This week’s poem is from a collection by Mary Oliver titled Twelve Moons (Little, Brown and Company, 1972). It’s her fourth collection; a tight package of poems. So with that, here’s this week’s selection.
ENTERING THE KINGDOM
The crows see me.
They stretch their glossy necks
In the tallest branches
Of green trees. I am
Possibly dangerous, I am
Entering the kingdom.
The dream of my life
Is to lie down by a slow river
And stare at the light in the trees—
To learn something by being nothing
A little while but the rich
Lens of attention.
But the crows puff their feathers and cry
Between me and the sun,
And I should go now.
They know me for what I am.
No eater of leaves.
If you violate a city ordinance, district judge Ed McLean is making sure you won’t see any jail time:
A District Court judge has ordered Missoula’s Municipal Court judges not to send defendants to the county jail for violations of city ordinances.
In his written order, District Judge Ed McLean said only those defendants accused of breaking state laws should be in the Missoula County Detention Facility, which has been at capacity for 18 months.
“A municipal judge may not send someone to the Missoula County Detention Facility for violation of a municipal ordinance,” McLean wrote. “If the judge sends someone to the Missoula County Detention Facility for violation of a state statute, then the judge must cite the statute under which the person is being detained.”
I don’t know what’s going on between the County jail and the City Municipal Court, but I would suspect there are multiple factors at play. One of those factors is the still relatively new head judge, Kathleen Jenks.
Last October, I wrote about how Jenks is not supportive at all of treatment court options for repeat offenders who have co-occurring mental health and addiction problems. Then, a few weeks later, I wrote this post about the problems at the jail.
Well, it’s no surprise things appear to be getting worse, and in this week’s Independent, yet another factor is discussed: Counsel Cuts. Here is an excerpt from the article explaining how forced furloughs can keep people languishing longer in jail:
One of the immediate effects of budget cuts is furloughs. Since mid-April, Rhodes and every other employee of the FDOM have been forbidden to work the second Friday of each two-week pay period. It may not seem like a lot, but Rhodes says given his already hectic work schedule—he represents as many as 35 clients charged with felonies at any given time—one less day in the office is significant.
“When you’re prohibited from working one out of 10 business days, it interferes undoubtedly with the flow of work,” he says. “I’ve already had an instance where I had to reschedule a motion to suppress because the hearing was set for a furlough day.”
He says in another instance, he was forced to ask a judge to push back a sentencing hearing that was scheduled for a Friday he was not allowed to work. That client, he says, will be forced to remain in the county jail until the scheduling issues can be resolved.
It’s a bad situation, and it’s getting worse. Of course, if you’re someone who racks up multiple violations of city ordinances, and you don’t care about mounting fines, then the news today is probably good.
Missoula In Motion wants us to see commuting differently, and May 12-25 is their commuter challenge.
I bike to work all year round, which is just one of the many reasons I love living in this town. I enthusiastically support building transportation infrastructure that includes consideration for pedaling, foot traffic, and accessibility for those with disabilities.
That said, the behavior of some cyclists in this town better change, because there are entirely too many clueless, entitled dicks pedaling around with complete disregard for anyone around them.
After a long, demanding day of work the last thing I want to encounter as I’m biking across a car-packed Orange Street bridge is some moronic hippie with dreads biking at me, against traffic. And yes, dude, I did call you a fucking idiot as you squeezed me into traffic because you can’t figure out which side of the road to bike on.
I think alternative transportation advocates need to get ahead of the inevitable backlash that’s building by doing some proactive education before someone like Dave Strohmaier gets out his ordinance pen and crafts something unnecessary like his social host law.
It’s too bad more people don’t possess this thing called common sense. If you’re biking on a sidewalk, for example, you should realize that sidewalks are intended for pedestrians—they are NOT roads, so don’t bike like you’re on one. There are times I bike on sidewalks, but I do so slowly, and it’s usually because I’m towing my kids behind me.
A little consideration goes a long way. And when consideration is lacking, I guess we’ll have those quality of life officers doing whatever they can to address the simmering discontent.
Scandal, scandal, scandal. How to respond? For Democrats, there are at least a few handy-dandy talking points from Media Matters Action Network regarding the AP thing.
Meanwhile, Monsanto scores big at the Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman infringed Monsanto’s patent for genetically modified soybeans when he bought some of those seeds from a local grain elevator and used them for a second, late-season crop.
In a lawsuit, Monsanto argued that Bowman, a man in his 70s who has farmed the same land for most of the past four decades, violated the contract he signed when he initially bought the seeds in the spring. The contract stated that none of the harvest from the first batch of seeds, known as Roundup Ready because they are resistant to the weed-killing chemical of the same name, could be saved for replanting.
The CIA turfing with State and the DOJ spying on AP and IRS going after conservative 501(c)(4)s, so much fun fodder for the pundits.
And as those scandals feed headlines, corporate ownership of our food supply is strengthened.
Speaking of ownership, and closer to home, Ochenski’s column yesterday is a must read: Pirates raiding the Treasure State.
Big money can be persistent. But where are the Big Rigs?
Any artistic medium—poetry, film, music, etc.—derives its meaning from the subjective experiences of its audience. There is no static, fixed meaning when it comes to interpreting artistic expression.
Film is a very interesting medium. In its crudest, commodified form, Hollywood produces entertainment known as movies to make as much money as possible. People don’t spend their hard-earned money to be lectured about the ills of US imperialism, for example (well, some do). They want to see good guys whoop bad guys. It’s a pretty simple formula.
Who the bad guys are, though, can be a touchy issue. I haven’t seen Iron Man 3, but after reading this post by conservative blogger Douglas Ernst, it’s clearly a movie I should see:
The good news about Iron Man 3 is that it’s a sharply written, well-directed movie. The bad news is that while some of the messages it conveys to the audience hold incredible truth (e.g., “we create our own demons”), it might just be the conspiracy-theorist must-see blockbuster of the summer.
Do you have any friends who think 9/11 was “an inside job”? Iron Man 3 is the movie for them. (You might want to consider getting new friends if that’s the case, but in the mean time you could still enjoy a solid movie.) Do you have any friends who refer to the “military industrial complex” at parties so they sound smarter than they really are? Iron Man 3 is the movie for them. Do you have friends who hate “Big Oil” and “fat cats”? Iron Man 3 is the movie for them. Director Shane Black ingeniously — or perhaps devilishly? — devised a film that is drenched in anti-Americanism in a way that will leave many Americans exiting the theater not even knowing they’re all wet. At the showing I went to in Tyson’s Corner, Va., many people even burst out clapping twice during the film. On many levels, Mr. Black deserves kudos. That’s not easy to do.
Hollywood is one of Ernst’s favorite targets, because in Hollywood, America-hating liberals enrich themselves with their unfair depictions of the consequences of misusing American power, and people love the products they produce.
Last night I watched a “buddy cop” movie starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Lethal Weapon came out in 1987, and was number 1 at the box office for 3 weeks, ensuring several sequels.
I didn’t see the movie when it first came out, because I was only 9, but I did eventually see it. What surprised me when I saw it for the first time in well over a decade was Gibson’s character, Riggs, telling his buddy partner (played by Glover) how he was a part of Air America and the Phoenix Program, actual CIA projects operating in Vietnam.
Filtering this stuff through film is brilliant. It gets it out there in a form that can be totally controlled and—because it’s just a movie—delegitimized. Instead of grappling with the realities of what this country did in Southeast Asia, we can be entertained by a 90 minute cinematic depiction that propels a fictionalized character into the vengeful role of lethal good guy righteously killing the bad guys.
I wonder if blogging was around in 1987, if comments like this would be aimed at Lethal Weapon:
The liberals got a hold of this movie! Wouldn’t you know the true bad guy was an American and American military soldiers while the poor Muslims were innocent and we are the bad people. Plus, the symbolism of him blowing up his suits and his girlfriend not wanting to help out the military was all anti-military, anti-guns, anti-Americans. I just felt like Obama was the director of this movie and im very disappointed. At the end what is he trying to say that iron man is done he’s now some great liberal who doesn’t need a suit? JUST HORRIBLE!
