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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 04/17/2011 - 04/24/2011
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Obama on Bradley Manning: Guilty until proven innocent


Protesters yesterday interrupted President Obama's speech at a $5,000/ticket San Francisco fundraiser to demand improved treatment for Bradley Manning. After the speech, one of the protesters, Logan Price, approached Obama and questioned him. Obama's responses are revealing on multiple levels. First, Obama said this when justifying Manning's treatment (video and transcript are here):

We're a nation of laws. We don't let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.

The impropriety of Obama's public pre-trial declaration of Manning's guilt ("He broke the law") is both gross and manifest. How can Manning possibly expect to receive a fair hearing from military officers when their Commander-in-Chief has already decreed his guilt? Numerous commentators have noted how egregiously wrong was Obama's condemnation. Michael Whitney wrote: "the President of the United States of America and a self-described Constitutional scholar does not care that Manning has yet to be tried or convicted for any crime." BoingBoing's Rob Beschizza interpreted Obama's declaration of guilt this way: "Just so you know, jurors subordinate judging officers!" And Politico quoted legal experts explaining why Obama's remarks are so obviously inappropriate.

so sad, coming from our president...

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Friday, April 22, 2011

The U.S. public is angry but as long as "everything is under control," there is nothing wrong" and the public doesn't matter

noam chomsky... (watch the full video of this speech that i posted back in mid-march here...)
Elections have become a charade, run by the public relations industry. After his 2008 victory, Obama won an award from the industry for the best marketing campaign of the year. Executives were euphoric. In the business press they explained that they had been marketing candidates like other commodities since Ronald Reagan, but 2008 was their greatest achievement and would change the style in corporate boardrooms. The 2012 election is expected to cost $2 billion, mostly in corporate funding. Small wonder that Obama is selecting business leaders for top positions. The public is angry and frustrated, but as long as the Muasher principle* prevails, that doesn't matter.

* The guiding principle was articulated clearly by Carnegie Endowment Middle East specialist Marwan Muasher, formerly a high official of the Jordanian government: "There is nothing wrong, everything is under control." In short, if the dictators support us, what else could matter?

piss on the goddam peasants... let 'em eat cake...!

(btw, i had some truly wonderful afghan cake yesterday that our great afghan cook made for us... besides being a good cook, he's also a really nice guy...)

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Work 'Til We Die

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WOO-HOO...! Nevadans finally shake off Ensign...!

even from here in kabul, i can rejoice to see that arrogant loser bite the dust...
Nevada Sen. John Ensign announces resignation

Nevada Sen. John Ensign announced Thursday he will resign amid an ethics investigation, insisting he's done nothing wrong but saying he could no longer subject his family and constituents to further investigation.

Ensign said in a statement that he will send Vice President Joe Biden a letter Friday making the resignation official.

"While I stand behind my firm belief that I have not violated any law, rule, or standard of conduct of the Senate, and I have fought to prove this publicly, I will not continue to subject my family, my constituents, or the Senate to any further rounds of investigation, depositions, drawn out proceedings, or especially public hearings," he said. "For my family and me, this continued personal cost is simply too great."


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A bit lighter than "light" posting

yes, the posting gaps have been increasing and, yes, part of that is due to the usual ennui... however, more than that has been the intensity of the work i've been doing here in afghanistan... i actually have my hands on one of the biggest, most complex, most challenging, most potentially positively impactful projects i've ever had the opportunity to tackle...

i developed a soft spot in my heart for this country and the afghan people shortly after i started coming here in early 2008 and if i can in any way make a positive contribution on behalf of these lovely people, i will do it - and i think i've been handed that chance...

i'd love to tell you more but it would be inappropriate for me to be telling tales out of school, dontcha know...

meanwhile, i'll keep putting stuff up here as i can... today - friday - is my one day "weekend" so you can look for a least a few things...

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bradley Manning being moved to Leavenworth

no mention of whether or not he will get to see any outside observers there... it will be certainly a more inconvenient trip...
The Army private suspected of giving classified data to WikiLeaks is being moved to a state-of-the-art facility at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where Pentagon officials said more extensive mental, emotional and physical health care will be available.


