Monday, May 31, 2010

Yes, call it a massacre

AFP photo

How else can you possibly "spin" the attack on the aid convoy? John Caruso calls it a massacre, and he's right.

Al Jazeera: Israeli forces have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships aiming to break the country's siege on Gaza. Up to 16 people were killed and more than 30 people injured when troops stormed the Freedom Flotilla early on Monday, the Israeli Army Radio said. The flotilla was attacked in international waters, 65km off the Gaza coast.

Reuters: Israeli commandos intercepted Gaza-bound aid ships Monday and at least 10 pro-Palestinian activists on board were killed in bloodshed that plunged Israel into a diplomatic crisis.

Houston Chronicle(AP): Israeli warships attacked at least one of the six ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists and aid for blockaded Gaza, killing at least two and wounding an unknown number of people on board, an Arabic satellite service and a Turkish TV network reported early Monday. The Israeli military refused to comment on the report.

I wonder if the US and UK meda will call it a "grave mistake." Or something. Look, they said it as plainly as possible after the attack on 9-11. Our support of the regime in Tel Aviv is why they hate us, especially when they do things like this. Not for scantily-clad runway models, or fast food, or freedom.

Terrorism against American and Israeli civilians is wrong, but so is terrorism by governments against civilians, against NGOs, and against aid convoys. Even terrorism by governments the US supports. On Memorial Day and every day, America is supposed to be against this kind of thing, no matter how often we've fallen short of that. Call it what it is. It is unprovoked aggression, the blockade itself is wrong, and the attack is indeed a massacre.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 30, 2010

18 Blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico since 1983

I keep hearing from various quarters that the Gulf of Mexico blowout is uncommon but it actually isn’t according to Karl Grossman. In fact there were 18 blowouts in the Gulf from 1983 to the present Deepwater blowout. 18, how uncommon is that?


As to the claim of the situation being “unprecedented,” which has been widely asserted— in terms of the depth of the sea in which the rig was positioned and also the volume of oil gushing from a mile down, it is unprecedented.

But blowouts and consequent spills from offshore oil rigs—including those in the Gulf of Mexico—are not uncommon.

Indeed, last year there was a blowout, strikingly similar to what just happened in the Gulf, involving the West Atlas drilling rig in the Timor Sea off northwest Australia. The oil slick formed extended for more than 100 miles; it took 10 weeks for the blow-out to be brought under control; marine life was impacted and shores blackened.

“If anything like the Australian blowout ever takes places off of the Southeast U.S. beaches or in Florida waters, the economic and environmental consequences will last for decades,” said Richard Charter speaking for Washington-based Defenders of Wildlife at the time.

Of that spill, he said: “A global-scale environmental catastrophe so large that it is visible from space is unfolding in one of the earth’s last marine wilderness areas.”

The West Atlas rig was in water 260-feet deep. It took five attempts before heavy mud pumped down a relief well was able to move into the well that underwent the blowout on August 21 and cork the leak.

The reality is that wherever there’s oil drilling, there’s spilling. U.S. Department of Interior figures reflect 3 million gallons of oil spilled from 1980 to 1999 in the U.S. outer continental shelf offshore drilling program. As to blowouts, there were 18 in wells in the Gulf of Mexico from 1983 up to the eruption at the Deepwater Horizon rig.

Another thing I’ve been reading is that the oil is going to magically disappear. Yes, no need to worry because if we just close our eyes and count to ten (hopefully within the realm of most people’s math skills) the bad old oil will be gone! Poof! It’s Magic!! If only it were true. Bacteria will eat it and much will evaporate we are told by blithe individuals. This may or may not be true but a quick search on the Valdez spill shows that the arctic regions affected may take up to 30 years to recover.


Almost 20 years after the spill, a team of scientists at the University of North Carolina found that the effects are lasting far longer than expected.[20] The team estimates some shoreline Arctic habitats may take up to 30 years to recover.[5] Exxon Mobil denies any concerns over this, stating that they anticipated a remaining fraction that they assert will not cause any long-term ecological impacts, according to the conclusions of 350 peer-reviewed studies.[21] However, a study from scientists from the NOAA concluded that this contamination can produce chronic low-level exposure, discourage subsistence where the contamination is heavy, and decrease the "wilderness character" of the area.[16]

Also, consider this:

Because Prince William Sound contained many rocky coves where the oil collected, the decision was made to displace it with high-pressure hot water. However, this also displaced and destroyed the microbial populations on the shoreline; many of these organisms (e.g. plankton) are the basis of the coastal marine food chain, and others (e.g. certain bacteria and fungi) are capable of facilitating the biodegradation of oil. At the time, both scientific advice and public pressure was to clean everything, but since then, a much greater understanding of natural and facilitated remediation processes has developed, due somewhat in part to the opportunity presented for study by the Exxon Valdez spill. Despite the extensive cleanup attempts, less than ten percent of the oil was recovered[15] and a study conducted by NOAA determined that as of early 2007 more than 26 thousand U.S. gallons (22,000 imp gal; 98,000 L) of oil remain in the sandy soil of the contaminated shoreline, declining at a rate of less than 4% per year.[16]

The Valdez spill occurred in 1989 yet 26,000 gallons remained in the sandy soil of the shoreline as of 2007. I suppose the planet earth would eventually evaporate as well, given enough time that is. Despite reassurances that it will all come out in the wash the bottom line is we have no idea how long it really takes for an area to fully recover. It would seem likely that any ecology damaged by oil spills won’t recover in our lifetime. If ever.

