Thursday, December 10, 2009
President Obama's predecessor staked a huge claim to space. Bush boldly declared the right to pursue space based weapons. There has been no major reversal in policy under the Obama reign, just a signaled breakdown of walls between the Pentagon and NASA.
Obama railed against the spread of nuclear weapons, while promoting "just war" in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. He was eerily silent on space weapons.
Early in his administration, the White House web site called for a "worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites." That is not a ban on all space based weapons.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
National Security Adviser General James L. Jones spoke on CNN's State of the Union. Jones said Osama bin Laden still lives in the rough border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The General said:
the best estimate is that bin Laden "is somewhere in North Waziristan, sometimes on the Pakistani side of the border, sometimes on the Afghan side of the border."This sounds like framing for the Afghanistan troop surge. Note use of the word "estimate." It was multi-pronged campaign. Pentagon Chief Gates and Secretary of State his the airwaves, as did Senator John McCain. Gates said:
He said he couldn't confirm reports that bin Laden had been seen recently in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said it was important to kill or capture bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders, "but certainly you can make enormous progress absent that."McCain's contribution:
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said people in the region have told him bin Laden "moves back and forth." He said the hunt for bin Laden has prevented him from establishing bases for training and equipping terrorists, adding, "Don't think al-Qaida could not flourish without him if we give them a safe haven."
Surge sell! If there is ever a retraction, expect it on Friday.
Update: On the same show General Jones said the situation regarding Iran is "not looking good." How will 30,000 more U.S. troops in the region impact America's strategy on Iran?
Friday, November 27, 2009
Frances Townsend, Baker Botts Risk Management Consultant, wants Afghanistan work. She recommended a civilian counterpart to the military structure to help rebuild the country. Think of it like New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina, where the national guard maintained order, but couldn't rebuild the city. The civilian leader would work with private corporations and nongovernmental organizations, i.e. potential Baker Botts clients.
Consider Fran's words on Hamid Karzai:
If he fails he will not simply fail NATO and his US allies, he is going to fail the Afghan people and he will be thrown out of office.Unless he or his supporters stuff the ballot box. Contrast this with Karzai's recent statement:
"We must have a second round (a runoff vote)...If we don't do that we'll be insulting democracy."
There was no second round. Abdullah Abdullah dropped out, sure the redo would be as corrupt as the original.
Later Townsend said:
This is exactly the reason why we democratically elect leaders to make difficult public policy decisions that are in the country's best interest.
How far did her nose grow with that remark? How was omitting the hospital with the highest patient death toll from Fran's Katrina Lessons Learned report in America's best interest?
How was her whitewash beneficial? I can see why the Carlyle Group's LifeCare Hospitals and Tenet Health might be grateful. A supposedly incensed Senate Homeland Security Committee recently hosted Frances, asking not a question on Katrina.
Karzai and Townsend are proof one can do shoddy work and benefit.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
When Apache-Jumano historian Enrique Madrid spoke in San Angelo at the Lady in Blue Celebration, he referred to the great holocaust the white man inflicted on his people. Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving this week, recalling the time when settlers broke bread in thanks with Native Americans. This occurred before the great theft.
President Obama met with Indian Prime Minister Singh. Tonight the White House will host a state dinner in honor of the Indian leader. What will they eat? Who will attend? My guess is not one Native American will be invited.
It's rumored that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will dine with PM Singh. He named November American Indian Heritage Month in his state. That may be the best Native Americans will get.
Tomorrow, Obama will pardon turkeys. Meanwhile Sarah Palin has her sights set on the White House. We recall her experience with turkey slaughter.
Update 5-4-11: Native Americans are offended by the code name used for Osama bin Laden. "To equate Geronimo or any other Native American figure with Osama bin Laden, a mass murderer and cowardly terrorist, is painful and offensive to our tribe and all Native Americans." The slights continue.
Friday, November 20, 2009
The Jerusalem Post reported:
At the same event, former US president Bill Clinton warned of the dangers of a proliferation of dirty bombs, noting that the kind of bomb that was used to kill 168 people at the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, if combined with fissile material, would "take out 20% of Washington."
It's not clear at which event Clinton made his dirty bomb remarks. The article mentions several:
P5 +1 meetings on Iran held in BrusselsBill Clinton talking "dirty" isn't a surprise. Why would an Israeli paper be the sole quoter?
