Browsing the archives for the Obama Administration category.

Same Old Crazy

Obama Administration

Every day I cruise around news sites until something pisses me off, and then I blog about it. Today I think I’m either too jaded or too mellow to be pissed off. And one of those is just as likely as the other.

Anything pissing you off today?


Get Used to It, Texas

Obama Administration

Nine are dead after a gunfight broke out in a busy restaurant in Waco, Texas.


Now They Agree With Us

Obama Administration

You’ll be glad to know that, twelve years too late, even most Republican presidential candidates agree the Iraq War was a mistake.

Politicians hoping to be president rarely run ahead of public opinion. So it’s a revealing moment when the major contenders for president in both parties find it best to say that 4,491 Americans and countless Iraqis lost their lives in a war that shouldn’t have been waged.

Even Mo Dowd has seen the light.

It is simply not true, as Republican presidential aspirant Scott Walker said on Friday, that “any president would have likely taken the same action Bush did with the information he had.”

That’s not giving enough credit to W. and his frothing band of Reservoir Dogs.

It took a Herculean effort of imagination, manipulation and deception to concoct “the information” that propelled the invasion, occupation and destruction of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

And tell us what you wrote back then to clarify matters, Mo. I’m having a hard time remembering.


Doug’s in the Washington Post!

Obama Administration

Here you go, folks — I flew a gyrocopter onto the Capitol Lawn to save our democracy.


Only the Shadow Knows, I Guess

Obama Administration

Our intensive retreat ended yesterday, but now I have a nasty cold and don’t want to do anything. But I’ll write something.

Today’s buzz is about the new Sy Hersh book, which claims that the “official” story of how Osama bin Laden was found and killed is a cover up for another story, that some Pakistani officials arranged for bin Laden to be offed, and the whole story of the super secret dangerous special ops raid was just for show.

And I confess I haven’t read the Sy Hersh piece in the London Review of Books, mostly because I feel crappy. The basic theory is that because we don’t know absolutely everything about everything, with access to all evidence, there must be a cover up, and Hersh’s account seems compelling to some.  Glenn Greenwald, Marcy Wheeler and the FireDogLake crew have more or less embraced Hersh’s narrative. The crew at Vox say that Hersh’s book is riddled with inconsistencies, and its sourcing is more than flimsy. For what it’s worth, journalists and Middle East experts have expressed huge doubts about Hersh’s claims. I’ll let you guys make up your own minds about it.

The Hersh story poses some surprising difficulties for the Right.  Part of Hersh’s claim is that the “official narrative” was crafted to make it appear use of torture helped bring bin Laden down, when in fact Pakistan knew where he was all along and handed him up on a plate for some quid pro quo. So if they embrace Hersh’s story, the righties have to admit “enhanced interrogation” was useless.

However, I doubt many of them will spin their wheels over this point. Righties are champs at maintaining hugely contradictory beliefs. Who needs consistency? It will be no problem at all for them to believe that the Osama bin Laden raid was a fabrication, but even so the raid proved that torture works. But, frankly, I never bought the claim that the “official” raid story supports torture.

In other news: Somebody shot George Zimmerman. He doesn’t seem to be seriously injured.


NSA Must Stay Off Your Phone

Obama Administration

An appeals court today found the NSA phone surveillance program unconstitutional. Reactions across the political spectrum:

From liberals: Good. We’ve been against this ever since the Bushies started it.

From libertarians/Breitbrats: Good. We are winning against the evil Obama/liberal surveillance state.

From Republican hawks: Oh noes! Al Qaeda ISIS will kill us in our beds!

Usual bullshit, in other words.

FYI From Thursday evening until Sunday we’re going to be in lockdown meditate-till-you-drop mode here at the Zen Center, so I’m supposed to stay off the Internet and meditate and think not-thinking like a good zennie. I’ll pop in to clear the message queue when I can, but don’t blab.


Christie? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Obama Administration

Via Balloon Juice, lights are going out for Chris Christie.

But amid the bustle, there was an absorption of a new reality for the governor and those closest to him: that his bid for the White House seems increasingly far-fetched. A political team long characterized by its self-assuredness now sounds strikingly subdued, sobered and, realistic about his odds.

In two dozen interviews over the past 24 hours, many of the most trusted allies and advisers to Mr. Christie acknowledged that winning the Republican nomination required a domino-like series of stumbles from his rivals and an unlikely breakthrough for him. …

… Instead of crowing about fund-raising records (as Jeb Bush is) or traveling the country as an announced candidate (as Senator Marco Rubio is), Mr. Christie’s team is in a sense starting over now, hoping that the developments in the legal case represent a new chance at a campaign unburdened by the threat of direct legal action against the governor.

