Thursday, October 24, 2013

War Crimes?

Amnesty International, in Pakistan, and Human Rights Watch, in Yemen, have spent some time documenting civilian casualties from US drone strikes.  According to those two well respected organizations, there have been many, despite Obama administration claims of "pinpoint precision."  You probably heard about the old lady picking okra in the middle of a field and minding her grandchildren who was blown away with "pinpoint precision."  Obviously, she must have been a dangerous terrorist.

Amnesty says some drone attacks amount to war crimes.  I disagree.  I think war crimes require intent, whereas the "collateral damage" done by our drones is more like criminal negligence — albeit, that's bad enough.  What we really need at this point is a Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden with access to the drone program, because the administration's lips are all zipped tight.

Americans have a right to know what kind of damage is being done in their names.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Assorted Stuff for October

That Unfortunate Website

Well, the federal ACA website has bombed big-time.  The O is taking the heat, but we should remember he's not personally responsible for everything.  On the other hand, his people did sign the contracts with the private sector contractors who screwed it all up.

Unfortunately, we no longer are allowed to create federal agencies to take care of such major efforts.  We have to divvy up the money to be made on such projects among private sector contractors, probably because the public sector doesn't have enough lobbyists.

Holderman v. Dimon

It appears that J.P.Morgan-Chase will be paying 13 billion bucks to resolve most of its liabilities from the mortgage crisis.  Maybe it's not entirely fair, because Dimon's bank didn't own WaMu or Morgan-Stanley when they racked up lots of the losses.

What the hell.  J.P.Morgan-Chase picked up WaMu and Morgan-Stanley at bargain basement prices.  Dimon didn't have to be goosed along too hard, and at the moment, it seems that his farts still don't stink.

The whole thing is making Holderman look better than usual — to wit, he's doing something other than chasing down leakers.  Is 13 billion enough?  Who knows?


As in Iraq, we're having problems leaving troops behind after the scheduled "withdrawal," because we want our troops to be immune from local and national law.  Murder?  Rape?  Really, we'd rather try them back home.

Personally, I don't see the problem.  Afghanistan is so corrupt, it should be fairly inexpensive to bail the naughty boys out of their trouble, not that I necessarily approve.  On the other hand, some Special Forces asshole could wind up being a political asset for whoever happens to replace Karzai.

If we don't leave any troops behind, it is quite likely that Congress will decide to stop financing the Afghan military.  That's okay by me.  They hate us and our imperialism pretty much all over the world, so Afghanistan should not be especially "special."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What next?

Assuming both Houses of Congress vote to approve the temporary Republican capitulation and send the bill to the President before midnight, we've squeaked through again.  The interesting part, this time, was that Obama finally drew a "red line" and didn't move it — but I suspect the thanks for a resolution should go to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, Wall Street lobbying firms, and a bunch of other essentially Republican organizations.

The question now is, "Have they learned anything?"  Keep your fingers crossed.

So called "moderate" Republicans — that is, not the ones Devin Nunes (R-CA) described as "lemmings with suicide vests" — just might get some more corporate support.  Yes, a lot of those "moderates" are afraid of primary challenges from the Tea Party lemmings, but wouldn't it be nice if some of those corporate interests got into those safe, perfectly gerrymandered Republican districts and financed primary challenges against right wing radicals by Republicans a little closer to the center?

Friday, October 11, 2013


Please try to explain this one: after closing down the government and furloughing 800,000 "non-essential" workers (now down to around 500,000 because Chuck Hagel redefined "essential" for the Defense Department), the House Republicans voted to pay those furloughed workers for the time they are not working.


If government is bloated and overfunded, why in the hell would they want to pay people for work they haven't done?  Yes, it makes perfect sense to give the "essential" workers, slogging on without paychecks during the shutdown, back pay when the idiotic "crisis" is over — but why do they want to pay, say, the labor statistics people who were unable to produce a report for September, or the food inspectors who aren't finding the bacterial infections that might be in our lettuce?  Isn't that kind of like — umm — welfare?

Okay, it looks like a debt default will be pushed back by six weeks — but goddamn it, they're still idiots.

. . . . .

(By the way, the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and even the Koch brothers are feeling the red-hot poker of Tea Party craziness sliding up their asses.  They really should have known better,  along with scores of other pro-business lobbyists, but they put anti-regulatory enthusiasm above common sense.  Too bad, assholes.  You were idiots too.)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Boehner and the bomb throwers

It's Boehner's responsibility, if not necessarily his fault.  He can call for a House vote on the Senate's continuing resolution whenever he gets up the testosterone to face down Ted Cruz and the Crazies (not a heavy metal band) but he's so terribly afraid of losing the Speakership, he won't do it.

And what I want to know is what's the point of being Speaker if you can't lead?

According to sources to the Times, Boehner says he won't let us default on the debt, albeit he will not make any public statements to that effect.  I believe it, though.  I think he cares more about the full faith and credit of the United States (not to mention the economy of the rest of the world) than for his status with the people Harry Reid calls "Tea Party anarchists."

Honestly, I suspect John Boehner just might be some kind of patriot.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why they do it

Okay, the government is somewhat defunded, and it probably doesn't make that big a difference except to the 800,000 or so who won't be paid for a while.  The rest of us can live without the Lincoln Memorial for however long it takes — which is to say, no later than October 17, when the debt ceiling comes down on us.

So, we look at those involved in the current "crisis," seeking their motivation.  Sometimes it's obvious.  Some. like Michelle Bachman, Louis Gohmert, and Steve King, are just idiots.  John Boehner is afraid of losing his beloved Speakership, even though he knows better.  Ted Cruz is a self-promoting little piece of crap.  Others are from "safe" (gerrymandered) Republican districts where they just hate Obama (and all the other uppity niggers as well.)

Then, there are the funders.  Some say the Koch brothers are motivated by having read Ayn Rand back when they were in high school — but, clearly, it's just greed.  They're super-rich, and certainly don't want to pay their fair share of taxes.  They're oil men, and have little tolerance for environmental regulation.  They have extraordinary senses of entitlement.

It's possible that the idiots, the self-promoters, and the greedy will push Boehner into pushing the USofA into default.  I sincerely hope he is willing to throw himself on his sword, and save us by calling for an up-down vote when the time comes.