Obama's Asian trip
Site of Netanyahu's remarks earlier this week
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Afghan President Karzai entered his second term with public support at the level of President Bush post Hurricane Katrina. Consider Karzai's recent words:
"We must have a second round (a runoff vote)...If we don't do that we'll be insulting democracy."
There was no second round. Hamid Karzai was sworn into office. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had this to say:
"The inaugural speech that President Karzai gave today set forth an agenda for change and reform. He was particularly strong on the steps that he intends to take regarding corruption," Clinton told reporters after the speech. "We think that the issue now is to ensure that it is implemented, that we see results."
Change? That sounds familiar. One Western official in Kabul offered a different take:
"We've heard all of these sentiments before. If you compare his last inauguration to this inauguration, you'll see that there's almost a 90 percent overlap in the issues that were raised."The Afghan people have five more years of failure, similar to Bush II. I didn't think W.'s stock could drop further after Hurricane Katrina, but the financial crisis precipitated a final implosion. Unfortunately after Bush left, America got Karzai level change and reform.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The White House is "dismayed" over an Israeli decision to build 900 homes in a disputed section of Jerusalem. The parties rehearsed this six months ago. After his election Israeli PM Netanyahu promised to grow settlements. This follows a decade long pattern of U.S. pleading.
Yet days ago, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel spoke of the "unbreakable bond" between the U.S. and Israel. Rahm's other comments included:
"Make no mistake, the path toward peace is not one that Israel should be asked to walk alone. That is why the U.S. will remain actively engaged, and Israel's one true friend.
One would have to be a true friend to suffer a decade of public dismay.
Israel has been "a beacon of democracy in a region too often defined by strife."
Israel attacked Lebanon, its democratic neighbor to the north, in 2006. This happened despite President Bush's claim that democracies don't attack democracies. Senator Obama supported Israel's leveling of Southern Lebanon, ended by scattering a parting gift, millions of cluster bomblets.
In December 2008 Israel began the pummeling of Gaza, with Tony Blair, Hillary Clinton and General James. L Jones in the loop on a change of plans. President elect Obama sat on his hands.
"As the president has said many times, as the president said in Cairo, the bond between the Israel and the U.S. is unbreakable. It's a bond rooted in shared interests and shared values."
Who knew intentional violence against civilians and staged lying was a value? A decade of dismay should be no surprise.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
President Barack Obama met behind closed doors with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They talked for 100 minutes. Haaretz reported Netanyahu's assessment:
"I think this visit will turn out to have been very important."
Just like Hillary Clinton and General James L. Jones meeting before the Gaza incursion? Just as President elect Obama offered nothing but silence as important decisions were implemented? Time will tell.
At this moment, we know Bibi is more than a 60 minute man.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Juniper Cobra 10, a three week joint air defense exercise, ended today. The test simulated rocket fire from different types of Iranian missiles. Various officers described it as:
"yielded great results"
At least it didn't lay an egg. The drill ended on a big day for U.S.-Israeli relations. Defense Minister Ehud Barack met with Pentagon Chief Bob Gates, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will met with President Barack Obama.
Note: The first Juniper Cobra simulated missile attacks from Iraq. The U.S. invaded two years later. Also, the drill could be abbreviated JC. That might inspire a superstar rating.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Israel proposes work camps for illegal migrants The government is considering establishing work camps in the south of the country, where illegal migrant workers will receive shelter, food and medical care, Army Radio reported Wednesday. In exchange, illegal migrants would perform manual labor outside the camps, but would not earn a salary.
They would stay at the camp until their asylum claims are decided, which could take months or years.
The proposal, part of the effort to address the problems posed by illegal migrants, would place asylum seekers at jobs in communities in the Negev and Arava. Their salaries would go to the state, in order to fund the camps.
Divide, conquer and profit continues. Expect the U.S. to imitate its 51st state, just as it did on summary executions, a border wall, kidnapping foreigners, indefinite detention and "nonlethal" weapons. It's in our genes.
Monday, November 2, 2009
"We must have a second round," ... "If we don't do that, we'll be insulting democracy"--Hamid Karzai
Afghan officials canceled a runoff presidential vote set for Saturday and declared President Hamid Karzai the winner on Monday, a day after his remaining challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew.
The announcement capped a fraught election widely depicted as deeply flawed by corruption and voting irregularities.