Grossman writes that the depth of the oil well is unprecedented. I think that is very important to note when you consider the following:


The Obama administration joined BP in quashing environmental challenges to Gulf drilling in 2009 legal actions by Ken Salazar, Obama’s Secretary of Interior. They asked the federal court of appeals in Washington, DC to overturn their decision that blocked new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico’s outer continental shelf, referring to the same area where the explosion later occurred.

The appeals court partially approved Salazar’s petition, with the condition that the administration produce an environmental impact study for Gulf of Mexico drilling operations. The Obama administration granted BP a “categorical exemption” from producing a legally required environmental impact study and approved its exploration plan for the location of the future spill.

“…the same area where the explosion later occurred.” So, Obama had the block on new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico overturned, dispensed with an environmental impact study for an oil well of an unprecedented depth, a full mile down in fact, and the rest is history. Think of the lack of responsibility involved in allowing BP to drill a mile down in the most hostile environment on the planet especially when you must know that blowouts happen on a regular basis and in fact have.

I suspect that many of the people assuring us that the oil chugging into the Gulf will evaporate and be eaten by Martian microbes who came to earth riding on the backs of meteors are more concerned about Obama’s presidency than the oil in the Gulf. This doesn’t surprise me in the least because these are the same people who see everything that occurs through the lens of how it might affect Obama. Some things are more important than the Democratic Party and Obama’s presidency which I find to be the epitome of mediocrity.

As is so often the case despite hopes of learning from our mistakes this event will change nothing just as the Wikileaks video changed nothing rather was soon forgotten displaced by more recent spectacular events and as soon as enough time has elapsed to make it seem proper the drilling will again resume in earnest. It’s an easy trap to fall into, one I have done many times, “oh surely now that such and such has happened, surely people will see and things will be different blah, blah, blah.” But nobody ever does. In the end emotional realizations aren’t worth a damn.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Damn the Realists

I don’t find the Katrina and the Gulf of Mexico oil blow-out to be a good analogy as used by people who are saying the Gulf is Obama’s Katrina. Katrina was a natural disaster compounded by conditions dictated by an essentially racist society not too unlike the earthquake in Haiti but certainly nothing at all like the oil gurgling out of the broken well head which is a manmade disaster compounded by an election system that is corrupt beyond redemption for it was certainly BP’s contributions to Obama’s campaign funds that led Obama to essentially bypass common sense safety procedures and the law to ramrod BP’s license to drill in the Gulf of Mexico through. Which no doubt everyone involved felt was the sensible and “realist” approach for it is beyond question that the U.S. needs oil not only to maintain our diminishing life style but oil to keep the machinery of empire building up and running as well. That’s the realist view. BP thought it was the realist view to forego routine maintenance on the safety mechanism that failed, after all, it was far too time consuming and costly when there was oil to be sucked from the womb of Mother Earth.

The real tragedy for BP of course is the loss of all that crude. When BP implemented its first ridiculous attempt to plug the oil well I noticed that the main theme of this attempt was that they could pump the crude up to a waiting ship. In other words the main thrust was to get the oil, not to stop the leak. Now that they have supposedly had more success plugging the well by pumping mud and other debris down it one wonders why they didn’t do this in the first place. The answer being they wanted to see if they could continue to get the oil first even as the oil continued to empty into a fragile environment. But you see the realists who hold the patent on reality knew that their needs were more important than the destruction now beginning. And the destruction will be devastating because the oil will kill everything with the toxic dispersant making matters only worse. In any oil cleanup only 8 percent of the oil is ever actually removed.

It’s the goddamned realists like Obama who allow the other goddamned realists like the owners of BP to run their half-assed operations that will lead to loss of unique habitats and animal life in those areas affected and it is sickening beyond belief. But these are the realists who in reality are short sighted and obtuse to the point where reality just bends around them like gravity warping space around a celestial object. The one overriding and prevailing feature of realists is that they are simpletons. They live in a one dimensional universe where there is no up and down which is why they are always confusing the two. To realists the best solution to any problem is the simplest, kill it. It’s the damned realists who tell us that we cannot expect anything better from our leaders except that which we now see. It’s the realists who tell us we must accept the death of thousands of people in order to have a half imagined and mythical “slight difference” between the two facades of the same hydra-headed animal, behold the Republican and Democratic Parties who are realists all. Especially when it comes to waging and funding war.

The realists are the people who tell you that “sometimes you just need to trust your government” and that murdering people, though regrettable, is part of life. The realists will tell you that one shouldn’t overreact to your government murdering millions of people because murdering millions of people is normal for governments, that’s what governments do. It’s all quite nasty of course but one must keep one’s foot in reality after all, and it’s merely a matter of keeping the correct perspective. Better them than us.

The odd thing is I cannot help but note how much better off reality would be without the realists.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Head is Flat

Tom Friedman--

I’d prefer that Iran never get a bomb. The world would be much safer without more nukes, especially in the Middle East. But if Iran does go nuclear, it makes a huge difference whether a democratic Iran has its finger on the trigger or this current murderous clerical dictatorship. Anyone working to delay that and to foster real democracy in Iran is on the side of the angels. Anyone who enables this tyrannical regime and gives cover for its nuclear mischief will one day have to answer to the Iranian people.

