Bake in Virginia.
McCauliffe will probably be elected governor. He can then sit in Mister Jefferson's chair. The current membership by party in the House of Delegates consists of 67 Republicans and 32 Democrats. Unless there is a truly seismic shift today it is unlikely that The Democrats will control the House of Delegates after this election. That means that McCaulliffe will have very little chance of passing any legislation through the General Assembly. He is an intelligent man. He must know that. Therefore I conclude that what he wants is a "pulpit" from which to strike rhetorical and theatrical poses that will endear him to the left of center base of the Democratic Party across the country. That means that he is going to continue his vicious campaign of exageration and barrages of 30 second TV ads in the way that he savaged Cuccinelli.
All Virginians not contained in his claque of "progressives" will be his targets. pl
"In his nine months in office, Kerry's State Department has one striking accomplishment to its name. It has achieved a new level of media savvy in promoting itself and plugging its highest official as a rock star, a world leader in his own right (complete with photo-ops and sophisticated image-making). In the meantime, the secretary of state has been stumbling and bloviating from one crisis to the next, one debacle to another, surrounded by the well-crafted imagery of diplomatic effectiveness. He and his errant statements have become global punch lines, but is he truly to blame for his performance?" Asia Times
Kerry is a man obsessed with himself. He has consistently focused on his personal profile at the expense of doing the country's business. The Egyptians, Saudis, Syrians, Afghans, etc. are all laughing at him. How long can this continue? pl
Forces loyal to the Syrian government are taking advantage of deepening rifts among Syria’s feuding rebels to advance into rebel-held territory in the northern part of the country, overturning some long-held assumptions about the war.
The resignation on Sunday of a top leader in the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army further underscored the extent to which rebel infighting is undermining the effort not only to topple President Bashar al-Assad but also to hold on to territories won by the opposition in the past two years of conflict.Col. Abdul Jabbar Akaidi, one of the chief recipients of what little American aid has been provided to the rebels, said he was standing down to protest the rebel bickering, which he blamed for the capture on Friday by Assad loyalists of the strategic town of Safira, southeast of the key city of Aleppo.
The fall of Safira restored a vital supply link between Damascus and government forces holding out in the divided northern city and put regime loyalists on track to challenge other opposition strongholds in the province, almost all of which has been under rebel control for more than a year. Rebel commanders said the town fell after Islamist brigades failed to respond to a call for reinforcements by the Tawheed Brigade, Aleppo’s biggest battalion, which was forced to flee under a withering aerial bombardment inflicted by the Syrian air force. (Wash Post)
"Iran's supreme leader gave strong backing on Sunday to his president's push for nuclear negotiations, warning hardliners not to accuse Hassan Rouhani of compromising with the old enemy America. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments will help shield Rouhani, who has sought to thaw relations with the West since his surprise election in June, from accusations of being soft on the United States, often characterized in the Islamic Republic as the "Great Satan". Iran will resume negotiations with six world powers, including the United States, in Geneva on Thursday, talks aimed at ending a standoff over its nuclear work that Tehran denies is weapons-related. Rouhani hopes a deal there will mean an end to sanctions that have cut the OPEC country's oil exports and hurt the wider economy, but any concession that looks like Iran is compromising on what it sees as its sovereign right to peaceful nuclear technology will be strongly resisted by conservatives. "No one should consider our negotiators as compromisers," Khamenei said in a speech, a day before the November 4 anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, a pivotal event in U.S.-Iranian relations, the ISNA news agency reported. "They have a difficult mission and no one must weaken an official who is busy with work," said Khamenei, who wields ultimate power in Iran's dual clerical-republic system, including over the nuclear program." Reuters
This will make it more difficult for the Likud/Aipac/WINEP forces to maintain their propaganda theme concerning the false nature of iranian negotiating positions, but they will manage. pl
- Israel struck target in the Lattakia, Syria area yesterday. The objective appears to have been the destruction of Russian materiel destined for the Syrian armed forces. This has been a declared policy of the Israelis who say that they will prevent delivery of anything that can be used against them. Until recently that seemd to be a plausible explanation for Israeli policy toward Syria but by his own statements it is clear now that Bibi is the main actor in creating the US led coalition of the marginally willing that seeks to destroy the Syrian government in the belief that this will severely wound Iran. That projected wound to Iran seems to doubtful to me. The probability that the destruction of the Baath government would result in the creation in Syria of a bastion of Islamist jihadism bordering Israel seems to mean nothing to him.
- In Egypt John Kerry's prattling of democracy and elections has not deterred the generals from destroying all those parts of the MB that they can reach. They know that the MB are the enemies of their blood. Mursi's political campaign aimed at destroying the semi-secular society of modern Egypt confirmed them in their belief that co-existence with the MB is not possible. In the Middle East the lack of any real belief in the ideas of the "loyal opposition" and win-win outcomes makes such results likely in the face of alien tinkering in societies.
-Saudi Arabia is turning away from the United States. This pseudo-alliance was always unstable. There were always far too many conflicting values and interests involved. The necessities of the Cold War held the two countries together for a long time and Saudi money in the right pockets kept the pairing together for far longer than it logically would have lasted. Who will benefit from Saudi largesse in the future? Name your candidates.
- In a similar and similarly predictable situation the disastrous neocon adventure in Iraq is producing yet more death. We overturned the previous order of society and sponsored a government run by Shia who have only one goal and that is to screw the Sunni Arabs. The screwees are fighting back. Now Maliki who also predictably rejected a pact with the US that would have granted us legal immunity for our soldiers is in Washington begging for assistance. We should wash our hands of the country. pl
On December 8, 1981, the correspondent from Toronto, John Honderich filed what he thought was a routine story. A document stamped “Confidential” and sent from the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC to Ottawa, saying that the U.S. was cancelling a Canadian-U.S. deal involving Lockheed’s anti-submarine plane, the “Aurora,” which had been in the works. Since so few military deals had been pending between the U.S. and Canada, Canada appeared to have been singled out for persecution by the Pentagon. Anyway, that was the slant that Honderich’s decided that his story was to take. The story went out.
But then Honderich got a call from a long-time source who told him that, “You have much more here than you think.” The document that had been leaked, complete with special numbers, security designations, route markings, was a U.S. electronic intercept. It meant that the top U.S. code-breaking outfit, the NSA, had cracked Canada’s unbreakable” code. It meant that America had been caught reading it ally’s mail. But Honderich didn’t seem to know what he had. When I talked to him, he said he had never heard of the NSA. But he had started calling Canadian officials before any publicity could harden them into silence. In reply to Honderich, the Canadian Exterior Affairs Minister (the equivalent of the U.S. Secretary of State, said that Canada’s computerized diplomatic code was “very nearly fool-proof and only rarely does it not fit our purpose.”