Officials from the United States and United Nations welcomed the decision and congratulated Mr. Karzai.
Consider democracy insulted.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
When politicians dig up the word "unprecedented", it's usually to sandbag past failures. President George W. Bush peppered his Hurricane Katrina Lessons Learned report with unprecendented's. Author Frances Townsend used so many "U words", she didn't have room for the hospital with the highest patient death toll. Fran said politics never impacted Homeland Security.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unleashed the sandbag relative to Israeli settlements in Palestinian Territories.
"What the Prime Minister has offered in specifics of a restraint on the policy of settlements . . . is unprecedented," Mrs Clinton said.Her comments come after a decade of U.S. futility in restraining settlement growth. I would call Hillary's gall unprecedented, but it's clearly Bush-like.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
The AP reported:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says Abdullah Abdullah's call for a boycott of next weekend's runoff election in Afghanistan will not affect the legitimacy of that runoff.
The reason for the runoff is widespread election fraud. Senator John Kerry brokered the deal calling for a runoff between President Hamid Karzai and challenger Abdullah Abdullah. Kerry gave three weeks notice of the new election. How much can a country's election system change in 21 days? Not much.
No wonder Abdullah Abdullah withdrew from an election that produced hundreds of thousands of fake ballots. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton's calling anything about the Afghan election "legitimate" is patently absurd. Hillary wasn't the only one at a microphone. Bloomberg reported:
Kerry expressed confidence in Karzai’s ability to recover from allegations that his government is corrupt and engaged in fraud in the first round of elections Aug. 20.
Apparently, American leaders are consistent in their ridiculous statements.
Update: Abdullah Abdullah withdrew from the runoff in a Sunday morning announcement.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli President Shimon Peres each have a Nobel Peace Prize. They are aligned in addressing possible war crimes in Israel's pummeling of Gaza, where noble President Elect Obama sat on his hands for 23 days. Both the Obama administration and Israel will fight the investigation report by Judge Goldstone. A news report stated:
Richard Goldstone concluded that both Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers, committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the conflict that Israel launched in response to rocket fire from the Palestinian territory.Two Nobel's and not a peace process in sight? Sad.
On Tuesday, (US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan) Rice met (President Shimon) Peres and vowed that the US would "continue to stand by Israel as a loyal friend in the fight against the Goldstone report," according to a statement from Peres's office on Wednesday.
Israel called the endorsement by the UN Human Rights Council a "diplomatic farce" and said it harmed Middle East peace efforts.
Goldstone himself rejected the Israeli argument, saying there was currently no peace process to save.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Israel and Iran attended a nuclear disarmament meeting last month. The Toronto Star reported:
Delegates from Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, India, the United States, France and Britain were among the 24 participants at the Cairo conference.The media continue to play their lapdog part:
Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear arms, though it refuses to confirm or deny it. Iran denies international allegations it's secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons.Did they forget Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitting Israel had nuclear weapons, naming his country in a list of those with the Bomb.
Israel gets to keep their secret, even in front of the 24 participants:
Iran's representative, Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, meanwhile, asked Zafary-Odiz point-blank if Israel has nuclear weapons, the paper said. It quoted eyewitnesses as saying she smiled but did not respond.If the International Commission on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament can't start off with the facts, they have a very tough road to hoe. It gets worse if America remains Israel's lapdog.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Who knew peace had to be won? When did peace carry a ROI, return on investment? General David Petraeus says it's so. I respectfully disagree.
Peace doesn't require another to lose. It can occur independent of economic situations, albeit shortages and bribes work against its expression. Hegemonic powers use economic manipulations, along with cultural divide and conquer, to keep conflict going. Keep the little people occupied. They won't see the powerful raping their country.
David Petraeus offers "bait and switch" on peace. Tony Blair initiated the term "economic peace" in regard to Palestinians. He did so just before Israel razed Gaza, while President elect Obama sat on his hands.
Economic peace means the military obliterates the opposition. Afterwards, American branded multinationals dangle potential jobs at the behest of (and large funding from) U.S. and country leaders. Subsidized corporations pay shell shocked survivors a pittance for their efforts. When the profits approach high tide, the division is sold off for the big ka-ching.
Think I'm wrong. The Carlyle Group has their eye on Iraq, in addition to Turkey, Libya and Saudi Arabia. The Carlyle Group may be good at winning (while setting the stage for an economic crisis), but they know little about peace or quality.