Friedman, purveyor of the ridiculous loves to promote war, in this case with Iran. Obviously Friedman would love to see a war with Iran. Now I don’t care much for the Iranian government but on the other hand Iran hasn’t attacked another nation in 200 years while here in America that’s about all we have done for the last 200 years. It remains unclear to me why it would make a huge difference whether a democratic Iran or a “murderous clerical dictatorship” has its “finger on the trigger” since to date the only nation to have used atomic bombs on other people is the great democracy of America. Whether a nation is a democracy or not has nothing to do with a nation’s propensity for going to war as Friedman suggests.

Nobody is more ridiculous than the intellectuals whose job is to turn reality on its head and of those Tom Friedman is one of the most ridiculous. This is the same propaganda that got us into Iraq and now Friedeman uses the same garbage to pave the way for war with Iran. The rest of the column is rife with more hypocrisy that is so blatant you would think a child could see through it. Unfortunately all too many “adults” cannot.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Will oil be with us forever?

oil spill image uscg
photo: US Coast Guard/Getty

I mean in the gulf, and the currents of the world's oceans. They say the slick is bigger than the states of Maryland and Delaware combined, so I don't think it's an idle question. A commenter recently asked me why I reference Xymphora, objecting because of his views on Israel. While I am inclined to partly agree with her, I note that he also is a valuable resource in other respects, and gets a lot of things right, like in his discussion of the oil spill crisis.

from "Who's in Charge of the Oil Leak?":

"The Environmental Protection Agency ordered BP to stop using the toxic dispersant Corexit to break up their oil mess in the Gulf of Mexico. BP decided to keep on using it. And why not? They're basically in charge down there.

That is essentially what Mother Jones reporter Mac McClelland discovered when she took a trip down to Grand Isle, Louisiana, in the hopes of getting to Elmer's Island Wildlife Refuge. Except that every time she tried to get to Elmer's Island, a funny thing happened: The cops stopped her. Why?

...BP is now regulating access to a state-owned and operated wildlife refuge. Why? "It's BP's oil." That is a quote, from BP flack Barbara Martin. BP now can prevent journalists from going to Elmer's Island unattended, because they own the oil that is ruining it. "

So BP has usurped the state and federal government's functions, with little to no official reaction against them. I was reminded of this 2008 essay, "From the New Middle Ages to a New Dark Age" [pdf link] from the Army's Strategic Studies Institute, in which author Phil Williams argues that in this new century the primacy of the state will be reduced and powerful forces including international terrorism and organized crime will create a new dark age. I don't remember where I first came across this essay, but it sounds a little like a rehash of Robert Kaplan's The Coming Anarchy, which he quotes.

Also, I note that neither Williams nor Kaplan seem willing to consider the possibility that some US policies such as empowering contractor armies or reckless oil companies might actually cause disorder, even if only inadvertently. They're both smart guys, surely they have a capacity to at least wonder about stuff like that, right? And they both take it as a given that the US must take an active interventionist role beyond our borders. (Of course they're talking military, not ecological interventionism.)

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thumb in the Plum

I haven’t wanted to post regarding the oil rig explosion but I find this NYT article regarding Obama and the oil now gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and some things Obama said to be of interest. For example:


WASHINGTON — President Obama established a bipartisan national commission on Friday to investigate what caused the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and figure out where the government went wrong so as to “make sure it never happens again,” as he put it.

That sounds great but you see it is going to happen again. Regardless of many other points the glaring obvious one is that when you are drilling for oil offshore and you are a mile above the site, that is to say, a mile deep down in Davey Jones Locker in one of the most hostile environments on the planet you would be insane to believe that there wouldn’t be problems no matter how careful, or not, you may be or think you are. The temperatures must be near freezing, the immense water pressure is almost beyond imagination, the corrosive effect of sea water, the fact that you can’t go there in person all add up to what recently occurred.

But let’s set all that aside for now and consider how Obama wishes to investigate why the explosion occurred and “make sure it never happens again.” What’s funny about that is Obama already knows since he was intimately involved in the whole affair…


Without crucial environmental and safety studies, the Obama administration intervened in court to ensure that BP’s Gulf drilling operations would go forward. The administration’s efforts applied specifically to the site run by BP. It exploded on April 26, killing 11 workers and creating an oil slick that is an unparalleled disaster on the Gulf Coast.

The Obama administration joined BP in quashing environmental challenges to Gulf drilling in 2009 legal actions by Ken Salazar, Obama’s Secretary of Interior. They asked the federal court of appeals in Washington, DC to overturn their decision that blocked new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico’s outer continental shelf, referring to the same area where the explosion later occurred.

The appeals court partially approved Salazar’s petition, with the condition that the administration produce an environmental impact study for Gulf of Mexico drilling operations. The Obama administration granted BP a “categorical exemption” from producing a legally required environmental impact study and approved its exploration plan for the location of the future spill.

In his headlong rush to please an election time cash cow like BP, Obama couldn’t even be bothered with an environmental study and now he wants to know why. That’s really rich, it really is.

