Friday, August 22, 2014

Short Takes

National Guard leaving Ferguson.

Three Hamas military leaders were killed by Israeli attacks.

Mudslides and debris close roads in Washington state.

Two American ebola victims have recovered and been released from the hospital.

American auto industry has hit its highest level of production in 12 years.

Tropical Update: Invest 96L is out there and heading west.

The Tigers lost 1-0 to the Rays.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Short Takes

Ferguson: The curfew has been lifted and a grand jury will hear testimony in the shooting of Michael Brown.

Iraqi dam re-taken by Iraqi and Kurdish forces from ISIS.

No deal yet on Israel-Gaza peace talks.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry gets mugged.

R.I.P. Former Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont; Radio and TV announcer Don Pardo, 96; voice of S.N.L. and countless shows.

The Tigers had the night off.

Friday, August 8, 2014

So We Beat On, Boats Against The Current…

Via TPM:

U.S. fighters dropped bombs on Islamic militants in Iraq Friday, the Pentagon said, redeeming President Barack Obama’s promise of military force to counter the advancing militants and confront the threat they pose to Iraqi civilians and Americans.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said that two F/A-18 jets dropped 500-pound bombs on a piece of artillery and the truck towing it.

In a televised to the speech Thursday night, Obama had threatened to renew U.S. military involvement in Iraq’s long sectarian war. He said that American military planes already had carried out airdrops of food and water, at the request of the Iraqi government, to tens of thousands of Iraqi religious minorities atop a mountain surrounded by militants and desperately in need of supplies.

“America is coming to help,” the president said in a somber speech from the White House.

The Yazidis, who follow an ancient religion with ties to Zoroastrianism, fled their homes after the Islamic State group issued an ultimatum to convert to Islam, pay a religious fine, flee their homes or face death.

“Earlier this week, one Iraqi in the area cried to the world, ‘There is no one coming to help.’ Well, today, America is coming to help,” Obama said. “We’re also consulting with other countries — and the United Nations — who have called for action to address this humanitarian crisis.”

The announcement reflected the deepest American engagement in Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew in late 2011 after nearly a decade of war. Obama, who made his remarks in a steady and somber tone, has staked much of his legacy as president on ending what he once called the “dumb war” in Iraq.

Mindful of the public’s aversion to another lengthy war, Obama acknowledged that the prospect of a new round of U.S. military action would be a cause for concern among many Americans. He vowed anew not to put American combat troops back on the ground in Iraq and said there was no U.S. military solution to the crisis.

“As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” Obama said.

The last thing anyone wants to do is sound smug in the light of the deaths of civilians or genocide on the part of religious fanatics, so I ask with all due sincerity and humility: how much of this would have occurred if we had never invaded Iraq in the first place?

The standard argument was that Sadam Hussein was an evil dictator who killed his own people and conducted torture against his enemies, promoted hatred against the West, fought a withering war with Iran, and threatened Israel.  Yes, he did all of those things.  And so did a lot of other bad actors in the world, and so did a number of dictators that we supported, overtly or otherwise, throughout the last century and throughout history.  This battle between religious sects in Iraq and Syria is thousands of years old.  It is only American hubris and chauvinism that assumes it is all about us and our Western values of white bread and the Kardashians.

This turd has been handed down from generations long past; from the division of the Ottoman Empire after World War I and the arrogance of the victors to dictate the terms of peace that gave rise to the dictators of the past and present.

But this moment, this action, could have been forestalled if we had never gone there in 2003; if we had never let the liars and the bloodsuckers win their war of lies and a promise of richness beyond the dreams of Avarice.  Until we end that war, we will not end this one.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Short Takes

72-hour ceasefire announced in Gaza.

G.O.P. craters border bill.

What a shock: C.I.A. finds that they did break into Senate computers.

Emergency efforts in Africa to combat ebola.

Stocks fall on weak economic data.

Tropical Update: We now have Tropical Storm Bertha in the North Atlantic.

The Tigers lost to the White Sox 7-4, but landed pitcher David Price from Tampa Bay.

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Short Takes

Israel: The bodies of three teenagers who were abducted several weeks ago were found.

Airstrikes in Iraq are not a good idea according to a retired Army general who served there.

With immigration reform officially pronounced dead, President Obama will use executive action to bolster border security.

White House says President Obama will expand safeguards for transgender workers.

8.4 million: The number of GM cars now under recall.

Tropical Update: Invest 91L still moving up the East Coast.

The Tigers beat Oakland 5-4.

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.

Monday, June 30, 2014

How To Stop An Investigation

Blackwater, the military contractor hired by the U.S. government to help them in Iraq, has had a problematic relationship with the people that hired them.  The New York Times has found that not only did they lack oversight and on occasion killed people, they also threatened to kill anyone who ratted them out about their misconduct.

Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.

American Embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater rather than the State Department investigators as a dispute over the probe escalated in August 2007, the previously undisclosed documents show. The officials told the investigators that they had disrupted the embassy’s relationship with the security contractor and ordered them to leave the country, according to the reports.

After returning to Washington, the chief investigator wrote a scathing report to State Department officials documenting misconduct by Blackwater employees and warning that lax oversight of the company, which had a contract worth more than $1 billion to protect American diplomats, had created “an environment full of liability and negligence.”

“The management structures in place to manage and monitor our contracts in Iraq have become subservient to the contractors themselves,” the investigator, Jean C. Richter, wrote in an Aug. 31, 2007, memo to State Department officials. “Blackwater contractors saw themselves as above the law,” he said, adding that the “hands off” management resulted in a situation in which “the contractors, instead of Department officials, are in command and in control.”

His memo and other newly disclosed State Department documents make clear that the department was alerted to serious problems involving Blackwater and its government overseers before the Nisour Square shooting, which outraged Iraqis and deepened resentment over the United States’ presence in the country.

With friends like that…

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Short Takes

Dam Close — ISIS is closing in on Haditha Dam, the second largest in Iraq.

Iran is said to be secretly supplying Iraq with weapons.

The Supreme Court ruled against Aereo TV service, saying it violated copyright.

Also, the Court unanimously ruled that cell phone searches by police must come with a warrant.

The N.F.L. has lifted the cap on payments to concussion victims.

Diane Sawyer is leaving the anchor desk at ABC.

The Tigers beat the Rangers 8-6.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Short Takes

First of 300 military advisers on the ground in Iraq.

Thad Cochran wins run-off in Mississippi.

No-Fly List process deemed unconstitutional.

Two dead and 10 injured in shooting in Miami.

Verdict in British phone hacking scandal.

Bite me — Italy loses to Uruguay in a strange match.

R.I.P. Eli Wallach, 98, actor on stage and screen for over 60 years.

The Tigers beat the Rangers 8-2.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Thanks For The Memories, Dick

Former Vice President Dick Cheney showed up on Sunday chat shows yesterday and allowed as how he meant no disrespect when he called President Obama a traitor.  And when he was called out for being wrong on Iraq over and over again, he dismissed it as dredging up the past.

What a fucking monster.

But in a way I’m glad to see that he’s reared his shiny head.  It gives us all a chance to look at him in the fresh light of day even if it makes our skin crawl.  As Tina Dupuy notes, it reminds us of what an unmitigated disaster the Bush/Cheney administration was and who it was that lied us into a war that killed over 4,000 American soldiers and untold numbers of Iraqi civilians, destabilized the entire region, and gave us the set-up for the current clusterfuck that is going on now.

So now that we’re remembering what a shitheel he was then and seeing him again live (allegedly) on TV, we can tell him with a fresh voice to get the hell out.

Cheney in Iraq 06-23-14HT to Balloon Juice.  Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014