America exports abysmal management theory and practices. David Petraeus' "winning the peace" line, Obama's neocon on Iran and the latest Beltway stink tank confirm it.
Update: There's a reason Tony Blair loves economic peace. It provides him with a piece of the action.
Friday, August 28, 2009
The Bush era policy of copying laptop hard drives continues for people entering/reentering the U.S. Homeland Security can do so without probable cause or reasonable suspicion.
Obama: Now "Change" Means No Change from W.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
White House spokesperson Dana Perino denied the U.S. tortured anyone. Yet, a report revealed the CIA threatened detainees with death and harming family members. It identified "inhumane" behavior by interrogators. They ranged from:
1. Firing a gun in another room to simulate the execution of a detainee
2. Running a drill next to the head of a prisoner
3. Threatening to kill one suspect's children
4. Threatening to force another to watch his mother sexually assaulted.
What about the pictures showing implementation of horrific acts by interrogators. The Obama White House and Congress seem determined that those images not see the light of day.
It takes very little to see the systematic nature of Bush-Cheney torture. Threats turned into acts. Our government has the freedom to suppress the truth.
Friday, July 10, 2009
The best defense for a war crime is to subcontract the job offshore. The AP reported:
Obama administration officials said Friday they had no grounds to investigate the 2001 deaths of Taliban prisoners of war who human rights groups allege were killed by U.S.-backed forces.
The mass deaths were brought up anew Friday in a report by The New York Times on its Web site. It quoted government and human rights officials accusing the Bush administration of failing to investigate the executions of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of prisoners.
U.S. officials said Friday they did not have legal grounds to investigate the deaths because only foreigners were involved and the alleged killings occurred in a foreign country.
This would be a case for the United Nations or the International Criminal Court, but the U.S. disdains such interventions.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Israel has a sovereign right to decide what is in its best interest in dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions whether the United States agrees or not, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview on Sunday.
The U.S. has many tools to influence an Israeli attack on Iran. Vice President Joe Biden's comments sound Bushist. Here are but a few levers at America's disposal:
1. Threaten to withhold $2.77 billion in military aid.Obama/Emanuael/Axelrod will do none of the above.
2. Cancel our twice a year joint military planning (likely used to address of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities)
3. Pull back U.S. assets in the international armada in the Persian Gulf (ships ready to contain any Iranian blowback)
4. Turn off the U.S. supplied & manned missile defense system in Israel.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Not only are Pakistanis free to lose their friends from U.S. drone fired missiles, they're free to lose their life while attending the funeral. BBC reported:
At least 43 people have died in missile strikes by a US drone aircraft in a militant stronghold of Pakistan, a Taliban spokesman has told the BBC. The people killed in South Waziristan had been attending the funeral of a militant commander who had been killed in an earlier strike.
Other reports cite as least 60 deaths. President Obama continues Bush's practice of summary execution.
There have been more than 35 US strikes since last August - killing over 340 people - and most have landed in the North and South Waziristan tribal regions.More allegations of prisoner abuse arose from the U.S. prison at Bagram in Afghanistan. They came after Congress banned release of prisoner abuse photos. That should stem efforts to set up museums chronicling the horror. No rights means no rights. That includes the right to memorialize.
The Obama pattern of soaring rhetoric and Bush like implementation repeats itself. It's most disturbing for those expecting change.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
The Benjamin Netanyahu-Mahmoud Ahmadinejad train wreck remains firmly on track. Israel's Prime Minister offered a peace "on our terms" speech, the day after Persians voted in droves to change the trajectory of violence.
There are accusations of voter fraud. Did Iran use voter caging or a "man in the middle" computer system?
The Government Industrial Monstrosity, Eisenhower's MIC on steroids, must be very pleased. There's ammunition and war implements to hawk. Meanwhile, people suffer.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
In response to President Obama's Middle East policies, Israeli Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled proposed his country sanction the US. The Jerusalem Post reported:
The minister suggests reconsidering military and civilian purchases from the US, selling sensitive equipment that Washington opposes distributing internationally, and allowing other countries that compete with the US to get involved with the peace process and be given a foothold for their military forces and intelligence agencies.
Peled said that shifting military acquisition to America's competition would make Israel less dependent on the US. For instance, he suggested buying planes from the France-based Airbus firm instead of the American Boeing.
