June 4, 2013 archive

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A Discussion of Obama’s “Dirty Wars”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In a fascinating hour and a half, Jeremy Scahill, the National Security Correspondent at The Nation magazine, discusses his book and award winning documentary “Dirty Wars.” Joined by Spencer Ackerman, formerly of “Wired” now National Security Editor for The Guardian, they discuss President Obama’s drone program, preemptive war and the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki and two weeks later, his 16 year old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. They also talk about Obama’s roll in the jailing of Yemeni journalist,  Abdulelah Haider Shaye, for his reporting of the US bombing of  al-Majalah, a impoverished Yemeni village killing 46 people mostly women and children. Later in the talk, Jeremy took written questions from the audience, discussing Blackwater, Eric Prince and as well as the global impact and the legality of the perpetual drone war.

There is another way of looking at Pres. Obama’s speech the other day. And that is, he came out and did a full frontal defense of the US asserting the right to assassinate people around the world. . . that really is the take away. [..]

He is asserting the right of the Unites States to conduct these kinds of operations in perpetuity. [..]

The US does not recognize International Law unless it’s convenient. That true; it’s not a rhetorical statement. . . . There is one set of laws for the rest of the world and there another set of laws for the United States. [..]

There have been attempts to challenge many of these wars by the Center for Constitutional Rights, challenging under the War Powers Act and the idea that Congress cannot give these authorities to the president to wage these wars. The way they’ll get around it is they’ll say well, the Authority to Use Military Force (AUMF), that was passed after 9/11, gives us the right to strike in any country where we determine there be a connection to 9/11 or Al Qaeda.

In some cases now, we are targeting persons who were toddlerson 9/11. How can we say that they were attached to it, So in Obama’s speech, when he says he wants to refine the Authorization for Military force and, ultimately, real it, I think the first step of that is really disturbing. They’re talking about making permanent the sort of perpetual war mentality, probably by removing the language necessitating a connection to 9/11 or to Al Qaeda from it, so they can broaden their justification.

Also this White House, like the Bush/Cheney people, relies very heavily on Article II of the Constitution and an i interpretation that Commander in Chief clause gives the president the right to unilaterally set these policies. . . .They effectively perceive themselves as, on a counter-terrorism and national security issues, to be a dictatorship. And that Congress plays a minimal roll in those operations only funding it and overseeing how the money os spent but not necessarily overseeing the operations themselves.

There are Constitutional law experts that would say that’s a ridiculous interpretation of Article II of the Constitution, but it is being asserted in in  private.

It’s tough to stand up and be principled when someone like Obama is in office. It’s easy when to be against all this war and criminality when Bush/Cheney are there. They’re cartoonish villains.

Your principles are tested when someone like Obama is in office and you have the courage to stand up and say, “no. A principle is a principle and I’m against it when a Democrat does it and I’m against it when a Republican does it.”

There’s no such thing as Democratic cruise missile and a Republican cruise missile.

Jeremy recommended that everyone should watch California’s Democratic Rep. Barbra Lee’s speech on September 7, 2001. She was trembling as she gave one of the most epic speeches of this era. It took tremendous courage to stand up and say, “No.”  She was right then and she is right now.

We need to all stand up for the principles on which this country was founded and on which the current president was elected. It’s not just the economy, stupid, it’s the Republic, if we can keep it..

Business As Usual

First of all I know the hypocritical concern about government debt and deficits is a pile of steaming, stinky manure.

That said I think we can all agree that subsidizing businesses that are already making incredible profits and paying their executives princely sums is a huge waste of money that could easily be spent on worthwhile things like bridges and public transportation, teachers and firemen and police; and this is true whether it’s the mere Billions that go to Gas and Oil or the Military Industrial Complex, or the TRILLIONS the Banksters tap at the Fed Discount Window.

Or even the paltry $500 Million that Bass Pro Shops get from State and Municipal Governments in tax breaks and infrastructure improvements for stores and jobs that never materialize.

In case you are unfamiliar with this enterprise, it’s basically the WalMart of outdoorsy stuff with the added kick of upscale presentation like indoor fishing ponds, the kind of place you can pick up your cammo and canoe in one stop.

You can also buy a Glock with a 40 round clip and some armor piercing or hollow points to fill them for huntin’ varmints.

