A few days ago Democracy Now featured Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist critic of the gaming community where sexism and misogyny runs rampant. From the link:
Anita Sarkeesian, a prominent feminist critic of video games, was forced to cancel a speech at Utah State University last week after the school received an email threatening to carry out “the deadliest shooting in American history” at the event. The email sender wrote: “feminists have ruined my life and I will have my revenge.” The sender used the moniker Marc Lepine, the name of a man who killed 14 women, most of them female engineering students, in a mass shooting in Montreal in 1989. Sarkeesian canceled the talk after being told that under Utah law, campus police could not prevent people from bringing guns.
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like our institutions are increasingly failing to keep women safe. Mother Jones has a piece about the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals stance toward issues relating to abortion rights and other issues facing women. Bush appointees on this court, like Priscilla Own, are especially awful. From the link:
In 2010, Owen was part of a three-judge panel that threw out a lawsuit filed by a high school cheerleader who had been kicked off the squad for refusing to cheer for a basketball player she said had raped her. (The athlete ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge.) These judges ordered the cheerleader’s family to pay the school district $45,000 for filing a frivolous lawsuit.
A frivolous lawsuit? Really? For standing up and refusing to cheer on the athlete rapist who sexually assaulted her?
A Missoulian article posted less than an hour ago highlights how even extreme violence against women can result in just a 3 year probationary slap on the hand. I should warn readers that aspects of this story are quite graphic:
According to prosecutors, in late July, Gallegos and his girlfriend began arguing at a University of Montana-owned apartment over a Facebook post Gallegos’ ex-wife had written.
When the girlfriend said she was leaving him, Gallegos apparently told her that he would “have snipers kill her.” He also told her she had to cut a tattoo of his name off her chest.
Gallegos allegedly handed the woman a box cutter, pushed her into the bathroom and told her to “get all the ink off” or he would “get it off with a bullet.” The woman tried to cut the tattoo, but had to stop because of the pain.
When she stopped, Gallegos allegedly beat her on the head until she fell down and blacked out, but he continued to beat her on the ground. Gallegos also allegedly threw the woman into a closet, where she woke up and called 9-1-1, telling dispatchers “if you don’t get here soon I’m going to be dead.”
The dispatcher heard yelling and screaming and the victim say, “Don’t Rene, don’t hit me” before the call disconnected.
Gallegos allegedly told the victim he was going to kill her that night. When police arrived, Gallegos told the woman if she talked to the officers and he went to jail he would send somebody to kill her and her son.
Gallegos answered the door and lied to officers and told them it was only him and his friend inside. The officers weren’t convinced and found the victim in the bathroom.
At first, she denied calling 9-1-1 but once outside she began crying and stated that she was extremely afraid of what Gallegos would do to her if she spoke with police. The friend who was in the house later admitted to seeing Gallegos assault the woman.
Gallegos has two previous domestic violence convictions from Texas and California.
“Mr. Gallegos, you have lived an interesting but mostly charmed life,” Deschamps said before handing down the sentence. “I suspect that a lot of this is because you’re a scary guy and you’ve been able to intimidate your way out of a lot of these events. It looks like there’s hardly been a year in your adult life where you haven’t done some crime or another. I don’t expect that you’ll make it on probation.
“And if you don’t, and come back, with the pattern that you’ve established so far, I’m going to send you away for a very long time. I have agreed to follow this plea agreement and I’ll do it, but prison is just full of guys that started out where you’re at right now. It won’t take very much at all for you to do some serious time, so straighten up your act, OK?”
This piece of shit should be headed to prison, but instead will only have 3 years of probation. I’m not an advocate for guns solving all problems, but if I was this particular woman, I would seriously consider getting a gun and being prepared to shoot this POS dead.
My faith in our legal system decreases the more I learn about it, especially when it comes to the prosecutorial discretion of our County Attorney’s office. Some of the stuff I have learned in just the past few months shows how discretion within our institutions of accountability undermine the quaint notions of justice many Americans without direct experience have.
Can these institutions be reformed? I don’t know. But we have to try.
Yesterday marked the third anniversary of Gaddafi’s violent death at the hands of the “rebels” NATO empowered in the so-called humanitarian intervention of Libya. Here’s wikipedia’s depiction:
Muammar Gaddafi, the deposed leader of Libya, died on 20 October 2011 during the Battle of Sirte. Gaddafi was found hiding in a culvert west of Sirte and captured by National Transitional Council forces. He was killed shortly afterwards. The NTC initially claimed he died from injuries sustained in a firefight when loyalist forces attempted to free him, although videos of his last moments show rebel fighters beating him before he was shot in the head.
I also think it’s important to revisit posts like this from Intelligent Discontent, titled Libyan Intervention: Another Example of Rational Humanitarian Foreign Policy. Here is how Pogreba launches his condescending jab at the leftist critique of Libyan regime change:
I don’t write a lot about foreign policy, simply because I think there are far more intelligent and knowledgeable people out there writing much more cogent analysis, but it’s hard to ignore the reflexive criticism of all things Obama that comes from certain elements of the principled left.
Although I’m no longer surprised that some Americans seem to have a better grasp of events in Libya than reporters, government officials, those with access to military satellites and other international observers on the ground in Libya, it might make their case against WESTERN IMPERIALISM a bit stronger if they could back their assertion that the situation was “trumped up” by the US government.
I think it’s fair to say that Obama overstated the danger–but I’d suggest that was more the result of a lack of clarity about the situation than some grand, Western plot to rule the world. It turns out that moral clarity and perfect vision are much easier in hindsight.
Humanitarian interventionists were dupes and the subsequent years have proven the “reflexive” criticism was accurate. While the interventionists have mostly slunk away from the disaster they cheered on 3 years ago, some of us continue writing and quoting sources to provide the context sorely missing in the lead up to NATO’s regime change, like a post I wrote last year, titled Slouching Toward Regional War.
At Counterpunch yesterday, this piece takes a before/after look at the descent of Libya, contrasting the destruction brought on by NATO with the pre-intervention reality of one of Africa’s most successful states:
In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa’s wealthiest nation. Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy on the continent. Less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands.
After NATO’s intervention in 2011, Libya is now a failed state and its economy is in shambles. As the government’s control slips through their fingers and into to the militia fighters’ hands, oil production has all but stopped.
The militias variously local, tribal, regional, Islamist or criminal, that have plagued Libya since NATO’s intervention, have recently lined up into two warring factions. Libya now has two governments, both with their own Prime Minister, parliament and army.
On one side, in the West of the country, Islamist-allied militias took over control of the capital Tripoli and other cities and set up their own government, chasing away a parliament that was elected over the summer.
On the other side, in the East of the Country, the “legitimate” government dominated by anti-Islamist politicians, exiled 1,200 kilometers away in Tobruk, no longer governs anything.
The fall of Gaddafi’s administration has created all of the country’s worst-case scenarios: Western embassies have all left, the South of the country has become a haven for terrorists, and the Northern coast a center of migrant trafficking. Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia have all closed their borders with Libya. This all occurs amidst a backdrop of widespread rape, assassinations and torture that complete the picture of a state that is failed to the bone.
Don’t expect humanitarian interventionists to acknowledge this reality. I hope on some level they realize how wrong they were so the next time a warmongering Democrat uses R2P as justification for regime change they won’t be useful dupes parroting the proven bullshit of America’s “rational humanitarian foreign policy”.
“Power buys wealth infinitely faster than wealth buys power.”
Zero Hedge cross-posted a thought-provoking piece today by Raúl Ilargi Meijer at The Automatic Earth: “Wealth Inequality Is Not A Problem, It’s A Symptom.” I guess to that I might add that it is not just a symptom, but a feature. A feature of what? Well, read Meijer.
One of subtler themes weaving its way through the backdrop of this year’s election is wealth inequality. Unfortunately, it seems that this is one of those “third rail” taboo topics in politics these days, “Job Creators” and all, you know.
One line particularly struck me as worthy of discussion:
Voting in elections has the same function today as singing around a Christmas tree: everyone feels a strong emotional connection, but it’s all just become one giant TV commercial.
When was the last time a national election really affected the power structure running this country? And how does the current media mega-buys of candidates address any of the issues related to the concentration of power in this country? Of course, Meijer makes the astute observation that oligarchy knows no boundaries, but unfortunately, none of us get to vote in any meaningful way that addresses the inequity in power structures.
The days of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are over (warning, it’s a trailer trying to sell you a viewing of a 75 year old movie for $2.99). Meijer gets to the heart of the issue of how the 20th century institutions like NATO, the Fed, the UN & EU, IMF, World Bank, yada yada have moved beyond the control of any electoral processes of any country’s voters, and have served to concentrate power in the hands of oligarchs. And when you concentrate power, safe from any electoral processes, that power serves to enrich itself and exacerbate wealth inequality.
When Meijer says that wealth inequality is a symptom, he is referring to it being a symptom of the concentration of power. And in order to do anything meaningful about wealth inequality, we need to break apart the power structures that maintain and solidify oligarchy. No small task.