In what may be his most controversial suggestion, Peled recommends intervening in American congressional races to weaken Obama and asking American Jewish donors not to contribute to Democratic congressional candidates. He predicted that this would result in Democratic candidates pressuring Obama to become more pro-Israel.
Peled called for the formation of a new body intended to influence American public opinion. The groups he suggests courting include Hispanic Americans and Labor unions in industries that benefit from Israeli military acquisitions.
If this is how Israel treats its best friend, I'd hate to see how it abuses enemies. When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail? Can the U.S. not give Obama's promised $2.77 billion in military aid?
Egypt and Saudi Arabia encouraged President Obama to put a two year window on peace in the Middle East. The Arab League Peace plan was introduced in 2002. By 2011, Israel will have had nine years to reach peace in its neighborhood.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Israel spends $2,300 per person on defense. Its defense industry is a major supplier to world war making. Jerusalem Post reported:
The US is by far the largest overall defense spender, with expenses running to some $607 billion, 41.5 percent of the $1.46 trillion spent on defense needs worldwide in 2008.
The U.S. supplies $2.7 billion in military aid to Israel annually. That's over 15% of Israel's military expenditures of $16.2 billion. The linkages can be seen in defense products:
The United States exercises a de facto veto over such sales because many Israeli systems incorporate U.S. technology and also because of the exceedingly close strategic relations between the United States and Israel. Several years ago, Israel had to call off a huge arms sale to China at the last minute because of U.S. objections.
It's clear Israel wants land, weapons and water over peace. The question is how much war Israeli citizens can afford? How much military spending will Americans tolerate?
Monday, June 8, 2009
America's diplomatic stars rose to defend the United States' 51st state. The Jerusalem Post reported:
Despite its decision to pursue diplomatic negotiations with Teheran over its nuclear program, the United States would view an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel as an attack on itself, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday, asserting that there would be retaliation for any such attack. Hillary did major word parsing in her concern over a Middle East nuclear arms race. Recall Prime Minister Ehud Olmert slipped, admitting Israel had nuclear weapons. Mrs. Clinton stated:
"I think part of what is clear is we want to avoid a Middle East arms race which leads to nuclear weapons being in the possession of other countries in the Middle East."
It would maintain Israel's military power differential in the region.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Bush's Sec. of State Colin Powell said in 2002, "What they want is not a discussion, they want us to give them something to stop the bad behavior. What we can't do is enter into a negotiation right away where we are appeasing them."
Now Change Means No Change from W.
President Obama visited a German concentration camp and spoke from Normandy, the site of Allied beach landings. Nazi and Japanese soldiers were tried for war crimes after WWII. Sites of horror were preserved, turned into historical sites chronicling man's inhumanity to man. New Holocaust museums were built throughout the world.
Yet, President Obama won't send prisoner torture to a special investigator, much less a court. He suppresses evidence of horrific crimes from a public wanting to hold leaders and perpetrators accountable.
Why were trials and memorials important post WWII but not now? What role did justice have in helping the world move forward? What changes occurred to prevent such horrors from happening again?
America's unitary executive and "legal basis" for torture remain firmly in place. A court has not convened. The United States is at the mercy of a "good king" in this regard. Someone should investigate, bring trials and make crystal clear the authorities of a wartime President. Who knows how long Obama can stay "good"?
“Our history has always been the sum total of the choices made and the actions taken by each individual man and woman,” Mr. Obama said. “It has always been up to us.”
Yes, President Obama, it is up to you....
Thursday, June 4, 2009
When President Obama talked of the Israel-Palestine problem, he stressed "the bond between Israel and the United States is unbreakable." That statement explains his later wording:
“It’s about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path. I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons.”
Translation: Because of that unbreakable bond, I won't speak honestly of Israel's nuclear capabilities and how that might contribute to any desire for equalization in the Middle East.
What nations chose America as the developer of nuclear weapons? Which countries selected Israel or Pakistan as rightful holders of weapons of mass destruction? What methods of war is America developing with its secret, black-operations military budget? What nations provide oversight on those WMD's? None.
Unbreakable bond? President Obama said it and he meant it.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I believe Senators Lieberman and Graham have a few Holocaust Museums to close. They endanger our German allies. What about Native American museums chronicling their extermination by an American military?
The power of the American state clearly abused people in custody. So much for transparency or accountability. The Obama administration won't pay the legal price with torture investigations or court cases. Now it won't take the political heat for its actions.