Okay, in lieu of the above quote now consider this remarkable statement from Obama:


“If the laws on our books are inadequate to prevent such an oil spill, or if we didn’t enforce those laws, I want to know it,” Mr. Obama said in his Saturday radio and Internet address. “I want to know what worked and what didn’t work in our response to the disaster, and where oversight of the oil and gas industry broke down. We know, for example, that a cozy relationship between oil and gas companies and agencies that regulate them has long been a source of concern.”

Obama took the law, shredded it, and flushed it down the toilet all on behalf of his moneyed friends at BP and yet he speaks of “enforcing laws” and of where the oversight broke down!?! Jeez, at least Obama won’t have to look too far. The part about the cozy relationship between oil and agencies is too precious for words, how about that impact study Oh Mighty One?

The best part is that none of this will in any way halt progress as Obama forges ahead to expand offshore drilling.


Mr. Obama said he wanted to hold both the government and BP accountable for the spill that continues to spew thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day. But he did not retreat from his plan to expand offshore oil drilling and in fact portrayed the commission as a means to make that possible despite the disaster.

“Because it represents 30 percent of our oil production, the Gulf of Mexico can play an important part in securing our energy future,” the president said. “

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our Guy Obama

This is from an e-mail I sent to a "liberal" friend on January 22, 2009 after the inauguration. She was ecstatic at O.'s triumph, but I wasn't quite as starry-eyed. Referring to Iraq and Afghanistan, this is what I wrote:"The question remains, of course, not 'can he,' but 'will he' end these horrors? His selection of Biden, Emmanuel, Clinton, and others don't strike me as indicating a desire to lessen the bloodshed. Of course, I'm an old cynic. Overwhelmingly great though it is to see an African-American man in the White House--and such a tremendous relief it is to see Bush's ass going out the door-- we must be strictly vigilant, now and for the next four years. It's absolutely imperative for us to apply the "WIBDI"--"what if Bush did it"--rule to Obama at every turn. Otherwise, he's going to be MORE deadly than Dubya, because harder to despise and fight."Oh, what silly talk! We know, sixteen months later, that O. is doing all humanly possible to end the carnage; wasn't he awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? And doesn't he keep telling us how grieved he is when we slaughter children in their beds? And doesn't he intend to make every effort to rein in the Pentagon and stop their rampages around the world? Well, all right, not yet, but give him time--lots and lots of time, because remember, he's surrounded by evil people who are leading him astray. If he only could, he would guide us out of these horrors and wash the blood off our hands, but you see, it isn't his fault, he's blameless, he's a nice family man, he isn't like the others...
Now go back to sleep.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Pent-up-agon: The Future is FID

I’m not sure what to make of this McClatchy article touting the Pentagon’s “new” (yes, once again we have the newest new which is one better than the last new) strategy for “future” (that’s right, they don’t waste time, new wars are brewing already) wars.


WASHINGTON — Nearly a decade after the United States began to focus its military training and equipment purchases almost exclusively on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military strategists are quietly shifting gears, saying that large-scale counterinsurgency efforts cost too much and last too long.

So after ten long years of nothing but abject miserable and total failure to accomplish anything other than death and destruction the Pentagon has figured it cost too much and lasts too long? Gods! We are so lucky to be in the hands of this caliber of genius, I mean otherwise we might be screwed. I shudder to think of it.

But hold on to your, er, hat because more revelations follow! You are so lucky.

Counterinsurgency "is a good way to get out of a situation gone bad," but it's not the best way to use combat forces, said Andrew Exum, a fellow with the Washington-based Center for a New American Security. "I think everyone realizes counterinsurgency is a losing proposition for U.S. combat troops. I can't imagine anyone would opt for this option

Yet even more evidence of the genius behind the genius of the genius who leads us. Oh still my beating heart. What have we been doing for the last ten years? No, I can’t imagine anyone opting for this option either. Thank god for think tanks because without them where would we be? Somewhere else, that’s for sure.

Foreign Internal Defense

Self explanatory, isn’t it? “Foreign Internal Defense”, also known as “FID”, otherwise known as “Fairy Tales In Demand", suggest that in future wars we merely have whichever nation declare war on itself whereupon one half of the nation will kill the other half thus making Americans safer, …somehow.

Many Pentagon strategists think that future counterinsurgencies should involve fewer American ground troops and more military trainers, special forces and airstrikes. Instead of "fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here," as former President George W. Bush once defined the Afghan and Iraq wars, the Pentagon thinks it must train local populations to fight local insurgents.

The military calls it "foreign internal defense," although some have a pithier name: counterinsurgency lite.

The new kind of counterinsurgency is "for the indigenous people and a handful of Americans," said Joseph Collins, a professor at the National Defense University, a Pentagon-funded institution that trains officers and civilians.

Thank god Collins is a professor, we are in such good hands. I can’t wait to see FID in action, can you?

Robert Gates, secretary of the fence, another capable, grounded in reality, cat boiling genius, blesses us with the following enlightenment.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recognized the changed thinking in an article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.

"The United States is unlikely to repeat a mission on the scale of those in Afghanistan and Iraq anytime soon — that is, forced regime change followed by nation building under fire," he wrote. More likely, he said, are "scenarios requiring a familiar tool kit of capabilities, albeit on a smaller scale."