So with that simple notion in mind, again I ask: “What are we voting for?” And if candidates aren’t willing to address the simple notion of breaking apart power structures, then what does it accomplish to elect them?
One last quote from Meijer:
…what we see now is that any effort, any at all, to break up the IMF, World Bank, UN, NATO and EU would be met with the same derision that an effort to break up the USA would be met with. We have built, in true sorcerer’s apprentice or Frankenstein fashion, entities that we cannot control. And they have taken over our lives. They serve the interests of elites, not of the people. So why do we let them continue to exist?
What powers do we have left when it comes to bailing out banks, invading countries, making sure our young people have jobs when they leave school? We have none. We lost the decision making power along the way, and we’re not getting it back unless we quit watching the tube (or the plasma) and fight for it. Until we do, power will keep floating to the top like so much excrement; it’s a law of – human – nature.
That the people we voluntarily endow with such control over our lives would also use that control to enrich themselves, is so obvious it barely requires mentioning. But that doesn’t mean this is about wealth inequality, that’s not the main issue, in fact it’s not much more than an afterthought. It’s about the power we have over our lives. Or rather, the power we don’t have.
If fear makes people stupid, then Americans are probably the stupidest people on the planet. Stupid enough to still believe Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 six years after invading and occupying Iraq? Yep:
Sociologists at the University of North Carolina and Northwestern University examined an earlier case of deep commitment to the inaccurate: the belief, among many conservatives who voted for George W. Bush in 2004, that Saddam Hussein was at least partly responsible for the attacks on 9/11.
Of 49 people included in the study who believed in such a connection, only one shed the certainty when presented with prevailing evidence that it wasn’t true.
The rest came up with an array of justifications for ignoring, discounting or simply disagreeing with contrary evidence — even when it came from President Bush himself.
Of our two worthless political parties, I think it’s safe to say Republicans are way better at scaring themselves stupid. Here are some of the ways 48 stupid people were able to insulate themselves from the reality that America went to war in Iraq based on lies:
By the time the interviews were conducted, just before the 2004 election, the Bush Administration was no longer muddling a link between al-Qaeda and the Iraq war. The researchers chose the topic because, unlike other questions in politics, it had a correct answer.
Subjects were presented during one-on-one interviews with a newspaper clip of this Bush quote: “This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaeda.”
The Sept. 11 Commission, too, found no such link, the subjects were told.
“Well, I bet they say that the commission didn’t have any proof of it,” one subject responded, “but I guess we still can have our opinions and feel that way even though they say that.”
Reasoned another: “Saddam, I can’t judge if he did what he’s being accused of, but if Bush thinks he did it, then he did it.”
Others declined to engage the information at all. Most curious to the researchers were the respondents who reasoned that Saddam must have been connected to Sept. 11, because why else would the Bush Administration have gone to war in Iraq?
The desire to believe this was more powerful, according to the researchers, than any active campaign to plant the idea.
Fear is of course used by both political parties. Democrats, for example, don’t have a lot to offer these days except fear of Republicans. But Democrats are way behind when it comes to exploiting fear for political gain. When it comes to using fear, Republicans are number 1, as evidenced by the merging of ISIS and ebola into one of the stupidest alleged threats facing America:
A Republican senator says he sees the threat of ISIS militants intentionally infecting themselves with the Ebola virus and then traveling to America as a “real and present danger.”
“Well, it’s certainly something I’ve been thinking about ever since this Ebola outbreak started,” Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said Wednesday of ISIS using Ebola on America’s Forum on NewsmaxTV.
NewsMaxTV cited Al Shimkus, a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, who said last week that that ISIS fighters could infect themselves with the Ebola virus and then travel to U.S. as a form of biological warfare.
Johnson said America should be preparing to defend ourselves against such a scenario, calling it “a real and present danger.”
“You really don’t even want to think about,” he said. “You really don’t even want to talk about, but we should do everything possible to defend ourselves against that possibility because I think that is a real and present danger.”
In lighit of this idiocy, merely advocating for a travel ban appears tame in comparison, but the outcome will be anything but. Here is a dude at Fox news acknowledging the travel ban would be worthless and possibly dangerous, but then he concludes we should do it anyway:
Fox News medical correspondent Marc Siegel came out in favor of a travel ban Thursday, arguing in the National Review that it would be impossible to enforce, utterly pointless, and potentially dangerous. If that sentence makes no sense, you’re in the same camp as the rest of us.
Siegel conceded the arguments, well-aired but not yet well-believed, that a travel ban would exacerbate the ebola outbreak by making potential carriers harder to trace, not to mention fomenting panic and distrust in the west African countries where the virus festers.
But, Siegel said, “we must worry about our own public psyche here in the United States. If our leaders can’t give us a sense that we are protected, we must achieve it by imposing a ban.”
I’m not convinced medically — I don’t believe that a travel ban against the Ebola-afflicted countries in West Africa will be particularly effective, it may even be counterproductive, and it certainly isn’t coming from the strongest side of what being an American means. But as fear of Ebola and fear of our leaders’ ineptitude grows, I think we must have a ban to patch our battered national psyche.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. But hey, Americans are scared, so let’s do it anyway.
Big Swede—the poster child for Republican, fear-based stupidity—has this comment in the last post:
Travel bans are inevitable. Either as a last minute “save” to at risk Dem incumbents or the threat of multiple lawsuits and costs incurred by Ebola laden air travelers.
Privately or by Governmental decree a couple more Duncans combined with chasing down of numerous passenger lists the flights will stop.
This comment isn’t as stupid as one may think at first glance. The second sentence seemingly acknowledges the travel ban is a political tool to effect political outcomes in the midterm elections, which is absolutely accurate. Sprinkle on some fear of litigation and the potential for travel restrictions does seem to be inevitable.
Unfortunately, stopping flights won’t stop the spread of Ebola. Explaining that to conservatives, though, may be like trying to tell them Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.
Is there a fix for stupid? I sure hope so.
Rachel Maddow tonight reported on the bed capacity for Ebola treatment in America: nine. Of those nine beds, St. Pats in Missoula has one. Our bed count in Missoula could be increased to three, with more staff, reports Rachel Maddow.
I’m worried. The pressure to shutdown travel will increase, and shut down means accelerating the spread in Africa as people go to non-travel-banned countries to flee while slowing aid workers from going in. Because incredibly brave people are willing to do that and being reactionary now for midterm elections is absolutely reckless.
I’m also obviously worried that our national response puts Missoula at direct risk.
So what’s the plan here?
The American health care system is not prepared for Ebola. Is there a subtle distinction between increasing awareness and feeding panic? I don’t know. But the American health care system is not prepared for Ebola.
The second nurse infected flew on a plane with 132 other people. That’s not good. A man sent home from the ER, black and uninsured, that’s not good either. I guess this is the price of maintaining an insanely costly, inhumane and ineffective health care system made, to some degree, only a little less shitty by the ACA.
People trying to politicize the role Missoula could play in treating Ebola patients (ahem, Bob) are being, how should I put this—counterproductive. The reality is this, Rocky Mountain Laboratories:
Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) is part of the NIH Intramural Research Program and is located in Hamilton, Montana. Operated by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, RML conducts research on maximum containment pathogens such as Ebola as well as research on prions and intracellular pathogens such as Coxiella burnetti and Francisella tularensis. RML operates one of the few Biosafety level 4 laboratories in the United States, as well as Biosafety level 3 and ABSL3/4 laboratories.
Knowing this reality, let’s push for the support health care workers will need. If you need convincing, Chris Hayes had the fired up director for National Nurses United, Roseann Demoro, on tonight, and it’s a segment worth checking out.
My second to last article from the Missoulian I can access on my phone this month without paying to subscribe is a really interesting article about a UM professor deemed a “super forecaster” by the CIA:
Karen Ruth Adams stood before a Model United Nations class at the University of Montana on Tuesday, preparing students for careers in public policy, international affairs and high school teaching.
While far away from Washington, D.C., this academic environment is fitting for Adams, a professor of political science and scholar who has earned a reputation for predicting world events before they happen.
Given her skills, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and its Good Judgment Project recognized Adams as a “super forecaster.” It’s a lighthearted term with serious implications, capable of changing how the U.S. intelligence community tracks crises around the world.
“The project is a think tank that’s affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency,” Adams said Tuesday before class. “IARPA is a think tank known for doing innovative research that gets weeded out through competition and analysis, and different agencies of the U.S. government can pick it up if they’re interested.”
This seems like a more passive version of the Human Terrain System—an attempt to use social sciences to improve the poorly-defined military campaign in Afghanistan. From Wiki:
The Human Terrain System (HTS) is a United States Army, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) support program employing personnel from the social science disciplines – such as anthropology, sociology, political science, regional studies and linguistics – to provide military commanders and staff with an understanding of the local population (i.e. the “human terrain”) in the regions in which they are deployed.