Did the U.S. capture and abuse family members to get at suspected terrorists? That question that deserves a response in the light, however dark the answer. Lieberman-Graham continue America's descent into darkness.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
A bill in Congress allows the President of the United States to shut down the internet in a cybersecurity crisis. President Barack Obama could turn off the internet information commons. What might it look like when he turns it back on? Will it remove any offensive information? Will citizens have to pay for content? Will it be taxed?
Here's an odd sentence in the bill:
SEC. 18. CYBERSECURITY RESPONSIBILITIES AND AUTHORITY.
The President--(11) shall notify the Congress within 48 hours after providing a cyber-related certification of legality to a United States person.
What is a "cyber-related certification of legality to a U.S. person"? It's not included in the definitions section.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Israel's Turning Point 3, a home front security exercise simulating missile attacks, distributed magnetized cards to every home. A segment read:
The protected space should be chosen according to the time you have to reach it, in accordance with the following map: Ma'alot-Nahariya-Golan Heights - immediate; Acre-Safed-Carmiel - 30 seconds; Haifa-Hadera - 60 seconds; Netanya-Tel Aviv-Rishon Letzion - 2 minutes; Jerusalem-Eilat - 3 minutes; settlements surrounding Gaza - 15-60 seconds.
That should petrify the elderly. How far can they move in 15 seconds to 3 minutes? Did Home Front security do any studies?
What should drivers do? Leave their vehicles in the middle of the road in search for safe shelter?
This brings back memories of the Red Scare during my elementary school years. we dove under wooden desks, capable of protecting us from a nuclear bomb blast and falling radiation. Can we send our old desks to Israel? It seems their population needs them.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Facial recognition software requires consistent images to work well. In that regard, the Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles asks customers not to smile for their driver's license picture.
Where do these pictures end up? Do they reside in a massive database, contracted to a private company by Homeland Security? Are they used by international security types, intent on protecting hegemonic powers?
Don't forget America's use of domestic satellite imagery and the countless ways our government monitors citizen activity. It's a shame the same scrutiny isn't given to America's power elite. What system tracks insider ties and the awarding of trillions in government monies? None that I'm aware of. My guess is the U.S. President can smile all he wants over this disparity.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Getting politicians to operationally define terms is harrowing business. Few speak clearly. Fewer are willing to be accountable for their words. The Bush administration contorted the word "torture." President Obama made an early run at "settlement freeze." What does it mean, given Israel's decade long history of ignoring this critical peace requirement?
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says a settlement freeze includes "natural growth." That leaves a bulldozer sized opening. Will the front end loader kick up more dust for the 2002 Arab League Peace Plan? Israel clearly does not want peace with its neighbors.
The shining democracy in the Middle East may provide room and board for a year for people calling for an end to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. The room is a jail cell. The proposed bill comes atop a bill banning "events or activities that aim to mark the day of Israel's independence as a time of mourning or sorrow."
This bulletin is brought to you by the Ministry of Freedom...
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
This weeks the quiz country considers two bills. The first bans protests from a segment of its population. Protests are tied to the date the country took over sovereign rights to land.
The second bill would institute a loyalty oath. Citizens would swear an oath of allegiance to the state.
Both answers are B-Israel, also known as the shining democracy in the Middle East and America's best friend. The report came from a Chinese newspaper. I'm sure Chinese leaders are as clueless regarding the parallels, as they are about quality.
Monday, May 25, 2009
The only nation to have experienced a nuclear weapon considers a policy of preventive war. Japan's Liberal Democratic Party made the proposal. There seem to be lots of itchy trigger fingers in the world's major democracies, Japan and Israel to name two. The United States considers preventive detention, after launching a preventive war in Iraq.
Israel Ignored South America, Yet Gets Secret Information on Venezuela & Bolivia Supplying Uranium to Iran?
Israeli diplomats issued an odd combination of messages. The Jerusalem Post reported:
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told The Jerusalem Post that in the last few years Israel had not paid sufficient attention to Latin America, and that his trip was the beginning of efforts to rectify that situation.
According to a Foreign Ministry document that was published on Ynet on Monday, Iran and Hizbullah are indeed making deep inroads into South America. According to the document, Hugo Chavez's Venezuela was not only helping Iran bypass UN Security Council economic sanctions, but also, along with Bolivia, was providing the Iranians with uranium.