Many Americans desperately need their culture to maintain the evil of the other and the noble righteousness of America. When that doesn’t happen, they get upset.
My advice to the commenter above is to watch Zero Dark Thirty to alleviate the trauma experienced by watching Iron Man 3.
My advice to everyone else: they aren’t “just movies” so pay attention to what the wizards in Hollywood are conjuring.
It ended up the do-nothing U.S. House of Representatives passed three kumbaya bills and two not-jobs-creation bills last week. One of those not-jobs-creation bills is the Full Faith and Credit Act that we wrote briefly about the other day – HR807. This bill actually hurts employment by telling the Treasury what order in which to pay bills.
HR807 passed with only Republican votes – while 8 Republicans joined with Dems in NAY to passage. Which tells you what kind of bill this is.
Where was Montana Rep. Steve Daines? He voted yes.
The second non-kumbaya bill and the other real
work damage the GOP-led House did last week was the Working Families Flexibility Act – HR1406.
That name sure sounds nice, doesn’t it
The Working Families Flexibility Act repeals a portion of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 – the portion that requires employers of hourly wage earners to pay time-and-a-half for work hours over 40. Instead of pay, an employer (e.g., not the employee) can opt to pay out those overtime hours as “comp time” – a bank of hours, like vacation or sick time.
And guess what? The employer doesn’t have to pay it out to you when you and your employer part ways. Not only that – imagine the impacts to an employee (i.e., a father or a mother) who turns down overtime?
Where was Montana Rep. Steve Daines on this bill that both destroys job creation and exposes hourly wage earning families to risky and unfair labor practices? Rep. Daines voted yes.
75 years of standing labor law – built on events that brought about its need – and Daines votes to do away with overtime pay.
Now – this bill ties in nicely with the GOP’s never ending quest to damage and roadblock the Affordable Care Act. If employers can’t cut employees back enough to avoid having to provide healthcare, at least then they could force everyone to work 50 hour work weeks, with compensation that only increases what might be nonexistent sick and vacation leave! See how fascism works?
And before you think they’ve given up on this quest to gut-punch the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Michele Bachmann’s bill to repeal said bill – HR45 is schedule for the floor this week.
Used to be “jobs jobs jobs” we heard from the GOP, but that has been quite a while. It’s one thing to myopically focus on other issues (like Benghazigate?) but it’s an entirely different thing when you start taking pot shots at jobs and American hourly wage earners, both already spread thin.
Pay attention here, Montana. Steve Daines is going to be running for something in 2014. Don’t let these votes fade from memory.
Tom Robbins is a brilliant writer. In 2000, his book Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates explores contradiction through a lovable CIA agent, Switters, who gets cursed by a shaman named “Today is Tomorrow”.
One of the aspects of the book is the depiction of a struggle within the CIA between “Angels” and “Cowboys”. Though I read this book years ago, that concept has always stuck with me. I don’t think it’s outlandish to assume struggles happen in big, powerful government agencies.
We can enjoy Robbins’ work as fiction, but for us to know with any accuracy the actual struggles within the CIA is doubtful.
Take Benghazi. Last November Paula Broadwell mentioned the CIA was holding Libyan militia prisoners at the “consulate” site.
Since then, that angle—denied vociferously by the CIA (like their word means anything)—has completely dropped from what has become a purely Republican sledge-hammer to inflict as much damage on Hillary Clinton as possible.
Because Benghazi is a Republican sledge-hammer, there is no Democrat interest in what happened—only partisan ridicule. There is no significant inquiry into what the CIA was actually doing in Benghazi, like whether or not the CIA was overseeing arms heading to Syria.
The Republican/Democrat binary is becoming more and more problematic. I prefer thinking in terms of the Angel/Cowboy binary Robbins uses.
There is more going on behind the scenes than we’ll ever know, but every once in awhile alarming things surface. Back in August of 2007, this happened:
Six AGM-129 ACM cruise missiles, each loaded with a W80-1 variable yield nuclear warhead, were mistakenly loaded on a United States Air Force (USAF) B-52H heavy bomber at Minot and transported to Barksdale.
The wikipedia page for this little known event is titled United States Air Force nuclear weapons incident. You would think the media would be all over something like this, even in the dog days of summer, but this story virtually disappeared in days. Instead it became a topic of interest in fringe land where incidents go to be forever discredited and devalued.
Six years later we have another story relating to our arsenal of nuclear weapons that should be getting much more attention than it has so far.
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel demanded more information Wednesday after the Air Force removed 17 launch officers from duty at a nuclear missile base in North Dakota over what a commander called “rot” in the force. The Air Force struggled to explain, acknowledging concern about an “attitude problem” but telling Congress the weapons were secure.
Hagel reacted strongly after The Associated Press reported the unprecedented sidelining of the officers at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., where one of their commanders complained of “such rot” that even the willful violation of safety rules — including a possible compromise of launch codes — was tolerated.
This alarming story is especially noteworthy, considering it’s coming on the heels of Obama calling for more money to “modernize” our nuclear stockpile:
WASHINGTON, April 10 (RIA Novosti) – US President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed boosting funding for the Energy Department to modernize the nation’s existing nuclear weapons in what analysts say is part of a bargain he struck with Republican lawmakers to secure their support for the New START deal with Russia to reduce nuclear stockpiles.
In his federal budget blueprint unveiled Wednesday, Obama called for $7.87 billion in funding “to maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent,” an increase of $654 million, or 9 percent, compared to the 2012 budget.
Obviously a good way to reduce something is to spend more money on it.
War is Peace, after all.
There is a ton of poetry in my collection I have yet to read. There are quite a few posts that feature poems I have just discovered.
This week’s poem is one of those. I found it in the anthology titled The Outlaw Bible of american poetry, edited by Alan Kaufman. From the link:
In forms ranging from the epistle through the manifesto to the hip-hop lyric, The Outlaw Bible presents over six hundred pages of countercultural writing divided into sections with titles like “Slammers”, “Meat Poets”, and “American Renegades”. The anthology also includes interview material, photographs, articles, and biographical information.
The eclectic mix of poets includes Ai, Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, David Trinidad, Diane diPrima, Joy Harjo, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Sapphire, as well as those not traditionally thought of as poets in the literary sense (Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Janis Joplin), and writers who primarily wrote in alternate genres (Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor).
Anthologies, in my opinion, should be books of discovery; chances to include a multitude of voices (I list a few of my favorite anthologies here).
Rebecca Fransway is the new voice I discovered today, and apparently she made a bit of a stir over a book of poems that is now no longer in print. This from her wikipedia page:
She is the author and editor of a controversial book published in 2000, 12-Step Horror Stories: True Tales of Misery, Betrayal & Abuse in AA, NA, and 12-Step Treatment. This book was banned in Davis bookstores and some U.S. bookstores because of complaints from treatment centers and members of local twelve-step groups. It is out of print, but is available for free online.
Needless to say, I’ve already placed the order.
And now, the poem. Continue Reading »
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take an upteenth attempt at damaging U.S. economic stability and growth tomorrow with a number of bills coming to floor vote, six of which would once again embrace derivatives as a legitimate stable investment for our financial institutions.
Taxpayers beware. There is nothing prohibiting bailouts.
Passing out of House financial services on Tuesday and coming to a vote tomorrow is the Full Faith and Credit Act coming to a vote will prioritize U.S. debt and interest over the priority of running the government. Things like keeping the lights on, paying soldiers, social security & disability payments. You can see how willing to negotiate the House GOP Republicans are going to be for the upcoming debt ceiling discussion, estimated to come to Washington DC sometimes during that oh-so-pleasant month of August.
Six other bills which also passed out of financial services yesterday will weaken derivatives regulations within Dodd-Frank.
Addendum: Democracy Now reports that only six members of the House financial services committee voted NO to weakening the already
weak Dodd-Frank derivative regulations.
This’ll infuriate people who thought Dodd-Frank was weak to begin with. Pretty sure that both Lizard and JC fall into that category. I know I’m there.