I wonder what Karen Ruth Adams thinks about the “threat multiplier” of climate change. We already know what the Pentagon thinks. Here is an article from Fox news for the conservative regulars here:
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday described climate change as a national security threat — at a time when the U.S. military is battling the Islamic State in the Mideast, responding to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, and monitoring tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
The Defense secretary addressed the issue during a speech in Peru, as the Pentagon released a comprehensive report on the “national security” challenges posed by rising global temperatures and “extreme weather events.”
Hagel described climate change as a “threat multiplier,” saying it “has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we already confront today — from infectious disease to armed insurgencies — and to produce new challenges in the future.”
It’s hard to tell if this actually Chuck Hagel’s views being represented in this article. It’s entirely possible Al Gore kidnapped Chuck Hagel, then used CGI technology to sucker even Fox News into reporting on climate change like it’s a real thing.
Climate change actually is a totally real thing guaranteed to significantly exacerbate global conflicts. The Pentagon knows this, and is preparing accordingly.
Naomi Klein also knows this and she was even nice enough to write a book about how this changes everything:
If global warming is a worldwide wake-up call, we’re all pretty heavy sleepers. It’s telling that 20 years after the United Nations acknowledged the threat of human-driven climate change, we’re still basically at a loss for how to get going on the solution. In fact, we’re spewing more greenhouse gases than ever. Why is that? Ask 10 people — 10 self-identified environmentalists, even — and you’re likely to get 10 different answers.
The real reason, argues journalist Naomi Klein in her new book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” is the one thing that the political right has right: Transitioning quickly to a low-carbon society is going to hurt. Contrary to the mission statements of win-win industry partnerships championed by some green groups, Klein writes, wrangling greenhouse gas emissions to within a scientifically recommended level will not be painless. The issue unearths no less than “a much broader battle of worldviews,” she says — “a process of rebuilding and reinventing the very idea of the collective, the communal, the commons, the civil, and the civic after so many decades of attack and neglect.”
In other words, the root of the carbon problem is capitalism, says Klein. Or at least the kind of unfettered, absolutist “disaster capitalism” that was the target of her previous effort, “The Shock Doctrine.” In that sense, the aptly titled “This Changes Everything” might be seen as the third volume in Klein’s controversial and thoroughly researched challenge to neoliberal ideology.
The essence of her argument is that taking on climate change is a fleeting opportunity to right structural wrongs in political and socioeconomic systems that have stood largely unchallenged for decades. Given the problem’s size, Klein says, the only way forward is radical change. So the political right’s willingness to sow doubt about long-settled science and denounce climate moderates as nefarious communists belies not a willful ignorance so much as a recognition of the issue’s real scope.
Klein, as usual, hits the mark.
I was part-curious, part-asshole when I inquired whether or not Intelligent Discontent had gone dark after 2 weeks of no new posts. As an unpaid blogger with a demanding day job myself, I understand the difficulty of finding the time to read, compile links and expound on the current events of the day. Yet I feel compelled to piece together bits from the fringe best I can.
I bring this up because midterm elections are looming and I wonder, where is the electorate?
A good argument can be made that the electorate is disgusted with both parties, and it’s that underlying disgust fueling the sudden dark horse independents chomping at the bit to be spoilers.
That link is to a Steve Kornacki segment on MSNBC. MSNBC is currently taking a nosedive in ratings, now trailing CNN. Fox, of course, is still king. Here’s how the New York Times frames the crash and burn:
Rachel Maddow, the biggest star on the MSNBC cable network, just posted her lowest quarterly ratings results ever.
“Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s signature morning program, scored its second-lowest quarterly ratings, reaching an average of just 87,000 viewers in the key news demographic group.
And “Ronan Farrow Daily,” the network’s heavily promoted new afternoon show, which stars a 26-year-old Rhodes Scholar with a high-profile Hollywood lineage, has been largely a dud.
Though it has mostly happened quietly, which may be a comment on the cable network’s larger status in the media landscape, MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows.
I don’t know what to make of that, nor do I think the juxtaposition of MSNBC’s decline and a two week hiatus from a MT blogger during an election season has any significance. Yard signs may not have any significance either, but that Cowgirl comment thread shows how contested the perception of momentum can get.
When it comes time to vote, I’m going to vote. I’ll darken my little nod to Amanda Curtis and John Lewis. I guess Curtis may have some tv spots soon with around a half million to spend. The Lewis ad spoofing This Land is Your Land was terrible, but his “Two” ad is a little better, if that is what you base your solemn civic responsibility on.
I will vote, but with little hope or expectation the outcome will advance the changes our survival will require.
With the help of alleged allies, like Turkey and Israel, the caliphate is expanding, and now threatens Lebanon. From Moon of Alabama:
In cooperation with Turkey the Islamic State has laid siege on the independent Kurdish enclave Kobane in north east Syria. The city is likely to fall soon just as the Turkish government wants it to. Turkey’s blockade of reinforcement and supplies for the defenders inflames the 15 million strong Kurdish population in Turkey. The fall of Kobane may well lead to an end of the peace process between Turks and Kurds and to a renewed civil war in south east Turkey. Turkey houses many refugees from Syria and is a major logistic hub for the Islamic State.
Thanks Turkey! It’s so worth having you in NATO. Here’s more from MoA:
Jordan, south of Syria, is a major hub of anti-Assad activities. The CIA is running large training programs in Jordan where refugees from south Syria get prepared for fighting the Syrian government. As soon as groups of such “moderate rebels” are send over the border to fight against the Syrian army parts of them inevitably defect to the Islamic State or the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhad al-Nusra (JAN). They take the weapons they were given by the CIA and the supporting Gulf states with them. Chinese FN-6 man-portable air-defense system, supplied by Qatar to such “moderate rebels”, were used in recent days by the Islamic State to shoot down at least three Iraqi army helicopters. While Jordan has mostly isolated the Syrian refugees in desert camps parts of its own population are also sympathetic to the Islamic State. Jordan has now closed its borders to all refugees to isolate itself against further IS infiltration. It might hold out a bit longer before the flood reaches its main cities.
From Jordan “moderate rebels” and Jabhat al-Nusra Islamists have progressed in north-western direction along the Golan height demarcation zone with Israel against Syrian government forces and towards south Lebanon. These groups are protected against Syrian counterattacks by Israeli artillery and do get some of their support, including medical services, directly from the Israeli side. Their task is to infiltrate through the Druze inhabited areas near the Sheba Farm into south Lebanon and to attack the Lebanese Hizbullah positions which are protecting Lebanon from Israel. Israel is also continuously probing those positions by reconnaissance by force. Hizbullah recently publicly acknowledged to counter these probes thereby demonstrating undiminished capabilities despite also being engaged in other areas. Other “moderate rebel” groups supporting Jabhat al-Nusra went north from Jordan and took the important Syrian height of Tar Harrah between the Golan heights and Damascus. Some Syrian army forces are now squeezed between the insurgents on the Golan heights and those around Tal Harrah. Both of these “moderate rebel” thrusts from Jordan progressed due to massive use of U.S. supplied TOW anti-tank missiles.
Thanks Israel! It’s so worth giving you over 233 billion dollars in financial aid over the past 6 decades.
As Kobani gets ready to fall to the Islamic State, the US is busy bombing empty buildings and grain silos:
The U.S. is conducting a curious humanitarian war against ISIS in Syria. While Kobani, the largely Kurdish district that straddles the border with Turkey is being attacked by ISIS forces and facing the very real possibility of mass civilian killings if it falls, U.S. military spokespersons claimed that they are watching the situation in Kobani and have conducted occasional bombing missions but that they are concentrating their anti-ISIS efforts in other parts of Syria. Those other efforts appear to consist of bombing empty buildings, schools, small oil pumping facilities, an occasional vehicle and grain silos where food is stored to feed the Syrian people. Turkey also seems to be watching as the Kurds of Kobani fight to the death against ISIS.
With friends like Turkey and Israel, who needs enemies?
Where is the liberal interventionists R2P crowd when you need them?
It’s festival of the book week for Missoula’s literati who appreciate the refined sensibilities of literature.
The Indy takes a look at one of the festivals more exuberant organizers, Tahj Kjelland.
Tahj is doing some amazing work with at-risk kids by directly channeling the power of spoken word in a way that grabs his young audience’s attention. Read the article, it’s encouraging, unlike the poem below.
It’s nice to be writing poems again after a cycle of songs has mostly run its course. I wrote the following poem almost immediately after reading JC’s post about the new American war without a name. It’s the kind of political poem that is too historically specific to be of any lasting use, but hey it rhymes (sort of) and hence has power—at least that’s what Morpheus says in The Lego Movie (as an aside, Lego recently pledged to divorce Shell from its brand after pressure brought by Greenpeace).