Is this a redux of President George W. Bush's Iraqi yellow cake from Niger or something more factually substantial? It's hard to know when politicians want to pave the way for soldiers marching as to war.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
WaPo revealed a secret letter from U.S. President George W. Bush to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The story stated:
The Israeli government is relying on "understandings" between former president George W. Bush and former prime minister Ariel Sharon that some of the larger settlements in the occupied West Bank would ultimately become part of Israel, codified in a letter that Bush gave to Sharon in 2004. In an interview with The Washington Post last year, Sharon aide Dov Weissglas said that in 2005, when Sharon was poised to remove settlers from Gaza, the Bush administration arrived at a secret agreement -- not disclosed to the Palestinians -- that Israel could add homes in settlements it expected to keep, as long as the construction was dictated by market demand, not subsidies.Secret agreement, never disclosed between two leaders no longer in power? It partly explains U.S. haplessness in getting Israel to control settlement growth over a decade. But it's damning for America, a country wanting badly to sell itself as an impartial peace broker for the region. Israel clearly doesn't want peace, as the Arab League peace plan lingered since 2002.
Elliott Abrams, a former deputy national security adviser who negotiated the arrangement with Weissglas, confirmed the deal in an interview last week. "At the time of the Gaza withdrawal, there were lengthy discussions about how settlement activity might be constrained, and in fact it was constrained in the later part of the Sharon years and the Olmert years in accordance with the ideas that were discussed," he said. "There was something of an understanding realized on these questions, but it was never a written agreement."
Update 2-4-2017: Eight years later non-interventionist President Donald Trump may appoint neocon Elliott Abrams as number 2 for the State Department. Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson is number 1.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
CNN's Next Hundred Days hosted a panel with David Gergen, Fareed Zakaria, Christiane Amanpour, and Michael Ware. They talked about the difficult challenges America faces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Gergen suggested dumbing down expectations for success. They group suggested President Obama had a year to make progress or Congress would interfere. Christiane said the lack of patience with nation building was not mature policy.
U.S. tampering is seen in the proposed installation of Zalmay Khalilzad as an unelected Chief Operating Officer for the Afghan government. While Mr. Khalilzad is an Afghan, he spent decades in U.S. governmental and education/advisory roles.
America is back to the great man theory of leadership. The U.S. thought they found one in Ahmed Chalabi of Iraq. Narcissists are hard to control. Khalilzad is on for Afghanistan. Who is on the list for Pakistan and Iran?
The nation of Israel prepares for more war. It finished four days of drills simulating war on all fronts. The military drilled war with Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. Defense Minister Ehud Barak was impressed with the drill results. The Jerusalem Post noted the next drill. This one involves citizens:
In early June, the Israeli home front will be practiced in the most far-reaching rehearsal for an emergency rocket attack ever carried out. All Israelis will be instructed to enter secure spaces and sirens will sound out throughout the country.It hearkens back to America's Cold War drills. The difference is strong deterrence and mutually assured destruction made sense to leaders of that day.
The Bush/Obama Unitary Executive pushed preventive war and torture. It now offers preventive detention and no accountability for past crimes. The world suffers from heavy handed leadership on many fronts.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Vice President Joe Biden visited Lebanon, weeks before the country's June 6 election. Joe is the most senior American official to visit in 26 years. He offered advice to the Lebanese people who suffered a pummeling from Israel in 2006.
Joe delivered the usual American carrot and stick. Funny, voters don't like implied threats.
"I do not come here to back any party," he said after talks with President Michel Suleiman, but added that future U.S. aid to Lebanon would depend on the nature of the next government.
"We will evaluate the shape of our assistance program based on the composition of the new government and the policies it advocates," Biden declared.
Biden later joined Defense Minister Elias al-Murr at Beirut airport for a display of U.S. military equipment, including tanks, given to Lebanon in the past few years.
Recall the U.S. equipment remained silent during Israel's razing of Lebanon, climaxed in an orgy of cluster bombs. Did Joe check up on the removal of millions of bomblets?
Democracy surprised Condoleeza Rice in Gaza. How will the Lebanese people vote in early June? It could be ugly, if they remember America's month long silence while their democratic neighbor to the south pummeled their country.
Students are free to join the College Republican Club at Lynchburg's Liberty University, but not the Democratic Party version. It was blacklisted for being against the "conservative Christian school's moral principles," as founded by Reverend Jerry Falwell. Liberty or liberty?