HR992, the Swaps (meaning derivatives) Regulatory Improvement Act, will allow FDIC insured and uninsured foreign banking entities supervised by the Federal Reserve to utilize derivatives.
That’s right – one of the base elementary causes of the 2007 economic crash is being welcomed back for taxpayer insured FDIC banks.
As a bonus, the bill continues the bailout prohibition exemption for these banks. Which means in plainer language that FDIC insured banks can continue to be bailed out. Ahhh, the pleasures of Dodd-Frank.
I’ve seen or heard plenty saying that the Full Faith and Credit act isn’t likely to pass filibuster – but I’ve yet to see or hear the same for the nasty derivative porn. I say it’s amazing but it really isn’t anymore – the crap these electeds get away with. Because truth be told, it rests on us who keep elected these fools. But here we are, an already weak bill being weakened again. Embracing derivatives? Geezus.
What will Daines do? I’ll be calling his D.C. office first thing tomorrow morning (202-225-3211) to let his staff know where I stand – and that I’ll be watching.
In what is either another misguided attempt or act of malfeasance in search of affordable housing, Missoula City Council approved Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) for all residential zones.
I’ve written once about this ADU proposal. My main objection is the negative impact it is going to have on affordable housing. Other issues are just as valid, such as the higher taxes it will bring. Enforcement is a huge issue for many, the city notorious for not wanting to enforce stuff (like fireworks?) Council also didn’t provide much for convincing answers to how they could enforce the “owner occupied” portion of the law – especially when questioned about previous legal opinions to the contrary.
So I see this story in the Missoulian from city government reporter Keila Szpaller and I just shake my head. There is a picture of an advocate for ADU’s – Ms. Brown is quoted as saying “ADUs are not the end of the world. They are not the end of Missoula as we know it. They are another affordable housing option, and as an older individual, I’m looking for those.”
BUT – read the caption under the photo which accompanies the article, and the advocate for affordable housing says she wants to build a cottage to rent out the main house.
I ask you: How is that creating affordable housing? Ms. Brown, who owns a house, is going to build a guest cottage to live in and then she’s going to rent out her university district home. Now – I’m sure this has already been all worked out, but let me explain how this is going to work because now we’ve been given such a clear example.
Occupant of said house – who is likely having trouble keeping up with property taxes, in addition to having a need to downsize – is going to go to the bank and present the finance officer with a plan for how much they are going to rent the main house. Estimating taxes, costs and revenues, they’ll then offer their home as collateral.
Bam! Property values have increased for that lot because of the improvements. So the neighbors next door with a family and two working incomes who were able to afford their 3 bedroom home are now faced with a tidy uptick in their property values. And the cycle goes on.
The comments on Ms. Szpaller’s story don’t miss that, either.
A motion was made to have the ADU proposal go to the voters, but that was struck down. No surprise there – the city had previously taken a city-wide survey to prove how everyone like the idea and the results were that a majority was not in support of the proposal.
In the end, Councilors Jason Wiener, Alex Taft, Cynthia Wolken, Bob Jaffe, Ed Childers, Mike O’Herron, and Marilyn Marler voted for the ADU’s – and Jon Wilkins, Adam Hertz, Caitlin Copple, Dave Strohmaier and Dick Haines voting no.
So THANK YOU Jon, Adam, Caitlin, Dave and Dick for voting no.
The city’s going to get sued. They pretty much know that. The truth is, they don’t really care. The city has insurance coverage for this type of thing, so their cost is minimal as opposed to the organizing of funds that the opponents are going to have to do to hire an attorney.
Sad. It’s really a nasty thing when government – whether it be town, city, county, state or federal – takes the position that “you can’t sue city hall.” They have their staff and insurance pool of attorneys – any individual or group has to then step up and get the job done. I believe that is the case here, illustrated by the city’s previous survey, and Monday’s night failed vote to take it to the voters.
In this case, I have no doubt. Myra Shults has been out in front of this for a while. I may be wrong, but I believe she used to be a Montana Association of Counties (MACo) staff attorney for land use issues. Ms Shults was also up front and center with the gravel pit issue down near Lolo back several years ago.
Ms Shults was successful in that the gravel pit was halted – and without her involvement, I don’t know that it would have happened.
I may even donate some popcorn money to the cause.
As the situation in Syria continues to worsen, the political dynamics remain largely the same: blame any atrocity on the Assad regime, and try to minimize or ignore evidence to the contrary.
Over a year ago, violence in Homs was initially being pinned on the Assad regime. Luckily we have blogs that are sometimes capable of successfully countering western propaganda, and with this particular situation, that is precisely what the blog Moon of Alabama was able to do:
What was surely meant to be a clever display of media-friendly visuals to illustrate Syrian regime violence in Homs, has instead raised more questions than answers.
US State Department satellite images of the embattled city were posted on Facebook last Friday by US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who complains: “A terrible and tragic development in Syria is the use of heavy weaponry by the Assad regime against residential neighborhoods.”
The “satellite photos,” says Ford, “have captured both the carnage and those causing it – the artillery is clearly there, it is clearly bombing entire neighborhoods…We are intent on exposing the regime’s brutal tactics for the world to see.”
But within 24 hours, the blog Moon of Alabama had taken a hammer to the ambassador’s claims. A detailed examination of satellite imagery by the bloggers revealed numerous discrepancies in Washington’s allegations. Mainly, their investigations point to the fact that Ford’s satellite images were “of guns training within military barracks or well known training areas and not in active deployment.”
Fast forward to today, and the big question is whether the Assad regime has used chemical weapons. If I’ve learned anything from trying to track the developments in Syria, it’s to be extremely skeptical of claims the Syrian regime has actually done what it’s being accused of.
According to this Reuters piece, skepticism is very warranted:
(Reuters) – U.N. human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria’s civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin, one of the lead investigators said on Sunday.
The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has not yet seen evidence of government forces having used chemical weapons, which are banned under international law, said commission member Carla Del Ponte.
“Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” Del Ponte said in an interview with Swiss-Italian television.
“This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” she added, speaking in Italian.
This was never a “revolution”. I among other leftists in Lebanon signed a petition early on after the events in Deraa in which we denounced the regime and mocked and dismissed its narrative of armed groups roaming the country and shooting at people. I now figure that I was dead wrong: I do believe that armed groups were pre-prepared and armed to strike when orders (from Israel and GCC countries) arrive. They had a mission and it had nothing to do with the cause of liberation of Syria from a tyrannical regime.
Now that Israel has unilaterally decided to start bombing Syria, who knows where the escalating violence will lead (it should also be noted Israel gave the US no warning it was about to strike targets in Syria).
It’s good to see at least one leftist cheerleader for regime change step back from the carnage and admit being duped. I doubt he will have more company from western media sources, because their job will still be to justify military intervention.
I would also like to state, again, how grateful I am to bloggers like b @ Moon of Alabama for continuing to critically examine western media claims. When it comes to tracking the developments of US foreign policy, I’ll take MoA over CNN any day.
Howard Kurtz has made a name for himself writing about the media. In addition to 5 books, Kurtz also wrote media analysis for the Washington Post, has his own CNN show and, until quite recently, had a nice-paying job at The Daily Beast.
Kurtz’s recent departure from The Daily Beast is generating some interesting speculation. Was he fired for going after Jason Collins? The timing and degree of stupidity in Kurtz’s gotcha attack certainly makes that seem plausible. Here’s how Kurt Eichenwald’s Vanity Fair piece opens:
That was fast.
Howard Kurtz is out at The Daily Beast less than a day after setting off an Internet conflagration with what was, without doubt, one of the most embarrassing pieces of drivel ever published by a major news outlet. Kurtz, the national media scold whose own independence has been questioned because of his work with multiple media outlets, decided to weigh in on the historic Sports Illustrated cover story in which Jason Collins revealed he was gay—the first major American team athlete to do so. Collins was showered with congratulations for his courage.
But Howie just got riled up, and so he decided to post what he seemed to believe was the ultimate “gotcha”—Collins may have revealed he was gay, but he didn’t reveal he had been engaged to a woman.