Now here’s the poem:
FOREIGN POLICY POEM
we have a war they cannot name
and packaged enemies like product lines
disaster juggling, spot to spot
one month Ukraine a plane shot down
the month before a Zionist war called
OPERATION SHOOT FISH IN A BARREL
OPERATION INDISCRIMINATE KILLING
OPERATION OUR HOLOCAUST JUSTIFIES ANYTHING
our newest war is hard to name
our allies helped zap Frankenstein
beheading Syria is still the game
so sometimes the staging is poorly timed
America has an exceptional
capacity to be deceived
we crave the nightmare packaging
we watch tv, we truly believe
By now most of you are aware of Missoula County sheriff candidate Democrat TJ McDermott’s violation of Montana campaign finance laws.
It wasn’t until I read that Missoulian story that I realized how much breaking of the law that was occurring. Yikes. An officer of the law sheriff taking cash value favors and gifts like that from lawyers? If that doesn’t raise a few troubling questions…then there’s the matter of who the firm is: Shouldn’t Datsopoulos Macdonald & Lind know better?
KGVO has the morning radio talk show Talk Back from about 8:15 to 9 a.m. daily. I can’t always catch it, but I try. I usually do catch at least a few minutes of it each day. Today I caught most of it, and KGVO’s Peter Christian and John King had interim Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl on the show, from the airport he was preparing to fly out of.
Today’s (October 9th’s) podcast isn’t up yet, but check back, because I should think that anyone interested in campaign finance would want to hear what he had to say. Motl spoke specifically about his two decisions – one being Clark v. Datsopoulos Macdonald Lind PC and TJ McDermott and the other being Clark v. TJ McDermott.
One of the best take-away’s from that aspect of the show – and in regards, specifically, to Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind’s role in campaign law violations – was his equation with what Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind did to what Western Traditions Partnership did for a long list of state GOP legislative candidates a few years back.
The other aspect of the show went into what (I’m going to paraphrase here because the podcast isn’t up) he viewed as what was fairly uniquely Missoula’s less-than-thorough approach to political campaign finance laws. KGVO’s John King has that story up, and again – if you’re interested in Montana campaign finance (if not Missoula) – you should take the time to listen to October 9th’s podcast once it gets up.
KGVO must of caught up later with Molly Howard, a shareholder with Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind – and Peter Christian posted the response from the law firm. And, you know, after having read the news stories and both findings from Motl (links above), I don’t think Datsopoulos recognizes the seriousness of their violation of state finance law. Howard frames the violation of campaign finance laws simple errors in the “reporting of in-kind contributions” – along with changes in how Motl is defining those in-kind campaign contributions.
Thing is, when I read Motl’s decision involving Datsopoulos, et.al.’s violations, he lays it out pretty clearly that it isn’t merely the failure to report the donations, but the fact that what they are doing requires them to register as a political committee, first.
During this whole investigation, TJ McDermott has already returned some cash back to Datsopoulos, Datsopoulos has yet to register as a political committee.
McDermott frames it as a bookkeeping error, while already having returned money (that’s more than just a failure to report) and Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind calls it a “reporting error” when it really is a failure to register as a political committee and then, on top of that, error in reporting the donations that the currently non-existing political committee made.
Downplaying violations of state campaign finance laws isn’t a very honorable or responsible thing. All parties should be straight-up owning up to it. As I see it, both McDermott and Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind seem to fail to recognize the severity of their violation of law.
“If you name it, you own it. And they don’t want to own it.”
Well, it was just a matter of time until people started talking about “The War Which Must Not be Named.” I suppose if a war doesn’t have a name, it can’t realistically be called a “war,” right?
There is an interesting dimension to the ongoing circumvention of the Constitution over our latest undeclared war. While some Administration officials are finally calling our attacks in Syria as a “war,” the discomfort over defining this indefinite campaign has led to equal discomfort over naming it. After two months of airstrikes and statements that the campaign will likely go on for years, the Administration still have not named this war. The choice would now seem obvious: Operation Voldemort, the war which must not be named.
Usually, the military loves to give inspiring names to its campaigns, though sometimes the name can reveal a bit of insecurity like “Operation Just Cause” in Panama — a name that only seemed to amplify the questions of the legality or legitimacy of the invasion. Once coined, the name then appears on everything from government contracts to legislation to service medals.
However, the Administration has been in a not-so-private internal debate over what to call the campaign against Islamic State. Like naming a puppy, the naming of a war can create a dangerous achievement to those with commitment issues. As one defense official was quoted as saying “If you name it, you own it. And they don’t want to own it.”
For the moment, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby says that the Administration currently has “no plans to name the operation”…
The Pentagon, in trying to come up with an internal name for the war, came up with a tongue-in-cheek name that really isn’t so far from the truth:
In the absence of an official name, alternatives are bouncing around the halls of the Pentagon. One top suggestion takes note of how U.S. bombing raids are targeting U.S.-made equipment nabbed by Islamic State fighters. The suggestion: Operation Hey That’s My Humvee.
Thankfully, President Obama’s ex-CIA Director and ex-Pentagon head Leon Panetta has no qualms giving the latest extra-Constitutional imperial incursion into the middle east a name that will resonate through the history books: the “Thirty Year War.”
Americans should be braced for a long battle against the brutal terrorist group Islamic State that will test U.S. resolve — and the leadership of the commander in chief, says Leon Panetta, who headed the CIA and then the Pentagon as Al Qaeda was weakened and Osama bin Laden killed.
“I think we’re looking at kind of a 30-year war,” he says, one that will have to extend beyond Islamic State to include emerging threats in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere.
So, as you get ready to head to the polls, and endorse the current crop of candidates, you can rest assured that Democrats, in all their infinite wisdom, have chosen to hunker down to endure war for the long term.
Remember, as you pencil in your absentee ballot or pull the lever on your electronic voting machine, that the stage has been set for indefinite warfare, and your vote for candidates who refuse to take anti-war stances endorses the status quo.
“Look, I’ve been a guy who’s always been honest,” Panetta says. “I’ve been honest in politics, honest with the people that I deal with. I’ve been a straight talker…
Panetta also argues that there is time for Obama to change tactics and recover — and that it is imperative he do so…
“My hope is that the president, recognizing that we are at a kind of critical point in his administration, will take the bit in his teeth and will say, ‘We have got to solve these problems.'”
And Barack Obama’s legacy?
“For the first four years, and the time I spent there, I thought he was a strong leader on security issues… But these last two years I think he kind of lost his way. You know, it’s been a mixed message, a little ambivalence in trying to approach these issues and try to clarify what the role of this country is all about.
“He may have found himself again with regards to this ISIS crisis. I hope that’s the case.
“Kind of lost his way.” Uh huh. I suppose you could say that if you ever believed that he had “his way” in the first place. Nice of the ex-CIA director to feel that our President may have found his way by submerging our country into the “Thirty Year War.” Not to mention the self-delusion about thinking he is honest (“honest CIA Director” is an oxymoron if I ever did hear one).
Must be time to renew my passport (this thought keeps arising)…
The Obama regime is not serious about attacking and degrading the capacity of ISIS. This may be difficult for Americans to wrap their heads around, but it’s the truth.
ISIS is a tool, and it turns those who buy into the propaganda are tools as well.
Amanda Curtis is a tool when she believes John Walsh regarding the threat ISIS allegedly poses to Americans. Here, again, is the quote:
Curtis says she doesn’t think Obama needs congressional authorization to implement his plan. Some critics wonder why the President is planning military strikes when ISIS hasn’t directly attacked the United States. Curtis says Senator John Walsh – a veteran who led over 700 troops in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 – has convinced her that these radicals present a clear threat:
“…and that some of the folks who are working with ISIS have the ability to enter into the United States and have made repeated threats that they will continue to kill Americans. I really trust Senator Walsh’s judgment on this and I think he knows what he’s talking about.”
The “bare-knuckled” blogger Douglas Ernst is a tool when he slams Obama from the predictable conservative standpoint of not doing enough while simultaneously downplaying the Bush regime’s contribution: creating the conditions for ISIS by destroying Iraq in a war of occupation based on lies.
ISIS is a swiss army knife of terror. They can help balkanize Iraq in line with the Yinon Plan. They can keep Assad busy as the Obama regime continues gunning for regime change. For Turkey, they can check the Kurds. Here is a great post by Moon of Alabama blogger, b, about the US finally reacting to the ISIS attack on Kobane. Here’s an excerpt:
After days of doing nothing while the Islamic State fighters encroached on Kobane the U.S. finally started air strikes against IS positions. Reporters near the locations said that several IS tanks were hit.
I assume that it was becoming too awkward to keep up all the rhetoric about the “evil” of the Islamic State while the world media were standing on a hill in south Turkey looking over the border at Kobane, counting the IS tanks surrounding the city and reporting exactly zero U.S. or Turkish attacks on them.
One wonders how the Turkish president Erdogan will feel about these attacks now. He tried to use the Islamic State advance to blackmail first the Kurds in Kobane and then the United States.
His demands to the Kurdish leader of the YPG forces holding the city in exchange for some help were: 1) Cut ties with Assad 2) Join the Free Syrian Army and fight Assad 3) Accept a Turkish buffer zone in Syria on your grounds 4) Stop any striving for independence 5) Do not threaten Turkey. The Kurds rejected these conditions.