Translation: when we attack Iran we are just going to nuke them forgoing the regime change.

Honestly, I’m not quite sure what to make of all this Pentagonal soul searching for it seems like a rather oddball article to me. There doesn’t seem to be any reporting other than repeating what these astonishingly stupid jack-asses who somehow aspire to high positions in the government are telling us. I mean why now? Of course the Pentagon is famous for its gourmet propaganda but is this going to convince anyone that we aren’t being led by morons? It sounds like a lot of PR to me.

When it comes down to it this is just more of the same BS we have been hearing for years. It’s always “We’ll be smarter about it this time.” Obama was going to be smarter by making Afghanistan the right war. The Democratic Party was going to be smarter about Iraq than the Bush administration. This time, next time, it’s always the same.

What never gets mentioned in this “dialogue” this paltry “debate” is the monstrous acts that we commit leaving behind an ever widening swath of death and destruction in our terrible wake, this, the most important factor, the moral side of the issue which is never, ever, mentioned in our national narrative. It’s a given that the wars shall march on into eternity, no one questions this, it merely is.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday, 14 May 2010

photo: Eboni Knox USAF

Chris Hedges, "No One Cares":

"The roots of mass apathy are found in the profound divide between liberals, who are mostly white and well educated, and our disenfranchised working class, whose sons and daughters, because they cannot get decent jobs with benefits, have few options besides the military. Liberals, whose children are more often to be found in elite colleges than the Marine Corps, did not fight the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 and the dismantling of our manufacturing base. They did nothing when the Democrats gutted welfare two years later and stood by as our banks were turned over to Wall Street speculators.

They signed on, by supporting the Clinton and Obama Democrats, for the corporate rape carried out in the name of globalization and endless war, and they ignored the plight of the poor. And for this reason the poor have little interest in the moral protestations of liberals. We have lost all credibility. We are justly hated for our tacit complicity in the corporate assault on workers and their families.

Our passivity has resulted, however, in much more than imperial adventurism and a permanent underclass. A slow-motion coup by a corporate state has cemented into place a neofeudalism in which there are only masters and serfs. And the process is one that cannot be reversed through the traditional mechanisms of electoral politics."

and Michael Hudson, "Euro-Bankers Demand of Greece: the wealthy won’t pay their taxes, so labor must do so":

Riddle: How are the Greek rioters like America’s Tea Party movement?
Answer: Both reject government being taken over by the financial oligarchy to shift the tax burden onto labor.

The difference is that the Tea Partiers have lost faith in government. This is just what the financial oligarchy wants, of course. Giving up hope of gaining electoral control to pursue a fair fiscal agenda, the Tea Partiers have abandoned the centuries-long fight for reform to make governments better by giving them the power to check predatory finance and wealth. Sliding to the right wing of the political spectrum and acting mainly out of frustration, they have succumbed to a utopian desire simply to shrink a government that they see acting adversely to their interests.

Financial lobbyists are using the Greek crisis as an object lesson to warn about the need to cut back public spending on Social Security and Medicare. This is the opposite of what the Greek demonstrators are demanding: to reverse the global tax shift off property and finance onto labor, and to give labor’s financial claims for retirement pensions priority over claims by the banks to get fully paid on hundreds of billions of dollars of recklessly bad loans recently reduced to junk status.

Bank lobbyists know that the financial game is over. They are playing for the short run. The financial sector’s aim is to take as much bailout money as it can and run, with large enough annual bonuses to lord it over the rest of society after the Clean Slate finally arrives. Less public spending on social programs will leave more bailout money to pay the banks for their exponentially rising bad debts that cannot possibly be paid in the end. It is inevitable that loans and bonds will default in the usual convulsion of bankruptcy.

via Xymphora and Ella2007k.

I don't entirely agree with Michael Hudson's assessment of the Tea-partiers having given up on government, although their demands on government are incoherent. Reduce taxes and pay down the deficit? And they're mostly middle-class whites, hence able to afford gated communities, at least for now.

For the next three weeks or so I have non-Horse things to attend to, but I will put up the expanded blogroll in the first week in June. In the meantime be nice to Rob n' Mimi n' Micah n' Bob, cause they're swell.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How President Obama holds himself accountable

As I am sure most DH readers have already heard, Barack Obama said today that he is “accountable” for civilian deaths caused by the U.S. military in Afghanistan:
When there is a civilian casualty, that is not just a political problem for me. I am ultimately accountable, just as General McChrystal is accountable, for somebody who is not on the battlefield who got killed. And that something that I have to carry with me, and that anybody who is involved in a military operation has to carry with them.

And so we do not take that lightly. We have an interest in reducing civilian casualties not because it’s a problem for President Karzai; we have an interest in reducing civilian casualties because I don’t want civilians killed.

Jeremy Scahill responded with a series of questions in the virtual pages of The Nation:
That statement is quite remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is not true. How are President Obama or Gen. McChrystal accountable? Afghans have little, if any, recourse for civilian deaths. They cannot press their case in international courts because the US doesn't recognize an International Criminal Court with jurisdiction over US forces, Afghan courts have not and will not be given jurisdiction and Attorney General Eric Holder has made clear that the Justice Department will not permit cases against US military officials brought by foreign victims to proceed in US courts. So, what does it mean to be accountable for civilian deaths? Public apology? Press conferences? A handful of courts martial?
Actually, Obama and McChrystal both put a dollar into a jar for each dead civilian. They plan to donate the money to the USO.