Another, less tantalizing reason involves Kurtz’s involvement with Daily Download, a side project Kurtz was spending more and more time writing for.
Personally, I don’t care why Kurtz was fired. I’m just happy to see the bastard get a taste of his own medicine.
You see, Howard Kurtz is a prime example of media gatekeeping who achieved his lucrative position by trashing journalists who actually took risks in the subjects they reported on:
For nearly a quarter century, Howard Kurtz has served as hall monitor for Washington’s conventional wisdom, handing out demerits to independent-minded journalists who don’t abide by the mainstream rules. So, there is some understandable pleasure seeing Kurtz face some accountability in his ouster as bureau chief for Newsweek and The Daily Beast.
However, the more salient point is that Kurtz, who continues to host CNN’s “Reliable Sources” show, should never have achieved the level of influence in journalism that he did. Throughout his career, he has consistently – and unfairly – punished journalists who had the courage to ask tough questions and pursue truly important stories.
When one looks at the mess that is modern journalism in the United States, a chief culprit has been Howard Kurtz. Yet, his downfall did not come because of his smearing of fellow journalists – like Gary Webb and Helen Thomas – but rather from a blog post that unfairly criticized basketball player Jason Collins after he revealed that he was gay.
Gary Webb, for those who don’t know, was ruthlessly smeared for a 3 part series exposing CIA’s complicity in drug trafficking. From the link:
Most of the nation’s elite newspapers at first ignored the story. A public uproar, especially among urban African Americans, forced them to respond. What followed was one of the most bizarre, unseemly and ultimately tragic scandals in the annals of American journalism, one in which top news organizations closed ranks to debunk claims Webb never made, ridicule assertions that turned out to be true and ignore corroborating evidence when it came to light. The whole shameful cycle was repeated when Webb committed suicide in December 2004.
We continue to be a population of misinformed, ill-informed individuals because of lapdogs like Howard Kurtz. I’m sure, with his servile skill-set, he will get another well-paying job guarding the gates.
A young doctoral candidate in international relations—Nussaibah Younis—got some nice NYT op-ed space to advocate for regime change in Iraq. Also, this is 2013.
NOBODY wants another civil war in Iraq, yet events are propelling it in that direction. War can be averted only by a new political understanding among three main groups — Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs and Kurds — but Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has become too divisive to deliver it.
So the United States, together with Iraq’s neighbors, must press Mr. Maliki to resign so he can be replaced with a more conciliatory figure.
Last week, Iraq experienced the most serious escalation of violence since 2006, when it slid into civil war. Now it risks being sucked into a catastrophic vortex of regional violence centered on Syria.
To contrast this doctoral candidate’s call for a collaborative coup to install a more “conciliatory figure” for the people of Iraq, I suggest reading Charles Mann’s piece at Mother Jones (first printed in The Atlantic), provocatively titled What If We Never Run Out of Oil?
Apparently, Japan is heavily invested in finding a way to tap Methane Hydrates, hoping that form of energy could do for them what fracking has done for meeting US demand.
It’s an interesting read, and certainly more encouraging than the possibility of Iraq coming apart at the sectarian seams.
Brian Schweitzer won a seat on the board of the Stillwater Mining Co. I certainly don’t have any special insight into what that means for Montana’s open senate seat, but that of course won’t stop me from speculating.
Brian’s stance on “clean” coal, Keystone, and guns has already received some scrutiny from the left, as evidenced by a Daily Kos piece titled Brian Schweitzer: bold progressive or just another fossil fueled politician?
It would be a mistake to define Schweitzer’s populism as progressive. It would also be a mistake to expect a popular Montana governor to be everything a lefty like myself would want.
Instead of getting into all the pros and cons of a Schweitzer run for senate right now, I thought I would take a different approach.
Language fascinates me, and this week’s poem is a found poem featuring language taken straight from the Clinton Group’s philosophy statement. This group is a New York based, globally diversified hedge fund that, along with Brian, spearheaded the attempted takeover of the Stillwater Mining Co.
Through our fundamental research
trading and risk management
recognize and dynamically allocate capital
across the capital structure, markets and globe
provide us with
a unique macro vantage point.
Our deep re-
search and op-
help to ensure we
optimize our portfolios
while limiting risk.
Our quantitative equity strategy
and other market inefficiencies
in an unbiased, multifactor approach.
which was developed in-house,
is based on ten years of actual, time-tested trading.
It uses leading research
on statistical arbitrage and adaptive systems
that recognize repetitive market behavior and patterns.
This data-intensive investment approach
seeks to successfully identify
and combine the hidden factors
that drive the returns
of individual securities and market segments.
Late last month, U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell sent letters out to the states asking for a return of (presumably) 10% of the Secure Rural Schools funds payed out in January of this year.
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead was pretty quick to criticize the fed’s move – and just in the last few hours Mead appears to have made up his mind: He won’t be returning the money.
I won’t go into the specifics on SRS funds, though that link gives a great rundown on what they are where they come from and all that good stuff. Basically, though, SRS funds come from the revenue generated on federal lands. It’s paid out proportionally to each state – and each county – based on the amount of revenue generated and the amount of land in each county. It’s also based on the previous years revenues.
So the payments made in January of this year were based on 2012 revenues.
Is this government welfare? I don’t think so. Here in Missoula County, 49% of the lands are federal, state or local govt. owned. None of that land is taxed, and yet the Sheriff’s Department, for example, is out there dealing with criminal activity on USFS roads.
For the state’s lands, Fish Wildlife and Parks is, by some weird law, required to recycle its funding from the legislature back to the local county by paying taxes. How that makes sense, I’ll never understand.
I assume that Montana Dept. of Revenue has already distributed those SRS funds. I also assume most counties have incorporated it into their budgets. In Lincoln County, it’s a pretty significant hit, with their share of the sequestration return equaling their road fund.
Which could lead me to the messed up way the state’s gas tax money is distributed, but it’s a little late now and I’ve probably already bored ya’all to tears.
All of that being said, I’ll be calling Bullock tomorrow to tell him to tell Tidwell to “take a hike” – and calling Baucus, Tester and Daines to suggest to them that they should reassess the government wanting what is essentially their 2012 calendar year tax payment to Montana refunded.
Against my better judgement, I’m going to direct readers to a trolling declaration by Rob Kailey that blogging is worthless as he laments the lack of viable “new blood” in the Montana blogosphere:
A rather serious question: Is it possible to foster new blood in the Montana blog’o'sphere?
My initial response is “No”. Given the appeal of Facilebook and the Twahters, there isn’t much reason for people to blog anymore. The larger political bases are covered, the sentimental self-indulgence has moved to Facebook, and the need to be needed has fostered Twitter. So, from a purely user-need orientation, there is no point to blogging, for any of us.
From a reader-need perspective, there is little to be offered. There is no safe place. Every website is rife with trolls. Concern trolls like Craig Moore, and Belief beggars like Tokarski. Every website seems in intellectual competition with others. The holy writ of 4 & 20 cannot be denied by anyone, and Intelligent Discontent is just pablum for the masses. Dog forbid anybody should read Left in The West. It isn’t fashionable. Montana Cowgirl is beneath notice, except maybe to EVERYONE, and Montana Streetfighter can’t be bothered to actually engage with any other blog with a link (or check their moderation queue, apparently.) Then there are the flood control experts, mostly interested in releasing the Damn/Dam, commenters like Larry Kralj. There is little point to actually reading blogs anymore. And from a personal perspective, there’s damn little point in writing them.
Rob appears sad that the glory days of the Montana blogosphere are over. People who contributed to those days have long since gone. Matt Singer, for example, abandoned his stewardship of Left in the West, and the blog went downhill quick. Some would say the same of my time at 4&20 Blackbirds.
After Jay Stevens started this blog, lots of contributors have come and gone. jhwygirl, JC, and Pete Talbot still contribute, but according to the guy who ran Left in the West into the ground, it’s my presence at 4&20 that’s the big cause for concern:
4 & 20: Jay, you started this website and it was one of the best. Turning it over to egos like Lizard? Bad move. No matter how many precious kudos this site gets from the Missoula community, it is still just a an inbred horrorshow. Lizard doesn’t seem to care at all about Montana or Montanans. JC doesn’t seem to care about anyone but himself. Jhwygirl has fled, mores the pity. Pete is still engaged, and that’s the only reason this website deserves a C.