A very polite brush off.
"Syria has destroyed or rendered inoperable all of its declared chemical weapons production and mixing facilities, meeting a major deadline in an ambitious disarmament program, the international chemical weapons watchdog said Thursday. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which won the Nobel Peace prize this month, said its teams had inspected 21 out of 23 chemical weapons sites across the country. The other two were too dangerous to inspect, but the chemical equipment had already been moved to other sites that experts had visited, it said. Syria "has completed the functional destruction of critical equipment for all of its declared chemical weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants, rendering them inoperable," it said, meeting a November 1 deadline for the work. The next target date is November 15, by when the OPCW and Syria must agree to a detailed plan of destruction, including how and where to destroy more than 1,000 metric tons of toxic agents and munitions." Reuters
Well, well, well. What a disppointment for Obama, Cameron, Natanyahu, Hollande, Erdogan, etc.
What will be said next?
- Syria did not declare all its facilities?
- Syria is concealing some of its pre-cursor chemicals or munitions?
I can hardly wait to see what it will be. pl
"America’s top intelligence official acknowledged Tuesday that President Obama and other senior White House officials were well aware of U.S. surveillance activities targeting leaders of friendly foreign nations — a stark contradiction of the administration’s insinuation in recent days that the president was unaware of such spying. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper described the targeting of foreign leaders, including American allies, as a “fundamental” aspect of intelligence gathering, and said neither the CIA nor the National Security Agency can tap into a given leader’s private communications without White House oversight. His testimony, made during a series of tacit exchanges Tuesday with members of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, came as all sides in Congress have begun seriously examining legislative proposals that would rein in the legal framework surrounding the NSA’s snooping programs. " Washington Times
It appears to me that James Clapper, the DNI, and Michael Haydon, former DCI and NSA director, have decided that the Obama White House has been trying to "stake them out" as sacrificial goats in the kerfluffle over NSA intercepts in Europe.
The Obama Administration has been trying to claim that such intercepts are a new development brought on by technological advances in the last decade. They are also trying to imply that NSA and the IC generally have been "off the reservation" and conducting intercept operations that BHO (the commander in chief of the IC) did not know of.
Yesterday, Clapper made it clear in public testimony before a House committee that such operations have been conducted for many decades. I suspect that Eisenhower was probably president when they began. The technology required is not terrribly complex and de-cryption software for things like GSM circuits has steadily advanced and is easily available to many different countries. Clapper also insisted that the very countries who are complaining of our actions have cooperated with the US in collecting the same kind of data against their own citizens and those of other countries.
Clapper was asked if foreign countries including those complaining now have conducted operations against the United States. His answer was "absolutely." My personal experience supports this.
Clapper also insisted that such operations are a normal feature of intelligence operations and that the White House surely knew what NSA was doing and had been doing over a long period of time.
Today on "Morning Joe," Michael Haydon managed to get past Mika B's attempts to defend Obama to support Clapper's statements that such operations are a necessary and frequent part of the information gathering process of mature states.
I support and salute both Clapper and Haydon for their honest answers and statements. They are doing their duty. It will be interesting to see if other IC chiefs like Brennan, Flynn and Alexander will also answer the call of duty. pl
"It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel's communications were being collected since 2002," Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said. "That is a big problem." But other officials said Obama -- or at least his White House staff -- did know about it. Questions about what the President knew and when he knew it have important implications, analysts say. If Obama was aware, that could mean he isn't being clear with the American public now. And if he wasn't aware, that could mean his own staff kept him in the dark. "There's really no good answer," said Republican strategist Kevin Madden. "If he knew, essentially we're being misled by different people in the administration about the extent of the President's knowledge. If he didn't know, it's an abdication of even the most basic responsibilities of the command and control over very important parts of his administration, and that becomes a problem." CNN
So Feinstein as Chair of the SSCI did not know what the NSA did and does? Is this some sort of sick joke? Agencies like the NSA, CIA, DIA, etc. are quick to brief key members of Congress and the president about their accompishments. Boasting is the order of the day in the contest for appropriations. So, just accept the fact that our seeker after justice POTUS knew all about it, all of it.
He also knew about the havoc that would be wrought upon the present insurance coverage of many Americans who unlike the favored uninsured will not be put on free coverage in Medicaid, and may not be able to handle increased premiums in new policies even if they can qualify for federal subsidies.
Basically, Obama does not tell the truth. It seems that reports of the cocoon of sycophants around him and their effect on him are correct. pl
The UK SIGINT STATION at RAF Menwith
A close inspection of the material in these Wikipedia articles will reveal that not only do "Gentlemen read others' mail" but they do it in international cooperative groups and often for decades at a time, many decades.
"The UK/USA intelligence community was assessed by the European Parliament (EP) in 2000 to include the signals intelligence agencies of each of these member states: the Government Communications Headquarters of the United Kingdom, the National Security Agency of the United States, the Communications Security Establishment of Canada, the Defence Signals Directorate of Australia, the Government Communications Security Bureau of New Zealand, and the National SIGINT Organisation (NSO) of The Netherlands. The EP report concluded that it seemed likely that ECHELON is a method of sorting captured signal traffic, rather than a comprehensive analysis too." Wiki on "Echelon"
Note that all these governments are full participants in Echelon." No one coerced them into cooperation. They joined this SIGINT collection alliance because they believed that to do so would be advantageous to their country. Note the presence of the Netherlands in this group.
The "Technische Aufklarung" (German SIGINT) is subordinated directly to Chancellor Angela Merkel's office. It is reported that signal intercept operations by this branch of the BND has increased markedly since she has been in office.
"Frenchelon," the gallic equivalent of "Echelon" is particuarly large and robust.
In the case of the US/UK relationship the two services are so closely linked that might as well be one.
There is no possibility - zero -none, that Barack Obama, David Cameron, Hollande and Merkel did not know of the collection activities of their countries' services.
IMO all this noise is symptomatic of the process of divorce now underway between the US and Europe. If the hypocrisy emerging from European capitals continues, the cooperation should end. pl
I have read the Wiki article on the ACA several times and I confess that it remains a mystery to me. By my own rules I should be silent about this law until I understand it, but I will not be silent.
Certainly more people will be insured under an expanded Medicaid program for the poor and working poor. That is a good thing but it will be entirely an expense and without balancing revenue other than projected reductions in the growth of Medicare for the bourgeoisie. Those reductions explain much of the hostility toward the ACA among the Middle Class.