Towards the United States Erdogan demanded that the U.S. should set the priority on destroying the Syrian government if it wants any Turkish help in its fight against the Islamic State. It should also install a no-fly-zone over Syria acting, like in Libya, as the insurgent’s air force and it should support a Turkish buffer zone within Syria.
Especially after the recent spat between Erdogan and Biden I find it unlikely that Obama agreed to Erdogan’s and believe that the air attacks today were ordered against Turkey’s wishes.
ISIS is a tool, another brand of terror to scare Americans into supporting perpetual war while the weapons industry profits and the agendas of countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia are pushed forward.
But you don’t have to be tools, dear readers. The choice is yours!
Today the Missoula County Attorney’s office punted the Fox Club shooting case. Instead of bringing charges, or not bringing charges, prosecutors want a coroner’s inquest:
Missoula County prosecutors have declined to file charges in the shooting death of Christopher Hymel, the 23-year-old Louisiana man who was killed in the Fox Club Cabaret parking lot over a month ago.
Instead, Missoula Deputy County Attorney Jason Marks announced Monday that prosecutors are requesting a coroner’s inquest – the outcome of which will determine whether or not they will pursue charges against Michael Gordon, the man who admittedly shot Hymel in the early morning Sept. 1.
“The question is whether or not the shooting falls underneath the state’s definition of justifiable use of force and whether or not Mr. Gordon justifiably used deadly force,” he said.
Gordon claims he shot Hymel to protect himself from an assault, Marks said. Hymel was apparently unarmed during the altercation.
During the inquest, the facts of the case will be presented to a jury and Marks will interview witnesses and law enforcement officers, while Missoula County Sheriff Carl Ibsen presides. He said Ibsen and the jury will also be allowed to ask questions.
He said he couldn’t comment further on the case because it’s confidential criminal investigation information, but the details of the shooting will be revealed during the inquest.
Hymel and Gordon apparently began to argue while they were leaving the strip club around 1 a.m. Police claim the argument escalated when Hymel began punching Gordon through the driver’s-side window. Gordon pulled a revolver from his car and fired a single shot into Hymel’s chest. Hymel was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
After 5 weeks, this? At least the Missoulian is no longer keeping the name of the killer off the pages of its publication. Michael Gordon is the young man who admittedly shot and killed Christopher Hymel. That last paragraph in the quoted selection above is also interesting. It’s a much more vague accounting of events than this depiction in an earlier article from the Missoulian:
The shooter, described only as a 27-year local man, pulled a revolver from his truck and shot 23-year-old Christopher Michael Hymel, a Louisiana resident in town visiting his girlfriend’s family, once in the chest. Hymel was pronounced dead at a local hospital a short time later.
Witnesses said Hymel had stepped to the window of the man’s truck to discuss the vulgar comments the man had made toward two of Hymel’s female companions.
A fight ensued through the passenger window of the man’s truck. When Hymel stepped back to remove an article of clothing, witnesses told the Missoulian, the man allegedly stepped from his truck, shut his door, raised his revolver and shot Hymel in the chest.
So now our current Sheriff, Carl Ibsen, will preside over a messy sounding legal process where both jurors and the Sheriff can ask questions of witnesses while the prosecutor interviews witnesses. Remember, this is all happening after a 3 week investigation and a 2 week review of the evidence.
While killers like Michael Gordon and Markus Kaarma get to go about their lives, there are people sitting in jail for a wide variety of minor, petty offenses, like failing to appear on violations of city ordinances.
Fred Van Valkenburg can pull numbers out of thin air, like he did in the recent article about overcrowding in the county jail, which I wrote about here, but I don’t think anyone takes Fred seriously anymore.
The bigger problem is this: how can the Missoula County Attorney’s office restore public trust after years of scandal and dysfunction?
George Ochenski anticipates displeasure from the political operatives for stating that Montana’s congressional candidates don’t offer voters much of a difference when it comes to the issues of cataclysmic climate change and perpetual war.
Ochenski, though, isn’t trying to win a popularity contest. He writes a column and gets to call it how he sees it. A politician, like Joe Biden, is not suppose to do the same thing, which is why Joe had to go around apologizing for calling it like he sees it with regards to the origin story of ISIS:
Vice President Joe Biden apologized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday for saying the Turkish leader had conceded that his country mistakenly assisted foreign fighters, including extremists with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), seeking to depose the Syrian regime.
The White House says Biden spoke to Erdogan on Saturday “to clarify comments” the vice president made on Thursday during an question-and-answer session at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
So what did Biden say? The truth, and for a politician, that’s hardly ever a good thing. Here’s how a piece from the Daily Beast puts it:
Vice President Joe Biden is apologizing again for speaking the truth. After talking for an hour and a half at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy Forum last Thursday, he took a question from a student who asked a wise question: “In retrospect do you believe the United States should have acted earlier in Syria, and if not, why is now the right moment?”
Biden, predictably, said “the answer is ‘no’ for two reasons.” The first being the unreliability, incompetence and radicalism of the forces the United States would have been supporting on the ground. No real surprise there. But then he said what everyone in the region knows and The Daily Beast has reported extensively:
“My constant cry was that our biggest problem is our allies — our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria,” Biden told his listeners in remarks subsequently posted on the White House YouTube channel (go to 1:32:00 if you want to skip the earlier speech).
“The Turks were great friends,” he notes, adding that he recently spent considerable time with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and they have “a great relationship.” Ditto the Saudis and the Emiratis. But when it came to Syria and the effort to bring down President Bashar Assad there, those allies’ policies wound up helping to arm and build allies of al Qaeda and eventually the terrorist “Islamic State.”
“What were they doing?” Biden asked rhetorically. “They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad — except that the people who were being supplied were al Nusra and al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”
At Counterpunch today, Michael Whitney describes how America’s “Terrorist Academy” in Iraq Produced ISIS Leaders. Whitney goes into much more detail regarding how ISIS came to be. The quote I’ve selected isn’t from Whitney—it’s a quote he uses from an article at Alakhbar English:
“We have to ask why the majority of the leaders of the Islamic State (IS), formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), had all been incarcerated in the same prison at Camp Bucca, which was run by the US occupation forces near Omm Qasr in southeastern Iraq….. First of all, most IS leaders had passed through the former U.S. detention facility at Camp Bucca in Iraq. So who were the most prominent of these detainees?
The leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, tops the list. He was detained from 2004 until mid-2006. After he was released, he formed the Army of Sunnis, which later merged with the so-called Mujahideen Shura Council…
Another prominent IS leader today is Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, who was a former officer in the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein. This man also “graduated” from Camp Bucca, and currently serves as a member on IS’ military council.
Another member of the military council who was in Bucca is Adnan Ismail Najm. … He was detained on January 2005 in Bucca, and was also a former officer in Saddam’s army. He was the head of a shura council in IS, before he was killed by the Iraqi army near Mosul on June 4, 2014.
Camp Bucca was also home to Haji Samir, aka Haji Bakr, whose real name is Samir Abed Hamad al-Obeidi al-Dulaimi. He was a colonel in the army of the former Iraqi regime. He was detained in Bucca, and after his release, he joined al-Qaeda. He was the top man in ISIS in Syria…
According to the testimonies of US officers who worked in the prison, the administration of Camp Bucca had taken measures including the segregation of prisoners on the basis of their ideology. This, according to experts, made it possible to recruit people directly and indirectly.
Former detainees had said in documented television interviews that Bucca…was akin to an “al-Qaeda school,” where senior extremist gave lessons on explosives and suicide attacks to younger prisoners. A former prisoner named Adel Jassem Mohammed said that one of the extremists remained in the prison for two weeks only, but even so was able to recruit 25 out of 34 inmates who were there. Mohammed also said that U.S. military officials did nothing to stop the extremists from mentoring the other detainees…
No doubt, we will one day discover that many more leaders in the group had been detained in Bucca as well, which seems to have been more of a “terrorist academy” than a prison.”
The cost of fighting ISIS is estimated to be between 7-10 million dollars a day. Insane.
Conservatives, like this out-of-touch DC blogger, have jumped on the Panetta bandwagon, framing the ISIS problem as a result of the Obama regime’s failure to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement that would have kept boots on the ground in Iraq. It’s weird that people are so ideologically incapable of grasping how US foreign policy created the conditions for ISIS to thrive and how our “allies” directly support radical jihadists, even while they pay lip service to now fighting the Frankenstein they helped to create.
For voters in Montana it won’t make much difference who wins the election next month. The insanity of our foreign policy will continue while the looming catastrophe of climate change will take a back seat to coal and pipeline jobs.
Missoula is looking at the possibility of spending 12 million dollars to increase the holding capacity of our county jail.