I enjoy contributing to this blog, and I plan on continuing to do so. Being able to synthesize various media sources reacting to the events of the day, in addition to my own speculation, makes this medium still worth the investment of time and energy. Being able to share poetry is another big draw for me.
The Montana blogosphere is not as dynamic as it used to be, and I doubt much “new blood” will be forthcoming. While some want to spend their time lamenting the loss of past glory, I’m going to just keep plugging away.
To those who continue to read this dead medium: THANK YOU!
US Foreign policy escapes significant scrutiny here in The Homeland partly because Americans are incredibly ignorant of the world outside our borders. For example, when the ethnicity of the suspects in the Boston marathon bombing became known—Chechen—the resulting confusion between Chechnya and the Czech Republic elicited this statement from the Ambassador of the Czech Republic, which includes this:
As more information on the origin of the alleged perpetrators is coming to light, I am concerned to note in the social media a most unfortunate misunderstanding in this respect. The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities – the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation.
Springtime in America can be unpleasant, but in Afghanistan spring is literally the season of Taliban offensives, and this year even more is at stake:
KABUL — It didn’t take long. Within hours of announcing the start of its annual spring offensive, the Taliban in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for an early-morning attack in the eastern part of the country that killed at least three police officers.
“In addition to suicide bombings, insurgents warned of coordinating ‘insider’ attacks against ‘foreign transgressors’,” the Taliban said in a statement on Sunday.
The Taliban, known for employing bombastic language in describing its achievements–claims frequently invalidated or unproven–hailed the 2013 spring offensive as “monumental.”
This year, the Taliban’s annual declaration of increased violence–coinciding with the break from harsh winter weather–is widely considered an especially crucial test for President Hamid Karzai’s government as it prepares to assume control of the nation’s security from coalition forces, which are slated to withdraw combat troops in 2014.
As big footprint, Bush-initiated wars wind down, low-casualty (for Americans), NATO-cover regime-change wars continue under Obama.
Syria would have been a done deal by now if it wasn’t for that Russian and Chinese Security Council veto. By done deal, I mean the replication of what happened to Libya: a PR “humanitarian intervention” campaign led by NATO.
I wrote this post last March, and opened with this:
For those who supported the “humanitarian intervention” imposed on Libya by NATO, it must be asked what responsibilities should the nations that provided the planes and bombs have post-intervention? Is there any sense of obligation from those who advocate the toppling of repressive regimes to ensure the power vacuum doesn’t get filled with equally oppressive violators of human rights? Otherwise, what the hell is the point of intervening?
If you read that post, I go on to explore the seams of the propaganda campaign against Syria. The initial framing of a populist Syrian uprising against Assad proved to be an unsustainable narrative, though not completely without merit. To highlight the shift in coverage, this NYT article, titled Islamist Rebels’ Create Dilemma on Syria Policy, is finally getting closer to the real dynamics developing in Syria:
CAIRO — In Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, rebels aligned with Al Qaeda control the power plant, run the bakeries and head a court that applies Islamic law. Elsewhere, they have seized government oil fields, put employees back to work and now profit from the crude they produce.
Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.
Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.
This is the landscape President Obama confronts as he considers how to respond to growing evidence that Syrian officials have used chemical weapons, crossing a “red line” he had set. More than two years of violence have radicalized the armed opposition fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad, leaving few groups that both share the political vision of the United States and have the military might to push it forward.
Chuck Hagel, in statements reported on last December, had this to say in regards to a Syrian intervention:
“I think we’ve got to be very wise and careful on this and continue to work with the multilateral institutions in the lead in Syria. I don’t think America wants to be in the lead on this,” he said. “What you have to do is manage the problem. You manage it to a higher ground of possible solutions, ultimately to try to get to a resolution. You don’t have control over what’s going on in Syria.”
“You’ve got to be patient, smart, wise, manage the problem,” he said.
The Obama administration has resisted intervention in Syria based on the risk that arming the opposition directly could fuel the fire and out of concern that establishing a no-fly zone would require a major U.S. commitment with uncertain results.
A major U.S. commitment with uncertain results is what Obama has put into motion with his RED LINE ultimatum. More blood to bathe his Nobel Prize in, I guess.
Chris Hedges has a column up this month, titled The Hijacking of Human Rights, and it speaks directly to the transformation of human rights organizations into vehicles of pro-war propaganda:
The appointment of Suzanne Nossel, a former State Department official and longtime government apparatchik, as executive director of PEN American Center is part of a campaign to turn U.S. human rights organizations into propagandists for pre-emptive war and apologists for empire. Nossel’s appointment led me to resign from PEN as well as withdraw from speaking at the PEN World Voices Festival in May. But Nossel is only symptomatic of the widespread hijacking of human rights organizations to demonize those—especially Muslims—branded by the state as the enemy, in order to cloak pre-emptive war and empire with a fictional virtue and to effectively divert attention from our own mounting human rights abuses, including torture, warrantless wiretapping and monitoring, the denial of due process and extrajudicial assassinations.
Nossel, who was deputy assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs under Hillary Clinton in a State Department that was little more than a subsidiary of the Pentagon, is part of the new wave of “humanitarian interventionists,” such as Samantha Power, Michael Ignatieff and Susan Rice, who naively see in the U.S. military a vehicle to create a better world. They know little of the reality of war or the actual inner workings of empire. They harbor a childish belief in the innate goodness and ultimate beneficence of American power. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents, the horrendous suffering and violent terror inflicted in the name of their utopian goals in Iraq and Afghanistan, barely register on their moral calculus. This makes them at once oblivious and dangerous. “Innocence is a kind of insanity,” Graham Greene wrote in his novel “The Quiet American,” and those who destroy to build are “impregnably armored by … good intentions and … ignorance.”
Deescalation, Diplomacy, these are not terms we will hear. My bet is we will hear plenty about red lines. And soil samples.
The broad, persistent push for equal rights for the LGBT community has been immensely successful. Some of the most significant successes have come from the courageous actions of gay men and women who serve in the military, men like Dan Choi.
In the last 24 hours another courageous gay man who served in the military is making headlines, Bradley Manning. The controversy is not that Manning has spent over 1,000 days in detention, initially in torturous conditions:
For the last three weeks in Ft. Meade, MD, Bradley Manning has had a pretrial motion hearing to seek accountability for the abusive treatment he endured at the Quantico Marine brig in Virginia, from July 29, 2010, to April 20, 2011. Manning was on Prevention of Injury watch (POI) or Suicide Watch his entire time in the brig, isolated in a 6×8 ft cell for 23 hours a day. For the first six months, he got only 20 minutes of sunshine a day. For the last month and a half, he had to surrender his underwear at night. For his entire time there, he was monitored around the clock, he had to ask for toilet paper and soap, and he had to wear metal shackles any time he left his cell. There weren’t detainees next to his cell, and when he left his cell the brig went in lockdown, so he was effectively barred from speaking to other inmates. And the military used his poor communication to justify his treatment.
No, the controversy instead is that some rogue member within the San Francisco Pride organization got Bradley Manning an honorary marshal designation in an upcoming pride parade.
The resulting anger from those in the military community who think Bradley Manning is a traitor to America caused SF Pride president, Lisa Williams, to quickly capitulate. Unfortunately Williams sorta overcompensated in her public reasoning. Here is her full statement:
26 April 2013: Bradley Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year’s San Francisco Pride celebration. His nomination was a mistake and should never have been allowed to happen. A staff person at SF Pride, acting under his own initiative, prematurely contacted Bradley Manning based on internal conversations within the SF Pride organization. That was an error and that person has been disciplined. He does not now, nor did he at that time, speak for SF Pride.