People who make more money than those eligible for Medicaid will be required to buy or continue to buy health insurance. If they do not they will be subject to fines (taxes in John Roberts opinion). these fines will grow each year until they are really painful. Many people so affected have long held health insurance. Many of these are now being told by insurance companies that their existing policies do not meet standards set in the ACA and will be cancelled. At the same time these insurance companies are offering these people policies that meet ACA standards but are much more expensive.
An example. A man who lives in Rappahannock County runs a landscaping company. His brother works for him. He has a wife and two high school age sons. He is not a wealthy man. He does work for us at our house in Alexandria. He told me the other day that his presently held insurance costs him $500/month for family coverage. His insurance is being cancelled for the reason given above and he is offered an ACA fiendly policy that would cost him $1200/month. Would he be eligible for a federal subsidy? I don't know but I doubt it.
Perhaps there are other people who will be offered cheaper health insurance without subsidies.
I don't know. Inform me. pl
"It's not enough for the leaders of Germany and France. Both countries want a halt to eavesdropping on leaders, companies and law-abiding citizens after allegations the National Security Agency gathered tens of thousands of French phone records and hacked German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone. The German leader said trust has been severely shaken and something had to change. The spying revelations come from leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden - reports that the U.S. had spied on 35 world leaders. Brazil's president canceled a state dinner after learning she was a target. Spain's prime minister says he'll summon the U.S. ambassador." CBS News
The issues of US domestic SIGINT collection and SIGINT employment overseas shoud be considered separately.
Domestic SIGINT is essentially a police matter involving the civil rights of Americans.
Overseas SIGINT and other forms of information collection are necessary instruments of foreign affairs. Countries do not have friends. They have interests and those interests are seldom perfectly aligned. To think that any country can abstain from seeking to know what other "players" will attempt or seek to attempt and with whom is a childish fantasy.
US SIGINT "broke" the Japanese diplomatic ciphers before Pearl Harbor. The two countries were at peace. Was it a moral or ethical lapse for the US to have done that? I think not. It was merely prudent.
Why spy on "partners," "friends," or "allies?" That is easy to answer. Countries and individuals are somewhat unpredictable in their behavior. International relations are not a game. World politics is a deadly serious business involvng the welfare and safety of hundreds of millions. Any informational advantage must be sought. To know in advance the positions of interlocutors in any diplomatic or military process is a great advantage. This advantage must be sought.
If Angela Merkel did not know the US or anyone else might be listening to her cell phone then she is not a competent head of government for Germany.
The complaining European politicians have benefited greatly from similar activities of the United States. They know that. If they want agreements similar to those between the US and the Anglophone partners, fine agree to whatever they want. Tell them whatever they want to hear. pl
"I am eager to debate the issues raised in my new book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel (Nation Books), the result of over four years of on-the-ground research and reporting. Whatever one’s opinion of possible resolutions of the Israel-Palestine crisis, I have dedicated my work to presenting the facts as clearly and accurately as I could. Without understanding the realities, no true debate can take place. In writing my book I intended to loosen the blockade of suppression of thought and discussion on the subject of Israel-Palestine. For years, especially since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a right-wing Jewish extremist, a contingent of self-appointed enforcers has attempted to suppress an honest, free and full debate. These enforcers, recently aided and abetted by Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government, have painted critics who do not toe the party line or journalists who report uncomfortable facts as anti-Semitic, self-hating Jews or cheerleaders for terror. Readers of The Nation should recognize this kind of smearing as a form of McCarthyism." Max Blumenthal
"a form of McCarthyism." Amen. pl
"Saudi Arabia is reportedly threatening to scale back its decades-old partnership with Washington over the Obama administration's perceived weakness in dealing with Syrian leader Bashar Assad, and its recent furtive overtures with the Saudis' arch-enemy, Iran. Articles citing anonymous sources familiar with Saudi policy -- though notably, no articles in major Saudi publications -- have quoted the head of the Kingdom's intelligence services, Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud, as warning of a "major shift" or "scaling back" in the relationship. According to the source cited by the Reuters news agency, the prince told European diplomats "the shift away from the U.S. is a major one... Saudi doesn't want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent."" Washpost
I have said for several years that SA was likely to turn away from the US relationship in search of a situation in which it is not dependent on the US as its sole protector. The forces of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC are inconsequential. Except for Pakistani troops who have been "loaned" to them from time to time, the forces of the GCC are of negligible weight as instruments of combat power. Some will argue that the point of US materiel sales to Saudi Arabia is not actual use of Saudi forces, but rather the wondrous effect of Saudi political support and Saudi money in the region. There has also been the benefit of Saudi money to some illegal US covert projects when funds could not be obtained from the US Congress. Lastly, the direct financial benefit that has been provided to US based foundations, think tanks, lobbyists, public relations firms and journalists has been impressive for decades. It is not an accident that this story of Saudi unhappiness is being pushed hard in the press.
"US intelligence chief James Clapper has denied reports that US spies recorded data from 70 million phone calls in France in a single 30-day period. The director of national intelligence said the report in Le Monde newspaper contained "misleading information". In a separate story, the newspaper said the US bugged French diplomats and used the information to sway a key UN vote. Both reports were based on leaks from fugitive ex-US intelligence worker Edward Snowden. "Recent articles published in the French newspaper Le Monde contain inaccurate and misleading information regarding US foreign intelligence activities," Mr Clapper said in a statement released on Tuesday." BBC
Really? Clapper's problem at this point is that there is no reason for anyone to believe anything he says. pl
" ... part of an Army effort to redirect its resources and money to areas where it wants to broaden its recruiting, including major cities. To underwrite the transformation, the Army chose to close R.O.T.C. programs at 13 universities, more than half of them in the South. Tennessee alone will lose R.O.T.C. offerings at three of its public universities, the most of any state. The Army selected the universities after a review found that the programs were typically yielding fewer than 15 commissioned officers annually, although the military acknowledged it granted exceptions to dozens of schools because they met other standards. The Army Cadet Command, which oversees R.O.T.C. and its approximately 33,000 aspiring soldiers, said that by shuttering the 13 lagging programs, it will be able to shift resources to 56 other markets, including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. In many instances, existing programs will grow. " NY Times
This works for me. I was an ROTC product, sort of. VMI commissions some US Army officers every year by way of its participation in the "Senior Military Colleges" division of Army ROTC. Air force, navy and marine officers are also produced there although a lot of graduating cadets choose not to be officers in spite of the life they have lived for four long years. BTW, I think the name "Reserve Officers Training Corps" should be changed. The usage is long obsolete and derives from a time when the production of reserve officers was the primary purpose of the program. For a long time now the services' ROTC programs have produced many, many Regular officers. The name should be aligned with reality.