The new facility, they said, will be more open, have more space, and Manning will have a greater opportunity to eat and interact with other prisoners there. They added that the move was in Manning's best interest because Leavenworth's Joint Regional Correctional Facility has a broader array of facilities, including trained mental, emotional and physical health staff.

Lt. Col. Dawn Hilton, who is in charge of the medium-security detention facility at Leavenworth, said Manning will undergo a comprehensive evaluation upon his arrival to assess whether he is a risk to his own or others' safety. The 150 inmates there — including eight who are awaiting trial — are allowed three hours of recreation per day, she said, and three meals a day in a dining area.

She said the facility, which opened in January, is designed for long-term detention of pretrial inmates. Officials agreed that Manning's case, which involves hundreds of thousands of highly sensitive and classified documents, is very complex and could drag on for months, if not years.

Johnson said that Manning, who has been at Quantico for more than eight months, can be moved now because his interview in the Washington region to determine his competency to stand trial has been completed. That interview lasted one day and was done April 9.

eight months in inhumane conditions for a one day interview... shit...

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

The three myths of Israeli insecurity - the elephant in the room

in my work with organization development, i frequently talk about "undiscussables," those elements that everyone knows are there but that simply can't be addressed in open forums, akin to the concept of the "elephant in the living room"... as ira chernus points out in the latest tom dispatch, the reality and hard truths of the israeli situation are among the largest of the undiscussables in the u.s...

when discussing "undiscussables," i always point out that the larger the mass of undiscussable elements in an organization or a society, the bigger the anchor that is being dragged and the less likely that anything will be able to move forward...

sadly, the sheer mass of undiscussables in the u.s. - the two-party system, the rule by corporatocracy, the slavish devotion to endless war and the defense industry, the utter domination by super-rich elites, the erosion and debasement of any notion of the common good, the near-religious fervor surrounding capitalism and private enterprise - have essentially killed any forward motion... not the least of these undiscussables is israel...

Myth Number 1: Israel’s existence is threatened by the ever-present possibility of military attack. In fact, there’s no chance that any of Israel’s neighbors will start a war to wipe out Israel. They know their history. Despite its size, ever since its war of independence in 1948, the Israeli military has been a better equipped, better trained, more effective, and in virtually every case a successful fighting force. It clearly remains the strongest military power in the Middle East.


Myth Number 2: The personal safety of every Jewish Israeli is threatened daily by the possibility of violent attack. In fact, according to Israeli government statistics, since the beginning of 2009 only one Israeli civilian (and two non-Israelis) have been killed by politically motivated attacks inside the green line (Israel’s pre-1967 border). Israelis who live inside that line go about their daily lives virtually free from such worry.


Myth Number 3: Israel’s existence is threatened by worldwide efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. Early in 2010, Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin told the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, that the country was not “suffering from terror or from an immediate military threat” -- only to warn of a new peril: “The Palestinian Authority is encouraging the international arena to challenge Israel’s legitimacy.”

The “delegitimization” alarm was first sounded by an influential Israeli think tank and then spread like wildfire through the nation’s political and media ranks.

There are shreds of truth in it. There have always been people who saw the Jewish state, imposed on indigenous Palestinians, as illegitimate. Until recently, however, Israelis seemed to pay them little heed. Now, they are deemed an “existential threat,” as Yadlin explained, only because the old claims of “existential threat” via violence have grown unbelievable even to the Israeli military (though not to the government’s American supporters).

It’s also true that challenges to Israel’s legitimacy are growing rapidly around the world and that the specter of becoming a “pariah state” does pose a danger. The head of that think tank got it half-right when he warned that Israel’s “survival and prosperity” depend on its relations with the world, “all of which rely on its legitimacy.” Survival? No.

and, of course, the most recent case of public sacrifice by daring to discuss the undiscussable is helen thomas, not unlike bradley manning, the whole-burnt offering designed to permanently discourage whistleblowers...

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