Bradley Manning is facing the military justice system of this country. We all await the decision of that system. However, until that time, even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform — and countless others, military and civilian alike — will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride. It is, and would be, an insult to every one, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country. There are many, gay and straight, military and non-military, who believe Bradley Manning to be innocent. There are many who feel differently. Under the US Constitution, they have a first amendment right to show up, participate and voice their opinions at Pride this year.
Specifically, what these events have revealed is a system whereby a less-than-handful of people may decide who represents the LGBT community’s highest aspirations as grand marshals for SF Pride. This is a systemic failure that now has become apparent and will be rectified. In point of fact, less than 15 people actually cast votes for Bradley Manning. These 15 people are part of what is called the SF Pride Electoral College, comprised of former SF Pride Grand Marshals. However, as an organization with a responsibility to serve the broader community, SF Pride repudiates this vote. The Board of Directors for SF Pride never voted to support this nomination. Bradley Manning will have his day in court, but will not serve as an official participant in the SF Pride Parade.
Instead of mitigating what is being framed as an internal blunder within SF Pride, Lisa Williams put fuel on the fire for those who don’t support this reversal; those who may be inclined to say stuff like this:
Williams did not simply go through the motions and make a statement clarifying he would not be honored like military factions of the LGBT community wanted. She herself put forth a robust condemnation of Manning fueled by her own perceptions.
The bio for Williams on SF Pride shows she works for a “political consulting and community advocacy” that serves Democratic Party politics. She “organized satellite offices for the Obama campaign.” She also is the PAC chair of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition.
Those statements are from Kevin Gosztola, a young journalist who has written extensively on Bradley Manning’s case. The frustration behind the depiction is palpable.
Ultimately, by fueling this controversy, Lisa Williams has done a favor for those concerned about the implications of Bradley Manning’s prosecution. For those who would rather a parade for gay pride just be that, I’m sure there’s plenty of justified frustration.
You don’t get significant policy wins by diluting your impact over some peripheral whistleblower case, and you certainly won’t curry favor with the current administration by pointing out how terrible they’ve been on the war against whistleblowers.
I’ve been obsessively listening to The Terror, a new Flaming Lips album (released April 16th) currently getting panned by critics.
I think the critics are wrong, but that’s just a matter of taste. This album personally resonates, and has therefore sparked some language of my own.
I haven’t enjoyed a thematically cohesive album like this since Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs. Both albums, IMHO, tap into something important. Here’s an example:
Once a band achieves a certain amount of success, evolving creatively becomes increasingly difficult, partly because that’s not the industry’s priority; commercial success is. From the “panned” link above, a failure to reproduce the formula of past successes is how the critic begins:
Expectations for a new Flaming Lips record are soaring high, mostly based on the fact the band always delivers brilliant music. The feeling is you can always rely on a Flaming Lips record. Or can you?
I think the feeling we are left with after listening to “The Terror,” however, is we miss the sound of singer Wayne Coyne’s undistorted voice and the variation seen on other records by The Flaming Lips. And that feeling is there from the opening track – usually a strength for The Lips.
Feelings are subjective, and this critic is certainly not speaking for me. I think the album is brilliant, an opinion that, for me, is solidified by each subsequent listen.
What I wrote in response is partly derived from the lyrical content of the album. If you listen closely, you will hear. Anyways, for the purpose of this post I’ve decided to title this poem PROJECT BUTTERFLY. Continue Reading »
The blast registered as a 2.1-magnitude tremor. The death toll is up to 15 people, mostly first responders, with over 200 people injured. The cause is still unknown.
It’s been pointed out over the last few days that stuff which kills Americans on a regular basis gets much less attention than a hyper-sentionalized bombing. From the link:
The number of workplace deaths across the U.S. continues to rise, something it has done every year since 2004. AFL-CIO released its annual report Wednesday—Death in the Workplace: The Toll of Neglect—which covered 2010. The report notes that the number of deaths in 2010 was up 149 over 2009, to a recent high of 4,690—meaning an average of 13 workers die on the job every day in the U.S. On top of that, an estimated 50,000 additional workers died in 2010 because of occupational diseases. More than 3.8 million work-related injuries and illnesses were also reported, but it is estimated that the real number is much higher, between 7.6 million and 11.4 million annually.
Instead of trying to examine the dynamics behind why OSHA has only 2,200 inspectors for roughly 8 million work places, the media is consumed with dissecting the bomb brothers.
How the older brother, Tamerlan, was radicalized has become THE BIG QUESTION, and one answer the media is gravitating toward is this: conspiracy theories.
The AP keeps digging into the dead bombing suspect’s past and finds him endorsing, at some point, not just a cocktail but a Long Island Iced Tea of conspiracy theories. His inspiration, the mysterious “Misha,” reportedly turned him onto radical Islam that was disconnected from the larger, more strategic terror organizations that the U.S. considers itself at war with.
The AP article Slate references tells a bizarre story that leaves a reader with lots of questions, like who the hell is this “Misha” character?
This is how the article opens:
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the years before the Boston Marathon bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev fell under the influence of a new friend, a Muslim convert who steered the religiously apathetic young man toward a strict strain of Islam, family members said.
Under the tutelage of a friend known to the Tsarnaev family only as Misha, Tamerlan gave up boxing and stopped studying music, his family said. He began opposing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He turned to websites and literature claiming that the CIA was behind the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and Jews controlled the world.
Here is another snippet:
Tamerlan took an interest in Infowars, a conspiracy theory website. Khozhugov said Tamerlan was interested in finding a copy of the book “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” the classic anti-Semitic hoax, first published in Russia in 1903, that claims a Jewish plot to take over the world.
The FBI is getting all kinds of heat right now for “dropping the ball.” Spinning this as incompetence is not a difficult sell, considering stories like this:
After the Boston Marathon bombings, the FBI acknowledged that in 2011 agents had interviewed the 26-year-old Tsarnaev and scrutinized his internet history, at the request of Russian officials. Yet, despite the Russians’ concerns about Tsarnaev’s potential links to militant separatist groups in Chechnya, the FBI determined he was not a threat.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated case, the bureau vigorously pursued Rezwan Ferdaus, a Northeastern University graduate who was born in Massachusetts and lived with his parents in a Boston suburb. Ferdaus came to the FBI’s attention through an informant posing as an Al Qaeda operative—a man who was paid $50,000 by the FBI for his efforts, while hiding a heroin addiction from his handlers.
According to court records, Ferdaus told the informant that he wanted to destroy the gold dome of the US Capitol building using a remote-controlled model airplane loaded with grenades. If that plot was far-fetched, so was the possibility that Ferdaus could even attempt it: He did not have weapons, and even if he had known where to buy explosives, Ferdaus was broke, according to court records.
Through the informant, the FBI encouraged Ferdaus to move forward with his idea to attack the US Capitol. They dedicated significant resources to the operation, giving him $4,000 to purchase an F-86 Sabre remote-controlled airplane and providing him with “explosives”—25 pounds of fake C-4 and three inert grenades. In May 2011, Ferdaus traveled to Washington, DC, to scout out locations from which to launch his weapon—all while being secretly recorded by FBI agents. Finally, on September 28, 2011, after a nine-month sting operation, FBI agents arrested Ferdaus, charging him with, among other offenses, attempting to destroy a federal building and providing material support to terrorists.
Ferdaus pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 17 years in prison, though no evidence indicated that he could have built and launched a weapon were it not for the FBI providing the money and materials.
I ended my last post with an epistemological look at the phrase Theatre of the Absurd.
For this post, I think maybe Kafkaesque is appropriate:
: of, relating to, or suggestive of Franz Kafka or his writings; especially : having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality
From that last link, as the FBI fixates on plots of its own creation, there have been some big screw ups:
Since the 9/11 attacks, the FBI has arrested more than 175 alleged terrorists using operations like the one in Boston that nabbed Ferdaus. In these expensive and elaborate stings, the targets often are men on the fringes of Muslim communities; many are economically desperate and some are mentally ill, and they are easily manipulated by paid informants and undercover agents.
But in the years since 9/11, several operational terrorists in the United States have gone unnoticed or have been overlooked by the FBI.