ROTC is a highly efficient way to find junior officers. It is much cheaper than the national military service academies like USMA, USNA, etc. West Pointers don't like to hear that after four years on active duty as officers the products of West Point, ROTC and Officer Candidate School are indistinguishable, but that is the truth.
The service academies will not disappear. American public sentiment would oppose that and the cadre of alumni of the service academies is still too powerful for that to happen. The public thinks of the service academies as paths to lives of accomplishment open to talent and that is a strong protection for those schools.
A benefit of the widespread distribution of ROTC programs is the resulting diversity of regional, educational, and cultural background in the officer corps. In addition to that, ROTC in recent decades has given many partial or full scholarships to students. This has enabled many to attain a college degree. Former enlisted soldiers now return to the army as officers after the ROTC experience. That infusion of real world experience can only be a benefit. Having had the experience of watching newly "minted" "college boy" second lieutenants just emerged from West Point or ROTC try to command a lot of adults, I can only say that experience helps. One of my senior sergeants once laughed and told me that watching this process was a bit like seeing a monkey try to f---k a football.
I have a certain sympathy for what US Army Cadet Command is trying to do. In addition to dropping programs that do not produce enough officers, they are trying to balance the geographical and quality of education issues that have arisen since the expulsion of many ROTC programs from big city campuses during the Vietnam War. The Army officer corps is now, in my opinion, too heavily weighted with people who are in origin; rural, Southern and enrolled at universities that are not particualry distinguished. This may seem odd given my obvious affection for the rural South, but I think the country needs forces commanded by people who are more representative of the country as a whole and its educational diversity.
BTW, the service academies are not as regionally diverse in the origins of their students as they might be thought. There are a number of ways to become a student at the service academies and they do not all orginate in the nomination of a member of Congress.
This discussion may seem irrelevant to foreigners, but it should not. At some point in the future your countrymen may well meet troops commanded by men and women who have merged from the ROTC program. pl
"In May, McAuliffe and Cuccinelli were roughly tied in a Washington Post poll. Since then, McAuliffe has pulled ahead, thanks in large part to the growing support of women. But the fact that women feel strongly about issues that separate McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, such as abortion and access to contraception, does not guarantee they will vote. To win, McAuliffe must draw women to the polls — especially younger women whose enthusiasm and sense of urgency in this race are sharply lower, according to polling results and brief interviews with more than 100 women living in Arlington’s youngest and most urban neighborhoods. Many of the women interviewed were so adamant in their disengagement that they declined to give their names." Washpost
SWMBO and I observed McAuliffe and his family at an adjoining table at The Palm restaurant on 19th St. in Washington. That was a couple of years ago. He has several children. Just from watching him I would say he is probably a good and devoted father.
We are suffering in this gubernatorial election from an absence of candidates that people want. Douglas Wilder, a former Democratic governor of no great accomplishment, recently endorsed McAullife with visible reluctance. That is how most voters seem to feel about the choice to be made in a few weeks.
Cuccinelli is a right wing ideologue who has been the commonwealth's attorney general for the last four years. He has not seemed to consider the evident truth that most Virginia voters are centrists who incline slightly right or left. The positions he has taken and the actions he has pursued while AG are not pleasing to most.
On the other hand, McAullife is a scheming political and business hustler reminiscent of the "people" seen on the TV program "Shark Tank." I spent ten years in the business world after I left government and hated every minute of it. "Screw anyone for a buck" is the norm and basic rule for success in that world. I kept trying to preach the dogma of seeking to achieve win-win deals but nobody was buying this. I did rather well but am not proud of it.
McAuliffe has run for state wide office twice before and lost. This time he will probably win simply because the Republicans apparently could not field an acceptable candidate. IMO McAuliffe will probably be a horrible experience as governor. He has no interest whatever in Virginia except as a "trampoline" to propel him toward national elected office. As an aspirant for leadership in the Left dominated national Democratic Party he will make statements and attempt actions in Virginia that will be extremely unpopular and likely to fail in the legislative process in Richmond. Gun control, abortion, election procedures; the list will be long. He will be on television often while noisily seeking national stature. He will "hang" often with Bill and Hill. They are still widely disliked in Virginia. He will travel a lot, grandstanding across the country and the world instead of staying home to run the commonwealth's government. Thank God that the governor of Virginia can not succeed himself. The Byrds and Billy Mahone taught us the the danger of seemingly endless posession of power by one man.
The author of this WP piece correctly notes the residence in Arlington County and the City of Alexandria of many thousands of people who mostly work in Washington and have little or no interest in local affairs in Virginia or these communities. They just live here. Lower crime rates and taxes on this side of the river may explain their presence. A great many of these folks are single women who live in the everproliferating town house and apartment buildings in sections like Parker-Grey and Potomac Yard in Alexandria. For some reason a lot of them own large dogs. If polled they are apt to give a reflexive Democratic response. This is especially true when they have been constantly exposed to the unending barrage of McAulliffe TV ads that portray Cuccinelli not as an opponent but rather as an evil troll. McAulliffe is a rich man with many dubious business ventures in his past. He is one of the best political fund raisers in the country. He has lots of money with whch to buy TV ads. The Post article correctly raises the question of whether or not all those single women living in flats with big black dogs will turn out to vote in this election.
I think McAulliffe will win but I will not vote for him. pl
Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (and written by him, too, also himself). Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson (and a serious bee-sting lips, beachball hips woof), Glenn Headly, Tony Danza, Marianne Moore (the butt naked in Big Lebowski Marianne Moore… no, wait a minute, that’s the poetess Marianne Moore of fee-male poet fame like name two of her poems, yeah, that’s what I thought… This is Julianne Moore… ah, same thin except Marianne Moore didn’t show her but in The Big Lebowski, far as I know). Set Design: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Production Values: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. New Jersey Accents: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Screenplay Adaptation from the Short Story by Leo (“The Situation”) Tolstoy: Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Hey. I’m dozing through a Faculty meeting when briefly the fog dissipates long enough for me to hear an outraged fee-male professor inveigh against the vestigial presence of the syllable “man” in “emancipate: “Lincoln freed men and women,” she declares. As the Classics professor rolls his eyes and gurgles of despair rise from his gorge, the Chaplain piously offers in consolation that “not all instances of the syllable ‘man’ derive from the male… for instance “chairman,” where the ‘man’ is from ‘manus, ‘hand’ in Latin.” Beati pauperes spiritu.