All in all a triumph of entrepreneurial capitalism with annual sales of some $2.6 Billion and worth almost $3 Billion, all privately held by John L. Miller.

Bass Pro Billionaire Building Megastores With Boats, Guns

By Seth Lubove, Bloomberg News

Jun 3, 2013 4:55 PM ET

Bass Pro’s critics complain about the company’s practice of accepting municipal subsidies to build megastores in their communities, often with the understanding they would create jobs or increase tax revenue.

The Public Accountability Initiative, a Buffalo, New York-based research group, estimated in a 2010 report that Bass Pro-anchored retail projects had won more than $500 million in taxpayer subsidies.

“Far from being surefire, Disney World-type attractions, Bass Pro stores often fail to spur growth and do not produce outsize economic advantages for the cities that subsidize their arrival,” the Public Accountability Initiative said in its report.

In Buffalo, Bass Pro was poised to receive subsidies of $35 million to build a store in Canal Side, a 20-acre historic area, according to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. After nine years of talks, the company pulled out in July 2010, following the Public Accountability Initiative report and a lawsuit filed against the company and municipal agencies by a group of citizens complaining about the subsidies.

“It’s sort of funny because they had had a lot of success in the local media in getting their story out,” said Kevin Connor, director of the Public Accountability Initiative.

Bass Pro said in its statement to Bloomberg News that because of “development challenges,” it gave up after spending $1 million in a good faith effort to locate in Buffalo.

The criticism was revived this year in Florida’s Hillsborough County, where commissioners debated whether to spend $6.25 million on road improvements to attract a Bass Pro store to Brandon. They approved the deal in February, despite complaints by small businesses that a larger competitor was being subsidized by the government.

Oh and his hiring practices are also discriminatory-

Bass Pro was sued in 2011 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which accused the company of discrimination against blacks and Hispanics in its hiring. While Morris isn’t named as a defendant, he’s accused in the complaint of condoning the hiring practices.

According to the third amended complaint filed in federal court in Houston on April 15, out of 14,374 employees hired during the EEOC’s administrative investigation, only 995, or 6.9 percent, were black. Only 8.4 percent, or 1,207, were Hispanic. Its investigation period ranged from 2005 to 2009, although it varied for certain stores.

On This Day In History June 4

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

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June 4 is the 155th day of the year (156th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 210 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1919, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

The Nineteenth Amendment‘s text was drafted by Susan B. Anthony with the assistance of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The proposed amendment was first introduced in the U.S. Senate colloquially as the “Anthony Amendment”, by Senator Aaron A. Sargent of California. Sargent, who had met and befriended Anthony on a train ride in 1872, was a dedicated women’s suffrage advocate. He had frequently attempted to insert women’s suffrage provisions into unrelated bills, but did not formally introduce a constitutional amendment until January 1878. Stanton and other women testified before the Senate in support of the amendment. The proposal sat in a committee until it was considered by the full Senate and rejected in a 16 to 34 vote in 1887.

A three-decade period known as “the doldrums” followed, during which the amendment was not considered by Congress and the women’s suffrage movement achieved few victories. During this period, the suffragists pressed for the right to vote in the laws of individual states and territories while retaining the goal of federal recognition. A flurry of activity began in 1910 and 1911 with surprise successes in Washington and California. Over the next few years, most western states passed legislation or voter referenda enacting full or partial suffrage for women. These successes were linked to the 1912 election, which saw the rise of the Progressive and Socialist parties, as well as the election of Democratic President Woodrow Wilson. Not until 1914 was the constitutional amendment again considered by the Senate, where it was again rejected.

On January 12, 1915, a proposal to amend the Constitution to provide for women’s suffrage was brought before the House of Representatives, but was defeated by a vote of 204 to 174. Another proposal was brought before the House on January 10, 1918. During the previous evening, President Wilson made a strong and widely published appeal to the House to pass the amendment. It was passed by the required two-thirds of the House, with only one vote to spare. The vote was then carried into the Senate. Wilson again made an appeal, but on September 30, 1918, the proposal fell two votes short of passage. On February 10, 1919, it was again voted upon and failed by only one vote.