Labels: , ,


via barbara knott

As some of you know I like to call Dead Horse a nanoblog, because we don't exactly have have the audience of say Digby, let alone Talking Points Memo or The Huffy Post. Please note though, we have often been graced by lively and intelligent guests in the comments, and Rob and the rest of us appreciate youse guys, even if we haven't said so recently.

So, today I'm writing to encourage those of you regular and semi-regular visitors who want a reciprocal link to mention your blog in the comment thread here. If you think we've noticed you link to us and we've decided to snub you please don't think this is the case. Or if you have been meaning to, etc. I have a list of some blogs I've been meaning to add, but in the meantime let's hear from you. (Of course if you're selling unbelievably cheap designer watches or other such junk please don't bother, but maybe that goes without saying.)

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

502 Cameras, Apparently

Via Jeff Huber


Two new surveillance videos emerged of the bomb suspect, Faisal Shahzad. Police told The Associated Press that one video shows him in a white baseball cap and a dark jacket walking away from the smoking, bomb-laden Nissan Pathfinder parked in the bustling heart of New York City.

The second video shows him buying a weak batch of fireworks in a store in Pennsylvania, according to the shop's owner.

One law enforcement official told the AP that authorities don't believe there are any other suspects in the plot and that several arrests in Pakistan in the past two days were not related.

Once again Americans go nuts over the slightest provocation but this is what makes us so much like the Israeli. The incredibly brutal attack on Gaza by Israel last year is an example of how they and we act in the world. It’s a doctrine of “If they do the slightest thing against us, if they even blink, we will come down so hard on them they’ll never try it again.” And now Hillary Clinton is once again raising that hoary old rag of “They have bin Laden” over in Pakistan, hiding him in fact. Hillary “knows” this to be a fact. Actually, Hillary is probably correct but so what? It’s not like we haven’t been bombing the crap out of Pakistan all along with their government going along for the ride hoping they won’t be eliminated by their American “benefactors.”

Noam Chomsky once wrote that States act like gangsters. If any of the States that we habitually terrify and bully ever step out of line they need to be made an example of so other States don’t get the wrong idea that we’re weak. I think this has a lot to do with our “relationship” to Iran who is seen as thumbing their nose at the mafia (us) which drives our leaders nuts.

I think this whole story regarding Shazam the Magnificent and his attempt at giving Times Square a hot foot has been blown out of all proportion by just about everyone. Personally I’d like to strangle Shazam because all he has done is to have made matters worse. Obama is already escalating the drone attacks killing more Pakistan civilians and using this non-issue as an issue to broaden the powers of the president and the police state. Gee, thanks Shazam, moron.

Monday, May 10, 2010

500 cameras and nothing's on

Phillies game
also from last week: guard tasers kid who ran out on the field during Phillies home game. photo: Stephen M. Falk,

in "Portrait of a Patsy," Xymphora writes:

It would be ridiculously easy to set up Faisal Shahzad. New American, a little on the make, with family in Pakistan and big financial problems. Friendly government agent approaches him and appeals to his patriotism and love of adventure, plus offers to pay well (note the history). First mission: infiltrate a 'terrorist' training camp in Pakistan (little does Shahzad know that the camp is really run by the CIA). Second mission: buy a cheap used car on Craigslist. Third mission: buy some fireworks. Fourth mission: stay at home awaiting further instructions. Shahzad, seeing his car on TV, suddenly got that Lee Harvey Oswald feeling, and decided it might be better to get out of the country before he died in a shoot-out.

Despite a gazillion cameras and CCTVs in Times Square, there is not the slightest evidence that Shahzad was actually there with the car. Complete absence of forensics in the car points to a government job. Strangely enough, so does the utter incompetence of the bomb - even without any training, Shahzad could have done better - and the fact that the bomb was modelled after the incompetent car bomb at Edinburgh (which Shahzad couldn't have known to copy - we're supposed to believe it came out of training at the same incompetent bomb-making school in Pakistan!)...

the rest is here. For years, Birchers and Goldwater fans used to go around with the bumper sticker that said, "I love my country but fear my government," and practically everybody agreed it was a right-wing sentiment. I don't know how you would characterize it today-- but I don't think you can characterize it as irrelevant.

Labels: , ,

From Firecrackers in Times Square to Five Hundred Pounders in Waziristan


WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Sunday it would seek a law allowing investigators to interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their rights, as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. flatly asserted that the defendant in the Times Square bombing attempt was trained by the Taliban in Pakistan.

Sure as the sun rises in the morning firecrackers exploding in Times Square are leading to another attack on the Constitution and our basic rights. That’s correct, all it took were a few firecrackers exploding and now we do away with our Miranda rights which prohibit prosecutors from using statement evidence that was gathered prior to informing the suspect of their rights. There already exists a public safety exception to the Miranda so why this grandstanding? Well, what is grandstanding always used for? In this case one of the themes for the Democrats has been that they are better at fighting terrorists than the Republicans are and this Times Square bomb attempt says they aren’t. Ergo the tough cop approach “We’ll protect Americans if we have to kill them ourselves!” Right. A deeper truth might be that any old excuse to expand the police state is like any old port in the storm for our authoritarian leaders who obviously view the Constitution as an out of date and largely useless document, which it is, for presidents and congress have ignored it and gone around it for at least one hundred years. Recall President McKinley sending the Marines to the Boxer Rebellion in China without consulting Congress which the Constitution demands presidents do, but you know how it is and that was in 1900 well over one hundred years ago. McKinley set a precedent that is still with us today that has likely led to others equally bad.