Faisal Shahzad, a 33-year-old naturalized US citizen from Pakistan, delivered a car bomb to Times Square on May 1, 2010. Shahzad wasn’t on the FBI’s radar until that day, after a street vendor reported the suspicious vehicle. Fortunately, the explosives he’d assembled failed to go off.
Nidal Hasan, a US Army Medical Corps officer, shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009, even after the FBI investigated 18 emails he’d sent to Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Al Qaeda propagandist who was killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen. The FBI didn’t realize Hasan was a threat until it was too late.
And despite the FBI’s initial interest in Tsarnaev, the same became true with him and his younger brother in Boston.
The price tag for the FBI’s counterterrorism efforts, according to the above article, is 3.3 billion dollars. I don’t think it would be very easy to argue that’s money well spent right about now.
Perversely, the failure of the FBI will ultimately result in more money thrown at counterterrorism, whether inter-agency, or somewhere else.
by Pete Talbot
“Who’ll be your whipping boy now?” asked my wife.
Still Max. But I have a lot of questions. Was it the public outcry on his latest actions the led to his retirement? You know, his no vote on the expanded background checks for gun buyers and his comments on the health care “train wreck.” The pundits say he did these things because he’s up for re-election in 2014. Now he says he’s not running.
I get an email from Max’s organization every other day asking for money. And he already has something like $6.5 million in his war chest.
So either he took a poll recently that said his numbers were in the crapper or he’s been playing at this super-secret campaign strategy to hold the seat in Democratic hands. I suspect the former.
I guess it could be something else, like his health, but they say the guy runs miles everyday, so that probably isn’t it. Then there’s this, from a source at ABC News: He has recently been remarried and “is finally happy,” the friend said. ”At 72, he can still have a life. It’s harder to do that at 79.”
And the most shocking thing of all: The likely Democratic candidate to succeed him would be former governor Brian Schweitzer, sources said.
Where the hell did this come from? It’s been said that these two guys don’t like each other very much. Again, from the Post: ” … Schweitzer, a popular figure who at times has feuded with Baucus over local political issues in the Big Sky state. In February, Schweitzer hinted at a potential run in a Facebook post.”
Since I don’t follow Schweitzer on Facebook, this is news to me. I thought Brian was busy trying to take over the Stillwater palladium mine over there in Columbus.
So much subterfuge, so little time.
Was Baucus really grooming Schweitzer for the seat all the time? Was this to keep potential Republican (or Democratic) rivals at bay. It seems to have worked on the Republicans with the two candidates, so far, being no-names: Corey Stapleton and Champ Edmunds.
This political insider crap drives me crazy, if that’s what it is. I’m sure details will emerge over the next few weeks. Personally, I’d like to see Denise Juneau run for the seat.
At first the FBI tried to deny any previous contact with the alleged Boston bombers. Then CBS reported this:
The FBI admitted Friday they interviewed the now-deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev two years ago and failed to find any incriminating information about him.
This is an issue they’ve had in the past. They interviewed Carlos Bledsoe in Little Rock, Ark., before he shot up an Army recruiting station in 2009. They were also looking into Major Hasan Nadal before the Fort Hood shootings.
However, the FBI has maintained in those incidents that they took all the steps they were asked to and were allowed to under the law.
Oh, maybe having laws is the problem. Is that why the FBI spends so much time thwarting their own terrorists plots? The link is to a NYT article dated April 28th, 2012:
THE United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.
But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested.
The FBI did recently stop a teenager from flying to Syria to help the terrorists America is totally NOT (wink, wink) supporting:
CHICAGO (AP) — An Illinois teenager who was friends with a man charged last year with trying to bomb a Chicago bar was arrested at an airport on his way to try to join a terrorist group in war-torn Syria, the FBI said Saturday.
Abdella Ahmad Tounisi was arrested Friday night as he attempted to board a flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Turkey, which borders Syria, the FBI said. He hoped to join Jabhat al-Nusrah, an al-Qaida-affiliated group fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime in a bloody civil war.
There are no links between Tounisi and the Boston Marathon bombings earlier in the week, the head of the FBI office in Chicago, Cory B. Nelson, said in a statement announcing the arrest.
Tounisi, a U.S. citizen, was snared in an Internet sting after contacting a sham website set up by the FBI that purported to hook up would-be fighters with terrorists, the federal complaint says.
I wonder if Tounisi was hoping to be cool like Eric Harroun, the US soldier now facing the death penalty for fighting with the bad terrorist opposition forces in Syria instead of the good freedom fighting opposition forces getting 123 million more taxpayer dollars in “non-lethal” aid.
What, this guy worry?
In trying to reconcile this madness, I googled a term that popped into my noggin—Theatre of the Absurd—and found this:
‘The Theatre of the Absurd’ is a term coined by the critic Martin Esslin for the work of a number of playwrights, mostly written in the 1950s and 1960s. The term is derived from an essay by the French philosopher Albert Camus. In his ‘Myth of Sisyphus’, written in 1942, he first defined the human situation as basically meaningless and absurd. The ‘absurd’ plays by Samuel Beckett, Arthur Adamov, Eugene Ionesco, Jean Genet, Harold Pinter and others all share the view that man is inhabiting a universe with which he is out of key. Its meaning is indecipherable and his place within it is without purpose. He is bewildered, troubled and obscurely threatened.
I think I’ll leave it at that for now.
Brother Enemy (White Pine Press, 2002) is a collection of poems from the Korean War. Edited and translated by Suh Ji-Moon, the introduction begins with this:
The Korean War started with a surprise attack launched by North Korea at dawn on the 25th of june, 1950. Although South Korea was quite unprepared for the invasion that shattered the peace of a bright Sunday morning, it wasn’t wholly unexpected. THe mood of hostility between the Communist-controlled north and the U.S.-bolstered south had been such that disaster hung in the air. “I knew this was bound to happen./ And it has come at last” poet Cho Chi-hun says in “Journal of Despair, June 25, 1950.”
A lot of research went in to compiling this collection, and we are lucky work like this is being done. After 63 years, we are once again witnessing a significant mood of hostility developing on the Korean peninsula. The US media grip on framing this mood of hostility as purely irrational North Korean escalation is tight, meaning provocative maneuvers being taken by the US are never mentioned. “Alternative” media must provide more context:
The corporate media reduces the DPRK (North Korea) to the Kim family and prefaces their names with the terms “madman”, “evil” and “brutal”. Such vilifications of foreign leaders are used here not only to signify they are target for US overthrow. They are meant to intimidate and isolate anti-war activists as being out in left field for ever wanting to oppose a war against countries ruled by “madmen” – be they Saddam, Fidel, Hugo Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Qaddaffi.
Yet to a sensible person, it is crazy that the US, with nuclear weapons thousands of miles from home, in South Korea, denies North Korea has a right to have its own nuclear weapons on its own land – particularly when the North says it is developing nuclear weapons only as a deterrent because the US won’t take its own weapons out of the Korean peninsula.
Missing in what passes for discourse on the DPRK in the corporate media is that the US was conducting month-long war maneuvers last March in Korea, now extended into April, using stealth bombers, undetectable by radar, capable of carrying nuclear weapons. And this year these are not “deterrent” war maneuvers, but “pre-emptive war” maneuvers.
Would the US government and people get a little “irrational” if a foreign country that previously had killed millions of our people, sent nuclear capable stealth bombers off the coasts of New York City, Washington DC, Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, there to fly around for a month in preparation for a possible nuclear attack on us? For what is called, in warped US language, war “games”?
Violence and the threat of violence is escalating across the globe. The more the US perpetrates and escalates that violence, the more our chances of directly experiencing that violence here at home increase.
This week’s poem is by Cho Chi-hun. Continue Reading »
Today was not a bad day to be out cleaning up the Clark Fork with my family and nearly 1,000 other Missoulians. To visually see the trash on just our little section of river pile up was impressive.
Getting people together to do something positive for our environment, what a strange idea. Like no more hurting people, it’s a type of simple kid-logic that’s apparently incomprehensible to some people (I’m looking at you, Eric).
