As ex CIA analyst Ray McGovern pointed out yesterday the only big fish to be hooked in the decade of intrusive monitoring of our private communications turns out to be the head of the CIA. Irony abounds, drips, and oozes.
In addition, General John Allen, a 35 year veteran of the Marines is under investigation in part to determine what’s behind the 20-30,000 emails and other “inappropriate communications” between himself and a woman variously described as a voluntary social liason and socialite from MacDill AFB in Tampa.
That’s twenty or thirty thousand separate communications in two years. Take the low number and divide by a couple of years worth of days and we have a General officer communicating with a socialite party planner nearly thirty times a day. That’s a lot of partying.
Bear in mind that the taxpayers are shelling out over $15,000 dollars a month to to keep this four star naval academy grad at his desk running a major US military command that is currently involved in at least one war and a clutch of other hot conflicts around the world.
His former boss, now retired General and former head of the CIA David Petraeus, is at the apex of whatever comic opera is involved here, along with his biographer, a former military intelligence officer and, it seems now historically noteworthy camp follower named Paula Broadwell.
Petraeus, the darling of the neocons who gave us the war in Iraq, and Broadwell have admitted to having a ten month affair while he was the nation’s top spy. As an enlisted Marine I always thought that generals led boring lives. Who knew?
Like everyone else looking at this national insecurity drama I have no idea what’s going on but I’m pretty sure it goes far beyond Private Beetle Baily planning a weekend kegger at the beach.
Both of these general officers have had long and supposedly stellar careers as senior staff and both are past commanders of CENTCOM. A few more days of the kind of revelations now popping up hourly and they both may be transferred to SITCOM.
Thanks to everyone who supported President Obama and his party in yesterday’s election. You spoke out, you wrote, you contributed your time, energy and money and finally you voted.
Now that it’s over and we have a moment of calm after the raging battle it’s time to reflect on the road ahead. In the brief silence that accompanies this temporary cessation of hostilities if you listen closely you will hear the murmurs beginning.
Karl Rove was on Fox this morning explaining why he’s still a genius. Fox will continue to fill their air time with outrageous and untrue commentary billed as fair and balanced news and the Republican party will continue to vilify minorities, women and attempt to place the main burden of taxation on the backs of working people.
Already this morning Mitch McConnell and John Boehner attempted to diminish the Democratic victory with less than conciliatory statements that portend the likelihood that obstructionism will continue as their primary tactic and many of the far right republican players like Eric Cantor are still on the field preparing for more of their special brand of malicious mischief.
We’ve won a battle but the struggle continues. We have wars and conflicts to end, a tax system to reconstruct, an economy to rebuild, a national security and military industrial complex to rein in, a constitution and rule of law to reaffirm, and a new energy policy and infrastructure to build. (more…)
On Tuesday a friend asked if I intended to watch last night’s debate and I told him probably not. I’ve watched Romney and his privileged prep school routine for years. He wears a smirking upper class disdain for his inferiors (which covers just about everyone) like body armor or more self righteously, like temple underwear and you can read on his face the pompous knowledge that the rest of us are not similarly attired.
I knew going in that nothing would happen in this debate that would change my vote to reelect the president. I told my friend that I would read the transcript the morning after. Being a political junkie I cheated. I watched but switched to the ball game, to an old movie, to a book every ten minutes or so. Whenever the dismal droning of the misinformation and posturing of the “debate” began to grate on my nerves I was able to find respite in the remote.
Reading the transcript this morning I quickly learned that my expectations were borne out by the reality of this ratings circus. A circus that was carried by every network and financed by the same corporate money that fuels these interminable election campaigns. There was nothing to learn here, nothing was said that hasn’t been repeated over and over for the last two years of sound bites, mendacious political ads, and media fueled public backbiting that we have somehow come to accept as the democratic process. (more…)
Class Warfare ?
President Obama has once again taken his case to the people and around here we’re glad to see it.
He’s attacking the Bush tax cuts, the moneyed class who claim that they would have to close off a few bedrooms without them, thereby putting a chambermaid out of work, and the Republican prison guards who begin fibrillating at the thought of losing that chambermaid they had grown so fond of.
The country is teetering at the precipice of bankruptcy because it has been fleeced by its wealthiest and most powerful people and corporations and now that the working classes are on the ropes, out of work, behind on the rent, the ruling class wants more.