And that brings us to “masturbate” (Latin “mastus,” “poultry”; Latin “turbare,” “strangle”). And that brings us, by commodious vicus, to Don Jon. Critics debate whether the “Don” refers to the Don Juan of operatic fame (oh, yeah… name two arias from it, yeah, that’s what I thought) or the other “Don,” of Don Corleone “sei un uomo” fame. Don’t matter much. Both of them happening in New Jersey, the freshly refound Eden of teevee and cineemah: Jersey Girl, Garden State, Jersey Shore, Gigli (I think… if it’s not set in New Jersey, should be). Teasers already alerted us to the dubious premise, that the eponymous protagonist of the same name, him too, suffers from an addiction to what everyone seems determined to call ”porn” these days and this primarily over his laptop (so to speak… lap top? Laptop? Whap! Sorry I hadda do that, but you fotched up with the look again). The HTRL (or whatever the flock it is) is pornhub.com in case you’re looking (and be careful on account of it’s an actual site/sight… or so I heard).
We’re reliably informed that “all guys do it” though whether “it” is scanning pornography or strangling the above poultry or both remain unspecified elements of the indictment. The implicit “addiction,” anything but subtle and the refuge of any weak-willed simpleton these days (“I’m an addict… whatcha gonna do?”) becomes even less subtle in the proposed alternate title to the film, Don Jon’s Addiction, in case you missed it, you dummy, though it eventuates that there’s another and possibly more tragic addiction here, that of the breathtaking Barbara (thank God it’s not Barbra) Sugarman (Zuckermann) for romance and the fluffy trappings of the ewige Weibliche (German for “butt that would stop a clock”). Curiously, the second specification seems to be the more serious with opprobrium appearing, best I can figure at any rate, falling rather on Sugarman for her naiveté and disposition to idyll (or idle or idol, all of them pronounced the same and mean essentially same thing).
Story is that Don Jon Martello (“hammer” in Italian, if you catch my drift), a transparent egoist (and onanist) lives for himself: his family, his church (he’s an RC and piously declares his sins at Confession, racking up the Hail Marys and Our Fathers then knocking them out as he does reps in his gym. He’s got a guy car and a guy pad and snags the hottest fee-males at his guy bar, identifying prospectives by their umph or their umph umphs (either of which could stop a clock), the very aptest of whom rate a “dime,” in his lingo. Sadly, once back at his place and after what for anyone else would be satisfying sex, Don Jon sneaks out of bed to pop open his lap (top) and engage in what we’ll call for a better word: ipsism (Latin “ipse,” “carrot”). Finally he hauls in the diadem of the crown, Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), whom his lout of an Old Man spots as Jewish right off though Mom (Glenn Headly) appreciates her manifest domesticity). Don Jon duly seduces (or is it t’other way around) and then relinquishes her afterward to gratify his lap (top).
She’s the one, he decides. Things go along well enough till she catches him at it. Outraged, she gives him one chance to reform (didn’t do much good when Father Murphy tried, but…). Don Jon can’t seem to shake it, though, (urf urf!), and tumbles into recidivism (Latin “reciduus,” “donkey,” and “vitiare,” “flagellate”). Caught in flog-rante (urf urf!), he watches her depart his life forever, merciless fidelity to a dream of human relation. As this drama plays out, howsomever, another character enters the arena, Esther, a burnt-out, pot-sucking, still-comely (niche pretty much staked out by Julianne Moore) older woman, classmate of Jon’s in the night classes he’s agreed to take for Barabara’s sake, part of her dream, not his. Esther spots Jon’s lap (top) in action and offers him erotica in place of “porn,” becoming a whore-goddess-bunkbuddy and ultimately initiating him to a different kind of sex where—wait for it—“you lose yourself,” in the “other.”
Don Jon (us, of course) learns something. You’re free to figure out what: You might think the tsk-tsking should direct itself at the self-absorbed Jon though it’s the remorseless Barbara whom we seem invited to take in execration, the both of them, I guess, in thrall to unreal expectations of human communion, she more deluded than he? “She has an agenda,” announces the voice of objectivity unexpectedly. The horror, the horror. Well, hell… that Johansson girl certainly does have an agenda, and one would stop a clock, too. I like Gordon-Levitt and highly recommend his films Brick and Premium Rush, both excellent and little noticed since his breakout in Ten Things I Hate About You (you can keep Blooper). Don Jon, though, just doesn’t make it in this reviewer’s um, er… view. Just too, um, er… heavy-handed, one might say.
"The problems plaguing Hamidullah’s battalion represent what might be the biggest threat to the fledgling Afghan army: an inability to repair or replace vital equipment once it is broken. The U.S. military shouldered that responsibility for years. But just as the Afghan army started doing the bulk of the fighting, the Americans stopped repairing Afghan equipment. The U.S. military said that turning over the job to the Afghans was an inevitable part of the transition process. But with the Afghan supply chain still undeveloped and the Defense Ministry still hobbled by corruption, army units across the country aren’t getting the gear and parts that they need." Washpost
Is anyone surprised at this? Maintenance and supply are two of the main things the Afghans will want the US to continue doing for them even after the zero option becomes reality. Contracters will love to do the job and the people doing the contracted work will make a lot of money. They may get killed but that is why they will be paid a lot of money. It is exactly thus in Iraq, with the contracters being supervised by a three star general who pleads for more generals and colonels to be sent him for the purpose of "empire building." The more seniors you have working for you the more likely you are to be promoted.
It is a rare thing to find a 3rd World army or air force that can do its own logistics. Saudi Arabia never has figured out how to make this happen without massive use of its "checkbook." pl
"William D. Swenson is a former captain in the United States Army who was awarded the Medal of Honor on 15 October 2013. He was the first United States Army officer to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, as well as the sixth living recipient in the War on Terror." wiki on Swenson
A brave fellow. The media people keep referring to this man as being "retired" from the army. He is not. He is a FORMER OFFICER. He resigned from the army and now is seeking to be taken back in again. They will do so even though he had the temerity to criticize the idiotic judgment of his superiors in setting soldiers and marines to defending in that far off valley with completely inadequate resources. The appallingly incompetent planning and actions of many army and marine seniors in the Afghanistan War has been evident.
"Retired" service members are still members of their respective services. They have ID cards that say so. They are subject to recall to active duty until dead. They have access to military facilities on the same basis as active duty members. Some years ago I gave some lectures at a navy service school. My civilian contractor host spoke to me at length about how difficult it would be at the gate because of security concerns, I said nothing and next day surprised ad "spooked" him by simply driving up to the gate with my host in the passenger seat of my rental car. I handed my ID card to the retired marine who was gate guard. He saluted and said " Good morning, colonel." I drove to the academic building and parked. My host said, "just like that? I can't believe it. I struggle to get people in here." He was clearly annoyed. "You people really are a club, aren't you," he said.