Comprehension of simple kid-logic also appears difficult for the vast majority of MT Republicans in Helena, because they have been busy putting the last few nails in the coffin where Medicaid expansion has gone to die:
HELENA – A contentious Medicaid proposal to fund private health insurance for thousands of low-income Montanans appears dead at the 2013 Legislature, after House Republicans Friday successfully bottled up the bill in committee.
I’m going to let Republicans in on a little secret: just because you killed an opportunity for 70,000 Montanans to get access to health insurance, that doesn’t mean those people—OUR NEIGHBORS—won’t have medical needs that get treated. You cruel, stupid ideologues have won nothing by doing this except to increase the cost and suffering of your constituents.
And you shameless ideologues do this while taking the health insurance WE PAY FOR for yourselves!
Unfortunately comprehension was not just a Republican problem with this particular piece of legislation. Apparently Rep. Tom Jacobson of Great Falls just simply doesn’t know how to cast votes. Whoopsies!
A move by Democrats to bring the measure to the floor failed by a single vote, with one Democrat later admitting he voted the wrong way. A later effort to undo the first vote failed by three votes.
House Minority Leader Chuck Hunter, D-Helena, said Democrats haven’t given up on passing the Medicaid-expansion bill. But he conceded it would be “very difficult to accomplish” at this point, with just seven working days left in the 2013 session.
For now, House Bill 623 resides in the House Human Services Committee – a panel controlled by Republicans who have consistently voted to kill all Medicaid-expansion proposals this session.
It would take 60 votes in the House to bring the measure to the floor for debate and possible passage. Republicans, most of whom oppose the bill, have a 61-39 majority in the House.
There are seven days left in this legislative session. When it’s over, who goes back to farm subsidies? Who goes back with health insurance? Who goes back with dark money falling out of their pockets?
The ideological reasoning for killing this legislation is crap because it’s coming from hypocrites.
Shame on you.
The phrase scrawled on light blue paper reads: no more hurting people. Holding the paper, 8 year old Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the Boston bombing.
That phrase, coming from a kid who died an awful, violent death, is incredibly powerful.
That same phrase, coming from the mouth of our president, turns immediately (at least for me) into rhetorical garbage.
Reading through the transcript of Obama’s attempt to comfort Boston and America I felt almost sick, especially this excerpt:
You showed us, Boston, that in the face of evil, Americans will lift up what’s good. In the face of cruelty, we will choose compassion. In the face of those who would visit death upon innocents, we will choose to save and to comfort and to heal. We’ll choose friendship. We’ll choose love. Because Scripture teaches us God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.
Obama’s job is to look into the camera and describe to Americans a fairytale that doesn’t exist, and the job of the media is to lube up their delivery system for broadcasting that fairytale.
But the reality is, in the face of cruelty, Americans choose ignorance.
Is this the compassion Obama was talking about?
I’ve been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.
I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial.
I could have been home years ago — no one seriously thinks I am a threat — but still I am here. Years ago the military said I was a “guard” for Osama bin Laden, but this was nonsense, like something out of the American movies I used to watch. They don’t even seem to believe it anymore. But they don’t seem to care how long I sit here, either.
When I was at home in Yemen, in 2000, a childhood friend told me that in Afghanistan I could do better than the $50 a month I earned in a factory, and support my family. I’d never really traveled, and knew nothing about Afghanistan, but I gave it a try.
I was wrong to trust him. There was no work. I wanted to leave, but had no money to fly home. After the American invasion in 2001, I fled to Pakistan like everyone else. The Pakistanis arrested me when I asked to see someone from the Yemeni Embassy. I was then sent to Kandahar, and put on the first plane to Gitmo.
Last month, on March 15, I was sick in the prison hospital and refused to be fed. A team from the E.R.F. (Extreme Reaction Force), a squad of eight military police officers in riot gear, burst in. They tied my hands and feet to the bed. They forcibly inserted an IV into my hand. I spent 26 hours in this state, tied to the bed. During this time I was not permitted to go to the toilet. They inserted a catheter, which was painful, degrading and unnecessary. I was not even permitted to pray.
I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before. I would not wish this cruel punishment upon anyone.
I am still being force-fed. Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11 p.m., when I’m sleeping.
There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren’t enough qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the clock just to keep up.
During one force-feeding the nurse pushed the tube about 18 inches into my stomach, hurting me more than usual, because she was doing things so hastily. I called the interpreter to ask the doctor if the procedure was being done correctly or not.
It was so painful that I begged them to stop feeding me. The nurse refused to stop feeding me. As they were finishing, some of the “food” spilled on my clothes. I asked them to change my clothes, but the guard refused to allow me to hold on to this last shred of my dignity.
When they come to force me into the chair, if I refuse to be tied up, they call the E.R.F. team. So I have a choice. Either I can exercise my right to protest my detention, and be beaten up, or I can submit to painful force-feeding.
The only reason I am still here is that President Obama refuses to send any detainees back to Yemen. This makes no sense. I am a human being, not a passport, and I deserve to be treated like one.
I do not want to die here, but until President Obama and Yemen’s president do something, that is what I risk every day.
Where is my government? I will submit to any “security measures” they want in order to go home, even though they are totally unnecessary.
I will agree to whatever it takes in order to be free. I am now 35. All I want is to see my family again and to start a family of my own.
The situation is desperate now. All of the detainees here are suffering deeply. At least 40 people here are on a hunger strike. People are fainting with exhaustion every day. I have vomited blood.
And there is no end in sight to our imprisonment. Denying ourselves food and risking death every day is the choice we have made.
I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late.
No more hurting people, says a young American boy. To a child, it really is that simple; don’t hurt people. Do unto them as you would have them do to you, right?
All cowardly terrorists should stop hurting people. By his own definition, that includes President Obama.
“Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.” He says.
There isn’t enough collective bandwidth available for Americans to acknowledge all the acts of terror our elected leaders have perpetrated, post-9/11.
While some eyes in the world will continue to follow the needless suffering of Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel and the growing hunger strike now at 63 detainees, American eyes can barely register that a possibly mentally ill musician from Mississippi sent a ricin-poisoned letter to the president.
The story of the week has reached a Friday crescendo with the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Boston can now emerge from
martial law shelter in place, and celebrate.
If he survives his wounds, this 19 year old alleged terrorist will stand trial. He won’t be blown up by a drone strike, tortured to death at a CIA black site, or held for a decade without trial.
If America truly had the capability of adhering to principal and the rule of law, this is how alleged terrorists would be dealt with.
*UPDATE: I guess no Miranda rights for alleged terrorists
by Pete Talbot
My background gets checked all the time: for jobs, when I buy insurance, leave or enter the country, try to get a loan or apply for a credit card.
Background checks for gun buyers aren’t that big a deal. No one is limiting their choice of weapons or trying to take any away.
And 90 percent of Americans believe that expanded background checks are OK. Some of that 90 percent must live in Montana, right, Max?
If it were me, I’d support a ban on assault weapons and 30-plus-round clips. But I understand Max’s trepidation on this. The last time Max did anything controversial – and he probably didn’t realize it at the time – he voted for the Brady Bill. The bill came about after President Reagan, Press Secretary James Brady, and a Secret Service agent and DC cop were wounded in an 1981 assassination attempt.
The Brady Bill was finally signed into law by President Clinton in 1993. Many Republicans supported this legislation. Yet, Ax Max signs showed up around the state.
Next year, he’s up for re-election, and Ax Max signs still haunt him.
I don’t expect Max to support ammo clip or assault weapon legislation but still, he’s against expanded background checks? C’mon Max, do you really need the votes from folks who think background checks are a radical infringement on their 2nd Amendment rights? You’re worried about Republican candidates Corey Stapleton or Champ Edmunds? You’ve already got $6.5 million in campaign funds in the bank. No Republican challenger can come close to raising that kind of money. You should be more worried about a primary challenger who would vote the correct way on expanded background checks.
Max always says: “My job is to stand up for Montanans, they are my employers.” I would venture that his employers are big pharma, insurance, finance and now the NRA. Prove me wrong, Max.