(Update: The University's current President Jerry Falwell Jr. corrected the erroneous story.)
Thursday, May 21, 2009
On the same day President Obama continued Nixon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding Israel's nuclear weapons, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mike Mullen called Iran's acquiring nuclear weapons a calamity. Reuters reported:
"I'm one who believes that Iran getting a nuclear weapon is calamitous for the region and for the world," Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"It then, in my view, generates neighbors who feel exposed, deficient and then develop or buy the capability themselves," he said, suggesting Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon likely would trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
"The downside, potentially, is absolutely disastrous."
Now why does Israel's having nuclear weapons not contribute to a regional arms race? That question won't get asked in the Senate, with its 76 pro-Israel supporters.
The use of "calamity" by a military man is interesting. Calamities must be avoided and military men use violence to get their way.
America continues its descent into a Soviet style Gulag. Forget central planning, seen in Treasury's endless Wall Street corporafornication and Congressmen threatening to require a college football playoff system. We're talking about the right of government to hold people indefinitely without trial. That includes U.S. citizens. The President of the Center for Constitutional Rights weighed in:
Even more troubling for Michael Ratner, however, was the notion of preventive detention -- which he called "the real road to hell," and compared to something from the movie Minority Report. "[Obama] said some people are just too dangerous to let go and that we have to keep them," said Ratner. "Though we'd do it differently then Bush. We will set up rules. Well no matter how you repackage Guantanamo, with all kinds of rules on top of it -- that is what he is doing, he is re-wrapping a preventive detention scheme and giving it some more due process. In the end, it still comes down to holding people -- much like Minority Report or pre-crime stuff -- for being dangerous, and that is not something that I think is constitutional or this country should be engaged in."
Odd, that a minority like President Obama would issue such a report.
Forget about Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's slip up. He revealed Israel was officially part of the nuclear weapon club. That happened on the Bush shift, when Barack Obama was a U.S. Senator. Did Senator Obama sing out "la, la, la", while covering his ears? Apparently so. Reuters reported:
The U.S. administration of President Barack Obama will not force Israel to state publicly whether it has nuclear weapons, an Israeli official said on Thursday.Add another chink in the armor of America's impartial mediator role. Obama isn't just Bush like, he's now Nixonian.
He said Washington would stick to a decades-old U.S. policy of "don't ask, don't tell."
Historians say that the Nixon administration forged a tacit policy of not pressing Israel on the matter. The official American reticence angers Iran -- which denies seeking the bomb -- as well as the Arab world.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The Obama administration offered goodies to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Jerusalem Post reported:
The US has said it will provide the full funding for the development and production of the Arrow 3 anti-missile systemIs that in addition to the $2.77 billion in annual military support America provides to Israel? How did the Arrow 3 avoid the budget axe? Expensive military gear needs to be used.
Later this year, the IAF will hold an unprecedented, massive exercise with the US military to test three different ballistic missile defense systems, the Israeli-made Arrow and the American THAAD and Aegis, which will be brought to Israel for the exercise. The drill, which will span several days, is called "Juniper Cobra."
When will it happen? Maybe October, the deadline Dennis Ross set for Iran negotiations? Will it involve the CIA?
Pack up your six shooters and head to Yosemite National Park. Congress approved a new mascot for the pristine California wilderness. It's shoot 'em up Yosemite Sam! Guns are expressly welcomed. What's the fun of having a gun, if you can't use 'em on varmits? Varmit hunting, coming to a National Park near you. Be sure to thank Congress!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The Wall Street Journal reported on CIA Director Leon Panetta's reaction to remarks made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. While his concern for CIA field agents is admirable, Panetta's discounting of the law is concerning.
Both the red and blue teams avoid any credible investigation into America's recent history of torture. Truth and justice are the beacon. Panetta, Pelosi and their ilk draped a wet blanket over America's shining light.
Monday, May 18, 2009
It didn't take Israeli P.M. Netanyahu long to break his promise to only expand existing settlements. Haaretz reported:
Israel has moved ahead with a plan to build a new settlement in the northern West Bank for the first time in 26 years, pursuing a project the United States has already condemned as an obstacle to peace efforts.
The move comes on the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's first meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, despite Western calls for Israel to halt its settlement activity.
Israel clearly wants land more than peace. It has over a decade long record in this regard. The U.S. ignores it.