Jason Kowalski, the Sheriff’s Captain who oversees the jail, and Fred Van Valkenburg, our worthless head of the Missoula County Attorney’s Office, have conflicting perceptions on the non-violent residents of the jail:
Sheriff’s Capt. Jason Kowalski explained that inmates with mental health and addiction issues are consistently placed in cells where they shouldn’t be housed, and maximum security is full all the time. He said one day in September, the jail was 15 women over the 45-bed limit.
“It’s stressing me out beyond belief,” Kowalski said.
In the past, Missoula County relied on other counties to house the overflow, but that’s not an option now. According to Kowalski and other jail officials, overcrowding conditions are the norm in every county in Montana, and at state facilities too. Montana’s jails are packed to the limit and simply too full to handle Missoula’s consistent overflow, they said.
But there’s also a question of nonviolent criminals getting jail time for minor crimes like a probation violation or driving on a suspended license. Kowalski said that’s a big problem, and both city and county courts are incarcerating petty criminals.
“Those cases are there where a transient has a $50 fine and can’t pay it,” Curtiss said.
Not so, said Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg.
“Ninety-eight percent of the people who are in jail are there because they need to be,” he said.
If people are going to jail for nonviolent, minor crimes, the city – not the county – is sending them there, he said.
While Jason is acknowledging the real scope of the problem, Fred the windbag is doing what he does best: avoiding any responsibility by pointing fingers. He is also acknowledging that 2% of the jail population doesn’t need to be there. I’m not sure where Fred gets his figures, but there are clearly people in jail who are there because they are poor, mentally ill, and/or addicts. And why are they there? Because of a failed approach of policing petty crimes called Broken Windows.
Broken Windows was first established in New York and received undue credit for a drop in crime rates. Broken Windows is also credited with creating the conditions possible for the gentrification of Times Square, and now Los Angeles wants a piece. In a Truth Out article titled Policing for Wealth, some familiar sounding aspirations are articulated by the business interests:
Downtown Los Angeles, once dilapidated and almost totally neglected by the city, has been gentrifying rapidly since the late 1990s, when the city passed an adaptive-reuse ordinance that encouraged developers to transform old buildings into lofts and boutique shops.
Developers are consciously following a precedent set by New York. “Right now, Downtown [Los Angeles] is like Brooklyn, but that’s going to change. This is going to be Manhattan,” said one prominent developer to GQ.
Leading the Manhattanization of Downtown is the area’s main business lobby, the Central City Association (CCA), which sees broken windows-style policing as an essential component of development – especially in “cleaning up” Skid Row, a gritty 50-square block area that is home to thousands of homeless people.
“Downtown’s continued revitalization requires consistent enforcement and prevention of low-level crimes that breed both negative perceptions and actual incidence of larger crimes,” reads a CCA manifesto called “Downtown 2020: Roadmap to LA’s Future.” It goes on to declare that the CCA will “lobby for . . . reinforcing the broken windows approach to policing.”
The Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) first full-scale implementation of broken windows policing happened in 2006, when Bill Bratton was serving as its police chief. That year, the CCA, in concert with another business lobby in the downtown area, the Central City East Association, successfully lobbied City Hall to send a 50-officer task force into Skid Row. According to reports, most apprehended under the campaign were taken in on drug charges and minor offenses like sitting on the sidewalk. The vast majority arrested were homeless people, many of whom suffered from drug addiction and mental illness.
While a subsequent lawsuit countered the overt police aggression, broken windows continued to guide the LAPD under Bratton until he left in 2009. The strategy’s ghost lives on under the reign of Bratton’s successor, current LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck.
Sound familiar Missoula?
So instead of funding treatment options, or looking at actual humane, cost-saving approaches, like housing first, some people want a bigger jail to absorb the costly consequences of broken windows policing. I say costly because the nightly rate to detain an individual is around $110 dollars.
So as some businesses downtown sell single cans of malt liquor to homeless people, then complain about public intoxication and aggressive panhandling, the cost of trying to insulate downtown from societal failures to address mental illness and addiction will continue ballooning.
Who is going to pay for all this?
Two years ago I had a friend who was facing felony charges for aggravated assault. The incident happened on a Tuesday and the Missoulian had no problem turning his case into a story TWO DAYS LATER, on a Thursday. The article was based on the “charging documents” and included his name. The case fell apart, but you never hear about that in our local paper of record.
If you are poor and unable to afford good legal representation, you are at the mercy of prosecutorial intimidation. From listening to my friend’s experience, I got a little peek into how the system can steam roll over economically disempowered individuals. It was disturbing.
The abuse of prosecutorial discretion got major attention nearly two years ago when Aaron Swartz committed suicide. The post-mortem did not cast the Justice Department’s despicable foot soldier, Carmen Ortiz, in a very favorable light. Here’s a bit of context from a NYT opinion piece:
At the funeral for 26-year-old tech prodigy Aaron Swartz, who hanged himself last Friday, his grief-stricken father said that “Aaron did not commit suicide—he was killed by the government.” Legal bloggers have been debating a less literal version of that accusation: Did Mr. Swartz’s prosecutors go too far? Did their zeal border on bullying?
A programmer who helped create RSS, Mr. Swartz was also a charismatic leader in the movement to make information free online. His dedication to that movement led him to try to “liberate” the database of more than 1,000 academic journals gathered by JSTOR and sold to universities, libraries and publishers. Over the course of a month or two in 2010 and 2011, he downloaded 4.8 million articles. He was arrested before he could carry out his plan. He turned over his hard drives and JSTOR chose not to sue him.
But the Justice Department, through United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz in Boston, charged him with computer fraud, wire fraud and several of other crimes. Announcing his indictment in 2011, the U.S. attorney’s office said, “If convicted on these charges, Swartz faces up to 35 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and a fine of up to $1 million.”
As Emily Bazelon wrote in Slate, “the causes of suicide are almost always complex, and Swartz suffered from depression.” On Wednesday, Ms. Ortiz released a statement extending her sympathy to “everyone who knew and loved” Mr. Swartz. She also defended herself by emphasizing that she had planned to recommend a sentence of six months at a low-security prison in exchange for his guilty plea.
With my friend, it was just some poor guy to be bullied into a plea agreement—an easy mark to add to the win column of an aspiring attorney. For Aaron Swartz, it was a higher profile legal war of choice to add to the win column of an aspiring attorney.
I’m juxtaposing these two examples of prosecutorial discretion (and media attention) because Christopher Hymel was shot and killed on September 1st. The young man who killed him still has yet to be named. The Missoula County Attorney’s Office has been examining the evidence for over a week.
CNN poses a question: after the first Ebola diagnosis in the United States, should we worry?
An additional question for Missoulians could be added, considering St. Pats in Missoula is one of four places in the United States set up to handle a patient sickened by the Ebola virus:
There are four places in the United States set up to handle a patient sickened by the Ebola virus, and Missoula is one of those.
It has been since 2007, in fact.
St. Patrick Hospital administrators have no notice about when or if they will be asked to care for someone stricken with the disease that’s killed more than 3,000 people in Africa in 2014. But the hospital has a special wing of its intensive care unit with three rooms modified to safely handle infectious diseases like Ebola.
“We may never get a patient, but we may someday,” said Carol Bensen, St. Patrick’s senior director for critical care. “We want to help alleviate the rumor mill by making people aware of what we offer. We deal with tuberculosis patients fairly often and nobody expects a press release. We care for lots of different diseases here.”
The potential for panic in America is high, mostly because we are constantly fed fear-based reporting by our corporate media. Fear of ISIS is one explicit example of how our fears are manipulated and exploited.
Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from heart disease and diabetes, a direct result of the crap food peddled to us by the corporate food-industrial complex, but fear over those medical conditions aren’t stoked because there is money to be made.
I’m not afraid of Ebola. I’m afraid of how Ebola will be used. I’m also a bit worried by the fact Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years:
The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found.
“If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science. “But that is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.” He said nature, which provides food and clean water and air, was essential for human wellbeing.
“We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF. He said more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation, while food and energy had to be produced sustainably.
Nope, not going to worry about that, right America? Instead the concern isn’t what we are doing to the planet, it’s about the Agenda 21 Communist plot lurking behind the measures necessary to keep our species from joining the ranks of the Dodo bird.
Tonight Rachel Maddow strung together three breaches of White House security that bring up some interesting points. Click the link below to watch, as it will be discussed in this post.
It really does boggle the mind that a guy previously flagged for having a mini arsenal and map with the White House circled, and who was later stopped and questioned in proximity to the White House carrying a hatchet, was able to jump the fence and penetrate the White House to nearly the Green Room. Maddow makes a point of showing where a staircase to the second floor private quarters of the President was bypassed by this poor bastard wrecked by war.
The second incident happened in 2011, when another lone wolf fired off some shots at the White House from Constitution Avenue. According to Maddow’s reporting, despite Secret Service personnel on the ground reporting shots fired, the incident was played down. When White House staff, probably the cleaning crew, found debris, the shots were finally “discovered” and connected to the guy who crashed his car and left the gun after firing at the White House.
And third, the least threatening breach of security: crashgate.