On Friday allies and aides of Christie were indicted in Bridgegate, but not Christie himself. I haven’t seen anyone say that “direct legal action against the governor” is out of the question in the future, however.

 Elsewhere: Best thing I’ve read today — Police Violence Is Putting the Lie to Tea Party Conservatism


Everything Changes

Obama Administration

I’ll get a chance to write more later, but in the meantime, see Timothy Egan on the California drought.


This Is Bizarro World

Obama Administration

I’m too tired to write anything now, except to note that as “conservatives” have been worked into a frenzy by nonsensical rumors that the federal government is planning a military takeover of Texas, they are also outraged that six Baltimore cops have been charged with homicide in the death of Freddie Gray.

So, the U.S. Army is a pack of jack-booted thugs who will steal your liberty, except when deployed to a Muslim country, but the Baltimore police are off limits no matter what they do. Let’s not try to be consistent or anything.



Sometimes Nothing’s Right, But There’s Plenty of Wrong

Obama Administration

Regarding the violence in Baltimore, I defer to Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Now, tonight, I turn on the news and I see politicians calling for young people in Baltimore to remain peaceful and “nonviolent.” These well-intended pleas strike me as the right answer to the wrong question. To understand the question, it’s worth remembering what, specifically, happened to Freddie Gray. An officer made eye contact with Gray. Gray, for unknown reasons, ran. The officer and his colleagues then detained Gray. They found him in possession of a switchblade. They arrested him while he yelled in pain. And then, within an hour, his spine was mostly severed. A week later, he was dead. What specifically was the crime here? What particular threat did Freddie Gray pose? Why is mere eye contact and then running worthy of detention at the hands of the state? Why is Freddie Gray dead?

The people now calling for nonviolence are not prepared to answer these questions. Many of them are charged with enforcing the very policies that led to Gray’s death, and yet they can offer no rational justification for Gray’s death and so they appeal for calm. But there was no official appeal for calm when Gray was being arrested. There was no appeal for calm when Jerriel Lyles was assaulted. (“The blow was so heavy. My eyes swelled up. Blood was dripping down my nose and out my eye.”) There was no claim for nonviolence on behalf of Venus Green. (“Bitch, you ain’t no better than any of the other old black bitches I have locked up.”) There was no plea for peace on behalf of Starr Brown. (“They slammed me down on my face,” Brown added, her voice cracking. “The skin was gone on my face.”)

This is the significant part, for me:

When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is “correct” or “wise,” any more than a forest fire can be “correct” or “wise.” Wisdom isn’t the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community.

If history is our guide, no good will come from the violence in Baltimore. The people who will suffer most are those in the burned-out neighborhoods who lack the resources to move out.  I disagree with this guy, who argues that the violence is a legitimate political strategy. I don’t see strategy; I just see reaction. It’s understandable reaction, but as Coates says, “wisdom isn’t the point tonight.” Violence may be wrong, but maybe non-violence is wrong, too, in a different way. It’s hard to know.

Nonviolence as a tactic works when it creates sympathy for your side, and when people see you being nonviolent in the face of unreasonable oppression and violence. It works when state troopers attack peaceful marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, for example. But when the violence to citizens mostly happens out of sight, nonviolence by itself may be less effective.

Michael Fletcher writes,

Baltimore is not Ferguson and its primary problems are not racial. The mayor, city council president, police chief, top prosecutor, and many other city leaders are black, as is half of Baltimore’s 3,000-person police force. The city has many prominent black churches and a line of black civic leadership extending back to Frederick Douglass.

Yet, the gaping disparities separating the haves and the have nots in Baltimore are as large as they are anywhere. And, as the boys on the street will tell you, black cops can be hell on them, too.

If this is so, where is the remedy? I honestly don’t know.

Via Hullabaloo, this was said by the COO of the Orioles:

That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

Something to think about.

What doesn’t have to be thought about is Rand Paul. There was plenty of tone-deaf cluelessness this week, but he may take the prize.

“I came through the train on Baltimore (sic) last night, I’m glad the train didn’t stop,” he said, laughing, during an interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham.

This guy thinks he ought to be President, remember. He’d be another Dubya.

Railing against what he repeatedly called “thuggery and thievery” in the streets of Baltimore, Paul told Ingraham that talking about “root causes” was not appropriate in the middle of a riot.

“The police have to do what they have to do, and I am very sympathetic to the plight of the police in this,” he said.

As far as root causes, Paul listed some ideas of his own.

“There are so many things we can talk about,” the senator said, “the breakdown of the family structure, the lack of fathers, the lack of a moral code in our society.”

He added that “this isn’t just a racial thing.”

Utter. Abject. Cluelessness. This guy should not only be kept out of the White House; he shouldn’t be in elected office at any level.

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