Yes, we surely are.
I find the inability of the press to master things like the difference between "retired," and "former" to be annoying and indicative of their lack of seriousness in approaching their work. pl
I have been preoccupied the last ten days with the illness and treatment of one of my dogs, my Norwich Terrier bitch Lola. She had suffered from something called primary hyper parathyroidism. This elevates blood calcium to abnormal levels. She had surgery last week and an offending growth was removed. So far the medicos have not been able to stabilize her calcium levels. We have had to take her back to the hospital several times. I ask your indulgence for my lack of attention at present. That's not Lola but it one fine looking Shepherd. pl
"Shortly before its operatives killed 14 Iraqi Shiite children in a school bombing this month, the group once known as al-Qaeda in Iraq sent guerrillas into northern Syrian villages with orders to reopen local Sunni classrooms. In a series of early fall visits, the militants handed out religious textbooks along with backpacks bearing the group’s new name: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. A four-hour drive to the east, a rival al-Qaeda faction called Jabhat al-Nusra was busy setting up a jobs program in Ash- Shaddadi, a desert town it has held since February. The Islamists restarted production at an oil field that had been idled by fighting, and they fired up the town’s natural gas plant, now a source of income for Ash-Shaddadi and its new rulers." Washpost
Let's see, Kerry thinks that there are effective "secular" rebel groups. He thinks that he can negotiate with these fanatics. He doesn't understand that they are not secret "moderates" like the Mullahs in Iran were thought to be long ago?
He is a fool. pl
"Without an agreement, U.S. troops would leave Afghanistan with all NATO forces at the end of 2013. The NATO mission now has about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, about half from the United States. American and Afghan diplomats have worked for a year on a new agreement which would allow roughly 10,000 American troops to remain. Karzai said he did not have the authority to negotiate immunity for foreign troops. "We will leave this to the representatives of Afghanistan who will come to the Loya Jirga, and then take it to the Afghan Parliament, and the Afghan people can decide on this," he said through an interpreter at a joint press conference in Kabul." CNN
Amusing. Does Kerry really belive Karzai's protestations of friendship. Does Kerry really believe a loya jirga will vote to give us immunity? That is a picture of an Afghan civilian killed by a US soldier who went mad. pl
"... even if the current talks soon resolve the immediate impasse, which did not look likely on Saturday, any renewal of negotiations for a long-term fiscal plan will run into the same underlying problem that has doomed efforts for the past three years. Republicans refuse to raise additional tax revenue, and until they do, Mr. Obama will not support even his own tentative proposals for reducing spending on fast-growing social benefit programs, chiefly Medicare. During a White House meeting with Senate Republicans on Friday, he reiterated that the two go hand in hand, according to people who were there." NY Times
The real contest in Washington and in fact across the country is between those who believe that the federal government is an engine of great good that should be given more and more functions and money and those who believe that the federal government is a necessary evil that restricts and blights private interests and lives and which should be greatly reduced in power and function.
Specific issues like the ACA or the tax on medical machines are mere excuses. This battle has been fought and re-fought for all the years of the Republic. It has its roots in the traditions of English government that lie at the heart of American political philosophy and discourse. This struggle is essentially a renewal of the contest between the "King's Party," (Tories) and the Country Party (Whigs) that dominated English politics in the 17th and 18th Centuries.
In today's Washington we are now reduced to a prolonged contest of wills between these groups with the really professional "pols" running back and forth from one group to another like rats seeking escape.
The national media are largely adherents of the King's Party while still conscious of their corporate and special interest in seeking favor from groups like AIPAC. In pursuit of these interests the media are busily engaged in portraying the dissident Republican populists as a doomed clique of illiterate rural buffoons. What they seem to have succesfully ignored is the relative invulnerability of these "buffoons" in their home districts and the ability of the "buffoons" to tie the federal government in knots for a long, long time in this and future struggles.
Some say that POTUS is winning this fight. How? He has accepted the sequestration levels of spending as normal and the levels desired by the "buffoons" in next year's spending as a basis for discussion.
What is my solution? I have none. pl
"Rebel forces in Syria killed as many as 190 civilians and seized more than 200 hostages during a military offensive in August, Human Rights Watch says. A report by the US-based group says the deaths occurred in villages inhabited predominantly by members of President Bashar al-Assad's minority Alawite sect near the coastal city of Latakia. It said the findings "strongly suggest" crimes against humanity were committed. The group has previously documented atrocities by pro-government forces. The report calls on the UN to impose an arms embargo on all groups where there is credible evidence of their involvement in war crimes." BBC
So, the 100,000 deaths were not all committed by the government? pl
"... one Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate diplomacy involved, warned that the implications of punitive cuts in Egypt’s aid could go far beyond the issue of Israeli-Egyptian relations. The United States is playing with fire, he said. “You cannot disassemble the peace treaty and take out this part or that part,” the official said. “But there are other elements in this conundrum. This is not just about Israel. This is about America’s standing in the Arab world.” Noting that military aid is not just about tank shipments but also a sign of presence and commitment, he added: “If America is seen to be turning its back on Egypt, an old ally, how will it be seen? People will see it as the United States dropping a friend.” Asked about American aid to Egypt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said he would speak only “in general terms,” but made it clear that any withdrawal of aid was a concern." Kershner in the NY Times
Well, there you have it. It's our money but the Israelis are quite willing to tell us what, where and when we can give it away and/or spend it. pl
The Tea Party is heading a revolt against the idea of government by the majority of citizens elected by national popular vote. To the Tea Party people and the extremist Republicans, a national mandate is a fraud on its face. It signifies nothing but the victory of superior numbers is nothing but a war between the mass versus the most qualified, insightful and effective and the most visionary minority party. A victory in a U.S. national election is to them merely a crude popularity contest, and the means must be found to bypass it. Hitler, after all, was elected by a popular majority.
To the Tea Party people and the extremist Republicans, the nation’s fate does not rest on superior numbers. Its fate depends on the political devices of certain of essential, critical white minorities, and it is only those particular, self-chosen minorities that matter. Isn’t this what we are seeing in the shutdown? The Tea Party and extremist Republicans are saying that that any state has the right to declare specific federal laws void within the borders of the resisting states, and instead there should be set up a “concurrent majority” of the legislatures of each state in addition to the federal legislature to assent to a law for it to have nation-wide effect.