There are torches in the woods carried by folks in evening wear and I’m hearing shouts of “down with the minimum wage,” “privatize social security,” “let them work till eighty,” “the people are spoiled,” and they’re worried abut “class warfare?” (more…)
[Editor’s note: This began as a comment this morning to “Oil spill: The nightmare becomes reality” a Carl Hiaasen piece on the arrival of BP’s poisonous gusher of crud on the shores of Pensacola.]
You’re right; it is difficult for people living far from our coasts to feel the horrible weight of this disaster.
I live in Ohio but have lived on the coasts of California and North Carolina. I have also lived through and helped clean up an oil spill near San Francisco in 1970 or thereabouts. I have friends and family though who have never seen or at least never lived near the sea and had it become, as seems inevitable to me, a part of them.
If you sit on a hill overlooking your local harbor or coastal area (a fat dune will do) and watch the ebb and flow of the ocean, its cycle of life, through days and nights, its tides, the winds shifting from onshore to offshore, the ceaseless march of crabs and gulls of all the limitless life of the sea you will soon notice another ebb and flow.
Here you see, in embryonic form, the future of privatized “corporate law enforcement.”
I’m not faulting the reporter for his prudence but I think I would have walked past these gaily dressed rent-a-goons and forced them to physically stop me. I’d like to take that one to court.
The beach bouncers in the video are employed by Talon Security of Sacramento, California. Talon Security is a firm headed by Donald Bacchi, billed on their site as having retired from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department after thirty years with the rank of Sergeant. Hmm… after thirty years one might expect a loftier rank.
[Editor’s note: Dan Casey a writer at the Roanoke Times linked to this piece yesterday and said some nice things while offering a bit of criticism. I updated this post by responding to him at the bottom of this page. Bob Higgins]
“We need to be realistic about operating in a mile of water”
Tony Hayward, the cherubic little weasel who serves as the front man for British Petroleum, BP, Beyond Pathetic or whatever they are calling their ‘brand’ this week, made the statement above, on camera to reporters while standing on an oil fouled Louisiana beach a couple of weeks ago.
Earlier that day I had a fairly heated argument with an elderly acquaintance who recently became enraptured by the ‘Teabaggers.’ This giddy political infatuation has had the gruesome effect of making him more of a pain in the ass than he was previously. At one point in the ‘discussion’ he asked me why BP was drilling at 5000 feet below the surface and I told him that most of the ‘easy oil’ has been used up and drilling is increasingly taking place in ever riskier and more technologically challenging sites.
Cross posted at Veterans Today
The telephone rings just before dinner and you reluctantly interrupt what you’re doing to answer.
“This is so and so and I’d like to ask you for a moment of your time for our veterans,” says the voice on the phone. If you are at all like me, and I expect that you may be, you dislike telemarketers and usually brush them off with more speed then politeness, especially around dinner time.
He tells you that the “Veterans Association” that he represents is a long established charity with tens of thousands of dues paying members and headquarters in more than twenty states. He offers a short list of good works and projects that they have supported in your area and you think that a couple of them sound familiar.
The pitchman is practiced and convincing and when he gives you the address to send your pledge to, you write a check for a ten spot or twenty, maybe fifty bucks, put it in an envelope and put it on the hall table to mail on your way to work in the morning.
Like me you probably derive a small satisfaction from giving, coupled with a bit of guilt that you can’t offer more but, hey, money’s tight everywhere.
This is, fundamentally, how a “charitable organization” known as the US Navy Veterans Association (USNVA) has collected more than twenty two million dollars in the name of veterans over the last several years.
During the past month I’ve excerpted several stories from an investigative series by a team led by St Petersburg Times writers Jeff Testerman and John Martin. If you haven’t done so I recommend that you read the entire series here. It is an eyeopening trip through a shadowy world of “charitable” fund raising and political donations.
Appeasing The Gods Of The Shareholders
There was a time when, as a matter of policy, America went to war only as a response to an attack by an aggressor. In 1962 John Kennedy had every reason to make war with Cuba and Russia when Kruschev talked Fidel into parking several dozen Soviet nuclear missiles ten minutes from Washington and 90 miles from spring break.
