Beware the Sound of Scurrying Feet: The SS Obama is Going Down

NBC/Wall St Journal Poll: 40% say country worse off since Obama, 31% say better
Federal Reserve Board: US economy is stalling again
NY TImes: “White House Memo: First Wave of Weary Aides Heads for the Exits”
Labor Dept.: New jobless claims hit record not seen since February 20

It’s a grim sign for the Obama administration that droves of staffers are pulling up stakes and looking for jobs elsewhere, not even having the grace to wait until the mid-term elections are mercifully over. Gone is Christina Romer, chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, going is White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, gone is communications spokeswoman Linda Douglass, gone is Budget Director Peter Orszag, gone is White House Counsel Gregory Craig. Even the president’s senior political adviser and close confidante, David Axelrod, widely credited with having engineered his primary and election victories, is said to be ready to leave.

Seasoned sailors used to get anxious if they saw a line of rats scurrying down the mooring lines securing a ship to the pier just before it was time to set sail. It was considered an omen of doom. And indeed, the SS Obama, a once mighty vessel hailed as unsinkable at its launch, does appear to be listing badly (to starboard) now, just as it prepares to head back out to sea and face a severe November storm.

The captain of this ship, Barack Obama, has made so many wrong turns (always to starboard) on his maiden voyage that it’s no wonder so many of the crew are looking for other work. Not only that, but Capt. Obama made some really bad choices for chief officers, giving those who labor below decks little reason to feel confident that their leader’s own mistakes in navigation or judgement would be rectified.

Airport Insecurity

I’m a 1K flyer, meaning I fly over 100,000 miles a year with United, and consider myself fairly inured to the indignities of travel by now.  But, going through my first Whole Body Back-Scatter X-ray at the Denver airport recently took frequent flying to a whole new level of creepiness.
 
The Homeland Security people obviously put a lot of thought into the implementation of this latest supposed “advance” in aircraft terror prevention.
 
Before the entrance to the X-ray chamber there was a little sign depicting fuzzy, colorless images of a stripped-down man and woman, which I suppose were meant to put us at ease by suggesting that what the examiners see is not the least bit personal or prurient.
 
If so, it didn’t work. The depersonalized photos of the little nudes just reminded me of those grisly photos of concentration camp survivors, their bodies wasted by starvation, gaunt faces devoid of expression.

Bradley Manning and the Secret World

Poor Bradley Manning. The kid can’t catch a break. Not only does the military have him locked in some inhuman solitary hole where they can slow-torture him using the latest approved methods, now his troubled private life is being broadcast for all to see.

After running 75,000 secret military field reports released by WIkiLeaks, The New York Times assigned a reporter, Ginger Thompson, to find out personal details about PFC Manning, who is being held at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia.

What she found was a sensitive, smart kid who did his best to survive the mess he landed in when he was born. A dysfunctional family life seems to have pushed him into the loner category. Then, as kids are encouraged to do by recruitment posters, he chose to join the Army, as Thompson writes, “to give his life some direction.”

Nothing out of the ordinary, here. A recruiter realizes the kid is quite smart, maybe a bit nerdy, but he’s a wiz with computers. As a former employer told Thompson, Manning was blessed with “an almost innate sense for programming.”

But then the Times reveals that Manning is homosexual, which means, because the military’s absurd “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is finally being discussed in an adult fashion, the Manning story is a potential bomb in that discussion.

Weed Weirdness: Pot Legalization Measure Creates Strange Alliances in California

San Francisco – Two friends debated the merits of California’s pending referendum on pot legalization as they smoked marijuana through a hi-tech electric pipe while sitting inside a swank house where floor-to-ceiling windows artistically framed the glittering night skyline of this city known for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge and its libertarian attitude towards lifestyles.

Both friends vigorously oppose America’s pot prohibition condemning it as ineffective and fiscally wasteful. Prohibition nationwide costs billions of dollars per year for just enforcement which in 2008 produced 872,721 arrests, with most of those arrests (89 percent) being for mere possession.

However, these friends hold sharply different opinions on California’s Prop 19 with one firmly supporting this ballot measure to legalize possession of an ounce of pot for personal use among adults while the other strongly opposes it.

The supporter sees Prop 19 as reducing government intervention in his life while his friend fears increased government/corporate entanglements with his favored intoxicant.

American Stupidity

“Stubbornness and stupidity are twins.”
Sophocles

What is it about Americans that they have so much going for them, yet they can be so very stupid?

Two stories in the Sunday New York Times jumped out as a sad backdrop to our misguided War On Terror.

The first is about the bigoted anti-Muslim xenophobia in New York over a proposed mosque some blocks from the site of the former World Trade Towers. The emotional volatility is being fueled by the usual Fox News agitators, and Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich stirred up the pot for their demagogic needs.