Before we go further let me say stoutly that I have no interest in politics. I have always had the attitude of that mythical old New England woman in her nineties in who, when asked why she had never voted replied, “I never vote. It only encourages them.” I didn’t vote until the 1992 George H. Bush Bill Clinton contest, and I voted for Bush because of his handling of Saddam. I spectacularly disliked Bill Clinton and only slowly changed my mind because in the case of Serbia and Milosevic, the iron at last entered him and he went to battle.
Good strategy requires the identification of an achievable objective that can be obtained at a reasonable cost. President Obama and his senior officials have done exactly that with respect to Iran. President Obama has repeatedly said that America’s overriding strategic objective is to “prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” This is a clear strategic objective that with honest effort on both sides is reasonably attainable through diplomatic means.
President Obama in his recent address to the United Nations reiterated his strategic goal of prevention, endorsed Iran’s right to a civilian nuclear program, and sought to reassure Iranian leaders that regime change was not the goal of U.S. policy. Meanwhile, recently elected Iranian President Rouhani has pledged to provide additional transparency in order to reassure the international community that Iranian nuclear programs and technologies are indeed purely civilian in nature. In these public statements both leaders have thus sketched the broad outlines of a mutually acceptable deal. Iran secures international acceptance of a limited civilian nuclear program in exchange for enhanced inspections that ensure these activities are not diverted to military purposes. Formulating a detailed step-by-step plan for easing sanctions tied to specific Iranian actions is the next critical step in filling out this strategic diplomatic option.
"Some may rightly blame politicians in Washington for behaving badly, but in reality the clashes in the nation’s capital reflect conflicting attitudes and values held by politically active, rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats across the country. Add to that a faction of conservatives in the House who are determined to disrupt business as usual and the current stalemate in Congress becomes almost unavoidable. The bonds that once helped produce political consensus have gradually eroded, replaced by competing camps that live in parallel universes, have sharply divergent world views and express more distrust of opponents than they did decades ago. Many activists describe the stakes in apocalyptic terms." Dan Balz
If I understand Balz correctly, his main point is that the increasingly separated thinking of the blue and red areas cause the re-districting into gerrymandered House districts and not the other way around.
If true this is an ominous portent for the future. pl
The passing of this Vietnamese communist revolutionary should be noted. Giap was a scion of a family of the landholding class in Tonkin. He grew up in comfortable circumstances and was educated in public institutions created by the French colonial administration of Indochina. He was a student at Hanoi University from 1933 to 1938. He became a provincial schoolteacher on graduation. There is a great irony in this since many of the French paratroop officers he waged war against had been provincial school teachers and reservists before World War Two.
Giap displayed a taste for revolutionary politics from an early age. He took an active role in organizing Vietnamese guerrillas against Japanese occupying forces during WW2.
The French decision to re-occupy Indochina at war's end put Giap and other Vietnamese revolutionaries on the path to creation of a socialist state with the help of the communist countries of Europe and Asia and with the sympathy of leftists across the world. Communist China began to provide large amounts of materiel aid as well as training at all levels after 1948.
Giap was not a field commander on the model of many who could be named. He was a military theorist and organizer of victory. He was more like Fox Connor or George Marshall than he was like Patton, Guderian or Rommel.
His writings are significant in the context of the literary patrimony of the military art. "People's War, People's Army," is, in my opinion, the best theoretical work on insurgency that emerged in the post WW2 era. It is much better than the writings of Guevara or Mao.
A North Vietnamese Colonel supposedly told Harry Summers that although the US won all the battles in the VN war, the communists won the war. In that context it can be fairly said that Giap won both the French War and the US War. He won both wars because his forces and strategy exhausted political support for these wars among the populace of his adversaries. pl
"The United States and Afghanistan have reached an impasse in their talks over the role that American forces will play here beyond next year, officials from both countries say, raising the distinct possibility of a total withdrawal — an outcome that the Pentagon’s top military commanders dismissed just months ago. American officials say they are preparing to suspend negotiations absent a breakthrough in the coming weeks, and a senior administration official said talk of resuming them with President Hamid Karzai’s successor, who will be chosen in elections set for next April, is, “frankly, not very likely.”" NY Times
Ho hum. You heard it here first. pl
"What is becoming increasingly clear is that Assad wasn't behind the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in an eastern suburb of Damascus. The evidence gathered by U.N. inspectors may lead to pro-al-Qaida operatives in the resistance movement. The purpose of such an operation would be to further discredit Assad's regime and sabotage peace talks." De Borchgrave
When I saw this section of Arnaud De Borchgrave's column yesterday, I contacted him so as to know this was his opinion or that of the Russians. He assures me that this is his opinion. pl
"The most transparent administration in history suffered a defeat Monday, when U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson turned down the Justice Department's request to dismiss a lawsuit seeking "Fast and Furious" documents hidden by Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department after President Obama invoked executive privilege." Investors.com
"The most transparent administration in history" seems to have enough judges in the DC Appelate court in its pocket to ride this one out. I don't know Judge Berman but my hat is off to her. pl
**********************"An organization of black conservatives says the Eric Holder-led Justice Department's latest lawsuit in North Carolina is clearly intended to do one thing: help encourage voter fraud in The Tar Heel State. In August, North Carolina enacted a new law that requires prospective voters to present a valid ID at their assigned polling place in order to obtain a ballot. The ballot integrity measure came in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that reformed the Voting Rights Act by requiring that the federal government prove in court that minorities are affected by a law, rather than the sweeping unregulated control it had over certain state's election statutes." onenewsnow.com
Priceless. I suppose Holder et al realize that with suits like this they are exposing the Voter Rights Act to further erosion by SCOTUS. pl
"We can suppose that Syria learned from Iraqi and Libyan experience and obtained a sufficient amount of GPS jamming devices from Russia. Hundreds or thousands of these devices can easily cover a large area around Damascus and other important areas, so that cruise missiles would fly off course by hundreds of kilometers. The GPS jamming zone can start over water, where TERCOM and DSMAC guidance surely do not work. With the use of small boats, a jamming zone can be extended hundreds kilometers from the shore. An additional restriction is that the presence of advanced anti-ship missiles supplied by Russia does not allow American ships to come close to Syrian shores for the attack, so missiles have to fly long distances over water, likely without a GPS signal, and this will lead to difficulties in resuming TERCOM navigation when overland." Asia Times
This author claims that the US was simply unable to achieve a desired level of destruction in Syria because of technical reasons and for that reason Obama yielded to public pressure and went to Congress for approval of air action where he knew he would loose.
I don't believe that is what happened but I leave it to the air techno boffins to deal with this argument. pl
Out my open window, the Paris sky showed a cold gray above the half-hid rooftops glistening in the rain. It was the month of May.