Most of the Joint Chiefs, especially Curtis Lemay,(General Bat Guano?) along with a sizable faction of Kennedy’s closest advisers urged the President to invade. Lemay wanted to send his B52s, (presumably not to drop leaflets) while others preferred a massive land invasion, perhaps to restore the Cosa Nostra to control of Cuban Casinos, the way God intended.
There is an apocryphal story told that Marine Commandant David Shoup (under whom I served at the time) presented the assemblage of top level civilian and military advisers with an easel containing a map of Cuba, over which he had placed an acetate overlay of a tiny Pacific atoll named Tarawa. Tarawa, which the Marines had invaded early in WW2 was shown graphically as a small speck against the background of Castro’s Caribbean worker’s paradise.
He then proceeded to inform the gathering that the insignificant speck had not been at all pacific, having cost the lives of over 1000 Marines and the wounding of 2200 others, creating a great storm of protest at home over what was seen as a needless squandering of lives to gain a tiny piece of real estate. Tarawa, he is reported to have explained, was defended by 4500 Japanese while Castro would field 150,000, and perhaps as many more.
Twice a week I have a physical therapy session at the Dayton VA Hospital. I had a heart attack last March 15, (beware the ides?) in October they referred me to cardio pulmonary therapy to build me up for whatever years may lie ahead. They have done an excellent job and I am pleased with my future prospects.
I have been treated at the Dayton VA several times over the years, have volunteered there performing Veteran’s memorial services as part of an honor guard, and three years ago said good bye to my father who died in the VA hospice at the age of 80.
My experiences with VA medical care have been almost entirely positive. The medical staff has been competent caring and willing to communicate with me. My physical therapist (Kinesiologist) whom I refer to as Ms Torquemada has enabled me to return to a relatively normal life and I love her for it. The hospice ward is amazing, they treated my Dad with the dignity and respect he deserved in his final days on this planet and were equally wonderful with my family. The people in the ER and Cardiac Intensive Care wards saved my life which fact may leave me with some bias on the issue at hand.
I have personally witnessed the operations of this facility during the current federal administration as well as during the Clinton years and I have seen a noticeable decline in the state of the physical plant and the attitudes of some employees during the Cheney/Bush era.
What once was a well funded and squeaky clean facility has deteriorated noticeably and budget cutting has caused serious staffing problems. I believe that this decline is due to the penny pinching policies of the knuckle heads who are passing themselves off as our government.
The blame for conditions at Walter Reed and other problems throughout the veterans health system must be placed firmly at the feet of those who set the policies. For the last six years those feet have belonged to George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. To lay the blame on anyone below the the level of policy maker and budget controllers would be wrong.
With the possible exception of Barry Goldwater for whom I have have always had a somewhat grudging admiration and a few others, perhaps John McCain before he developed a taste for the flavor of George Bush’s ass and decided that performing oral sex on Jerry Falwell, indeed the entire religious right was a natural rite of passage on the road to earning the Presidency, Republicanism has always been abhorrent to me.
My animus toward the GOP probably began during my early residence in the womb of a Mother who was a Democrat, a long time member of the UAW and the daughter of hard scrabble Sicilian Democrats from Connecticut as well as exposure to Willie Higgins my paternal grandfather who was a printer, a pressman and a lifelong Democrat. (except for the part about FDR sending his son to fight a war in Europe. Willie loved Harry Truman, but hated FDR, there may be a lesson about war or public relations or whose ox is being gored in there somewhere.)
Anyway, I came by my liberal passions early and honestly and before the end of elementary school had begun to feel a strong disdain for Hamilton and all he represented and a deep affinity for Jefferson and what I saw as the enlightened, egalitarian ideals of a more liberal political philosophy.
With this background it should be quite understandable that the October election was celebrated around my house as “the night of the living Democrats” and great sighs of relief were breathed over the weighing of the Republican anchor on the Ship of State which contains our mutual American asses.
However, it seems that my smug satisfaction with the coming Democratic majority was somewhat immoderate and premature because those Republican bastards are lame ducking the hell out of the country before the Democrats take office.
After nearly four years of bombings, from the air and from roadside ditches, after four years of blood, death, murder, torture, rape, beheadings, and a host of other unspeakable acts perpetrated on a daily basis by one faction, or militia or clan, or sect upon a rival clan or sect or militia, the Iraq study group is talking of threatening the Iraqi Government with….Ready?…Sanctions?