There was considerable desire among politicians of both parties to have the proposal made part of the Constitution before the 1920 general elections, so the President called a special session of the Congress so the proposal would be brought before the House again. On May 21, 1919, it passed the House, 42 votes more than necessary being obtained. On June 4, 1919, it was brought before the Senate and, after a long discussion, it was passed with 56 ayes and 25 nays. Within a few days, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan ratified the amendment, their legislatures being in session. Other states followed suit at a regular pace, until the amendment had been ratified by 35 of the necessary 36 state legislatures. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee narrowly approved the Nineteenth Amendment, with 50 of 99 members of the Tennessee House of Representatives voting yes. This provided the final ratification necessary to enact the amendment.


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Around the Blogosphere

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

 photo Winter_solstice.gifThe main purpose our blogging is to communicate our ideas, opinions, and stories both fact and fiction. The best part about the the blogs is information that we might not find in our local news, even if we read it online. Sharing that information is important, especially if it educates, sparks conversation and new ideas. We have all found places that are our favorites that we read everyday, not everyone’s are the same. The Internet is a vast place. Unlike Punting the Pundits which focuses on opinion pieces mostly from the mainstream media and the larger news web sites, “Around the Blogosphere” will focus more on the medium to smaller blogs and articles written by some of the anonymous and not so anonymous writers and links to some of the smaller pieces that don’t make it to “Pundits” by Krugman, Baker, etc.

We encourage you to share your finds with us. It is important that we all stay as well informed as we can.

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This is an Open Thread.

Atrios and Paul Krugman are having some fun banter on their respective blog, Eschaton, and Conscious of a Liberal, about the elitist Wall Street Journal‘s war on the NYC bicycle rental program. It started out with this observation by Atrios on the NYC bicycle program, and the insanity of driving in Manhattan.

The culture clash in NYC over bikes is pretty amusing, though I really don’t get why they drive some people so insane. More than that, I really don’t understand longtime New Yorkers (and I mean people in the dense transit and taxi rich bits, mostly Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn), choose to have personal car-centric lives.

Atrios then picked up Brad Delong‘s question, “Can Anybody Explain the Wall Street Journal’s War on Bicycles to Me?”

Krugman then chimed in, agreeing that it’s insane to drive around Manhattan when the subway system is so much faster and convenient but the problem, he points out, is the WSJ has the elitist attitude of those who are driven from place to place:

However, the Journal isn’t reflecting the attitudes of people who drive around Manhattan; it’s reflecting the attitudes of people who are driven around Manhattan.

The point is that even in Manhattan, there’s something to be said for getting places in your personal car driven by your personal driver, who drops you off where you want to go – no search for parking or anything like that – and picks you up when you want to go someplace else.

As a resident of one of the “outer boroughs” of NYC where owning a car is a necessity, I try to avoid driving myself around Manhattan, especially Midtown, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. I hate cab and limo drivers, since they drive like there is no one else on the road. As for the bicycle program, it’s a novelty that won’t reduce traffic in Manhattan but will definitely have an impact.

RainbowGirl at Corrente notes that the program is plagued with problems

The “Ultimate Honor” according to Krugman:

Economists Must Have Beards photo 186605_zpsb82476f2.gif

Click o image to enlarge

Dean Baker has some interesting posts on health care at Beat the Press:

At Americablog, Gaius Publius has a good article about what ultra-dicks the super-rich and their progeny are:

Kevin Gosztola at FDL’s The Dissenter covers the first day of PFC Bradley Manning’s military trial with live up dates and detailed posts on the opening statements of the defense and prosecution.

At FDL Action, Jon Walker discusses today’s Supreme Court decision that the police can take a DNA swab from individuals arrested for serious crimes simply as part of the booking procedure. He notes the strong dissent by Justice Antonin Scalia and his defense of the Fourth Amendment. Sometimes people surprise you.

Jon laughingly jumps in on the bike sharing banter.

A bit late, if you ask me, but the late Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Webb has received a posthumous apology from former Los Angeles Times writer, Jesse Katz, who spearheaded the attack that ended Webb career for exposing the CIA’s involvement in the introduction of crack cocaine in America. It ruined Webb’s life and he committed suicide nine years ago. h/t to DSWright at FDL News Desk.

On a very sad note, we mark the passing of New Jersey’s Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg, 89, who died this morning of complications of viral pneumonia. He was the sixth most liberal senator and the last World War II veteran in the Senate. Blessed Be.