I was 23-years old. I lay atop the hard bed in the attic room, my eyes wide open, and listened to the dripping of the shower on the eaves, the constant patter of rain on the roof slates. Earlier that morning, carrying my suitcase, I stepped from the double door of the bus depot and found myself in a dirty, run-down section of the city. A weak sun greeted my eyes. The solid gray overcast had clear to split into blue pieces, and what had begun by being a damp, dismal day was how lit up by a weak, anemic sun. Even that was something at least, I thought.
"The political stare-down on Capitol Hill shows no signs of easing, leaving federal government functions — from informational websites, to national parks, to processing veterans’ claims — in limbo from coast to coast. Lawmakers in both parties ominously suggested the partial shutdown might last for weeks. A funding cutoff for much of the government began Tuesday as a Republican effort to kill or delay the nation’s health care law stalled action on a short-term, traditionally routine spending bill. Republicans pivoted to a strategy to try to reopen the government piecemeal but were unable to immediately advance the idea in the House. National parks like Yellowstone and Alcatraz Island were shuttered, government websites went dark and hundreds of thousands of nonessential workers reported for a half-day to fill out time cards, hand in their government cellphones and laptops, and change voicemail messages to gird for a deepening shutdown." Boston.com
I remember the last shutdown in 1995. That was a terrible miscalculation on the part of Gingrich. This time the blame seems more evenly distributed.
The Tea Party Republicans seem adamant and they are from Gerrymandered districts that probably make them invulnerable to electoral challenge. Both parties have worked hard and long at the task of dividing the country politically into "safe" districts. they have been successful at that. The 8th District of Virginia where I live is a place where no Republican is likely to ever be elected. The same thing is true of the 7th District to the south. In that case no Democrat is foolish enough to try, Eric Cantor is the member from that district. It wanders across the state and was carefully shaped to protect party interests.
The Democrats are determined to force Republican defeat in this struggle. Last night they declined to consider in the senate several bill passed in the Republican controlled house. These bills would have selectively funded parts of the government that the public generally like. The National Parks are an example. Clearly the Democrats want the public to feel the pain and attribute the pain the the Republicans.
I have doubts about the coercive nature of the ACA. I have doubts about the price structure of the insurance to be generated by the ACA. I have doubts about the massive subsidies that will be necessary in order to pay for poor peoples' mandatory health insurance. I have doubts about the extraordinary profits that will be generated for health insurance companies. I have all these doubts and more, but I would not close the US Government in protest.
Boehner should call the CR to the floor and allow a vote. He should accept the fact that this is his duty. If this impasse continues, a major constitutional crisis is inevitable. pl
"Gen. James F. Amos, the Marine Corps Commandant, announced the disciplinary action on Monday. He said the punishments were unprecedented in modern Marine Corps history and were an effort “to remain true to the timeless axioms relating to command responsibility and accountability.” Maj. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus, formerly NATO’s regional commander in southwestern Afghanistan, was faulted for failing to properly assess risks posed by the insurgency operating outside the vast military base in Helmand Province that included camps Bastion, Leatherneck and Shorabak. General Gurganus had been nominated for his third star and a senior leadership role at the Marine Corps headquarters at the Pentagon, but will retire instead. Maj. Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant, the former commander of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing forces assigned to Afghanistan, was faulted for not having established an integrated system of security at Bastion airfield, and will also take early retirement." NY Times
Homage to the US Marine Corps. The institutional courage required to do the right thing in such a case is an example that my own service, the US Army has not displayed since Vietnam when a major general was relieved of command in similar circumstance.
For too long have general offciers avoided the consequences of action or inaction that occurred under their command. For too long have junior leaders been required to bear the burden of punishment while their superiors escaped.
It should be noted that Major General Gurganus has stated in a most soldierly way that he was responsible and that he accepts this painful decision. pl
"A senior United Nations official who deals directly with Syrian affairs has told Al-Akhbar that the Syrian government had no involvement in the alleged Ghouta chemical weapons attack: "Of course not, he (President Bashar al-Assad) would be committing suicide.” When asked who he believed was responsible for the use of chemical munitions in Ghouta, the UN official, who would not permit disclosure of his identity, said: “Saudi intelligence was behind the attacks and unfortunately nobody will dare say that.” The official claims that this information was provided by rebels in Ghouta." Al Akhbar in English
I am curious to know what you all think of this 22 foot high piece of bronze sculpture. It recently was installed in the Freedmen's and Contraband's Cemetery Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. It was commissioned by the city government from a sculptor in California. pl
"If any extra evidence was needed to shatter the myth of a "revolution" struggling for a future "democratic" Syria, the big news of the week cleared any remaining doubts. Eleven, 13 or 14 "rebel" brigades (depending on the source) have ditched the "moderate", US-propped Syrian National Council (SNC) and the not-exactly Free Syrian Army (FSA). The leaders of the bunch are the demented jihadis of Jabhat al-Nusra - but it includes other nasties such as the Tawhid brigades and the Tajammu Fastaqim Kama Ummirat in Aleppo, some of them until recently part of the collapsing FSA." Pepe Escobar
The good old Tawhid brigades made a "coming out" statement this week in which a spokesman said that they were tired of not stating their allegiance to the creation of a sharia law state, and that the FSA was a godless instrument of Western infiltration, Well, from their point of view...
R2P and neocon propaganda has manufactured a major "truth" with regard to the origins of the present civil war in Syria. According to this "truth" the revolt began as a process of peaceful street demonstrations for human rights by folks who wanted whatever it was that Tom Paine wanted. This now received "truth" insists that it was only when the evil Assad demon unleashed his cossacks on the crowds that things got nasty. Well, there were a few such demonstrations but a review of the news from Syria at that time shows that Sunni zealots led by their Imams very quickly made this process into an armed revolt using mosques in places like Deraa and Homs as bases. The resulting civil war has featured Sunni zealots on one side backed principally by Saudi Arabia and all other Syrians on the other side backed by Russia and Iran.
There are several other IO created truths floating around. One is the illogical assumption that the 100,000 dead that are mentioned frequently were all killed by the Syrian government. Say what?
Another is the notion that Hizbullah's forces are under the direct operational control of Iran and can be ordered into battle by Iran or withdrawn as the Iranians see fit. I doubt that. pl
"I hope so. Part of me will cheer. The dominant, cynical side of me will just wonder who will be signing Clapper’s checks next. My gut says he’ll still be an intelligence insider, just on a private contractor’s payroll. " Ars Skeptica
There is no doubt. Clapper will go back to the contractor world and continue to feather his nest. pl