Even the Jewish Anti-Defamation League took off after the mosque and condemned it. Here’s the Anti Defamation League’s mission statement at the top of their web page:

“The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 ‘to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.’ Now the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.”

Don’t you just love bullshit PR?

Dodd-Frank Financial 'Reform' Act May Force Companies to Clean Up Their Act

Wall Street lobbyists may have successfully managed to emasculate most of the important parts of the financial reform bill just passed by Congress last month, but one part of that 2000-page act, which establishes as bounty for whistleblowers who expose corporate financial wrongdoing to the Securities and Exchange System, managed to slip through unscathed.

If this surprisingly strong measure is supported by strong enabling regulations at the SEC, which has until next April to draw them up and approve them, some legal experts, including at law firms that specialize in representing corporate clients, say it could have a profound effect on the behavior of American companies.

The New Afghanistan Policy: Murder Inc.

Let me get this straight. Robert Gates, the Secretary-Of-Defense-For-Life, is touring the TV news shows and major newspapers pleading with great angst lines in his forehead that WikiLeaks is “guilty” and “morally culpable” for releasing 75,000 field reports from Afghanistan to the American public because they endanger Afghans allied with US forces.

But he and the US militarists who initiated the war in Iraq and who have continued the war in Afghanistan for nine years, the people who keep everything about these wars secret except what is useful to sustain them, the people who finance these wars on credit without raising taxes, dumping the costs on future generations – these people are not “morally culpable,” “guilty” or endangering anyone?

Do I have that right?

In other words, to reveal information about the war makes one morally guilty of endangering people, while being responsible for the war itself does not.

Journalists in Name Only: Just(?) 50,000 Non-Combat(?) Troops in Iraq

I was listening to NPR’s “Morning Edition” broadcast this morning in the car, and I heard a reporter say that President Obama was “redefining” the American role in Iraq, now that he had brought the number of US forces in that country down to “only” 50,000 troops, and that “combat operations” would be ending effective this month. The remaining forces, the reporter announced, with no hint of irony and no explanation, would “only” be engaged in helping to train Iraqi troops and police, and in “counter-insurgency” operations.

Excuse me, but aren’t we at war in Afghanistan, and isn’t that operation, involving about 200,000 US, Australian and NATO troops (excluding the Dutch, who are pulling out after the country’s participation in it brought down the conservative government), called a “counter-insurgency” campaign? Isn’t counter-insurgency by definition a kind of “combat”?

WTF? This crap is being called journalism?

By the way, about that 50,000 number. For the record, that is a lot of soldiers. It is for one thing two times the number of US troops stationed in South Korea. It is twice the number of troops that were employed in the invasion of Panama in 1989. It is about the number of troops the US had in Vietnam in early 1964 after the first round of escalation by then President Lyndon Johnson.

Government Racism: A Case More Outrageous than Sherrod's Firing

The telephone at the DC area home of Marsha Coleman-Adebayo began ringing non-stop after the story broke recently about the hasty firing of U.S. Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod on false charges of being a racist.

Outraged callers wanted not just to express sympathy over Sherrod’s mistreatment but also to offer continuing support for Coleman-Adebayo, whose epic battle with a federal agency over despicable employment discrimination and retaliation produced America’s first civil rights law of the 21st Century.
Over a dozen years ago Coleman-Adebayo, an MIT-trained PhD, faced an onslaught from officials at the Environmental Protection Agency because she had spoken out about racism within that agency as well as about the EPA’s coddling of a U.S. corporation whose regulation-skirting mining practices in South Africa were seriously injuring workers there.

National Insecurity: A Government Afraid of the Truth

The White House’s initial response to the release of 92,000 pages of raw reports from the field by US forces in Afghanistan for a period from 2004-2009–that it was a threat to national security and to the lives of American troops–was as predictable as it was farcical.

These documents didn’t reveal anything new to America’s enemies in Afghanistan or Pakistan. The Taliban fighters knew full well that their heat-seeking missiles had successfully downed American helicopters. They didn’t reveal anything new to Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI. The Pakistanis knew that they were assisting the Taliban with intelligence, strategic planning and weapons in their fight against US forces and the current puppet regime in Kabul. They didn’t reveal anything to the long-suffering civilian population in Afghanistan either. Afghans know that US forces have been targeting them at checkpoints, wantonly bombing their houses and villages in attempts to hit suspected Taliban or Al Qaeda leaders or fighters, and covering up those atrocities when innocent men, women and children are the victims.

No, what the release of these documents threaten is the huge almost decade-long lie that both the last administration of President George W. Bush, and the current administration of Barack Obama have been putting out, that the US is engaged in a “good war,” trying to defeat “terrorists” and establish a democratic government in Afghanistan.

 Why Leaders Tremble at LeaksWikiLeak-Why Leaders Tremble at Leaks