Now, a Congress that couldn’t be bothered over a new war in Syria, is coming back to take a forced trip down the Secret Service’s memory lane of fuck-ups:
The hearing is set to focus on a series of security embarrassments over the last several years, including a breach that occurred when a couple crashed a state dinner in 2009, a 2011 incident when bullets struck the White House, scandals involving drinking and prostitution on overseas trips in 2012 and 2013, and 16 separate cases of people scaling the White House fence in the last five years. Ms. Pierson became director in 2013.
According to a law enforcement official briefed on the current investigation, uniformed Secret Service officers at the White House failed to follow several of the agency’s protocols. Although the protocols call for an officer to be standing outside the North Portico door, there was no officer there as Mr. Gonzalez made his way up the steps. The officer who was stationed inside the door failed to lock it after an alarm was sounded that someone had jumped over the fence, the official said.
For those who assumed America was the bestest most exceptional most President-secure nation in the world, it’s time to recalibrate your expectations.
The hearing should be entertaining. Until reading the NYT article, I had totally forgotten about the hookers.
“… In time democracy can be delivered to
the Ukrainian people.” — Joe Biden to the Atlantic Council
Like father, like son!
Earlier today I read this statement spoken last April by V.P Joe Biden to the Atlantic Council (shortly before his son was appointed to the Board of Burisma, Ukraine’s largest private gas company). It’s just been gnawing at me all day, so I thought I’d ruminate on it a bit — that and I’m pretty sick today, and have a good fever, so the delirium should prove humorous for some of you.
The first problem here is with the notion of “in time.” What the heck does that mean? That we’re going to keep pursuing our goals in and around Ukraine until they are met? I guess the Russian Aggression Prevention Act is all over that notion, basically granting Ukraine the same non-NATO ally status as Israel — meaning that an act of aggression against one of our listed allies is an act of aggression against us — and bombs away! Heck, even Henry Kissinger in his whirlwind book tour interviews thinks we need to not be so bombastic and offer Russia an easy out.
Back to “time.” Today, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem was quoted as saying that the U.S. told the Syrian government that we would bomb ISIS/ISIL for three years. Three years! Is that all the time it takes to deliver democracy (I guess, if it’s not really a “war” with no Congressional authorization it’s ok and will happen sooner)? Let’s see, we’ve been in Afghanistan for 13 years. How’s that democracy thing working out there (hey, nobody said democracy was cheap!)?
Says Babushka to Obamashka:
“I will make you pancakes my child,
just don’t make war on people.”
Must be some new-fangled form of Russian propaganda, no?
I have discussed issues of class and privilege in numerous posts here, using my own experiences as a privileged white male to describe how privilege like mine is best summed up by things that didn’t happen to me growing up.
By virtue of marriage my privilege increased. Sell off a parcel of inherited property, pay off student loans and a mortgage. We are essentially debt free and able to provide easily for our kids. My big weak spot is Legos. I have to work at exercising restraint when it comes to buying Lego sets because I don’t want my kids to be spoiled brats riding their daddy’s Lego addiction.
I have discussed Legos in a few posts here, so I feel obligated to provide a link to this very well done and depressing fake LEGO ad showing the Arctic drowning in an oil spill. The fake ad is part of a campaign to get the Lego corporation to drop it’s partnership with Shell oil.
My Lego weakness is a big plastic target for attack. My ability to afford Legos, same. Why? Because I criticize crony-capitalism and it’s resulting environmental degradation while spending hours assembling Lego worlds with my kids in a room dedicated just for Legos.
So why am I writing about toys and my privileged economic status?
The investigation into the Fox Club shooting is what has me again thinking about privilege again. The three week investigation has now been turned over to the county attorney’s office. They are still not releasing the name of the shooter, but the shooter’s identity is known to many who are following this case. The shooter’s daddy is also known, and daddy owns a big construction company here in Missoula.
What’s emerging reminds me of the affluenza case the 24 hour news cycle consumed back in February. Here’s a quick summation of that case:
A judge on Wednesday ordered that Ethan Couch — who drove drunk and caused a crash, killing four people and injuring two — go to a lock-down residential treatment facility.
State District Judge Jean Boyd had already decided the Texas teenager would serve no jail time. He was sentenced last year to 10 years’ probation.
His story made national headlines after a witness claimed Couch was a victim of “affluenza” — the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for the boy.
Do we have something similar here? Is the shooter a spoiled bully who has been insulated from the consequences of his actions because daddy bails him out of trouble? And because daddy has deep pockets, is that why this investigation is taking so long? Are detectives, and now the county attorney’s office, being extra careful because they know they will be going against the best representation money can buy?
The county attorney’s office got all the materials related to the investigation on Tuesday, but there is no timeline for when charges may be brought against this punk.
The Missoulian, in its reporting of this shooting, is now aligned with witness accounts:
The shooter, described only as a 27-year local man, pulled a revolver from his truck and shot 23-year-old Christopher Michael Hymel, a Louisiana resident in town visiting his girlfriend’s family, once in the chest. Hymel was pronounced dead at a local hospital a short time later.
Witnesses said Hymel had stepped to the window of the man’s truck to discuss the vulgar comments the man had made toward two of Hymel’s female companions.
A fight ensued through the passenger window of the man’s truck. When Hymel stepped back to remove an article of clothing, witnesses told the Missoulian, the man allegedly stepped from his truck, shut his door, raised his revolver and shot Hymel in the chest.
The Missoulian initially reported the shooter was inside the truck when the fatal shot was fired, but that inaccurate account has been scrubbed and replaced. The truth is slowly coming out.
Now, our community will get to see what the privilege of money and influence can buy.
Back in March, I wrote about the return of the debtor’s prison, and in that post I linked to a Nation article about The Town That Turned Poverty Into a Prison Sentence. If you didn’t read the article at the time, please do so now. It’s a stark contrast to this fatal shooting incident where the shooter has had the privilege of not being taken to jail, not being charged for an obvious crime three weeks after the incident, and has not even been named by the media.
I don’t think issues of privilege and class are discussed enough, especially by those who benefit from privilege. When it is brought up, it’s often to undercut some silly righteous stand one may take against little problems, like destroying the planet’s ability to sustain human life.
In the comments of this post, Mark agreed with a sign that read, in part:
CAPITALISM IS KILLING THE PLANET.
FIGHT FOR A SOCIALIST FUTURE!
In response, one of 4&20’s more adept trolls had this to say:
Huh? You have made your life from profiting from capitalism, you are hooked on capitalistic products such as your I devices, live in a home built by capitalism, and consume food produced/sold by capitalistic businesses such as Whole Foods. So, just how are you fighting for a socialist future when you are quite comfortable living out your days from the fruits of capitalism?
That comment should also be directed at those socialist heirs of Rockefeller who have joined the fossil fuel divestment movement. Cynical renewable energy market opportunity or genuine self-interest-driven worry that overwhelming scientific consensus may be right, and the oil party is over? I’m not sure that matters much if the move is in the right direction.
I initially wrote that second to last sentence to read their oil party, then changed it to the because—to bring it back to beginning of this post—Legos, and the high probability I won’t be abstaining from buying them at Target. Or from Ebay. Or if anyone wants to meet me in the parking lot of Target, I’m willing to pay $100 dollars a pound.
What I plan on doing with those Legos is play, with my kids, making our own stuff and developing non-binary story lines where Galaxy Squad aren’t always the good guys and the Insects are sometimes hostile, but that’s mostly because Galaxy Squad acts arrogantly and for some odd reason feels entitled to taking what doesn’t actually belong to them.
In conclusion, I offer this picture of…a Lego holder for my iPhone.
Well, it was just a matter of time till President Obama revealed his all-encompassing foreign policy statement. Yesterday, speechifying in front of the U.N. General Assembly, Obama made it perfectly clear what his foreign policy consists of:
“We believe that right makes might…”
Uh, um, ok. I think that historians will have a hey-day with that one. And wedged somewhere in-between ebola and ISIL, he manages to paint Russia even further into a corner:
“We will impose a cost on Russia for aggression, and counter falsehoods with the truth. We call upon others to join us on the right side of history…
This speaks to a central question of our global age: whether we will solve our problems together, in a spirit of mutual interests and mutual respect, or whether we descend into destructive rivalries of the past.”
Unfortunately, Obama has lost Putin’s ear. Once upon a time, those of us who grew up in the Cold War 1.0 found cold comfort of the images of the two presidents of the two superpowers chock full of nuclear weapons carrying around brief cases (we called ours “the football”). Our existential anxiety was ameliorated by the new-fangled communication systems, and photos of the red phone at the desk of each president so they could always be in constant contact with each other (except when Yeltsin was too drunk, or Reagan too senile, or Clinton too… “preoccupied”), and ward off any mistaken notions of aggression that could trigger pushing the fatal fateful button.
But in today’s neocon-fueled foreign policy, we have an administration that relies on subversion, propaganda, strong arm tactics and innuendo to convey a sideways message to our counterpart in eurasia. MAD (mutually assured destruction) foreign policy was based on the notion that there were two rational actors on the world stage, and that given the choice between blowing the world up in a flurry of nuclear strikes or talking, the two actors would talk.