There is another cause for worry aside from our rights which is another escalation this time in Waziristan the alleged home to all kinds of baddies from al Qaeda to the TTP and maybe even old bin Laden himself. Obama has been steadily escalating the drone attacks in Waziristan resulting in literally hundreds of civilian deaths over the past year. Recently Obama has changed the rules of engagement where now we need not bother with the identity of our victims, no time for that, now we just slaughter who we feel like when we feel like as if we hadn’t been doing that all along. They hate us for our freedoms! Right. Gotcha.

After following the Shahzad story with much trepidation I find my worst fears are realized. I believe the original story is most likely true that Shahzad was acting on his own and that the Obama administration is now using the incident to erode our civil rights even further and to start another war on the lie that Shahzad was working for the Taliban. What perhaps convinces me the most is that this is based on “intelligence” and intelligence should never, ever, be taken at its face value. It should be remembered that intelligence is used by the State to fortify their own lies in the pursuance of war. And I’m afraid this is exactly what is happening right now.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Source of their Concern

In his famous Vietnam speech Martin Luther King Jr. said the following:


“Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.”

So I ask, what is the source of our concern today? Do we know the world we live in? I wonder. We caught a glimpse of that world recently, one that has largely remained hidden as if on the dark side of the moon in the form of a leaked video, or snuff film if you prefer, for it was pornographic in nature. It’s been about eight years before the mast of war in the Middle East where American troops and their partner in crime NATO have been slaughtering people every day just like in that wretched film, a piece of captured history showing humanity in its finest hour. And yet, and yet, …Americans view themselves as removed from this other reality, safe in their conviction that it couldn’t happen here. To believe that we could wage war for so many years destroying lives one city at a time, one nation at a time, looting, raping, torturing, and that there would be no backlash is to reveal an ignorance of human nature that is truly remarkable in its adamantine stupidity.

In another segment of the same speech King said the following making a connection between war and civil rights:

“Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

And this:

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years -- especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, that’s us. But there are other connections to be made for just as war hindered the civil rights movement it is also being used as a tool to remove our rights, if we really ever had them in the first place. This is the nation that Obama sought to be president of and now he has declared open season on the TTP, the Pakistan Taliban in Waziristan right on the heels of the recent car bomb attempt in New York City where possible connections to the TTP have been found, well, depending on which day you read the news and who they happen to be quoting at the time.



ISLAMABAD - The approval given to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by the administration of President Barack Obama to expand drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal regions is on face value a declaration of war by the US inside Pakistan. The move comes at a time when Pakistan is trying to win some breathing space to delay an all-out operation in North Waziristan, home to powerful militant groups and an al-Qaeda headquarters.

The CIA was given authority on Wednesday to expand strikes by unmanned aerial vehicles against low-level combatants, even if their identities are not known. Obama had previously said drone strikes were necessary to "take out high-level terrorist targets".

However, official figures show that more than 90% of the 500 people killed by drones since mid-2008 were lower-level fighters; in effect, the new approval simply legitimizes the current situation.

Low level fighters or innocent civilians, I would guess the latter. And from the last part of the quote I gather that what Obama was doing before wasn’t legitimate but now that he has declared it legitimate, it is. That’s nice. All hail The Obama! And golly, he sure doesn’t sound much like Martin Luther King Jr. does he? So the source of our concern ought to be the wars for as long as the wars continue we shall never be able to resolve the numerous domestic problems we now face including the further removal of rights exemplified by Joe Lieberman’s charming plan to strip Americans suspected of being terrorists of their citizenship.

Truly these holy wars have brought us great things, tyranny by any other name.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

the real news: US military enforces attacks on Haitian unions

TheRealNews — May 01, 2010 — Didier Dominique : Haitian elite want to go back to cheap textile labor and destroying national food production

I will admit I haven't been following the situation in Haiti very much, so I don't know how to intelligently comment on what Dominique says. Having said that, I don't doubt that Haiti's so-called elite want to hold on to a corrupt status quo, and that historically the US has had a pretty messed-up relationship with Haiti. Dominique's organization is at

part one is directly above (1/3)

and here's part 2/3:

and part 3:

Labels: , , ,

Friday, May 07, 2010

A Worshipper At The Shrine

Lest anyone think I've lost my sass, I want to mention yet another incident with a worshiper at the Obama shrine. Had dinner last night with a good friend; we didn't talk politics a lot, but lit on it casually. I know my friend--I’ll call her ”Jane”--is a very bright, articulate, widely read woman who considers herself liberal. She is anti-war in what seems to be the current liberal style: with a sense of a vague, unfocused, mild dismay at preemptive strikes and the rest of our country's death-dealing ways, but sans any real passion or conviction. However, she recognizes O.'s leadership role in the continuing carnage we inflict on other humans, right?
Why, no, not at all. Jane believes he inherited the situation from the evil Bush Monster and O. will "do something about it" as soon as he can. Why can't he now? Because his advisers won't let him! That's right, the most powerful man on the face of the earth is struggling to free himself from the masterminds who control him (and got him elected and continue to be the people closest to him), so he can call off the dogs of war and dry the tears of the women and children we have a habit of killing.
I guess Jane didn’t see this, from "Common Dreams"[link]:
"The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been granted approval by the US government to expand drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal regions in a move to step up military operations against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters, officials have said."
Why, the sneaks! They got that one right past the president (doesn’t he have a Nobel prize to prove he’s a peace-loving pussy cat?). Oddly, though, this appears in the same article: "Barack Obama, the US president, had previously said drone strikes were necessary to 'take out high-level terrorist targets.'"
And, I guess, so were the thousands of additional warm military bodies he’s dispatched to Afghanistan in order to subdue and, if necessary, slaughter the millions of Afghans who live there. But this is all, you understand, because he hasn’t yet devised a strategy for ending the war! For bringing the troops home! For comforting the women and children and binding up the wounds…
Oh, the hell with it.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Well, it looks like the idea that the Pakistan Taliban had a hand in the car bomb that fizzled may not be as farfetched as some people think.


WASHINGTON — American officials said Wednesday that it was very likely that a radical group once thought unable to attack the United States had played a role in the bombing attempt in Times Square, elevating concerns about whether other militant groups could deliver at least a glancing blow on American soil.

Officials said that after two days of intense questioning of the bombing suspect, Faisal Shahzad, evidence was mounting that the group, the Pakistani Taliban, had helped inspire and train Mr. Shahzad in the months before he is alleged to have parked an explosives-filled sport utility vehicle in a busy Manhattan intersection on Saturday night. Officials said Mr. Shahzad had discussed his contacts with the group, and investigators had accumulated other evidence that they would not disclose.

Still, we’ll have to see how this plays out. As I said before I’m more worried about what our government does knowing its propensity to overreact to just about everything. Already people like Joe Lieberman are calling to strip Americans accused of terrorism of their citizenship.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, and Senator Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts, proposed stripping terrorism suspects of American citizenship,

Which I believe gives me some justification to worry about our government’s reactions. And note the wording “terrorism suspects” which means all they have to do is suspect that you are a terrorist and you might be stripped of your citizenship. They don’t have to have proof, just suspicion. If that’s not bizarre I don’t know what is but then the U.S. is bizarre, always has been.

However, as usual with the Obama administration we are given contradictory information.

One senior Obama administration official cautioned that “there are no smoking guns yet” that the Pakistani Taliban had directed the Times Square bombing. But others said that there were strong indications that Mr. Shahzad knew some members of the group and that they probably had a role in training him.

This is the hallmark of the Obama presidency, the innate ability to avoid being pinned down on any given issue. Perhaps this is because The Obama wishes to decide which is better for his presidency, a Taliban coordinated attack, or the actions of a lone actor. In these ever shifting sands one can never be sure of anything. Am I too cynical? Perhaps.

Aaron Jamison

the verbiage at CNN reads:

Added On April 29, 2010

An Oregon man holds onto his sense of humor even though he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. KATU reports.

I note that the public health policy dimension, the fact that this man's widow-to-be would be unlikely to face crushing debts in most industrialized countries as a consequence of her husband's health problems, goes unmentioned. Maybe the reporter realizes that in 2014 people will still have these problems, even after Obamacare is fully implemented.

cross-posted at Hugo Zoom.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A Bomb in the Rose Garden

The New York City car bomb may have failed to explode yet it could herald a new beginning for the ongoing overt wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. What’s new is the Taliban may now be over here thanks to Obama’s surge in drone attacks in Pakistan which was supposed to make Americans safer. We note that all of the domestic spying begun with Bush II and continued under Obama didn’t stop the attack in NYC. And I think we should understand that the government cannot really protect us from all terrorist attacks. They might be able to stop some but not all. The fact is the government doesn’t really care that much about your safety for they have figured how many civilian American deaths are acceptable a long time ago. I don’t know if this is really the beginning of a new phase but if it is, the war has finally come to these shores as was predicted by saner people than those in the White House.

What I really fear is not the terrorists but the government’s reaction to a series of bombings accomplished by the Taliban. We have seen time and again that when something like this occurs the federal government uses it to grab more power. It’s a lose/lose situation for us peons and we’re screwed either way so I wonder what god-awful legislation shall be the progeny of terrorist attacks on American soil.

Except for the attack of 9/11 you would be hard put to tell that this nation is conducting several wars simultaneously. There are no battlefields, no warplanes roaring overhead dropping their death, no tanks, no explosions, no gunshots, no dead bodies, no screams, no sign of war at all, until now that is. Recently the government has been trying to scare us with mean and scary Mexicans, what a joke that is. They are using the illegal immigrants as a scapegoat for the lousy economy. The Mexicans didn’t wreck our economy, our freaking dumb-ass government wrecked the economy so they blame the Mexicans to get the heat off their back and now they have the Taliban trying to give them a hot foot. LOL.

Still, you have to wonder how terrorist acts on American soil will affect the popularity of the Peace Prize President’s (he’s a real prize alright) escalation of the wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Not that it would stop the wars for what we think or care about really doesn’t matter.