This from the Iraqi Study Group’s “Executive Summary:”
“If the Iraqi government does not make substantial progress toward the achievement of milestones on national reconciliation, security, and governance, the United States should reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government,” the report’s executive summary says.
This, in a country where the electric power is on for maybe six hours a day, clean water is sometimes available, three thousand people a month are being slaughtered, major portions of the physical and social infrastructure have been destroyed , remain unrepaired and the National Regatta is a Sunny Saturday spent watching bloated corpses drifting lazily down the Tigris.
I believe that this is where I came in, where we all began four years ago, with Sanctions.
Born On This Day In 1922
If those in charge of our society – politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television – can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.
On a shelf above my computer is an old, very fragile, dog eared paperback copy of “A Peoples History Of The United States.” The pages are turning yellow and the binding is dried out and broken. Every time I open it I have to make sure that I put the pages back in the correct order.
I bought it back in the early 80’s and it has been with me ever since. I’ve read it cover to cover several times and referred to it on countless occasions over the years.
In the early nineties, I believe it was in the spring of ninety two, after the second or third reading I was moved to write the author a letter of thanks.
I thanked him for writing a book that I wished that I had the talent, insight and energy to write and for his struggles in the civil rights movement in the 60’s as well as his significant struggle against the war in Vietnam.
The midterm election is barely over and the religious far right is already acting out over incoming Minnesota Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison’s stated intention to be sworn in using the Koran rather than the Bible.
Ellison, the first member of the Islamic faith to be elected to the United States Congress has served in the Minnesota Legislature. His desire to use the Koran at his swearing-in ceremony has apparently caused great consternation and hand wringing among some of the luminaries of the religious and not so religious right. Fox News’ Sean Hannity, famous for making mole hills appear as mountains could not pass up an opportunity to dig in to this nonsensical non issue last week.
His invited guest was a guy named Dennis Prager who I am told has a right wing talk-show in Los Angeles, I envision the type of show that Donald Fagin sang of in “Night Fly.”
“So you say there’s a race of men in the trees, I wait all night for calls like these.” Donald Fagin
“Mister Manners,” George Will (pictured above in the second grade) asks:
“Can’t We Wage Aggressive War, Kill Thousands of Innocent People,
Destroy American Liberty And Still Be Civil?
By now everyone has heard all about the “Teapot Tempest” surrounding Senator-Elect James Webb’s alleged rude treatment of the President of the United States at their recent meeting.
Webb, who was awarded the Navy Cross for valor under fire and two Purple Hearts for wounds received in Vietnam has a son serving in Iraq. When President Chicken-Hawk asked Webb how his son was doing, Webb replied that he wished that the troops would soon be leaving Iraq. When the president responded with the comment “that’s not what I asked you,” “how’s your boy?” Webb replied, “that’s between me and my boy Mr. President.”
George Will, our “Mr. Manners,” remarked on this event in the Washington Post a couple of days ago, writing:
“Webb certainly has conveyed what he is: a boor. Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency. Webb’s more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being- one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another.”
The nearly always erudite, often boring and constantly pompous Mr. Manners, who has been described as a “wax figure” and who, I suspect, carried a briefcase to school in the second grade, seems to have gotten his shorts in more of a wad than usual over this incident.
I don’t remember having heard heard that expression since Myrna Loy used it in describing someone to William Powell in an old “Thin Man” movie from the ’40s.
In a “News” story in The Washington Post this morning “An Estate Tax Twist Reverses Party Roles On Minimum Wage” Staff Writer Jeffrey Birnbaum leads with one of the most disingenuous paragraphs I have read in a major newspaper in awhile:
For years, organized labor has worked hard to raise the minimum wage, while business groups have campaigned to block such a change. This week in the Senate, however, the AFL-CIO is pushing to kill the wage increase while practically the entire business lobby is demanding that it pass.
Perhaps the word disingenuous isn’t strong enough, in fact my departed Quaker Grandmother would have said, “why that Jeffrey is full of beans.” My equally departed Grandfather would have agreed with her, but not being cut from quite the same Quaker mold as Grandma, he would have differed with her somewhat on the nature of Mr. Birnbaum’s stuffing.