Well, those days are long gone, and while both superpowers have embarked each on a trillion dollar fools errand to “modernize” their nuclear weapons systems, it seems that the comforting visage of MAD has gone south, and rational actors have left the scene. It seems that when Obama calls Putin that he is getting shuffled off on voice mail, only to discover that the mailbox is full, as Andy Borowitz reports:
“In what he called “a provocative and defiant act,” President Obama charged on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has started letting his calls go directly to voice mail.”
Sometimes humor is a cruel revealer of what may have come to pass between the world’s superpowers. No longer do we hear of any efforts of diplomacy between Obama and Putin. It is all saber rattling on our side, and disbelief in what an empire in chaos and decline is doing to the “New World Order.” Here’s Henry Kissinger:
“Libya is in civil war, fundamentalist armies are building a self-declared caliphate across Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan’s young democracy is on the verge of paralysis. To these troubles are added a resurgence of tensions with Russia and a relationship with China divided between pledges of cooperation and public recrimination. The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis…
But vast regions of the world have never shared and only acquiesced in the Western concept of order. These reservations are now becoming explicit, for example, in the Ukraine crisis and the South China Sea. The order established and proclaimed by the West stands at a turning point.”
I guess when the New World Order starts eroding, and Henry Kissinger becomes worried, and President Obama amplifies the Bush Doctrine, then, what is there left to do… besides renew my passport? Duck & Cover?
Yesterday Counterpunch featured a piece by Jonathan Cook detailing the disturbing reach of Israel’s STASI into the lives of Palestinians. We get this peek into the dark underbelly of Israel’s oppression because 43 individuals signed off on a letter describing their moral objections to what they are told to do in their elite unit, Unit 8200:
According to the refuseniks, much Israeli intelligence gathering targets “innocent people”. The information is used “for political persecution”, “recruiting collaborators” and “driving parts of Palestinian society against itself”.
The surveillance powers of 8200 extend far beyond security measures. They seek out the private weaknesses of Palestinians – their sex lives, monetary troubles and illnesses – to force them into conspiring in their own oppression.
“If you required urgent medical care in Israel, the West Bank or abroad, we looked for you,” admits one.
An illustration of the desperate choices facing Palestinians was voiced by a mother of seven in Gaza last week. She told AP news agency that she and her husband were recruited as spies in return for medical treament in Israel for one of their children. Her husband was killed by Hamas as a collaborator in 2012.
The goal of intelligence gathering, the refuseniks point out, is to control every aspect of Palestinian life, from cradle to grave. Surveillance helps confine millions of Palestinians to their territorial ghettoes, ensures their total dependence on Israel, and even forces some to serve as undercover go-betweens for Israel, buying land to help the settlements expand. Palestinians who resist risk jail or execution.
Anyone who thinks what is occurring in Israel’s petri-dish of oppression won’t eventually be applied with the same vigor here in the states is in denial.
America is back, bombing Iraq, and now Syria. America is bombing ISIS, and also a quick add-on, the Khorasan Group. C’mon, America, just dust off the nukes, you know, those nukes Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, wants to spend billions of our tax dollars to modernize.
Last week Congress voted to arm the exhaustively vetted moderate Syrian rebels, then skipped out of town to hit the campaign trail, because that’s really all these pathetic creatures can manage to do. From July to November, Congress put in a vigorous 8 days. From the link:
One vote on war and Congress is apparently all tuckered out.
House leaders announced Thursday that they were cutting their already abbreviated fall session short and sending lawmakers back home – and onto the campaign trail – more than a week early.
The decision came one day after the House approved both President Obama’s request to arm Syrian rebels and a bill that prevents a government shutdown at the end of the month. The House had initially been scheduled to remain in Washington on Friday and during the first week of October, but Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told members they could leave on Thursday afternoon and wouldn’t be called back until after the November congressional elections.
The Senate is expected to pass both measures on Thursday and leave for the campaign trail by the evening.
Party leaders often shorten the floor schedule ahead of elections to give their members more time to campaign, but this year’s session is brief even under those standards. Including the five-week summer recess, Congress will have been in session for a total of about eight days between the end of July and the middle of November.
I mean, Jesus, how can we put up with this shit?
On Sunday, there were also some nice people who would like to avoid societal suicide, and they came out for a march—400,000 of them. Despite the fact it was mainly a toothless PR stunt, it was still impressive to see the Sunday tv network circle-jerk sessions blackball the event:
The People’s Climate March on Sunday was perhaps the largest climate change protest in history. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of New York City. Celebrities and high-profile politicians were among the marchers. The protest was a huge topic on social media.
All in all, it was a perfect opportunity for some of America’s biggest news organizations to cover the topic of climate change, something that usually gets either ignored or badly handled. For Sunday talk show hosts, there was even a nice political hook, since the march was pegged to a UN summit that President Obama will be attending.
Well, so much for that idea. It seems climate change remains one potentially world-shattering issue that just can’t get any respect on television. No Sunday morning show except MSNBC’s “Up” so much as mentioned climate change, or the march, save for one stray reference on “This Week” by The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel. She pointed out that the march was actually gathering right outside the ABC studios in Lincoln Center where the show is taped.
Congress doing nothing is not new, neither is corporate tv news giving the cold shoulder to climate change as the world burns and floods and storms.
Sad. It didn’t have to be this way.
I think reclaiming Missoula’s water system through condemnation proceedings is one of the more critical issues facing our fair town. I am in full support of Engen’s efforts to rectify a botched deal with that devious financial entity—the Carlyle Group—an entity no one should have trusted in the first place.
Shoulda/woulda/coulda won’t get us anywhere. Jason Wiener, for his vote of support for the initial deal, has apologized, which is never easy for a public official to do. Now, with the recent news Carlyle is doing what they previously argued they couldn’t/wouldn’t do—sell Mountain Water Co.—city officials have to navigate two fronts: the legal battle and the PR battle.
The noise on this issue seems squarely focused on Engen and the tyrannical municipality he presides over, not Carlyle’s deceitful behavior.
Carlyle, if readers haven’t noticed, appears to be simply fucking with Missoula. They possess such deep pockets they can probably bleed the legal process to send at least 2 1/2 kids through college for every lawyer involved.
Engen probably won’t survive this, politically speaking. Couple the untold cost of litigation with that story floating around about the Mayor getting a pay raise when he said he wouldn’t and it’s hard to see any larger political future on Engen’s horizon.
All that said, Missoula needs to own our water system. I don’t think I’m overstating the importance of this issue when I say our future depends on it.
As a newbie gun owner, it’s my responsibility to learn how to safely handle my firearm. It’s also my responsibility to learn about the laws regarding the use of lethal force.
But I’m confused.
Let’s say I’m a young man sitting in my vehicle outside the Fox’s Club. Maybe I’m the kind of sleazy piece of shit who likes to catcall women for fun, so that’s what I do. Let’s further say a young man accompanying the women I’m harassing takes exception to my obnoxious behavior and approaches my vehicle. An altercation ensues, so I shoot the young man with my handgun and he dies. When the police arrive, I cooperate with authorities.
That’s the gist of what allegedly happened earlier this month between two men. Christopher Hymel, the young man who responded to the alleged harassment, is dead. Nearly three weeks after this incident, the shooter has yet to be officially identified. I did see comments online identifying the shooter, but I think those comments have since been taken down. So far, no charges have been filed.
Here is one comment describing how this shooting went down:
From witness accounts, Chris Hymel was defending women in the parking lot who were being bullied and harassed by the shooter while he sat in his truck, when he told the shooter to respect women, the shooter physically and verbally attacked Chris, blows were exchanged for a few seconds while the shooter was in the truck, this was not one sided by any means. Chris then stepped away from shooter’s vehicle, waited for shooter to exit the vehicle, shooter/killer came out of his vehicle, aimed a gun at Chris who had his arms out to his sides, while witnesses begged shooter not to shoot, of course shooter (being the self-centered coward that he is) shot and killed Chris Hymel. This was not self-defense by shooter it was clear cut murder. Witnesses have identified the shooter, who has previous arrests for crimes against a woman. It is also believed that shooter is an athlete and a big game hunter. He was not in fear for his life, he was looking for trouble and he caused the entire situation. Law enforcement needs to do their job no matter who shooter knows or is related to. I am pro-guns all the way, but guns need to be used by mature, sane, responsible people not criminals who harass women and shoot people for fun.
What was shooter doing in the truck sitting alone, with a gun, at strip club at 1:00 a.m. sounds creepy huh???
Who is the shooter? Why have there been no charges brought against this creep who allegedly instigated this confrontation? Can I keep a loaded handgun in my car ready to go if there is trouble? If I get into an altercation, am I allowed to get out of my car and kill the person? What the fuck is going on here?
And how long does it take to interview witness and review any security camera footage that may exist?
I’m confused. Maybe readers can enlighten me in the comment thread.